Category Archives: Teaching point

Andy Gemmell Photography.

Long-time friend and contributor of this site, Andy Gemmell, has just launched his own photography site:

Andy Gemmell Photography

Many of you have seen Andy’s work on my site, and have benefited from his frequent and always thoughtful commentary.

(So, we’re expecting big things from you Andy and you’re off to a great start with your first article!)

Congratulations Andy,



Father’s Day, Part 2.

Part 1 was presented a few days ago here.

Father's Day, Part 2

After 4 months with the Mamiya RZ67 & 110/2.8…

After four months with the Mamiya RZ67 and Mamiya RZ 110/2.8 lens, I can say with absolute certainty that this gear (together with Kodak Tri-X 400 film) is superior to anything I’ve ever used before for portraiture.

To think that people are practically giving this film equipment away is very telling of our instant gratification-based culture.

Sometimes, the results are truly worth waiting for.

I’ll be posting new images soon, but in the meantime, please have a look at some of the photographs the combo has yielded for me so far:


Love Aura   Hockey GirlWinter Hat Portrait Brushing Honey  The Truth  Smile

Photography will die.

If film dies.



Po(i)sed (test shot).

This is a test shot involving some challenging (but beautiful) light.

The gear: Mamiya 7II + 80mm, and Kodak Portra 400 film.

The “test” part is referring to not only the camera gear, but also the film scanning from Downtown Camera.

So far, I am getting superior sharpness (I did not sharpen this image at all), tonality, and colours from them vs. my home scanning with the Plustek 120.



Downtown Camera.

Downtown Camera

Some of you have e-mailed me asking where my colour film is being processed and scanned.

The answer:  Downtown Camera.

I’ve been happy with their quality and impressed by their service.  In particular, George there has been extremely helpful.

As many of you know, I don’t allow advertising on this site (in fact, I pay a fee to eliminate ads), so my recommendation of Downtown Camera is purely based on the fact that I’m a satisfied customer.



The Nikon Df sensor.

After about a week of photographing with the Nikon Df, I am pleased to say that its CMOS sensor appears to come the closest to behaving like the CCD sensor I’ve long respected in the Leica M9.

I can actually pull more shadow detail out of the files (which came as a complete surprise) and the highlight recovery is also superior (not a surprise).

Of course, the Df is not a rangefinder (so if you’re like me, and like to manually focus, that makes things more difficult… also, I miss seeing the scene “outside of the frame” that a rangefinder offers) and the stable of lenses for the Nikon F-mount are larger and generally not as well corrected as the Leica equivalents (having said that, the Voigtländer 40mm f/2 SL-II I’m using is very competent and compact).

For micro-contrast and tonality, CCD wins every time.

On the other hand, the Df has rock-solid reliable electronic guts (with robust processing power), does not feel like a beta product, and has an external ISO dial (I love this).

More photos to follow…





M240 gone. Again.

I have always shared my gear choices/changes freely, assuming it may help some of you considering camera A vs. camera B, or lens A vs lens B, etc. So, along that vein, and at the risk of inviting harsh commentary, I will disclose this:

I have parted, again, with the Leica M240.

Before the M240 was released, I made some predictions about its image quality.  Specifically, I was concerned about base ISO performance vs. its predecessor, the M9.  My concerns were borne out when I viewed the initial JPG images, and then again when I examined sample RAW files.

I posted both my predictions and subsequent analysis on this site.

Of course, some photographers shared my view, and some didn’t.  Those who didn’t were critical of the fact that I hadn’t owned the camera and yet I was judging it.  My rebuttal was that you don’t have to own a camera to judge its image quality.

Well, now I’ve owned it.  Twice.

My honest opinion:  I should have listened to myself.

I tried —I really tried — to make it work (those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis know this), because I really enjoyed the ergonomic improvements.

But I just couldn’t coax the look I wanted out of it.




Bayer filter cameras are increasingly of little appeal to me.

No Bayer Sensor

One of the things that photographing mostly with film lately has done to me is given me a distaste for the Bayer Filter Mosaic upon which almost all digital camera sensors are based.

Something about the images created with the de-mosaicing (interpolative) processes inherent in Bayer-based cameras just doesn’t look right to my eye any more.  They’re simply not good enough.

In the digital world, there are three notable exceptions to the Bayer trend:

(1) Sigma with its Fovean sensor-based DP models.  As a previous owner of the original Sigma DP1 model, I wait with great anticipation for the upcoming Quattro.  However, given Sigma‘s history of building sluggish cameras with a “beta” feel about them, I’m not holding my breath.

(2) Leica with the Monochrom (which sports a modified Kodak CCD sensor lacking a colour filter array).  Of course, the Monochrom is limited to B&W output (not a bad thing, unless you occasionally want/need colour!).

(3) Fuji with its X-Trans technology, where blue, green, and red sensors are “randomly” arrayed.  I’m not convinced about the results, though I do applaud Fuji for pushing the proverbial envelop.


Currently, I don’t own any of the above…  I’m in a wait-and-see mode.



Lateral Concerns.

Test Shot #3 from the first roll of film run through the Mamiya 7II.

For those interested, I’ve included a central crop below.


Lateral Concerns


Here is the 100% crop (scanner output set to 16 x 20 inches at 300 DPI):

Lateral Concerns - Mamiya 7II 100% crop


I’ve learned…

When it comes to making important decisions in life, it’s always better to forgo analysis and just go with your gut feeling.


Honey 2011, Mamiya 2014.

Test Shot #2 from the first roll of film run through the Mamiya 7II.

This was photographed with the 80 mm lens near its close-focus limit of 1 m.


Honey 2011, Mamiya 7II 2014

M240 Colour Images + More Mamiya!

This weekend has been a good one, photographically speaking.  The weather has finally cooperated in Toronto and I’ve also had ample opportunity to photograph.

The upshot:  over the next few days, I’ll be posting several colour images I’ve taken with the M240.

To put this thing to rest, I’ll state upfront that I’m now reasonably pleased with the colours I’m getting.  Are they M9-like?  No, of course not.  The Kodak CCD sensors in the M9/M-E (and M8) are special (for many reasons), so if you’re interested in seeing an updated CCD sensor placed in a future M camera, you may want to consider signing my…

Open Letter to Leica


Prosophos Open Letter to Leica



And for those interested in film photography, I’ll be posting more images from that first test roll of Kodak Tri-X I shot with my recently acquired Mamiya 7II.



Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

As an aside, this image represents Test Shot #1 (literally, the first shot from the first roll of film) from my Mamiya 7II.


Mother's Day

Reason #2 I still shoot film.

I still shoot film so that I can learn to shoot and process digital properly.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 598 other followers