Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Old Rangefinder and a Balloon Festival

"Don't bring a tofu knife to a gunfight..."

This would be my first year to attend the annual Plano Balloon Festival in Plano, TX. In yesteryears, I've been wanting to go, but there were always excuses, events, what-have-you.

To make it interesting, I decided to bring my M4-P to the event. My favorite film with this camera is the Kodak BW400CN. While 99% people out there were toting some kind of zoom lens cameras, I decided that this would be a good place to practice taking pictures of people, which is as much fun as trying to take decent pictures of the balloons themselves.

So, without further ado, here are the pics:


At this point, the field was almost dark, lit only by street lights. Btw, this is one reason that I'm amazed at the M4-P, handheld, almost dark, I still get a picture.

Fired up

You have to anticipate when the balloons are lit when something like this can be seen. Yes it would be more awesome if I was about 10 feet from the balloon, but, with the lack of "press pass", I'd have to make do with what I have.

The Others

Some of the other photographers who seems to be more "prepared" than I was to take pictures of the balloon. Most of them don't even see me pointing an unassuming small black camera at them.

The Kids

The kids are kinda restless because the balloons are just sitting there...

Then all of the sudden...

Ready for Lift-off

As the day grew brighter, more balloons took shape.

Ready for The Shot

The tension is mounting, like this guy ... fully poised to capture that moment...

More balloons

More balloons getting ready for take-off...



Everyone is shooting

Turned around to see a frenzy of concentration...


... trying to capture this picture...

Camera Down

Then as soon as all the balloon were gone, people start packing up. Here a nice CanoNikon couple :)

On the walk back to my car I spotted this beauty:


... well, I can't pass it up, can I?

Back view

All in all, it's not a bad morning for an old, unassuming rangefinder camera.

Monday, October 8, 2007

That's why it's an RD!

"... in the end, it's the one that feels most comfortable that you'll be coming back to ..."

When asked for a word to describe the Olympus 35 RD, I came up with one that was really unexpected, even by myself.  Comfortable.

The camera feels comfortable in my hands, it is not solid like the Olympus OM-1, or curvy like the Leica-M, or the commanding presence of a Nikon F.  It is not even as hard-edged as its bigger older brother, the venerable 35 SP.

Yet the RD is simply comfortable.  The patch is bright and viewfinder is again, comfortable to see through. When I press the shutter, I am confident that the little but fast lens would be able to handle anything that the available lights throw at it.

Confession time: I was heavily obsessed by Zeiss optics this past month. That's why I haven't posted a single entry here yet.  I am expanding my lens "collection" into the T* coated realm of the legendary Carl Zeiss.  Testing the RD is more of a whim.  Expecting nothing more than another ho-hum testroll.

Boy, was I ever wrong! Note to self, self: Do not ever look down on a Zuiko lens ever again.

Took the camera to the First Saturday flea-market, which, on this particular morning, was extremely dreary.  The usual mixed light consisting of yellow halogen street lights, and the severely overcast sky makes for a more difficult that usual lighting condition.  More evil-ly, I decided to throw in one of the most difficult film I can find (that and I want to use up the stash quickly :). The Super-expired Ilford XP2 Super!!

I was snapping away half-heartedly, wanting to just get through the roll quickly.

Specular lights abound on these crystals:

An amphibious military vehicle:

Find a grenade-shaped perfume dispenser in this picture:

To add insult to injury, the trip to the flea-market proved to be fruitless, other than a brief excitement of seeing an old, dusty Agfa showing some life left in it, everything else pretty much blurred into blinking LED's and chatter noise.

Then, completely uninspired, I decided to drive around downtown just to take advantage of the very light traffic and see some parts that I haven't yet frequented.

Squares upon squares of dilapidated square building:

It's OU vs UT "Longhorn" annual football match:

On the way home, a quick panning-job:

But... never would I thought that these pictures would emerge from the testroll. The six-element Zuiko lens is delivering sharpness where it counts and an incredibly smooth transition from foreground to background.

These shots are taken without any light meter, just my eyes, half-sleepy brain, and the sunny-16 rules (not keen on using meter if I can help it). The expired film adds to the complexity. I shoot the film as though it's 100ASA just like when I tested the Fed 2 a couple of blog entries back.

Despite all that, the RD came up on top. It is an absolutely wonderful camera of the month.  The RD is another shining example of how vintage, manual, technology can beat the jelly out of modern ones. No wonder it still command a hefty sum on the used market.

Now, sadly, having the 35 RD, I have to say goodbye to the 35 DC.