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Allenflex TLR Camera – One of 50 in the world

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So I found a camera on craigslist with a brand that I wasn’t familiar with – Allenflex. It looked like any other typical late 50s medium format TLR. So I decided to make the buy.

The specs are pretty standard:

  • 80mm prime lens
  • f3.5-22
  • Shutter speeds of B – 1/300 so it needs slower film.
  • Takes 120 medium format film
  • Top down viewfinder, just like my Yashica Mat.

I wasn’t able to find much online about it. Literally the only google result lead me to the NewsPaper archives from Salt Lake City with the following ad from November, 1957. You can see the camera in the bottom right hand corner

Allen's Camera Advertisement

Allen’s Camera Advertisement

 

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After emailing the people at Allen’s Camera, who are still functioning as a family business in Utah, they were able to confirm to me that it was one of theirs and one of about 50 that were ordered with the Allenflex branding.

That being said, it’s a rare camera and it isn’t. After I did some more research, I discovered that it was made by Tougodo Optical in Japan, who produced a great deal of made to order custom branding items for individual companies looking to have custom products. There are a lot of other Tougodo cameras produced that look exactly like my Allenflex – with the right serial numbers to boot, just with a different branding like Lionflex or Metascoflex. So there are a lot of cameras that are essentially the same camera – but not many called Allenflex. How it ended up in Quebec from Utah I have no idea. 

Here’s what it looks like, aside from some cracked leather on one side it’s in fantastic shape. And I got to use my new light tent, which looks pretty good (and will look better when I get some proper lights for it).

 

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Catnip Time Lapse

I got a GoPro camera, something that should be a lot of fun to play with during the non-winter months in Montréal.

First thing I did was see what happens when I give the cat some nip and leave her a lone. This was recorded over about a span of 10 minutes.

New Layout

Happy to announce a new layout for Misplaced Focus.

This sucker is retina ready, responsive, and really a lot easier to navigate. I still need to add in some descriptions, but I’m very pleased with the way it came out. As I have more time to do shooting and plan on doing a lot more with this site in the near future, I felt like it was time. Plus the last theme seemed to just break randomly at times, and that just ain’t cool.

Head on over to the Gallery to get started. 

Thus far, my 10 favorite new Montreal Shots

One of the super fun things about moving to a new city is that you get all kinds of new territory to explore. Enough that I’m probably going to have to get a GPS module for my camera so I can remember where on earth I specifically took all of these.

I haven’t shot any film (yet), but I’ve been excited to just get out there and do some shooting and getting in the habit of the “take your camera with you everywhere” adage.

Without further ado, here are my favorite shots out of the hundreds I’ve already shot here in this gorgeous city on a mountainside.

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Here’s the Montmorency Metro station on the orange line, waiting on my train. This stained glass is amazing.

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This little guy was at Weinerfest Montreal at NDG. Out of all the silly little Dachshunds at the park that day, this was the only one I saw with heterochromia, where each iris is a different color.

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This is a pretty typical scene on the montreal metro. Middle aged dudes looking bored, young girls dressing like it’s always time for the club, and older women looking on with disgust.

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I adore not only the way this image came out, but the street art itself. This mural is on the building across the street from my apartment building.

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This guy is just chillin on the corner in front of a Botox ad. There’s a lot of Botox Ads. In the summer, you’d think parts of this place were LA.

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Here’s an urban garden project, looks like one of the ones where residents rent space and do communal gardening. This was my view as I walked by from the other side of the fence. As soon as I clicked the shudder it became one of my favorite photos of all time.

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Me and my wife were eating lunch at Atwater Market when out of nowhere, this trio of musicians came out of nowhere. I got a lot of shots of them, but this one shows the contrast between work and play really well.

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This one was taken from inside a bus window, with these two standing on the sidewalk by a gas station.

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During one of the street fairs we noticed that multiple pianos had been placed around the city in parks for people to play and enjoy. Were they out of tune? Sure. But this guy didn’t mind too much. Off frame there’s some Pseudo-hippie girls playing hacky-sack and doing each other’s hair. It was a good day.

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A laborer works on a new metro station entry behind a gate. Despite everyone’s complaining about things not getting done in Montreal because of bickering in politics, there sure seems to be a lot happening.

 

Samsung on why people prefer DSLR cameras

I absolutely adore this video by Samsung. Take a look before you keep reading.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JmWGmnnXz0c

Putting the rangefinder into the SLR shell is just fantastic. People’s associations with “quality” are all about social capital: if you have a more expensive looking piece of equipment, you’re going to take better photos. While that social capital isn’t without merit historically, we’re seeing many reasons why we need to change our perceptions about digital cameras.

Why are SLRs considered better cameras?

When we use a camera, we can only focus correctly if we can see through the lens. Back when we shot film, the solution came in using a little mirror that takes the image from the lens, and reflects it up through an eye piece. That way you can put the camera up to your eye and see exactly the image that the film will be exposed to when the shutter goes off. Keep in mind that this was also before auto-focus: your camera needed to be focused manually by turning the lens and lining up your focus with a special focusing screen in your camera. The image your eye saw passed through this focusing screen before it reached your eye.

Trying to manually focus your camera without being able to see through the lens, was a very difficult challenge for many. You had to turn  knob indicating how many feet you were away from the subject, frame your shot, and hope that it came out. Many models of Polaroids are great examples. The SX-70 came in an SLR and non-SLR version, allowing for better focus without making the device any bigger. The older land cameras had only a rangefinder, and you needed to adjust the bellows back and fourth until you thought it was in correct focus and then hope for the best. The mirror allowed you to make sure that your image wouldn’t come out fuzzy.

There were also more lenses available for SRL cameras, which meant that depending on what kind of shot you wanted – wide angle or telephoto – you could make it happen. You weren’t limited by the fixed view of the lens on your rangefineder that fit easily in your pocket – often 38 or 50mm. Those cameras often has a fixed – or later automatic – focus; shooting at a fixed aperture so that the subject would be in focus, but the glass was cheaper. While many higher end rangefinders had interchangeable lenses, the average consumer’s camera did not.

What’s different now?

With digital, there’s no longer film: we use a digital sensor to read the image from the lens and save it to a piece of electronic memory. This sensor can be activated even if it is not recording the image to memory, allowing us to see the image just as the lens sees it on a screen before we take the shot. This has been commonplace in consumer digital cameras for years now.

With consumer digital using a screen and professional digital using a mirror, the image was quickly burned into the mind of the public that a camera with a mirror was vastly superoir and of better quality.

Image quality, comes from 2 places: the sensor and the lens. While many high end SLRs are now using FX sensors that are the size of a 35mm film frame, most use an APS-C sized sensor. Those sensors are the same sized (and quality) as what you can find in a 4/3rds sized camera. Like SLRs, the 4/3rds cameras can also use interchangeable lenses. While the lens choice isn’t as impressive as in the SLR market, you still get a lot of options that are of great quality.

Seeing as now we no longer need the mirror to use high-quality sensors, the main advantage held by the SLRs is in using a viewfinder, which is a preference for many (even the best screens get hard to see in bright daylight). Not using the screen means better battery life.

The 4/3rd cameras hold the advantage that they are smaller, and much easier to carry around professionally. They’re also easier to use if you’re into street photography as they are much less intimidating than a DSLR, which makes you almost as obvious as humanly possible.

At the end of the day, while they lack the professional “look” of an SLR, the image quality can easily be just as good. They have the full professionally needed features and complete manual control.

That being said, don’t be surprised if you shoot a gig with a 4/3rds and your client isn’t satisfied with the results. Or you can pick up one of those Samsung SLR dummy bodies and try your luck there.

Sure the video was a commercial and not everybody responded the way the people on there did, but there’s a lot to be said about perception and quality. Especially in this business.

Background image courtesy of tiktonite on flickr.

 

Medium Focus

With all the craziness in my life lately, I haven’t been able to take out my Mamiya 645 into the field and actually play with it. So I used the local fireworks event to give it the old college try. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and it’s a bitch trying to just guess your way through things and shoot without a light meter. But when I pulled this film off the roll this morning I wasn’t exactly upset with the result. They’re mostly shot with an 80mm Mamiya 1.9 lens, but a few are with the 150mm Mamiya 3.5.  400 speed Arista film and Ilford developer.

So here’s 10 frames, none of which are fireworks, but just some general shots of the scene.

Here’s a shot of my fiance at Gus’ Coney Island. Shot at 1/125, f1.9. The focal range with this lens wide open is incredible, one eye is in focus and another isn’t. I wanted to shoot this at f 2.8 but I wanted to keep the shutter speed at or greater than 1/125 while handholding the camera.

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For this shot I put the camera on the table and pointed it at the bar. I thought 1/60 would be enough to get something and not have any blurriness  hell something should be in focus here. Still wide open at 1.9. I should have flipped the mirror up before I fire the shot.

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This shot was taken on the Dickinson bridge facing south. Probably around 7:15 so the lawn wasn’t totally packed yet. 1/500 sec at f 16.

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The crowd watching one of the smaller stages. I overestimated the power of the sun here and shot it at 1/500 sec at f /11. A bit underexposed.

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Here’s main street. Showing the municipal buildings, carnival rides, and random people. f 16 and 1/500 sec.

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Here’s some people chillin on the grass. 1/500 f 16

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At this point we were down on the grass by where the last shot was. Here I tried to see how well the 150mm lens would work, aimed at the Macomb County Sheriffs. F16 1/250

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Kayte took this one of the stage across the river. F 16 1/250 again.

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Girls lying on the grass in front of us, kids and whatnot interacting about. F 5.6 1/250 sec…I think.

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Street folk on my way to drop this thing back off. f 8 1/250 sec.

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I’m looking forward to shooting more soon, so stay tuned.

Getting Silverfast to work (If you bought an older Plustek or similar scanner) on your Mac

So I recently have been getting into film photography…which I haven’t talked about on here because I simply have not been impressed with the quality of scans I’ve been getting by doing the DSLR macro method of film scanning for numerous reasons).

In my quest to get good looking scans, I recently purchased a (barely) used Plustek OpticFilm7400 on eBay. Many of the reviews and whatnot for this scanner complain about the software not working with MacOS, despite the advertised assertion that it does. When I tried to install the Silverfast 6.6 software on my Macbook Pro (running MacOS 8.8.3), everything went smoothly. Upon launching the software, however, and error told me that the program could not open. I recognized this error as a universal binary error: it’s claiming to be universal, but it’s not. It was written for PPC Macs and if you are running a newer version of MacOS that no longer includes Rosetta, you won’t be able to run the program. I didn’t want to use Windows 7 in VMWare to get it running. That’s just bollocks.

But you’re not out of luck. Follow the steps below to get everything working.

  1. Make sure you have the Silverfast disc and your serial number. 
  2. Insert the CD, but do not run the installer .
  3. Download the demo of Silverfast 8 (or whatever the latest version is when you read this) from the Silverfast Demo website. You’ll need to select the scanner you have.
  4. Run the .dmg you just downloaded and go through the install process to install the Silverfast 8 demo.
  5. Run the Silverfast 8 demo. It’ll give you an option to enter a serial number, put in the serial number you have for Silverfast (the old version).
  6. Click ok (or whatever it says). If you skipped step 2, this is where it yells at you to “insert original media”.

If everything went well, you’ll get a “Thank you” pop-up and you’re set to run the software. Free upgrade and no worries.

Scan away.

Bonjour, Montreal!

I had the chance last weekend to check out Montreal, the frozen Canadien city. French canada is a wild place! Here’s a glimpse into life there.

Snow day in Detroit

Last night, Southeast Michigan got it’s first snowstorm of the year. Here’s a look at how the people of Detroit took to the snow the day afterwards.

Requiem for a Neighborhood

In the farthest Southern point of Southwest Detroit lies a neighborhood called “Oakwood Heights”. A place I have always considered abysmal. There’s a asphalt plant on one side, a salt mine on the other, then an oil refinery and a river. Marathon Oil Company, who operates the refinery, bought up all the land and is allegedly turning it into a park. While many homes are already boarded up or being demolished, some are still occupied.

While shooting, I spoke with a man named Mike. Mike’s friend isn’t thrilled about the buyout as he has a welding shop that does well. He’s worried about relocating somewhere where he won’t be able to walk to work and wants to find somewhere where the taxes won’t kill his business. Mike said they’d been welding together since they were kids, and he was 61 now. Overall, however, It seems that most residents have been happy to take their check and get out. While it reminds me of Poletown, there is certainly a much better vibe about it all.

These shots are the neighborhood and some areas around it, mostly controlled or influenced by Marathon Oil.

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