A few years ago, I came across a camera at a little vintage market. Usually cameras like this aren’t worth much now since they were mass produced and inexpensive, and not very complicated, making them pretty accessible. For whatever reason, it sparked my eye, and I picked it up only to find that it was still full of undeveloped film. Well, it obviously had to come home with me. The camera is a Brownie Starmite II and I’ll leave the folks at the Camerapedia to go into the details if you want them. The film inside was 127 film, probably still from the 1960s when the camera was made, so I knew the folks at Old School Photo Lab could handle it just fine. I saw there was a frame left, so I shot that off (last photo below), then wound up the film and sent it off for processing. In a matter of days, the scrappy Lab Rats at the film lab had emailed me the scans and popped the negatives (and reel) in the mail. The images are below. I don’t know anything about who owned the camera prior to my finding it or where it might have been used, but judging by the clothing, it’s probably about 1960s, and somewhere that it gets cold enough to ice skate, so it’s entirely possible the photos are of a family in the Philadelphia area where the camera was purchased. Maybe some day I might be able to reconnect these photos with the family who left them behind in the camera! Click any photo to see the full size. The camera is probably still usable since there’s not much to it in terms of moving parts, no battery, etc, and you can still find 127 film albeit at ~$13/roll. It would be fun to run a roll of film through this just for kicks someday.
I signed up over the summer for the Indiegogo campaign for the Rhianna, the digitial Diana mini camera by Greg Dash. I received the Little Cyclops mini fisheye camera from his first campaign and loved it so much that I figured I might as well spring for this one too. It was well worth it! The weather finally cooperated and I had enough time to take a walk around town and play with the camera for a little while. But first, the details!
(Missed the Indiegogo campaign but still want one? There are a limited number available via Greg’s website, CyclopsCameras.com)
Cost: I got on the earlybird special at £50 or about $75 USD, shipping included
Size: 4″ wide (including strap attachment points), 2.75″ high, 2.375″ deep (1.375″ without lens). Weighs 4.4 oz (about 125 grams) including the strap
In The Box: Camera, strap, mini USB cable, user guide
Tech Specs: 12 megapixel, 1/3″ CMOS sensor, plastic lens and body, run of only 1000 cameras
Operation: To turn the camera on, there is a large on/off switch on the back face which allows for the camera power to be completely shut off to save battery. The power button on top turns on the camera once the switch is flipped to “On” but doesn’t function when the switch is set to “Off.” There are two LEDs on the back for, “Busy,” and, “Charge.” The charge light turns blue when the switch is set to off and the camera is plugged into the computer or power source (a cellphone charger works great) and shuts off when charging is complete. Both LEDs come on red when the camera is turned on, and flash red while recording video. Video is recorded by changing the mode button and both the camera and starting/stopping video recording are operated with the shutter button on the top right. A third press of the mode button brings up photo review which also allows for playback (including audio) of videos.
File Transfer: To transfer files to a computer, the power switch has to be turned on. Plug the camera into a USB port on a computer and the files are easily transferred to the computer as if it was a USB flash drive or any other Mass Storage Device. Average file size at the highest resolution/quality setting comes in at 3648 x 2048 pixels and around 1 MB per photo (listed as 7M in the menu, not the 12 megapixels advertised). Files are JPG format. To transfer the files directly to your camera (or social media) all you need is a USB OTG (on the go) adapter to fit your phone. I bought this one a year ago and it’s been working great to transfer files from both the Little Cyclops and the Rhianna to my Samsung Note 3 phone which has a micro USB port.
Review: The camera arrived at my home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 17th from Singapore. I had to sign for the package with the mail delivery person. Upon opening the box, the inside flap read, “Thank You,” and the camera was nestled inside. Underneath the cardboard support for the camera were the strap, cable, and instructions. I immediately turned on the camera and found that it had enough charge to play with for a little while which was a nice surprise. I grabbed an SD card (Samsung 32 GB SDHC class 10) out of another camera, plugged it in and started setup. First thing I did was turn off the beep noises, set the date and turned off the date from showing up on the images. The menu is easy enough to navigate and clear – the menu button selects, the arrow/play button moves on to the next menu (cycling only to the right), the up/down arrows cycle through each menu screen, and the mode button acts as a “back” button. On my day out shooting, the camera lasted the three hours I had it running on and off and only got down to about half battery capacity. I didn’t have any issues shooting, and the camera performed about as I expected – better in the sun, not that great in low light or shade. The camera is all white which wouldn’t have been my color of choice, but it leaves the option open for the camera to be painted using acrylic paint. It looks like it might be possible to remove the outer shell of the camera for easier painting too since there are screws holding the camera together. Might have to clarify that with the creator before going ahead with it though. I recorded one video of my dogs and the sound isn’t that great – I don’t think I was covering the microphone but on playback it sounds like the audio was recorded from another room. I’ve included a few photos below to let the camera speak for itself! I used the Rhianna effect on all of these which has this odd character of turning any whites/blown highlights near the edges this odd pink color which you can kind of see in the next to last photo in the windows.
For more photos and a short video, check out my Rhianna set on Flickr.
- The camera doesn’t remember what effect setting you selected after turning the camera off. You have to go back in and set the effect each time (it defaults to “Normal”).
- It would’ve been great to have the effects menu as a separate, easy to access menu that loaded up as the first item. Navigating to the effects option can be a bit of a hassle since it’s not at the top of any of the menus, so it takes some scrolling to find.
- Lens cap! I would’ve loved a lens cap. I saw someone using a milk container cap elastic-banded to the camera which seems to work out alright.
- The LCD screen is really hard to see in direct sunlight and the viewfinder isn’t really compatible with glasses – I have to wiggle the camera around to see the edges of the viewfinder window since the glasses keep me from getting my eye right up in the viewfinder.
- I would’ve loved an option to set the photos to a square/medium format crop like the original Diana mini.
- A tripod mount would’ve been nice – the original Diana mini has one.
Final Thoughts: Overall the camera is well made, very closely resembles the Diana mini, and is a ton of fun to go out and play with. It’ll be an excellent companion for travel and gets me out doing photography for fun instead of for work which is always a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but there’s a simple joy about going out with a camera when there’s no assignment or time restrictions. I love discovering the world through the lens of a camera and the view is always a little different with each camera.
The entire menu tree is listed in the User Guide, so I won’t get into that here, but I will give you an example of all the effects as shot by securing the camera to a tripod with bungee bands. Click any photo to view larger.
Normal B&W Sepia
Red Green Blue
Sunset Warm Cool
Over Exposure IR Binary
Vivid Undertone Dog Eye
Aibao Gothic Lomo
So, last year I did the 365 project, taking one photo a day throughout the entire year. It was a difficult year to say the least, with the loss of my sister-in-law and my grandfather. But, there were a bunch of incredible things too – a two week trip across Europe with my husband, a week in Scotland, an incredible weekend with a lovely bunch of gals in Rhinebeck for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, teaching a sock knitting class. And throughout all of that, there was photography. I’m putting the slideshow of all the images, in order, at the bottom, but here are my top three of the year from that set.
27 January 2011
From about 6am this morning. The snow had stopped and everything was still so quiet for being in Manhattan. There was an occasional scrape of a plow, but the usual car honks and police/fire sirens were completely missing.
I picked up an old Stereo Realist camera on ebay a while back and finally developed my first roll of film today. Yep, I developed the film all by myself and didn’t fry it. Took a little bit of a refresher course in the chemicals and dilution ratios, took a deep breath and popped open the canister post-final rinse. It worked. Beautifully.
Now, with dry film in hand, I sat down with my Windows 7 machine and trusty old Canon Canoscan 8400f. The two have been having a disagreement (Scanner is TWAIN and Windows 7 is really primarily WIA, two differet protocols for image aquisition), but I finally managed to get things rolling after downloading the TWAIN plug-in for Photoshop (it’s not standard anymore). Your scan driver/software should have a way to allow you to specify the size of the negative and to turn off any auto-correction (exposure, tone, sharpness, etc). Ideally, every scan should be exactly the same, straight from the negative. Then there was finding software for the 3d stereo vision setup. The one most peple use, apparently, is StereoPhoto Maker. Free to download, and the installation/set-up instructions are pretty straight forward. The instructions tell you to also download something called AutoPano. The version they tell you to download doesn’t comply with Windows 7, or at least it doesn’t right now. However, AutoPano Pro is available here, found via google search and works perfectly. You just have to plug in the path to the .exe file in StereoPhoto under Edit/Preferences/Adjustment. I found it best to make sure my left and right images are both about the way I want them (cropped, adjusted, etc) before importing them into StereoPhoto. Then let StereoPhoto run Auto Alignment, go into Edit/Add Fuzzy Border (turn the fuzz down to zero for a plain border), and File/Save Stereo Image. VOILA! Just cross your eyes a little (or look down at your nose) and allow a third image to appear between the two images and come into focus. That image should be in 3d!
It’s been really fun going through the stereo images and now I can’t wait to go back out and burn through another roll! Click Here to view my Stereo Realist set on flickr.
I’ll probably post this a few billion times between now and the show, but here’s the first time. Please please please come out to the show and say hello – it would mean so much to see you there. A TON of really talented photographers will be showing their work next to Scott Church’s photography, and I’m honored to be among them.
|This is Rachel Schain, a local musician and friend who asked for some new photos for promotions, websites, etc. The two hour shoot went very well and she came away with a TON of really great shots. Musicians seem to make great models and are seldom shy of the camera lens. This photo here is really my favorite shot out of the bunch, but I’ve added another color one below so that you can see her gorgeous red hair. If you’d like to check out her music, you can go to her myspace page or her facebook page.
This is Ciara. She was a blast to shoot with and I’m really glad I had the chance to work with such a wonderful model. Even beyond that, she’s a singer with some awesome music – click her name up there to go to her myspace page.
I’m still available to schedule a shoot with you, your family, friends, significant other, etc. Just let me know, and we’ll get something together!