Monday, 22 June 2009

Move over Paul Simon. Momma just took your Kodachrome

Thirty six years after Paul Simon wrote the words “Momma, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away”, Momma (Kodak) has finally done just that by announcing the end of production of Kodachrome slide film, which it has been making for a remarkable 74 years. Existing stock is likely to run out in the autumn of this year. Only one lab in Kansas still processes this film and has said that it will continue to offer the service through 2010. Truly the end of an era.

Photo of the pergola at Hampstead (taken using a Mamiya 645 AFDII and ZD back - no Kodachrome involved)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Does image stabilisation re-write the rules on tripod selection?

You decide to go out and buy a tripod. You have money in your hot little hand. You know that to get sharp shots you need a tripod capable of holding steady the most demanding camera and lens combination in your bag (normally the camera with the lens on that overhangs most). Let's say that you are prepared to lug around a substantial weight in order to get those sharp shots. You buy a well made all metal or metal and carbon fibre tripod at significant expense. But are you sure you really needed to?

Here's a thought. Many photographers who have bought lenses in the last few years will have several with image stabilisation (IS). Later model image stabilisation is tripod detecting, and can be left active while on a tripod (don't try this with the earlier type IS). In fact, with that in mind is it possible that the role of the tripod could have changed? If the tripod should happen to have a degree of flexibility, would the IS cut in and compensate?

What I am suggesting is this. If all but your very widest lenses have the later version of IS (or if it exists within the camera body as it does with some makes) the role of the tripod changes from something that should hold the camera and lens completely still, to a device to restrict the movement of the camera and lens to limits within which the IS can compensate for any remaining movement. In that situation you may be able to produce sharp shots with the aid of a tripod that is not capable of keeping the camera fully still in all conditions.

Now I think it is very important to clarify that I am not suggeting that this is the ideal situation, or that you should trade in your lovely beefy three-legger for a lesser model. My point is that maybe you can now take a smaller lighter tripod with you where before you would not have been prepared to carry a more solid (and heavy) one. All the other precautions of weighting the tripod, using mirror lockup and self timer/remote release still apply of course.

The tripod that I have been using in just these situations is one from the Benro Travel Angel range, and my comparison tests have shown that with all but very long exposures of several seconds the combination of light tripod and IS gets the results. Do your own tests to see what works for you.

Image: Overlooking Turkdean on the edge of the Chiltern Hills

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

My new web site now on line

Just a little note to say that my new web site is now up and running. Both and now link to the same site and content.

The site covers architectural, still life/product shots, landscapes and seascapes and some dance images. Categories still to go up are transport/haulage and a general people gallery. Please feel free to have a look.

Image of the Thames at Richmond.