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My Cameras
The Evolution in Photography

     Photography has evolved where today digital printing has to a great extent replaced the enlarged, optically produced photographic image on light sensitive, silver based paper in the chemical darkroom. Sophisticated ink-jet printers, such as my HP Designjet Z3100, utilizing 12 print heads and pigmented inks, provide exquisite detail and color rendition. This is repeatable on every print by virtue of digital storage on a computer—unlike the optical print which involves considerable subjectivity. The “printing medium” may be a variety of “photographic type” papers or canvas. And, considerable latitude in making adjustments (once performed in the darkroom), in programs such as Photoshop or ACDSee Pro 6.0, enhance the image to optimal standards. Longevity of a print, using pigmented inks (as in the HP Z3100), is estimated by Wilhelm Imaging Research (, the pre-eminent authority, to be as much as 200 years and that may be enhanced another 20 years with an UV (ultra-violet) inhibitor spray.

My Current Camera

      My most recent camera is the Canon EOS 7D, Mark II. It has a 21.5 MB file size which is most reasonable for the enlargements I do up to 30”x40” in size. If larger, I use the application Genuine Fractals.

     I understand Nikon now has a camera with a 35 MB file. The keen competition between these two (and to a lesser extent other minor companies), certainly provides the photographic industry the latest and greatest innovations.

My favorite and most versatile lens is the Canon 24-105 mm “L” (L stands for largess—Canon’s pile of money, identified by the red band around the front), an autofocus, zoom lens.

     Like the shaky advent of digital photography, the autofocus capability of today’s lens is perhaps a fraction of a second, unlike in past years requiring three to five seconds when the subject was often lost.

     Technology marches incessantly onward!

My Cameras Evolution

      Exacta 35 mm (film camera): In Alaska in 1958, I acquired an Exacta 35mm film camera (manufactured in East Germany), the then current “state of the art.” In 1959, seeking a larger format, I bought a used 4×5” Kodak Speed Graphic from a Sergeant in Elmendorf AFB. This camera didn’t prove reliable from the air as air-flow through the open window would cause the bellows to vibra te the lens board making sharp images uncertain. Photographers, who lug around gigantic tripods, should try shooting from the air!   

     Mamiya 645 Medium Formet: In the early 1970’s I acquired the first medium format  camera with an image size of 1 7/8” X 2 ¼”. This used 120 and 220 roll film, my favorite being Kodachrome transparency and VHC negative  film, resulting in the capability of producing reasonable enlargements.

     Bronica GS-1: A 6×7 cm medium format film camera,(image size 2¼ x 2¾”), acquired in the 1980’s. Virtually all the images in my book were shot with this camera. Later, I purchased a Kenyon gyroscopic stabilizer to further improve resolution, again using 120 & 220 roll film resulting in 10 and 20 images per roll. The 120 roll film contains ten (10) images and a 220 roll is 20 images. This is a “standard” rectangular format (with a 4×5 ratio) of 8×10″, 11×14″ etc. The film is then scanned (digitized), using an Imacon “drum” optical scanner producing a file size of 50 to 180 MB. The Bronica is preferred when producing enlarged display prints 20×24” or larger and where exceptional resolution is desired. In most cases, the digital images will be delivered to the customer on a CD. Selected enlargements are priced separately under the Photographic Price List.

   Nikon 5700: My firsts foray into digital photograph.  An early development model for digital cameras when film cameras still remained my professional cameras of choice.

   Canon 20-D: A Digital camera producing an approximate 8.5 MB file in the Canon CR-2 “raw’ or JPEG format and is capable of producing prints with good resolution up to 16×20” or perhaps 20×24”. It also is a convenient means of producing images for off-set press, web site and Power Point presentations.

   Canon EOS 5D MK II:  The move to digital is complete! The 5D now offers a full 35mm CMOS sensor (rather than electronically enlarged images originating from early “pocket” cameras). It has a 21.5 MB file size, very adequate for substantial enlargements and no longer is it necessary to scan film to make digital prints. Additionally, On-One’s Software, Perfect Resize 7, is a program that uses a patented, fractal-based interpolation algorithms which enlarge images maintaining the highest quality and sharpness of the original.

     Today, I have a closet full of cameras whose future is doubtful—most likely the scrap pile or the Smithsonian. I would like to see a digital back developed for the Bronica but that is rather improbable. Hasselblad produces a medium format digital camera in the $30K price range—out of reach of any but the most ardent (and highly paid) photographers. Most things in life are a compromise. jlw

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