Saturday, March 16, 2013

How Bad Can It Get?

Fixed Focus 26mm Lens Film Compact

I bought this last year for $3.99, and have just gotten round to putting a film through it. I thought maybe the extra wide 26mm lens might be of decent enough quality to be useful... boy was I wrong! I tried it with Fuji Superia 800 film, which is actually tricking it out, because the camera is designed to accommodate ISO 400 maximum. This would be a good thing for night shooting, as long as the exposure meter attempts the shot at it's maximum opening for 400, this would add more light on the ISO 8000 film. This trick appears to have worked, but although low light exposures were great, the overall results were poor.

Well, sometimes bad is good - that's what Lomography is all about, right? Correct, but with this camera and film, bad is just plain bad - straight from the camera, Lomophiles wouldn't be interested I don't think.

A few examples:

Way too much blue cast - this house is a dark neutral gray... but...

Even bad pictures can be saved - how about a spooky B&W, except for the light in the window...

Or warm things up a bit with a GIMP Fake Lomo treatment...

Next, let's see how the Superia 800 fared in strong daylight. First, a picture straight from the camera, scanned with my Epson V500:

Very strong sunlight made for a very bright exposure, but film by nature is very forgiving...

I was able to save it with G'MIC Psuedo Grey and some added contrast.

I'll show just one more of the strong daylight shots, in which the film speed caused a stop of overexposure -

Again, strong light overexposure straight from the scanner...

... But with G'MIC Boost/Fade, I was able to make it more interesting.

The Boost'Fade, somehow made the colours more natural, and the overall visibility within the picture much better.

Finally, a bit of added contrast helped correct the exposure problem.

I think that for those who say "it's not about the equipment, it's the photographer", there is a point at which this is no longer true. Certain cameras become unusable - you would not be able to take a good photograph with a camera that falls below a certain quality point. The lens in this little Canon BF-10 is just plain bad. So also is the Industar-61 that I have on my FED-5. But there is a tremendous difference - the Industar 61 is "charmingly bad", and I love it; what it lacks in quality it makes up for in character. This Canon BF-10, however, is of bad quality, and it can only be redeemed by using digital effect filters to add some character. It is not worthy as a Lomography camera - but it's still possible to use digital "Lomo faking" to save the day. 

Under the topic of junk store camera shopping, this shows that buying old film cameras, especially the plastic compacts, is a real crap-shoot. I love my Pentax Zoom-90 I bought for $6.99. It always amazes me, and it is one of my best cameras for picture quality. But for a meagre $3.00 less, the Canon BF-10 really falls below the line. If you're not into film at all, the best bet by far these days is the camera in your Smartphone. Typically equipped with a fixed wide angle lens, and sheer simplicity, there are similarities comparing the Smartphone camera to a plastic film compact - but when it comes to picture quality, the Smartphones are simply amazing, given the extreme miniaturization to which they're built. I was expecting the Canon BF-10 to be at least as good, but not so - a big thumbs down. If you keep your eyes open, you can do much better for still under $10.00

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