November 23, 2021

DPReview's Broken Gift Suggestions For Film Photographers has shared its Buying guide: The best gifts for film photographers in 2021 and since DPReview is among the more reliable photography websites, I thought I should see what they listed.

  1. Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow Film: 400ASA black & white film. It's priced in British Pounds (£5.00 = US$6.69), but it's not available from the company website which seems to be the only place selling it. You can only pre-order it now. They claim it will be available for shipping in November, but it's already the 23rd. Chances of actually getting this before Christmas are indeterminable. It used a Kickstarter campaign for funding. They say the film itself is "made by a company with more than a century’s experience in making film." It's probably not Kodak, so that leaves Ilford as the manufacturer. Finally, the descriptions do not mention if the film canister is DX-encoded. If it is not, then the photographer will have to set the ISO manually. Does the photographer who is the intended recipient of the film use a camera that can manually set ISO? My suggestion? A roll of film, but not this one and not the kind you can buy at your drug store, unless your drug store is Hunt's Drug in Melrose, Mass., and I don't think they sell drugs anymore.
  2. Tetenal tablet developer. Does your photographer develop their own film? If not, then this would be useless to them.
  3. Kodak-branded metal travel cases for film made by Retopro. (Note the spelling: Retopro, not Retropro). Comes in two sizes. One for 35mm film, $25, and one for 35mm and 120 (medium format) film, $29. Does your photographer friend shoot solely 35mm or do they shoot 35 and 120? These could be useful to some, but I like film containers where I can see what kind of film it is without having to open up a box.
  4. LomoGraflok 4×5 Instant Back. Does your photographer friend use a Graflok-equipped 4×5 camera? Then they might find this $149 item to be useful. Unfortunately, the Lomography website is accepting only pre-orders with a promise to deliver (in the USA) in December. European orders won't be delivered until January.
  5. The Pixl-latr, a device to hold negatives or slides so they can be scanned. This gift could be for anybody who has negatives or slides that they want to scan. The Pixl-latr alone is not sufficient for the task. One also needs a DSLR camera (at least 20mp, I'd say) and some device to hold that DSLR (a copy stand or a tripod) and a light source. The Pixl-latr is £37.49 (US$50.16) and ships from the UK. They suggest you could use a smartphone instead of a DSLR, but I have serious doubts that a smartphone could focus on an image that is close enough to the lens to fill the frame. Myself, I use the Essential Film Holder which also ships from the UK and is more expensive. When I bought the Essential Film Holder, the Pixl-latr wasn't available yet. One advantage I can see for the Essential Film Holder is that it is lined with a low friction material so you can slide strips of negatives through it safely. The Pixl-latr requires one to lift up a piece of it before sliding the film or your precious, irreplaceable negatives will be scratched. A bit of a design weakness.
  6. The Analogue WonderBox - Film Subscription Box which is six rolls of 35mm film sent every other month for £50.00 (US$66.91) per shipment. Yes, this is another UK site, even though DPReview is not a British site. It's owned by Amazon and uses American English, but some Anglophile must be picking these gift suggestions. There is a shipping charge for orders outside the UK. These films will cost you more than $10/roll which is expensive. You can get a better price from any ordinary film source like B&H where you have 542 films to choose from at prices ranging from $4.49 to $561.50 (for a 50-pack of Ilford XP2 film). The highest price there for a single roll of 35mm film is $28.95 for REVOLOG Snovlox, a black & white film "characterized by a white color effect reminiscent of snowflakes." Here's a review with some sample images. I'd suggest NOT buying either the Snovlox or the Analogue WonderBox for any of your photographer friends.
  7. Polaroid Now+ i‑Type Instant Camera for $149.99. This looks a little more interesting than the popular Fujifilm Instax cameras. The photographer has more means to control the Polaroid by connecting it to a smartphone, and it comes with five actual, physical filters—not the internal, digital filters found on other cameras. Film prices start at $16.99 for a single pack (eight exposures) of color or black & white film.
  8. Chroma 5x4 Field Camera. WTF? This is an inexpensive large format camera and you need to know your photographer friend very well before you try gifting this camera. First, I'm not sure it's actually available to buy. DPReview links to the camera's Kickstarter campaign from 2018! There it appears to be £250 (US$334.48), but there is no way to order one. The last update on Kickstarter is dated October 4, 2021, and it sounds like he's still working off the backlog of existing Kickstarter orders from more than two years ago. Here's a review of the camera. The Chroma 5x4 Field Camera is not to be found on Chroma's website.
  9. Intrepid Compact Enlarger, if your photographer friend has a darkroom. Available for £280.00 (US$374.61). Another UK product, and this one says it's available for pre-order with a current lead time of 12 weeks, so your holiday gift will be delivered next spring.

permalink | November 23, 2021 at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2021




permalink | November 8, 2021 at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2021

Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone Gets Real

Chatter Telephone with Bluetooth
For $60 at Best Buy you can get this Fisher-Price Chatter telephone that actually works
. "Actually works" in the sense that it will connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone and you can use the rotary dial to make real phone calls and use the handset to talk and listen to a real person on the other end of the line. You can switch it into speakerphone mode, too. It comes with a rechargeable battery, but there's no word on battery life or whether the battery is replaceable.

permalink | October 19, 2021 at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2021

Four On Broadway (Los Angeles)

These were all shot on Ilford Delta 400 film.

Tim Cook (1)
Tim Cook

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (24)
Proscenium in the Apple Store

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (25)
Apple Tower Theatre

State Theatre - United Building
Not an Apple Store at all!
This is the State Theatre in the United Building, a block away from the Apple Store at Seventh and Broadway. The Gumm Sisters performed here.

permalink | July 23, 2021 at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2021

Four More At The Apple Store Grand Opening

These were all shot on Ilford Delta 400 film.
Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (13)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (11)

Apple Tower Theatre - Drinking Fountain Detail
Drinking fountain detail

Apple Tower Theatre - Ceiling Detail

permalink | July 22, 2021 at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2021

Dollar General

About half of what this video claims are the conditions that Dollar General looks for when selecting a location do not apply in Desert Hot Springs, but they're building a second one here anyway. IOW, the selection process is more refined than the WSJ says it is.

permalink | July 18, 2021 at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2021

Four More From The Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (3)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (2)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (4)

All shot on Rollei Retro 80S film.

permalink | July 17, 2021 at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2021

Apple Tower Theatre Opening

Yesterday the Apple Store in the Tower Theatre (first in L.A. to be wired for talkies, hosted sneak preview of The Jazz Singer, first in L.A. to be air conditioned, 1927) in downtown Los Angeles opened. The building had been sitting unused since 1988. This certainly seemed like a worthy event to travel to. I've wanted to see the interior of this theater for years, I'd never been to an Apple Store opening, and this one promised to be a bit more than the opening on El Paseo in La Quinta. So I got up early and drove to Rialto to get Metrolink. This is the first time I've tried parking at Rialto and it was totally fine. The parking lots were about three-quarters empty. And, it's not San Bernardino. Metrolink is still requiring masks for everyone on their trains (and even platforms), but they appear to permit eating and drinking on board?!

Union Station is looking pretty nice. I took some shots on film and continued shooting film as I walked to the Apple Store. I got there about 10:30 and the line to enter was not long at all and moved very quickly. They actually did the applause thing as our bunch walked in. And then I switched to my digital camera, because I just wanted to shoot a lot of photos under a wide variety of lighting situations. So I just walked everywhere and took pictures of everything. It was easy to spot Tim Cook - it was like finding the queen bee in a hive. Just look for all the congestion and wiggling abdomens.

Once I felt I had seen and photographed everything, I switched back to my film camera and walked around taking more photos. There's a chance I may have gotten an okay shot of Tim Cook on film...but I'm finding my film predictions are often wildly wrong.

Here's a nice, short article about the store.

Walked back to Union Station, made the train with like five minutes to spare, got to Rialto and the truck was fine and even in the shade!

The complete set of photos (so far) from Apple Tower Theatre is here. And here are some of them:

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (2188)
Apple Tower Theatre shot with my iPhone

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (2190)
A look down at Tim Cook from the balcony

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6520)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6498)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6492)

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6468)
They restored the drinking fountains, and they work

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6454)
Part of the ceiling over a balcony that overlooks the entrance lobby.

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6459)
The loftier parts of the entrance lobby

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6429)
I can't imagine the theater actually had windows along 8th Street
, unless they were just for display cases where they'd put their movie posters. These are hinged, but I don't think you'll find them standing open while the store is operating.

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6424)
THe proscenium

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6410)
The big, main false skylight
. There's another, smaller one over the balcony, mostly obscured in this shot.

Apple Tower Theatre Grand Opening (6379)

permalink | June 25, 2021 at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2021

Real News: Where are those A&F models now?

Slate reports on the whereabouts and activities of some of the former Abercrombie & Fitch models. There are a couple of 'then & now' photos.

  • One has started his own unspecified business. "I run a startup, and I’m using my brain very regularly."
  • One is now an attorney in labor and employment law.
  • One "works in biotechnology," which could mean anything.
  • One is a financial consultant "and co-owns a business making high-end furniture from aircraft parts."
  • One works in "sports marketing" which sounds even more vague to me than working in biotechnology.

permalink | May 27, 2021 at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2018

Mac Mini with 4K

I can now watch 4K videos with ease. I've got a couple of cameras that can shoot in 4K, and earlier this year I bought a 4K monitor. I could plug a 4K camera directly into the monitor to watch real 4K, but I couldn't watch 4K videos from any other source in 4K because my old Mac Mini (2012 model) could do no better than 1080. But finally, last month Tim Cook announced the new Mac Mini, greatly enhanced and with the ability to handle 4K.

Here's a test video I used: Driving Downtown - Los Angeles 4K - USA. 4K videos of Oahu, or aerial flights over Paris are quite lovely. But to judge the technical abilities of my hardware, I need to look at something familiar. Three hours of downtown Los Angeles in 4K...on a Sunday, so the traffic is unusually light.

For the new Mac Mini I went with the "3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)." On all previous models of Macs that I've owned, I've maxed out the RAM, but the max on the new Mini is 64GB! That would cost an additional $1,400. I don't think I've had a computer before that could hold more than 16GB, so I decided I could probably live with 32GB of RAM on this one. And I got the 1TB SSD drive.

The 4K is beautiful and realistic.

permalink | November 14, 2018 at 06:02 PM | Comments (2)

January 25, 2018

Apple Store Experience

One person who views her Apple Store experience as chaotic.

Another person responds saying the situation she described was actually good customer service.

Part of the initial confusion is that even though she is an Apple customer she hasn't figured out that the stores (or, all the Apple stores I've been to) have an employee near the front door who handles triage. The first time I encountered that I thought it was pretty bad service too, because what I saw was an employee standing there doing nothing, who offered to help me, but then wouldn't help me but sent me to another employee. Why they don't give that employee a hat saying "Triage" or something everyone could understand, I just don't know.

As for where to line up for a cash register?! I want to ask how old that author is and has she ever been in an Apple Store before. The customer stands still. The Apple Store will make an employee appear magically at your side and if you are really integrated into Apple, you won't even have to pull out your credit card. The great borg already knows it. I don't know what happens if you want to pay in cash. I've never seen that in an Apple Store. Maybe a Federal Reserve Employee will appear next to you to make sure all your bills are clean and crisp.

I got the glass replaced on my 6S Plus once. I set up an appointment online. Went in. Triage guy sent me to hang out around the Genius Bar. Someone called my name. Took my phone. I don't know how long I waited, but not very long at all. The Genius brought my phone back to me, fixed. I would expect that to go less smoothly if I went into a busy Manhattan store with no appointment.

The one serious bitch I ever had with the La Quinta Apple Store was when I bought online (probably my Mini) and had my purchase sent to the store for pick up. The instructions I got from Apple were to show them a printout which identified me and my purchase. I think I went through three employees before one understood what I was asking for. The second time I did that, it went flawlessly, so maybe somebody got some training in the interim.

permalink | January 25, 2018 at 07:53 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2017

My First 4K Video

Waokiye at Cabot's Museum is the subject for my first 4K video.

I recently acquired a ThiEYE T5e which is $170 at Amazon, but just under $100 at GearBest which is in China. I know buying direct from China is a crapshoot, but a 41% discount is pretty substantial. Reviews of this camera point out that it is genuine 4K, not interpolated from 1080p.

I have a 4K display, but my Mac Mini can't do any better than 1080p, so the only way I can see this in 4K is to connect the camera directly to my monitor and play it from there. I also don't have any software that can output a 4K video, so I can only upload them exactly as shot. Can't even trim off shaky starts or ends without lowering the resolution to 720p.

The video above is on Vimeo, who claims they don't degrade videos. I've also uploaded this video to YouTube which supports 4K, but they degrade the videos somewhat. If you think you can see the difference, here's a chance to do an A/B comparison.

permalink | November 18, 2017 at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 8, 2017

The IKEA $500 Bicycle

The author, who doesn't sound real handy, finished assembly in only 67 minutes. One presumes he did this without yelling at his kids or kicking the dog.

Looks like it should be a good Burner bike.

permalink | March 8, 2017 at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2016

Outback Logic Siesta4

I've just received a tent that was designed specifically for the weather conditions at Burning Man, the Outback Logic Siesta4. The reflective exterior is actually a rain fly that is permanently attached to the tent inside. Every vent on it can be sealed to keep out dust. It has two ports where you can insert an electric fan. I have one fan on order. The floor is 7'6" square and I can almost stand up straight in it, so it must be about 5'10" high. Staking it is required in order to get it to hold its shape.

I set it up in the wind and that was easier than setting up my Cabela's Alaskan Guide Geodesic tent in the wind. But the only way to test it against Burning Man strength winds would be to move it out to some open desert on the west side of the city, and I'm not going to do that.

No instructions came with it, and I made only one false start. There are only four fiber glass poles, but they are two lengths, so you've got to lay them all out to be sure you pick the right one.

Outback Logic Siesta4 (2928)

Outback Logic Siesta4 (2931)

Outback Logic Siesta4 (2940)

Outback Logic Siesta4 (2936)

Outback Logic Siesta4 (2938)

Outback Logic Siesta4 (2943)
One of the fan ports

permalink | July 14, 2016 at 07:31 PM | Comments (6)

May 13, 2016



permalink | May 13, 2016 at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2016

DHS Walmart Taking The Initiative Route To Approval

Mayor Scott Matas has announced that Walmart will present an initiative to the city. The City Council can either adopt the initiative or send it to the voters in November.

permalink | March 3, 2016 at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2016

Discounts On MacBooks

B&H Photo is selling various MacBooks at $300 to $350 off.

1.1 GHz, 256 GB, $999.

1.3 GHz, 256 GB, $1,249.

1.2 GHz, 512 GB, Space Gray, $1,249

Same model, but Silver or Gold, $1,299

1.3 GHz, 512 GB, Silver, Space Grey, $1,399

Same model but in grey, $1,449

permalink | February 14, 2016 at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2016

A Low-Priced Worthy Competitor For GoPro

The Gitup Git2. On Amazon for only $160. Or at B&H for the same price.

Can do 1080p at 60fps or 1440p at 30fps. Rear display. 16MP still photos; can even shoot raw. Digital image stabilization. Even allows control of shutter speed (1/30 up to 1 minute), ISO and white balance. GoPro mount on the waterproof case. Can be used as a dashcam. It has a configurable button that can be set for exposure lock, white balance lock, exposure lock and white balance lock, microphone mute/unmute, or stabilization on/off. Includes a wide dynamic range option.

permalink | January 29, 2016 at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2016

Burning Man and its Intellectual Property

Festival Concierge Services is a company that Burning Man has been fighting with for a couple of years over its use of Burning Man trademarks. "We believe strongly that paying upfront for a prescribed, curated experience that doesn't require individual effort misses the mark and erodes Burning Man culture, and it’s absolutely not okay to sell people 'the Burning Man experience' as a vacation package." It's okay for people to pay money upfront for services (or actual material objects) at Burning Man. Almost every camp pools money and shares resources to some degree. The flight I got to ride in 2014, I paid for well in advance. What Burning Man doesn't like is insular, non-involved camps. Maybe there are such camps made up of lower income people, but who knows? How would you find them? But the insular, non-involved camps set up by rich people are not so hard to find. When you see a dozen identical quarter-million dollar RVs all lined up neatly together, you sort of have a clue.

But it's cleaner and neater to go after intellectual property theft, so that's what they've been doing with FCS which is still using Burning Man's IP. But that's not really what I wanted to write about it. What I want to show you is the FCS "survival kit."

  • Backpack hydration kit
  • Headlamp
  • A set of walkie-talkies
  • Two pair of goggles
  • Six "headwear scarf wraps" (looks like, but is not a bandana)
  • Dust mask
  • Steel mug
  • Ten (10!) Spiral notebooks
  • Three bottles of hand sanitizer
  • Wingman multi-tool (now we're talkin')
  • A 24-pack of AA batteries
  • A dozen Sharpies!
  • A little first aid kit
  • Eye lubricant
  • Aspirin (are they expecting their customers to have heart problems? why not acetaminophen or ibuprofen?)
  • Two bottles of nasal spray
  • Three lip moisturizers
  • 800 baby wipes
  • Two spray bottles of sunblock
  • 55 yards of "duck" tape
  • Forty ear plugs
  • [I think it's assumed that food, water, alcohol, and costumery will be provided by the luxury camp the customer buys into]

They will you sell you that whole survival pack for $500! And they openly state that includes a 30% markup for their "services." Someone could easily set up a competing service simply by going to the Reno Walmart, buying all the equivalent items and then selling the bundle to rich people for some price lower than $500. You'd have to promote it so that the rich people understand that a visit to Walmart at the height of Burning Man shopping insanity is a part of the whole culture of Burning Man. Don't actually use the word "slumming," but communicate that somehow. You may also need to point out that Walmart carries a good selection of organic fruits and veggies to avoid scaring away the shy ones.

permalink | January 21, 2016 at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)

January 7, 2016

Save $250 On A MacBook Pro

The mid-range MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2.7GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz, 256GB flash storage) is $1499 from Apple. Somebody on eBay is selling that model for $1249.99 (so you actually save only $249.01).I don't know the seller at all. But if you want to try saving some money and then tell me about it later, I'd appreciate it.

permalink | January 7, 2016 at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)