Monday, January 30, 2012

Fuji Velvia and Olympus Epic Stylus

I am thinking of giving up on digital photography. I hear the siren song of analog (film) photography and manual focus lenses and I'm starting to adjust course. 

I got another little push in this direction this week when I found some film in my car that needed to be developed. All of these pictures were taken with an Olympus Stylus Epic that I bought for $1.35 at goodwill. I have 3 more just like it. This particular model of the Stylus is starting to achieve a cult following. It is a totally automatic point and shoot with a fixed focal length of 35mm and a fast f/2.8 lens. 

Every one of these pictures was an afterthought. I had the little camera in my pocket and would take some snaps while I was setting up my DSLR or waiting for the perfect light. Out of the 32 pictures on the roll, 5 were completely unusable because of "user error" like the blurry dashboard of the truck because I pushed the shutter as I was pulling it out of pocket or something and the other 14 were either duplicates or blurry from trying to handhold a long exposure. That means I had 13 pretty good shots and a couple I think are fantastic given the conditions. I never get that kind of ratio when shooing digital. 

Birch trees in Teton National Park. Check out the sharpness and detail in the leaves. The scene is very contrasty and the camera and film handled it quite beautifully, even though slide film is notorious for clipping in high contrast.

Grand Teton Range. Ummm. I spent an hour with my big professional camera setting up a shot of this very scene and it is not as sharp or well rendered. And I love the beautiful saturated colors.

Sunrise out the truck window. If I remember correctly, this scene was captured when I just pulled over on the side of the road and stuck my camera out the window.

Jackson Lake, Teton National Park. Poorly composed because I had steaks cooking on the grill but look at the detail. 

Moulton Barn and Bison. I can't believe how well this little point and shoot renders color and detail. And I think that I really like the 35mm focal length. I have no idea what aperture and shutter speed any of these shots were done at because the Epic doesn't give you any options, it apparently just takes awesome pictures.

Moulton Barn without bison but with my shadow.

OK. Finally we have a picture were the camera and film combo met its limitations. I don't think it would be possible use ND graduated filters with a lens this small. There is about 6 or 7 stops between the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows. Slide film can go 4-5 stops. I also assume the camera was wide open in this shot and you can see vignetting in the corners. The moral of this photo is when combining this camera with Fuji Velvia, keep my range in check.

Same scene but taken a little earlier so the range is less. Still lost the shadow in the scan, however when I look at the slide on the light table, I see more detail.

I don't know where this is, but I was skiing there. 
The detail in the pines in awesome!

My friend skiing in some unknown location. It does look fun though

Sunrise on Georgetown Lake. Obviously very blurry, but look at the color!

Handsom Jack! Velvia turns skin tones red so Jack is probably not as sunburned as he looks.

Flathead Lake jumping point. 

So why am I so impressed? These are the results from a 20 year old point and shoot, all hand held, in film that was mishandled and ignored. Left to sit in a car for two years through hot summers and freezing winters. Processed in a local lab (that coincidentally had a fire while my film was there) and scanned on a flat bed scanner. It begs the questions, what if the film was handled the right way. What if shot through professional glass with forethought and a tripod, processed and scanned in a high quality lab? Plus how do I get all the detail and tonality that I see on the light table uploaded into my blog? 

So I shall soon find out if it makes a difference. I took my Nikon F100 film camera and a 28mm f/2.8 AIS manual focus lens, 35-70mm f/3.5 AI,  and a 70-210mm f/4 AIS to Teton National Park. All of these lenses are old and manual focus but an absolute joy to use. Oh- and all 3 well less than $100 dollars COMBINED! The F100 is so much better ergonomically than my Canon T1 and the viewfinder is amazing. 

I had to cut my trip short, so I was only there for one day and it was cloudy and blah all day except for the last half an hour for a glorious sunset. I can tell you this much. I am not happy with my digital camera. If the film shots turn out there will probably be another Canon digital camera for sale on ebay.


  1. Fabulous photos! I thought Jack looked young here--two years ago perhaps?

  2. Check out the advice in this link:

    Or get a new camera and/or lens. Your camera and lens might have been inexpensive, but it won't take long for you to surpass the expense of a digital.

    You should check out the Flickr photo stream for RaedAG at
    He is a pharmacist in Minneapolis who shoots slide film on a Leica and scans it at home. I know he develops the B&W himself at home. I don't know about the color. He is a friend of a friend and I have never met him.

  3. I went back to look at RaedAG's photo stream and I noticed that the color shots I liked were shot with a Canon 5D with a 50mm f/1.4.