Tag Archives: Camera Equipment

{Two Rolls In} {Three Rolls In} Holga 135

I actually had a Holga 135 a handful of years ago, so this is not a camera that is entirely new to me. I bought one in 2011 but felt like a hipster for doing so because it came from Urban Outfitters. That inspired me to do a photo series call “Things Hipsters Like.” After running a couple of rolls through the Holga 135, a piece broke off of it, then I tried unsuccessfully to paint it a color I liked better, and that was the end of my relationship with the Holga 135. Fast forward a few years, and I started looking back at some of the photos I’d taken with that camera, and I thought “Hey, some of those were pretty cool!” Couple that with the fact that the Holga factory shut down earlier this year, and I decided that I wanted another Holga 135 while I could still get one. I found one online and bought it. It was described as “fuchsia.”  My friends, it’s actually a bright neon orangey pink. It’s a LOUD color.

I was SO excited that my new Holga 135 arrived just before I left to see Mallory up in Midtown Memphis on a beautiful afternoon. I knew it would be a great day to try out the Holga!

Roll #1 was Agfa Vista Plus 200


I kinda went overboard photographing the cool sculpture outside Crosstown 🙂

Around Midtown


It was February, and they still had Christmas decorations up!

Roll #2 was expired Fuji Sensia 400, cross-processed 

Now. This isn’t a full roll, because when I was photographing the Impala you’ll see below, someone at work saw me doing so and insisted on taking a bunch of photos of me with the car. It wasted a good bit of that roll. AND I accidentally opened the camera because I forgot there was film in it. OOPS! I was going to wait to get this roll developed, because there had been so many missteps with it, but I decided to throw it in with the most recent batch of film I sent off for processing.

Example of the aforementioned photos of me with the car…

I didn’t really think it was fair to the camera or this blog post for me to accept Roll #2 as a proper test roll, so I put a third roll through the Holga 135 for this post!

Roll #3 was Fuji Superia 400, expired in 2007

Admittedly underexposed, but they’re of SPIKE! 

Como, Mississippi

Double exposure, probably in Como, Mississippi

Pro tip: don’t leave your camera in bulb mode and then take a photo in broad daylight!


Double exposure at the zoo and winner of “best of the bunch” for the photos in this blog

Another zoo double exposure

Crepe myrtles 

Underexposed double exposure. But I like it?


Aside from the mishaps with Roll #2, I actually am really pleased with a lot of the photos I took with my new Holga 135! Hopefully it won’t break like its predecessor did!

{Lomo Instant Wide} Introduction

Please allow me to introduce you to the Lomo’ Instant Wide. Hold onto your seats, because this will be a lengthy introduction!

It’s quite a camera and an unexpected addition to my collection.

When I first read about the upcoming release of the Instant Wide, I winced at the price, but I really got a bee in my bonnet about owning one! Lomography was selling it via pre-order, with shipment expected by Christmas. I kept going back and looking and thinking “Can I do this? I can’t do this! But can I?” I got an itchy trigger finger one October day because I just got a feeling in my bones that I was supposed to have this camera (hey! It happens!) I immediately got buyer’s remorse. It was a chunk of money! But here was my justification: I have been wanting a better Fuji Instax Wide camera for YEARS because I love the format but hate the available cameras for it. The hope was that Fuji would put out a better Instax Wide. Doesn’t look like we should hold our breath waiting for that to happen.

Before I can really get on with the Instant Wide review, I need to address what I mean by “better Instax Wide camera.” Basically, the readily available Fuji Instax Wide cameras left a lot to be desired. I have owned an Instax Wide 200 since about 2005, which had to come from England and film wasn’t available in the US for it at that time. Even once the film was easily found here, I just didn’t use the Wide 200 very often because it had so many limitations. It was auto exposure only. There was no ability to turn the flash off (though you could force the flash to fire.) There were only two focus settings which left a lot to be desired for versatility. The Wide 200 was an older model of the Instax Wide camera, but even the subsequent models weren’t really improvements over the 200.

Now, what features did the Lomo Instant Wide offer that piqued my interest? Here are the camera’s tech specs from the Lomography site, and I’ll bold the things that got their hooks in me:

  • Lens Focal Length: 90mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Auto exposure type: Programmed Automatic
  • Aperture: f/8, f/22
  • Shutter Speed range: Bulb (Bulb Mode), 8s-1/250 (Auto Shooting Mode), 1/30 (Fixed Shutter Speed Mode)
  • Exposure Compensation: +1/-1 Exposure Values (Ambient)
  • Ejection Mechanism: Motorized
  • Multiple Exposures: Yes
  • Built-in Flash Guide Number: 13 (m)
  • Built-in Flash: Automatic Electronic Flash & Flash Off Mode
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.6m (0.1m with the Close-Up Lens)
  • Zone Focusing Setting: 0.6m / 1-2m / infinite
  • Tripod Mount: Yes
  • Remote control transmission: Infrared
  • Battery Supply: 4 x AA batteries (4 x 1.5V)
  • Filter Thread: 49mm

Again, straight from the Lomgoraphy site, here’s what was in the box:

  • Lomo’Instant Wide Camera (Central Park edition, in my case)
  • Colored Gel Filters (four of them)
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Ultra Wide-Angle Lens Attachment and Viewfinder
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Close-Up Lens Attachment
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Splitzer
  • Remote Control Lens Cap
  • Shooting Technique Cards
  • Instruction Manual
  • Bonus accessory: Lomography Light Painter, a special gift for pre-order customers
  • Bonus accessory: An additional four colored gel filters for the flash, a special gift for pre-order customers
  • Bonus accessory: Camera strap, a special gift for pre-order customers

I received the Instant Wide in December, as promised. I knew the camera would be large, based on the size of my Fuji Instax Wide camera, but, WOWZA! It’s big!

What was in the box (minus the tip cards) with my Central Park Edition camera

Tip cards: example photos taken with the Instant Wide, with info about settings/accessories used on the back

Close-up accessory

Ultra wide-angle accessory

The best, most useful accessory for the Instant Wide: the lens cap that is actually a remote control. You use the instant side to snap a photo instantly (duh) and the time side to hold the shutter open for up to a minute in Bulb mode.

Controls: flash on/off button, multiple exposure button, exposure compensation button, on/off/auto/bulb/fixed shutter speed selector

Where the picture is ejected after you take a photo

You’re supposed to be able to use the shiny silver circle to help compose self-portraits (fine: selfies!)

All cameras that use Instax film (wide or mini) are easy to load because there’s a yellow mark on the camera that corresponds with a yellow mark on the film cartridge, so you’ll know which way to insert it.

The light painter tool in use

One of the colored flash gels inserted over the flash

The only reason you might feel like this camera is heavy is because it’s powered by four AA batteries. Otherwise, the camera’s pretty lightweight.

I don’t know if Lomography does their product releases in December because they want people to give their new releases as gifts or because the winter holiday season is rife with photographic opportunities. Okay, it’s probably the former but the latter turned out to be true for me. I really liked having the camera put in my hands during a time of year when I would have good reason to take a lot of photos.

First shot! I’m in love!

Close-up attachment focuses at 10cm (about 4 in.)

My mom’s flawless accessories (much better in person rather than in the digital photo of it)

Arm-length self portrait

Bulb mode + flash + moving the camera in circles during the exposure

Another close-up accessory success – my eyes turned to hearts when I saw this shot

It’s underexposed, but I like it (close-up accessory used, of course)

Tried the ultra wide-angle accessory. Focusing guidelines given in the camera’s manual didn’t steer me correctly here.

The only time using the ultra wide-angle accessory worked okay. I have more work to do to figure it out.

Quick grab-shot of my mother’s earring, with the close-up accessory <3

Close-up of fabric. Textural. 

Attempted double exposure. It looks…ethereal?

Never taking the close-up attachment off this thing

Street art in Oxford, Mississippi

The Lyric venue in Oxford

Breads on display at Bottletree Bakery in Oxford

Uncomfortably close-up shot of a pastry from Bottletree Bakery in Oxford

Patio table outside a business in Oxford

Shop window in Oxford

City Hall Christmas Tree in Oxford

I can never resist the red phone booth (from England) that’s in Oxford
(Weird lens flare in this photo has been experienced by other Lomo Instant Wide users)

Shop window in Oxford

Me, standing outside Square Books in Oxford

Dress outside a clothing shop in Oxford. Reminded me of something Lady Mary would have worn near the end of Downton Abbey 🙂 (the 1920s)

My Lomography La Sardina on a table outside a business in Oxford

Santas and angels under the Christmas tree at my brother and sister-in-law’s house

My nephew Braeden and the beard I crocheted him for Christmas 🙂

Christmas tree at my brother and sister-in-law’s house

My niece Anna Marie in the Dragonball Z shirt I got her for Christmas

Yours truly, in the crown from my Christmas cracker 

My swirly ring (close-up attachment used)

Listening to my original Stax record “King and Queen” by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas

Last shot in my four pack test run for the Lomo Instant Wide (when I did this for my 365 project)


Thoughts? Likes? Dislikes? Conclusions?

I think this is a really interesting camera. And it better be for the price tag it carries! I am not into the “Lomography” look of blurry, soft-focus, or wacky looking photos. For the first four packs of film in the Lomo Instant Wide, I didn’t really find it to have those qualities. I wish the ultra wide-angle accessory hadn’t turned out to be so difficult to use correctly. I plan on doing some focusing tests with that accessory attached, but I really shouldn’t have to. I have found that even setting the exposure compensation to -1 for both shots, I have gotten terrible results trying to do double exposures outdoors. The photos have turned out so overexposed that there was virtually nothing on the frame of film after it developed. I also find that the camera is leaning toward overexposure in general if it’s used outdoors and sometimes even indoors. It’s frustrating!

The most advanced Instax Wide camera that Fuji itself has produced, the Instax Wide 500AF, has no where near the features and controls of the Lomo, but I have seen comparison photos taken, and the Fuji definitely wins in the sharpness department. But I see a lot of potential for the Instant Wide. I hope I can make the most of it and create some worthwhile images with it. I’ll keep you guys in the loop though 😉

…Enter the Samsung NX300

I don’t really review or write much about digital cameras, but lemme tell you a story all about how I ended up with another digital camera in my collection (and I didn’t mean to.)

It all starts with two happy years with my Samsung NX1100. I’d been using the little kit lens that came with the camera for those two years, but I finally decided to invest in a nice, prime lens for it. I chose a 30mm f/2 lens. It’s tiny and classified as a “pancake lens” because it’s so compact. The lens arrived, and I gleefully took it outside to quickly test it a little. Here are those test shots:

Such pretty shallow depth of field! I’m in love with this lens! 

Then, I took the camera in to charge the battery fully, as I knew I’d be shooting with it lots in order to have fun with the new lens. Charged the battery for awhile, put it back in the camera, and the camera wouldn’t power on. WAAAAAHHHHH! There was lots of panicking and searching the world wide web for answers to my problem.

What’s a girl to do?? This girl decided to bite the bullet and buy another Samsung camera body which would allow me to use my pretty new 30mm lens. Doing so did not make me a happy camper, but what were the odds that my NX1100 would stop working the very day I finally got a better lens for it? Inconceivable! But I did a little research and decided to buy a slightly upgraded model, a Samsung NX300.

30mm pancake lens…

…vs the 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera (at it’s shortest)

The NX300 has a lot in common with the NX1100, as far as form and fuction go, but notable differences (in my day-to-day life) are: 1) The NX300 has a touch screen, which you can use to adjust focus points on the fly, access the menus and   2) The NX300 has an articulating screen that rotates 45° for shooting overhead or 90° for shooting lower angles more easily.

Articulated screen folded as flat as it will go

The angle for shooting up high

Shooting low

One of the things I like best about these Samsung cameras is that they have wi-fi built in that allows you to send files straight from the camera to your phone or tablet. That’s one thing that has made it hard to compile this blog: I wanted to save a lot of the shots for writing a blog about the NX300, but I found myself sharing a lot of them to social media while I was waiting to write a blog about the camera! Plus, I have already dedicated a few different blog posts to photos taken with the camera already because I couldn’t hold on to them any longer! (Here, here, here, here.) I tried to mainly use photos here that haven’t been seen elsewhere on my social media, but there are some that my Instagram or Facebook friends would have seen already. I just wanted to show how many different aspects of my life I’ve been capturing with this camera. Okay? Let’s go!

Desserts I made for my family’s catering business

Naturey stuff outside my house

Decor in my sister’s house

Vegan mini cakes I made

More scenes from my “yard” at home (pssst: I live in the woods)

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS at work

1972 Chevrolet Custom 10
(the last two photos of this truck were taken with the Samsung’s 18-55mm kit lens)

#SoSoBrit – the day there were randomly some British Jammie Dodger biscuits in an office at work

My brother’s fiance made candy apples. My niece said they were GOOD!

Previously unseen shots from Muddy’s holiday look book photo shoot

Like to Instagram your food? The Samsung NX300 and 30mm lens do it well!
(Waffle House in Nashville, TN on the way to our family vacation in The Smokies)

Some more photos from the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

“Madonna” at the Guinness World Records Museum in Gatlinburg, TN

The newest troublemaker in the family: Arrow, the Mountain Cur who wandered up to my sister’s house


My brother’s family’s pit bull puppy, Poseidon

My niece, the sulky model

Dilly, at her favorite spot in the house

…And, actually, I brought the NX300 to document my brother’s impromptu wedding!

Honestly, the Samsung NX300 is my favorite digital camera. And that’s saying something, coming from this film photographer!

Fuji GA645i {Two Rolls In}

Upon purchasing a Fuji GA645i recently, I published a retrospective of photos I’d taken with its older sibling, the GA645. Now that I have the 645i, I’m ready to embark upon a review for it!

I was so happy when the camera arrived. It has that “new camera feel.” It’s in beautiful condition!

About the Fuji GA645i:

  • The Fuji GA645i is an auto-focus medium format camera, with manual focus available by override and is achieved through zone focusing
  • 60mm f/4 lens Fujinon Super-EBC lens (equiv. to 37mm focal length in 35mm format)
  • Produces 6 cm. x 4.5 cm. negatives
  • Accepts either 120 or 220 film. 16 exposures on 120 or 32 exposures on 220 (earlier GA645 models, like the one I had, only gave you 15/30 photos per roll)
  • Vertical-oriented viewfinder (must turn camera sideways for horizontal photos)
  • Two shutter release buttons: one atop the camera for vertical photos and one on front of the camera for horizontal photos (the release on the front was not available on the GA645)
  • Auto film advance
  • Auto ISO setting with certain Fuji films. Otherwise, you can manually set film speeds between 25-1600
  • LCD display on top of the camera with exposure counter, film type (120 or 220), exposure mode, focus distance, and other pertinent information
  • Moving parallax correction frame marks in the viewfinder, to give you more accurate framing
  • Exposure modes: program auto exposure, aperture priority, and manual 
  • Built in pop-up flash
  • Aperture range of f/4-f/22
  • Exposure compensation of ±2
  • Shutter speed range of of 2s – 1/700s, plus Bulb (though apertures f/4-f/9.5 can only use up to 1/400s shutter speed)
  • Minimum focusing distance 2.3 ft. (.7 m)
  • Option to imprint data between the frames of film – you can select to record date, date and time, exposure mode/shutter speed/aperture/exposure compensation/focus mode, etc.

On/off/exposure mode/ISO dial, data selector button, self-timer button, flash button

LCD info display, auto focus/manual focus selector button, exposure compensation button, and selector wheel

Primary shutter release on top, secondary shutter release on front

By no means a small camera, but smaller than so many other medium format cameras

Some thoughts

I had read online that the GA645i was quieter than its predecessor. While I don’t have a fresh memory of the noises made by the GA645, I do feel like the GA645i’s focus is a bit less “grindy” sounding (and is in fact quite quiet when held for horizontal photos – I’m not sure why it is louder when held that way as opposed to normally.) I think the film advance is a bit more quiet on the GA645i as well. Still, a co-worker made a a little fun of me for the noises the camera makes while focusing.

A maximum aperture of only f/4 is somewhat off-putting, because I like big apertures (and I cannot lie.) You know,  for selective focusing and because the slower the aperture, the less light you can gather. That also means you’ll need longer shutter speeds in low light. On the bright side, the GA645i has a leaf shutter, making it easier to hand-hold slower shutter speeds than you would be able to on a camera that had a focal plane shutter/mirror.

Size is an interesting issue with this camera. It’s almost unbelievable to see it in person. In a world full of people accustomed to seeing digital SLRs everywhere you turn, the GA645i will get you some attention when you’re out and about with it! Yes, it’s more compact and lighter than a medium format SLR, but it’s still a sizable camera. With the batteries installed, it weighs 1.89lb. (856g.) Lighter than its medium format SLR counterparts but not exactly a featherweight!

For comparison, the GA645i pictured with two of the smaller cameras I’ve traveled with: The Ricoh FF-1 above and Nikon EM below.

Roll #1 was Ilford FP4 Plus (ISO 125.)  I cannot believe how beautifully these turned out. Totally made me happy that I’d decided to buy this camera.

Started my first GA645i roll in the local cemetery. Always a good place to start with a new camera. I’ve done it loads of times. The statue of the young woman is a particular favorite of mine. 

Section A in the cemetery. Or “A’ is for Amanda?

Like a photo I took with my Kiev 4AM 

I have no idea how perfectly the camera focused on this winter goldenrod. The depth of field is extremely shallow, yet the thing that’s supposed to be in focus is in very sharp focus.

An afternoon where I managed to take a few photos of my niece without her staging a revolt

Alyza and Annie

Annie, the prettiest dog in the world

Roll #2 was an expired roll of Fuji Provia 400, which was cross-processed.

My camera tests this autumn prominently featured foliage

The beautiful portrait of Annie on Roll #1 was an anomaly. Normally, she turns her head just as I’m taking the photo or is otherwise derpy, as above.

I love this hand-painted sign at a beauty shop in our town. I photograph it fairly often.

My “acts of Christmas” one day were putting up my mom’s tree and the little silver tinsel tree in my bedroom.

1964 Pontiac Catalina that was at the auto auction where I work (in catering) one day a week.
(Also shown in my Bronica S blog)

Sushi restaurant in our town

Jessica and Dustin’s engagement session Polaroids, before I sent them to the couple

I loved how the branches were formed on this tree


Love it! It was a bit of an investment for me, since I am a very frugal camera shopper. But the Fuji GA645i is wonderful. I don’t know if it’s actually a huge improvement over the GA645 I had, or if I just am more appreciative of a camera like this now than I was then. I’d love to take the Fuji traveling with me. It’s well-regarded for as a great travel companion. You get medium format quality in a package that, while not small, quite easily slips into a smallish camera bag or a biggish coat pocket. Not to mention the fact that it has auto focus and built-in metering. The GA645i doesn’t have the quietest autofocus, but when I look at the results, it’s hard to fault that when the lens itself is so incredibly wonderful. And the lens is really what matters, after all.


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