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  1. #1

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    What Camera for that 'Once in a Lifetime' Flying Saucer pic?

    Hi All,

    I learned a lesson last weekend when out with my other half. It was primarily a walking trip, not photography, so when we came across something interesting that she wanted recording for posterity, I said "No problem!" and whipped out of my rucksack the Konica P & S that lives there for such occasions. I do occasionally check the 3v lithium battery and all had been well with it a couple of weeks before. However, on this occasion the camera was totally dead, wouldn't switch on let alone anything else, and the battery state was shown as "empty" (to use a polite expression, which I didn't at the time). Well, of course the problem was that the ambient temperature was hovering around freezing, and after ten minutes nestling in my armpit (not something I'd recommend) the battery was re-inserted and the indicator showed it as being 100%, so I did what I needed to.

    I've been caught out by batteries dying in cold conditions before, but with most of my elderly SLRs that only loses the metering and the full range of mechanical shutter speeds can still be selected. Even with my electronic shuttered Pentax K2, there is a default shutter speed of 1/100th which could be used in the event of a once in a lifetime event such as the ever-hoped-for flying saucer putting down on the A38 in front of me. With the P & S, I would have been completely scuppered had the battery just been totally dead or reached the end of its life through terminal neglect on my part.

    All of which raises the question of what is the optimum camera to keep in the glove compartment/rucksack or wherever "just in case". I'd suggest that it needs to be fairly small and light, it could have a meter, but must have a shutter that's not dependent on the meter or on batteries, and with a reasonably fast lens. Next question is what to keep it loaded with? The film might be in there for a long time, in extremes of temperature, should be fairly fast but not so fast that 'goes off' too quickly. Colour or b/w? B/w is my preferred medium, but a "grab shot" might be to one side of my normal material and might demand colour, but then again if I was forced to photograph my flying saucer in poor light, I'd probably appreciate the flexibility of my own processing in b/w.

    Apologies if this has been discussed before, although my search didn't find it, but perhaps it's food for thought and a few interesting suggestions.

    Best wishes,
    Steve

  2. #2
    titrisol's Avatar
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    A Holga!
    that way my UFO pic will look credible
    Mama took my APX away.....

  3. #3
    Andy K's Avatar
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    My 'always with me' camera is a Canonet QL17 GIII. I find it will fit in most coat pockets, I even carry it as a back up to my OM-1 (which is also a take everywhere camera). The QL17 only requires a battery for the metering, if the battery dies the camera can still be used fully manually.


    -----------My Flickr-----------
    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    My usual go-everywhere camera is the Voigtlander Perkeo II, and it's usually loaded with Tri-X.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  5. #5
    bobfowler's Avatar
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    I'd pick a Retina IIa. It's small, reasonably light, has a good rangefinder, is all mechanical, and has a 50mm f/2 Xenon. Load that puppy with Tri-X and keep it handy.

    Second choice, a Nikon F (a beater) with a 35mm f/2.8 (also a beater). Why? 'Cause if the car gets a flat, you can use the F as a wheel chock while you change the tire, and still use it later on to shoot pictures...
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  6. #6

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    I've got two compact cameras (three if you count a Canonet QL 17 as compact, which in my book it's not quite): A Canon SureShot Telemax and a FED 50. The Canon SureShot Telemax has a two-position lens (38mm and 70mm), which is handy, and it's very compact; however, it does rely on its batteries for auto-focus and auto-exposure, so it doesn't really qualify for the specified criteria.

    The FED 50, OTOH, does meet all your requirements. Note that this camera is not closely related to the better-known FED series that's derived from Leica rangefinder designs. The FED 50 has got a non-interchangeable 38mm f/2.8 lens and is manual focus, but without any focusing aids, aside from an indicator in the viewfinder that points to icons representing various distances. It's an auto-exposure camera, but it uses selenium cells around the lens and requires no battery to operate. You can set the aperture manually, but when you do the shutter speed is fixed at (IIRC) 1/30 s. You can set the ISO speed from 16 to 400, so it's not great for ultra-high speed films. It takes surprisingly sharp photos. You can pick them up on eBay for a song, but usually they ship from former Soviet countries, so shipping sometimes takes a month or so.

    As to film, I'd say ISO 400 color print film is a good carry-around film, although I also often shoot ISO 200 color print film in my two carry-around cameras. If you want to do B&W, I might suggest a chromogenic B&W film rather than a conventional one because of the chromogenic films' reputation for wide latitude. (I've currently got some Kodak chromogenic B&W in my FED 50.) AFAIK, all chromogenic B&W films have a nominal ISO speed of 400. I prefer 24-exposure rolls in my carry-around cameras because I'm unlikely to shoot more than a couple of photos per outing with them. Of course, if a UFO landed in front of me, I'm sure I'd want truckloads of film!

  7. #7
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    Go d******l.
    It will make it much easier to Photoshop Bigfoot piloting a flying saucer past Nessie into the picture. :o

    I have a tiny fanny pack that contains a CL, two lenses, a digisix meter, a tiny autoflash, several filters, a tablettop tripod, cable relase, extra film and batterries. All in a package so small that it is difficult to justify not grabbing it as I go out the door.
    My Lomo LCA is always in my jacket pocket in winter time.

    Bring on the Martians!
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    Go d******l.
    It will make it much easier to Photoshop Bigfoot piloting a flying saucer past Nessie into the picture. :o
    Actually, i do carry a d******l P&S for color snaps. :-)

    But I normally have a Dacora Royal 6x6 folder in my car. It is light, simple, and easy to carry. The Dacora, a small meter, and a couple of filters reside in a 7x4x1.5" pouch that I can either attach to my belt or carry with a strap.
    JeffW.

  9. #9
    BradS's Avatar
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    Hey, if you've got a rucksack, why not throw a crown graphic and a graphmatic in there? No battery - no problems.

  10. #10
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Almost any 6x6 folder will make images as good as your P&S 35 mm, and they're not a bunch bigger. Bonus: battery independence. I've got three of these, and not a one has a battery door or compartment anywhere. Of course, a 6x9 will give a bigger negative, but you only get 8 on a roll; that could be seriously restrictive (even though I habitually carry a couple spare rolls of TMY, it takes too long to change film).

    If you can find one, a 6x4.5 folder really fixes this up -- it's smaller than a 6x6, and you get 16 frames on a roll (except for a few Zeiss models that only give 15).
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

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