Archive for the ‘digital’ Tag

New use for old glass

You are on a budget so, much though you might love to, you can’t buy all the new lenses you’d like. Sure the new 24mm Sigma lens looks cool but you have enough bank loans already and one for a camera lens might just break you – what do you do? Simple, use old lenses.

Chances are that if you are an obsessive budget photographer you probably already have an old film SLR or rangefinder and a collection of lenses. If not, go out and get one, they can be had very cheap. My own film SLR a is a Zenit 122 with an M42 mount, you can pick up M42 mount cameras for next to nothing and there are hundreds of lenses out there. I’ve got a Hanimex MC Auto 28mm, a Helios 44-4 58mm and a Jupiter 37A 135mm – all very cheap.

Of course the first use you should put all of this kit to is film photography! So go ahead, I’ll wait . . . still shooting? Ok, come back when you are done . . . good to go? Great.

Now for the other use you can put the lenses to, making your digital photography more interesting. Now, I have a Nikon D70 SLR but the focus screen is terrible for manual focusing – seriously, it is light years behind the Zenit for this. Instead I have a Samsung NX100 (bought cheap on eBay as it had no lens with it) that has a focus peeping (zoom) feature that makes manual focus a hundred times easier. It is possible to get better focusing screens fitted to modern DSLRs but for the price you can probably get different camera that will do better. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my D70 but it is only going to be used with autofocus lenses from now on.

But how can you use an ancient M42 mount lens on a fancy-shmancy digital camera-thingy? I hear you ask. Well by using an adapter of course! Some lovely people make adapters that allow the mounting of old lenses on new cameras, isn’t that nice of them? Of course they do charge for them, but as I got mine for £4, including postage, they don’t charge much.

Old film lenses are meant for what is now called ‘full frame’ when talking about sensor sizes so (depending on your sensor) you may have to do some recalculating to work out what the crop factor does to the focal length. To be honest, this doesn’t really matter all that much. Look at the image on the screen and you will soon get used to what each lens gives you.

If you are obsessive about your images being pin-sharp at all times then old lenses may disappoint you unless you use the smallest apertures at all times. Then again if you are obsessive about pin-sharp images you should probably save all you can and go for the newest and most expensive lenses. However, old lenses have a remarkable thing many modern lenses lack – character. If you use the same colour setting on your camera each lens will render the colours differently, there will be differences in the levels of contrast when shooting black and white. Also, as your old lenses are far more likely to be prime lenses than zooms the chances are they will have much wider apertures than your modern lenses. My two Nikon zooms have minimum apertures between 3.5 and 5.6 depending on the focal length (I also have the 50mm 1.8 but it is the only modern prime I own), my M42 lenses go from 2 to 3.5 as a minimum. Even at 3.5 there is a world of difference in terms of depth of field and bokeh.

Sometimes I am looking for a pin sharp image so I use my D70 and modern glass, it does the job great. Sometimes I am looking for something different though, and that is what old glass offers – some of the quirkiness of film photography with the convenience of digital.

http://www.flickr.com/archerctb

Real budget photography – why ‘under $500’ isn’t the same as ‘budget’.

In the leadup to Christmas and over the course of the New Year sales there have been a lot of articles about buying ‘budget’ photography equipment. I consider myself to be a budget photographer but most of this ‘budget’ equipment is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my price range. Under $500 is not ‘budget’, under $50 maybe but not under $500. So, I think it is time to promote and talk about REAL budget photography. I am going to try, there will be more posts about this but here’s the start.

First of all this is going to mostly mean used equipment and not very new used equipment at that. It is also going to mean any good, new equipment is probably a gift. At the moment I am a student (ok, as I am nearing forty I should probably say ‘mature student’) so I have got no money but even before that I did not have huge sums of money to spend on my hobby. And, yes, it is a hobby. I have no desire to be a professional wedding photographer – based on the sheer volume of articles about how to become a professional wedding photographer this must put me in a very tiny minority!

So, what equipment do I have? Less than I used to for a start. Being unemployed for almost a year and then becoming a student means you have to get money where you can. Anyway, here is some idea of what I have at the moment.

Zenit 122 – A film SLR from the old Soviet union, with an M42 lens mount, made while I was still at school. Bought from eBay for under £20 including delivery. I’ve got a 28mm Hanimex lens, a 58mm Helios and a 135mm Jupiter 37A to go with it, none of which cost over £20.

Nikon D70 – A digital SLR (about 6MP) bought from eBay for about £30 including postage. These were introduced in 2004 and were replaced by the D70S in 2006 so it isn’t exactly cutting edge. I have a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (cheap due to a broken filter ring), a Nikkor 35-70mm that came with it and a Sigma 70-300mm that is my most expensive piece of camera equipment as I bought it new for about $150 while on holiday in Florida. I’ve also got a cheap Holga lens that fits it that I haven’t really managed to get to grips with.

Lomo LCA – A film point and shoot that I love, probably my favourite camera. Another eBay purchase for around £20 becuase it was listed as the shutter being stuck. Once I replaced the batteries and freed the shutter by poking it with a biro while travelling on the bus (true) it worked and has been reliable ever since.

Samsung NX100 – Around £30 on eBay because it had no lens with it. A digital mirrorless camera (about 14MP) and my newest. With the addition if a £4 adapter it now works with my M42 lenses!

Polaroid Land Camera – Takes Fuji peel-apart film. Free! Found in my mum’s attic having been unused since the mid-70s, worked fine straight away – even the battery still had power.

Fujifilm Instax 200 – £10 in a charity shop in full working order, what a bargain! Yes, it is one of the ugliest cameras ever made but it is fun.

Lomo Konstruktor – This year’s Christmas present, a film SLR you put together from a kit. Built only last week so untested yet.

Coronet box camera – Takes 120 film, fun to play with and less than £10 on eBay (and most of that was postage).

Digital is nice and cheap as you just download the images but film can be cheap in black and white too, if you develop it yourself in caffenol. So, all of this equipment has been bought over the course of a couple of years keeping the budget fairly low. If you want to get an idea of the results check out http://www.flickr.com/archerctb

Sequels and where to go next.

My serialised novel, New Dawns Season One, is being released a week at a time, Sovereign Nation is out there, Chasing the Future was released a while ago, Second Time Lucky has been out for a year – so, what’s next?

A Christmas story for New Dawns is needed to cap off the first season, then there will probably be a collected edition. The Christmas story will tie up most of the main storyline, or at least get them to a place where a pause is appropriate before season two. It will be somewhere between five and eight thousand words if all runs to plan, making the collected edition around forty-five to fifty thousand words long.

When I was talking to a friend about Sovereign Nation recently he said that he was surprised anyone survived it as I was killing off characters at a high speed, then I realised the sequel is similar in a way – lots of characters die and there is a lot of injuries. So, I want to do another sequel but I want to make it a bit less bleak, the Carters need to have some fun. I’ll probably come up with another novella or short story to carry on their adventures, a palate cleanser if you will, and then decide what comes next.

Then all I need to do is decide which of my dozen other ideas should be done next. Sci-fi? Fantasy? Romance? Thriller? Who knows?

New Chances Launch Results.

So I launched the first part of my new serial on Friday, New Chances is the first part of New Dawns Season One. I priced it at $0.99 / £0.77 and booked in three promos for it. It has sold 7 copies (and one Kindle ‘borrow’) since launch. Not exactly flying off the virtual shelves.

But, I have a plan. This Friday part two goes live so I am going to make part one free for one day only, with a Bknights promotion. Will free downloads of part one lead to sales of part two or pre-orders for the other parts? I have no idea, I guess I will find out Friday.

Final free promo results!

Ok – the free days are over, the promos have run their course, it has all gone quiet. So, how did it go? The final download figures are below:

Second Time Lucky (23rd to 27th September)
USA
23rd 592
24th 176
25th 47
26th 42
27th 28
Total: 885

UK
23rd 6
24th 3
25th 0
26th 1
27th 1
Total: 11

Elsewhere: 9

Total overall: 905

Sovereign Nation (26th to 30th September)
USA
26th 197
27th 241
28th 220
29th 80
30th 162
Total: 900

UK
26th 7
27th 7
28th 8
29th 2
30th 4
Total: 26

Elsewhere: 24

Total overall: 950

First conclusion – I really just need to focus on the USA as a market! Second conclusion – Bknights promos work better for free books than for $0.99, by quite a significant factor. Genrepulse’s Fiverr promo seems to be ok but doesn’t provide as big a boost as Bknights. I am unconvinced by Authorchathost’s Fiverr promo, they assure me they promoted the books where they said they would but I couldn’t see them and I didn’t see any uplift in downloads either.

All in all a massive success in terms of numbers though. Both books getting over three and a half times the number of free downloads they’d had in the previous year in the course of a week!

I think as a minimum a Bknights promo can be justified every time the books go free. Now I just need to see what happens when my new serial launches on Friday!

Promotion Of A Free Book – Experiment And Results, Part One.

Ok, I admit it. I am converted. I now believe in paid promotion for my books, even if I am still trying to get it as cheap as I can.

My crime novella Second Time Lucky went free on Tuesday with two of the promotions bknights put up on Fiverr. Before the promotion total downloads 247, of these 241 were free and 6 paid. Here’s the promo so far (as usual, all times are GMT):

23/09/2014 (19:18 – Bknights promos go live)
UK
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #26,262 Free in Kindle Store
#9 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#11 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:09 (still 1)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,784 Free in Kindle Store
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

21:23 (5 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,607 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

DE
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #31.706 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop

16:09 (2 downloads)
Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #2.395 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop
Nr. 29 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Krimis

JP
14:20 (1 download)
Amazon Bestseller Rank: Who knows, it is in Japanese!

USA
16:09 (0 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,394 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

17:46 (3 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,394 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

21:17 (258 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,607 Free in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#83 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

21:49 (278 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,155 Free in Kindle Store
#8 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#9 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

24/09/2014

USA (575 downloads)
06:22
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

12:34 (617 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:34 (658 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

21:31 (699 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

UK (6 downloads)
06:22
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,168 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#7 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

12:36 (7 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,186 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English
#7 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir

16:37 (8 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,611 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

21:33 (9 downloads)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,863 Free in Kindle Store
#5 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > Noir
#7 in Kindle Store > Books > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

JP (2 downloads)
06:22

CA (1 download)
12:38
Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,067 Free in Kindle Store

25/09/2014
USA (768 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

15:55 (780 downloads)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

As I sit here typing this it is at 797 free downloads, in two and a half days that is over 3 times what I have got in the last year! The same promos got me a handful of sales at $0.99 / £0.77 so it is safe to say they work better with a free book.

Ok, I know they are sub-categories but that is two number 1’s, my first in any sub-categories!
Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction
and
Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
with a number 3 in
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
Way better than I have achieved with Second Time Lucky before, in fact better than I have achieved with any of my work before.

Second Time Lucky is free for today, Friday and Saturday too so there should be a few more downloads but I’m expecting it to tail off a bit now. Then again, Sovereign Nation goes free tomorrow with different promotions set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and there might be some downloads from people who get that. After this I’ve got high hopes for the Sovereign Nation promotion, it is a full novel for free after all.

Updates will follow.

Flickr Update.

I have done a massive update to my flickr account, take a look at pictures from Nottingham, around the London Excel and from Lourdes in France! http://www.flickr.com/archerctb/

Photography Decision: Digital or Film?

Photography, not something I have blogged about for a while but something I have been doing even if I haven’t got around to updating my flickr account (http:\\www.flickr.com/archerctb/) for a while. I have plenty to put up there but I just haven’t had the time recently.
At the moment I am questioning where to go next with my photography in the whole ‘digital vs film’ debate. I have just started a new job having been unemployed for eight months before doing so and the truth is that film photography just ended up becoming too expensive for me. The cost of film, developing (or chemicals if home developing) and so on just became prohibitive so I ended up doing much more digital photography.
I still shoot digital in much the same way as I shoot film really, I’m not someone who just snaps away and taking twenty versions of each shot. Each shot is thought about and done carefully, sure I may sometimes take it twice just to be on the safe side but that is about it. Apart from some exposure comensation on shots I don’t tend to do a lot of post production either. I also love to use my M42 lenses on my Nikon DSLR.
The truth is that I cannot afford Nikon lenses that will give good Bokeh so I use the old lenses for their Bokeh and the look they give the images in general. True, I lose infinity focus because I don’t use an adapter with glass in it (I find it loses some of the look of the old lenses) but I can still get good images. The images my old 50mm Tessar and 135mm Jupiter 37A give are completely different to my Nikon 35-70mm and my Sigma 70-300mm, not that I am knocking the modern lenses as I love them too but I use them all for different things.
I am always going to shoot some film as I love it too much, the look of the images is totally different to digital, but I have learned a new appreciation for digital photography over the last several months. So here is what I am considering doing:
1) Shooting film as my ‘experimental’ and ‘fun’ shots. To be honest, I have had to sell all my medium format cameras to get some money while unemployed so I am down to 35mm now and I think I will stick with that. Expired, redscale, cross processed and other film experiments can be fun sometimes and are best for some projects – sure you can recreate similar (but not identical) effects in post production of digital images but I quite like the unpredictability of using film for this. I will also shoot some black and white to develop myself, more for the sheer fun of doing it than anything else.
2) Use digital for my more ‘serious’ work. Ok, I am not planning to try and become a professional or anything like that but I do like to try and take good pictures sometimes (if you have seen my flickr feed please stop laughing). The only issue with this is my digital camera. Bought second hand as a camera to take on holiday my Nikon D70 is not exactly up to date and real high quality. It doesn’t have a video mode or a black and white mode, the metering is usually slightly off, the auto focus is hit and miss and it occassionally just decides it won’t recognise memory cards unless you take them out and reinsert them half a dozen times, even if it has been recognising it fine for the last few hours. Both my own Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom phone and the iPhone they have given me at work produce images with a higher MP count and they both use technology 10 years ahead of the D70 so they can (if used carefully) surpass it in quality. What I really need is to upgrade if I am going to try and use the DSLR as my main camera, that is a big layout of cash though. Although I should point out I am talking about getting something like a D3200 or a second hand D5200 so we are talking about £350ish rather than the £1,500+ you can pay for a new DSLR.
So, what do I do? Stick with the ongoing costs of film or try and make the one big layout to improve my DSLR?