The fair at dusk
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800
Every now and again, a photograph I take pleases me very much. This is one of those photographs. I love how light and dark play to draw the eye onto the woman working this booth. And the boxes of Oreos. That’s accidental. Actually, the whole shot might best be called an accident, as I was working fast. People were milling about and I wanted the worker’s face free and clear.
I shot this last August at the Indiana State Fair, but then forgot all about the film. I discovered it in my Pentax ME on Easter Sunday when I got it down to shoot our traditional Easter service at church. This film is Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800. I don’t love its grain, but it does let me get low-light shots, especially with my 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M. This fast film and fast lens are just right for night shots under the midway’s bright lights.
It’s too big to fit into my front pants pocket. It feels clunky in the hand. Its smallish screen washes out in direct sunlight. Its on-off-mode dial is fiddly and inconvenient.
So why do I still occasionally shoot my Kodak EasyShare Z730?
Because I love the colors I get with it!
I took the Z730 to the Indiana State Fair last month. My Canon PowerShot S95 is vastly superior in many ways, but it can’t compete with the Z730’s bright, cheerful color rendition.
The Z730 was introduced in 2005, making it ancient in digital-camera history. Ah, 2005, a time when cameras like these had not yet been supplanted by everybody’s phone.
It amuses me that even my three-year-old iPhone 5 is technically more capable than my Z730. But it just doesn’t have Kodak’s great color signature, which I think was common to all of Kodak’s digital cameras. My youngest son has an EasyShare C613, Kodak’s entry-level digital camera back in 2007, and it grabs gobs of brilliant color just like this.
What separated the Z730 from lesser Kodak digicams was its fine Schneider-Kreuznach lens. Just look at all the great detail it can capture.
Unfortunately, the Z730 starts to fall down on the job when you take it inside. I shoot in available light as much as I can, because I don’t like the quality of light most flashes deliver. This shot would have been impossible with flash: these items were behind glass. But the Z730’s maximum ISO of 400 led to longish exposure times, even with the lens wide open at f/2.8. I shot this six or seven times before getting one that wasn’t obviously blurry.
Even then, most of my indoors shots suffered from a little camera shake. I used Photoshop’s sharpening tools to help them along.
The light was so challenging in the animal barns that only a few of my many photos there turned out. None of them are stellar compositions.
Here’s where my Canon S95 shines: its f/2 lens and ISO up to 3,200 let me get almost every shot indoors.
But I don’t carry the S95 everywhere. And while I do carry my iPhone everywhere, the lens on its camera has gotten a few scratches that leave marks on my photos that I can’t always fix in Photoshop. For that and a few other reasons, it’s time for a new iPhone. But meanwhile, I’ve placed my Z730 is the glove box of my car. I’ve already put it to use a few times photographing things interesting to me while I’m out and about.