Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Silverfast and Lion

Sorry for the following rant...

Since I upgraded to Lion (OSX 10.7) my scanner hasn't worked. When I started a trouble ticket with the makers of Silverfast I was informed that it was incompatible with Lion, but that a new version of Silverfast (version 8) was immanent and that does work with Lion. OK, annoying but something I could live with as the new version was only about a month away. (I usually shoot 2 to 3 rolls of film a week and develop them myself, scan the negs and put them up on Flickr - so a month was a big deal, but not the end of the Earth).

Whilst I was killing time waiting for the new version, I though I would see if I could find a little more about the problem. This is where I found a little architectural quirk that worked in the companies favour. They have a launcher application that you run and then choose which one of their suite of products you want to use, and it is then executed. As I only have the scanner application this is redundant in my case as I always click on the scanner icon. You'll see why this is relevant in a moment.

Apple changed the CPU in their hardware about 5 or 6 years ago from the PowerPC CPU to Intel Core based CPUs. Naturally this changed the instruction set and therefore code that was written for the PowerPC would need to be rewritten. That's a lot of applications that would need to be changed almost overnight, so Apple created something called Rosetta that allows your to execute PowerPC instructions on an Intel CPU. They then created an application compatibility program called 'Universal' (which has a special logo) that means an application has been written for the Intel Macs.

As I said above, this was a number of years ago. Apple kept support for Rosetta in several releases of their operating system whilst developers transitioned their applications from the old architecture to the new. In the latest version of OSX (Lion) they finally dropped support for Rosetta after several years. This was well publicised and I checked my main applications to make sure they were Universal before I upgraded to Lion.

Can you guess where I'm going with this? The launcher application was a Universal application so had Apple's Universal logo on it. The scanner application that it launched was a PowerPC application, so could not run on Lion. This seemed a little sneaky to me as I saw the Universal logo on the launcher and assumed the whole application was Universal, not just a small part. This did not make me happy. :(

The next bit annoyed me even more. Silverfast came bundled with my scanner. Because I bought my scanner more than 2 months before the release of Silverfast 8, I wasn't eligible for the free upgrade to version 8. But I could upgrade at a discounted rate. Why only 2 months? That seems unfair to me. :(

So, I grudgingly paid the upgrade cost. It wasn't that much (about €30) and I was itching to get back to scanning again. I installed the new version with baited breath. It doesn't work either! >:( So I now have another trouble ticket open with them to get this sorted out. They sent me an automated email saying they were experiencing an unusually high volume of technical support requests and that they will take longer than usual to respond. I get the feeling I'm not the only one having problems.

So, in short, I am not a happy customer.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

DIY Colour Development

I wasn't sure if the chemicals had expired since I mixed them up, so I thought I would give them a go.

PB_BC1 00009 Basingrad

They seem to be OK, but I need a thermometer that goes over 28C...

Saturday, 20 August 2011

World Photography Day - 19th August

Went for a bit of a wander around town with my Holga on WPD.

Holga 120GN 00192 Basingrad

I haven't developed my C41 ColorPlus films yet (Praktica BC1 and Gakkenflex clone) but will add them to my Flickr set when I do. :)

World Photography Day 2011 - Flickr Set

Cheap 35mm Film

Poundland sells film. Guess how much it costs? They usually have Kodak ColorPlus 200 and occasionally Kodak Ultra 400. I scored 40 rolls of ColorPlus. :)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2011

Wow, that was one hell of a day. The event was, to be honest, pretty dull to begin with. I'd never been before and it took a while to get going. The 'mass assent' was worth the wait, but the real gem of the show was the 'night glow'. This is where they tether the balloons to the ground and wait for night fall. They they fire the burners on load of balloons in time to music, with a firework finale. Very impress.

However, the event was marred in two ways for me. So badly in fact that I doubt I would go again. They were...

1) Appalling management of the parking. The online booking of spaces and the marshalling of traffic when we arrived was handled very professionally. However, after the event the experience took a nasty turn for the worse. I don't know if staff just left or if they expected 1 person to manage a car park with hundreds of cars. Either way it was a nightmare. Parking was in a field the same as you would expect at a car boot sale. We had been parked in rows, but there was nothing to stop people driving in a straight line to the exit, and this is what they did. This made the people who had formed an orderly queue quite upset. In the end members of the public took it upon themselves to marshal the traffic and regain order. A big thank you to Andrew and friends for stepping up to the task.

2) There were at least three attention seekers at the event with laser points who though it fun to shine them on the balloons. Continuously. Grow up.

Anyway, here are some photos from the event...

Holga 120GN 00161 BIBF 2011

Polaroid 350 00026 BIBF

Polaroid 350 00018 BIBF

Polaroid 350 00029 BIBF

More photos from the event can be found on my Flickr photostream here.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bronica SQ-A Film Back Disassembly and Repair

I had a problem a while ago with my Bronica SQ-A. I had a film jam that damaged the transport mechanism in my film back. I've repaired quite a few cameras over the years (non professionally) so I thought I would give it a go.

The symptoms were as follows - I could turn the film advance lever as many times as I liked, but the frame counter wouldn't move and the shutter wouldn't lock. Changing the back returned the camera to normal operation. Removing the film from the back I found that turning the film advance crank did not result in the take up spool turning. With a bit of assistance the spool would turn when the advance crank was turned but there was little or no torque being transferred from the crank to the spool.

Fixing a Bronica SQ-A 120 Film Back with a Broken Transport

As it turned out, there's a spring in the drive train (to absorb shock loads I assume) that was no longer transferring power from its input to its output. For details of the strip down and fix, I documented the process in one of my Flickr sets here:

Hopefully this will help other people as I couldn't find any similar information when I took it apart. N.B. Be careful to pay attention to the screws that I have noted have left handed thread! ;)

Silent Holga?

I'm reticent to take photos in London for fear of being constantly harassed by rent-a-cops. The Police situation seems to be much better now, after the many, many high profile cases where the Police overstepped the law and prevented members of the public from taking photos legally. It can't be an easy job for them and on the whole they all seem to have got the message that we are allowed to take photos of anything from public places. However, the private security companies don't seem to have the same appreciation of the law.

This leads me to wanting to take photos more covertly, just to avoid trouble. I'm pretty good a taking photos from the hip, but the noise of the camera can still attract attention. The Holga is a good travel camera for me. It's light and if I drop it or lose it, I will be upset, but not as devastated as if I had just dropped my Bronica. Also, to a certain extent the Holga has a certain disarming charm that no other camera has.

I have a few ideas on how to make the Holga quieter, but was wondering if anyone else has done this kind of work before? The Holga community is very active in creating modifications, but I haven't found anything aimed at reducing the noise of the shutter or film advance as yet.