Tag Archives: gear

Marco.org: A Voyage to 2009

A Voyage to 2009:

The ideal Kindle would have hardware page-turn, Home, and Menu buttons and a touch screen for UI navigation, selection, and text entry.

The hidden, error-prone touch zones would be optional and off by default, since the hardware buttons would remove the need.

(Via Marco.org)

These are exactly what I’d like to see.

On the other hand, I don’t mind the pseudo buttons. I like the Voyage more than Marco does, and I’m not as ready to write Amazon off, but a better device would be welcome. For now though, the Kindle Voyage is the only viable e-reader option, and it’s a pretty good one.

How Fountain Pens are Made

Discriminating writers still consider the fountain pen the ultimate writing instrument.

Fountain pens are fun to use and, for some of us, to collect. I’m left-handed, which makes using a fountain pen challenging. It’s worth it.

Here’s how quality fountain pens are made.


Hasselblad CFV-50c

Hasselblad CFV-50c


I love my Hasselblad film cameras and would love them even more if I could drop a digital back on them. The new CFV-50c looks like just the ticket. Now, if I only had an extra $15,000 around here somewhere. Still, wouldn’t it be cool to shoot digitally with a camera from the 60s?

Replacing my Olympus Stylus Epic

You will almost always find an Olympus Stylus Epic on or near my person. The unassuming little Stylus Epic is in my opinion the best compact film camera for carrying everywhere. It easily fits in my pocket, is weather resistant, has a very nice f/2.8 lens, a spot meter, and goes from pocket to photo about 25 times faster than my iPhone.

I’ve been carrying an Epic for about 10 years now, and the second one I’ve owned finally stopped working consistently. Occasionally it just doesn’t fire, and there’s a hairline crack somewhere which affects the top center of every frame. Not ideal, so I began looking to replace it.

Today on Craigslist, this showed up…

A nifty, like-new condition Stylus Epic Deluxe. In the box with all original paperwork, case, strap, etc. It’s not black, but the champagne color is pretty nice.

I paid $10. How great is that! This is undoubtedly the best ten dollars I’ve ever spent on photography gear.

The Online Photographer: I Had Better ‘Fess Up

It seems fair to conclude from the evidence that I’m the victim of some persistent delusions when it comes to my own photography. For instance, every time I buy a new camera, I truly believe that I’m going to use it for the rest of my life and will never have to re-sell it. This flies in the face of all of a huge body of evidence to the contrary

That’s Mike over at The Online Photographer admitting the same problem I suffer from. I too buy each new camera with the intention of it being my one-and-only for the rest of my life. That almost never happens. I’m glad it’s not just me.

Leica IIIf

I’ve always wanted a “Barnack” Leica, if for no reason other than the nostalgia of using a piece of photographic history dating back to the mid-1930s. I’m not a (deliberate) collector, so condition and rarity weren’t important to me. I ended up with a “user” IIIf.

The camera is not really a IIIf but rather a IIIc built in 1946 then later converted by Leica into a IIIf. It came with a lovely chrome Canon 50mm 1.8 LTM lens, which was a nice bonus, since prices on the Canon LTM lenses keep going up. When this photo was taken, I was trying the 28mm Voigtlander Color-Skopar and 28mm accessory viewfinder. The Leica IIIs were made with a 50mm lens in mind, so I’ll probably keep the Canon on it most of the time. I’m also looking for a nice post-war 50mm collapsible Summicron, since that would be a great fit.

After two or three rolls of film I can say that it’s a delight to use. By “delight” I don’t mean that it’s easy or convenient. It’s neither of those.

To visualize the photo, you look through the left viewfinder for focusing, then you need to switch to the right window for framing. Both are quite tiny and not nearly as bright as the later M cameras that I’m used to. The film is advanced by turning a knob and it is rewound using another knob. No sir,  none of those newfangled levers on this camera. None of this can be done quickly.

Loading the film is even more awkward. The leader must first be trimmed manually with scissors so that it doesn’t get jammed between the shutter curtain and plate. The trimmed leader is then connected to a separate take-up spool. The final assembly is then carefully pushed up into the bottom of the camera, making sure the sprockets on the take-up spool are engaged with the film leader. (I missed that last part with the first roll and ended up shooting the entire roll without the film advancing. Not good.)

There’s of course no meter, so exposure must be set manually. I don’t mind that, since I shoot other meterless cameras.

All of this sounds rather cumbersome, and it is – a little. But the camera feels wonderful in my hand. It’s a precision-engineered mechanical marvel capable of making fantastic images. It just won’t do it quickly. I read somewhere that each camera took 40 man hours to build. A little patience is a good thing. 

Below are a few images from the first practice roll.

Leica M7

I had a long talk with myself after somehow acquiring no fewer than 4 Leica M bodies. That’s beyond what even I can rationalize. During the talk, I asked myself, “What if you could keep two of them?” The answer was that I would need to buy an M7 in order to keep just two. See how that works? I can explain. 

The M3 I bought recently is perfect. I love it. It’s beautiful, legendary, and built better than any camera I’ve ever seen. It has an amazing viewfinder and is generally awesome. Put a 50mm lens on it and I’m good to go. Good to go until I’m feeling lazy, that is. Sometimes, using a completely manual camera with no built-in meter is discouraging. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I start thinking about digital, and I don’t like when I start thinking about digital.

How might I solve the lazy problem? I solved it by buying an M7. The M7 has aperture-priority auto exposure, quicker loading, and a built-in meter. It makes everything easy.

So, I’ve put the “extra” M3, the M4, and the M6 up for sale, and picked up a beautiful M7 to compliment the remaining M3. You’ve heard it before, but if I’m right, this should take care of the camera problem for quite some time.

Leica M3

A funny thing happened while I was waiting for my new M3 to ship from Japan. A nice user sample with a recent CLA showed up on the local Craigslist. No harm taking a look, right? I couldn’t resist, and bought it at a fair price.

My fear with the M3 was that the viewfinder’s frame lines would be difficult to see while wearing glasses. Lots of people claim to have trouble with the .91 magnification of the M3’s viewfinder and 50mm frame lines. I’m happy to report that I can see them just fine. I do have to sort of press the camera into my face a bit, but it works. 

The viewfinder is as amazing as they say. Bright, clear, wonderful focus patch. It’s perfect for 50mm lenses, which I use 90% of the time. The film advance is like butter and the shutter makes a fantastic, very quiet, “snick” sound. 

I’ll have to get used to loading it. Getting film onto a separate take-up spool and lowering the whole assembly into the bottom of the camera is a little tricky. And it takes forever to rewind the film after exposing the roll. I’m usually not in a hurry, so this doesn’t bother me.

Just LOOK at it! I’ve never seen a better looking camera. It’s a work of art. I hope so, because I’m about to have 2 of them. This is a dangerous hobby.

Things I install on a new computer – revisited Fall 2009


My new MacBook Pro arrived yesterday. This will replace my aging, 2-year old version. It’s a thing of beauty. Whenever I get a new machine, I’m tempted to just run the simple data migration to move everything over, but never do. Instead, I start from scratch. This is a complete pain in the ass, but very much worth the trouble. It just feels so good!

Below is a list of things I installed this time. I’m listing only software, not the geeky bits like Ruby On Rails, MacPorts etc. It took me most of the day yesterday, but I think I’ve got things pretty much how I like them.

  • Launchbar – Without a good launcher, using a Mac feels like working
    with one hand behind my back.
  • Dropbox – Sync made so easy it’s ridiculous.
  • Tinderbox – “The tool for notes” (and nearly everything else.) This is where I live.
  • 1Password – Passwords, forms, card numbers, etc. Beautifully done.
  • Yojimbo – An anything bucket. Simple enough that it actually gets used.
  • BBEdit – Text editing done very well. Yes, better than TextMate.
  • OmniFocus – Task management with enough oomph.
  • AppZapper – I change my mind a lot.
  • Backblaze – Online backup without thinking. Just in case.
  • BusyCal – Because iCal isn’t good enough, and I don’t like web based calendars.
  • Daylite – Gotta put all those contacts and opportunities somewhere.
  • DEVONthink Pro – Anything project related goes here, and I’m guaranteed to find it.
  • Fluid – For running web stuff as their own “apps”.
  • Interarchy – SFTP client. I’ve been using this for years. No reason to change.
  • MarsEdit – Still the best way to consistently post to a number of sites.
  • MindManager – Mindmapping. Expensive, but still the best there is.
  • NetNewsWire – Because even the good web-based readers suck.
  • OmmWriter- Weird, new-agey writing app for distraction-free writing. Surprised by how much I like it.
  • Photo Mechanic – Not used as much now that I don’t shoot digital, but it’s great for pulling photos of cards when I do.
  • QuickCursor – Like the “Edit In…” plugins, without the hacks.
  • Sequel Pro – Best MySQL management GUI available.
  • SizeUp – Move and size windows with the keyboard.
  • Skitch – Almost perfect screen capture.
  • Spirited Away – Automatically hides inactive apps. Fits my minimalist tendencies nicely.
  • SuperDuper – Simple, bootable backups. Saved my ass a number of times.
  • Ulysses – Complete semantic writing environment.
  • WriteRoom – Distraction free writing.
  • Lightroom – Image management and editing. Does everything.
  • Nik Plugins for Lightroom – The Complete Collection. Awesome set of tools for Lightroom.
  • SilverFast Ai Studio – The best scanning results, with the worst UI of any software, anywhere.
  • TextExpander – Wonderful typing utility/accelerator. I’m lost without this.
  • iStat Menus – Very nice system monitors. I use the menu bar calendar instead of the built in version.
  • Mail Act-On – Keyboard email management for Mail.app.
  • Chronosync – Synchronizes all my external drives nicely, automatically, on a schedule.
  • Acorn – It really is “The image editor for humans.” I despise Photoshop, and now I don’t need it.
  • ClickToFlash – Great Safari plug-in which gets Flash under control.