Friday, December 7, 2012

A still life....Kodak EIR film....and the late afternoon sun

This photo has a special place in my heart. A photo I shot in a dingy garage years ago, and a still life put together invited by the light. The garage had a low window with many 50s style square glass panes. It sits just above the ground, much like a basement or a daylight window. As winter approaches, the window would ever so gently filter in just enough light from the afternoon sun, and warm the garage. Each time I would stare at the window and the long shadow on the floor...saying to myself that I must put something together quickly and shoot this light before it disappears.

Positive "high res" film scan with SVP FS1700 Negative and Slide Scanner, Kodak EIR film, no post process

The wooden background panel had quite a history. I bought it from another flea market seller on Melrose in the Fairfax district in LA. I was attracted by the beautiful big bold paint strokes of the sunflower, painted in lime yellow and green. The seller told me it came from an old house and that the panel was a salvaged door. Someone he knew was an artist and decided to paint the panel hoping to sell it as a work of art. The seller wanted $35. We haggled and finally settled on $15. It was heavy and it was 3.5 ft wide and 4 ft tall and almost 3 inches thick. I lugged it 200ft to the parking lot to my car and was relieved it would fit inside the trunk of my old Jeep. It is perfect as a table top in my future garden, the money would be well spent, I consoled myself.

The antique garden jug belonged to my housemate. It had beautiful lines and despite being a little beat up, it looked elegant. I needed something to prop up the garden jug and balance the composition, the wooden carpenter step ladder looked perfect for the part, it completed the composition. I moved them around just a bit until they looked right...

I set my film camera on a tripod and proceeded to shoot a few frames. I had imagined the shots and wanted to capture the light before it is out. Much later when I was nearly finished with the roll of film that I realized I had one of my two remaining rolls of Kodak EIR color slide film in the camera. Until today I cannot get over how a simple still life at the spur of the moment can be so out of surreal, so beautiful and timeless.

Sometimes we spend days chasing after that perfect shot, and it is staring right at us, if only we take a pause..........

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

SVP FS1700 Negative and Slide Scanner Review

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I am not one to buy the newest latest gadget but the SVP FS 1700negative and slide scanner caught my attention two weeks ago. I was a little apprehensive, wondering if it would be worth my while. It is nice to be able to do a quick scan of my film negatives and slides from years past, even the more recent ones but I already have a Canoscan 8400F Flatbed scanner which does get some use when time permits. Do I really need another scanner, would I be disappointed with the results? There were literally hundreds of choices, both on Amazon and ebay, and many user reviews on each of them making the decision even more difficult. I finally settled on the SVP FS1700 with an LCD screen. Image is projected on the backlit LCD display which allows one to view the image and decide whether to proceed with the scan and save the file. Much like viewing it on the small light box, it is a nice add on that decided for me.

Right, Venice boardwalk. Positive scan, Ektachrome, X-Process, no post processing

I ended up bidding for one on ebay one early morning, a brand new one and winning it at a mere $8.55 + $9.99 shipping for a total of $18.54. The unit I bought does not come with a smart media card (and I have plenty of spare). Amazon sells the SVP FS 1700 Slide and Negative Scanner with an 8GB card for $49.99.

Now the review.

What I like about it:

1. It is fast, very fast, at the click of a few buttons and you are done scanning and saving the file on the SD card. The LCD is really a projection screen off your negative/slide but that is a nice touch. This means you don't have to hook the scanner to a computer monitor to view and do simple tasks such as flip the image or do a mirror flip, both functions can be accomplished on the scanner itself (if you put the neg the wrong way)

Picture on the left is a "high res" B&W scan of a 35mm neg Ilford SFX 200, no post processing
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2. You have a choice of low (866kb) or high resolution scan (1.5MB) and that is big plus, I am not sure if it would be useful if one can only do a low res scan. I set mine for high res scan just in case I want to get at least a 5x7 print at the local Walmart.

3. It is set up to scan positive or negative film, so as long as you set it correctly (positive, negative, b&w), the resulting scan is fairly good, good enough for the web and 4x6 or even 5x7 print. Start with a good negative/image, you should end up with a respectable result.

4. The negative holder and slide holder are quite sturdy IMO. In fact, I would say they hold the negatives far better than the 35mm neg holder for my Canoscan 8400F. It has little catch for film strip sprockets and that holds the neg down securely. Same for the slide holder, as long as your slide is in standard size slide holder, it holds it in place.

What could be improved:

1. The 3x2 instruction manual (more like a pamphlet) is very confusing, leaving much to be desired. (Some things may be obvious to the person who wrote the manual but hey if you are staring at it you would not know where to start). Having said that, once you have it all figured out it is pretty smooth sailing from there.

2. It would be nice to have a 6x4.5 neg holder or even a 6x6 neg holder, but this little inexpensive scanner is not for the serious professional but rather for those who want to digitize slides from family vacations taken before the world went digital and to preserve precious Kodachrome memories.
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Bottom line

I am impressed. The quality of the scan is probably just a tad below what I get from the Canoscan 8400F but it take 2-3 minutes to scan one 35mm neg on 8400F while it is a quick 10 seconds on this little scanner. Pictures posted here were from the SVP FS1700 with no post processing whatsoever.

Finally calling this nifty gadget a scanner is probably a misnomer. It "scans" by way of capturing a picture of your negative/positive or slide and giving it to you as a picture file. It is a pretty clever device!

Right, Reflection, Velvia slide scan, no post processing

Looking at my slides, I have forgotten how fun it is to shoot film!!!! It is sad the world is turning so digital, it is like a world without feeling. I really wish we could turn the clock back!!

If you are interested in the SVP FS 1700 Slide and Negative Scanner, Buy Here at Amazon