New To Photography

My passion right now is photography. Well, at least I began to have that passion 5 years ago when my first daugther born. Seems typical, doesn’t it? Unlike other ‘great photographers’ who claims that they are exposed and began to have passion on photography even before they were born, I kinda started late. Very late.

Was it because of digital camera that is now becoming more and more popular and affordable for everyone? Ummm… not really. My very first camera was Nikon F50 which I bought in 1997 (before I was married) which was stolen three years later along with a couple of cheapo lenses. Big deal. F50 is the worst Nikon ever made anyway. At least ergonomically. Since then I never have enough fuel or passion to get into ‘real’ photography, until my baby was born in 2001 I regularly connected to internet. You know what I mean? Internet really had huge contribution on inspiring me to be the best photographer on earth. I was so enthusiastic about photography my dream during sleeping at night is about changing fast lenses. That combined with the birth of my first daugther gave me enough justification to lighten my wallet by purchasing my second camera. I thought I was fortunate enough that my first one was stolen, so I now can buy another one. A better one.

This second camera that I bought was based on very thorough research spending countless hours in front of the screen comparing this and that model of camera body and comparing this and that model of lenses. Reading and re-reading numerous reviews at the net gave me conclusion to one camera that I need to buy : Nikon FM2n. Manual focus body. It is considered as the most manual camera with the only automation available is electronic metering. Love it. Truly convinced this is THE body I need. The body I will never regret buying.

What a camera can do without a lens? Some blokes gave me an idea of punching a small hole in a body cap to produce a pinhole camera. To me that does not count. We can make a small experience with it. But in normal situation we always need a lens or two. Again, net is the answer. Conclusion: 50 mm standard lens is what I need. Which one ? MF? AF? Envisioned that futher down the road I will eventually bought an AF camera, choosing the AF version seems to be logical. 1.8? 1.4? At that time I got money enough to buy the larger aperture version. 1.4 it is. One third of a stop compared to 1.8 can save the day. That’s what the net suggesting.

As far as I know, in 2002 the FM2n was out of production, replaced with its successor FM3A, introducing the some automation like the exposure priority mode and TTL flash. Nope, I am not interested in FM3A. FM2n, period. Buy used? No. Eventhough down the road I would buy an AF camera, I will definetely keep this body. So I need to buy new. If I couldn’t buy it new, I prepared the plan number 2: buy new FM3A. That’s the only compromise that I can accept.

I called almost every dealer in town to find the FM2n. I was lucky there was one small store that still had one. New. Went there, close the deal for the brand new silver FM2n and brand new Nikkor AF 50 1.4 D. The price was still normal, considering that it was probably the last brand new one in town. I believe the shop owner does not know that. For me it is better that way. The silver is the only color available, and it suits me better than the black version. The black is slightly more expensive and I like the silver more. In my opinion every camera with body design like FM2n should have silver color. Black isn’t just right for it. Black is for F100 and F5 style camera. Can you imagine F5 with silver color? I can. It will look ugly.
So I went home with the most beautiful two boxes I ever bought. I was a happy man !!

Nobody may disturb my most sacred ritual afterwards: opening the box at home. Although the box already openned when I was checking it in the store. How cliche..

Loaded a film. Ready for action.

First project: making picture of my newly born baby. With print film.
Second project: making picture of my newly born baby. With BW film.
Third project : making picture of my newly born baby. With other print film.
Second project: making picture of my newly born baby. With other BW film.
By now you are probably have an idea what my next project was.

Not knowing your photo end result does strongly depends on the guy in the lab down town. “Why my BW prints look so dull?” “Why not so contrasty?” “Why the color in the print is different everytime I re-print, even from the same lab?” “Why?”

Why the depth of field is soooo shallow? Why if I have more depth, the picture is blurred?

That’s when I need a flash. With flash, I can have more depth of field meanwhile keeping the picture sharp. The decision I made at that time is to buy a cheapo Metz 28 C2 flash. If I can remember correctly, it is equipped with an eye in front of the flash which ensure the correct amount of light duration is emitted as required by your subject to avoid underexposure or overexposure. I did not buy the SB-28 (the top of the line model back in 2002) simply because I cannot afford it at that time. In addition to that I feel that the flash is too big for my FM2n. In my opinion it is an ugly combination. Not to mention that I will have issue with balance feel in my hand. My FM2n is a bare camera without motor drive MD-12 that has additional handgrip. So I just don’t feel that SB28 is right choice. The more logical option was SB-27. It is perfectly matched with FM2n (again, it is my personal opinion, I cannot expect the other 5 billion people living in this dying planet share the same feeling). But it was also still too expensive.

Back to the Metz 28C2, despite the flash is cheap, It’s a good one. I found it very consistent in delivering what it does. With data from you aperture setting, you can just easily calculate the best range for the shooting and adjust the switch at the back of the flash unit. The ‘eye’ will do the rest. I have not had any bad experience with this small wonderful flash. It is just nicely fit with my style. Need more light striking to the film? Use large aperture. Need more ambient light ? Use slower speed.

Like everybody else who has baby and a camera, I photographed my kids a lot. And I mean a lot. I do it over and over again. Most of them just snap pictures. Few of them I like very much.

PS: The above image was made using Nikon F80 with Nikkor 50mm f1.4 AF-D. Lighting was one softbox and one umbrella. Film was Kodak Proimage 100.

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