A Light Weight 120 Autofocus Travel Camera with a Zoom Lens!
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
I still shoot with digital (A7RII) and love the look and capability of it, but FILM is what I go to every time I go out shooting… It is Terrible and exciting at the same time! It is so bad that I am looking for another freezer to store my excess film stock!
This is (again) Stormy Seas in Georgetown, SC (perhaps the most photographed boat in the Low Country). I have hundreds of images of it but I am pulled to photograph her in B&W film each and every time I am in Georgetown. There is something about her lines and textures that inspire me to document her life, and I have for years. Yes I will visit ANY shrimp boat (or grist mill for that matter) and each and every time I visit I see something different and unique… Yep addicted!
The image was taken about 5 days ago on a 6×9 Fuji GW 690 II using medium format Fuji Acros 100 film and a red filter, developed in Perceptol 1:1 and Wet Mount scanned on a Epson 850 pro. The 6×9 format will give me 8 images per roll and I will usually scan 2 or 3 per roll, but I am very critical and selective because the wet scan process takes about 3/4 hour per scan!
The top image is near Stormy Seas in Georgetown, about 2 blocks away at another commercial dock and seafood house. I have shot this a hundred times on both digital and film, but never have I captured such a pleasing image as this. It is to me a more enriching image full of mood, contrasts and tells a story. I pleases me to no end the tell the story on an old FILM camera of an old boat and failing lifestyle just as the shrimp boat is in the background and the Egret in the foreground telling a different yet the same story!
There is also the consideration that is tied to the process of working in film. It is slower and much more deliberate, a truer work of love in that you control every single step of the process…
All in all, the top image took about a week to complete from end to end! I simply love the process, being immersed in it and becoming one in the creative process. Yes it is slow but when I am done it is a total representation of MY PERSONAL VISION!
Film is making a HUGE come back in the world of photography! So much so that you will be shocked when you visit Ebay and look at the prices of old film cameras and systems! All of the major film makers in the world are increasing their production of films and even Kodak is bringing back discontinued film products! New film companies like New55, Impossible Project, and FILM FERRANIA have opened up and are making emulsions!
Developing has never been easier, there are many mail order labs out there but you can process your own film in your kitchen with very little effort and investment! You will need:
Total you are looking at about $120 for everything accept the scanner! There are great videos on Youtube that will take you thru every step in the process!
The image above of the Tybee Island Lighthouse was taken last month on Kodak Tmax 100 rated at 50 ISO on the 6×9 format medium format Fuji System. It was hot and the area full of tourists, even up on the top of the lighthouse itself! Still the act of creating this image was both fun and fulfilling and I walked away with exactly what I envisioned as I stood there looking at the scene!
I especially love shooting with Medium Format cameras. They are easier to travel with and the negatives are large enough to give amazing prints. I do have 3 4×5 large format cameras also that are great fun to you but as you can imagine, they are difficult to travel with. Once in a great while I will shoot with a 35mm camera, usually smaller rangefinder that were sold in the 60’s and 70’s!
Have any of you considered film photography?
There is something about working with film that is very calming which can center one’s soul allowing you to really connect with your art. For me it was like going home to Mama. The feeling of working with your hands as part of creating your art will make it more involved and enable you to to really influence the hidden nuances in your work. It will add a bit more complexity to your workflow but trust me it is worth the effort. The single largest change is forcing you to slow down in your creative process, it forces you to really consider every part of your workflow. It really is not any more difficult than digital photography, but it is a bit more involved.
Take a really close look at the details in this image, click on it and look at it in the full screen mode. Look at the GEARING on the edge of the wheel. The detail there will take your breath away!
I have way too many film cameras to list them all, some really small like the Olympus XA which is the worlds smallest 35mm rangefinder and a joy to use.
I also have an Olympus RC 35 camera that is another fixed lens rangefinder. It is simple and fun to use and can be found for very little money. I have mine rebuild and given a bright blue suite that suites it quite well!
My last 35mm camera system is a Leica M7 system. It has interchangeable lenses and is one of the best built camera systems that I have. Couple it with the world class Leica lenses and you have an unbeatable 35mm system.
Moving up to Medium Format 120 film systems I have three. I have the Voigtlander Bessa IIIw system that is 6×7 format and the Fuji GF670 camera (also sold under the name of Bessa III) with a longer 85mm lens (left & right). The 670 is my medium format travel camera of choice. Not only is it a functional camera with a built in meter but it is attractive and it always will draw a crowd when I get it out to use! Another nice point to the GF670 is that it folds down on itself to a thin easy to store camera in your bag!
And lastly the Mamaya RZ Pro II SLR ( Right) with interchangeable lenses and a world class metering system. This camera is large and heavy but easy to use and a very powerful camera system! I have a f/4 65mm and f/4 180mm lens for it. I also have both the waist level finder and a metering prism with spot and matrix! Like I said, heavy and big, but I use it for ultra long exposures on the coast with the Fuji Acros 100 film which has almost NO RECIPROCITY failure up to 140 seconds then only 1/2 stop after that! The film base is a little on the thin side but still my film of choice for long exposures.
Moving up to 4×5 Large Format cameras, I have three. first I have a Shen Hao cherry field camera. Functional as it is beautiful. I rarely take it out, rather I am using a Polaroid 900 converted to 4×5 with a Fujinon 150mm lens and a Polaroid 110B camera converted to 4×5 with a Schneider Super Angulon 90mm lens. It is a beauty and very wide!
Yes, as you may have noticed, some of these cameras are quite large. This is due to the negative size. Let me give you some idea as to why digital cameras can never come close to the resolution of film.
Lets start with medium format:
Film has turned wildly popular again in the past several years and many of the big film manufacturers have started increasing their film production lines again. This is especially true in the medium format lines (120) and 4×5 large format films! Film can be found in single rolls or in bulk almost everywhere again. The big box companies like B&H, Adorama and many others carry almost every type and format that you could ever want!
Processing in B&W has never been easier at home with eco friendly chemistry with no darkroom needed. Only an initial outlay of around $150 will get you started. Cameras can be found anywhere for next to nothing! You will need:
You can scan your film into your computer with a good Epson scanner like the 700, 750, 800 or 850. You can also buy an adapter for your camera allowing you to scan by photograph!
While I work in both color and B&W, digital and film I find time after time I pick up a film system and load it up with a good B&W film. The process of developing your film can really help you connect to your work as well.
I like several films, here they are in order of favor:
As an example here is the top image from last week of the fishing fleet taken on 20 year out of date Polaroid Type 55 monochrome instant film. The camera is also a Polaroid 900 that my daughter sent me years ago from a garage sale that I had converted to 4×5 with a Fujinon 150mm lens. A MOST beautiful camera in a bright new blue suite that is just fun to use. It is both rangefinder and ground glass focusing that forces you to slow down and really consider each and every image you capture!
The Type 55 film, even outdated, works flawlessly and generates amazing images where the edge markings add to the artistic impact of your subject
So what do you think? Are you tempted to try this out? It is easy. For starters, you can look at the continuing education departments at a local college or hight school. Most offer B&W film photography with darkroom work. This will teach you enough to allow you to determine if you would like to further investigate this wonderful medium!
You can also contact me and request info on one of my film workshops held in Pawleys Island SC. I would love to have you and share this amazing link to our past!
The story begins…
Several years ago my oldest daughter and her husband gave me a complete Polaroid 900 Camera system for fathers day. I like old cameras and this one sat in a glass display case in my studio for years. It was a beautiful camera but with film no longer being made it was living its life as a hanger queen only.
One day while exploring one of the 4×5 Facebook groups I came across a post from Alpenhause Kamera Werke and Steven Icanberry, He was advertising a conversion on the older Polaroid Land Cameras like my 900 to 4×5 film with a film back and a coupled rangefinder calibrated to the new 4×5 lens he would install! Steven is a disabled veteran who makes his living from converting these cameras!
This was simply too good to be true and after calling him and with his advice for options and lens selection I sent off my camera to him to be converted.
Now, a little bit of info on his designs and options. His 4×5 film back is of his own design and is small and lighter than any other on the market. He has them made by a local machine shop and I can attest to the quality of it! He removes the old lens and makes a new lens plate mounting your choice of lenses.
I choose a Fujicon 150mm lens. He couples the lens to the rangefinder system in the camera and calibrates it to be perfect. (This was the big draw for me as I was looking for a simple 4×5 carry around camera).
He also cleaned all of the rangefinder optics assuring sharp clear viewing.
I was offered a large selection of colors and new clothes for my camera, I choose bright blue and a silver top along with a built in shutter release cable. Look at the top image above and tell me that the camera doesn’t look stunning!
His camera conversions are simply stunning in their beauty and functionality! For those of you who like and desire to shoot film I strongly suggest picking up one of his cameras. You will not be disappointed at all and you will be helping a disabled US Veteran make a living. But more importantly you will have a camera system that is as beautiful as it is functional. I am going to close this with a few images of some of Stevens cameras and the first shot I took with mine.
He advertises starting pricing at around $500 for a converted camera in stock and also does custom conversions (like mine). I paid $900 for mine, but I chose a new custom lens and several other options!
Please consider having Steven Icanberry and Alpenhause Kamera Werke do a conversion or sell you a stock conversion! It is my wish to spread the camera goodness around and this is one good company!
Don’t you have the feeling sometimes of not reaching that creative high so that when you return home you are almost like an empty husk?
Well me too, and sometimes I really need to stretch my artistic legs. Going out with a Color Camera will just not get the job done and leaves me feeling empty. Working in Film is a lot better and scratches an itch that I just cannot reach otherwise… But when I am really feeling creatively down and mentally cramped I usually turn to my Leica M Monochrom system.
Working directly in B&W is a soul expanding exercise that will re-inflate my creative side quickly and effectively. I am the type of photographer who can actually think and see in B&W. Actually generating those images in the field with a capable B&W rangefinder system really is like going home to Momma. It leaves me with that ohhhh feeling, or is it OHHHHH… Yep, that is the feeling that I am talking about!
First, I LOVE shooting with a rangefinder camera system. ALL of my cameras are rangefinders except for one little Fuji XT1 that sits in my camera bag rarely used unless I take it out for lightning shots. I just love the feeling of using a rangefinder! I am not kidding about the feeling of going home to momma! They take me back to my early days of photography when a rangefinder was all that I had and used. They were and still are a nitch camera system. You generally will not find someone out shooting birds in flight images with one, but that is OK with me because after 50 years of shooting, I am soooo TIRED OF BIRDS (well except for hummingbirds but I can do those just fine with a rangefinder).
So what makes me smile about the M Monochrom? The ease of use, the CRISP release of the shutter, the incredible functionality of the camera and its wide dynamic range! I love the way it feels in my hands and responds to my control! I even love the sound of it. It is almost sensual in nature! Now, couple that with the amazing images that a pure B&W 18 mega pixel sensor with NO Brayer filter and no anti-aliasing filter can create you will be left breathless with the results.
So for this simple and short post about achieving emotional nirvana, I will keep it to just 2 images that make me feel good. Now that I am creatively re-inspired I can go out again with my color camera (rangefinder of course) and while looking at my scenes in B&W create color images again!
Thank you for stopping by for a visit to the blog…
Testing Fumed Alumina…
Van Dyke Brown emulsion is basically on the acidic side of things chemically and as a result of this I have been forced to wash most of my papers with a acid bath. This caused a increase in my process by 2 days. So I am testing Fumed Alumina which is acidic unlike Fumed Silica which is neutral. I decided to go with the Alumina test first and will do a followup post down the line with the Fumed Silica.
Initial results were quite pleasing with both Revere Platinum and Lana Aquarelle papers. I got a MAJOR increase in Dmax with both the Lana and Revere papers, but upon completion of my final wash the Revere was VERY EASY to damage with finger smudges until it dried. The Revere had a tendency for the Alumina to easily rub off the Alumina while wet whereas the Lana was strongly attached.
The Alumina did fix ALL of the spotting issues that I had when using the Revere Platinum paper but the fact that it will rub off when wet causes some concern but it is easily overcome with careful handling.
All in all this was a VERY easy fix to the acid washing step and only added about 30 seconds to roll on the Alumina. The Fumed Alumina can be purchased at Bostick & Sullivan for $15/500g which will do about 100 sheets of 8×12 paper.
The increase in Dmax with the Fumed Alumina is amazing and the resulting images are stunning.
After another 2 weeks working on the negative density, I have finally gotten to the point of good negatives, not great yet but I will get there. I have to master the use of UV blocking color in the negative for them to be perfect and that is a project for the future. To date though I have reached perfection using normal B&W negatives.
Here is the corrected negative that I used in the image of the Oak trees above. It is much dense and has been corrected for the mid tones as printed in the Van Dyke Brown Process! It has much greater contrast and required only a 3 min exposure in my UV unit.
One thing that you have to remember when making your UV exposures is to place the ink side of your negative down on the paper surface. If you reverse this the picture will be backwards, but more importantly, the UV light will burn the ink surface and ruin both the negative and the print.
Compare it to the negative on the right. This negative was used in the previous post here where the image printed much darker and with less mid tone data. Take a close look at the difference between the two negatives, the first has much brighter areas for increased black contrast and more detail in the trees. The difference is amazing and was easily achieved by the process discussed below…
Here is a small copy of the print generated by the 2nd negative from the previous post. Notice how much darker it is and that there is no detail in the mid tones of the image! It only took me a short while to create the Gradient Map from the process that I learned in Peter Mrhar’s book below.
Easy Digital Negatives is another remarkable book by Peter Mrhar that I use in the creation of my negatives. It enables you to easily create Gradient Maps to adjust the mid tone values of your negative tailored to the alternative process that you are printing with! I highly recommend this text over all of the others!
There are several good books on Digital Negatives out there but As I said the is the easiest that I have read and used plus the results of using a Gradient Map over a Custom Curve. I suggest that you purchase several texts and try them in your workflow to see what works best for you!
I had to sit in the Georgetown gallery today. On my way there I stopped at Stormy Seas, my favorite shrimp boat in the area. I had the Leica M Monochrom with me and the Tri-Elmar 16-18-21 mm lens on it as well as the FRANKEN-VIEWER which enables me to compose the image with ultra-wide lenses on the Monochrom. Did I mention that the Leica M Monochrome is a B&W ONLY camera system? The sky had this amazing gradient across it going from dark gray to bright silvery light on the horizon and the water that you could slide across… Oh My, the water was so perfectly smooth and mirror-like that I stood there stunned with camera in hand just hypnotized at the magic and taking it all in. But alas, I only had a minute to spare so I took 3 differently composed images at -1ev, f/11 and 1/1500s. This is the result: a simple, well balanced image, so full of tonality that it is dripping from the bottom all over my feet….
Enjoy while I clean my shoes…
In my continuing love affair with the Leica M Monochrome camera system I have learned more each day towards creating amazing etherial B&W art… Keep in mind that I have been shooting B&W film (35mm, 6×7 and 4×5) for several decades and know and understand the process very well. But using the Monochrome is such an easy progression that it seams as though the camera is leading me down this path on its own. Yes there is some small post processing to be done using Nik Filters Silver EFX and once in a while I will add some Viveza as well, but for the most part it is almost perfect out of the camera as long as you get the exposure correct in the shooting!
In the image below of the shrimper Stormy Seas, I used the Leica Tri-Elmar set in 16mm. There is no image distortion from such a wide angle and it is sharp with good depth of field. When using this lens on the Monochrome you are forced to use the frankenstein viewfinder that you purchase with the lens but that is a small price to pay for such a useful lens. I also have a Voigtlander Hellar 12mm lens in the camera bag and it works very well on the Monochrome and uses an external 12mm viewfinder, but it does distort the image slightly due it its wideness but you can correct for that in Photoshop. The thing about the Tri-Elmar is that it replaced 3 separate lenses that were stolen with one small lens!
Using a fast lens like the 50mm Summilux ASPH for the image below of the Roanoke River Lighthouse allows you to hand hold on dark or stormy days and still get crisp images that jump out at you! For this image I also had a yellow filter attached to bring out the structure of the clouds. This is one of the HUGE pluses of the Monochrome in that it reacts to the standard B&W filters the same way as film does!
But as always my main use for the camera is long exposures which is where my true love lives! Being able to take ocean shots and smooth out the waves is exciting beyond words and the Monochrome does a great job of it with its 4 min bulb limit. Look at the image below of the (another version) Roanoke Marshes Light House. I was there when the light was on and each time it circled it created another slightly offset star effect. It allows me to create images full of wonder and depth!
The implied stillness of the water with the graduated reflections create an image full of mood and depth. This is one of my favorite images of this Light House and the fact that during the 16 second exposure the light revolved around 3 times to generate 3 slightly offset star patterns just add more mood to it. This particular shot was done with a B+W 103 3 stop ND filter to allow the longer shutter speed at f/8 for sharpness with the 50mm Summilux ASPH lens!
Now let me share a detail shot of a fishing boat just up the island from the Light House. It is simple yet tells a complex story of the boat and job.
I love the textures of the image and the sharpness. The texture on the surface of the individual floats are great and perhaps would have been better served by a closer shot. It was taken with the Macro Elmar 90mm lens (a great lens to invest in) and was done on the tripod!
Continuing with the 90mm Macro Elmar I give you a closeup image taken just as I left the Outer Banks. This mushroom is only about 2 inches tall and I had to lay down under a log to get it. Yes a tripod was used but it was the Really Right Stuff table pod which is an amazing tool to have in your kit for just this sort of work Look at the textures on the bottom and stalk of the mushroom. This 90mm lens is the only 90 that I will ever buy for my Leica cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this last dedicated post on the Leica M Monochrome camera. I will have many more images to share from it in the future but I think that you are likely getting tired of dedicated posts!
Oh my, I do NOT know where it came from but I got the BUG again for more film photography! I have a cabinet here in the Gallery just full of old film cameras plus a Leica M7 film body that works with ALL OF MY M MOUNT LENSES! (see the last post HERE for more info on the lenses). I decided to purchase a new stock of several films:
I picked up some stainless 2 roll developing tanks with a bunch of Hewes (don’t skimp on your reels, buy the best!) Stainless Steel 35mm Reels. For developing I like Rodinal One Shot due to its ease of use and a life span of around 40 years. I simply mix it one tank at a time usually at a 1:50 ratio with water using a small syringe. It allows a very wide latitude of contrast and iso control. I have used several other developers but I keep coming back to Rodinal!
Now, I am playing with several cameras. As I said my main and BEST camera is my Leica M7. But here is a current list of those cameras I am using:
The Petri 7S has been in my hands since 1962 and still shoots great ( I did send it off to have the light seals replaced and a new leather covering ). The Petri has no batteries but rather a solar cell around the lens that drives a needle exposure meter that you simply place into its center notch for a good image!
All of the cameras in my list above have proven reliable but with the Petri you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young!
The Olympus 35 RC is an amazing small rangefinder with very nice controls. It is smaller then the Petri 7s and actually has better control functionality. It does require a battery to run its metering system though which is a step down from the Petri 7S in my opinion. The nice thing other than the size is the fact that EVERYTHING is displayed inside of the viewfinder. Unlike a refurbished Petri 7S which can be found for around $100 used on Ebay, the Olympus 35 RC camera refurbished is demanding around $250! This is a big difference in price and tells you a lot about its quality and demand! I was lucky to find one from a collectors inventory that he sent off to be totally refurbished and re-skinned for much less than $200.00! For you film shooters out there on a budget this is the camera that I recommend if you find yourself desiring a rangefinder.
The Olympus XA was a 35mm rangefinder camera built by Olympus of Japan. It was one of the smallest rangefinder cameras ever made, together with the Contax T.
It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani who had joined Olympus Optical Co Ltd in 1956. He was the chief camera designer and managing director of Olympus Optical Co Ltd., having developed a number of legendary cameras during his career. These included the Pen series, the OM series, the XA series, the IS series and the [mju:] series of cameras.
The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985. The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture prioritymetering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover.
This is the smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made. It will fit in the palm of my hand and will make a great system to have with me everywhere I go!
The Leica M7 uses batteries and sports a center weighted spot meter measured either off the film or off the shutter. I find that it meters very reliable. It is the top of the heap when it comes to 35mm film cameras. There are a lot of high end rangefinder cameras on the market but the Leica is the top. I really excels in the area of long exposures with either a count down timer in the viewfinder for images metered and controlled in the aperture priority mode or a count up timer for exposures done in the bulb mode. In bulb, it will count up to 16 min then stops counting for battery conservation, but will continue exposing until you release the remote shutter release. It will use NO battery power after the 16 min count up timer turns off until you release the shutter then it requires a pulse of electricity to close the shutter. NO other rangefinder can say this unless you use a pure mechanical camera like a Leica M2 which has no metering system at all.
The Leica M7 is surprisingly heavy but easy to handle. I keep reading about other high end rangefinder bodies out there but when you do the comparison of features I always come back to the M7.
All of my cameras are fun to use and reliable. With the Leica M7 you get the world class glass but with the Petri 7S you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young! The Olympus 35 RC is an advanced rangefinder from the 1970 era and is slick and fun to shoot. You will see examples from these cameras towards the end of this post!
I usually develop my negatives on Sundays. I have a film drying cabinet that I use to dry the film without dust spots overnight. I then will scan the negatives on Monday or Tuesday using a Nikon 4000 ED film scanner at 4000 dpi into the DNG format for editing and cleaning later in the week. I usually shoot 2 or 3 rolls a week.
My favorite film is Rollei IR400. This is available at the big camera stores like Digitaltruth, Freestyle and B&H. What makes this film so special is the fact that is very much like Kodak Tri-X 400 as shot. It has a VERY THIN film base which really makes scanning easy. BUT the most amazing thing about this film is that it is sensitive to INFRARED! If you place a Hoya R72 IR filter on the camera lens the film will record 720nm IR images! There is an ISO hit due to the filter being so dark down to 12 ISO but it is worth it being able to shoot in both normal B&W and IR B&W!
Next I like the Kodak Tri-X 400 film. It gives great contrasts and has a very wide latitude in development. It is well known and tested and for ultra long exposures.
Then comes Eastman Double X Cinema film. This is a GREAT B&W film that gives a very smooth gradation and lovely warm tonality with slightly increased contrasts. This is motion picture film so unless you are going to buy a 400 foot reel you will need to purchase it from the store at Film Photography Project. They will sell it in either 24 exposure rolls or a 100 foot bulk loader roll. It develops nicely in Rodinal at 1:60 for ISO 200 but there are ratios for 100 up to 800 ISO! This film is very much worth experimenting with.
I need to say a few words about the folks at Film Photography Project. They offer an amazing wide selection of films and old cameras! This includes Polaroid cameras and film also! Their Podcast is amazing and I find that it is so good that I now have it running all day while I am working at my gallery in Pawleys Island. Good Stuff, check them out here: Film Photography Project.
Whatever film you decide to use you will be pleased with the results. Processing is easy to do with a VERY small investment. You will need:
That is it. It normally takes me about an hour to develop 2 rolls. I will let them dry for several hours then cut them into strips of 6 and put them into plastic storage sheets.
For scanning, as I said above, I use a Nikon 4000ED film scanner. As you can guess from the name it will scan at 4000 dpi and has a lot of adapters for different types of film scan feeders. It has slide auto feeders, single slide feeders, a 6 position film rail for troublesome film and an automatic roll feeder to scan entire rolls automatically. If you couple this with VIEWSCAN software you have an amazing scanning system that rivals those that pro labs use!
Ok, lets take a look at the results of 3 types of film in 2 cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this post and its associated images. I have been using film since I was 9 years old. At 13 I had my first darkroom at home. I worked in film in my own darkroom until I was 18 when that period of my life can to an end. 42 years later I re-engaged film photography again and cannot help but ask “Why did I wait so long?” I have been shooting digital since my career at Eastman Kodak when you could ONLY get B&W digital camera systems! I have spent fortunes on digital and have loved every moment of it. Film will NOT take any of that away, I still have digital and continue to use it. But I have to be honest and admit that working in film again fills me with a sense of peace that I have not experiences in a very long time….
Well, in a wild turn of events I have picked up some new camera equipment… This is a really no surprise as it is a sickness or rather addiction! But onward and upward!
I do have to tell you that I am REALLY excited over acquiring these new systems though. And unfortunately, one thing has let to another and thus a long journey has also been started into the realm of film again!
But first let me highlight the “What”!
As you can see in the top image, the newest body is the new Leica M240 24 full frame 24 mega pixel body. It also has a true “live view” which allows use of all sorts of other lenses like the Leica R series that you would NOT normally be able to focus. This means everything from long telephotos to true macro (subject of the next post!). After a few months of use I can tell you that this is the BEST digital system that I have ever used! Along with it I also picked up several lenses.
First, the main lens is the Leica M 50mm f/1.4 Summalux ASPH lens in silver. This is a HEAVY lens. If attacked by a bear I could use it to beat him half to death. The lens itself has turned into my main lens that I use 60% of the time. It has a built in leans hood and takes 46mm filters. The Bokah that this lens can generate is amazing beyond description. It is extremely smooth and easy to use and generates images that are truly amazing!
The next lens is the Leica M mount 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit ASPH. This is a TINY light lens that takes 39mm filters. These smaller filters sized considerably cut the cost of purchasing top of the line B+W filters. Since the M240 camera is a full frame sensor the 28mm really is 28mm! The lens is sharp beyond words and quick to focus. I am really please with this lens and use it for landscapes and lightning photography when mounted on my Fuji X-T1 camera.
The example image for this lens below is a texture overlay. The main image was an Infrared image taken by placing a R72 (720nm) infrared filter on the lens giving a white IR image of a palm leaf, then doing a texture overlay of colored flowers.
The next lens is the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 and its macro adapter with split image view. This is a very unique lens in that it collapses for storage. By itself it is a great 90mm lens and has proven useful for mid range subjects as well as for Infrared work with the addition of a R72 IR filter. When you add its macro adapter (extension tube coupled to a viewfinder modifier) it will then give you macro capabilities down to a 1:3 image ratio! Below is an example of a macro image shot with this lens last week at Moore Farms in Lake City .
Now, I already had my two Voigtlander M mount lenses that I was using with the Fuji systems, but they are M mount!
First is the Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens. This is an amazing lens that is very fast at f/1.8. The focus is smooth and long and it works very well with M mount extension tubes for true macro work (1:1 image ratio). I do have 3 of the 10mm extension tubes for it as well as a Canon 500D closeup lens. For my really small stuff this is my goto lens. It is a little long but has a very nice clam on lens hood. While it is NOT a Leica lens it is very close in terms of quality and ease and the f/1.8 aperture gives lovely bokah!
Here then is an example of a 1:1 life-size macro shot with it!
The last lens that I am going to talk about here is the Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical M Mount lens. Another heavy all metal lens with remarkable focus and DOF. Since it is so wide you can almost have a DOF from right in front of the lens out to infinity! Plus 12mm is really 12mm on the camera! Given that the camera is both full frame and has a live view you can see the power of using this lens and the ease of composition and focus!
In the example image below please notice the extreme range of the depth of field!
As you can see, all of the system components are extremely high quality and easy to use giving stunning results. I like to create Long Exposure and Infrared images as well so I thought that I would share some of them with you below.
I have to tell you that I am REALLY a Fuji fan. I have the following Fuji bodies:
I also have ALL of the lenses but 2!
I moved to Fuji after a long search for a small light weight camera system after loosing 80% use of both hands and arms. I went through ALL of the micro 4/3 systems (and even kept 2!). I sold $40,000 in Canon bodies and L glass and have NEVER looked back!
In the Fuji, not only have I found perfections but being a range finder styled system it is like going home to mom!
I have a X100s that I use for most of my walk around work, it is just so tiny and generates amazing images. So when Fuji announced the X-E2 with the same sensor and with even more upgrades I ordered one from Amazon. Much to my amazement it shipped a week later! I have had it in hand now for about 2 weeks and just yesterday took it out to a local fishing port for a bit of creative work. I love the upgrades and how fast this camera is. It even passes the X100s in ability. I originally purchased the X-E1 in order to take advantage of its electronic remote shutter release. It enables me to hook it up to devices like a lightning trigger and my water drop collision system. The X-E1 did a great job with these devices and I expect no less with the X-E2 but that is for another day.
Yesterday I took it out to shoot shrimp boats in North Carolina and have to tell you that the camera just blew me away. It is such a major upgrade over the X-E1 that I cannot believe that they came from the same company! The controls are CRISP, the knobs just snap from position to position with no play and they stay where you put them. The larger LCD is nice but the faster EVF is a sight to behold. I dressed the camera in a RRS L bracket with grip and put on a nice soft release. Physically except for new buttons and placement the camera is identical to the X-E1. One MAJOR improvement is the addition of 3 stops of EV adjustment instead of the normal 2 that Fuji has provided in the past.
All in all I am really happy with this upgrade. I will keep the X-E1 and convert it to 800nm IR in the near future. There is no sense in letting that viable and great camera go to waste!
Next I put the camera into the JPG mode and shot color & B&W images in camera. The results speak for them selves!
This posting was never meant to be a review, rather a statement of its impact upon me with sample images!
I have started getting feedback and comments on the new IR/Color Video Tutorial. As they arrive I will share them here in this post with you. I am very excited over these. So far there are about 100 shipped videos out there!
The cost is $29.95 plus shipping which will automatically be added when you order.
All prices are in USD
I would like to thank those who have taken the time to send feedback and comments! It means a lot to me and will help improve on the next Video Tutorial that I put together!
The majority of the video is screen capture taking you through the post processing workflow button by button, click by click. All of the major RAW converters have their own separate video and you will learn about all 3 which will enable you to make intelligent decisions on which one is for you then be able to run it!
This is an in-depth tutorial and will give you the knowledge and recipe to take your own images from one end of the process to the other without pulling your hair out in frustration!
The cost of the video for US customers is $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping which will be automatically added when you order.
All Prices are USD
Yes, the new Fuji 55-200mm lens arrived for my fuji camera systems! I am currently shooting with a color X-E1, a color X Pro 1 and a IR converted (720nm) X Pro 1. I know how well the 55-200 works on the color bodies but what I really needed to know how did it work with the IR system! Would it give hot spots as so many of the Fuji lenses do? This post is the report of my findings. The final verdict is that it works very well and as long as you do not go higher than f/16 there are no hot spots to worry about at any zoom range! To me this is a really big deal.
So far only the 14mm and 35mm Fuji lenses are usable in infrared. So the addition of another lens really helps.
I am going to give you some examples of how this lens actually does at both the wide and long ends of the zoom range wide open and closed down so that you can get a feel of the usable Infrared range that you can use. Next week I will do a posting using the lens for color work only.
As you can see as you get to f/11 we start to develop a small hot spot, but nothing that cannot be fixed. Above f/11 the lens becomes unusable at the wide end.
The difference at the long end of the zoom is amazing and is usable over the entire range of the aperture! This is great news for us IR shooters.
There is starting to be a large number of IR photographers out there who are using converted Fuji X Pro 1 camera systems. There are currently 2 conversion companies out there who can do the conversion. I HIGHLY recommend the X Pro 1 as an Infrared platform and with the addition of the 55-200mm lens to our shooting arsenal we are way ahead of the game!
There is something about Shrimpers… I cannot get enough of them and find myself visiting them again and again. I love the dilapidated nature of them and even though they are in such rough condition they seem to venture out into the deep time after time. Perhaps they are a reflection of the men who sail them, rough hewn, salty men, eking out a living from the sea. Regardless, they are things of photographic beauty and deserve to be documented for history. You see, they are vanishing from sight. Shrimp seems to mainly come for fresh water farm ponds in the lower americas and soon these beautiful boats will be a thing of the past.
The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi: “connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
Thus begins my exploration of Sabi…
Here captured in Black and White, is a detail shot of the shrimper Lila Lee. She is resting in the boat grave yard in Georgetown, SC. The older shrimpers seem to be abandoned along the shore here in Georteown till they sink. We have some sitting on the bottom growing trees and weeds from their decks.
This image was captured on the Fuji X-E1 with a MC Soligor 70-300mm C/D manual focus macro lens, another relic of the past…
Ultra long exposure photography can be a very fulfilling pursuit and generate etherial images that draw your viewer into them leaving them week in the knees! As a photography master generalist I can tell you that there are a few speciality areas that can really excite me and force my juices to flow! Specifically they are:
This post is a tutorial on Ultra Long Exposure photography using the Fuji X-E1 camera with its 18-55mm lens, a 6 stop B+W ND filter and a Sekonic L758DR spot meter.
The Fuji X-E1 is my 3rd in the Fuji line. I started with the X100 and moved to the X Pro 1 in order to have interchangeable lenses, then to the X-E1 to take advantage of its Electronic Shutter Release. I have always been a Canon shooter with closets full of L lenses. But due to a spinal operation that went dreadfully wrong I lost 80% use of both hands and arms. No longer able to hold heavy camera equipment I started on a long journey searching for high quality camera system that was small and light weight and produce world class images. A long story shortened, I settled on the Fuji X lineup and their fine quality lenses along with a few CV and Leica M mount lenses.
Now, the Fuji X-E1 with its electronic shutter allows me to hook it up to my water drop machine, Lightning Trigger and Hummingbird control system! The only lacking item is its short lens lineup. With the introduction of the new 55-210mm lens this spring even that will no longer be a problem for me!
Long exposure has several issues that you must overcome to successfully create the etherial, emotionally charged image.
The Long shutter speeds generally can range from 15 seconds to 20 minutes. These are difficult to reach unless you shoot at night with light from the moon. What I find that I do is shoot at dusk on or just before sunrise to overcome this issue. Usually I will add a Neutral Density Filter (ND) to reduce the total amount of light reaching the image sensor. This will allow you to shoot with more ambient light and generally make this style of photography easier!
I like the B+W line of ND filters and keep 3 on hand for each of my lenses I use: 3 Stop, 6 Stop and 10 Stop. There are also some really good variable ND filters as well. But be warned: You get what you pay for with these! If you get one of the Fader filters on Ebay for $30 then you are sure to be disappointed. But on the other hand if you get the Singh Ray Vari ND (~$450) or the Heliopan Digital Vari ND (~$350). The trouble with the variable ND filters is that they are generally limited to 6 stops before they start to generate artifacts into your images.
If you take a look at your standard 1 stop shutter speeds you can see what adding 6 stops of ND filter will do… If you have a metered exposure say, f/8 at 1 second, adding a 6 stop ND filter will give you a 1 minute exposure!
If you desire a longer shutter speed you can also increase your aperture value up to a higher number forcing the shutter speed down to allow more light to strike the sensor.
We started at f/8, but by moving it 3 full stops to f/22 (see chart on the right) we can then move our shutter speed 3 more stops slower to 8 minutes!
You can move the aperture and shutter speeds up and down to get the balance you need for your artistic interpretation you desire for your image. Remember though, the sharpest that most lenses are capable of is at f/8!
It is dark out, you can see very little detail in your viewfinder! How can we accurately focus? Here are some ideas for you to consider!
Ok, this is a biggie. You will find that when using a 10 stop ND and on some cameras, the 6 stop ND that the in camera metering system does not work reliably. Plus to make this even more interesting consider a very long exposure, say 10 min where the light is changing and getting a stop or 2 darker during the exposure! These are not small matters to overcome. There are several work arounds for this from a simple pain in the but to advanced hand held meters!
Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider..
Now, it is time to go through exactly how I created these images using the spot meter and the Fuji!
Above is how the scene looked like at 7:30 pm (dark) when the image was taken. As you can see it was so dark that the only way to focus was to use the bright spots of light on the pier to manually focus, then pot meter on the sky with the L758DR meter. This gave an initial meter reading of f/22 @ 2 seconds thus making the sky 18% gray (too dark for me) with ZERO exposure compensation dialed into the meter (not yet adjusting for the 6 stop ND)! Now, adjusting the meter for the 6 stop ND filter by entering 6 stops of exposure compensation, the reading became f/22 @ 2 minutes but with the sky still at 18% gray. My imagined, finished image was one with the sky 2 stops brighter, or moving the spot metered point from Zone 5 to Zone 7 which is 2 stops! So I simply added 2 more stops and moved the shutter speed to 8 minutes (2 stops brighter) and shot the image.
Normally, I would have the 6 stops of compensation dialed into the meter ahead of time and make this a 1 step process.
So here is the resulting image…
I am showing you the images in B&W so that you can better visualize the shades of gray to see the 18% moved from Zone 5 to Zone 7! The Sekonic is very easy to use and is a true 1degree spot meter. To dial in the 6 stops of exposure compensation I held down the ISO1 and ISO2 buttons and turned the control dial. The meter reading adjusted for the ND filter and gave a perfect exposure the first time!
The exposure compensation shows up on the LCD screen so that you know what you are actually measuring. You could have easily set it to 4 instead of 6 and that would have taken the move from zone 5 to zone 7 for you but I prefer to do that adjustment in my head!
Simply stated the Zone System (Ansel Adams), assigned a series of stepped gray changes, 1 stop apart and across a valued scale of 10 stops with Zone 5 being 18% gray which is where ALL camera and handheld meters place the exposure. By looking at the chart below you can see the change between Zone 5 & 7 (2 stops) and what difference it will make on the brightness of the sky! I use the Zone System in ALL of my exposure calculations and it is how I see contrast changes across my image!
There are plenty of great books out there that will teach you the Zone System of exposure control and adjustments! Here are 2 on Amazon:
Here is how you would apply actual Zone values to an image. Then you can shift the exposure to move the metered Zone up or down to adjust the overall brightness of the image!
Now given the meter reading for Zone 5 you can change the exposure up or down to brighten/darken the overall image! Combine Zone Exposure techniques with Long Exposure photography then you can see how easy it is to control your final image. Plus if you use a handheld spot meter that allows for +/- 10 stops of compensation then you can see how easy it becomes to get a good exposure that is measured in seconds or minutes!
Here is a simple explanation of what each Zone looks like:
Here are a few more images taken this night on the beach! I hope you enjoyed both the article as well as the images! Please let me know!
Macro photography is hard work. There are so many technical issues to overcome that you have to be a very patient person with the correct camera equipment. Now, add in the complexity of HIGH SPEED WATER DROP COLLISIONS to the mix and you are faced with one of the more complex camera and photographic setups and skills necessary to capture great images. Most people think that water drop photography is purely luck or done with high speed computer controls. While this statement is partially true, you still have to overcome the normal issues associated with macro photography in the 1:1 image ration realm. By this I mean that a penny photographed is the same size as if laid on the camera sensor, hence 1:1!
There are dozens of articles on the WEB about doing this in your sink with a baggy full of water and a pin hole in the bottom. This can indeed be a fun experiment, but one that is doomed to failure. Anyone who actually thinks they might enjoy this ALWAYS move up to some sort of computer controlled water drop machine. A unit that will:
I LOVE water drop photography so I choose a timing controller and a water drop controller from The Time Machine. It is a small system of 2 small electronic boxes that run on 9v batteries (still on the original battery after a year). There are about 3 companies out there that sell these control systems, but to me, this one was the easiest and lowest in cost. The learning curve is short, but still, you will be required to do your homework and READ THE MANUAL (RTFM). They even pack a bag of M&M candy in with it and tell you to go sit down, snack and read!
The Drip Kit from the same company provides you with the 2nd box and upper water tank/valve/holder that talks to the Time machine through 1 simple cable. It is easy to setup and understand! This is what it looks like from the dealer (right). Believe me when I tell you that this is the device that makes high speed water drop photography possible! The entire kit cost me about $350 and was worth every penny.
OK, now then, here is an image of MY actual setup. Notice that there is nothing uncluttered about it! The thing is messy, disorganized and tons of fun! You could even call it addictive!
TIP: I have also shown in the above image a large BOLT that I place in the lower tray of water, allow the drops to fall on it and use the threads as my focus points!
Did you notice that I am using 2 different colors of water? Red on top and blue in the bottom tray? This allows the colors to mix in the resulting collisions and give some very interesting color mixes as shown in the next photograph. For this image I used 2 flashes off to the left and right low on the water. One was normal white and the one one the right had a red gel attached to further bring out the red colors. Then I placed a blue & white mottled glass plate beyond the lower pan with the 3rd light positioned behind it with a white piece of paper between the flash and the glass plate! Look at the colors in the water foreground, the collision and the backdrop. It all comes together!
TIP: Add a squirt of Glycerin and a SINGLE DROP if liquid JOY soap to the upper water container. This will give good mushroom caps with attatched drops moving away. You will also want to add Glycerin to the lower water container along with your food coloring.
TIP: For the bottom tray, use a NON SHINY BLACK pan. This will keep the flashes from reflecting back into the lens and not cause the pans colors, writing, or texture to influence the image.
Some people use MILK in the upper water container for some very good and interesting results! The KEYWORD here is experimentation!
Traditionally, I have always used Canon equipment for my water drop photography, but have totally switched now to my Fuji X Pro 1 camera system. It is smaller, lighter and gives much better images. I wanted to use my Fuji 60mm F/2 macro lens for this but it had several issues:
So I got out my Voigtlander 75mm f/1.8 M mount lens, 2 Leica 10mm extension tubes and a Canon 500D +2 Diopter filter and have been using is successfully for quite a while now! I am using the Fuji M to X mount adapter as well. This is a sharp lens with an easy, smooth focusing.
Finding extension tubes was a little difficult for the Leica M mount lenses. Finally, I did find 3 OUFRO / 16469Y extension Rings at Igor’s Camera Exchange as well as on Ebay. But the Ebay versions were easily 2 to 3 times the cost! These tubes are very well made and even though they are bright silver on the outside, they are mat black on the inside where it counts. They are tight and have ZERO camera/lens play!
Now, why use the X Pro 1 with its mechanical shutter release when I could use a Olympus OMD with its electronic one? Asking this question is really asking: Why not allow the TIme Machine to trigger the camera’s shutter? Well, for water drop photography, having the controller trigger the shutter release is not necessary. The normal shutter speed is typically around .5s and since we are shooting in the dark, it is no big deal to set a 1 second exposure and have no impact o the image. What you do:
The rest is simply history! But the plain truth of it all is that it simply works! I LOVE the X Pro 1 and lens combination. The camera gives STUNNING images and it is small and light! What more do you need? Being light, it enables me to use a small table tripod from Really Right Stuff that is a joy to use. Complete with a great ball head, the camera is steady and does not move at all.
This controller allows you to control all aspects of the Drip Module through simple push buttons. It is easy to use and requires minimal button pushes to achieve your desired effect!
Here is an image of an imminent drop collision. I got this by adjusting the Flash Delay timer down to the point that the first drop had hit the bottom water and bounced back up and the 2nd drop was falling to the point of almost reaching the rising column of water when the flashes fired! The red was obtained by using a red glass background and firing a flash through it towards the drops from behind!
Again please note the mixture of blue and red in the water as provided by food coloring as well as gels on the flash units!
Yes, I realize that this has been a long post. I am going to end it here with a gallery of 20 stop motion images where I set up the Time machine as follows. I hope that you both enjoyed and learned something about water drop photography here! When I setup to do this it is always in my gallery and I always post about it on Facebook as to invite other photographers to bring their cameras over and give it a try! Follow me on Face book at https://www.facebook.com/mark.hilliard.33 to get notified of these photographic opportunities!
So, here then are a sequence of 20 images taken with the exact same setup of water drops showing the difference made by shifting the Flash Delay timer UP by .001 second between shots!
Today was gallery day for me. I really wanted to go out and shoot but decided that I needed to sit and be open. So… I dug out my high speed water drop kit and setup on my work table and decided that today I would test out my Fuji X Pro 1 and my Olympus OMD for water drops. This then is the X Pro 1 post!
First, I can hear you asking, “How can you possibly use the X Pro 1 for water drops?”, well the answer is both frightening and simple at the same time! I do several types of photography where the camera in use must have an electronic shutter release so that I can hook the camera up to a remote controller, like a Lightning Trigger or a Time Machine for water drops. But water drops really do not need to be triggered by the Time Machine since the exposure is about a second long to enable the machine to trigger the timed water drops generated for the collision, the size of the drops, the distance between them, the shutter release and lastly the strobes! This is all done in the following order:
Thats it! So, while sitting there taking about 600 OMD images of water drops and cursing the fact that the only macro lens I currently have is the 12mm to 50mm macro, I asked myself: “Hey Mark! Why dont you get out the X Pro 1 and put on the 60mm macro and set it up for water drops and simply push your mechanical shutter release at the same time you push the Time Machines fire button?”. WOW, I was amazed by the simplicity of this thought and immediately got out the X and setup! The rest is history!
Now, I do have to tell you that I encountered a MAJOR issue with the Fuji 60mm Macro. Since this technique uses multiple flashes to light and freeze the water drops, I discovered that the lens is VERY PRONE to LENS FLAIR! ANY light that makes it into the objective from ANY angle reguardless of the placement of the flashes, even room lights will cause a flair in the direct center of the image EACH AND EVERY TIME! This was VERY FRUSTRATING and took about an hour to overcome with CAREFUL flash placement, darkening of the room and shading the back of the camera to keep stray light from even coming into the gallery windows in the front! I have to tell you that this was a major pain in the butt! I can see another lens in my future to shoot macro with. I even tried my CV 75mm f/1.8 but couldnt get close enough to the water drop to get a full frame image with a Canon 500d attached. So as you can see, the first 3 images were taken with the Fuji 35mm with a Canon 500D +2 diopter filter attached. Even so this is as close as I could get. The last image is with the 60mm macro.
Please let me know what you think! The lens aside, you can see that the camera worked great for the images and I will be using it for this again provided that I find a more macro/flash friendly lens!
Painting with light… Really this is just the perfect description of what I do with my photography! I rarely take snap shots. I will walk up to a subject and study it, allow it to wash over me and evaluate its emotional impact upon my sense of self, then I will take my my camera and use it as the tool of creation and force it to capture the scene as I visualize it!
Such was the case during my last workshop where Jamie Davidson and I took a group of students deep into the New River Gorge in West Virginal to photograph Grist Mills, Water Falls and Vistas. Usually I used my Fuji X Pro 1 (my main creative tool) but at one location I was forced to use a longer lens in order to overcome intense, harsh mid day lighting on a small set of water falls. So I choose to try my new Olympus OMD E-M5 camera system with the Panasonic 14-140mm f/4 – 5.8 lens and a 10 stop B+W ND filter (110) and of course on the tripod.
These waterfalls images were very difficult to capture in the fashion that I visualized them in my mind. I was looking for dark, forbidding images of the water and dark rocks surrounding it with a little highlight detail on either side on the rocks. I ended up spot metering on the water then placing its exposure into Zone 7 on the 10 zone scale (yes I DO use the Zone system for exposure as you should! This will be the subject of a future post!). After setting the proper exposure for the Zone 7 water and very dark rocks I then used a 900 lumen tactical LED flashlight to light paint the rocks around the water to bring out some slight detail there. The exposures were long, 3.5 seconds for one and 1/5 second for the larger falls. The longer exposures allowed me to repeatably repaint the rocks with the very, very bright tactical light. Take a look at the results below and decide if the effort was worth it or not!
As you can see in this first image, I have created an etherial image with slight edge detail which was generated by the small high power tactical flashlight. The image worked much better in B&W so I did not really work at the color version of it at all. My intention was to create a dark moody image that would wash over me emotionally…
This second image in color was my 2nd attempt on a different location at the same series of falls. I really like this one in color. The exposure time was much shorter due to an increased amount of ambient light falling on the water and I did not have enough time to paint both sides of the falls with the light. Still, all in all the image is quite pleasing and the colors brought out during the long exposure are quite stunning.
This last image I chose to process in B&W with a little darkening of the image corners to make it slightly more moody. I think that I like the Color image a bit more than the B&W version. What do you think?
All in all, I have to say that I am very impressed with the functionality of the OMD camera body. It worked perfectly for these difficult images and allowed me to capture the images as I envisioned them in my mind and that is the best that one can hope for when you are out in the world creating art… I will also admit that if I had a longer lens for my Fuji X Pro 1 at the time that I would have used it instead, but at the time the Fuji 60mm macro was the longest I had. I have since purchased the CV 75mm f/1.8 for the Fuji!
Now, as to the tactical light, Surfire makes lights for the police and military but will sell to you directly or at Amazon or even in a local gun store. They are used in 2 ways, mounted on the weapon or hand held and are used during a gunfight to see the target and half blind them. They can be VERY powerful and VERY costly. Being LED, they will not burn out. All of them have multiple output powers and the one I used here had 2, 20 lumens and 900 lumens. You must be very careful with the high power mode as you can damage peoples eyes with it but being so bright, you can use it during a bright sunny day. These lights use lithium batteries and they will last about 30 hours on low power and 2 hours on high power. I keep this light in my camera kit at all times as you never know when you will need to add some detail light on a scene!