Sorry

I've been away for quite some time, but now I am getting back on my feet. Not that it really matters here in my Diary bubble *LOL* But anyway. I am back. Let's get started with the subject of printing / making prints / creating paper based photography.

 

Premium Photo books

During the past 5 weeks in my (private) life, i have been focusing a lot around bringing digital photography to tangible, physical prints. By ordering as many as 10 photo books up to 98 images each) - all made on traditional (RA-4 photochemical) glossy color photo paper (Fujifilm Archive Crystal Supreme). Most of them contained 90-99 images in the size of 20x27 cm, but since you can open the book (beautifully cut), the length of two pages opened - for example when you use a panorama image over two pages - the length is now 54 cm !

Pretty cool for panoramas., by the way. I tested that with one image of Sal looking over the huge depression caldera on the east side of the Etna Volcano... Looks really awesome.

All the books came out - absolutely gorgeous !

Really, truly in every way.

That combined with a Black Week rebate of 50%, made me go into very high gear. I ordered books to a total value of 800€ - but paid only half the price. Making everything even more affordable.

 

Last time I ordered a Photography Book

- was a long time ago: somewhere around 2017 - i created one, in the largest available size, for Sal's mother; with memory images collected after i had met the most in the family. It was the only time I have ever ordered a photo book (It turned out - likewise fantastic already back then in 2017 !)

Now, a long time has passed without i used Fujifilm services - so, i started to use them again but had i learn how to do it anew (they had changed the way you deal with images and layout since then. but I have to say, it went absolutely great - and much more smooth compared to 2017.

Today you can do all that online in your browser, without the need of any specific software.

Overall - the output looks fantastic. I am really that thrilled - that is why I sound so euphoric. Also seeing your/my digital images turning into physical prints, and so beautifully, perfectly mounted as a book... is very rewarding. (especially when you gift such a book to other people !)

Bringing digital images into physical life - it is inspiring.

Even a bit addictive !

 

Naturally, I started to wonder...

if i should invest into my own photo printer... But my feelings regarding LARGE printing with PROFESSIONAL quality - is rather mixed. There is a lot more to it, than what meets the eye. It is one thing to want. Another thing, to need.

A large Pro printer feels to me like buying shoes that are 5 sizes too large for my feet. I don't need that, really. It is nice to have, but nice doesn't cut it. I need an honest reason, actually to maintain such investment that includes, expensive inks, need weekly maintenance (printing), and requires expensive papers.

It is not with pessimism or fear i speak. I truly believe, that i don't have an honest need for a large, expensive professional printer today. (and when I do - i do not hesitate to buy one... but only for the right reasons, I may add).

Let me explain, why...

 

Back in 2002

You know, long time ago i was eying on professional pigment based printers. And bought two times a A3+ printer (2002, and then 2006) - both which failed miserably.

The cost of tiny ink containers were very expensive, and the printers far too easily clogged. Every time you needed to do a cleaning circle because there was some clogging going on - it wasted huge amounts of precious, expensive ink.

Coming from a traditional photo darkroom (think year 2000-2002), with at that time still silly cheap RA-4 print chemicals, and very affordable RA-4 color photo paper i used to buy on rolls and cut them in darkness in my little darkroom.... - It made printing with pigmented ink, feel extremely expensive to say the least !!

After two total failures - i abandoned professional printing altogether after 2006 - and never looked back. That old Epson 2000 printer, i think i threw out just the other year. It had been sitting unused for more than a decade. Even the inks i bought extra - i never used (i still have them here somewhere *LOL*)

I guess I didn't want to get addicted to the ink "cocaine", so to speak. I simply walked away. Today, i see that it was far too early for digital printing in a more reasonable, affordable way. Today's tech is actually far more reliable in direct comparison.

And I am ONLY speaking about pigment based printers - NOT dye based printers. The latter, will result into rapid bleaching results, when you have images exposed to daylight. They last perhaps 15 years at best.

 

In a way it felt like a "scam"

The price difference was absolutely large, totally out of proportions compared it traditional chemical photo material (in 2000-2002)

I also felt imprisoned, you know - locked into the "ink as expensive as gold" scam. Like a slave which after having bought a professional A3+ printer - now must buy expensive ink for ever... in order to keep it running.

Also: I certainly did not have the economy for such frikkin waste, to be honest.

Given that i started to make increasingly amounts of debts for my photography (cameras, lenses) which got added over the years to rather unhealthy levels. When i started with Canon EOS digital cameras - i had no lenses, either.

• Year 2000
Kodak DC4800 for 10.000 SEK / 1200 €

• Year 2001
Canon 30D for 29.000 SEK / 3600 €

• Year 2003
Canon Powershot G3 in 2003, for 10.000 / 1300 €

• Year 2004
Canon EOS 10D for 11.000 SEK / 1300 €

• Year 2005
Canon EOS 1D Mark II for 35.000 SEK

• Year 2006
- Fuji Finepix F30
- Lumix LX1
- Lumix LX2

• Year 2007
- Leica M8 digital for 42000 SEK / 4800 €

Plus many new Canon EF and Sigma lenses. And well, I continued to buy both cameras and lenses even after 2007. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. I know.

My "youth sins", but they lasted into my middle ages *LOL*

 

Digital photography in 2000/01

was still in its infancy to the normal consumer. Back in year 2000 in Stockholm, nobody - absolutely nobody, had or used a digital camera in a disco (!), at a restaurant or in general in the streets. At least not visible to my eye.

I shot around - oh boy, did I shoot images - and felt like a dolphin in clear waters - so joyful and fun *LOL* Many years before Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, images via sms, smartphones or iPhones.

 

Today's printers

Are far better - and i have to think of two directly being representative: Canon PRO 1000 [2016], and Epson SureColor 900 [2021] being on top of todays' A3/A2 printers (from what I understand in theory of what i so far have read). It is expected that Canon some day comes with a successor to the aged Pro-1000 printer from 2016.

The Epson apparently changed their print heads, with less usage of ink, LESS WASTE of ink, and much less clogging if any at all (previous they where infamously known to jam / dry out / clog a lot) which was a major reason for me to stay away form professional printing, because like I said before, do not always have a need to print. But in order to maintain a printer, you got to use it regularly !!

SO, the latest generation of professional Epson printers, are far less wasteful - and you do NOT need to waste a lot of ink, every time you switch from Photo Back to Black matte, vice versa. It is now a thing of the past, eliminating a very wasteful, expensive and problematic past, i may add.

The tanks have gotten larger, too. And while ink is still very expensive, but not as expensive and wasteful and problematic compared to year 2002.

 

Fujifilm photo print services

I am using Fujifilm's print services, and have to say that the results are of very high quality - combined with affordable, reasonable prices.

You get long lasting images made on conventional, high quality color photo papers, exposed with laser and developed in traditional RA-4 chemicals.

For occasional prints, whether small, medium or large, or mounted in frame, or shipped as books... i think this is truly an awesome service (and best in test compared to all other types of "printing" services. A sensitive balance between quality, longevity and price - all being on the positive side of things.

Why Fuji ? Because they use the best paper in terms of longevity - and the output as final prints, is unusual stable. I love the results in the 10 books i have ordered (for a value of 700 €) in total. There is not a single photo i would say, it was dreadfully bad printed.

Only in one book, i had around 10 images, where some light banding was visible - which was their fault, not in my images. But it was so light, that i decided to keep it (it was a present for Leti in Turin). It was so light, that it didn't stick into my eyes - so i accepted it "as it is".

All other photos and books where flawless = within the margin / tolerance to my naked eye. And I am pretty picky, since I am after all dealing with photography and prints, and have a sensitive, trained eye from the past 40 years.

Kudos, Fujifilm - i say.

 

Do i need a professional A2 printer !?

No. After a lot of ransacking and reflections - I don't need a professional A3/A2 printer. I do not sell my photography, nor do i have an audience or engage in social media.

For my own needs... how many A2 photos can i put up on our walls ? 20 perhaps ?

And what do I do then ? Give them all away from that point on ? I love to give away photos - but i don't think I would just buy a printer in order to make presents. Even that has some limitations over time... And I also have to maintain the printer, at least printing one image per week, in order to keep a printer flawless in printing quality.

I love the thought of a (professional, pigment based) printer - but I do not have an honest need for one. And I rather pay off my Fujifilm GFX 50s II camera quickly - which I think is important to get off that debt, rather than buying a Pro printer.

 

I still have all (traditional) darkroom supplies at home !

And what about all the photo paper i still have at home ? I can still make most beautiful large prints - without the need of buying anything - because i have everything right here at home. Paper, chemicals, enlarger, and plenty of negatives to choose from.

I do love the thought of at least printing out something from my collection of photos... And that is where I am coming to soon.

 

10x15 cm mounted postcards !

I love creating postcards. I love sending postcards to people i like. The size of 10x15 cm is perfectly intimate and personal: not too small, not too large. In order to create beautiful, personal postcards, you can do it in a elegant, stylish yet simple way: I mount a 10x15 cm photo on extra thick A4 paper which i fold in half, glue the image on the front side - while writing personal note (or a letter) on the inside.

That is where my heart feels present.

Also: I can make collages with several 10x15 cm images, mounted in a larger frame for personal use. That is also very cool to look at.

 

Goofy images

Another passion i have, are "comic" images. Totally goofy, silly, stupid - and fun ! I often do that with Claus (and now also Sal) as subjects - by adding funny speech bubbles, or even AI elements like changing their hair. I call those "Helga Comics" which sometimes are infiltrated with brutal gay humor.

Let's have a look:

 




 

 

 

Canon Selphy CP1500

Is a sublimation printer - which means there is no ink. Instead you have three rolls of colors + a layer of protection - combined with long lasting quality (100+ years according to Canon's "accelerated" tests), as well smear and moist proof, glossy surface ... and affordable consumables.

The printer makes only 10x15 cm images.

 

 


Total cost per 10x15 cm image:

lies somewhere between 3.50 Swedish Kronor. (0.32 €). I think that is highly affordable for a print. Also the fact that there is no ink that can dry out - makes it (in theory) perfect for occasional printing demand - sending lovely, home made postcards to friends.

I am so tried of just sending images via Whatsup and Telegram. It turns good photography into an end "product" becoming futile and trivial - as well degraded in terms of quality (due to compression). Ultimately viewed on a small screen, for 0.5 seconds. Gosh, people do not even have the nerve to rotate their phone, when viewing a horizontal image on their mobiles *rolling my eyes*. That makes the viewed image smaller than a 10x15 print, even smaller than a Fuji Instax Mini print.

FUCK !

I long for something more tangible. Some thing physical. Something where you actually can give some more joy though a physical photo, instead of some low grade digital image on a screen. Like "Into one ear, and out of the other ear immediately. Gone and forgotten already".

I am tired of the superficial. Tired of the substance-void virtual world of nothingness. Therefore - I bought a Canon Selphy CP1500 - and will make my own postcards again.

 

Instax Square film + Mamiya RZ67 pro

Now this is a future, a bit unusual project for next year. To use Instax Square film, that can be used with a special film-back designed to work with the legendary Mamiya RZ67 studio camera ! It costs around 450 € through - but I did send my interest to the developer who is behind the creation of such an Instax Film back for Mamiya RZ67.

My feeling revolving Instax is pretty mixed, too. I am more impressed when Instax film is used directly though an Instax printer. but when using it directly in a camera - it seems to be intolerant, and have very limited dynamic range. Which means, dark shadows without details, and blown highlights. When sending images to an Instax printer, the contrast is far better. For for that job i choose the Canon Selphy CP1500 instead.

So, maybe the Mamiya RZ67 "Zinstax" will only be a novelty for me. Kind of luxury, which i am not really sure if that really is such a good idea. It seems a lot better to use film instead. And no, I am not a big Polaroid fan. They are fun, absolutely. But with questionable, mediocre quality when used directly in a camera. For 20 SEK a pop. But - your mileage may vary.

 

Strange pricing in Sweden e.g. Amazon

Curiously, i noticed that the Instax Wide films is slightly cheaper than the Instax Square format here in Sweden. And Amazon is a disaster, because they only show you higher priced products for both instax film as well Selphy rolls + papper. Even the third party options, are way more expensive than the Canon original. How odd.

 

Here is a video (below)

which shows how the Mamiya RZ67 "Zinstax" back actually works.

I think it is a very cool idea to give that camera another road of expression. The camera itself is simply awesome. A true work horse, and one that for me worked now since 1987 (37 years !!) without a hiccup (except the first generation 120 film holders, which all went crazy. The second generation II, is superior, and worked flawless this far). Good to know if you are doing Mamiya RZ67 Pro photography. Skip any first generation 120 6x7 film backs. Unless you are a tinkerer and don't shy aware from taking things apart to iron our whatever might be the cause of the malfunction).

 

Instax Wide doesn't work on Mamiya RZ67 or any other 6x7 camera

Which is a pity that the Fuji Instax Wide film doesn't work with the camera. The film is 9 cm in length, but the camera only covers 7 cm. It only works with 4x5" cameras, together with for example a Lomo Graflock Instax back - but is oddly not centered for such cameras (it is made off-set, which is a bit stupid in my opinion).

Alone the idea i find very attractive for occasional work with Polaroid like film. After all - you can switch back easily between Instax film and conventional color or black & white film (which you later develop at home).

It is also a nice way to give people images - for example during a photo session with analog film. Albeit, let's face it - how often do i use the Mamiya RZ67 in order to give away Polaroid images ?! An Instax printer would make more sense in that regard.

Anyway - it is another nice option.

 

 

 

Mamiya RZ67 studio camera

I have almost all lenses in the Mamiya RZ 67 Sekor lens line up. A camera i bought back in 1987 - and made a huge difference in my more professionally oriented photography. It is really an analog darling in the studio as well outdoors on a tripod.

Here a few photos.

Doesn't Sal look like a dish ? Silverfox masculinity par excellence *grin*


25 Aug 2018 | Sal portrait made with Mamiya RZ67 + Sekor Z 210 mm f 4.5 APO lens

 


25 Aug 2018 | Sal portrait made with Mamiya RZ67 + Sekor Z 210 mm f 4.5 APO lens

 

Mamiya Sekor Z APO 210 mm f 4.5

is a truly formidable lens, which is razor sharp - and gives that little extra "spiff" in images where you wish extra sting in the finer details. However, it is so sharp that it may not always be beneficial in portraits. Men more than in women, where a softer rendering lens is preferred (such as the Mamiya Sekor Z 180mm f 4.5 as an example).

 

APO lenses

are particularly sharp (and show less color aberrations if any). Among the Mamiya line up, these APO corrected lenses where developed in the threshold time (end of 90s, and into 00s) when the company entered digital photography with existing Mamiya RZ67 cameras (+ digital backs). Mamiya unfortunately doesn't exist anymore. Which is a pity, because they made fantastic lenses and cameras from scratch, including even their own lens glass mixtures.

Astonishing.

I believe the company was bought up by the "Danish" Phase One. And they phased Mamiya out of existence. Today, Phase One is an extreme narrow niche company, with ultra expensive digital cameras and lenses - and i believe they are loosing big times. The market has eroded for such extreme cameras with very large digital sensors, and a price more like 50.000 € for a camera - without lens.


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