Sunday, 6 February 2011

Digital Photography with 1960's Tech.

Click on the photo above for a 1024 sized version.

This snap shows a typical Highbridge Branch train as seen in the last 2 years of the line's existence; a single Hawksworth Brake Compo and a ex-Southern Railway bogie-van for perishables (fun things like cider and cheese). You can see some rather nice prototype photos of such trains here. Note the narrow gauge trucks in the background used for transporting peat from the nearby moor. I hope to get that aspect operational before the next show.

Of more interest to photographers, might be that this photo was taken using a Nikon Nikkor 35mm focal length prime lens dating from the mid-1960's. We tend to think of digital photography as throwaway, but this need not be the case, many makes of digital SLR allow the use of wonderful older lenses - and 'vintage' is so cool! So, if you have a limited budget, the smart money will always go on a good lens, the chances are that you or your kids might still be using it 45 years later like here - whereas that expensive camera body will be down the car boot sale with all the knocked off tat in just 5. And the real bonus is that 'camera make' prime lenses are frequently optically far better than mid-priced zooms and go for pennies on Ebay! Of course that smarmy salesman in the out-of-town megastore will not tell you any of the above for obvious reasons.

So, here we have a portrayal of the end of steam scenario, taken on a lens that was around when steam ruled supreme, well just!

Below, hopefully some of the answers to the blizzard of questions that will no doubt follow......
  • Loco: Bachmann Ivatt Class 2MT 2-6-2 renumbered, detailed and weathered.
  • Coach: Hornby Hawksworth Brake Compo after a bit of fettling
  • Van: Ratio (Kit) SR bogie van.
  • Layout: Catcott Burtle.

  • Toys: Nikon D200, Nikkor S 35mm f2.8 shooting RAW with the camera firmly mounted on a tripod.
  • Exp: 3 sec at f16, using 6 exposures combined in Helicon Focus to extend the depth of field.
  • Lighting: The layout's own fluorescent lighting.
  • Cheating: The only computer addition is the loco-clag using 'Clouds' in Photoshop.
  • Not-cheating: The sky is physically there, is actually part of the layout and was produced photographically - proof here for those that think everything is make-believe these days: . I'm mid-way through writing an article for the popular press on doing such.


  1. Warm cheese sandwiches, bottle of pop, short trousers, Kodak camera, birdsong, buzzing insects,a tractor chugging in the distance, the smells of smoke and the country - those were the days!
    I purchased a Pentax istd camera for the very reason that my old 35mm lenses would fit. The 300mm telephoto equates to about 400mm in digital and the 80mm to 100 I think. Both give a slighty soft feel to photos against the pin sharp 18-55 that the camera comes with.

  2. Digital appears to react differently to film with different lenses. Some of them on digital don't like being stopped down beyond f16 before diffraction kicks in - the same lens with film is totally different. It's just a matter of working out the different lens sweet spots. I'm very impressed with this 45 year old old 35mm Nikkor - it's great even at the smallest stop so is likely to see more use. Definition wise it is about the same at my super-posh Nikkor 28-70 f2.8 IFED but alot smaller and ideal if I need to poke the lens through a small hole like the view from a fiddle yard. Great fun!

  3. Ah the benefits of decent glass! A prime lens should pretty much always be superior to any zoom in any case.

    The ability to use the old lenses on the new kit makes it so much easier to pick a new camera body when you have decent lenses like these.

    Me? I'm still a film fan using an old B&W medium format camera when I get the chance. Hmmmm, wonder how much a digital back for my old Bronica would cost?


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