To the R&D teams at Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and other Lens manufacturers.

I am writing with a request/plea that i am sure many others have made in the past when it comes to lenses for users of MILC systems like Micro 4/3, Sony E/FE & Fuji X systems.    WE NEED MORE ZOOM TYPE LENSES AND LARGE TELEPHOTO LENSES!

A little background about me,  I am a passionate sport & action photographer who uses a Micro 4/3 system as my primary tool, i have been toying with the idea of a brand swap, but to Sony FE system and not a Canon or Nikon DSLR system.  Yes i primarily shoot action and sport, and NO i do not want to go back to a DSLR, why?  Well, the primary thing is size and weight of a mirrorless system, my current micro 4/3 setup is a wide angle – short tele zoom. and a tele zoom of 75-300mm, and a small tele zoom of 45-150mm, between the 3 lenses, my 35mm equiv is 24-600mm, which body, lenses, and battery grip combine to weigh 1.6kg and its reasonably compact as well, which means to go and hike or ride a bike into the middle of a forest rally stage or if i am on an airfield for days at an airshow, mirrorless makes a lot easier to carry, and hold for long periods of time as i have back and shoulder issues that to carry a DSLR system that even goes to 600mm would be near agony by the end of the day.  I LOVE my MILC system, but there is one thing that annoys me, lack of lens options for sport, action & wildlife photographers.

To Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, you all produce lenses that are available for this type of photographer, BUT they are all only on legacy DSLR mounts..

Sigma, your Global vision lenses are amazing.

Tamron, your G2 lenses are also in the amazingly good class

and Tokina, you guys have been solid for years

But you have not spent any time to offer a decent selection of lenses for the Mirrorless class of cameras that have rapidly gained popularity in recent years for many users of these cameras we have been left out with new lens announcements from your respected and trusted brands as all of the large zoom/telephoto lenses are Canon, Nikon mount, with Pentax following up at a later date.

Sigma’s offerings for Sony E & micro 4/3 users to date have been pretty poor  in that you have produced 3 lenses to be available in these mounts, all have been wide angle or short primes! Yes you have announced 2 more lenses, but again they are wide angle primes!!!!!!!!   I WANT TELEPHOTO LENSES!!!

I can hear Sigma saying now… Sony users can use our MC-11 adapter with the global vision DSLR lenses..  I don’t want an adapted lens where there is more to fail… I and many others want NATIVE mounts for each… Heck Sigma, you are part of the 4/3 alliance group, AND you used to produce lenses for 4/3 system cameras… including the 50-500mm!

Tamron and Tokina, even worse, a single solitary lens offering from each of you…, Heck even Voigtlander have more lens options than Tamron, Tokina AND Sigma…

I know i want to see a 150-600mm, 100-400mm type lens to be available in Micro 4/3 or Sony E/FE and even Fuji X mounts simply to see more choice for users like myself as we are stuck with so few options its tough.  If a Micro 4/3 user wants a lens longer than 300mm, there is 1… yes ONE a single solitary offering in lenses over 300mm in focal length, and that is the Panasonic  Leica Vario Elmar DG 100-400mm f4-6.3, Sony users have the FE 100-400mm GM lens,  Fuji X users, again a SOLITARY option…

Sigma, Tamron, you both have 400mm + class lenses that i am damn sure that if you made available to Sony E, Micro 4/3 and Fuji X users would clammer for them with such vigour that the ridiculous prices for the solitary options for each group would be reduced rapidly..

I know there are many frustrated users out there wanting such lenses, i just hope other listen, and others join the chorus of hope



Ok,  you have purchased a camera, some film and you have shot a few rolls of film through the camera what next? What do i do with these films now?

First step is to get the film processed. If the film is a Color Negative or Black & White Negative film, this is still pretty easy as most labs still process these regularly. If it is a color transparency/slide film then they are a bit tougher as labs equipped to process this are getting fewer.

Color negative film being the most common film is simple, take it to your local lab or lab agent, and get it processed, most labs will process the film, and give you the option of develop only, develop with prints and develop with a digital file/cd of the negatives.

Personally, because i have a flatbed scanner at home that does a fabulous job of scanning negatives, so i just go for the develop only option and scan the negatives at home.  However, if you do not have a scanner at home, then i do recommend the develop and scan options.  This gives you both the negative, and a digital copy of the negatives, so if you want prints, you can use the digital files and take advantage of digital print specials that crop up, or post the pics online.

One thing about the lab scanning the negs is check what resolution images they will supply.

The lab we use here at Southern Cameras is pretty good in that they offer 4 different resolution scan options from a small scan designed for 4×6″ print output to a super high resolution that will allow prints up to 12×18 inches or the equivalent of a 20 megapixel image.

At home for scanning, I use my Canon CS9000F II flat bed, with the supplied Canon scan masks. The supplied masks allow upto 10 35mm negative frames, or 4  mounted 35mm slides, or a strip of 120 roll film that depending on the format of the camera will allow 4  645 frames, 3 6×6 frames or a couple of 6×9 frames.

When I am scanning 645 negs for example, i set my scanner to scan at the highest possible resolution which is 9600dpi. If i leave the output at 100% that gives me a scan of over 10,500 pixels on the longest side for an equivalent of around 110 megapixels! The down side is that this makes the files extremely large, with a JPEG image being up to 200mb EACH!   But generally i turn the output down to around 75%, this still gives an scan of around 7900 pixels on the longest side of an image and produces enough detail to deliver superb prints at 12×18 and larger if needed.

If you are shooting Black & White film, you can send it in to a lab for processing, or process it yourself at home.

Processing at home does require a smallish outlay of $$$ for some equipment, plus chemicals. But all in all it is not actually a difficult process.

Processing B+W film at home is worthy of a post on it’s own, and i think for the moment i am going to go deeper in to that in a future post.

After the film is returned, or processed,  I add the film to my archive, i have an app for my phone that i record details of the film into, and when i scan the film, i create a separate folder for each film, named with the type of film, and what number of that type i have used. In the folder is a txt document with the film details, number, what camera it was shot with, dates shot, who processed it.

The scanned film is then put into a negative file, and the page number is recorded with the film date, type and code number  on the files index page.

If i need to print i go to the computer, get the file and send it to the lab to be printed, or if needed i edit the image, or re-scan to a new resolution to print from.



Ok, so you have made the decision to get on to the Analogue photography train, either for the first time or you are getting back on to it after spending time in the digital world, and after much thought and research, a camera has been purchased, lenses (if you have gone SLR or Rangefinder ILC) but now the big thing is what film do i shoot, or for returning photographers, what film is still around?

The latter part of the question is most definitely relevant to many as over the last 15 years we have seen many classic films disappear from basic 35mm colour negative films to legends like Kodachrome.

For probably the best list of what films are still available, check out Kosmo Photo’s blog for the list  PART 1 and PART 2    Though i am sure that the list is not complete yet…

Colour or Black & White?

The age old question among photographers.. do i shoot colour or black and white?   This is a question i have never been able to fully answer myself, so personally, i shoot both because a lot of things i like are in colour, but some things also look amazing in black and white too,  quite often i will carry a couple of cameras, one loaded with B+W and one loaded with colour film.

Colour film is the standard, it has been now for so many years, why? because it is still easily processed commercially by the majority of photo labs.


Troops on Tank, Colour negative film scanned,


P-40 at rest,  Lomography 400ASA B+W film

Black and white film gives that gorgeous look that can be moody and intense, or light and playful, plus most labs can still process it, or you can process it at home with reasonably basic facilities.

In the colour film world, Fuji films are known for their punchy/vibrant greens and blues,  whereas Kodak had gorgeous Yellow and red tones, even among one brands range of films, looks can be different. For example, Kodak Portra is well know for really nice pleasing skin tones, but Ektar is bright and vibrant, and the legendary Kodachrome film had a look all its own that even spawned a hit song by the famous songwriter and photographer Paul Simon.

Black & White films are generally regarded on their grain structure and also the tonal range,  some films have gained legendary status, while others do not get the recognition that is deserved. The other reason B+W film  is so popular, it’s easy to develop at home!

Films like Ilford PanF have a following among landscape photographers with its 50ASA rating, it has super fine grain, and allows massive prints to be made with excellent tonal range that will deliver deep rich blacks, but still deliver crisp whites. I personally have used PanF 50 and printed 20×24″ prints from a 35mm negative that looked stunning.PanF

Yet also from Ilford the HP5+  is a 400ASA film that delivers superb tone, with a bit more grain, but still very well controlled for printing.

Kodak’s Legendary Tri-X and T/Max films give black and white shooters fine grain production, but superb tonal ranges that street and portrait shooters love.TriX

One other Black & White film that deserves a mention here is the Ilford SFX200, this 200ASA film is an extended red film,  this gives some gorgeous effects, especially when combined with filters can deliver some stunning images

Another film type is Transparency Film, aka Slide film.. Slide film reproduces images as they are colour wise, they are not a negative like normal film, so this means instead of reversed colours, the colours are as they should be. The big thing with Slide film is that it requires a different process to develop them, and this process is a bit more complicated and expensive than a traditional colour film, and here in NZ at least, there are few labs that can process it in house (our lab service is one though) although you can cross process many slide films for a different look…

Among the well known Slide films, Fujifilm produce Velvia in 50 & 100ASA speeds, and Provia in 100ASA, and there are others by small companies such as Lomography, Rollei and others.

Kodak currently have no Slide film available, but have had some of the most well known slide films in EktaChrome and Kodachrome, Kodacrhome was discontinued in the mid 2000’s as it was pretty difficult to process and by the early 2000’s there was only one lab in the world who processed it. Ektachrome on the other hand, was more easily processed and the main process is still available in labs around the world.  Ektachrome was a staple of National Geographic photographers for many many years.
Motion Pictures were shot using transparency films, and even now a number of major motion picture directors still shoot film and have committed to shooting the medium even for major Hollywood pictures.Ektachrom12

As a result of major movies being shot on film, and a revival of analogue photography, earlier in 2017 Kodak announced that they would be bringing Ektacrhome back in 100ASA  for 35mm still and super 8 movie cameras.

The other neat thing is that there are lots of companies out there releasing films as well, companies such as Film Ferrania, Kosmo Foto,  Lomography, Rollei, Agfa, Godox , Revolog, Cinestill, JCH and Fomopan to name  a few.
So as much as people say Analogue photography is dead, i personally beg to differ, not only is it still alive and kicking, but it is getting stronger again!

My best advice on choosing film, buy lots of different film, shoot it all, process it and see how it comes out and if you like it, shoot it again!



Ok, you have made the decision to go and shoot film, now the question is what camera do i want to use??  This makes decisions rather tough, as there are so many different cameras out there that do so many things and so many legendary cameras.  Rephrase the question & it will help your decision making.  Also what film format will also dictate camera choice too..

A better question to ask yourself, what sort of photography do i want to use this camera for?

The Choices:

SLR, TLR, Compact, Rangefinder, Interchangable lenses… Just some of the choices

Personally, when stepping back to film, i had decided to shoot medium format film, but then i also decided i wanted to shoot either 6×6 or 6×4.5,  and use it for landscape and or portrait, this narrowed my choices quite a bit.

The next  question would be do i want to have the ability to change lenses? Have changable film packs?

for me, i wanted Interchangable lenses, and the ability to have swappable film packs, again this narrowed down my choices, and took out cameras like Pentax 67, Fuji GX. Roleiflex & YashicaMat TLR’s.

This left me with still a large range of cameras to choose from, including Mamiya, Bronica, Pentax 645, Hasselblad.

The other major question to ask yourself, budget.. How much do i want to spend?

This is also a critical question, as setting your budget will also eliminate particular models and or brands from the search field.

For me, when i set my budget, it took out late model Pentax 645N & 645NII cameras, late model Mamiyas with AF,  and RZ cameras, plus pretty much every Hasselblad.

I ended up getting super lucky when a customer offered a Bronica S2a kit, it had everything i was looking for, multiple lenses, multiple backs and the price was right where i was looking.


Bronica S2a

The big thing with the Bronica, its a big heavy camera that while portable, still took a bit to move around.
Asking yourself questions about how you want to do things, what specs you want to have, all make searching for cameras easier.
If i wanted to get into street photography, a big MF camera would not be a good thing as they are pretty conspicuous,  so a 35mm camera can be a much better option, and again going down the 35mm route, there are plenty of questions, Changeable lenses? built in metering? Auto Focus?  Auto wind? SLR or Rangefinder or Compact? do you want to be discrete or not?


Minolta Dynax AF SLR

Answering these questions, in any combination could give you a really good camera, and again the budget thing will play a critical part in the decision making,  no point in looking for something like a Leica M6 and Summicron glass when your budget is in the low to mid hundreds range. ( a quick look on ebay revealed M6’s sell anywhere from around $1500NZ up! and good summicron glass is similarly price) but if you are wanting a rangefinder and prepared to hunt around, then take a look at Voigtlander Bessa cameras? many were built with the Leica Screw mount or even the Leica M mount,  and prices are not as expensive as the Leica’s.m3

wanting a 35mm SLR, then the choices are massive, but you generally cannot go wrong looking at classic’s like the Pentax K1000, Pentax ME Super, Pentax LX, Nikon FM2, F2/F3/F4, Original Olympus OM-1/2/4/10 Canon AE-1,  Minolta X300, XG or any number of other cameras.


Pentax K1000

Compact cameras are the same, the choices are vast, everything from Olympus Trip to compact Leica’s and Contax’s  it all depends on what you want to use it for, and how much you want to spend.

Personally, i started looking for a discrete camera but didnt want to shoot 35mm, luckily i discovered 110 cartridge film was back in production, so i started looking, and found a Pentax Auto 110, this is cool, it is a proper interchangable lens SLR and the kit i eventually found had 2 lenses and a flash…  this is the ultimate in discrete cameras as the whole camera with 24mm lens fits in the palm of my hand, i can put it in a pocket, and shooting with 2 lenses and the whole kit weighs under 500g.

There are heaps of choices, many many many good ones, it all comes down to the questions you ask yourself for what you want out of the camera, what style of photography you want to try.

So ive made the choice of what i am looking for, found the camera and its here…

What film do i use?



PART 1: Making the decision


For many shooting film is a part of photography that has gone the way of the Moa, its extinct.  But I love to tell people that it hasn’t become extinct, in fact, here at Southern Cameras we like many are seeing a revival of analogue photography, much like the Music industry is seeing a revival of Vinyl records. This is in thanks to a lot of photographers like myself who grew up using film, went digital, and become bored with digital, and the hipsters who have never shot a roll of film in their lives, and think it is cool to shoot retro film and fall in love for the slow pace and charm of film.

Hopefully this series of posts will help a little with making some decisions about getting into analogue photography. I will explain using my own experiences of getting back into film photography after a number of years shooting digital exclusively, and how i complement my digital work with my analogue work

For many who have never used film cameras, or thought about it, but do not know where to start, but another way to think about it, is what do i want to get out of shooting film, and what format do i want to shoot mainly?


For me when i started shooting film again, it came about because i became uninspired with the always perfect look of digital, the fact that i spent more time at airshows/motorsport events looking through the viewfinder or chimping and missing action, only to get home and spend way to much time sorting through thousands of frames and then spending hours in post processing to correct things and make it look perfect. (my record so to speak was capturing 7500 frames in a single day at an airshow and over 3 days a total of 19,500 frames)

The idea of shooting film for me, was to slow down and go back to my basics of photography which are to get as much right when shooting the image so i don’t have to spend hours in front of the computer.

What format do i want to shoot?

This got me thinking about what format of film i wanted to shoot mainly,  and after a thought process that i toyed with going to mainly 35mm film, i discounted it because i would be tempted to by a CaNikon or Pentax and buy a DSLR body as well which was not the aim for me.

This pretty much left Medium format, but here is where medium format gets a little tricky, unlike 35mm where the frame size is standard, Medium format offers flexibility the most common frame sizes are 6×9, 6×6, 6×7 or 6×4.5cm,  there are many cameras out there in Medium format land,  a few offer the ability to shoot a couple of those sizes, but they are rare and expensive. Most will stick to one frame size, and the same roll of film, depending on camera will give a photographer between 8 & 16 frames per roll.


Medium formats vs 35mm negative size

Why medium format, the negatives..  a small medium format negative is 6×4.5cm, this makes them approx 2x larger than a 35mm negative, and can provide some incredible detail and resolution when scanned  that will be larger than even the highest resolution 35mm DSLR sensor. That and there are LOTS of 120 roll films from many different manufacturers still available at reasonable prices, and most labs still process both color and black and white negs, plus a few can still do slide film as well.Ektar100TMAX4120

Another reason for going down the Medium format step instead of 35mm, well the big thing is i wanted to slow down my photo taking, no using machine gun like frame rates to capture 40 of 50 frames in 5 seconds, and 35mm felt too much like the mirrorless & DSLR cameras i have been using for the best part of a  dozen years. And most medium format cameras are manual, sure they have a light meter, but settings are still made manually, film is advanced manually on a large number and those that do have auto film advance do so at the not so rapid pace of 1 frame per second or even slower!

So decision made, i was returning to analogue/film photography, and going medium format, but what camera do i want to shoot with… this opened up another rather large question for me..

Next post… choosing a camera for you

Yes that is true, another legendary photographic name is now consigned to the history books..

Bowens,  the studio lighting company that produced some amazing lighting systems for studio, and on site portrait/product photographers has been shuttered by its investment group a little more than 1 year after they purchased it, thus ending 94 years in the photographic industry…..


Yes it is not often i have a rant on here, but today i think it is warranted

I have had several conversations lately with potential customers who are looking for equipment and have said but why buy from you and pay x amount of dollars more when i can buy it from an offshore based online retailer?

Well there are a couple of reasons, firstly  the NZ govt will charge GST on any item purchased online from offshore, and if a certain (and pretty low) threshold is hit, they will also add on Customs and Import processing fees, which makes many items, now within single digit percentages of the price of buying here in NZ

Sure the lure of saving money is always good, BUT when it comes to photographic/electronic equipment, saving a few bucks is not always a good thing, especially when something goes wrong and it needs to be fixed under warranty.

In the event of something going wrong with your Parallel imported photographic product even under warranty, you have 2 choices, why 2 choices i hear, well most photographic items now come with what is known as a regional warranty..  These warranties offer warranty protection in the country where the item was purchased from, not outside that country.

1st choice is to spend your own money and courier the item back to the country you purchased it from to get it repaired under warranty then spend your own money to get it back to you repaired, which will cost you around $200 there and back if going to the USA depending on weight, AND you could be without the item for several weeks…

2nd Choice is to send it to the NZ service centers, and pay to have it serviced as most Authorised Service Centers will not perform warranty repairs on items that are parallel imported due to most brands now having region specific warranties. This means you will pay the standard service rates for those brands, which here in NZ can range from $70 per hour incl Tax to $115 per hour PLUS tax which is 15% and most offer turnaround times of approx 10 working days but if you do chose this option, check before sending to make sure the wait times are not longer.

Sure you might save a few bucks to start, but IF something goes wrong, then your choices become rather limited and could prove to be expensive no matter what way you go.

The other reason to shop local,  person to person service, advice and the ability to go back to them and get aftercare service and even tips and tricks to use the gear, here at Southern Cameras,  with every DSLR* or Mirrorless camera we sell, we offer FREE sensor cleans and Firmware upgrades while you own the camera as a standard part of our aftercare, plus you can come in, and get some tips and tricks for using the camera too. (heck I recently attended an airshow out of town and stood at the fenceline with a customer showing him a couple of tricks to get better results out of the camera he had recently purchased from us.)

Also looking big picture, if you buy online from offshore, then the only $$$ to stay in NZ are the $$ that go to the govt ie GST and Customs fees…  The local price for properly sourced items goes up as the camera companies make it more expensive to buy in NZ as there is less coming in via the official channels which makes the prices go up as it costs more per unit to ship, making in store even less competitive because more expensive prices for non parallel imported product make it more attractive to go off shore.. more off shore sales means less in store in NZ, stores close, all that in store after sales care and advice is lost, and it becomes harder to get things serviced in NZ as things close and service centers get moved offshore as well, making servicing gear harder and away for longer.

My advice,  Buy local, support your local stores, sure not every store has 100% of every range in stock and right there to go, but more often than not, from the factory warehouses here in NZ are 1-2 days to get them plus you get friendly, helpful advice  from staff who are generally as passionate about photography as you.  Plus you help the economy too buy letting those precious $$$ circulate around NZ and not go straight offshore!!

*please note that Sony SLT-A series DSLR cameras cannot be cleaned by us instore and will need to be sent to Sony or another photographic tech center for cleaning due to the fixed mirror SLT design