Friday, April 27, 2018

My first use of the Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter

My Nikon ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter arrived today and I was eager to try it out on some of the slides I've been saving up while waiting for the adapter to finally be released.

The ES-2 adapter comes packaged with two lens adapters. The shorter one is the 60mm G macro lens, and the wider one for the 60mm D lens. For the 40mm macro for Nikon DX cameras, the ES-2 adapter mounts directly onto the lens. The ES-2 will work with both FX and DX Nikon cameras, but only the D850 will able to do an in-camera conversion of negatives to positive jpg output.

There is a six-strip film negative holder and a separate holder for two mounted slides. The whole setup is fairly simple and I was able to dive right into some experimental slide copying.

You're going to need some sort of light source in front of the adapter. I decided to first try out a Porta-Trace light box with color corrected daylight bulbs in it. I also toyed with the idea of using a portable flash with a small bank on it as another color-corrected type of light. Turns out the lightbox idea worked perfectly with the first few tests, and it is really convenient, so I'll probably stick with it for the time being.

I used the smaller adapter at the lower left on my 60mm G macro lens. 
I decided to stick with taking the image in RAW, at least for now because it will be easier for me to shift the color correction later on in ACR and Photoshop. Turns out I was able to pretty much zero in on a very accurate color correction right off the bat by selecting the camera's daylight color setting in Adobe Camera Raw. Once I realized this worked very well with the Porta-Trace light, I next tried setting the daylight color in the camera and recorded the image in both jpg and NEF. That worked fine, too.  

This is the set up ready for the slide. 
I used an f/11 aperture setting on the lens to see if that would allow the curved edges of the slide to be in focus along with the center area. The slide I used might not have been the best example for this test, so I plan to do some more experiments with aperture settings. Of course, working with such small apertures it is important to begin with a clean sensor. Any dust particles are definitely going to show up on the final image.

And this is my first captured slide with the ES-2! The color on this is very close to the original slide using the technique I mentioned in the text. 
A copied slide is never going to be as sharp as an original digital images taken with a modern pro camera. This is especially true because of the grain structure of the film.  To improve my results for practical use, I decided to down-res the images to 24mp from the D850's 45.7 megapixel output. 25mp is a fairly common size today and perfectly adequate for most uses. This image turned out much better in this size.

I also enhanced the image with a slight sharpening treatment from the Photokit Creative Sharpener. This also improved the crispness of the image nicely. In one of the slides I copied I found the grain to be too intense so I used the noise reducer, Neat Image, on it. The photo looked much better after that.

I plan to do a lot more experimenting with the ES-2 and will be writing a full post on my discoveries on the best way to copy and process slides and negatives with it. Stay tuned for a future blog post.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Still life photography with the Fuji X-T2

My photo project for this week was to do a series of images with a spa theme. For this I used the Fuji X-T2 and two lenses, the Zeiss 50mm macro and the Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom.  I mostly relied on the zoom, but did have to add a 90mm f/2 Fuji for one shot, as I mention below.

Most of time we worked indoors with available window light, but for a few shots we moved outdoors to photograph with a pool background. Every situation was backlit with a foreground gold/silver reflector to kick in a fill light.

Below is a small sampling of the many images we achieved in the two day shoot.

This shot was done towards then end of the shoot when we started to add some natural, decaying plant materials to add some natural character and warm color to the spa scenes.


For this photo of bamboo I wanted the background to be very out-of-focus so I switched to the Fuji 90mm f/2 lens and put a close-up filter on it to achieve the extreme bokeh effect. The bamboo was inside near a window and the our-of-focus background was outside. Because I was using only natural light the situation made it a bit difficult to harmonize the the exposure for the bamboo with the background. A lot of that was done later in Photoshop by opening up the bamboo exposure and darkening the background. The shot had to be done in RAW.  A jpg image would never have held the extreme exposure differences.