Review: Pocket Light Meter for iPhone

Pocket Light Meter logo

The software house Nuwaste studios produce an app very interesting for everyone still devoted to film photography that own an IOS capable device, say an iPhone or an iPod Touch.

It’s called Pocket Light Meter and it does exactly what it sounds.

It’s a very functional light meter that you can carry in your pocket all day “embedded” in the thing that most likely you will carry anyway with you: your phone!

Just to be clear: it is not a toy.

Indeed it is precise once calibrated (but this is a process that you have to do for every light meter, even those in your cameras).

Pocket Light Meter

It gives you the possibility to take spot readings moving around the red square, to lock one or two values (for example iso and speeds), and to take a picture to store the reading in its metadata (included the GPS datas!).

In alternative you can log your readings to your Dropbox account, if you do have one (and if not, WHY???).

You can set the readings in full stops, halves or thirds; and it support even the cine shutter speeds.

Enabling the display of additional info you can read the values in EV, Lux and FootCandles.

Can you ask for more?

Yes, because by the way…it’s FREE.

And if you find distracting the ads that pop in the base of the screen you can alway buy an ad-free version for only 0,79 €.

Rating: ★★★★½

Review: Hasselblad Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2,8

Hasselblad Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2,8

The Planar is often overlooked because is the standard lens that almost everyone buys with an Hasselblad.

But this does not mean that it is not a great performer.

Quite the opposite, indeed!

Designing a normal lens is easy, even without resorting to rare earths or others magic ingredients.

And this Zeiss does not make an exception.

It is sharp all the way, at all the apertures, and with the great and well known Zeiss contrast and colors.

The only thing that someone may find unappealing (but I think only on the old models) is the lock that tie together apertures and shutter speeds (the lens has a leaf shutter) linking them to a specific EV value.

For me, instead, this is a plus, because once the exposure has been decided one can fiddle around with aperture and speeds values without the constant necessity of recalibrate things.

Performance-wise if it is not a legend like some of its siblings of the Hasselblad lineup surely it is a great great lens.

Speaking of Hasselblad legends a valid alternative, but costly, is the Planar 100mm f/3,5.

Anyway with any of them you will be plenty happy.

Rating: ★★★★½ on film

Review: Hasselblad 500c/m

Hasselblad 500c/m

Ok, I have to admit: this review is completely flawed.

I love the ‘blad!

The Hasselblad is the first auto-composing camera that I know of.

It has some kind of magic: every time I put it on the tripod the picture is right here, without the need to search for another framing or something.

So yes, this time I am partial.

Sure, the camera has its flaws: it’s clunky, prone to mechanical damages, the magazines sometimes develop a leak.

But the simple act of loading the film and turning the crank all the way it is a sort of zen exercise that aid my concentration to focus on what is important: framing and shooting.

Nothing else.

No beeping, no lights, no winders that “wiirrs” around.

And obviously the quality of the Zeiss lenses is nothing short but gorgeous.

The only downsides I could think, aside the defects I listed above, are related to the price (around 500€ complete with an 80mm lens, a film magazine and the waist level finder) and to the need of a really good scanner to deliver all the good that it is capable of.

It’s not for all, because you have to “think square” and love it, but if this it is your case and you have the money take a shot at it and I bet you will not regret.



I started commenting on an Hasselblad review on another website, and it dawned on me that the same things I wrote there could be useful here! So here it is a slightly amended version of my comment, as an update.

The Hassy 500 for me is still THE camera (in the medium format world, like the Nikon F4s is THE camera in 35mm), even after all these years.

At least in Europe, were I live, sourcing one is definitely affordable: during the years I bought (and then sold, when I was convinced that buying the next digital megapixel monster was “the solution”…it was not) two of them. Now that I am back to shooting mostly film I bought – and kept! – other two, one 500c and one 500c/m. For the 500c, with an 80mm, I paid 350€; for the three 500c/m I bought during the years, always with a lens, I never paid more than 500€.

Add to this, when/if necessary, a 100€/150€ for a CLA.

Changing the light traps on the film magazines should be made every couple years or so, but is easy enough that you can do by yourself, and the mylar traps cost just a 4 or 5€ each at most.

As for the focusing screens, I never shot with the latest version of the Acute Matt, but I’ve used the model before last, and while it was quite bright, for me it was almost impossible to understand what was in focus and what wasn’t because the contrast was too low. I’ve since found that I strongly prefer the original screens they used in the 500c, because the image snaps more readily in and out focus. So in my book no need to spend more for a 500c/m just because of the user replaceable screen.

Many years ago, at the time of this review, I was saving and checking auctions sites in order to find a 50mm Distagon FLE at a decent price, when I stumbled on a battered old 50mm Distagon C, the very first version. When I say battered I mean it looked like it fell from the back of a truck, on an highway, and rolled for a couple miles on the tarmac (I can prove it…I used its picture for my review at the time!). It was 150€, so I bought it as a temporary solution, but I ended up with a super sharp lens. I shoot mostly landscapes, and that thing was super sharp even in the corners! My guess? Unless you use a digital back, don’t bother with the FLE and spend your money on film and travel 😉

Rating: ★★★★½

FEM: Film Equivalent Megapixels

How many megapixels does film have? And I mean: for real, not the bazillion that the “experts” ascribe to it. The complete and yet unfulfilling answer is: depends. Mostly by ISO and by the format size, both of the film and the digital sensor.

Because two, for example, 12 megapixels sensors are not equal if one of it it is full frame and the other it’s the tiny tiny sensor of a camera phone. The rule of thumb, both in the analogue and in the digital word, is “the bigger the better”.

Those you find in the table below are my own findings, after over a decade of taking pictures. They are not results extrapolated by reading someone else opinion on some forum. So you may agree or disagree, but I’ll stick with my findings…


And by the way: even if a camera like a Canon 5D Mark II or a Nikon D3x (or better yet, if money are no object, a medium format digital back) it’s equal or better than film in most situations I STILL SHOOT (also) FILM.

Keep this in mind reading the results, because shooting film is more cumbersome, costly and time consuming, but has its unique advantages: it’s fun, it’s handy when if you don’t feel comfortable using a 2.000+ € electronic equipment under pouring rain, it has its look and it still yeld wondeful results in proper hands.

And some cameras like the magnificient Fuji GS645 or the Olympus XA serie (the review is coming) still don’t have a proper successor in the digital world.

For your convenience I have listed the results in the table below where you’ll find the format, the approximate diagonal size in cm (and I remind you that an inch is equal to 2,54cm) and a FEM (Film Equivalent Megapixels value) minimum, medium of maximum.

I have had to make this distinction because, for exemple, you may shoot with a crappy lens and shaky hands, or with the camera screwed directly onto a granite boulder (this actually it’s the setup to perform the MTF tests).

Heavy rain

By the way, under “handheld” I collect all the non-optimal situations, like heavy wind, diffraction limited lenses, blurred images caused by photographer movement, blurred images caused by movements of the subjects (during long exposure time, for example), curved film, focus not spot on.

So you can interpretate the three levels as such:

MIN (handheld and / or scanning on a flatbed and / or high ISO) = calculate roughly 1,5 Megapixels for cm of format diagonal

MED (low ISO, tripod and / or scanning on Imacon and high-end scanners) = calculate roughly 1,85 Megapixels for cm of format diagonal

MAX (really low ISO, tripod, mirror lock up and  scanning on a drum scanner) = calculate roughly 2,3 Megapixels for cm of format diagonal

FormatDiagonal (in cm)MinMedMax
4×5″ / 9x12cm15,6232936
5×7″ / 13x18cm22,2334155
8×10″ / 20x25cm32485974

And please, please, please take this results with a grain of salt: obviously you can go further with any format using special equipment, like shooting on ultra-low-iso-with-almost-no-grain-film and scanning on the SuperUltraMegaDrum @ 1.000.000ppi and so on. I made this reference table with an average user in mind…

UPDATE: please check the following two posts for a better and cheaper way to scan your films

Canon 5d Mark II vs. Drum scanner vs. Epson v700

How to-scan films using a digital camera

Review: Fuji GS 645

Today I wish to talk about one of the best, if not THE best, cameras I ever used.

I’m speaking about the Fuji GS 645, a 4,5×6 medium format rangefinder camera that will fit in your pocket.

And without having to sacrify anything. This camera has one of the sharpest lenses ever and a classic center weighted exposure meter with LEDs into the finder.

And I swear, I’m not throwing away superlatives just for fun, it is really that amazing!

fuji gs645

With one toy like this one in your pocket and some films in the other you may go shooting for a day, from reportage to landscape photography.

One of my favourite setups for landscape is this camera screwed on top of the tripod – closed to protect the lens and the really delicate bellows -,  and the tripod itself on my shoulder, carried like a shotgun.

This way I’m always ready to shoot; without the lazyness of picking the camera or the lens into the bag I just put down the tripod, frame and shoot, move on.

If you find one of this cameras take a look at the bellows: the original Fuji ones are really prone to develop little holes that you may see blasting a flashlight or a lamp inside the bellows, obviously with the back open, in a dark room.

I have changed mine with an home made variant, much stronger even if a little too thick; and, by the way, the plexiglass in front of the finder is not the original aspect of the camera, but the black plastic mask that cover this zone broke and I have had replaced it this way.

If you don’t need the extreme compactness of this model you may avoid the bellows problems and you may choose one of the other models of the same line, if you want up to 6×9; whatever you choose they are all excellent.

Rating: ★★★★★ optics

Rating: ★★★½☆ mechanics