Thursday, July 29, 2010

Digital Art Effects

Many of the newer digital cameras (both some point & shoots and some SLRs) have a feature for "art effects". They vary a little between brands, but the main ones are fairly consistent. If you've never played around with them, here's side-by-side examples on what the effects look like (photos are unedited and were shot with an Olympus E-620)

Left: soft focus, Right: light tone
L: pale and light color, R: pop art
L: pinhole, R: grainy film

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shots From Around the Building

Just a few fun shots from around the building...
awesome tin vintage camera bear (keeps me company on my desk)
someone has a sensor of humor
the "big ass fan" in the warehouse-
yes, that's the actual name that the manufacturer gave it, and it is huge!
receiving wall- keeping the space interesting by collecting odd stuff that comes in with already purchased deals
what a strapping fence! (vintage camera straps)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lens Fogging

Lens fogging can occur when you switch from one fairly extreme temperature to the next. This happens even more so in humid climates. The same basic thing can happen to your camera and lenses that you've seen happen to your glasses or car windshield- a fast fog or haze created by condensation. This condensation can not only appear on the surface of the glass, but also may develop on internal parts.
The above and below images were taken with a lens that fogged-
the camera and lens were taken from an air-conditioned interior, to a very hot exterior.
To prevent this: Put your equipment in an airtight plastic bag before taking it from one environment to another. Let the equipment gradually adjust to the new temperature and then remove from the bag. Do the same thing when going back to the original environment.

Why you want to take this preventative step: 1) It won't actually save you time to skip it. If your equipment fogs, it can take a while to defog. 2) The moisture from the condensation will penetrate into your equipment. This will cause fungus to grow. If the fungus is not removed in a timely manner, the fungus can etch the glass which will ruin the clarity of you shots for as long as you use that lens. Fungus may be difficult for the untrained eye to detect, and is sometimes costly to clean. The condensation can also cause rust and internal problems in your camera which will affect its functioning.

-jaf

Monday, July 26, 2010

Charlie Tuna Cam

126 cartridge novelty camera. Shaped and colored like Starlist's mascot Charlie Tuna. Produced by Whitehouse Products 1971. Measures approx. 6X10 inches. He also accepts a flashbulb on the top of his hat. BGN, $79.

How could you look at this camera and not smile?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Path of Equipment

An illustrative look at the path the consumer equipment takes
(thanks to Maxx for letting us tag along on its journey)
"goodbye old family, hello world" (on the way to KEH)
arriving at KEH in the receiving department
checked in and waiting to be evaluated (don't worry Maxx, waiting is the scariest part)
in tech support having a good ol' check-up
waiting for a deal to be made in purchasing
hanging out with new friends on the shelf
being boxed in fulfillment and headed to a new home
::knock, knock, click, click:: It's me, your new camera, your new friend!
aw, welcome to your new home Maxx

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tips for Quicker Returns & Exchanges

One of the most asked questions to our Customer Service Representatives is "How do I make sure my return is expedited as quickly as possible"? Customers return a purchase for many reasons. Sometimes they may just change their mind or sometimes it's defective. For whatever the reason for return, all purchases come with a 14 day inspection period and 6 month, non-transferable warranty. Buying sight unseen can be difficult, so we want to give the customer the opportunity to change their mind once the item is inspected.

As stated on the KEH website, the returned item will be processed normally within 5 to 10 business days. To help this process along, understanding and following the below list of things to know/do is key.

*USED items must be in same condition as originally shipped. AS-IS items are not returnable.

*NEW items must be in perfect, brand new condition and returned in the manufacturer's original undamaged box. All manufacturer's original packing materials, accessories and original unused warranty cards (and rebate forms if applicable) must also be included and in perfect condition.

*Returned items that do not meet the above conditions will be subject to a minimum 15% restocking fee.

*Please contact a customer service representative by phone (770) 333-4200 BEFORE returning any item you purchase from KEH, so that we may handle your return in the fastest, most efficient manner possible.

*Enclose a copy of the invoice with the reason for your return on the back of the invoice. Return all items with Digital Kits (Lens, battery, charger, strap, cables, and any other accessories included in the original kit). This will help expedite both refunds and exchanges.

*If you are not returning the complete order please circle the items on the invoice being returned.

* If the return is for a Warranty Repair, state clearly on the back of the invoice that it is for a repair. To keep the customer from waiting too long for a repair, an exchange is processed if possible, at our digression.

*If sending for a refund, send to KEH REFUNDS. If for exchange, send to KEH EXCHANGES. And if for warranty repair, send to KEH WARRANTY REPAIR.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Purchasing Department

Our purchasing department weighs in on their typical day...


Working in the purchasing department at KEH can be a lot of fun due to all of the customers we communicate with all over the world. Purchasing is the lifeline for KEH since we are a purchase driven company. Currently we have four buyers who work in house at KEH. These buyers are the ones who answer the phones, handle emails and follow up on quotes generated from our web site. KEH also has buyers who travel the U.S. buying equipment from other dealers and at camera shows.

Our in-house buyers have cubicles just like many other companies. Our main views are the computer screen, telephone and a lot of paperwork. With no windows, we try to add some scenery to our areas to break up our space. All of the buyers have a photography background so it is not unusual to see images that they have shot up on the walls. Others have their children’s artwork or items that they collect. In-house buyers handle “walk-in” customers and the displayed items are often brought up in conversation during the customers visit.

above and below, items decorating some of the cubicles


The typical day for an in-house buyer starts with checking email and voice mail messages. Mondays are normally the busiest email days since we will get a lot of new quote requests over the weekend. Emails can be new quotes or simply replies from customers who have equipment currently in house. There are many transactions when we never talk to the customer and all communication is handled via our website and emails. Next, we will move on to looking at paperwork that may have been processed after we left for the day or before coming in that morning. Then the contacting of customers begins. One important thing to keep in mind for all buyers is where are we calling and what time is it there? Everyone has had a time when we call California a little to early, Oops! This is where email comes in extra handy.

Now this might not sound like a lot of work but the average buyer processes 125+ deals per month. This number represents equipment that comes in house. In addition to these transactions, we also have all of the new quotes to generate. During this process the buyers are always available to take calls and we never know who will show up with out an appointment, to sell equipment. Buyers also need to check received equipment and verify grades to be able to communicate the evaluation properly back to the customer.

And that is a glimpse of our day, with out boring you with too many details. The biggest benefit to working here is that we work with some great people and we actually like each other!

view of received equipment, in bins and waiting to be evaluated

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Employee Interview: Chris Brooks

Today's behind the scenes post is an interview with one of our tech support managers, Chris Brooks...

Interview by: Christina Hodgen

Chris, front and center. Pregnant and holding a Brooks Veriwide camera. c.1989


Chris Brooks is a staple at KEH with her welcoming smile and infectious positive attitude. Who am I kidding? The best thing about working with Chris is the cakes she bakes almost every month for people having birthdays! She graciously took the time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her job.

How long have you worked for KEH? Since February of 1988, 22 years. I was just a baby when I started...

I'm sure many aspects of KEH have changed in that time period. We now use a computer system but what kind of system was used when you first started working here? Believe it or not, we had a computer system when I started! It was completely custom, so any time the system went down there was only one person on the planet who'd be able to fix it, and since legally we couldn't chain him to the building, we went looking for something a little more mainstream.

You have worked in various departments in the company before landing in tech support. What is your favorite part of working in tech support? I really like that tech support gets to see all the equipment that comes in the building. In sales and purchasing you talk about the equipment a lot but in tech support you play with it, and we have had some incredible items come to us.

You are now the manager of the consumer side of tech support. What does a typical day look like for you? It varies. Some days I sit at my desk and do the same thing everyone else does-write up the equipment. Other days I might be helping out with a cycle count which keeps the inventory correct, or I might do some returns-it's always good to know why people are returning items and if there is anything we need further training in. And of course, some days I bring in cakes for a birthday-which means there must also be balloons blown up (thank God for air hoses)!

The digital age of photography has come to be during your career at KEH. How has this changed the company/your job? Back in the day, we didn't know if dust or a small scratch or a cleaning mark would really affect picture quality or not, so we tended to grade based on what we thought might happen, since we just couldn't run a roll of film for every lens. With the advent of digital, we can see exactly how the lens will perform instantly. I thought the digital would completely replace film cameras, but that hasn't happened. It's true that more and more of our sales are coming from digital, but there remains a dedicated group of film enthusiasts and collectors out there. Our warehouse shelves are still full of 35mm, medium format and large format cameras. Something similar happened when the first auto focus cameras came out- yes I was here for that as well! While more equipment switched over to auto focus, sales of manual focus lenses stayed strong.

What is the most notable piece of equipment you have encountered working at KEH? There have been a lot! We once had an original Nikon 1 that was worth so much we kept it locked up. One of the more interesting, although not valuable, was an Army issue camera that came complete with instructions for destroying it so that it wouldn't fall into enemy hands! Most of the technicians have favorite types of equipment to test.

And what is yours? Hasselblad is my favorite. It's still the classiest, even after all these years.

You trained me almost seven years ago and I noticed you training our newest technician last week. What are some of the difficulties and challenges of training someone to work in tech support? Remembering that someone new isn't going to be trained in a week or two. There are about fifty thousand different pieces of equipment (give or take) in our warehouse. Nobody knows everything about each and every piece. Everyone who works as a technician has a background in photography-most have degrees in it, but everyone shoots with only one or two different cameras, so they still have to learn about other brands and their quirks. All in all, it takes about 2 years to fully train someone.

What is the most important thing you have learned working at KEH that you would not have known if you had not worked here? How to look at lens elements! You don't want to shine a flashlight through it because that shows ALL its' warts, but looking through the glass in office building light shows nothing. You have to find a good source that allows you to see any haze or fungus and scratches. I use a magnifying lamp with clean white light-not too harsh or too soft.

What is your favorite music to listen to while working? (ABBA has to be mentioned!!!) I admit that I'm partial to disco-it has a good beat and you can dance to it! It helps me keep a positive attitude-very important when I'm cleaning some moldy equipment!

More old photos of Chris can be found in the post "Brief History + Old Photos"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rolleicopi

Rollei- Rolleicopi twin lens, F3.5 Xenar (Bay I) with Polaroid back, Rolleinar 4.
Originally a Rolleicord Vb (with grey leather).



This camera is pretty rare and slightly difficult to find information on. From what I gather, the full kit made it possible to record oscillograms and was produced by Philips from 1965-67.

Camera in stock: EX condition, $889. Find it here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Underwater Options Part 4

This was supposed to be part 4 in the "underwater options" series, which in part it is. However, I've added two more topics to this same post, because some things happened along the way during my testing period which I felt needed to be shared.

Part A, Underwater: I headed out to shoot with a Nikonos V with 35 F2.5 lens. A Nikonos is a 35mm camera produced by Nikon designed specifically for underwater photography.
This camera offers the most control out of our tested underwater cameras and allows you to choose your own ISO, aperture, shutter speeds, and focal distance. It's slightly heavy and bulky out of water, but in water it's not an issue. It does include an exposure meter, but the meter is quite hard to see, especially if you're moving under water. The camera does not contain an auto aperture feature, but does have an auto speed setting which came in quite handy. The most difficult thing that I experienced while using this camera was the focus. It is completely manual focus, and not by sight but by distance scale. You must set how far away you are from your subject (1 ft., 5 ft., etc). This was tricky since I was shooting in a pool and not in the ocean with tanks where I would be more stationary. My subjects and myself were constantly moving, I had no measuring tape, and therefor had to just estimate our distance from one another.

Pros:
- Complete control over functions
- Has interchangeable lens, flash, and accessory options
- Has a decent size viewfinder to frame subjects
- Tough, thick body material
- Able to be taken in deeper waters

Cons:
- Camera contains seals which must be maintained (greased) on a regular basis
- Manual controls can be more difficult to work with in an underwater setting
- If you're shooting a lot of pictures, it's tricky to get the finished roll out of the wet camera without dripping water into it, and getting a new roll in quickly (and obviously you must exit the water to do so).

I would recommend this type of underwater camera for a more advanced amateur or pro photographer. You must understand the basic principles of photography and light including how to work with different apertures. This is not a system for someone just wanting to take some beach photos. While the specific camera I used was manual focus, Nikonos did produce an auto-focus model as well. Kit used (V w/ 355 F2.5 lens), EX+, $310. BGN, $189.

If you plan on shooting underwater images at depths greater than that of a swimming pool, then there is more things you need to know and should consider doing more in depth research. One example is that colors shift at greater depths, and color correction filters will need to be used in these instances.

(clarity is not representative of the Nikons, but due to processing issues and editing,
see below info. for the story)


Part B, Film issues: When picking up my film from the underwater shoot from the photo lab, I was handed three rolls of completely green film, from edge to edge. I was a little puzzled, as I have never have an issue exactly like this before. I knew it wasn't an expired film issue. I knew it wasn't a fogging issue. The images were clearly on the film, and there were no spots of any sort on it. The color was just completely wonky. To make sure it wasn't a camera issue, or some weird chlorine issue, I shot another roll and had it developed at a different lab. My suspicions were confirmed, bad chemistry. My film had been ruined due to a processing lab mistake. Something had happened- old chemicals, wrong temperature, bad mixture of chemicals, something. With digital being so widely used now, photo labs are receiving less and less film to process. Most of the machines are designed to process a certain amount of rolls in a certain amount of time. If the chemistry and machines are not tended to properly, then bad, icky things can happen. Unfortunately, I had done everything right during my shoot, and properly exposed my film, but was handed green film (which scans/prints as red, see below).

There's not a lot that you can do to insure that this won't happen to you, but there are a few things that could lessen your chances. You can certainly only take your film to a trusted lab, one that you have done some research on. Make sure that the lab receives a decent amount of film customers, and in some cases you can ask to see their upkeep paperwork. Tests should be run on the machines and their chemicals on a normal basis to ensure everything is where it should be. If the lab is doing these and keeping proper track of their tests, then they should hopefully have this info. on hand. Another tip to keep in mind, if you have multiple rolls of film, and especially if they are important, take a little extra time to have them developed either individually, or at different labs.

Part 3, Changing perspectives: Since this film issue occurred with the images I was shooting, and this was not a shoot that could be easily redone or rescheduled, I realized I needed to change my perspective of the images. I wanted to work with what I had taken, and do my best to salvage what I could. Luckily, some of the colors were still available through the red, and some color correcting could be done. However, the images were grainy and much more difficult to work with. I decided to switch directions and instead of looking at them for the way I had intended them to come out, which was crisp and clear, to embrace the grain, softness, and color shifts and transform the images into an "underwater dream" type of series. If I look at the images for the way I had intended them to turn out, then they were a big fat fail. If I look at them with my new intentions, then I feel successful in my goal and am happy with the end result. Either way, I believe in sharing the good and the bad. The successes and the failures. It's a way to learn, for myself and hopefully for you as well. So, I'll take it with a grain of salt, or a bag of sand, and like them for what they are, and what I could salvage from a big huge red mess.

(Yes, all of the above images came out red like the one red example above and needed some serious editing help. To see more of the images from this series, click here.)


© Jenn Alexander Fletcher

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Underwater Options Part 3

First Impressions of A Underwater Digital Camera
By: Mich

Until recently, the options for shooting underwater have been limited to shooting film with a traditional underwater camera or a housing for digital. Those options are wonderful and work very well, but I personally prefer instant satisfaction when experimenting with new things in photography. That is why I was excited to hear that there are new point and shoots that you can simply put underwater- no film or housing required.

The camera that I tried for this quick little introduction is the Pentax Optio WP. It's a small point and shoot that is 5 megapixels and shoots video as well. It's not the big deep diver that a Nikonos is, but it's a lot of fun to someone who normally doesn't shoot underwater. The Optio WP has incredible macro capabilities with focus up to 1cm. The depth range is 1.5 meters, which makes it great for a pool or snorkeling. I was impressed with how easy it was to use underwater and you can even hear the beep when an exposure is made. In the underwater mode the LCD is easy to view and all of the normal functions of a point and shoot digital are there. After shooting, simply wipe the camera dry and you can open the battery door to retrieve your card.

The Pentax Optio WP: EX+, $72




(ed. note: Mich's test shots are pretty funny if you've been paying attention to photo news recently. If you're completely lost as to what I'm talking about, go here for an update)



Pros:
- Easy to use, just like a normal point and shoot
- No "O" ring grease to spread (or similar maintenance)
- 1cm macro focusing
- Shoots above ground and underwater
- Nice small size and easy to carry
Cons:
- No optical view finder
- Underwater depth 4.5ft
- No true manual mode

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Underwater Options Part 2

Underwater Shooting- Housings
By: Christina Hodgen
examples above and below:
plastic underwater housings for digital point and shoot cameras
below, images shot underwater with a P&S digital and UW housing
© Christina Hodgen




The underwater housing kept my point and shoot well protected in the water as well as on the sand. It was easy to use, convenient, and reasonably priced. Using the underwater mode on my camera helped with the picture quality by adjusting the camera metering and color settings automatically. All in all, this is a great option to for someone wanting to experiment with underwater photography, or to take on a vacation or to the pool.

Pros:
- Cost effective
- Easy to use- you can use your existing point and shoot so you don't have to learn functions on another camera
- Floats to the surface if you lose your grip
- There is no maximum depth to adhere to

Cons:
- More bulky than the dedicated UW point and shoot cameras
- The seals on the housing require some maintenance
- The more serious amateur or pro photographer may want more control
- A slight focus lag; doesn't always auto-focus as quickly


Find underwater housings for sale on our site here.