The Museum of HP Calculators

HP Forum Archive 08

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AWESOME new pictures, Dave!
Message #1 Posted by Gil Petri on 20 June 2002, 3:04 a.m.

May I ask what camera and what lens were used?

Gil Petri.

Re: AWESOME new pictures, Dave!
Message #2 Posted by Johnny Bjoern Rasmussen on 20 June 2002, 6:29 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Gil Petri

Really amazed too... This is what I want to do on my own web pages. But how do you do it?


Re: AWESOME new pictures, Dave!
Message #3 Posted by Tom (UK) on 20 June 2002, 7:08 a.m.,
in response to message #1 by Gil Petri

Yes they are very well done - up to studio quality I'd say.

(How long before these apear on ebay? 8^)

Re: AWESOME new pictures, Dave!
Message #4 Posted by OJM on 1 July 2002, 12:26 p.m.,
in response to message #3 by Tom (UK)

One side benefit of Mr. Hicks' beautiful three-quarter view pictures: they are so good, and of such professional quality, that e-bay copycats might actually be discouraged from claiming them as their own.....

e-bay seller: "Yeah, honest - that's an actual picture of the calc I'm selling!"

e-bay buyer: "That catalog picture? I don't think so...."

Thanks Everyone!
Message #5 Posted by Dave Hicks on 20 June 2002, 12:25 p.m.,
in response to message #1 by Gil Petri

The camera is an old Canon SLR (T90) with either a Canon 50mm f3.5 Macro or 85mm f1.2 Lens. Both were bought used after the "obsolescence" of Canon's old manual-focus line made them affordable. The 85mm in particular is a really satisfying big chunk of glass.

The negatives were scanned with an early-generation Nikon film scanner.

Maybe I should start a museum of manual focus cameras ;-)

Re: Obsolescence can be a wonderful thing!
Message #6 Posted by Paul Brogger on 20 June 2002, 1:01 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by Dave Hicks

I just found a GAF manual-focus camera (a Chinon relabel) with a 50mm f2.0 and three screw-on close-up lenses, all in mint condition, for $10.00 at the local thrift shop.

(Now to locate a film scanner . . . )

I hope to re-take the Pioneer circuit board images, and to do some illustrations of disassembly, etc.

By the way, Dave, how did you get the soft shadows? A flash reflector of some sort? How many flash units are you using? (Would you mind posting a shot of your set-up?)

Your latest shots do look absolutely beautiful! (And such handsome subjects!)

Re: Thanks Everyone!
Message #7 Posted by John Ioannidis on 20 June 2002, 1:35 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by Dave Hicks

The amazing part is the huge depth of field. What did you do, step down to f/22? The lighting is also excellent!

Message #8 Posted by Dave Hicks on 20 June 2002, 1:59 p.m.,
in response to message #5 by Dave Hicks

No flashes just a rare Oregon commodity called sunlight. We see it almost every summer :-)

Surrounding the calculators on all sides by translucent white material created the soft shadows. Part of this was a big piece of lighting panel plastic (a ceiling panel) and the rest was a bed sheet. All of this was set on a big cardboard box in my driveway so my neighbors could glance over and do their "what the heck is that?" looks :-) It's disassembled right now but I'll try to remember to take a picture of it next time I use it.

The camera was on a tripod (really a clamp) so the exposures could be long and the apertures small.

A future project is to try this with some flashes so I can shoot all year but I don't know if they'll be able to match sunlight.

I also need to work on the desktop pictures. Hauling each of those out into the driveway is not appealing so I may try multiple flashes, reflectors etc.

Message #9 Posted by on 21 June 2002, 4:51 a.m.,
in response to message #8 by Dave Hicks

Of course I was also amazed by the tremendous quality of your pictures. You really did a great job, and I doubt many professionals are able to reach his quality.

I've been a long time passionate image hunter, since I am 18 actually. My very fisrt job was school photographer. I enjoyed that while I was waiting to be free of legal military service.

Sunlight is not to be compared with any flashlight. You can get very good results with flashes, but the sunlight give you much more advantages. You perfectly did attenuate the shadows with a translucid lighting panel, and you were right to get as much white around you as you could. One of the main advantages of sunlight is that you get a pretty idea of what you will get, which is more difficult with flashlights. Finally the colour temperature is somehow better and give more warmth, instead of insipid studio light that has to be lowered (in terms of temperature) to get a more attractive picture.

Should yo uwant to use flashlights, I would say to keep your original configuration and put high level flashlights such as Metz mecablits 45 or 60 behind the lighting panels. Maybe you could find some second hand sutdio flashes but then again a lighting box or umbrella reflectors are much needed, as well as a flashmeter to get a good balance...

Anyway my congratulations to the best HP pictures ever seen on the net !

Re: Flash
Message #10 Posted by Dave Hicks on 21 June 2002, 2:02 p.m.,
in response to message #9 by

Thanks for the compliment and the information. I had completely forgotten about flash meters. I've seen them but never used one. That beats my plan which was to guess!

Re: Flash
Message #11 Posted by Ex-PPC member on 21 June 2002, 7:04 p.m.,
in response to message #10 by Dave Hicks

Hi Dave, I also think that the new pictures are incredibly high-quality and are a great new addition to the museum, but I would like to make a couple of suggestions. Please don't take them as criticism of any sort at all, they're only well-meant suggestions that would enhance the pics, of course IMHO:

1) I really liked the original blue background of the old, front images. I think it made a particularly good contrast with the calculators' colors (most of them grey or metallic) and it made their shape even more outstanding. The new pics mostly white background tends to merge with the silvery metallic finish of some models (i.e: Voyagers and HP-71B, for instance), so that the boundary line between the calculator itself and the cler backgroud isn't as well defined as it was with the blue background.

2) I think it would be proper to show something on the LCD display, as it would serve several useful purposes: first, to see how numbers, texts, etc, do look on the display, their 'font', boldness, segmented or dot matrix nature, etc. It would really add useful information on that important aspect at a glance. Second, showing something like "" on the alpha-capable displays would make it much harder for some eBay sellers to use your images for their auctions. Perhaps even " NOT FOR SALE" would be better, if at all possible.

Perhaps you can take into account those suggestions in a future re-shot of your magnificent photographs.

Thanks for them and for your awesome site and hard work.

Re: Flash
Message #12 Posted by Dave Hicks on 22 June 2002, 12:02 p.m.,
in response to message #11 by Ex-PPC member

Thanks for the suggestions!

1) I used white this time because I wanted the option of making thumbnails that would nicely blend into the page background. I agree that another color might be better on the voyagers however. I can see a separation on my monitor but one of the difficulties on the web is that everyone else's monitor is different.

2) I'll try some numbers in the display next time. I avoided it this time because I knew the LEDs wouldn't compete well with sunlight and I wasn't sure if the LCDs would look good at these angles. (Shadows under the digits.) I would probably only use realistic displays though. I don't want to have the pictures displaying something like "not for sale" because that looks a little curious in the normal museum context. I did make the watermarks a little more blatant than they were in the past in the hope that that would help with the ebay situation.

Re: Flash
Message #13 Posted by on 22 June 2002, 12:38 p.m.,
in response to message #12 by Dave Hicks

Just a few humble hints :

- if you use a coloured background, don't choose it too coloured as this might influence by reflection the lightning of the calc - you could try a polarizing filter on both light source and lens to attenuate reflections on the display. Some ciruclar models that fit on the lens are available, but they are not that efficient. You loose at least 2 stops, often 3 or 4, so take into account exposure time and Schwarzschild effect. I rather prefer large polarizing panels that you put on front of the light source(s) and a simple polarizer in front of the lens. Don't forget to orientate them at +90 or -90 of each other to get the maximum polarizing effect.

BTW, if you put a single flash in replacement of the sunlight light source, you won't need a flashmeter : the T90 is fitted with a good TTL flash cell as far as I can recall.

I also liked the numbers you displayed on the 1st pictures series. To show all digits on a 15C for example, you could display 15151,51515-15 (don't press ENTER, but sure you know that) ;-)

Finally, if sometimes your pictures are copied and used in the internet, isn't it because they are the best to find on the web ?

Good luck !

Re: Flash
Message #14 Posted by Dave Hicks on 23 June 2002, 7:44 p.m.,
in response to message #13 by

I tried looking at several LCD displays through a polarizer and each one was different. One turned black, the next turned blue, the third turned into a rainbow, and the last looked relatively unchanged - like a "normal" object seen through a polarizer. I suppose these were interactions between the filter, the polarizors in the LCDs, and plastic layers.

Re: Flash
Message #15 Posted by on 24 June 2002, 3:18 a.m.,
in response to message #14 by Dave Hicks

Well, if I recall correctly, the LCD screen is a polarizer. In this case, the orientation of the polarizing filter should be the same as the LCD screen. A trial and error method consisting in turning the filter up to when the digits are legible is most appropriate.

This might explain why you had different results.

This also means that the screen should be as straight in front of the lens as possible.

Re: Flash
Message #16 Posted by Dave Hicks on 24 June 2002, 11:16 a.m.,
in response to message #15 by

I did try rotating the filter. It was my expectation that the digits would appear/disappear depending on rotation but that wasn't (generally) what I saw. I was using a circular polarizer but I don't think that that's significant.

I think LCDs have generally two polarizers but I can't remember if they are parallel or perpendicular. Perhaps what I'm seeing shows that even that varies.

I think the rainbow effect was plastic stress like this.

Re: LCD's
Message #17 Posted by Paul Brogger on 24 June 2002, 9:12 a.m.,
in response to message #14 by Dave Hicks

I had a Sharp "horizontal" (or "ruler") format calculator, and while experimenting with LCD's, I noticed that if I took the polarizing plastic overlay out and flipped it over, the display went from black digits on a silver background to silver digits on black. Pretty cool!

Then I noticed the silver background was a piece of reflective tape on the back of the LCD, and that only the thin aluminum case was behind that. So, I cut a window in the back case and took off the silver tape. (At least, this is how I remember it -- there may have been more details of a non-electronic nature . . . )

The result was a black display field with see-through digits. Really spacey, but I had to supply an external backlight to read the darned thing.

The whole experiment ended when I sat down at a coffee shop with the suddenly eponymous Sharp in my back pocket. (Ouch!)

Re: LCD's - see-through by Casio
Message #18 Posted by Dave Shaffer on 24 June 2002, 11:44 a.m.,
in response to message #17 by Paul Brogger

I saw two Casio calcs the other day that carried Paul's idea to the limit: it was totally see-through - display as well as the keys. The intent is for a (math/physics/chemistry/engineering) teacher to put it on an overhead projector to display results as well as intermediate steps. Rather nifty for those of us who teach technical stuff.

Only problem: they're not RPN :(

Re: LCD's
Message #19 Posted by db(martinez,california) on 24 June 2002, 10:56 p.m.,
in response to message #17 by Paul Brogger

paul; your creation sounds like the display on the sharp el-808 from 1974. it was a black background that had white numbers if it was backlit properly but nothing if it wasn't. kind of pretty but not rpn.

Re: LCD's - First data show were like this
Message #20 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 28 June 2002, 8:32 a.m.,
in response to message #19 by db(martinez,california)

Just to add data.

The first data show that used overhead projects were built like these: LCD with no back reflectors, or "see through". Inverting the polarizers creates the funny, fancy shadow background.

Doing this in such a small space as in a pocket calculator is brainy activity. The good one.

Re: LCD's - First data show were like this
Message #21 Posted by Ellis Easley on 29 June 2002, 3:39 p.m.,
in response to message #20 by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil)

I have studied back lit LCDs and have a pretty good understanding of how they work. It is the nature of the liquid crystal to twist light 90 degrees when there is no voltage applied. There is a polarizer between the light source and the liquid crystal and another polarizer between the liquid crystal and the viewer. The two polarizers are oriented 90 degrees apart. Because of the 90 degree twist provided by the un-energized liquid crystal, most of the light that passes through the first polarizer also passes through the second. The pixels are the volume of liquid crystal between similar conductive patterns printed on both internal sides of the glass plates that enclose the liquid crystal. When an AC signal is applied across the two electrodes of a pixel, that portion of the liquid crystal twists light to a different degree (depending on the amplitude of the voltage) so the light that reaches the second polarizer is out of phase and less passes through. The viewer sees darkness there compared to the light passing through other parts of the panel.

I havn't read about front lit LCDs and this thread has me wondering again just how they work. All the light is passing through the panel, including whatever polarizers are there, then bouncing off the reflector and from that point it would appear to be the same as a back lit LCD except the light is already polarized. I think an important clue is the shadow of a dark pixel that appears on the reflector. I've noticed that if I rotate a calculator (one with 7 segment display is better for this experiment) from left to right in front of my eyes, there is a point where the shadow and the pixel have equal darkness. Then as I continue to rotate the calculator the shadow becomes darker and the pixel becomes lighter. This is with a light source over my shoulder. I'm going to fit a camera lens poarizer onto a flashlight so I can experiment further.

It has just occurred to me that if my understanding of back lit LCDs is correct, then the process should work just as well in either direction. In this case, the shadow is just the reversed image that one would see if viewing from the other side, reversed again by the reflector. In the un-energized portions of the panel, the light is polarized by the front polarizer, twisted by the liquid crystal, passes through the back polarizer, bounces off (and is diffused by) the reflector. Since it is still oriented in the same direction as the back polarizer, it passes through, gets twisted, and passes through the front polarizer.

Re: Flash
Message #22 Posted by Christof (Davis, CA) on 23 June 2002, 3:37 p.m.,
in response to message #12 by Dave Hicks

Well, now I know what to practice on :)

I just picked up a complete set of camera hardware based on the praktika superTL3. with 4 lenses from rock basic to 300mm 5 dials I can't figure out :) Light meter, flashgun (markked of to 1.4 mile range!?!?) riflestock, remotes, and other bits.

This is way beyond my previous experience with a maxum 7000i. I think I'm going to have to schedule a class to learn how to use this- I've never managed a picture as pretty as the new ones on the website.


Congratulations to you, Dave!
Message #23 Posted by Luis on 28 June 2002, 6:08 a.m.,
in response to message #5 by Dave Hicks

Dave, besides your wonderful museum, I just would like to say CONGRATULATIONS for your PERFECT photos from your "AS NEW" calculators! Every time when I look to your machines, I try to find out any crisps or detraction (even very small ones) but unsuccessfully. Definitely you have factory brand new ones. ...Some day I will ask you how you could have so nice calculators... Cheers, Luis

I'll use them as wallpaper! (May I, Dave?)
Message #24 Posted by Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil) on 28 June 2002, 8:21 a.m.,
in response to message #23 by Luis

They look great as Windows, Linux, BeOS or the like. I had a previous 16C's front-style as wallpaper, but the others are a must.

You should try... if Dave complies, of course.


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