Frank Petronio photographer


These are rediscovered old photos of Brittany Cool from when she was a student and used to splurge on good haircuts at the local bougie salon. Just very simple natural light, handheld, with the now-classic Nikon D300 and excellent 35/1.8DX lens. 


Took my daughter to the Killington World Cup race on Thanksgiving weekend to watch the fabulous Mikaela Shiffren win another slalom. Of course my kid had to do homework in between runs ;-p

Off to Colorado

We all know the drill. I’m traveling til Friday, Dec. 10. I have actually paid people for a window seat with a good view, I love shooting from the plane. For the past couple of years I’ve given up my laptop and tried to minimize my time online – but I’ll probably still be on Instagram. Kind of frustrating to go out there without good skiing yet…. Have a good, cold week. 

The Cameraholic

A chronological list of the cameras I’ve owned since childhood….

Kodak Instamatic 110 (given to me in 1969 when I was ten years old)

Canon AE-1 35mm, never could figure it out 

Olympus OM-1 35mm - found under a chairlift, great

Wista DX Cherrywood 4x5 with 180/5.6 Nikkor (1983) - pretty, cheap Brass

Rolleicord 6x6, cloudy

Olympus XA 35mm (a sentimental favorite)

Olympus OM-1n 35mm with 28 and 70-210 Albinars

Mom’s Kodak DuoFlex 620 - when they still made 620 film! 

Wista Rittreck 5x7 with 90, 135, 210 Rodenstocks - clumsy beast

Nikon FM-2n 35mm (four bodies!) first with 35/2, 55/2.8, and 105/2.5 AIS lenses, later with 24/2, 55/2.8, 85/1.4, 180/2.8ED AIS lenses, couple of MD-12s, and a NPC ProBack. This was when Kodachrome slides were king and foolish designers would fly you around the world to shoot 35mm instead of taking slightly more time to use a larger, better format. I shot annual reports with these, made a lot of money. Pros: inexpensive, reliable, metal, good performance, easy to read meter. Cons: Shutter sounds like a wind up toy. Motor drives often jammed. Bodies feel cheap compared to Contax and Leica. The AIS lenses feel solid but performance is no longer up to par with modern expectations (nice for film though). 

Fuji 690 GW II 6x9 which I got instead of the Hasselblad every other commercial photographer owned… great camera!

Nikon S2 with 50/2 Nikkor 35mm (not Leica quality, wonder what the hype was about?) 

Korona Banquet 7x17 with 19-inch Ross… nuts!

Wista SP 4x5 with 65/8 Angulon (underrated, these are great, maybe preferable to the Linhof Technikas I used afterwards). This was my most productive commercial photography camera, mostly with the 135 lens.

(keep scrolling, I’m just getting started….)

Zenit 35mm – POS

Canon Xap Shot digital (1989) useless novelty

(At this point in my career I was an established corporate Fortune 500, magazine and advertising shooter using the basic Nikon FM-2ns, Fuji 6x9, and 4x5 Wista SP gear along with Dynalite and Lowel lighting. For all practical purposes I could have simply continued to use this same gear for most of my career until digital cameras became essential. I made just as much money with the basics as I did with the exotica.)

Mamiya 6 (three bodies) 6x6 with 50, 75, 150 lenses and NPC Proback. This was an awkward system, the lenses are very sharp but the bodies, like all Mamiyas, are mediocre quality. I don’t think very highly of Mamiyas after owning these.

Nikon N60 and 28-85 zoom 35mm - horrid!

Hasselblad 501cm (pair of bodies) 6x6 with 50 and 120 CFE lenses and several backs… so expensive that I never used them outside and got very weird about how delicate and fussy they were. Kind of soured me on Blads afterwards.

Olympus Stylus 35mm (the original 35/3.5 lens)

Rollei 2.8E2 Planar 6x6 (sweet, invest in a CLA) I got this to use outdoors because my Hasselblads were too fancy. Made much better photos with the beater Rolleiflex, go figure.

Sinar F 4x5 with 135 Sironar, utilitarian, the F-series is too plasticy. 

(1994) Nikon F3hp (pair of bodies) 35mm with MD-4s and 24/2, 85/1.4, 180/2.8 AIS lenses plus a FM body with NPC ProBack… great system for its time, Nikon’s best manual camera. Everything fit into a Domke F2 bag and I could do almost anything with it. The F3 is far superior to the FM/FE series although the meter is harder to read and I think some now have aging electronic issues. Nothing beats the feel of a F3hp/MD4 combo, I think the 1980s F3 is comparable to the 1980s Leica M6, the height of Nikon’s quality control. 

Calumet C2 4x5 with cheap lens, I destroyed this to make a photo illustration. No reason to ever get one of these when good 4x5s are cheap.

Ricoh GR-1 35mm - these were great in the day but they don’t age well

Santa Barbara Pinhole 4x5

Kodak DCS 420 digital (hard drive worn on shoulder bag) - useless

My Papa’s original Polaroid SX-70 - still using it with awful Impossible Project crappy film!

Graflex Super Graphic 4x5 with 135 Symmar-S and 90/6.8 Angulon, hated the body, it was worse than their earlier designs. 

Fuji 690 GSW III 690 6x9 - these are great, sharp cameras

Fuji MX-2700 digital - very nice for its time

YashicaMat G 6x6, shitty shitbox

Olympus Stylus 35mm

Leica SL 35mm this was in 1999, these are wonderful, heavy cameras if you can still find one with a good clean prism, which in almost fifty years later is next to impossible.

Leica SL-2 35mm with 28/2.8, 50/2, 90/2.8 lenses – the SL was better. 

Konica Hexar Silver 35mm

Sony FP-3 digital (one of the worst cameras of all time - will never buy another Sony product ever!)

Lubitel TLR 6x6, these are worthless

Pinhole Resource 4x5 Wide

Fuji 6800 digital

Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5 with 127 Optar

Rollei 2.8F Planar 6x6

Sinar Norma 4x5 with 90/6.8 Grandagon, 135 Sinaron-SE, 210/9 Ronar lenses. These old Sinars are the best bang for the buck, high quality but affordable on the used market.

USSR Horizant 24x72mm, when they work they work well. When they don’t they’ll chew up your film.

Leica IIIc 35mm with Summitar

Brooks Veriwide 100 6x10 with Russian finder

Leica M2 with 50/2 Summicron collapsible

Rolleiflex 2.8F Xenotar 6x6

Brooks Veriwide 100 6x10 with Leitz finder (these suck BTW)

yet another Olympus Stylus 35mm

Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5 with 150 Sironar-N and 75/5.6 Grandagon-N, these are great and the 75 will fold inside.

Noblex 150UX 6x12 rotating lens panoramic

Arca-Swiss 4x5 Model C, these are good except the plastic is old and brittle. Why did they make important parts plastic? 

Bilora Bella 6x6

Linhof Kardan Super Color ST 4x5 with 90/6.8 Grandagon and 160/5.6 Wollensak Pro-Raptar – last of the Wollensak lenses, made in Rochester, was competitive with the Schneiders of the time (1960s). The Linhof Kardans are great monorail cameras. 

Linhof Technika IV 4x5 with 90/6.8 Grandagon-N and 180 Sironar-N. The Graflex metal folding hoods are superior replacements to the flawed Linhof shade. Big fan of Technikas but they have their quirks. 

Leica III 35mm with 50/2 Summitar

Kodak DCS 520 digital with 28/2.8 and 85/1.8. Boy Kodak got so much right with the early digital DSLRs, all Canikon had to do was sit back and undercut them. 

Konica Hexar Black 35mm

(2003) Nikon D70s digital with 18-70 DX, 20/2.8, 24/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4, 85/1.8, and 180/2.8 AF-D lenses – first affordable DSLR I liked to use. 

Another D70s body

Sinar Handy 4x5 with a 47/5.6 Super Angulon, clumsy, pointless….

Arca-Swiss Discovery 4x5 with 90/6.8 Sinaron-W, 90/4.5 Grandagon, 180/5.6 Sinaron-SE, 240/5.6 APO Sironar-N, and 300/5.6 Sinaron lenses. The F-line Arca cameras are excellent and Precision Camerawerks (Bob Watkins in Chicago) provides superior service. The company’s owners (the Vogt family) are difficult to deal with (a$$choo!)

Polaroid 110 modified to use 4x5 film by Dean Jones – in retrospect a Crown Graphic accomplishes the same thing for a fraction of the cost at very slight size penalty. I can’t recommend the cameras but Dean was a heck of a good guy RIP.

Noblex 150 Pro 6/150 F 6x12

Rollei 2.8E 120 Xenotar 6x6

Rollei 2.8E3 120 Xenotar 6x6

Leica M6 Classic 35mm with 35/1.4 Summilux ASPH

Konica Hexar Black 35mm

Leica II 35mm with 50/3.5 Nickel Elmar

Linhof Technika IV 4x5 with 90/6.8 Schneider Angulon and 210/6.8 Rodenstock Geronar (nice compact 210 that folds up inside the camera)

Leica M6 Classic 35mm with 40/1.4 Voigtländer – hated the bokeh of the VC lens, just horrible!

8x10 DeGolden Busch (a supremely shitty boat anchor of a camera)

Nikon D70 digital with 35/2 AF-D lens

Nikon D2X with 14/2.8 Sigma, 28/1.4 AF, 17-55/2.8 DX, and 60/2.8 AF-D lenses, very nice camera, the 28/1.4 is over priced.

8x10 Fatif with 12-inch Caltar lens, cool 70s design.
8x10 Arca-Swiss A with 300mm Schneider Xenar in a Copal 3 shutter (very light yet sturdy - regret selling)

Another Nikon D70 digital

4x5 Graflex RB Super D SLR, modified with a Graflock back, using either 190mm Ektar or trendy and expensive 180mm Voigtländer Heliar lenses

Another Polaroid 110B modified to use 4x5 film by Dean Jones (2006) – note how I will buy a mediocre camera twice just to confirm my earlier poor judgement! The main downfall is these conversions often use funky spring backs and the rangefinders are wonky. 

Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5 with top rangefinder and a 150/5.6 Schneider Symmar

Anba-Ikeda 5x7 Field Camera with 210mm Rodenstock – flimsy POS

4x5 Sinar F with 210/5.6 and 300/5.6 Rodenstock Sironar-N lenses

Nikon D80 digital with 35/2 AF-D and 50/1.4 AF-D lenses

4x5 Sinar F2 with a Wollensak Verito 8 ¾-inch f/4 diffused focus in an Alphex shutter (trendy yet stupid mushy lens)
4x5 Crown Graphic with a Schneider 135/3.5 Xenotar and Linhof Grip

Palm Treo 650 Smart Phone

Agfa Isolette 6x6 folder, restored by Jurgen Kreckel (meh)

Linhof Super-Technika V 4x5 with a cammed Schneider 135/3.5 Xenotar in a Linhof Compur and a 210mm f/5.6 Symmar-S in a Prontor Professional (old Xenotars/Planars aren’t worth their hype)

Leica M6 classic 35mm with a 50/2 Summicron-M and an older 35/1.4 Summilux (old Summiluxes are mechanically unsound, their Aluminum housing wears out, buy Brass)

Panasonic LX-2 digital

Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5 with 135mm Schneider Xenar in Compur. These just plain work and the Xenars are great.

Leica IIIc 35mm with 35/3.5 and 50/3.5 Elmars

Nikon D300 digital with Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS and 18-70 AFS, the 50/1.2 is hard to focus accurately.

8x10 Calumet C1 with 10-inch Kodak Commercial Ektar, what a beast. The bellows was shot but I used it anyway by draping a dark cloth over it, then Photoshopping the light leaks!

8x10 Sinar Norma with 14-inch Kodak Commercial Ektar (superb lens in a shitty ACME shutter)

Olympus 420 digital with a 25mm f/2.8 “pancake” lens – horrid, will never buy another Olympus either

Nikon D70s digital with 50/1.8 AF-D – learned that what was good image quality a few years earlier doesn’t hold up over time, regrets.

Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5 with 135mm Schneider Xenar in Compur

Konica Hexar Black 35mm

Rolleicord Va 6x6 – nice cameras, having to cock the shutter slows you down and saves on film. You can shoot Rolleiflexes too fast because it is such fun to wind them!

Cheap Panasonic tiny digital, these are useless nowadays.

Leica IIIc 35mm with 50/1.5 Summarit, such a difficult lens to use wide open it is pointless

Leica IIIc 35mm with 50/3.5 Elmar

Rolleicord K2 6x6

Nikon D200 digital with 50/1.8 AF-D

Nikon F100 35mm with 24/2.8 AF-D

Holga pinhole panoramic 6x12 (sucks)

Leica M6 classic 35mm with 40/2 Rokkor (best value combo) I filed the lug down so the 35mm framelines came up. I like the rendering of the Rokkor at least as well as the older Summilux at a fraction of the price, the only downside is the ugly focusing tab. Really the Summilux tab is almost worth the $2000 price difference. 

Leica M2 35mm with 35/2.5 Skopar, not a bad lens for the money.

Ricoh GR-D II digital

Canonet QL-17III 35mm

Panasonic G1 digital with 14-45 kit lens, I ended up using these quite a bit, they have good color rendition and were overall pretty nice but a bit too tiny, also the zoom lens was bulky.

HTC Incredible smartphone (2010)

Nikon N80 35mm with 50/1.8 AF-D

Nikon D80 digital with 24/2.8 AF-D, these were the last CCD sensors so they made nice low-ISO images that have a different look from modern CMOS sensors. 

Arca-Swiss C 4x5 with Linhof 180 Symmar

Nikon D300 digital with 35/1.8 AFS

Sinar Norma 4x5

Leica IIIc 35mm with 50/1.5 Summarit

Original Half-Plate converted to 5x7 Toyo Field (crude)

Three OIympus Stylus 35mm 35/3.5 cameras

Panasonic G1 digital with 20/1.7 and 50/2 Jupiter LTM

Polaroid 600 with 75/4.5 (stupid)

Nikon D300 digital with 35/1.8 AFS (best bang for buck)

Kodak Medalist II 6x9 620 converted to 120 by Ken Ruth (high quality but ergonomic nightmare)

Nikon D80 digital with 28/2.8 AF-D

Nikon N80 35mm with 50/1.8 AF-D

Linhof Technika IV 4x5 with Linhof 150mm Genar, another stripped camera

Nikon D7000 digital w 50/1.8 AF-D and 24/2.8 AF-D (blah body)

Fuji Klasse 35mm with 38/2.6 (shitty tiny finder)

Panasonic G1 digital with 20/1.7

Fuji GW690III 6x9 with 90/3.5 (love these but scanning 120 blows, unless you get a Nikon CoolScan 9000 what is the point?)

Nikon N80 35mm with 50/1.8 AF-D

Nikon F100 35mm with 50/1.8 AFS

Pansonic TS3 underwater digital, stupid

Graflex Super D 4x5, these are fun and work well with a Graflock back and the 190mm Ektar lens. They are hard to focus with aging eyes but if you must waste film shooting large format handheld, this is the optimal way to do it. The 190 is a great lens, silly to try alternatives. 

Linhof Technika V 4x5 with 150 APO-Symmar, I used this handheld and it worked great but was heavy. Even with the superior rangefinder you still need to stop down with a fast shutter speed, I really can’t recommend it because you’ll waste a lot of expensive film. Grow up and use a fucking tripod. 

Panasonic G1 digital with 14-45 lens

Rolleiflex 2.8E3 with 80/2.8 Planar 6x6, now that I use reading glasses focusing TLR is difficult so I gave it up, otherwise I love Rolleis. I get the urge to try them again every few years though….

Nikon D700 with 50/1.4 and 24-85 G lenses, the D700 was great, wish Nikon simply upgraded the sensor and buffer and sold a newer version. If I were broke this is the best bang for buck even 10 years old.

Noblex 612UX 6x12 panoramic (best pano camera) used with a monopod mostly. Ilford ISO 3200 film is great for these.

Panasonic GX1 digital with 20/1.7 lens, great value, too tiny

4x5 Sinar Norma with 300 Symmar

Leica M6 with 35/1.4 Summilux and VC lenses, these work well but never compare a VC to Leica lens as they come up wanting every time.

Nikon F3hp with 85/1.4 AIS lens (can’t focus with old eyes)

Kodak Panoram 1 6x18 panoramic with light leaks and internal flare, this was an earlier version

4x5 Chamonix F1 with 135 APO Symmar lens – this camera really surprised me because I love solid cameras like Technikas and Normas yet this lightweight Phillips design was at least as stable as either of those much heavier metal cameras. Still it required removing the lens for packing and was a bit slower to set up, and frankly I did not need all the movements for the sort of photos I do, so next….

4x5 Graflex Crown Graphic, stripped, chopped, and wrapped in gaffer tape… made in Rochester out of plywood, worth about $100, hardly any movements. I used this for the last three years of my large format photography and never missed a beat.

Apple iPhone 5s

two Nikon D300 digitals with 24/2.8 and 50/1.8 lenses, a pretty good combo

Olympus Sylus Epic 35mm

Kodak Autographic 127 roll film, I shot two rolls of custom film and gave up. The problem with really old (100 year-old) cameras is that they shrink and can no longer focus at infinity (or closer) without rebuilding their guts. 

Fuji X100T digital  

Leica M6 with 35/2 Summicron ASPH, this is the combo to get. I have the M6 modified to remove distracting framelines. I don’t need the MP finder, they aren’t worth it. The 35/2 has none of the faults of the various 35/1.4 lenses. 

Leica II black with 50/3.5 Nickel Elmar, miss this one!

Panasonic GX1 digital with 20/1.7 lens (trade off between being easy to carry versus too damn tiny to operate) these are dirt cheap.  

Nikon F100 with 50/1.8G lens, the most modern and reasonable film camera, the epitome of Nikon’s efforts, vastly superior to the clumsy mechanical versions (FM, F2, etc.) If you want a lovely camera get an older Leica, if you want a rugged, fast camera get a Nikon…. 

Three Nikon D810 digital SLR bodies with 20/1.8G, 24-85G, 25/2.8 Zeiss ZF, 28/1.4E, 35/1.4G, 35/1.8G, 35/1.4 Zeiss Milvus, 35/2 Zeiss Milvus, 40/2 VC, 45/2.8P, 50/1.4 Zeiss Milvus, 50/1.8G, 50/1.8 AI, 85/1.4G, 85/1.8G, 105/1.4E, 105/1.8 AIS, 70-200/4G, 135/1.8 Sigma Art, 135/2 Zeiss ZF2, 180/2.8D, 300/4PF-E and 300/2.8AFSII lenses.

Olympus Stylus II with 35/2.8 lens (late 90s bar-of-soap version, I splurged) the camera I keep this in the car, I only use a couple of rolls per year…. 

Fuji disposable underwater camera… just in case. 

Konica Hexar AF black with 35/2 lens (too quiet!) 

Some baby-blue Fuji Mini-Instax thing I rarely use, stupid. 

Nikon Coolpix A (DX compact with 28mm equivalent) meh, slow focusing and I don’t like the 28mm view. Still, Nikon was crazy not to have more products in this category. Nowadays I’m tempted to buy it again but honestly my iPhone replaced it. 

$70 Chinese knock off of a GoPro III, works amazingly well for what it is. 

Kodak Panoram 1D, refurbished by Ken Ruth, an antique torture device that makes 6x18cm images on 120 film, has a single element lens. Very fragile, required two repairs in less than a year. Just not worth it. 

Fuji X-100F compact Leica style 35/2 EVF over-hyped POS blah blah blah nice design and feel, shitty image quality and lousy metering. Good for slow, careful photography counter the Leica-M design clues. After the D810 it is hard to use sensors with such short dynamic range, the highlights clip way too early and the shadows are always plugged. Bite me.  

Apple iPhone 7s that works amazingly well.

Leica M6 Classic 0.72 Solms with 35/2 Summicron-ASPH 35mm film kit. I’ve had a few versions of this over the years, I think this is the best all-around kit since the lens is so much better than all the older or cheaper ones. Frankly I like having a meter in the camera body and the way Leica implemented it is superb. If you’re a serious user I recommend sending your M6 to Youxin Ye so he can remove the distracting film frame lines for silly impractical lenses (90, 135, 75mm). Yes, it’s too expensive for what it is but it is very nice to use, winding the film and focusing is a pleasure, the camera feels just right in your hands, the lens is superb. 

DJI Mavic Pro drone. The cool thing is that you can use it as a handheld gimbal-mounted action camera simply by walking/running while holding it by hand.

Aquatech Base surf/underwater housing for Nikon D800/810. I use a compact Nikon 50/1.8G lens. I have mixed feelings overall ~ it works fine ~ and newfound respect for surf photographers who can swim big waves with these beasts. If I lived near tropical water I’d love using it but in the silty Lake Ontario and Finger Lakes it’s really hard to cut through the murk even when the water looks relatively clear.

Well used, ca. 1934 Leica II with Nickel Elmar 50/3.5. It has “character” and is good for lolz. If I shoot a couple of rolls per year then great, it has lousy image quality and is a huge pain in the ass but that’s the charm. 

Nikon Coolpix A for $250. I owned one before and did not care for the wider lens but there in nothing else in the marketplace that provides as much bang for the buck (other than the Ricoh GR). It makes a good pocket camera for skiing. Gave this one away. 

GoPro Hero 7 Black

Nikon F3hp 35mm SLR with Voigtländer 40/2 SLII AiP lens

Nikon D850 (used with 105/1.4e and 300/4PF-e)

Nikon Z7 with 35/1.8s 



Currently I own a 35mm film Olympus Stylus II and Nikon F3hp, a disposable Fuji sports camera, 2017 DJI Mavic Pro drone, GoPro Hero 7 Black, Apple iPhone 7+ and Fuji Instax but I mainly shoot with a Nikon D850 and Z7 using three prime lenses. I prefer to use individual bags and wraps for my gear, then carry things in nondescript non-photographic backpacks.

I use a Really Right Stuff 24L tripod with their BH40 head and Lowel grip and lighting (LED and Tungsten). I edit using Adobe Photoshop CC and Camera Raw on a maxed out 2015 Apple iMac 5K with half a dozen back up drives. (Currently using multiple cheap WD 8tb drives to hold Time Machine backups. I have a 7200 rpm 8tb G drive on Thunderbolt 2 for working files that works well.)

Lately I’ve become somewhat suspicious of photographers who make a big deal over using film, it seems too precious and trendy. Yet I still shoot some film, just not nearly as much. I’ve probably scanned and printed digitally as much as any photographer in the industry (I started a digital workflow years earlier than most, 1990, owned an Iris printer, LEAF scanner, etc.) but now I try not to scan or print unless I am getting paid. My current work is optimized for RGB “screen” viewing (which is far superior to the printed image). Seriously. I figure I’ll just start buying flat panel displays to show my work going forward. Already tossed my Epson printers and scanners a few years ago.   

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