Saturday, July 7, 2012

Groma Kolibri Typewriter in Downtown Zürich River with Lytro Camera

Blurry? Click on the paper to see it crips :)

First of all a big thank you to Adwoa, Richard, Dwayne and every for the comments. I didn't expect such a quick reaction so obviously it did motivate me to write more :)

One of the amusing factors to having too many typewriters is that sometimes you even forget what you have. Today I was looking for a Kolibri for an excursion to a river in downtown Zürich very close to my house.  This is one of my favorite spots: while being in the center there is still a lot of green and a river (the Sihl). But this is not just on the main river but a smallish one slightly hidden.

In terms of routine and timing Zürich is very Swiss.  On a Saturday at 7 PM only a few department stores are opened and the center of the city starts to get empty so I had still some good light yet not a huge crown at the river.

I had two candidates (actually three that suggests that I have way too many Kolibri. Actually the other two are "brilliant" a Kolibri clone sold in a German department store but all in all the same as Kolibri) but the blue brilliant has some issue that I could not yet solve so it would be for another posting.

To carry my little friend I used a freitag bag that is one of the few made in Zürich products: a bag made from recycled truck tarps.  I do have the kolibri original case somewhere but I thought the freitag would be more suitable for this transport:

On the photo below you can focus on the water behind or the bag. One of the issues with the lytro camera its hat you have to think in 3D. If you think in the normal camera 2D way you will get just normal photos that would not make it worth to use this camera as the resolution wouldn't be even as good as an iPhone HD camera:

Same here you should be able to switch between the water and the bag

And here it is: a brown-creme groma kolibri. It is possibly the smallest typewriter I have seen but still pretty heavy ! (do you know any smaller portable typewriter ? I do have a Rooy but it seems somehow bigger to transport to me ?)

in these two pictures it is easier to switch between the water and the typewriter
how do you like her ?

this photo is more mono dimensional so not many special effect but it gives you an idea of the surrounding

here you play a bit more with the water and other angles

and this is one of the best to demonstrate the interesting views/ uses of the lytro camera. the text seems blurry but you can focus on it or the water behind

Another angle where you can switch between the water and the typewriter

Here a bit more obvious where the text becomes more readable

Among the kolibri's I have this is the one in the best shape I think and not just esthetically but also for the writing that is very smooth. The other two I have here (and I might have some more hidden) have some technical issues and liquid bearings did not really help that much - but this one has an imperfection too: the E, R and S did lose some of their write coloring  but I can live with that !

Another angle to see a bit more of the river that has fishes and ducks too !

So was this kolibri really portable ? Yes and no. It was okay to walk nearby my house with it but I don't know if it would be very practical for a long trip. This said laptops of 3-4 years ago were probably heavier so may be I would.  I wonder how interesting it would be to make a similar typewriter today: perhaps using titanium or a light metal.  Given that in China they clone pretty much everything this could be interesting to try out but not sure on how difficult it would be. Still a typewriter of this size in Titanium would be so light that it would become a pleasure to carry.  Perhaps thou Chinese or Indian factories are not that keen on a product that is almost extinct but hey who knows ?

I plan to take this typewriter to Italy this summer but I have other candidates too!

Obviously my litter adventure is nothing compared to the other creative collectors that did carry typewriters on the plan and on a bike but I hope that you enjoyed this posting with photos in a different surrounding.

I welcome your comments about other ultra portable typewriters and anything you would like to share.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Olivetti ICO "Portatile" with Lytro Camera

Hello readers (is there still anyone out there?)
here I am guilty as charged of abandoning this blog for almost a year!

It was a very busy time and I did neglect typewriting other than renewing my commitment not to get more typewriters unless it was really something special. In fact one of the reasons behind my absence (beside being genuinely busy with other stuff) was the feeling that I would have not much to write or nothing that interesting. I also hated the hassle to upload photos on picasa or other tools to add them in the blog. Add to this the fact that mobile me photo galleries have been suddenly cancelled and you get an idea of the incentives to defer my updates !

So why now ? I have just received a Lytro Camera and I thought this would be the ideal occasion to write again and share some of the features of this new camera. In the example below you can click on the olivetti logo at the top or the paper and the photo will automatically refocus.  This is what makes the lytro camera very different: the possibility to create "living pictures" that can be refocused after the fact.

It was difficult to get a camera as they ship to the U.S. only and there is a long wait for the delivery but I did manage to get one. Sharing photos with lytro is very easy so here we are. But this blog post is not much about the camera (or not only) and more about the typewriter.

As you can see from this detail it is an Olivetti Portatile ICO. From what I found on the net it should be from the 30's but I am not entirely sure (if you do know more feel free to comment !!).
On the picture above you can focus either on the logo or the welcome message

Here we have the original manual. At that time the seller telephone number had only 3 digits. From this hint I think it has to be from the 30-40's as in Imola (Italy) numbers did change after that.

Somewhen I read from the wonderful RetroTech Geneva blog that the karma on "how" you get a typewriter can make a difference (this was in an episode of Adwoa trying to buy a typewriter from a market in Geneva and the seller being completely unwilling to negotiate the price).  In this case I received the typewriter as a Birthday gift (back in March) from my dad.  This makes a lot of difference to me as the fact that he went and looked for a typewriter to add to my collection makes me like/love this typewriter very much :)

As you can see on the detail (you can again play switching from the bottom to the top view of the photo) it is in very good conditions both mechanically and cosmetically

Here it is with a pencil to try to create 2 views but it failed miserably  so it is pretty much a normal pictures - you normally need a defined background or 2 subjects to use the lytro focus switching effect fully but at least it gives you a full view of the typewriter and not just a macro now :) (you can also see the photos full screen if you click on the bottom right corner).

It has a QZERTY Italian keyboard and everything seems to be working very well ! This is perhaps a case of the owner having kept it very well throughout the years. If I look back at my collection the only thing I regret is having bought some typewriters in not so good conditions knowing that I am not very good at repairing and maintaining them.

So where is my collection going ? At the moment not very far. I did buy only 1 typewriter in 1 year BUT I do have several I did not blog about yet... so now it is up to you:

So what do you think about this typewriter and the new pictures? Would you like to see more reviews ? Let me know through  the comments. I am confident that I could post more often as taking and sharing the photos is easier and I have one excuse less to use !

Here are 2 better example on how to make special pictures with the lytro camera (flowers near my house. Taken yesterday in a rare sunny spot in the pretty rainy Swiss summer)