12 months, 12 lenses and cameras by Bjarke Ahlstrand

12 Months, 12 Lenses and Cameras

by Bjarke Ahlstrand – His website is HERE

Hail and happy new year!

2012 was a very exciting (camera) year for me — I often considered the many new promising cameras, especially when browsing through Steve’s blog, but eventually found out that the smaller sensors and formats are not my thing, even though OM-D, Fuji X-pro etc. look amazing, especially ISO wise. Heck, even the new 5D Mark III which I purchased for “professional” purposes bored me… So in stead my focus, desire for — and collection of old “exotic” glass just grew and grew as did my fascination with the medium format, and lately large format (4×5″) film. I’ve always shot digital, so building my own darkroom and starting to develop my own film was quite a challenge, but fortunately I have quite a few skilled old school friends who helped me along the way.

And now, as 2013 is upon us, I’m trying to “scale down” my 2012 collection of images, which also happens to be quite a challenge, considering the many good times spend with a variety of excellent cameras (some bought, most borrowed from my best friend who works at a camera store). But even though I loved fooling around with the technical Linhofs and Sinar Norma 4×5″, The Zeiss Ikons, Voigtländer Bessa, The Rolleiflex and Yashica TLRs, it always seems like my (camera) heart belongs to my Leicas (M6 + M9-P) and Hasselblads (digital H3D-39 and analogue 500C, SWC and Xpan). And the lenses, those wonderful lenses…

Anyways, here are 12 of my 2012 shots. The first 6 months are in black and white and the last 6 are in color; some shot with wonderful analogue oldies and some with digital razor-sharp aspherical ones, dating from 1939 till today…

JANUARY 2012 · LEICA M9-P & 35 MM SUMMILUX F/1.4 (PRE-ASPH)

My colleague, Claus, from whose father I purchased an excellent 1960’s 50 mm Summicron.

2012_01_leica and 35 summilux_claus the co-worker

 –

FEBRUARY 2012 · HASSELBLAD SWC & ZEISS BIOGON 38 MM F/4.5 · P45+ DIGITAL BACK

– My youngest clone, Viggo, running uphill while I press the shutter on the wonderful SWC from 1974. The 38 mm Zeiss Biogon (=24 mm in full frame terms) is the sharpest, non-distorting and most excellent wide-angle lens I’ve ever owned and shot. There’s no framing or focus assist when I shoot with the SWC, but I now it so well, so I just point and shoot (and prey :-).

2012_02_hasselblad swc and zeiss 38 biogon_run to the hills

 –

MARCH 2012 · LEICA M9-P & 50 MM JUPITER-3 F/1.5

– My lens soulmate, Klehmann, knowing my craving for fast lenses, strongly suggested that I tried one of the old russian Jupiters, so I purchased this one eBay. It’s broken, so it only works on 1 meters distance and then it’s 4 cm off, so it took some time to adjust to. But it’s wonderful with its drop-like bokeh, even when something wicked is climbing the trees in Copenhagen (=my oldest clone, Hjalte).

2012_03_leica and 50 jupiter_in the trees

 –

APRIL 2012 · LEICA M9-P & 90 MM ELMAR F/4

– I often wonder which images old lenses have captured through out their life time. This 1939 portrait lens is no exception. It survived the second World War, the following cold war and eventually ended up in my hands for a mere 100$. It’s rather battered and its resolution is not the highest of my Leica glass, but it does well when it sees a burlesque Australian freak performer. I wonder how many of those it has seen the last the last 73 years…

2012_04_leica and 90 elmar 1939_freakgirl

 –

MAY 2012 · LEICA M9–P & 50 MM SUMMILUX ASPH F/1.4

– This lens never fails me. Since I departed with my 75 Summicron (I traded it for the 75 Summilux which I like better), it’s definitely the sharpest in my Leica arsenal, even wide open. I really like the 35 mm on the Leicas, but I often find myself automatically bringing this one and my 21 mm Summilux as both are excellent performers and a nice compact travelling kit. The guy on the image recently had a pacemaker inserted which I was quite fascinated with.

2012_05_leica and 50 summilux_pacemaker man

  –

JUNE 2012 · LEICA M9–P & 100 MM CANON SCREW MOUNT F/2

– My favourite music festival is the annual Copenhell (Copenhagen Hell) as it’s crammed with hard-hitting metal and a cool audience. This year I spotted a Crow-like character and this was actually the first shot I took with my newly purchased 1960’s Canon screw mount lens. 100 mm is an odd size on the Leica, frame wise, but the old Canon lens actually handles very well and I love its f/2 abilities and only shoot it wide open.

2012_06_leica and canon 100 mm_the crow at copenhell

 –

JULY 2012 · HASSELBLAD H3D-39 & 100 MM HC F/2.2 · Pro-Foto Flash

– My wonderful offspring just before harvest, captured two minutes before the sky cracked, through 39 megapixels of digital Hasselblad magic and the Fuji built HC 35 mm f/3.5 which translates roughly to a 22 mm lens in full frame terms.

2012_07_hasselblad h3d-39 and hc 35 mm_harvester of sons

 –

AUGUST 2012 · HASSELBLAD 500C & 60 MM ZEISS DISTAGON F/3.5 · KODAK EKTACHROME E200

– Astronaut Neil Armstrong died late August, and the boys and I decided to suit up and pay homage to the space traveling Hasselblad shooter. I found an old, long expired dias film, which I inherited from a retired pro, and we sailed to the Trekroner Island just outside of Copenhagen. Apparantly the 50+ year old film magazine has a marvelous light leak which I absolutely love it. And the colors… those expired dias film produce something truly unique. And with my Imacon Flextight scanner I end up with 50 megapixels resolution, which is not bad at all for a very old camera.

2012_08_hasselblad 500 60 mm zeiss distagon_astronaut armstrong jr

 –

SEPTEMBER 2012 · LEICA M9-P & 50 MM NOCTILUX ASPH F/0.95

– A self-portrait of myself and my new better half, shot on my roof top during stormy rainbow filled September weather (just before our very first kiss as a matter of fact). That Noctilux is unbeatable, although mine is 2 cm off focus wide. The girl is pretty nice too, I think 🙂

2012_09_leica and 50 noctliux_new girl on the block

 –

OCTOBER 2012 · HASSELBLAD XPAN & 45 MM FUJI F/4 · KODAK EKTACHROME E100

– Ever tried a double full frame rangefinder? Enter the XPan, an interchangeable lens 35mm rangefinder camera system with true panoramic capability. Made by Fuji in Japan, its like a Japanese Leica in Hasselblad styling — only its true panoramic double-width full frame (24 x 65 mm). Despite its small size, the 45 mm is actually a medium format lens, making it a 24 mm in 35 mm terms. And again — those old expired dias film — if you have some in the freezer, please send them to me in Copenhagen!!

2012_10_Hasselblad Xpan and 45 rodenstock_ruth at fence

 –

NOVEMBER 2012 · HASSELBLAD H3D-39 & HC 100 MM F/2.2

– A razor-sharp Yoda-like-orc shot at f/2.2 medium format which equals something like f/1 in 35 terms (check the sharpness in his eyes, it’s unbelievable). The HC 100 mm is my favorite medium format portrait lens. It renders out of focus smoothly and is one of the sharpest lenses, even wide open, I’ve ever tried.

2012_11_hasselblad h3d-39 and hc 100 mm_orc yoda

 –

DECEMBER 2012 · LEICA M9-P & 21 MM SUMMILUX ASPH F/1.4

– I shoot a lot of concerts. So do a lot of other photographers, but the Canon & Nikon shooters always stare, when I pick up my manual focus only camera and try to nail the performing artist at f/1.4, hehe. This was also the case when Rob Zombie recently played in Denmark together with Marilyn Manson. I recently brought along the 5D Mark II and the new 24-70 zoom, but it just wasn’t me anymore, I guess I love the manual framing and focus hassles too much 🙂

2012_12_leica and 21 summilux_rob zombie

 

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32 thoughts on “12 months, 12 lenses and cameras by Bjarke Ahlstrand

  1. Hi Bjarke
    If it can be forgiven to turn over to danish, please allow me to do so…
    Jeg skrev tidligere, men systemet åd ordene, måske fordi jeg havde et link til nogle af mine primitive Ricoh GRD4 fotos, ved det ikke.
    Men det jeg ville sige var: tusinde tak for dit tilbud om assistance med Flextight’en. Men måske er det at kaste perler for svin, idet jeg er en lalle-glad amatør, med lidt Leica og Hasselblad hang, gennem tiderne. Og samtidig lider jeg af forhindringsfobier, bliver tingene for komplicerede, får de lov at ligge. Så støvet lyder ikke godt, det ville jeg ikke magte. SWC’en og M6’en har ligget stille længe, og mange Venedig-ruller ligger og kigger resignerede op i loftet(er også en anelse oppe i årene). Fik Flextight-scannet hos Laboratoriet i Nannasgade og forstørret analogt op på ca. 1m fotopapir, wauw, der var ingenting der kunne slå det, men indrammet løb der jo lige 1.500 kr/stk., så det blev desværre ikke til flere, selvom lamineringsmanden ikke havde set noget lignende, og og tiggede og bad om at købe billedet/erne for arbejde.
    Men jeg har slået mig på nedscalering, solgt min d800E, den kunne ikke sammen med mig, og har lige nu slået mig på min simple Ricoh, der er mere pro end man lige forventer. Et helt vidunderligt kompaktkamera, og det er vidunderligt at undvære, at forsage. Når du bliver ældre véd du hvad jeg mener. Ricoh’en gir mig noget af det M6’eren gav mig + noget mere, denne vidunderlige primitive skødesløshed, elsker det, og det kan den, skjult i højre hånd, ddit øje ser, lige dreje hånden i farten, tryk.
    Men du har ret SWC’en er det mest vidunderlige kompakt-120-kamera der er set. Og jeg havde, dengang, en drøm om at træne mine øjne som lysmåler, i stedet for altid at slæbe en nikon med som måler, og bruge SWC’en som street-kamera (seddelen i Velvia/Provia pakken kunne godt bruges som guide)
    Fortsæt med de vidunderlige billeder!
    Mange hilsener
    Thorkil

    1. Hej Thorkil

      Jeg har aldrig prøvet en Ricoh, men hvis den ligger rigtigt i din hånd, så er det jo dit kamera 🙂
      De gange jeg har holdt en d800e i hånden har den heller ikke “ligget rigtigt”, selv om jeg er sikker på at det også er et fortrinligt kamera.

      Og ja, film er dyrt… Roder med lidt 4×5″ for tiden og der skal man virkelig tænke sig om, for hvert skud koster rask væk 100 kroner — og så er det uden indscanning. Til gengæld er nogle af resultaterne … meget tilfredsstillende.

      Hvis du ombestemmer dig, så vil jeg altså gerne kigge på din scanner — har jo brug de første 100 timer på at få min op at køre, så jeg kan “hurtigt” se om vi kan få din igang… Du finder mine kontaktinfo på min hjemmeside – tre gange w og så oneofmany punktum dk (tror ikke hans side kan lide links 🙂

      Mvh
      Bjarke

      1. Hej Bjarke
        Tusinde tak igen, men jeg tror jeg ville blive flov over skulle tage din tid, og måske endda med 80% sandsynlighed for at min medfødte dovenskab og uudholdelige rastløshed stadig ville være en uoverstigelig barriere.
        Jeg må tage hatten af for at du orker storformat mv., for jo, der sker jo noget når man ser billeder oppe i det format, de kan have en helt unik og strålende intensitet.
        Jeg har bare lige dét dersens pt. (og økonomien i byggebranchen er heller ikke pt. for god, så det hænger fint sammen på dén led også) “going primitive” idé.
        Med D800E’eren var det ikke kun det med hånden, for med D3’eren kunne jeg faktisk godt ta’ nogle gode gadebilleder bare med at ha den hængende løst i hånden og en lille 20mm linse på, men mere at den var for kompliceret mht. at få noget godt ud af. Linsen var for dårlig, altfor uskarp og E’eren forlangte superskarpt glas. F.eiks. kom den nye 35mm Sigma for sent, for den var jo prisoverkommelig. Og selvom jeg hele livet også har haft en eller anden Nikon, så er der altså et eller andet med dem, der ikke er godt nok, for kedeligt, for uinspirerende glød, for uskarpt(og det med skarpheden var hovedproblemet når man har vadet rundt med en SWC’er og 201FE med denne fantastiske 50mm/2.8, vidunderlig, men tung og meget uhandy.
        Og lige nu har jeg fået en mikroskopisk genfødsel med Ricoh’en, og hvis man tager JPEG kan man manipulere helt vildt med den, eller i hvertfald få den til at opføre sig bedre end en gammel M og så er efterbehandling overhovedet ikke nødvendigt. Hvis du har tid en dag og keder dig kan du prøve at gå ind på GetDPI og så Small Sensor Cameras og så GRD4 Street Images.
        Jeg havde det egentlig sådan at nogle kameraer var det svært at leve op til, for at få det fulde udbytte af, Nikon m.fl. Dem jeg snakkede allerbedst sammen med og hvor jeg ikke behøvede at tage en dyb indånding hver gang jeg skulle igang var vel egentlig M6’eren og SWC’en. Primitive, enkle, fuldt forståelige, hvilken befrielse det egentlig var! Og havde penge ikke været et problem, kunne SWC’en have været mit hverdags og “alt-i-ét”-kamera (njar der var lige det med lysmåleren..), og bare smide rullerne hen til prof. scanning og forstørrelse. Det sjove/groteske er måske hér, at havde man truffet det rigtige valg dengang, og dermed undladt alle senere kamera-investeringer, så kunne alle de fravalgte fremtidige kamerainvesteringer sikkert rigeligt ha’ betalt skannninger og forstørrelser. Og væggene kunne ha’ været prydet af den ene flotte forstørrelse efter den anden. Hhmm. Det skynder vi os ikke at tænke på….Den menneskelige natur er måske hele tiden at drømme videre, og på den måde kan man faktisk komme til at spænde ben for sig selv. Ordet, at kunne evne at “forsage” får en dybere mening når man kigger baglæns.
        Men lige nu undværer jeg, og føler mig på mentalt og kammeratligt niveau med min Ricoh, og den overrasker mig, for det meste, positivt. Kan godt lide at den uambitiøs, ell. i det mindste ser såden ud, og det har gjort det at tage fotos til en sjov og lidt spændende og en lille smule udfordrende leg igen.
        Mvh
        Thorkil

  2. Hi again Bjarke,

    I cant help but notice (and laugh my ass off!) when You say You tend to bring the 21’lux and 75’lux and then refer to them as a “nice compact travelkit”? Its probably two of the biggest lenses in the Leica lensstable if not THE biggest – but it only shows where You’re comming from (DSLR/MF-‘blads etc) – Damn, thats great fun, man – hahaha…. My own socalled ‘travelkit’ is a little more modest and consist of the 35mm f2.8 Summaron and a 90mm f2.8 Tele-Elmarit…. But I guess You kind know that much by now;o))

    Best
    klehmann

    ps. Its very good to observe that all the previously angry and/or jealous commenters are not ‘showing up’ this time around, eh? I for one can surely see the difference between m4/3, std.35mm and larger formats although I dont always agree whether they (the bigger formats) are appropriate for the current task at hand…. BUT: Youre a ‘playboy’ (not in the original sense of the word; well, avtually that too – :o)))) and I think thats a good thing when it comes to being creative…Eventually You will (at least likely/hopefully so?) ‘tone down’ even in the equipment-depatement and find Your ‘Way’ artistically speakin’…. or maybe not? Who knows?. Enjoy and fire away…

    1. Dear Klehmann,

      I’m very strong as you know, so I actually think that the 21 lux and 50 noct and 75 lux is a very compact kit to bring along 🙂

      And when I travel far away, recently to New York and Tokyo, I also include the handy little Hasselblad SWC in the Domke bag.

      Best,
      Bjarke

      PS. Tone down? Find a way? No way. My 2013 camera purchases include a 4×5″ Speed Graphic and 4×5″ Sinar P2. Perhaps that’ll be the next traveller’s kit, haha.

  3. Hi Bjarke!
    Cheers from Copenhagen to Copenhagen
    Wonderfull review!
    I’m just sending my beloved Hassy SWC a beloved glance and the Flextight Precision II (you havn’t got an extra cable and card by chance?), never got it up.
    Very refreshing and inspiring article (and shots ofcourse)!!!
    Best
    Thorkil

    1. Hi Thorkil,

      You should bring out that Hassy SWC more often, it’s actually not that big — even though it produces huge images!

      As for the scanner… I love/hate it. It produced excellent scan, unfortunately it’s impossible to clean properly, so all my scans require hours of dust spot removing, which is annoying. And it took forever to install it because of the SCSI-cable which could only run on an ooooooold PowerMacG4 and I had to located ancient SCSI-drivers dating back to 1999…

      If you’re in the Copenhagen area, you could bring your scanner to my place someday, then we could check if it works

      Best,
      Bjarke

  4. Very inspiring post Bjarke! Well done!

    Man, do I love the Kodak Ektachrome! To all the readers: instead of sending the expired film to Copenhagen, send it to me !! Hahaha, just kiddin’ of course !

    But seriously, is there anything digital that matches or even comes close to the Ektachrome?

    Great post Bjarke.

    Best regards,

    Kris

  5. Great comments and shots. It is nice to see the results from different cameras and lenses. I am completely empathetic with your comment regarding shooting manual vs. a dslr – not always a better photo technically, but a world of difference in the shooting experience and it means a lot to me.

    Thanks for bringing this to us

  6. Hej Bjarke,

    Utrolig flotte billeder der viser både dit talent og mulighederne med diverse gamle kamera/objektiver/film!!

    Et hurtigt spørgsmål angående 75mm summicron/lux – hvor nemt/svært er det at bruge den brændvidde, og er det noget du får brugt med så mange andre objektiver at vælge imellem?
    Jeg er lidt skeptisk mht til objektiver over 50mm på en rangefinder da jeg antager at det bliver sværere at fokusere jo længere brændvidden er.

    Jeg håber du får et inspirerende 2013.

    Venlig Hilsen,
    Dan

    1. Hej Dan,

      Jeg tar’ mig friheden at bryde ind i din kommunikation med Bjarke ang ‘lux/’cron – sprgs. Håber det er ok…

      Jeg forstår din reservation mht brugen af +50mm på målsøger/M’s – Jeg har ofte skudt (og gør stadig indimellem) med længere glas på disse, ja helt op til 135mm tele-elmar med alt hvad der ligger derimellem. Og ja, det blir’ ‘sværere’, men kan selvfølgelig lade sig gøre – det hjælper betragteligt med en x1.25 eller x1.4 loupe, en kalibreret målsøger og selvfølgelig et godt øje. Der er enkelte ‘tricks’ såsom at læne sig lidt frem/tilbage afhængig af situationen, men dette ved du sikkert allerede.

      Umiddelbart synes jeg personligt det tar’ lidt af idéen med at ‘capture the moment’ at skulle ty til alle disse yderligheder, men hver mand sin fornøjelse;o) Vi nærmer os efter min opfattelse mere end anden type fotografering/kamera, når vi bevæger os ud i kort til lidt længere tele…. Dette synes dog at ændre sig nu med Leica’s M240 der pludeslig bryster sig med så exotiske features som CMOS-sensor/LiveView etc. Hele kongstanken med brug af målsøgeren som stealth-instrument på gaden er udfordret; ‘reglerne’ er ændrede og oldschool-brugere (deriblandt jeg selv;o) er splittede mht det puristiske og ‘ædle’ i at ku’ naile øjebliket med et historisk stykke tysker-mekanik til pludeslig at skulle forledige sig på elektroniske features som ovennævnte… Men dette er vist en helt anden og meget længere diskussion;o)

      Specifikt omkring 75mm ‘cron/’lux: de er bestemt begge mere udfordrende at bruge end din standard 50’er – ‘cronen har et ret kort ‘focus-throw’ hvor ‘luxens er længere og altså kan finjusteres mere – til gengæld er fokuspunktet ULTRA-‘tyndt’ ved f1.4, men Bjarke har unge og GODE øjne – hahaha – selv valgte jeg ‘cronen både pgra. den handel jeg blev ‘givet’ på pågældende tidspunkt, men også, og vigtiigst for mig, fordi den er langt mere håndtérbar, både størrelse & vægtmæssigt. Dermed ikke sagt at ‘luxen ikke er enestående! Ku’ jeg vælge uden at tage hensyn til økonomi ville jeg uden tøven sige: Køb begge!!

      Vi er blevet forvænte med de muligheder vi har at vælge imellem, men ret beset kan man vel godt driste sig til at sige at målsøgeren befinder sig på hjemmebane med en 35mm påsat… Selv er jeg en 28mm/50mm ‘kind of guy’…. men forsøger lige nu at blive en 28/75’er – hahaha…

      Mvh
      klehmann

      1. Tak for dine kommentarer Klehmann!

        Jeg er helt enig med mange af dine kommentarer. Jeg har skiftet til Leica fordi jeg syntes at min Canon tog for meget kontrol fra mig ved at være fyldt med så meget elektronik.

        Angående 75’erne, så er jeg mest interesteret i noget længere end 50mm da 35/50mm er ganske tæt på hinanden. Og da jeg er meget glad for meget glad for min 35lux så kan det være at 50cron ryger.

        Venlig hilsen,
        Dan

    2. Hej Dan — og tak for de rosende ord — de varmer oven på en kold køretur hjem fra Kolding 🙂

      Nu har du fået startet Klehmann maskinen og han er jo klog hvad angår glas…

      For mit vedkommende, så er mit længste Leica-glas 100 mm (en gammel 1960’er Canon screw mount) og jeg har et par 90’ere (Elmar og Elmarit), men det er yderst sjældent at de kommer med i tasken, hvor det typisk er 21, 35, 50 og 75 der er med. Jeg synes at 75’eren passer bedre på Leica’en end halvfemserne.

      Jeg var MEGET imponeret over min 75 cron, den var lille, kompakt og spot on. Men den var faktisk “for skarp” til min Leica-smag… Jeg kan bedre lide de lidt mere “glødende” ældre Leica glas, så jeg skiftede den ud med en 75 Summilux, da jeg hævede min efterløn tidl. på året. Den har jeg desværre ikke fået “skudt ind” fokusmæssigt, men nu har jeg fundet ud af at det er kameraet og ikke glasset, den er gal med så, det må en tur til Tyskland.

      Men 50’erne er nemmere at skyde med — især hvis man konsekvent skyder helt åbent, som jeg gør.

      Mvh
      Bjarke

  7. Hi Bjarke

    Throughly enjoyable, we have much of the same equipment and I too need to tone it down. 🙂

    It’s a great exercise to break your years images down to just 12 and also to give thought to the meaning or significance of a particular image.

    All the best, Jason.

    1. Hi Jason

      Two years ago I met an old man who, although on an amateur level, had been photographing really well for the last 60 years. Now, as he feels that his lifetime is running out, he decided that he wouldn’t leave ten boxes with thousands of negatives, for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. So he decided to digitalize his 100 best and most memorable photos. Those were the ones he wanted to “leave” for his family. So he did that, and wrote down stories to accompany those images.

      I thought that was very inspiring — trimming and optimizing — actively deciding what really mattered to him. And even though his “back catalog” was entirely analogue, I was very inspired by what he did. And since we shoot digital, most of the time, anyway, our catalogues tend to grow to enormous proportions. But do I want to leave 100.000 images for my children on some hard drive when death decides to stop me one day? Or should I try to trim it a bit and leave only what matters — and something that they’ll hopefully enjoy looking back upon, instead of thousands and thousands of images? Well, I guess you know my answer already 🙂

      And–it’s not as easy as it sounds, hehehe. Currently, my 2012 image folder is “down to” 4050 images—so there’s still some deleting to be done 🙂

      Best,
      Bjarke

      1. Thats a charming and inspiring story.

        The truth is that is that by leaving less he was actually leaving them much, much more.

        It’s certainly not easy, but its a worthwhile endeavor 🙂

        All the best, Jason.

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