May 272016
 
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Friday Film: Mamiya RB67 Pro S

by Hafiz Kamsadi

Hi Steve & Brandon,

Firstly, thank you so much to you both for everything you’ve done for the photographic community so far! Such fantastic passion and commitment to all things photography has really made this my daily site to visit for inspiration and fresh ideas and opinions.

I am a 24-year-old Singaporean based in Perth, Western Australia and I started photography 8 years ago shooting for my school’s media club. Understandably, I started off with DSLRs (Canon) but it was never more than just a hobby at that point in time. Fast forward 8 years (and MANY cameras and lenses from GAS) and I recently started a side business 3 years ago, as my hobby turned into my passion and love for photography.

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My point is, after going through Canon, Fuji mirrorless, back to Canon, and then Sony A7r system, I felt that I needed a change from digital and decided to make the jump into FILM! I had ZERO experience with film cameras or different film types and it was all new to me. After a few weeks of reading and after finding a pretty sweet deal secondhand, I purchased my very first film camera, which also became my very first MEDIUM FORMAT camera – the Mamiya RB67.

All I could say was WOW! Addressing the common perception with this camera: Was it big and bulky, heavy, slow to use, hard to focus, not that many fast lenses? Yeap, all that and more. But there’s nothing you can’t do without PATIENCE and PRACTICE. Here was a 1970s camera used and abused by so many professionals from that period and here I was 40 years after production still learning how to make the most out of this wonderful beast.

The Mamiya RB67 shoots 10 images from a 120mm film in a 6×7 format which in itself was a big change from the 3×2 ratio that I was used to from Full frame digital. My deal came with 3 lenses, a 50mm f4.5, a 127mm f3.8 and a 180mm f4.5. In full frame 35mm terms, that’s roughly a 25mm f2.2, 64mm f1.9 and a 90mm f2.2.

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The thing I enjoy most with the RB67 from the very first shot till now is still that HUGE mirror slap that probably causes tremors. Shaky photos? Yes sometimes but I practice good form and technique so it has improved tremendously. That bright and big viewfinder was like going to the movies every single time i look down into the waist-level viewfinder. The all mechanical machine with zero electronics meant that every single motion and action I did was all up to me. No autofocus, no metering, no auto film winding and I found it a JOY and a breath of fresh air from all the digital settings that we are all too accustomed too.

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With all the comparisons with different digital sensors from different manufacturers, have a look at the insane options of film! Each film stock has its own unique characteristics and strengths and weaknesses. It was wonderful to try various film to learn and experiment. The smooth tonal range of 120mm film, the grain (or lack thereof), and the HUGE latitude you get with film that is still unsurpassed with digital (Portra 400 has 19 stops of dynamic range!!).

Ultimately, it was the experience of re-learning photography from scratch that tugged my heart to film. Any error in the final photo was noone’s to blame but mine. I understood how to meter by looking at the quality and intensity of the lights and shadows and I appreciated composition and the quality of a scene more than anything since I only had 10 shots per roll. I purchased an Epson V700 scanner to minimise the high costs of lousy lab scans to maximise the beauty and quality of each roll I had. Till this day, NOTHING beats the feeling I have when I get back my film negatives and slides (especially my Fujifilm Velvia slides!) and popping it into my scanner, make adjustments and make the final test print as the final product.

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After 6 months with the camera, it felt like digital was too easy. Yes digital was convenient and efficient and I still use it mostly for my work. But every chance I get, I go analogue and I shoot film because it refreshes my soul.

I think I could go on and on about film so I shall stop here! xD

I am still new to film and am learning new things everyday. I normally use Kodak Portra 160, 400, Ektar 100 and Fujifilm Velvia 50 & 100.  I occasionally shoot TMAX 100 and Delta 3200.

I hope my story and my images below will be a source of ideas and inspiration to a few, just as the countless previous posts on this website have been an inspiration to many.

You can find more of my work on my online portfolio at hafizkamsadiphotography.com

Please also support me if you like my work:

Instagram: @hkamsadi

Facebook: Hafiz Kamsadi Photography

Thank you Steve for this avenue to express myself and happy clicking and snapping to you all :)

Your film photographer,

Hafiz: Mamiya

May 262016
 

My thoughts and photos: Leica Q

By Alejandro Ilukewitsch

(If you want to submit a user report, email Steve at [email protected] with your idea)

I have been shooting extensively for the past days with the Q. I can only say that it is really a great little camera. There are some positive and negative aspects I can highlight. First the bad ones:

· High iso – is not a high iso camera. Actually even the Sony A7ii which was not good, might have been better.

· Banding – if files are pushed, and only a few steps, banding will appear. I read that this was also a problem with the M, that was solved with a firmware update. I hope the same will happen. It is not a big issue if you don´t tend to over-edit your files, but it does happen.

· Auto Exposure Lock – it doesn’t have a well implemented function. If you want to lock exposure you need to leave the button pressed. That means that you cannot use AEL with the Exposure compensation wheel. Ex: Lock exposure, and then use Exposure compensation, since you must leave your finger on the AE button pressed. Horrible design.

· There is no way to disable the back screen and only use it to see settings or playback. You can use auto switch, which leaves the back screen all the time turned on, and turns it off when you put the camera on your eye, or use EVF only, which turns the screen off. But all needs to be done through the EVF. Shame on Leica for this, it seems it was designed by engineers who never shot a camera. Hope is also corrected via firmware.

· The Buffer is limited, but who said this was a machine gun kind of camera:)

· Playback of images is slow. I don´t really chimp, but when is needed there is a slight delay.

It might look like a lot of bad things, but actually the camera is a joy to shoot.

· Auto focus in AFS is incredibly fast, like a dslr, and it is 99% on focus, (better than a dslr).

· The lens is a beauty: sharp, colors – yes it´s software corrected, but who cares.

· The camera is fast, everything works just right, (with the exception of chimping).

· The Sony RX1 v2 might have better image quality, but shooting with the Q is fun. It gives excellent results, and most of the time doesn´t get in your way. It feels like a camera, not a computer, even thou I still prefer an ovf. (Comments based on my experience with the RX1 v1 and A7ii).

Some images from the last week, (all images shot in Bucharest):

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My blog, website, and flickr…(thanks for looking)
ailukewitsch,wordpress.com

www.ilukewitsch.com

flickr.com/malabito

May 202016
 

Winter Day… Resolve

by Dirk Dom

Hi!

Last month I spent €1,400 on prints. That’s crazy. I have credit card debt, and I want to get out of it. So, I told myself to spend no more than €300 a month on projects etc. I’m really, really serious about it.  Main thing is that I’ll stop black and white photography for eighteen months. Black and white, for me, needs to be postprocessed and printed in very high quality, and with €300 a month, that’s not possible. When I have images, I can’t resist printing. If I don’t generate images, I won’t have the urge to print.

So, goodbye Linhof and Mamiya 7, for a while.

Will I be miserable?

Certainly not. There is so much else I can do with photography. It’s only a matter of selecting what else I will do. I’m going to shoot the Hasselblad Xpan and my Canon F1. (Lost all interest in digital a year ago) Color neg, prints cost only a quarter of black and white. A 6 by 18 inch Xpan print costs me 3 Euro’s.  Today, I’ve been looking around my Xpan shots, just to get an idea of possibilities and potential.  Here are some which I like, but be warned: with me, anything goes in post.

So, I said, no black and white. Well, that’s going to be tough. A few minutes of post on this Fuji Superia 400 color image yielded this:

Note the nice silvery greys of the Cathedral and the great grain in the skies. I don’t often convert color to black and white.

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Looking a bit further in my files, I found a shot of a sidewalk in San Francisco.

Popping saturation up to 50, made it into this

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Cropping and converting to black and white:

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And saturating red:

I shoot just about anything that shows potential. Not that I take many pictures: I give every shot careful thought.

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The silver screen behind a windshield, solarized and made it high key:

I got less and less frustrated with my resolve not to shoot black and white for 18 months, but I got a little worried I’d start printing.

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I fooled around with solarisation and converting to negative, and I found this image of a box full of oranges:

Now, isn’t that cool? Images which convert in such a nice way are extremely rare.

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I can even shoot normal stuff, the 90mm is very nice for close ups:

My son, with the Golden Gate, 90mm.

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So,

I’m going to walk around with the Xpan and have fun. In a more serious way, I’m going to shoot Antwerp for a year and a half. This Summer, I’m bicycling from Antwerp to Benidorm in Spain and I’ll also take the Xpan, with the 45 and the 90 and a batch of Ektar 100. That’ll cost me less than staying home. At first I wanted to take the Mamiya 7 with the 43 and 150mm and do masterly black and white, but it’ll be for another time.

Bye,

Dirk.

 

May 202016
 

Trip to the Azores Islands

By Miguel Teotónio

Ilhéu de Vila Franca, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal. 

You must have seen the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series on TV, … well I heard about this place before, but that competition raised my curiosity to a higher level. Last week while visiting São Miguel in the Azores, we managed to get there and see for ourselves. This beautiful islet has the shape of a large semicircle, creating an atoll in its interior surrounded by an extraordinaire scenery with rocks and cliffs eroded in exquisite natural structures.

You can visit this nature reserve from June to September by boat and easily get to Vila Franca do Campo by bus. One of the few places in São Miguel where you won’t be needing a car. There’s no sense on that cause you will be spending (at least) two hours in the ilhéu and even more (time) on the boat to the islet and back.

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Praia de Santa Bárbara, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.

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Lagoa das Sete Cidades, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.

We rented a car for a few days during our stay in São Miguel to see what we had planned, but our main objective was to stop between spots to admire the extraordinary landscapes that this island has to offer. When driving to Lagoa das Sete Cidades, we took the long way on a secondary dirt road, and what a great choice! We drove into the unknown (no GPS at this moment) and circled the two lagoons (the blue and the green) with a view from above on one of the most beautiful scenery I have ever had the pleasure to experience. We were amazed with such an idyllic place.

We had the best view of it all (in the afternoon) on an abandoned hotel rooftop. Monte Palace Hotel front rooms had a privileged view to the lagoons. Some said it was like being a part of a painting. Now, only sadness can be felt in its interior.

(http://sicnoticias.sapo.pt/programas/abandonados/2014-06-09-monte-palace-nos-acores)

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Rabo de Peixe, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.
This is undoubtedly one of those places you have to be careful while visiting. People are helpful but very suspicious, so there’s no need to say that they take their privacy seriously. If you don’t “trespass”, everything will go well [ or not :-) ] . I did just that but ended up missing some great shots of colorful houses and a few friendly young locals. Maybe next time … This once, I saw what I had in mind, … Vhils … What else?!

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Lagoa do Fogo, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal.

This is Lagoa do Fogo. A crazy dog running down the hill, it’s one of the things I’ll always remember from this trip. That was the image I experienced a moment before we reached the viewpoint over the lagoon. The animal was an adrenaline junkie, almost running over cars that were heading to the top.

Here at the Serra de Água de Pau, you also must visit the Caldeira Velha Natural Monument and take a bath in the natural thermal waters (37°C). A pleasant and relaxing surprise at the end of the day.

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Ferraria, São Miguel (Açores), Portugal. 

Lighthouse at Ponta da Ferraria.

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Miguel Teotónio
www.miguelteotonio.com
http://que-suave-e-o-ar.blogspot.com/
Antes de imprimir pense na sua responsabilidade e
compromisso para com o MEIO AMBIENTE !

May 202016
 

Film Friday: Rolleiflex w/ Ilford Delta 100

By David Patris

I am from Belgium and I have been a frequent reader since a few years now. Recently I discovered my father’s Rolleifleix ( 75mm, Tessar 3.5), which was left a long time in a closet, with this camera I am enjoying to go 6×6 cm.
I use the Ilford Delta 100, a long favored film of mine, scanning them with the Epson V750 and processing the files with lightroom.

Thanks for your work with this site. I hope you will appreciate the following pictures.

David Patris

Blankenberge, Belgian coast 1.

Blankenberge, Belgian coast 2.

Colorado provencale. Lubéron, France.

Lubéron forêt des cèdres arche 2

Lubéron, forêt des cèdres. France.

Arc de Triomphe. Paris.

Congressiste, porte Maillot, Paris.

Parisan Trip.

May 182016
 

Passover in Bnei Brak

By Ziv

Hi Steve and Brandon,

On Passover Jewish law prohibited eating chametz. Before Passover traditionally Orthodox Jews burn the chametz (bread, etc.). The following pictures were taken in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city. The pictures were taken mainly by Canon 6D with the wide lens 17-40L.

Each tour in that city and especially before the holidays is a great experience and exciting.

Best wishes
Ziv

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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May 182016
 

Fabricated Landscape

By Olaf Sztaba

We have thought about photographing the Canadian Oil Sands for a long time. Finally, this year we drove to Fort McMurray – the hub for oil sands operations. Even though we approached the subject from a purely visual perspective, what we encountered made a huge impact on us.

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This land stretches 54,826 square miles, an area larger than England. Structures such as the toxic tailing lakes are some of the largest human-made structures in the world – so large that they can be seen from space. The land has been rearranged, altered and manipulated by human activity to the point that it is barely recognizable but so visually appealing – so ugly but strangely beautiful.

As we photographed this area, we had no clue that just two weeks later Fort McMurray and the oil sands operations surrounding it, would be threatened by massive wildfires. So far this huge fire has triggered an evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray or nearly 90,000 people. As I write this note, the fire has been moving north toward massive oil sands operations.

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Below please find a link to the Canadian Red Cross website, which accepts donations and helps those impacted. Please consider donating.

http://www.redcross.ca

www.olafphotoblog.com

www.olafphoto.squarespace.com

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The entire project was shot with the Fuji X-Pro2 paired with the XF 50-140mm or XF 14mm F2.8 and Fuji X100S.

May 172016
 

My thoughts on the Fuji X-Pro 2

by Mohamed Hakem

Hello Steve,

I’ve been trying the Fuji Xpro2 for a couple of weeks and have real images with my final word that thought of sharing it with you.

MY WEBSITEhttp://www.hakemphotography.com  – FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/hakemphotography INSTAGRAMhttp://Instagram.com/moh_hakem

I can now say that I’ve used the Xpro-2 in many situations: I’ve used it casually, for taking pictures of my friends and family, in professional photo sessions, under the rain and in the desert were it experienced hard dusty conditions,  What I can say is that it is the best fujifilm camera Out there. It is very responsive, fast and quick. As you have already noticed I didn’t speak much about the specs because I am not a fan of evaluating a camera by its numbers! great pictures are not taken by higher spec camera. If you understand the Fuji approach which is a camera that you will love to use and will reward you with excellent image quality rather than going into a pointless technical race. Now the Auto focus is on the DSLR level, not the pro ones but still very good, For me I will wish nothing more than that.

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The New Sensor is 24MP and this is in my opinion is the sweet spot in the MP counts. I’ve tried Higher than this (36MP and medium format) and I see no reason to have higher than 23MP. 16MP was very good and having a 24MP is the highest that I would want… for now.

I have used the camera in a photo session and the colors were absolutely amazing. the quality it produces really shortened my post processing time. Black and white out of the camera is beautiful! I bet if any one would ever retouch a black and white afterwards.

the ISO performance is fantastic, a little grainy but higher in details, it won’t give you the melted look of the extreme ISOs of the XT-1.

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for me this is the best camera and would be my primary one

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The Pros:

-Perfect Image Quality

-Very good Auto Focus

-Fantastic Buttons Layout

-Hybrid view finder is very good – still the X100T is better

-Dynamic Range is very ..very good

-The Camera is responsive – you won’t feel a difference if you are coming from a Pro DSLR

-JPEGs out of the camera are the best of all

-In Camera filters are very useful

-And of course the things that Fuji are already famous of (build quality/Size/looks/etc..)

The Cons:

– No tilting screen! the back LCD in the mirrorless world proved to be used by professionals! we were just not used to it due to the DSLR limitations. Now the tilting screen is being used in many applications. I personally use it in landscapes and sometimes in street like shooting from the hip technique.

-Battery life, mirrorless are known to have this drawback. in the XT-1 the camera made around 300 pictures per charge. with the XPRO2 the usage became more and it is around 250. To be on the safe side during assignments I usually have 4-7 batteries!

May 172016
 
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The Fashionable X-Pro 2

by James Conley

Hi Steve and Brandon. I wanted to share a fashion editorial with you, and my experience using the Fujifilm X-Pro2 in the studio.

For a few years now, I’ve relied on Fujifilm’s X-Series as my workhorse system for documentary, street, and travel photography. Originally working with an X100s and an X-E1, I’ve now added the X-Pro2 to the stable. (These days, the X-E1 is a backup body.) However, for studio work I’ve continued to rely on Canon.

Studio work involves different kinds of habits from those of the photojournalism I usually do. The thought process in working with lights, settings, models, and scenes is nearly quite the opposite kind of thinking required to capture unfolding moments on the street. Studio work is slower and more deliberate, and the distractions of the equipment cannot be avoided, with each shot requiring manual adjustments of light stands and strobe settings.

For studio thinking, I always found a Canon DSLR a good match. The studio is about controlling light, and it’s often a dim place to work. Seeing directly through the lens is not only easier in low light, but it also makes me feel more connected to the model. Fleeting expressions are easy to catch, and small framing adjustments are quickly comprehended when looking through an SLR.

The X-E1 was impossible to consider for the task. The slow refresh rate of the EVF is very frustrating in low light. The X100s was too limited with its lens options (even taking into account the WCL and TCL). Its EVF suffers the same problems as the X-E1, and the rangefinder is not an acceptable solution because of parallax issues. So it was Fuji on the streets, and Canon in the studio.

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With time, however, the Canon system has shown its age. Not the least of the frustrations is a limited number of focus points. Especially when shooting with wide apertures, “focus and reframe” can introduce a host of issues. There are also issues with low light performance. Working with an SLR, it is much harder to tell if the focus is correct in low light, and many times it isn’t.

Newer Canon bodies have more focus points and better low light performance, but that necessitates buying a newer body. I have a substantial investment in Canon glass, but unfortunately the technology has left them behind and there are many frustrations with focus speed and lock on. What was a great L-series lens a few years ago is now a slow-focuser with a lot of chromatic aberration.

With the X-Pro2 in hand, I finally had an option. The EVF is fast enough not to be a distraction, and the low light performance is excellent. Faced with the choice of upgrading the Canon system or testing the X-Pro2, it was easy to decide to get the Fuji hooked up to the lights see what would happen.

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My approach to studio light is very simple: one or two Paul Buff lights, with a variety of modifiers. The lights are on radio triggers, with a transceiver on the camera. I shoot the camera in manual, and make adjustments to the lights as needed to achieve the exposure I want.

The first problem came when the radio triggers wouldn’t trip the light. Investigation into the issue led to no satisfying answers. I’ve used Yongnuo 603Cs for years with no issues. My first fear was a hotshoe issue with the X-Pro2. (In the past, I’ve found that Canon studio accessories worked with the Fujis.) Forging ahead, though, I made the assumption that the issue was with the Yongnuos and not the X-Pro2, and purchased a set of RadioPopper receivers and a transmitter. They worked straight out of the box with not a single misfire, so I’ve concluded that the pins on the Yongnuo 603C’s aren’t correct for the X-Pro2.

Although a stressful one, the trigger issue turned out to be the only issue. The X-Pro2 is a delight to use in the studio. The EVF gets out of the way, and there were very few focus issues—and only when there were a lot of shadows. The sensor on the X-Pro2 is fantastic, and gives a very film-like quality to the images, with incredible amounts of latitude.

Getting the X-Pro2 set up for studio use is short work:

set the shutter speed to 1/250th
set the ISO to 200
turn Preview Pic Effect off
turn the flash mode to on

Manually set the aperture, and away I go.

I’m looking forward to continuing to use the X-Pro2 in the studio. Even more, I’m looking forward to not having to buy a new Canon!

More images can be seen on my website: http://f-eleven.com, and on Instagram: @philatawgrapher

May 132016
 

40 years of flower shooting in the Zevenbergenbos, Ranst, Belgium

By Dirk Dom

I got my first camera, a Canon FTb, 40 years ago, when I was eighteen. It was a present from my mom and dad because I had graduated athenaeum.

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It came with a 50mm f/1.8 lens, and for little bit of money I bought a set of diopter lenses and I started shooting flowers. I had extremely little money then, but two years later I had a real Canon FD 100mm f/4 S.C. macro lens, with which I would take tens of thousands of shots. Some were even good!

The Zevenbergen forest in Ranst I knew since birth, and there I went back again and again. Especially in spring, this little forest has spectacular flowers. This is how it looks in March:

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And this is how the meadows near it are in high summer:

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Both shots with a Mamiya C330 TLR, Fuji Velvia of course. So, plenty to shoot.  After 40 years, I still go back there often; I know every square inch of it, so I know exactly where to go.

About four years ago, I got tired of shooting flowers. I had reached perfection and I shot absolutely beautiful and absolutely boring flower pictures. I upgraded to making interesting flower photographs, like this one:

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I had bought an Olympus PEN and I had a 200mm macro lens and I experimented a great deal. I learnt to look and how to get the picture the way I wanted it. I don’t think I could have ever reached the level I’m at now without those three years of being digital. Two years ago I got fed up with the limitations of digital, and I stopped shooting flowers again. The limited processing potential, the burnt out whites and colors and the color noise, the absence of surprise. So, about a year ago, after looking back in detail at my film flower shots (scanning and opening them up myself) and discovering the potential, I went back to film. I had also gotten into medium format shooting Fuji Velvia with a Mamiya C330 and of course that totally smoked my PEN. I experimented with film, found out it was what I looked for, got more confident and now I’ve started doing a new kind of flower shots, using a 85mm f/1.2 wide open and a Petzval lens. You can find the explanation on this site, I posted a few weeks ago.

These are the first shots I took with the 85mm and a 50mm extension tube in the Zevenbergen forest. My 58th birthday was April 16th, so, forty years! I shot one film in about two hours and got seven good shots. When I shot with the PEN, I usually came home with about 400 images. At first I was a bit fed up because it was the same routine all over again, but after ten shots I got interested and started really searching. Unlike digital there is a very big surprise factor here.

All shots Fuji Superia 800, overexposed two to four stops, scanned on an Epson V750, not that much post processing because the film look is kind of delicate. Well, here they are…

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I hope these shots won’t get boring, I’ll diversify, maybe I’ll use the 200mm macro again and see how my old techniques look on film, but now I enjoy this.

Dirk.

May 122016
 

Blast from the past – Kodachrome 25 revisited

by Jerry Melcher

Brandon and Steve,

Believe it or not I have been playing around with a select set of Kodachrome ASA 25 slides from a series of vacations taken in 1984. The images that pop out at you in a small slide viewer or on the screen from a Leica projector are very difficult to capture in a display monitor much less print.

Little Yosemite_from Glasier Point

So about 10 years ago I began a journey to process my old pics. I cannot tell you how many articles I read, how many types of scanners I’ve tried and services I’ve paid for. On top of that every time a new piece of imaging processing software showed up I had to pull out the set of Keepers and rerun them. Anyway I hope you find these 3 shots from Yosemite enjoyable. I will also provide over the coming months examples from Ireland and England also from 1984.

Three Brothers Yosemite Valley Oct1984 Sentinel Dome Jeffrey Pine 1984

All shots taken with a 1982 Pentax ME Super with 28mm lens. The last two images scanned at West Coast Imaging on a Heidelberg Tango. Kudos to them.

” . . .Momma don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

Jerry Melcher

May 122016
 

Zeiss 85 Batis Review

by Richard Pickup

I have been lucky enough to try out the new Zeiss Batis 85mm lens for Sony FE mount in recent weeks, and the other day it accompanied me on a trip to the Natural History Museum in Oxford. This seemed like a good occasion to use the Batis with some purpose and also to organise my thoughts on the lens so far.

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The Natural History Museum is a fine place to explore photographically. They have a relaxed and inclusive approach to their audience (photographing is not frowned upon as in so many venues now; they provide portable chairs so as to allow folks to sketch the collections; there is no entry fee), and light streams in from the fabulously ornate iron-clad roof. A stunning collection of specimens, including huge dinosaur skeletons and all kinds of stuffed animals, positively begs for a monochrome treatment. (This may just be me though: I can’t get the fabulous scene from the museum in Chris Marker’s film The Jetty out of my mind. Well worth checking out if you don’t know it, as it is made up of a sequence of beautiful stills put together to feel like a movie.)

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As is now well known in the industry, Zeiss has been putting considerable resources into its partnership with Sony and has produced some much lauded lenses for the Sony A7 camera range. I have used the Sony / Zeiss branded 55mm f1.8 quite extensively and it is a superb lens; small, light, built like a tank, and sharp wide open but still full of character (I evidently have a thing for Sonnar designs, see a previous post).

I was in for something of a culture shock when I attached the new Batis 85mm to my mirrorless A7 Mark II. It is not so much a heavy lens (at 475g), as a bulbous one. Immediately one begins to question whether the whole ethos of the mirrorless format has been compromised by adding such a form – inevitably this makes the setup seem much more DSLR-like. My take on this is that there is still a considerable advantage in size and weight over DSLR equivalents, although I expect some will see this differently. I am in the process of investigating 85mm as a focal length, and so cannot say definitively whether I am committed to it yet. I suspect that if I adopt 85mm fully, I could be quite happy accommodating a lens that is a little more bulky than I would like, especially if the results warrant it.

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The sun streamed in as I walked around the Museum and set about the task of putting the Batis through its paces. I attached the lens hood to guard against flare, something which approximately doubles the size of the lens. With my camera strap wrapped around my wrist, I could easily hold the A7II in one hand. When shooting, my left hand had a good deal to hold onto, making the whole setup feel very balanced, and this despite the fact that the camera is visually dwarfed by the lens. The Batis has a sleek and smooth shape with very comfortable ergonomics. It has a rubber focus ring which I really enjoyed using for fine focussing.

This is hardly a full and scientific lens review, however I did endeavour to use a range of apertures in typical shooting situations. The Batis is arguably designed as a portrait lens and f1.8 at close distances produces very smooth out of focus areas and gives nothing away in terms of sharpness at the centre. This is clearly an area where modern lenses now excell: the old advice to stop down an aperture or two to achieve full sharpness is less and less relevant (although generally one will have to pay for this privilege, and the Batis is not a budget lens).

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Utilising the reach of the 85mm and engaging middle apertures brings sharpness across the frame, as one would expect. I noticed some difference in critical sharpness between f9 and f11, so I would be inclined to use f9 as a limit for bigger prints. As ever, there are a number of variables at play here, so I do reserve judgment on this pending further tests and more accurate data. As ever, I found the viewfinder zoom facility on the A7II along with manual focussing to be a boon for getting focus spot on.

Examining my images from the Museum on Lightroom, it was immediately clear that this is a lens with significant edge distortion. Happily, Lightroom has a corrective profile, and so this is not an issue for me. I know that some people object to such apparent flaws in what is after all a high quality prime; my understanding is that lens designers work with a series of trade-offs to produce the qualities they desire for a specific lens. This is a lens with a distinctive (and to my eye pleasant) character, and as I have already mentioned the designers clearly have people shots in mind. I have made a very beautiful colour print of my son using Hanhnemuhle Photorag paper, which clearly show the strengths of this lens for portraiture. If I didn’t already own some top class portrait lenses, I would surely invest in a Batis for this alone.

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In summary, this is a very high quality metal lens which feels robust and has sound ergonomics. While my imagination gravitated towards black and white for my Museum trip, the Batis has a notably ‘Zeiss’ colour signature, with humming blues and intense reddish browns. At f1.8 the lens is already very sharp, and it produces sumptuous out of focus areas. The tonal transitions it produces are attractive to my eye, and while this may be entirely subjective, a little more analog-looking than those produced by some lenses for digital. This is a thoroughly modern lens with some traditional mores: when the camera is switched on a luxurious black and white LED glows a proud ‘ZEISS’, before displaying very accurate depth of field information. A boon to some users I’m sure, but perhaps not me.

As I mentioned above, I am still in the process of investigating the 85mm focal length. What I do now know is that if I settle on it, I will be very hard-pressed to give up the Batis. In any event, I for one am happy to see such a lens being added to the ever increasing options for Sony mirrorless.

 

May 122016
 

HEART OF THE CITY

by Darek Meyer

My last post – the one about Harinezumi – was kind of wink. I`m not a gear person, at least not anymore. I have to admit, there is new camera in my bag now, but I`ll leave the story for next time. Of course, we all need cameras for photography. Some of us are aiming at the latest gadgets; some stick to their favourite cam, and use till it can`t take any pictures.

One thing which I`ve wrote time ago, about photographs which my father took, is still true for me. Photographs are memories. I take them as memories of people and events, I take them also as memories of what I felt this particular time. And I`m not alone with this approach. You can find it all on http://where-were-we.com

What you will see below, the pictures and how they look, is just one of these stories. For over two years I was frequently coming to Jakarta. Usually for couple of days a week; office work, and some meetings with business partners.
During that time, I was living in a hotel in Jakarta city centre. It is located close to the office, but with Jakarta traffic, it means on average half an hour by taxi. Or, twelve minutes walk.

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Many of hotel guests will never use the latter option. These 12 minutes can be very challenging for people, who have never seen Kampong (village), which is located in between. Some could be afraid, some could not send the smell, jump over puddles with unidentified liquids, or being continuously alert to avoid motorbikes.

I took the chance of walking, as it was much faster option. With time, I also started to bring my cameras with me, compacts ones. I have witnessed daily life of people from Kampong in Jakarta centre, especially in the mornings and afternoons. Some walks there, instead of having lunch, also brought additional views. I have watched people making their food, fighting flood, selling small koi, kids growing, cat families ruling the street. And for all of them, and for the only one dog which lives there, I will always be a stranger.

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Attached is just a brief intro to the series. I have made first selection for my page, and you can find it here:

http://darekmeyer.com/HEART.html

One can say, this material is not coherent. It is not meant to be. As I have mentioned, different compact cameras were used. I have developed these pictures almost immediately after taking them. And now, I have just adjusted the size to fit web layout. Some are blurred, some come from my „extreme hard contrast” time. Some I took in a rush, some when carrying travel bag with me, or at least umbrella. I think that altering them now, would change the way they were meant to look like the first time. So, no, I`ll not touch them. It is not the end of „Heart of the city” series. My library has more than 3,000 pictures. Soon, as I find bit more of spare time, I will add more.

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In such moments, hard to say “I hope you enjoy the story”, as this is more personal take than other things I did with my photography. But if I receive even one message, that someone is waiting for continuation of this series, this would mean a lot to me.

Best regards
Darek Meyer

May 092016
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The OLYMPUS PEN F Experience

PEN-F-SLV_left_M75mmF18_BLK_ECG4

By Thomas Ludwig of COSYSPEED

Thanks Steve for the opportunity to share my thoughts about the PEN F on your amazing blog. You are doing super great work and I feel inspired everyday!

It’s a sexy little camera, the PEN F. Many would use it as a street photography camera and that’s the way I wanted to review it. My focus was also on the way it fits into a CAMSLINGER bag and how this combo works on the streets.

JPGs out of cam are extremely good, so I didn’t touch the RAWs at all. All images in this review, except product images, are straight out of cam, shot in Monochrome Mode II with added grain and vignette. That’s the way I would have processed them in Lightroom.

FACES – The OLYMPUS PEN F in Lübeck/Germany

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The PEN F in the Streets

Some days ago I got the chance to test the new Olympus PEN F together with some Olympus prime lenses and I was curious to see how it performs. As many others like Steve have already mentioned all features of the PEN F in their reviews, I will only focus on street photography with the retro stylish micro 43 camera – of course to my personal needs and habits.

When shooting on the streets most important to me is image quality and focusing abilities. And so this review is mainly focused on these points. In fact it ended up being a PEN F / Monochrome Mode review, as I liked the JPGs right out of the cam.

For those of you who don’t like to read long texts: The PEN F is a timeless designed camera, that you will enjoy for many years. In my eyes it is already iconic, just like it’s forefather PEN F from the 70’s. I enjoyed using it every minute especially because of the JPGs that I could use without editing – this gave back HUGE fun to my style of street photography.

 OBSERVED

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The setup

Olympus PEN F | Olympus 12mm/F2 | Olympus 17mm/F1.8 | Olympus 45mm/F1.8 | Spare Battery | Olympus Macro Converter

All packed in a CAMSLINGER 160 with STUFFBAG 30

CAMSLINGER 160 and PEN F

003 CAMSLINGER 160 and PEN F

BEAUTIFUL GRAIN and NICE LOOK – All images in this review are shot in Monochrome Mode II with Grain and Vigenette added. This was made all in cam.

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TIRE and WOOD
NICE DETAILS and RICH TONALITY – The new sensor in the PEN F delivers plenty of detail. Tonality of the Out Of Cam JPGs is simply great!

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Image Quality

Actually I had only two full days of street shooting with the little Oly. So I went to Lübeck in my neighborhood, a city next to Hamburg/Germany. I shot in RAW and JPG, while for JPG I used the Monochrome II filter, added some vignette and grain – all IN cam which is absolutely great. I would have converted the RAWs this way in Lightroom and so I was keen to see how the JPGs would look like on the screen of my PC. And they looked great! That great, that I even didn’t touch the RAWs. So all the images in this review are out of cam without ANY editing. To me this worked 100% to my taste. High ISO? This is an overrated point IMHO, nevertheless the PEN F delivers very well images up to ISO 3200 and if used in Monochrome Mode with Grain, you can go higher without any problems.

Besides the cool design of the cam this is maybe the strongest point of the PEN F in my opinion – beeing free of editing and post processing and getting what I want right out of the cam.

SOMEDAY

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CHURCH

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OUT OF THE LIGHT

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SPRING

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TUNNEL

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Handling

The PEN F handles very nicely. Due to a missing grip, it is maybe not as comfortable to hold as a SONY a6000 or LUMIX GX8, but there’s an optional grip available if you need it. To me it was absolutely fine. Especially because the PEN F feels very premium and it’s a pleasure just to hold it in your hand. All the dials feel durable and solidly made. The UI with so many physical controls needs some time to get used to, but as soon as you know where all functions are, it makes photographing much easier.

The design reminescense to the original PEN F from the 70ies is especially visible with the silver PEN F model. Look at these lovely curves and lines!

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Focusing in the streets

I’m using mostly three focus methods when in the streets:

#1 – Single point auto focus
#2 – Continuous auto focus with subject tracking
#3 – Hyperfocal focusing

#1 – Single point auto focus

The auto focus of modern micro 43 cameras is so quick, that to focus and to trigger is almost one process. And so I was using single point auto focus most of the time and with moving subjects I had about 95% in focus, even when using the little 17mm/F1.8 wide open. The focus of the PEN F is insanely quick and accurate in single point mode. To me there was nothing left to desire.

WHAT DO YOU THINK – Single Point Auto Focus works amazingly quick and accurate

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#2 – Continuous auto focus with subject tracking

Actually this method seems to be the most charming. Set your focus point and the cam will track it until you press the shutter. However continuous auto focus with subject tracking turned out to be not very effective on the PEN F. I’d say that 50% of my shots were out of focus. I guess this is a firmware problem and can hopefully be fixed in the future. However focus is not all!

WELCOME TO THE GYM – Not in focus but I like it anyway

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#3 – Hyperfocal focusing

Set a distance in manual focus mode and just trigger, when you think your subject is in the frame as you like it. Sounds easy but in fact hyperfocal focusing is tricky if you like to get some DOF. The more you open the aperture, the thinner is the in focus area. The day in Lübeck all images where more or less out of focus, when using this method because I was shooting wide open all the time. If set to F10 I’d say 99% would have been in focus. I know now, that I have to improve my skills :-)

The OLYMPUS 17/1.8 and 12/2.0 are very well suited to this focusing method, as they have a manual mode with distance scale!

ROSARY, MISHABA or MALA – Hyperfocal focusing wide open is difficult

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The PEN F in a CAMSLINGER

A CAMSLINGER bag is all about quick, single-handed operation and designed to wear at the hip. I fixed the included FINGERCAMSTRAP to the cam and was able to grab the PEN F within a second out of my little bag. But the On/Off switch is on the left side of the PEN F and so one needs always a second-hand to turn it on. As soon as you have a coffee in your left hand or fix yourself while standing in a shaking subway with one hand, then you could of course access and draw the PEN F quickly out of the CAMSLINGER, but not take a photo. So I never switched the cam off and had it always in stand-by in my CAMSLINGER. This may cost a bit of battery power, but fixed my little problem easily.

CAMSLINGER 160 and PEN F 015 CAMSLINGER 160 and PEN F (1)

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Carrying the PEN F and gear in a CAMSLINGER at the hip, is extremely comfortable. As your upper body is free of belts and straps, your neck will never hurt. In fact it is almost as quick to grab your cam, as it would be with a sling strap – but the PEN F was always protected, when not in use. I prefered to use the slimmer CAMSLINGER 160 then the more space offering CAMSLINGER Streetomatic. The 160 is just perfect for rangefinder styled cameras like the PEN F.

THOMAS IN LÜBECK WITH CAMSLINGER AND PEN F

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Conclusion

The PEN F is a marvelous piece of camera design and delivers stunning images. It’s technology is up-to-date and will be for many years. I’m hoping a firmware update will lift the tracking abilities on the professional level of the OLYMPUS EM-1, because this is a feature that makes street photography much easier.

The possibility to get final results right out of the cam is pretty cool and gives a further kick to the fun I had with the PEN F. So just go out, shoot and come back with images that are simply ready – to some this is might be a game changing benefit!

The PEN F is one of these rare cameras that one will use for many years and so a good medicine against G.A.S. :-). The timeless design and great build qualty makes a camera that is simply gorgeous! If you are looking for a street photography camera – go for the PEN F!

 

Reference: COSYSPEED

B&H PHOTO: COSYSPEED BAGS

FROM STEVE: Thanks Thomas! Many of you may not realize I met Thomas in Las Vegas a couple of years back where we shot a Street Shooting video. Thomas is an amazing man and he has a great passion for photography, that was very clear when we met. Below is the video we shot while there, was a great memory I will never forget.

 

May 062016
 

Film Friday: Paris ‘Les Halles’ in 1962′

By Dierk Topp

Hi Steve and Brandon,  in 1962 I made my first trip to Paris. At that time I used an Edixa Reflex with Kodak TRI X for my photographs.  I visited ‘Les Halles’, at that time an incredible market in the center of Paris. This market does not exist any more, Paris built a new one.

Here are four images from that visit. I never saw something like this before.

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

Edixa Reflex, Kodak TRI X

And just for fun the last image is the very first image, that I ever made. I made it with the Agfa Box of my mother during vacation with my school class in 1955 on Perutz film. To be honest, it is ma second photograph, the first one on this roll is just to bad

hörnum 1955

hörnum 1955

 

my images are here at flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/

Digitized with Sony A6000 with enlarging lens on a bellows and Nissin Di700A TTL flash. Works perfect!

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