Sep 092014
 

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Shooting with Film: My Rolleiflex Hy6 Mod 2 Experience

By Steve Huff

I will admit it right up front. I never ever shoot film anymore. As more time goes on, digital technology for imaging is getting better and better. Companies like Sony, Olympus and yes, EVEN LEICA are pushing the envelope in many ways from the groundbreaking Sony A7 series to the Olympus OMD series to the Leica Monochrom (A camera no other company dared to even attempt). Digital is starting to mature and we can do things today with digital technology that was not even imaginable back in the glory days of film. For example, can I shoot film at ISO 102,000 ISO and get a results I can use in a pinch? No way. Can a camera such as the Hy6, when shooting film,  give me the convenience of digital? NO WAY, never.

So then, why on earth would I even use this camera and shoot film? I call it romance, beauty, soul, and most of the things that digital usually does not get right. Analog is a different beast than digital in almost every way. The colors, the true B&W, the grain, the contrast and depth and when talking about Medium Format we are talking about a format that also has some magic associated with it.

My fave film of all time, Kodak Portra 160 – click for larger

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Even so, the Rolleiflex Hy6, with a lens and film back and finder will set you back close to $10k. Yes, $10,000. With that in mind, remember than a Leica Monochrom camera with a decent lens will also set you back about $10k and it will only shoot B&W digital in the 35mm format. The Rollei can do B&W film, color film, and even digital if you splurge for a nice digital back. Add to that the size of the film. You will get much more “soul” with the MF rig over any 35mm rig. So price wise, it is up there with the other Niche products in the imaging world. Leica S at $30k, the Leica M at $8k, the Leica MM at $8k, all without lenses. So taking that into consideration, the price of the Rolleiflex Hy6 is about right. Especially considering that it is probably the most versatile Medium Format film/Digital camera made to date. It’s a true beauty in use and with its auto focus capabilities it was shooting faster than the Sigma DP Quattro I had on hand at the same time.

Using Ilford HP5 film with the Rolleiflex – click for larger 

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In Use

This write-up is meant to be a short article about my time with the camera, not in any way a tech review. I find most of those boring anyway so instead I just want to chat about how I felt using the camera, the costs involved with it and the experience of shooting film again. The Hy6 Mod 2 is a large camera, especially when coming from 35mm cameras such as the Sony’s, the Leica’s and the Olympus’s of the world. The Hy6 is not a camera you will casually just carry around. It has a purpose, a meaning, a job to do. A camera such as this with the 80mm lens is really a portrait shooters dream camera. Auto Focus which is pretty fast and accurate (for MF) and a great ergonomic layout with a nice grip. The meter inside the eye level finder worked great as well. When I went out with the Hy6 I felt like I was a serious shooter and I got looks thrown at me like “what the hell is that guy shooting with”. It’s an impressive beast for sure but also a very functional beast.

The last time I shot medium format was when I reviewed the Fuji 670, and I adored that camera. It was slim, large and a true rangefinder. But for some reason, it was a totally different experience that shooting the Rolleiflex. It was lighter, and slower in use. It did not feel nearly as substantial in the build nor was it as bulletproof. The Hy6 is such a camera. It is built to a high standard, has all controls easily accessible and is a true photographers camera. It’s just large and a bit heavy, though nothing like the old school MF cameras of the 80’s which were like metal back-breaking bricks.

1st shot with HP5

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and this one was in near darkness with Delta 3200 film – I LOVE Delta 3200 and always have

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One thing that I thought would limit me when using this camera was LIGHT. With film, you have to use the film you have loaded and when I had Portra 160 loaded, any low light scenario was ruled out. With digital, you can go into any light and adjust your ISO settings in the camera. Easy. With film, you have to change your film when you want different sensitivity. Lucky for me, just as I finished up my roll of HP5, which is an ISO 400 film, I loaded in my Delta 3200 (which is an ISO 3200 film) and was able to shoot the image able in near darkness, even with the 2.8 aperture of the 80mm lens attached to the Hy6. The room was an old solitary confinement prison room from the old historic Yuma Territorial Prison. It smelled of urine, was creepy as hell and Debby was not too cozy inside. I asked her to kneel down and give me her serious face for a dark, moody but nice image. I thought the shot would be blurred or exposed wrong but when the scans came back from the lab I was very happy with the results from 95% of the images I shot.

Overall, when using the Hy6 I LOVED it and had a great time with it. It fit in one of my Wotancraft bags by itself and came out when I wanted a shot that I knew would be nice.

Again with Portra 160 out in Sedona (BTW, we have 2 seats left for the southwest workshop HERE and we will be in Sedona for this trip)

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The Downsides to a camera like the Hy6

There are downsides to the Hy6 but image quality is not one of them. For me, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the camera. I was able to shoot with it for two weeks and within that time frame I shot 5 rolls of medium format film, 12 exposures each. Out of those images only two had issues that were my fault. The rests were perfect, spot on with metering and the lens performed as it should. But with medium format film one has to consider the costs involved of using it. For me, 5 rolls of film (purchased from Amazon), processing at my local lab as well as scans from my local lab (low res) cost me around $106. So basically, for 60 images it cost me over $100. Sure, many will say “I process my own film” and others will say “I scan my own film”. Even so, processing color film is not something many people do these days. Even if you do your own, you still have to buy the film and buy the chemicals and materials needed to process your own. Then you need to buy a nice scanner. Then you need the hours upon hours it takes to scan and do your own tweaks. It’s expensive and time-consuming.

So for anyone considering film these days, think about the costs involved is using a lab, or the time involved if doing it yourself. As for me, I have NO spare time these days to do any processing or scanning so a lab was my only choice. Shooting 60 images on my digital would cost me nothing so when really looking at it in this light, digital is a bargain :) You still will not get that Analog tangible quality..the old school richness and feel, the reach out and touch it tonality and oh so delicious color. You will get close, and in many case you will get sharper and more details with digital but nothing can replicate the look of Medium Format film.

I see the Hy6 as a camera I would use a few times per year, for special occasions or when I wanted the 6X6 square format MF look. If this camera was $15k with a digital back, I would be all over it and would give up a Leica set to get it. But adding a digital back to this bad big will set you back around $30k and up. This is in addition to the camera cost itself!

So while there are loads of upsides to a camera like this, there are also downsides, depending on what you want to do with it and how much you would want to shoot. There is also no instant gratification with film. It took my lab a week to process and scan.

HP5 ISO 400 film

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ISO 160 Portra

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Wrapping it up

I sent back the Hy6 to Rolleiflex last week and wish I had it for one more week as I am going to shoot some Senior portraits next week. Would have been cool to do some creative shots with some nice film but I did not fink of it at the time. That right there is one of the occasions I would have loved to use this kind of camera for. They are few and far between for me but after browsing my images with this camera, on film, I have to say there is something special about them, even with silly subjects such as broken glass or an old abandoned building. I am a sucker for the square format and when I use it on digital as my aspect ratio it is never the same as a frame of Medium Format 6X6 film.

I really enjoyed the Rolleiflex and if it came inat $3500 I would buy one. At $10k, for me, it is a no go as I would not use it enough but for many this may be just what the doctor ordered. If you want medium format quality in a very versatile camera body that can do film or digital, that can shoot with autofocus and act like any modern-day camera and you do not mind shooting film with its costs and time involved, then the Hy6 may be just what you are looking for. For me, I would buy this over something like a Leica S camera because it is more versatile and I like the design better. With the Hy6 I can do film or digital and with a name like Rolleiflex, I would be shooting with a legend. The Hy6 also acts like any modern-day camera in regards to controls, settings, etc. It is all there on the side of the camera. Super easy to pick up and shoot. I did not even need the manual> i just loaded it, shot it, and it was all super easy without any confusion whatsoever. No long digital menus to drag through, just set it, forget it! Awesome.

You can buy the camera without a lens for $7900 at B&H Photo. They also have the accessories and digital backs for the camera. 

I have shot with only four medium format cameras in my life but this is my hands down favorite to date. If I was buying a MF camera today, this would be it.

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Sep 062014
 

Just for fun: Rolleiflex Hy6 using film vs The Sigma DP Quattro

To those who have shot or do shoot Medium Format film or digital, you know the differences between those files and your run of the mill full frame of APS-C files. With Medium Format film or digital you get an amazing depth, richness and tangible quality to the files and photos whether that is in print or on screen.

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Many times people will say that the Sigma DP series has a “Medium Format” quality but that can be a little misleading. For example, the latest and greatest Sigma DP Quattro was recently in my hands for 3 weeks to review. I reviewed it HERE and even I mentioned it had a medium format look and feel. But I was going by memory as it has been 4 years since I have shot a Medium Format camera (which I reviewed HERE).

Recently I had the pleasure of shooting with a Rolleiflex Hy6 Mod 2 camera and wow, that was quite the experience. From shooting, to feel, to control, to auto focus to QUALITY, this is the best MF camera I have ever shot with or even handled. It should be for $10k with lens and film back but the Rollei just may be the coolest medium format camera made today. At $10k it comes with a 6X6 film back but you can also add a digital back and have one bad ass setup.

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I shot 5 rolls through the Hy6 for my review period and will post that within a week but for now I wanted to show two shots…one from the Rollei Hy6 using Portra 160 film and the 2nd with the Quattro. These are NOT meant to be technical comparison shots, but rather a look at the rendering of each. The Rollei is a low res lab scan and the Sigma is a resized file converted to JPEG. Even so, the depth, the richness and the magical quality is all there in the Medium Format shot and the Sigma appears off in color and lacks the depth and richness that the film shot provides.

The only area where the Sigma is really “medium format like” to me is in sharpness and detail, which it has loads of. But even with that, I prefer the MF shot by far. Take a look below and see for yourself. The MF shot was with an 80mm lens at f/2.8. The Sigma shot was also at 2.8 using the built in lens of the Quattro and shot in 1X1 mode to simulate 6X6. After looking at them side by side it appears digital still has a load of room for improvement in the quiet balance area. Film just nails it it seems. Then again, how long as film been around? Much longer than digital! I did not get a digital back to test with the Rollei but shooting it with film was a treat, even though a pricey one (cost of purchasing 5 rolls plus process and low res scan = $100 for 60 images). The ROllei auto focused FASTER than the Sigma by a little bit.

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The Rolleiflex Hy6 Mod 2 with the 80mm 2.8 lens and Portra 160 film – low res lab scan. This is best appreciated on a large and well calibrated display. This one has the MF look and soul. Not uber sharp but nice color, great depth and contrast is about perfect.

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Now the Sigma Quattro at f/2.8 – the color is off (a yellow tinge and there is much more DOF even using the same 2.8 aperture. It looks digital (and it is of course) and more flat but very sharp. 

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Aug 182014
 

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Got IQ? The Sigma DP2 Quattro Review. 

Here I am again with yet another Sigma DP body. This time, the newest super funky DP2 Quattro model. I have never seen ANYTHING quite like the design of this Quattro and after using it and shooting with it I can state up front that I actually adore the style and design. For my hands, it feels superb when out shooting and when held correctly it really is easy to shoot with, and a joy. The last time I was with a Sigma camera it was when I reviewed the DP2 Merrill. I loved the Merrill for its amazing image quality, which was the best I have seen in any small camera. Very much like Medium Format and in some ways even better.  Now the Quattro has taken that image quality, improved the AF speed and other aspects and then jammed it into an all new body that is worthy of a whole conversation in itself.

Out of camera JPEG of my Fiancee’ Debby. This is complete OOC. Just resized to 1800 pixels wide and no sharpening. You can see the larger size if you click the image. For me, this is gorgeous out of camera color and IQ. From detail to color to bokeh. It looks fabulous. 

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So what is the Quattro?

The Sigma DP2 Quattro is a super funky designed camera that houses a new Foveon sensor and it will give you some of the best image quality you have ever seen, period. Even when shooting JPEGS. IN fact, I much preferred shooting the enhanced resolution JPEG’s over shooting RAW as shooting RAW is a process. Why you ask? Well, shooting RAW means you have to process those files in the Sigma Slow Photo Pro software as the files from the Foveon chip are not compatible with any other software. This means, no using lightroom for your Sigma DP2 files.

The Quattro has a 29MP Foveon X3 Quattro CMOS image sensor which will give you 5424X3616 files. The color and detail in these files is absolutely beautiful. Some of the best I have ever seen.

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The Quattro has a unique design as well and does not look like any other camera I have seen or used. It is long, oddball and with a strange reverse grip. When I first held it I was saying “OH NO! What have they done? The grip does not feel right”!. Then after  few hours of use I was saying “This feels great! Shooting with two hands feels natural and easy”.

My Quattro Video Overview

Basically, the design..while odd..is very effective for me. I have small hands but the camera fits me well and the buttons and dials are easily within reach.

Image quality is through the roof and when browsing over images I took, which were mainly quick snapshots, I was continually blown away by the complete lack of adjusting the photos. No need for changing or adjusting color, no need to sharpen, no need to fix exposure and no need to change ANYTHING. Out of camera JPEGS were just so pleasing with a rich file and crisp 3D feeling images. The Quattro, IMO, offers the most pleasing IQ from any DP camera to date though I have found the Dynamic Range to be on the lower side when compared to other cameras like the E-M1, A7, etc. When you blow a highlight you will not be able to bring back the detail if it is severely blown.

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The lens is a 30mm f/2.8 that gives us the equivalent of a 40mm 2.8 with the APS-C sized sensor. The lens is sharp and with great color and rendering. The Bokeh is smooth and pleasing and there is plenty of detail to be found here. No complaints on the lens at all.

Build quality is also fantastic and a step up from the previous versions. It feels solid and well made but I do have one major complaint. I feel it is a big one. The door that houses the SD card is not a door at all but a rubber flap that has to be pulled out and moved to the side to access the SD card. Over time this rubber will break off and this will mean that the SD card compartment will be exposed to the elements of dust, dirt and moisture. Horrible design on the SD card part. Sigma should actually fix this in the current production and replace it with a legit door. Not sure who designed that or who approved of it but it is the worst design SD card compartment cover I have seen.

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The Sigma is also missing any kind of EVF or OVF and the LCD does not tilt or swivel. If Sigma would have added these two things they would have had a serious camera that would be tough to pass up for those who love their image quality. The brand spanking new Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor is quite a bit different from the previous Foveon sensor due to a new top layer with a higher res. This should now give more detailed results with faster image processing and overall speed. So Sigma has reworked their sensor tech and the 29MP Quattro is said to give the results and resolution of a 39 MP normal sensor. Pretty cool.

Here is what Sigma says about their creation:

“Unique and without peer among image sensors, the Foveon direct image sensor is similar to traditional color film in that its multiple layers capture all of the information that visible light transmits. Vertical color separation technology produces incredibly rich color gradations, which in turn make possible texture and expressive power that are immediately apparent to the eye. Even when you are photographing an object with a single color, the sensor captures the full gradation perfectly, with no discordant jumps between lighter and darker areas. Proof that capturing color accurately one pixel at a time really makes a difference, these perfect gradations are at the heart of what we call “full-bodied image quality.”

While delivering this rich, colorful, ultra-high resolution that optimally replicates what you see in the real world, the new dp offers image files of a reasonable size in an easy-to-process format. To achieve this combination, we thoroughly rethought and redesigned every aspect of the camera, including the sensor, engine, lens, body, and interior layout. The result is a camera that carries on the dp tradition and gives you unprecedented image quality.

To a radical degree, the new-generation dp series embodies SIGMA’s philosophy of creating cameras that produce works of art. Featuring the highest level of fundamental performance, this series unites artistic expression and daily experience as no other cameras can.”

As it stands, the camera produces some of the most gorgeous colors and files I have seen…comparable to real medium format files but are the weaknesses enough to put you off from buying it? Let us take a look at everything in a little bit more detail.

My son Brandon and my Nephew John while visiting the domes of Casa Grande, AZ. Sigma Sp2 Quattro at 2.8. This is from RAW. Click it for larger!

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The Auto Focus speed of the Quattro

With the DP2 Merrill the AF speed is what killed it for me. Even the write times to the card were horrible. I wanted to love the DP2 Merrill and buy one as I started to get addicted to the image quality. At the end of the day I could not do it as when it launched it was $999 and for me to spend a grand I need a camera that will not frustrate the hell out of me to get a shot. The DP2 Merrill with its quirks and annoyances put me off from buying one, even at the current price of $699. It is just too slow and doesn’t feel right in the hand to me. You can read my review of that camera HERE.

With the Quattro I had hoped that Sigma improved the Auto Focus speed. If not, it would be the same thing for me and the design would not have saved it.

After shooting the Quattro in many different conditions I have found the AF to be much better this time around but still on the slow side of the tracks. It will not compete in AF speed with the Olympus E-M1 or E-P5, the Fuji X-T1 or the Nikon 1 series. It is nowhere near DSLR Focus speeds either, but it is much better than the old DP2 Merrill. The camera is full of flaws but IQ is not one of them.

When shooting in decent light it is quick enough to get a grab shot though not fast enough to catch a super quick moment. Even with the speed increase, which also is seen in write times, it does not even come close to making the Quattro any sort of action camera. I still say that this camera is best for static subjects. Portraits, scenes, landscapes, urban decay, etc. This is where the camera will excel. I have found the images to have a medium format feel in color and details. In fact, the IQ is so special with this camera that I feel the speed increases seen, while still slow, make the camera worth a purchase for those who value superb color and IQ. For portraits this camera just gets it right and if used from ISO 100-800 you will not be let down by the IQ. If coming from a Merrill of even older DP2 you will find the speed increases very welcome indeed. Just do not expect a speed demon, as it is in NO WAY a speedy camera in operation.

The next three images..all OOC JPEG

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What the DP2 Quattro is missing, in my opinion

While I have been enjoying my time with the little Quattro I have been wishing that it has a few things that it does not, and if it did, it would make it complete IMO. For one, I love the fact that it is so simple. It is a device built for one thing, all out image quality without any stress of color, sharpness or quality. In this regard, it just works. Image after image, even of plain old mundane subjects looked superb, reminding me of the old Leica M9 in many ways with the crisp yet pleasing details and slide like film color. Add in some medium format smoothness and you have a camera that REALLY delivers in the IQ department. I know I said this already but for me, the IQ is almost worth the asking price alone here. Add in the funky design (which I love) and the ease of use and you have a real camera that photo geeks and enthusiasts will really enjoy when shooting in good light.

But the DP2 is not perfect, far from it.

For starters, there is no EVF  here. An EVF embedded into the body would have just added so much to the experience. When out in bright light the LCD gets hard to see and framing your shot is basically not possible. It turns into a guessing game for everything. An EVF would have solved this and made it more enjoyable to shoot. Sigma is releasing an OVF (Optical View Finder) for the Quattro but there are issues to using an OVF with a digital camera.  For starters, let’s say you shot with the LCD off (which is as easy as a button press away) and wanted to frame with the OVF. You will not get an exact framing nor will you know where the camera focused. If you want precise focus you will need to use the LCD. An EVF would have been perfect.

Also, the LCD does not swivel and while I appreciate this being done to keep clean lines and save on thickness, it hurts the usability because without the EVF or a tilt LCD it takes away points for versatility. Then we have the shoddy high ISO performance. I have been using the Sony A7s as my main camera for months now and have become quite spoiled with the ability to shoot anywhere and at anytime. With the DP2 Quattro forget low light interior shots or ISO above 800. After ISO 800 the noise gets nasty and even with color I would prefer to stop at ISO 400. This is one area where the Foveon sensors just have not been able to improve upon. At base ISO and up to 400 the file quality is outstanding in color or B&W. After 400-800 you will want to go B&W only, and yes, you can get good results at ISO 3200 with B&W. OOC B&W mode looks great.

So while the IQ and design is beautiful (for me and my tastes) the camera still lacks due to not having an EVF, swivel LCD and not so great high ISO performance.

With that out-of-the-way, if one wants a camera for certain subjects like portraits, landscape or scenic type of stuff then the Quattro will deliver better than almost any other camera. I feel it has better IQ than the Leica M9 that came in at $7k. From color to detail, it is stupendous. If we treat it like a “Mini Medium Format” then it is understandable  that it is lacking in many ways but up there with the best of the best in other ways.

As long as you know what you are getting with the Quattro then it is highly unlikely that you will be disappointed with it. I recently saw a YouTube video review of this camera and the guy concluded with “It’s a piece of crap”. I have never seen such a horrible review as the guy had no idea how to use it to its potential. The Quattro is far from a piece of crap and is highly capable when it comes to making/creating an image. From the color to the detail to the rich file. You just have to realize what it is and what it is not!

The NONO’s: No action shots, no low light interior or night shots, no easy framing in harsh sun. Battery life is below average but camera comes with two of them.

The WOW’s!: Gorgeous MF like IQ & color, unique design and simple menu setup. OOC JPEGS look fantastic.

There more OOC JPEGS…

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The Shooting experience with the Quattro

The DP2 Quattro, as previously stated, is a unique design. I am a HUGE fan of those companies that go outside of the box when it does to design and features. I love to see companies push the envelope and do or try things that no one else does. When I saw the design of the Quattro before it was released I was very excited about it because it was something different from the normal ho hum camera shape. I found the DP2 Merrill to have an awful body design. The Quattro, while odd at first while holding it soon becomes comfy and natural. I had zero issues using the body, holding the body or controlling the camera. The magnesium alloy body feels solid and secure and everything is top quality (besides the dumb rubber SD card cover).

Brandon getting the shot with his Diana camera. OOC JPEG. Blown highlights outside in the sun. 

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Using Auto Focus with the Quattro is a much nicer experience over the DP2 Merrill, which was borderline unusable for most situations. At least now we have a somewhat snappy AF and while it will hunt in low light, it is not bad at all. I expected worse, so it exceeded my expectations in the Auto Focus speed department. The Quattro does not do the fancy tricks that other cameras do. Video? Nope. Fancy built-in effects? Nope. No panorama, no smile detect, etc. It is a simple camera with a simple design and button layout.

The Menu system is superb. Clean, elegant and easy to browse. I wish all were like this. It reminds me of a Leica menu in its simplicity and the quick menu is so clean, so easy to navigate and make changes. I love it.

When I washout shooting with the DP2 Quattro I always loved taking it out of my bag to shoot and I even had a few people ask me what it was I was taking pictures with. It is a conversation starter and stare getter for sure, so forget about being stealth with the Quattro. Never once did I have an issue with anything and it always delivered the goods. I had a wonderful time shooting with it unlike the previous DP2 Merrill.

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It’s all in the details

Even when shooting JPEG you can see the immense detail in the image. Below are three images with 100% crops embedded. You must click the image to see it with the crop. Remember, these are from JPEG!

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High ISO Test and Crops

The Sigma DP2 Quattro, or any DP camera for that matter is NOT a camera made for low light shooting. In fact, for best IQ keep this camera set to ISO 100-400 and no more than that. Yes, very low on the ISO scale but there are always trade offs as there are no perfect cameras. The DP2 Quattro is a camera to pull out of the bag when there is good light available. Then it will reward you with beautiful colors and results.

I am posting a few high ISO files below starting with base ISO 100. I them move on to 400, 800. 1600, 3200 and 6400. The best are 100 and 400 but see for yourself. Once you get to ISO 1600 problems start to creep in including odd color shifts and reduced DR. Stick from 100-800 and you will be just fine.

For best viewing experience, right-click and open each image in a new window. These are full size files from the camera, OOC JPEG

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JPEG vs RAW comparison

I have found that shooting the Quattro in JPEG  to be quite good. In fact, with all of the hassles of processing the RAW files of the DP2 Quattro I would just shoot JPEG for 95% of what I shoot. If I was shooting something very special that I was going to print large t hen I would process the RAW file for sure. Below are two images, one out of camera JPEG and one processed from RAW.

JPEG is up top, RAW underneath. Right click and open in a new window to see the files in their full size. 

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Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Outstanding Medium Format image quality!
  • Unique design and shape that works well for my hands
  • Conversation starter
  • Detail, color and 3D feel is all here
  • Camera ships with two batteries and full charger
  • 30mm f/2.8 lens is sharp corner to corner
  • Sigma’s best DP to date
  • Faster Af and processing over previous DP cameras
  • Great JPEG engine
  • Super JPEG size:  7,680×5,120
  • Superb for B&W shooting
  • OVF is available for those that want one
  • Good Dynamic Range up to ISO 800
  • Menu system is simple, clean and elegant
  • Most Unique camera of 2014!
  • IQ puts most other cameras to shame…really.

Cons

  • Still slow to AF compared to other (non DP) cameras
  • No swivel LCD
  • Must get exposure correct as it is tough to recover highlights
  • SD Card rubber “door” will break eventually
  • No kind of EVF even possible
  • Shape may be trouble for some
  • Battery life is not the best, sucks down quick.
  • Fixed lens means only 40mm equivalent
  • Limited ISO use, best from 100-400
  • Dynamic Range suffers after ISO 800+
  • RAW files can only be opened and processed by Sigma Software, which is SLOW as molasses.

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Who is this camera for?

The Sigma DP2 Quattro is a camera for camera pros, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. It is not a P&S for a new camera buyer or for someone without any knowledge of how a camera works. It is for those who crave detail, rich color and unreal micro contrast. It is for those who want a Medium Format look and feel in a camera that is much smaller and lighter, as well as cheaper. It is a camera for portraits, landscapes or still life. It is not for someone who wants to shoot running kids inside the house. No way, no how. If you shoot outdoor scenes, landscape or people and you want a camera that will deliver some of the most beautiful files you have seen, the this may be your camera. I find it works great as a 2nd camera for special situations or those moments when something like this will work for you.

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Final Word

As I sit here and think about my time with the DP2 Quattro I am extremely pleased and happy with the image quality. It exceeded every expectation and beats out some much more expensive cameras when shooting in the iSO 100-400 range. For IQ, this is one of those camera that just scream out with it. It doesn’t get better in IQ even in the 3K range! It was reminding me of such cameras as the Leica M9, Sony RX1R and even a few Medium Format cameras when it comes to IQ. That is some pretty impressive company, especially when you consider that the camera sells for $999. Well under the others I mentioned.

But will the IQ be enough for most of you who are in the market for a new camera? Probably not. The Sigma DP Quattro would not make for a good “one camera” to own because it limits your shooting to daytime or good light, ISO 100-800 for color shooting and it does not offer an EVF or swivel LCD. The Battery life is tough (but it does ship with two) and the camera does not do video or the gimmicky tricks that some other cameras do so well.

The DP Quattro is about one thing and one thing only…making memories in decent light with the best quality possible in this size and format for under $1000.

The Auto Focus has improved greatly from the DP2 Merrill I tested but it is still lacking in speed when compared to other cameras. I never found it unusable or missing the shot, not at all, but again…it is only good for still shots, NOT action or moving subjects and in low light it slows down and hunts. The DP2 Quattro has the all new sensor that delivers faster speed and better performance across the board and the 29 MP Foveon sensor is said to give the same results as a standard 39MP sensor. I would not argue that point. The battery life has improved from the Merril’s 50-60 shots per charge and now I can get about 120-140 shots per charge The two batteries supplied should be good for a day of shooting as long as you are not a speed demon machine gun shooter (if so, this is NOT your camera).

Shooting the Quattro is something you will either LOVE or HATE. If you can get along with the funkytown design then you will enjoy shooting with the Quattro. If you find the grip odd or off, then forget it.

Me, I love the design. I think it is the loveliest camera design of 2014.

So will I buy one? When B&H Photo sent me this camera to review I assumed I would “like” it but not “love” it. Well, I fell hard for the special image quality which does have some magic embedded in it. I also enjoyed the faster AF and write times and beefier design. I hate the flimsy rubber SD card “door” but overall enjoyed my time with the camera. I feel it is worth the $999 if you are after IQ for landscapes or portraits and as a 2nd camera for those times when you want the Foveon Look. So I have to ask myself if I would use it enough. I have a Leica, I have a Sony A7s and still have an Olympus E-M1 lying around. Do I need this one? NO, not at all. Do I want it? Sure, I would love to own it just for the IQ, color and design. I feel one day this camera will sit in a museum for its unique yet oddball design! It may be a flop sales wise but it sure is unique ;)

So would I buy one? Yes indeed, if I had the spare $1k to spend, without hesitation. If I can save some cash I may just go for it. I passed on all previous DP models but this one is my favorite without question. I can not image ANYONE being disappointed with the image quality. Just beware that you will need light because after ISO 400 or 800 the IQ degrades fast.

I would love to test this camera and the upcoming DP1 (28mm equivalent)  during my upcoming Southwest workshop as it would create some breathtaking images I am sure. I may have to buy one just for that trip :)

WHEN YOU SIT AND THINK ABOUT IT…the Sigma DP Quattro beats the Leica M 240, Sony A7 and others for Image Quality, has Auto Focus (the Leica does not) and comes in at $6k less (than the Leica) but includes a lens where the Leica does not. When you look at it in this way then it is a no brainer and worth the cost if you value high image quality above all. Just be ready for what this camera does NOT do well (low light, action, etc).

Overall it gets a recommendation from me, and a high one..but only if your main concern is image quality and you do not need a camera for low light or for fast moving subjects.

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Where to Buy

The Sigma DP2 Quattro is available at the links below from my recommended dealers:

B&H Photo – You can see or buy the Dp2 Quattro at B&H Photo HERE

Amazon – Buy the Quattro at Amazon by using my link HERE

Outside the USA? Use my Amazon UK, Germany and Canada links HERE.

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 5 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple. 

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

Aug 082014
 

David Hockney, a Rolleiflex and The Road To Prescott

By Huss Hardan

Hey Steve and Brandon. As always, thanks for providing such a great forum.

A few years ago I was watching a tv show on the famous British painter David Hockney. One always wonders what goes through the mind of such an artist, the process and how they envisage the image. What struck me was one scene where he was walking down a grey, damp, almost monochromatic country lane. And describing the explosions of colours everywhere.

I couldn’t see it, but then they showed a painting of what he had described and it was stunning. It was almost like he was looking at a negative film image. That taught me a lesson – never just look at a scene – imagine what that scene could be if you just let loose your color palette.

Fast forward to the present time. I was taking a long weekend trip from Venice Beach, California to visit a friend in Prescott, Arizona. It would be good to get out-of-town and away from the crowds, but I wasn’t prepared for the emptiness, nor the heat! Stepping out of the Jeep into the searing brightness was an experience. Initially everything looked bleached out and colourless. But as my eyes adjusted, colours began to saturate and condense.

A Rolleiflex 2.8E was used with polarizing and warming filters to create the imagined scene.. The film was expired Kodak E100G from my buddy Jim at Studio3 in Portland, Oregon.
http://www.studio3.com/

Peace out
Huss

husshardan.com

Along the way

Evening cloudburst

Into the valley

Passmore Gas and Propane

Stop

Upon an azure sky

Jul 222014
 

The new Hasselblad CFV-50c CMOS Digital Back. 

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The new CFV-50c from Hasselblad. A 50 MP CMOS digital back with ISO up to 6400 for the iconic V system. Hasselblad is promising amazing IQ and colors in any light, which is unheard of when it comes to Medium Format as they have always been very limited in this area. While not cheap, the new CFV-50c is not nearly as expensive as I expected it to be, coming in at $14,900 US. Now yes, that is insanely expensive but I expected Hasselblad to come in with this at $25,000. With their Stellar and Lunar Sony bodies coming in at such insane prices, the thought of a full on Hasselblad NEW CMOS 50MP digital back for such an Iconic camera line had me thinking $25-$35k. So $15k, that is about the cost of a Leica M and a 1-2 lenses. ;) Add in a used V series camera setup with lens and you will have a classic, iconic and gorgeous modern day masterpiece. Old with the new. Modern meets classic. I love it. So who makes this sensor? Well, the one company who keeps pushing the limits..SONY. There are even rumors that Sony will be releasing a Medium Format fixed lens MIRRORLESS camera soon. ;) 

You know, there was a time when Hasselblad stood for many things including quality, precision, build, design, soul, magic and originality. Their classic V series of medium format film cameras have always been the gold standard for MF shooting. I have lusted over a 501CM camera for many years, and have only shot with one for one day of my life. It was a very nice experience. The negatives that came back from that camera were gorgeous as there really is nothing quite like a medium format negative. Rich, full of texture, full of soul and life. Using the camera was an exercise in slow, steady and using my brain. Looking through the finder was a very cool experience that felt natural to me.

Sadly, over the years the Hasselblad system started to fade as digital came into play and soon, many of these classic systems started to appear on e-bay for peanuts. Many dropped the system as they no longer used film. Some tried out the digital back that was released a while back, the CFV 50 (minus the C) with good results, but it was limited to ISO 800 and CCD.

This week, Hasselblad has launched the new CMOS digital back for the V system…

Lately it seems Hasselblad has been focusing their energy and time on silliness such as the Lunar and Stellar cameras, which are rebranded high prices Sony bodies that are now out of date. Many have lost faith in the once mighty Hasselblad, writing  them off as a company who would soon be history, or become a spoof of its once former self. Now it seems they are giving something back to all of those who own and use the classic V system. Well, not GIVING, but making it available…at a price.

YEP, this week Hasselblad has announced the CFV-50, which is a new digital medium format back that can be used on all classic V system cameras. Yes, that 501 you have in your closet? You can now add a state of the art digital back to it and use it once again, just as you did in the glory days of film. :) OMG, I so want one. In fact, I would love to have the system just as shown below. This is a new CMOS sensor guys, so much more usable than the CCD sensors in previous digital backs.

The stock image of the new CFV-50 on a 501CM. What a combo!! 

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Unfortunately for me, I do not have a spare $20k or so lying around to create something like that but maybe..one day. For me, something like what you see above is sort of a “Holy Grail” setup. Modern Medium Format Digital connected to the most gorgeous and classic medium format FILM camera ever made. It is a thing of beauty and while not a camera for daily use, it would be one for SPECIAL use. I can not wait to see examples that come from this beauty. Hasselblad will NOT be recreating the camera body of course , so you must have a classic V model to use the back. I think this may just drive up prices on the used market for them. You can see a list of compatible models HERE.

From Hasselblad CEO Ian Rawcliffeon the new CFV-50 Back:

“We have experienced a substantial resurgence of interest in our iconic V cameras – users love the traditional ergonomics and the unique appearance. Our research has shown that although we no longer manufacture V models, there is a big demand from our dedicated V System users who want to be able to continue to use their classic cameras but also desire access to our latest technology.”

Research:

See more at the Hasselblad site HERE.  Compatibility page is HERE and Planet V page is HERE. 

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Tech Specs:

Sensor type: CMOS
Sensor size: 50 Mpixels (8272 x 6200 pixels)
Sensor dimensions: 43.8 x 32.9 mm
Image size: RAW 3FR capture 65 MB on average. Tiff 8 bit 154 MB
Capture rate: 1.5 capture/sec. 35 captures/ minute (based on a SanDisk Extreme UDMA7 120 MB/s)
Single shot
16 bit colour
ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 & 6400
Longest shutter speed: 12 minutes
Image storage: CF card type II (write speed >20 MB/sec) or tethered to Mac or PC
Color management: Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution – One generic profile
Storage capacity: On average 60 images on a 4GB CF card

Battery type: Sony™ InfoLithium L NP-F series
Colour display: 3.0 inch TFT type, 24 bit colour
Histogram feedback: Yes
IR filter: Mounted on sensor
Feedback: IAA – Instant Approval Architecture: provides acoustic and visual feedback
File format: Lossless compressed Hasselblad 3F RAW
Software: Phocus for Mac and PC (included)
3FR files are also supported directly in Apple and Adobe environments
Macintosh: OSX version 10.5 or later. PC: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit), Windows 8
Camera support: Hasselblad V System cameras manufactured since 1957. 2000 series cameras and 201F with C lenses only. 202FA / 203FE and 205FCC camera models need a minor camera modification to use F/FE lenses. All other cameras with Hasselblad V interface.

Host connection type: FireWire 800 (IEEE1394b)
Battery capacity: Sony™ InfoLithium L, up to 8 hours of shooting capacity
Operating temperature: 0 – 45 °C / 32 – 113 °F
Dimensions: 90 x 92 x 57 mm [W x H x D]
Weight: 530 g (Excluding battery and CF card)
Package contents: Hasselblad CFV digital back with protective cover, adapter cables, rechargeable battery with charger, EL camera battery adapter, FireWire cable and 8 GB CF card. Focusing Screen (Split image / Micro Prism) with dual format markings.

Jul 162014
 

Epson Perfection V600 scanner

by Brandon Huff

(From Steve: Hey guys! Today I bring you an article by my Son, Brandon who has just started to get into film photography, and he is hooked for sure. He has been saving for a Leica M6 but he asked if he could post this short review of his new film scanner here and of course I said yes! He also started his own little website just for fun where he will talk about film gear, scanning, shooting and all kinds of stuff from time to time, so check it out at http://www.brandonhuffphotography.com. He works for me a few hours per week and liked it so much he wanted to start up his own little space on the web. As I always say, it’s all about the passion..and he has it! Like Father like Son!)

For over a month now I have been wondering…should I get a scanner? Should I spend all of that money and potentially not enjoy this time intensive process at all? Well, I will just tell you the old way I was doing it first. After my first roll of film I realized it would be REALLY expensive to get it all scanned at the pro lab at 10-15 dollars a roll. I decided to look for cheap ways to scan film while keeping good quality for what I was doing. I took my Nikon V1 with 18mm lens and propped it on a tripod. I then took a glass door from a cabinet and a bright LED light under with photo paper on top. I would take a picture of each frame and crop it out, this was working great for black and white and medium format but once I got around to color film and especially 35mm format it all went down hill. The contrast was horrible, the colors I tried to fix myself were horrible and it was all just not going to work. So I finally splurged and paid the $220 on Amazon for the Epson V600 scanner.

I must say WOW! This is without a doubt the best 200 dollars I have spent for film photography since I’ve started.  The V700 does medium format and 35mm plus regular scanning as well. It’s resolution for film scans can be set all the way to 12000 DPI even though I can not use that resolution as the scans come out in TIF format at a whopping 1Gig each!! Yes 1GIG! Insane!

Here is the Epson closed

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Here is the Epson open with transparency unit exposed

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Excuse my product shots I have no good way at the moment to do things like this.  The resolution of this scanner is fantastic, it is considered a semi pro model under the Epson V700 which is the professional line but the main reason for not purchasing this is the price jumps and I mean JUMPS this model is only 200-220 dollars while the V700 sky rockets to around 600-700 depending on who you buy it from. Enough talk, lets get to the sample images. I will be showing the old way in which I was doing it (Using my Nikon V1) and the new way as well (with the V600)…

Contax T2 old way with the Nikon V1

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Contax T2 same photo Epson V600 4800 DPI

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Contax T2 old way with the V1

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Contax T2 Epson V600 4800 DPI

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I will now show you some holga shots that are color as well…when I did these color photos they were done in full auto mode with NO retouching WHAT SO EVER non at all!

Holga old way with V1

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Holga Epson V600 4800 DPI

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Holga old way with V1

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Holga Epson V600 4800 DPI

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The rest of these photos will be from the Mamiya 645. I do not have any color film with it yet but the sharpness if fantastic. Before I do that I would like to say one thing that is wrong with this scanner. The two photos above with the shirts… if you notice the first one is a bigger frame, you can see more shirt to the right and while the one scanned with Epson is WAY better looking it cut off some of the image because it did not see the shirt on the right side. The V600 cropped the frame a bit.

Mamiya 645 Old way with the V1 as the “Scanner”

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Same images but with the Epson v600 9600 DPI

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As you can see these photos are FANTASTIC! WAY better quality out of this scanner so all in all I will be keeping it. I love it!  it’s amazing and I think for all you film shooters that do not have the money to blow $600 on the V700, this is one of the best alternatives I know of. Here are some new photos for you all to enjoy from this great scanner!

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Momma

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Also if you want too you are all welcome to check out my new photography blog/review site. I mostly do film cameras and film types, I am in the process of getting more equipment to review so I will try to post as much as possible!

http://brandonhuffphotography.com

Jul 112014
 

The Ancient Aegean Coast of Turkey, Film Friday

By Ibraar Hussain

Dear Steve and Brandon and all Stevehuffphoto.com lovers!

I thought I’d write a short article about Asia Minor, The Ancient Near East or rather Turkey and The Aegean Coast. I guess this is most likely a Film Friday post, but I am trying to make my posts more about Photography and less about Gear and whether Film or Digital.  I do love Photography and as you may have noticed, travel photography especially so.

Me and the Missus went to Kusadasi for a week and had a great time, and I went with just one camera, my Rolleiflex 3.5F and 6 rolls of Film, and my trusty iPhone 5. I spent most of the time relaxing, experiencing and soaking up the vibe, but I did get some time to take a few pictures here and there.

Me and my Rolleiflex, at Ephesus, picture courtesy of The Missus. iPhone 5.

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Kusadasi is a nice resort, a modern town with an ancient heart.

Amid the tourists, cruise ships, sun, sandy beaches and bazaars you’ll find some history and the resort is especially important as it is a base for exploring the surrounding country where you can find some of the most well preserved and glorious Ancient Greek, Roman/Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman sites in the World.

Kalaeci Mosque, Kusadasi. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100

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The beaches along Town are pretty crowded, nice and lively enough but too much for me, so we went over to Dilek Milli Park to explore the beaches down there.

Busy “Ladies Beach”, Kusadasi. iPhone 5.

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Travelling around is easy, just hope on the very frequent Dolmus or Mini Bus for less than a Dollar a journey and go where your heart pleases, the people are very friendly, hospitable and relaxed. For secluded beaches amongst pines, forests canyons and hills nestled along the Aegean and within sight of The Greek islands is Dilek Milli Park. There are three beaches in Dilek Milli Park and the first is a beautiful sandy cove – but pretty busy as this is where most of the families go.  The other two beaches are quiet and tranquil and here you can relax and enjoy the sea, sun bath, snorkel and just relax – but watch out for the Wild Boar!! And there are absolutely no shops or anywhere to buy anything within the park, so be prepared!

Beaches at Dilek Milli Park, with the Greek islands visible. Aegean Sea, Turkey. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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The ancient sites worth visiting include Ephesus, The Meryama – the House of The Virgin Mary where St John brought her after the Crucifixion of Christ, Ayasoluk Hill – in Seljuk; the site of St John’s Basilica and the Byzantine Fortress (along with Isa Bey’s Mosque and many other Seljuk and Ottoman sites), The Ionian Cities of Priene and Militas, Aphrodisias and Pamukkale.

We didn’t have time to explore everywhere so we will go to Priene, Militas, Aphrodisias and Pukkalake next time and I’m looking forward to it!

We did visit the Meryama and Ephesus, and impressive as these are, there were a LOT of tourists and the weather was hot! Beautiful places which i longed to photograph but alas the scourge of tourism meant that I could hardly take a snap without loads of people violating my vista so I include only a handful of shots of Ephesus here and none of the Meryama which I was reluctant to photograph as it’s a pilgrimage and holy site for many Christians and I found snapping it a tad disrespectful.

Ephesus was awesome, it really was awe-inspiring and amazing, the architecture, layout all worked with stone and utterly beautiful, yet again, a sadness came over me as I thought how it must’ve been like and how it has fallen into ruin. Ephesus used to be by the sea, but the sea retreated contributing to it’s downfall, but waves of marauding barbarians destroyed Ephesus ensuring it’d never rise again and will be just a monument and a place where tourists tread.

I think moody Black and White would’ve worked better for photographing these ancient monuments and cities, and for those interested, read the excellent Southern Frontiers by Don McCullin – a big book full of beautiful B&W Large Format plates of photographs taken in similar places throughout the Southern Frontier of The Roman Empire.

“Ephesus (/ˈɛfəsəs/;[1] Greek: Ἔφεσος Ephesos; Turkish: Efes; ultimately from Hittite Apasa) was an ancient Greek city[2][3] on the coast of Ionia, three kilometers southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital[4][5] by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. According to estimates Ephesus had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor after Sardis and Alexandria Troas.[6]”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephesus

The Ruins of Ephesus, Rolleiflex 3.5F Agfa Ultra 50.

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did however go to Seljuk, and Ayasoluk Hill and explore the ruins of St Johns Basilica and the Byzantine fortress overlooking the hill – and resting upon where the Gospels were said to have been written down.
And at the base of the hill is to be found The Temple of Artemis; in ruin, with a sadness in the air but with a hidden majesty which befits one of The 7 Wonders of The Ancient World.
Walking around the ruins is an episode in itself, I could sit there for hours and reflect.

“The Basilica of St. John was a basilica in Ephesus. It was constructed by Justinian I in the 6th century. It stands over the believed burial site of John the Apostle. It was modeled after the now lost Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.[1]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._John

The Ruins of St Johns Basilica from Ayasoluk Hill, Seljuk, Turkey. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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The Byzantine Fortress at Ayasoluk Hill. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Artemis

“The Temple of Artemis (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον, or Artemision), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey), and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction in 401.[1] Only foundations and sculptural fragments of the latest of the temples at the site remain.”

The ruins of The Temple of Artemis, Seljuk, Turkey. Rolleiflex 3.5F Fuji Velvia 100.

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In this picture you can see the Byzantine Fortress and St John’s Basilica atop Ayasluk Hill.

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A wonderful place which you’ll need weeks on end to visit and explore, I have only included a small selection of photographs here as there’s a wealth of things to see and experience, olive groves, peach trees, sleepy hillside villages, Greek Churches, boats and orange trees, and of course bazaars, market towns and fantastic food and people.

A wonderful place for the photographer.

Feb 172014
 

Myanmar in Transition

By Nikko Karki © 2013

www.nikkokarki.com

http://blog.nikkokarki.com

Adorned with thousands of temples, nestled in the Mandalay region of northern Myanmar, Bagan’s arid landscape has been preserved as if in a time capsule for the past 1,000 years. After remaining closed to the outside world, Myanmar is now open for business, bolstering Bagan as its flagship tourist destination. The children growing up in Bagan will witness unprecedented changes in their local economy and social landscape in the upcoming years.

How will tourism development in Bagan mirror Myanmar as a whole?

Now that the floodgates are open to flocking tourist populations, how will the region and its people react to an infusion of social and economic influences?

Hasselblad 500c  – Carl Zeiss 120mm f/4 – Kodak Portra film

Nikko Karki © 2013 Myanmar Transition 01

Photographer’s note:

I went to Myanmar with an old film Hasselblad, a digital Canon DSLR and an open mind. I had heard warnings about the political past and chose to ignore the history as it’s clear the country is on the brink of a new era. During my trip, I felt a strong connection with the people who welcomed me with open arms. Traveling with only a small pack containing all my gear, I was free to roam around the countryside on foot, taking time to talk with people, observe and feel the strength and beauty of this incredible country. I’m so grateful to the people of Myanmar for this experience and hope to return again one day soon.

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Jan 312014
 

jimfishercemet

Shooting in Cemeteries

By Jim Fisher

Steve’s recent post on Post Mortem Photography got me thinking about one of my favorite photographic subjects: Old graveyards.

’m happy to live in a part of the US with a long settled history, the north east. I’m a short drive away from a few very old burying grounds, including notable ones like Sleepy Hollow in Tarrytown, N.Y. (the resting place of Washington Irving, the author who created the Headless Horseman), and Green-Wood in Brooklyn.

It was stumbling onto Sleepy Hollow that sparked my interest. I had spent an autumn day in 2008 visiting Irving’s estate, and wanted to tap it off with a visit to his grave. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore, light was getting scarce, but I’ve since returned to spend more time looking for interesting monuments and scenes.

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It’s interesting to me to see how the art of carving headstones changed over the years. Modern stones tend to be fairly conservative, squarish, and—to my eye—largely uninteresting. But turning back the clock to the late 1800s shows that large, carved statues were popular (at least for those who could afford them). When you move back to the early part of that century and into the late 1700s you see simple stones, sometimes with inlaid carved illustrations.

Of course, after a few hundred years, details give way to erosion, pieces of sculptures break off, and stones crack. There’s obviously some maintenance done to active graveyards, but for the large part you see what spending scores of years with constant exposure to the elements can do to sculpture and carved stones.

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There’s also a sense of peace. I commute into Manhattan five days a week. It’s a grind, packed into a overcrowded train, and braving the elements over the half-mile from Penn Station to my office (and back again in the evening). After nine hours I get to turn around and do it all over again. There are opportunities for photographs, but they are generally those fleeting moments that present themselves when street shooting.

Among the graves, I get to take my time, look for my shot. If I find an interesting monument I can take my time and think about how I want to approach it. Should I isolate a specific detail? Simply try to capture it in its entirety? Or go a bit wider and try and get a good landscape shot? (That’s an area where my eye struggles at times.)

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My favorite spot is the Deckertown-Union Cemetery in western New Jersey. It’s an old graveyard in a rural area. The grounds are wooded, largely on a huge hill. The terrain is rough, and the burials date back to the Revolutionary War. There aren’t a lot of ornate sculptures there, just more simple, weathered stones. The first time I went there I was working with some Lensbabies, but I’ve since shot it with more traditional lenses.

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As for gear (I couldn’t stop by Steve’s home without bringing that up!), it varies. If I’m shooting for myself, I love taking my Rolleiflex Automat K4, a 1950 TLR with a Zeiss Opton-Tessar 75mm f/3.5 lens. I’ve got a set of Rolleinar close-up filters for macro work, and the shallow depth of field that working close with a medium format camera gets you can create some really unique results.

Primarily I consider myself a rangefinder shooter, and one of the first places I took the M240 was to Green-Wood. But I don’t often use my M3. I’m more likely to take a 35mm SLR, if only for the sake of having depth of field preview available. (A Nikon F3, Pentax KX, or Canon A-1 may make the trip depending on my mood.) In the digital world, the Ricoh GR has become a favorite carry-anywhere camera over the past few months, and I’ve found that its 28mm field of view works quite well for me.

 

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And, if I’m shooting for work, anything goes. I’ve used graveyards as subjects for everything from the Nikon D7100 to the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 to the Lomo Horizon panoramic camera (and others that I’m forgetting.

Jim Fisher is the Senior Digital Camera Analyst at PCMag.com. He also posts photos, an occasionally finds time to write, at his personal blog, daguerreotyping.com

For more Cemetery photography check out Steve’s old Violin Annie post HERE

Jan 222014
 

2013 in just twelve images on different formats 

by Bjarke Ahlstrand

Last year I did a – one year – 2012: 12 months, 12 images, 12 cameras / lenses in total guest report for Steve. It was tough to make, it’s really hard to narrow down a big production to just one image per month, but very rewarding as well.

So I decided to do the same this time around. Those familiar with my work, either here at Steve’s site or my own www.oneofmany.dk will notice that I’ve been drifting slightly towards film and large format recently. The slow process has been healthy for me mentally and photographically speaking. I shoot less images, but work harder for each one, and it’s a thrill to learn new skills — especially ones that aren’t linked to Photoshop.

2013 was a good year for me in many ways, and also challenging. Sometimes I feel I’m balancing between being creative and obsessed, both when it comes to shooting portraits as well as using new cameras and lenses, hehehe. I still treasure my Leica M9-P more than anything else, but the artistic freedom (and limits) the large format view cameras give are very inspiring. Nowadays, whenever I grab a digital camera, I miss the selective focus / shallow depth of field while shooting large format extremely open, but also the tonality and amount of detail that I get from even 100-year-old non-coated lenses. An 8×10″ is approximately 60 times digital full frame, and a Swiss built large format Sinar camera, be it 60 years or 6 years old, is at east 60 times more fun to operate than a modern Canon/Nikon.

Well, here are 12 images, one for each month, all shot on different cameras, formats and lenses.

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FILE: 1 – January – 8×10 – silver shade polaroid

Miss Roxy – Arca Swiss 8×10″ – 305 mm Kodak Portrait Lens (ca. 1930) @ f/4.5 – Silver Shade Polaroid

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The Impossible Project revived the 8×10″ Polaroid, when they purchased the last production machine from the bankrupt Polaroid plant in Mass, USA, and had it moved to their European headquarters in Holland. The Silver Shade Polaroid, the only one being made in the 8×10″ large format size, isn’t exactly black and white, but still nice to work with, as long as you can live with chemical defects, and manage to get your hands on an antique Polaroid processor which is need to pair the 8×10″ negative with the positive (large format doesn’t work like the old peel-apart Polaroid cameras and film!). Miss Roxy, my assistant posed for this image, which was shot with quite a few tilt and shifts on a 1970s Arca Swiss camera, and the lens mounted on the camera is a wonderful, wonderful 1930s soft focus Kodak Portrait Lens.

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FILE: 2 – February – Hasselblad h3d

Zombieboy – Hasselblad H3D-39 – 150 mm Fujinon HC @ f/5.6

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When it comes to sharpness, tonality, color and file quality, no digital camera beats the 39 megapixels Hasselblad medium format monster. And yes, I’ve shot the Nikon D800, but it doesn’t even come closer, and neither do the lenses. The Hassy is slow and heavy and really suffers if you go past ISO200, but if you treat it like a film camera, it works excellent, and the resolution it offers is utterly amazing even though it’s a few years old now.

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 FILE: 3 – march – 4×5 – sinar polaroid

Anker – Sinar P2 4×5″ – 240 mm unknown 1860s Petzval lens @ f/3.8 – Expired Fuji Polaroid

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I love the fast lenses! Everyone who’s ever shot a manual f/1 lens, like the Noctilux, Nokton or Sonnetar, knows how difficult it is to achieve a somewhat precise focus. But when you move to the large format, in this case, the 4×5″ film format, things get waaaaay more difficult control — and if your lenses were made in 1860 instead of 1960, you add to the difficulty aspects, but the reward is equally bigger, if you nail it. And even though the output material is an old expired Fuji Polaroid, the depth of field and detail is amazing. It was shot a night-time, using only my Ikea table lamp as the light source — and two small light candles which I place behind him.

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FILE: 4 – april – 5×7 – kodak 2b wetplate collodion berlin

Alex – Kodak 2B 5×7″ – 150 mm Rapid Rectilinear @ f/8 (ca 1890) – wetplate collodion

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Mmmmmhhhh, the smell of ether :-) When I had a chance to join a wetplate collodion seminar in Berlin, held by American David Puntel, I simply had to attend. What a fine (and difficult) process. I’m sure most of you have heard or read about it elsewhere, so I won’t go into the tech/chemical aspects, but just recommend everyone into photography to try the 1850-1851 photography process, which is very rewarding. It sharpens your senses, and you really consider, plan and compose your image, before pressing the shut… ehh, correct that, you don’t use a shutter for this, because the old lenses have none, and you need a lot of (day)light. You just remove the darkslide, take off the lens cap, and let the subject, in this case animation director, Alex Brüel Flagstad, sit absolutely still for 14 seconds. This was a so-called half-plate which is a tiny bit smaller than 4×5″. Notice the silver nitrate on my fingers. It took months before it disappeared.

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FILE: 5 – may – Leica m9-p 35 summicron

Assistant+Artist shot by oldest clone – Leica M9-P – 35 mm Summicron @f/2 (1st version, anno 1964)

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A rare shot of me in action. I am placed one the right with the dark cloth on my head, while planning a 4×5″ Ektachrome dias portrait shoot. My oldest son, Hjalte, shot this behind the scenes photo with the Leica M9-P and an old 35 mm Summicron that I’d just purchased from conflict photographer Jan Grarup, whom I guess is the only real documentary/war professional who actually shoot with Leica for a living. Jan exchanged his old glass in favor for the new Voigtländers, so I got his old 35 mm Summicron. The first version of the classic lens really shines on the M9-P, which is still my all-time favourite digital camera, due to portability and quality (as long as you don’t enter the 640+ iso’s, hehe) and not least lenses, lenses, lenses.

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FILE: 6 – june – leica m typ240 apo-summicron

Katja naturelle – Leica M Typ240 – 50 mm Apo-Summicron Asph @ f/2

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I don’t have a Typ240, I just borrowed one along with the new 50 mm Apo-Summicron Asph for a day. With my love of cameras, I have of course considered the Typ240 many times, but every time I hold one, it just doesn’t feel like my kind of camera. Can’t exactly say why, and I know it beats my older M9-P technically speaking, I just think the CCD sensor of the old Leica renders better/differently (at lower ISOs). The new 50 mm Apo-Summicron, on the other hand, whauuuuh, that one would be a nice addition to my collection of Leica 50’s (Noctilux Asph, Summilux Asph, Sonnetar, Jupiter-3, Summitar, Summar), but the price tag… well, I guess I’d rather buy 10 antique Petzval lenses for my large format cameras… Or a Monochorme. But it sure is nice, resolution wise almost matching the medium format Schneider Kreuznach, Rodenstock and Fujinon HC lenses, just so much smaller. This image is straight out of camera, no adjustments, and wide open @ f/2.

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FILE: 7 – july – 8×10 – Dallmeyer 2A Petzval f4 – Fuji Velvia 50

Katja Nun – Sinar P2 8×10″ – 300 mm Dallmeyer Petzval 2B (ca 1870) @ f/3.8- Fuji Velvia 50

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Same subject as before, my girlfriend Katja, only this time around she was shot on a 140 year old Dallmeyer Petzval lens. The Petzval lenses are famous for their swirliness around the edge and utter sharpness in the center. They’re extremely fast (f/3.8 – f/4 on large format is like f/1 on kleinbild 35 mm in-depth of field terms, and if you tilt-shift the camera it’s even more extreme). I shot this on an old, expired 8×10″ Velvio 50ISO dias in the very last evening light, and she had to sit still for half a second. With the light passing and time it takes to re-focus, load the film holder (which only holds two images, one on each side), removing the darkslide and wait for the camera to stand still, you only have one chance, so you often miss a shot. Especially sharpness wise as the depth of field is extremely small. But not this time around. Of course what you see here is a low resolution file, but the original 8×10″ positive – and scanned file amazes me. If only 8×10″ dias weren’t so tough to come by (and expensive) this would be my preferred medium. But hopefully you get a glimpse of the sharpness and bokeh this old lens produces…

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FILE: 8 – may – 4×5 – Linhof 135 mm

Viking Viggo – Linhof Technika IV 4×5″ – 135 mm Symmar @ f/5.6 – Ilford Delta 100

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Now and then it’s nice to go offline. Away from mails, text messages, facebook, hell — even stevehuff.com! Especially if you have kids who are always online, and addicted to it. So this summer, my clones (ages 14 and 9) and I spent one weekend as vikings at a historic “reservation”. The offspring agreed to leave every electronic device at home, as long as I did the same. So I bought my Linhof Technika IV and 5 filmholders, so I would be able to shoot maximum 10 images through out a whole week. It turned out to be somewhat of a challenge, as there were many nice photo opportunities and, for once, I had a lot of time on my hands. But I guess the slow-photography-dogma was therapeutic to me, and when I got home and developed the ten sheets of film, I was thrilled that 7 out of 10 turned out very well. This one is my favorite. I was chopping wood but discovered that Viggo was playing with a kitten behind a tent, so I located the Linhof, guessed the light (1/8th of a second at f/5.6 on a Ilford Delta 100 sheet film), called his name and pressed the shutter. I adore the old school documentary-ish vibe it has to it. This is film when it’s best, and I couldn’t have done something with this tonality had it been a digital camera. Playing viking for a whole week, I sure missed my Leica, but the large format “portable” Linhof proved to be a worthy companion (it was my first time using the German 1960s mechanical metal marvel — the Leica of large format! It’s extremely well-built, like a Leica).

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FILE: 9 – september – leica monochrome 50 mm sonnetar f1

Mrs Madsen On The Roof – Leica Monochrome – 50 mm MS-Optical Sonnetar @ f/1.1

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I adore the Monochrome, and I wish I owned one. Every time I borrow one, I love and loathe it at the same time. It’s so extravagantly priced and immensely simple, but it just works — especially with old lenses. Or old lens designs, as is the case with this crazy handmade Japanese lens, the Sonnetar, based on the Sonnar design, but taken to extremes; both size wise and in aperture terms. Wide open its f/1.1, a little hard to handle, but produces dreamy images with out of this world background bokeh (it’s after all made in Japan). I don’t think Steve has had a review or guest report with images taken with this lens, which I bought directly from Japan earlier this year, but if there’s a demand for it, I might do a small review and supply some samples (it handles color images very well as well). It’s very cheap compared to the Noctilux, and performs way, way, way better than the horrible Cosina (Voigtländer) Nokton f/1.1.

FILE: 10 – october – 8×10 – direct_positive_paper

Afghan Princess – Sinar P2 5×7″ – 360 mm Voigtländer Heliar (ca anno 1903) @ f/4.5 – Ilford Direct Positive Paper

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I often shoot paper negatives on large format. It’s a cheap way of testing new lenses (paper is way cheaper than negatives), but you always have to either make contact prints in the dark room or scan it and invert it Photoshop. Enter the very nice Ilford Direct Positive Paper, which is sort of a mixture of classic photo paper and polaroid. You shoot it in your 4×5″, 5×7″ or 8×10″ film holder, and when you develop it (in paper chemicals – and under red light) it transforms from a negative to a positive. A bit like wet plate collodion, except this is far easier and less dangerous, chemically speaking. So I’d recommend this to everyone shooting large format, as it’s very pleasing to see the result directly after you’ve shot your image. In this case I did a portrait of an Afghan (refugee) princess with a fantastic 110 year old 36 cm / 360 mm Voigtländer Heliar portrait lens, which even survived a fire some ten years ago and has cement between the elements! Those old Voigtländer lensus unlike the new Cosina-branded ones for Leicas and micro 4/3s are very well made, and perform excellently, even one hundred years are they were made. The Direct Posistive Paper is rated somewhere in between ISO1 and ISO3 and is most suited for pinhole cameras, as it’s very contrasty, but I think it’s nice for portraits as well, as long as you learn to balance your light a bit. For this I used a flash, or was it three ProFoto generators :-?

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FILE: 11 – november – 1913 goecker studio wood camera expired 809 polaroid

Jesper – Goecker Wooden Studio Camera (1913) 8×10″ – Dallmeyer 3B 300 mm Portrait Lens @ f/4 – Expired (1995) 809 Polaroid

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I buy a lot of old gear, and I always appreciate spending time with the old time pros or collectors from whom I get my gear. In this case, I bought some old Linhof cameras (4×5″ and 5×7″) from an old master about to retire. He had been a pro for 45 years (!), and never went digital. In his hay days he developed 2000 5×7″ prints every day! Both color and b&w. He also had an old (dating back to 1913) wooden studio camera in his studio and I immediately fell in love with the old beauty. A 100 year old camera, which still works like a dream. It was equipped with a gigantic Petzval-design portrait lens, the Dallmeyer 3B. Neither camera nor lens had any shutter, which – unless you shoot wetplate or paper negatives – actually can be somewhat of a problem due to the (short) exposure times. But fortunately the old pro found a box of old 8×10″ 809 Polaroid’s, a film I’d never shot before, which expired back in 1995. He doubted I could get anything out of the remaining 4 polaroid’s in the box, but I did. This image was shot only with the light from my living room lamp, using my HAND as a shutter for approximately one second. I absolutely love the final result – what you see here is a plain scan of the image I shot. Notice the text lines next to his face – they come from the “negative condom” or protection sheet that the polaroid’s were wrapped in. Somehow, during the 18 since (since expiration date) some of the text managed to creep unto the negative. Pure light magic.

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FILE: 12 – december – canon 5d mark iii

Teen Clone – Canon EOS 5D Mark II – Canon 24-50 mm II @ f/4

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My oldest clone never wants to be photographed because he’s 1) a teenager 2) thinks his father is embarrassing 3) doesn’t like cameras or photography 4) has braces and pimples all over his face — BUT — he also needed to give his mother, my ex-wife, something for x-mas, so he bought a frame, and asked if I would do a portrait. I did two, actually, an 8×10″ analogue, but then I snapped a test shot with my Canon, and it turned out best. Yes, that’s right. I do digital light metering tests before using precious sheet film / polaroids! I practically never use the Canon camera, as it’s big and has no personality and uses auto focus zoom lenses, hahaha. Well, snobbing aside, its video capabilities talk for them selves, but it is of course the 5D Mark III is a very capable professional tool, very rarely failing in any way. But I still prefer an old Leica, Linhof or an old wooden studio camera :-)

I guess that concludes my 2013 in just twelve images on different formats, cameras and lenses.

Perhaps I should mention, that I’m in the process of my building my own 20×24″ ultra large format camera, so perhaps you’ll see an image from that alongside a Minox next year, hehe.

Best,

Bjarke

www.oneofmany.dk

Jan 082014
 

Precious Memories from Two Generations of Rolleiflex Shooters

By Brad Husick

My mother and father met when she was 13 years old. Using his Rolleiflex twin-reflex camera, my grandfather took lots of photos of her as she grew and eventually married my dad, whereupon my dad kept photographing her with his Rollei.

My father passed away three years ago. I inherited his collection of eleven-thousand 2.25×2.25 negatives, along with his father’s negatives. My mom is now almost 79 and I just selected the 100 best photos of her and created a book of them for her. Many of them she had never seen.

She says she looks at it three times a day and shows it to everyone who visits her.

Here is the entire book to browse:

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/3603396/f2ab6a3cf43107fc3349c64513eeb14e583c9551

The negatives were expertly scanned at 4000dpi by GoPhoto.com in California.

-Brad Husick

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Sep 242013
 
Scotland with the Mamiya 7
by Brett Price
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Hey Steve,
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I thought I would share a few photos and my experience with another rangefinder I had the pleasure of borrowing from a friend for my trip. Thanks again for creating a place where people can do this. I’ve had 3 other posts on your site, all of which highlight my experience with different rangefinder cameras and systems. I thought it would be good to post another :)
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I recently did a 10 day trip across the U.K. with my girlfriend. I brought my Leica M7 w/ 50lux ASPH, (I wrote about it also here )  Hasselblad Xpan (I wrote about it also here ) and the Mamiya 7 w/ 80mm f4 that I borrowed from a friend. My normal 6×7 camera is the Pentax 67ii, which I decided not to bring due to the sheer size and weight. It is a truly massive camera and I went this whole trip out of one bag so every pound I could save counts. I was at first resistant to this… I love bokeh and out of focus qualities to cameras and the Pentax has the fastest lens for 6×7 that exists, the SMC 105mm f2.4. It is a fabulous portrait lens that melts backgrounds like butter not unlike the Noctilux. But 2 days into the trip, I didn’t miss the extra weight…
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The great thing about the Mamiya 7 is the weight and usability. It’s not the smallest camera but its footprint against 2 other common 6×7 cameras, the Pentax 67 and the Mamiya RZ, makes it look like a olympus pen in comparison. The image quality and sharpness is superb, it could easily be the sharpest camera system I’ve ever shot with. The predecessor to this camera was the Mamiya 6, which allowed the camera to collapse into itself to make it even smaller to carry. This was such a great design its a real shame that Mamiya didn’t incorporate it into the mamiya 7. The other drawback is the lens speed. f4 is as fast as you’re going to get on any of the available lenses which can be frustrating at times when the light is going down. I can only speak to the 80mm but I’ve heard that almost all of the other lenses are just as good in terms of their performance.
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I had never been to Europe before and I have to say that I suffered a bit from carrying 3 cameras with me. Before I left I couldn’t make up my mind as to which one I could leave so I just took all 3. I honestly wish I would have left one of them behind. Probably the Xpan although I really love some of the photos I got with it. One lesson I constantly forget is that you really only need 1 camera most of the time. If I had just brought my Leica alone I would have made it work and been able to get great photos with it and I probably would have never missed using anything else but alas, that is not how my brain works all the time and sometimes I make things harder on myself. It’s a mistake I’m sure ill make and pay for again and again.
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Overall the trip was great. Scotland is just as beautiful as I always imagined it would be and the people we met while there were some of the kindest I’ve come across. I think my favorite place was St. Andrews, a small little coastal town north of Edinburgh which is probably only know due to the golf course that its famous for. It was the only place out of anywhere we went that had almost no tourism, it felt like we had it to ourselves and for a photographer that is heaven.
As far as the other locations, there are some shots from Loch Lomond, and Beachy Head, UK.
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All images were shot on Kodak Portra 400 or 800, Fuji Superia 400, or Kodak Tri-X and scanned using the Fuji Frontier or Noritsu Scanner at my local lab. Filmboxlab.com
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I constantly post to my tumblr brettprice.tumblr.com or my website www.iambrettprice.com if you would like to see more. Thanks for letting me share with you guys again. Happy shooting.
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Cheers,
Brett Price
Aug 262013
 

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User Report – Sony RX1R and Leica S2 in Glacier National Park, Montana

by Eeraj Qaisar

Hello Steve!

I have been following your web-site for quite some time now and have seen it s tremendous growth over the past several years. Having enjoyed many user contributed stories, with some very impressive photo shoots (Ashwin Rao’s “Chasing Light in the Plaouse” is one such story that comes to mind). Here is my contribution.

About me: I have been interested in photography and outdoors since a long time. My first camera was an Afga Click III. Currently I use various Leica cameras with some of the newer digital compacts like Sony RX1R and Sigma DP3 thrown in the mix. While I am not a pro-photographer, I am dedicated enough to devote substantial time to photography and get out of bed at unearthly hours to catch that elusive pre-dawn or dawn glow and stay up late at night to get that one moon-shot. My photostream on Flickr is here and I also published a book on blurb.com featuring some of my photos from this user report here.

This will be a part user report and part travelogue with some notes about my recent visit to the spectacular Many Glacier National Park in Montana.

As it happened, I ended up with 3 cameras on this trip – Sony RX1R (the new version without the AA filter), Leica S2 and Sigma DP3. I will cover my impressions with the first two in this report. Sigma DP3, a formidable but quirky machine in own right can perhaps be covered in another report. For the Leica S2, I took the 180MM and 35MM lens. I could have perhaps skipped the 35mm, but since I am a glutton for punishment, I decided to haul both these beast sized lenses across the country in my backpack.

So my backpack included: Sony RX1R, Sigma DP3, Leica S2, Leica 180MM Elmar and Leica 35MM Summarit, Really Right Stuff ballhead, memory cards, batteries, rainsuit, a light jacket, and some snack bars. Add a medium-sized carbon fiber tripod in my carry on to the mix and I won’t blame if someone says I need to see a therapist soon.

TIP: In the USA, TSA generally allows tripod in carry-on luggage. Make sure you don’t have spiked feet with it and remove the heavy ballhead and keep it separately. Regulations may vary at other places and even TSA is inconsistent at times. I however carried my tripod in my carry-on.

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My thoughts on Sony RX1R

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Steve has already reviewed the RX1 in detail earlier and also the RX1R recently. Let me say that it is the best full-frame 35 mm compact cameras in existence today. I say it on the basis of the totality of its package that includes image quality, size, portability, FF sensor, superb Zeiss lens and the controls it offers. There is nothing like it out in the market today. There are some nice APS-C compact cameras that come close, but not equal to it in 35MM format. At the risk of upsetting some Leica diehards, I would say that for 35MM focal length, RX1R will give more consistent results shot to shot, with no loss in image quality compared to either Leica M9 or even the new M (yes, I have access to Leica M9 and Summilux 35 FLE). (I agree – Steve)

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Its one Achilles heel is no built-in EVF and that renders it virtually useless in bright sunlight. Non-articulating LCD is another. I was unfortunately not able to get the EVF on time for use with it. The other thing is that the battery life while not bad is not great either. Plan to take 3 batteries if this is going to be your only camera for a full-day’s worth of shooting. Otherwise two will suffice.

On all cameras, I use only singe center point AF, aperture priority and this is how I used the RX1R also.

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It feels nice in hand and has a certain heft that without being heavy, manages to convey a feeling of solidity. A very fine balance indeed. In use, I found it fluid and fast. Most controls I needed were a click or two away, including ISO (left click on the wheel), exposure compensation (dedicated wheel on the top – brilliant), real aperture ring on the lens (lovely), drive mode (press the Fn key and select the drive mode).

I am not sure how Sony engineers managed to squeeze in a built-flash too. Perhaps they can make the LCD screen articulating and add an EVF too in a later iteration while keeping size largely same. One other thing Sony can improve upon is to tone the camera down a bit – I mean it looks a bit too flashy with bright white markings and the ring around the lens saying “35MM Full Frame CMOS Sensor” is downright silly. These flashy things reflect Sony’s consumer electronics background, but please can they just tone it down?

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Swiftcurrent_Lake_Sunset_Sony_RX1R (14 of 17)

I used AF most of the time (and it never missed), with probably only 3 or so shots taken using MF as the targets were a bit tricky (small berries behind some leaves). When shutter speeds got low and tripod was not viable, I raised ISO to 400 without hesitation. In practice it can go much higher on the ISO without practical image degradation, but personally I prefer to then use a tripod and keep the ISO low especially for critical shots in places that I may not visit again that easily. Obviously it depends on the situation too – if it is a shot, that moment that you must capture without wait, then feel free to go up to ISO 3200 or perhaps more. RX1R will deliver. Another thing is that this camera has a much larger headroom than its image previews with blown highlights indicate (these are incorrect in most cameras anyway as they are based on JPG previews, even if you shoot RAW), so feel free to experiment by pushing the EV to +0.3 or +0.7 and then pull back in post for even better noise control. In other words, play with ETTR. You can also look at the histogram in live-view as that is closer to reality.

Grinnell_Lake_Sony_RX1R (13 of 17)

Tip on batteries: If you are like me, you will be out shooting by 5am and won’t be back by 8pm or even 9pm as the real fun for evening photography happens when it starts to get dark. Add to this the fact that you may have been hiking and will dead tired when you get to your room. You also need to get up early next day – 5am. Given all this you may not have time to wait for one battery to finish charging so you can put in the next one, unless you are awake all night. So think carefully how to manage all this.

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Leica S2

Swiftcurrent_Dawn_Leica_S2 (1 of 1)

Note: Steve reviewed the S2 earlier, be sure to read his review as it covers more ground than my user notes here.

If Sony RX1R is the svelte model, the Leica S2 with its lenses is to put it delicately, Rubensque. Well maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. It is the exact opposite of RX1R, not only in size but also in appearance – devoid of any bright white markings nor any announcement on the outside stating that it has a larger than FF sensor. Though the body alone is no larger than pro FF DSLRs, with the lenses, it is big and heavy. You will get noticed. Its high ISO sucks. Actually, it does not have high ISO by modern FF or APS-C standards. Its LCD screen is barely adequate at 480K. A D800E can not only compete, but exceed it in some cases, especially at high ISOs. So why did I take it? As it happened, I was offered a loaner for a month or so. At first I was hesitant to carry it due to size and weight. But a few hours with it and I made a decision. A big and bright viewfinder, superb ergonomics, lenses with gorgeous manual focus ring and precise autofocus all convinced me to haul it with me. I was not disappointed.

Dawn_East_Glacier_Leica_S2 (7 of 17)

Glacier_National_Park_Morning_Mist_Leica_S2 (8 of 17)

In hand, ergonomics are superb and all buttons are placed so that the thumb and the forefinger rest at the right places. I found the AF very accurate. Having used the D800E before and the need tweak AF to get the right focus, it was a pleasure to not do this hocus-pocus with the S2. Each Leica S2 lens comes with embedded firmware specific to that copy of the lens that ensures accurate AF. Except in very dim light when the AF did not work at all, I tried hard to see if I could do better than the AF with manual focus on my own. Even when using a 2X loupe over the viewfinder, I did not find one instance where manual focus was more precise that the AF.This is simply amazing. In the S2, you can set the camera to manual focus and yet, by pressing the function button at the back can have the lens AF. I found this very useful and used this setting all of the time as it allows you to quickly set the focus via AF and then tweak a bit if needed. The focus ring on the S2 lenses is a joy to use with a large grip and very precise movements. Some may find Leica S2’s single center point AF limiting, but that was more than adequate for my purposes. S2’s AF while accurate is not exactly fast if you compare it to the likes of Nikon D800E or Nikon D3X.

Going_To_The_Road_Leica_S2 (11 of 17)

Glacier_National_Park_Leica_S2 (14 of 17)

One thing to note is that the 1/F rule for handholding does not really ensure crisp shots with the S2 or any other larger than FF sensors for that matter. 1/2F is a minimum and 1/3F is needed if you want to increase your odds. Given this and the fact that I used the S2 180 mm lens most of the time I used the tripod with it for all of my shots. Yes, a pain. But that pain and ache is gone in a few days and the results will last a long time so it is worth it. Another thing: on the tripod, I either chose drive mode of 2 seconds self-timer that enables mirror-up automatically or 12 second-timer and enabled mirror-up. This is important to ensure that any vibration resulting from shutter press dies down before the shutter is tripped. A better way is to use a remote release which I did not have.

A tripod does limit mobility and at times creativity. At other times, it can slow you down and force you to be in a more methodical shooting mode as opposed to a machinegun shooting style, so that can be good. So plan ahead about your objectives for that day’s photographs and how you will accomplish those.

Waterfall_Goint_To_The_Sun_Road_Leica_S2 (15 of 17)

I ended up using the S2 180mm Elmar lens a lot on this trip. The reason is that vast landscapes like these require long lenses to really focus on the interesting parts. I would say it is much harder to pull off convincing landscapes in places like Grand Canyon or Glacier National Park with wider lenses. If you don’t have a tele-lens with you in such areas then it is simply not possible to get certain shots. You can’t zoom with you feet and walk on water or air to get that shot of the mountain-top with fog on it or pick a certain structure far in the canyon. This is not to say that a wide lens is not needed or cannot be used effectively in these situations – the point is that you need to plan for both situations.

Note that the crop factor on the S2 is 0.8x.

Glacier_National_Park_Morning_Mist_Leica_S2 (9 of 17)

Battery life is superb. After a full day of shooting, the meter had barely budged.

One comment I often hear on cameras like Sony RX1R, Leica S2, Leica M9 “camera xxx is thousands of dollars cheaper than [RX1R/S2/M9] and can produce equally good photos”. The reality is that all modern cameras are good and you have really have to try hard to find a BAD camera today. It boils down to your personal preferences, ergonomics, camera size and your budget. Even the iPhone can take excellent photos. So find a camera that you like and can afford and enjoy.

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About Many Glacier National Park, Montana

Stunning. Amazing. Breathtaking. It is a wonderland if you like the outdoors, the mountains, the spectacular scenery, several hiking trails at all levels of difficulty, lakes and much more. From the US East Coast, getting there is a bit of a hassle requiring two flights. But it is worth it. I met many persons not only from the USA but from all over the world there during my trip. I spent 6 days there and probably could have stayed 4 more without running out of things to do. For staying there are several options, both inside and outside the park.

Going_To_The_Road_Leica_S2 (16 of 17)

Main Activities & Logistics

The park has two main entrances, West Glacier and East Glacier. I found East Glacier to be more scenic but the West side is no slouch either. I would recommend dividing your time by staying on both sides to be able to enjoy the scenes from both sides. Whether you are a hiker, biker, want to enjoy the scenery just from the car or all of these, there is plenty do here.

One of the main attractions here is the aptly named “Going to the Sun Road” that makes its way through lakes, and then reaches dizzying heights with spectacular views of valley below. It was built in 1932 and is a fine example of civil engineering and sheer willpower even today. It passes though small tunnels, waterfalls right by the road (!) and has several pull-outs along the way to stop and soak in the majestic sights. It runs West To East (or East-West) and if you have time, I highly recommend covering it from both sides, West to East and East to West. Several hiking trails exist to challenge you and range from short easy hikes to strenuous multi-day adventures. Outside the park, there are a few small businesses that offer customized hikes, kayaking and other activities if you wish.

Logan Pass, a point approximately mid-point along the Going To the Sun Road is the start of many popular trails including highline trail (full day hike) and hidden lake trail (4 to six hours hike). Plan to arrive at Logan Pass by 8:30am or so as the parking lot tends to get full. Free shuttles run throughout the park, so that is another option instead of trying to jostle for a parking spot.

Popular hikes on the East side of the glacier include those to Grinnell Lake (easy 2-3 hour hike + boat trip), and hikes to Grinnell Glacier and Iceberg Lake(both full-day). In addition there are several others that will take another story to cover. For non-hikers, a car drive along the Going To the Sun Road, scenic drives outside the park, several boat tours and other less demanding physical activities exist.

Early September can be a good time to visit as the crowds will have departed by then and it will be cooler. July and August are peak months. If you want to see the wildflowers in the valleys, then probably mid-July is best. Note that at the highest points on the Going to the Sun Road, snow drifts can occur even in late June or early July.

As for me, I hiked, I walked, I drove on the Going to the Sun Road 4 times, took many scenic byways and marveled at the stunning and at times powerful and poignant scenes I came across. I stayed two days on the West Side, 3 days on the East Side. Apart from enjoying many a misty morning and sunsets along several lakes, I hiked the highline trail which was physically demanding but I was rewarded with scenic eye candy all the way. Yes, I carried the S2 + 35MM + tripod + RX1 + 2 liters of water, bear spray, rain jacket and food on this trail if you are wondering. I took a few other short hikes including the easy hike to Lake Grinnell in East Glacier.

Overall, I found the combination of Sony RX1R and Leica S2 with 180mm APO Elmar-S complementing each other very well. I used the RX1R a lot while hiking and for quick shots while driving or when there was simply not much time to set up the Leica S2. S2 was brought into the mix during early morning and late night shots of distant horizons as well as during the day when I wanted to focus more on some of the more interesting parts of the landscape.

Wildlife encounters are not uncommon, but the time I went was unseasonably hot, so most were probably hiding from the sun. I did however, came across a bear swimming in Swiftcurrent lake that is right behind the Many Glacier hotel and what an impressive beast it was – silent, strong swimmer, came from one end to another in a short time and then scampered via the parking lot to the forest. I managed a bit blurry grab shot of it swimming. In addition, I was greeted by a small mountain goat at Logan Pass. Generally there are quite a few of them in the open, but again, they were taking shelter in trees due to the sun.

Note 1:

You cannot carry bear spray [a form very powerful pepper spray) on airplanes. So donate yours (hopefully unused!) to the park ranger office when you leave. These park rangers are awesome and will not hesitate to risk their lives to rescue you.

 

Note 2:

This is backcountry and even though the trails are well maintained for the most part, be very careful while hiking or navigating the rugged terrain. Do not hike alone. This is bear country and that is not the only danger. People have fallen to death and drowned here. Cell phones do not work in most of the area and certainly do not work on most trails. To put it bluntly, you can get killed or vanish and never be found if you are not careful. You may be working out in the gym every day, but that does not come close to the effort needed for some of the longer hikes. I saw a woman being carried by two park rangers on a narrow trail. She was hiking alone and slipped, fell and hurt her leg badly. She was lucky that another hiker was in the area and he went down to get help for her. I recommend the excellent and free ranger led hikes for those not experienced with backcountry hiking. Check the NPS web site for activities. You can enjoy the place without hiking too if you wish.

Many_Glacier_Hotel_Night_Leica_S2 (4 of 17)

Lodging

At places like these and especially if you are coming from afar, I always recommend staying as close to the scene of action as possible even if it means paying more. See the few images I took at dawn. These were right outside the lodges I stayed in. It would have been very hard to reach most of these locations on time to catch the light if I stayed outside. Having said that, the lodges inside the park are very old and Spartan and not exactly cheap. Some of them like the Many Glacier Hotel are about 100 years old. So you are paying for location and not creature comfort. I would however, say that irrespective of where you are staying in this area, do visit Lake McDonald Lodge and Many Glacier hotel and see the lobby inside. It will be hard not be impressed by the magnificent wooden pillars and interior made of wood.

Lodging in the park can be hard to get, so plan well ahead you intended dates of visit. Campgrounds also tend to get filled, so if you plan on camping do not expect to drop in and find spot.

Montana_Moon_Leica_S2 (5 of 17)

Note that a lot of shots were taken is hazy conditions due to grass fires in Idaho and the greater than average temperatures that resulted in a persistent haze for most of the period. Enjoy and I will be happy to questions in the comments area.

Thank You

Eeraj Qaisar

 

 

Aug 222013
 

Rhinocam with NEX7 and Hasselblad Distagon 40mm

170 Megapixels with a Sony NEX camera and Vizalex RhinoCam

by Dierk Topp – His flickr is HERE

Hi Steve,

today I have a very special topic again, the “Vizelex RhinoCam for Sony NEX E-Mount Cameras“.

rhino1

The Rhinocam is more or less an adapter for medium format lenses on NEX cameras – but much more than just an adapter! When I read about it, I ordered the next day and got it about 4 weeks ago – and I am very exited.

But let my start from my beginning more or less.

My very beginning was in 1956, when I did my first photographs with the Agfa Box of my mother and I got exited the first time. To make this long story short, my analog time ended with 6×6, 4×5 and the panorama cameras Horizon 202 and the last one was the ultimate Seitz Roundshot, shooting up to 360° (and even more).

Then I switched to digital. After some Nikon Coolpix I got the Nikon D70 with 6 Mpix. I love big prints but the resolution was very low for big prints. So I got a Panosaurus panorama head, adjusted it for the nodal points of my lenses and started shooting and stitching panoramas (with PTGui and TPAssembler) and printed and sold 150x50cm panorama prints. That was great!

When Gigapan offered a beta program for their Epic pano head, I participated and used the tiny Leica D-Lux3 with 10 Mpix. and stitched up to 200 images giving up to 800 Mpix images:) You may see them at gigapan.com (search for -dierk-)

During the last years I was shooting many stitched landscapes with Leica M9 and M Monochrom and the NEX7 and now the NEX6. Prints are now up to 1x2m on my wall:) Allmost my landscape and nature images are stitched images. Going out with the Leica and one or two lenses (most of the time 21mm and 35mm) I can get any angle of view by just shooting one or even two rows hand-held.

As sad, I love big prints. I stitched also from shifted images of the Nikkor 24mm PC-E and lately with the Canon 17mm TS-E for higher resolution and wider angle of view, especially with the 17mm TS-E. But that is a new story.

When I saw the Rinocam, I ordered it the next day and bought two Hasselblad lenses, the Zeiss Distagon 40mm and the Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm. I want to do landscapes and architecture and stills with the macro lens. For the resolution of up to 140 Mpix the best lenses are just good enough and these Hasselblad Zeiss lenses are very big glass value for the money! For the price of the Sony Zeiss 24/1.8 you get the excellent 40mm Distagon, like about 21mm on 24×36 FF. Finally I bought the superb Zeiss Sonnar 150mm/4 for less than 400€, a collector’s item like new!

How does the Rhinocam principle work?

On the front part you find the exchangeable adapter for the lens with the tripod foot, I have the Hasselblad V adapter. Adapters for Mamya 645 and Pentax 645 are also available.

On the back of the Rhinocam is the mount for the NEX E mount cameras. This part can be rotated by 90°. For “Panorama” taking 2 rows of 3 images with the NEX in landscape orientation, and for so called 645, taking 2 rows of 4 images with NEX in portrait orientation.

The camera is now positioned within the images circle of the lens and where the film plane used to be in 6×6 or 645 cameras. For the pictures you move the back with the camera to any position. For guidance there are marks for the horizontal and vertical movements. But as said any position is possible. Sometimes I use additional positions, when for example the unstructured background of stills or the sky will make problems for the stitching. Additional pictures can connect those areas for the stitcher.

You will find more explanations an a movie on the page of Fotodiox Inc. or you can see it below:

Some thoughts and comparison of the Rhinocam/NEX versus digital medium format DMF.

Besides the price the obvious difference is, with stitching several images together, you can only shoot more or less static objects. Witch is obvious and normal for anybody, who used stitching before.

I would like to look at the resolution (there are many more aspects – besides the price :) ). The Rhinocam technique uses 6 to 8 (or more with more overlap) stitched images of 24 MPix/image of the NEX7 or 16 MPix/image of some other NEX models.

  • The effective sensor size results in 4.5×6 mode of the Rhinocam is about 58×48 mm compared with 48×36 mm of the Leaf Aptus 75S for example (there are bigger and much more expensive ones)
  • the resulting resolution is about 11700 x 9300 = 108 MPixel with the Rhinocam and the NEX6 versus 6726 x 5040 = 34 MPixel of the Leaf 75S – the NEX7 even higher (140+).
  • ich made a test with NEX7 and shooting 10 instead 8 images (in 4.5×6 mode) and got 17.000×11.300 pixel = 192 MPixel.
  • If you downsample the NEX6/7 files to the resolution of the 75S, you must get some very good IQ (if you start with a good lens like Zeiss glass of course)
  • another aspect is high ISO: the high ISO of the NEX cameras is good and getting better. What I read and see, the high ISO on DMF seems to be very limited
  • and one more: my NEX7 is converted to infrared and I can use it on the Rhincam as well. That gives me IR images with this impressive resolution of 140+ MPixel
  • by using the big image circle of the 6×6 lenses you don’t get any problems with parallax and foreground, as you may know from stitching images by moving the camera. You move within the same image and “simulate” a much bigger sensor
  • shooting the Rinocam is fast! Setting up the picture is the same as with any other tripod shooting, and the shooting of the 8 images does not take more than about 15 seconds (or even less). Moving clouds and changing light is not a big problem. Shooting large format takes far more time and preparation
  • stitching is like any other stitching. On my 3 years old AMD quad core WIN7 with 16 GB using the free MS ICE takes about 20 seconds.

 

There are really strange arguments in some post and “reports”:

  • you need a good tripod – wrong! no problem, for stitching images you even can shoot hand-held. The stitcher takes care
  • even Fotodiox says: shoot auto WB and auto exposure: shooting RAW auto WB is unimportant, auto exposure give you big problem with light and shadows. Experienced pano shooters use manual exposure (or even bracketing)
  • focusing on the ground glass is a problem: wrong! The ground glass is just for first framing. I control the exact framing of the final image and the focusing with the perfect liveview of the NEX.

Last, but not least: who needs this high resolution?

  • not for the Web, life could be easier!
  • but for real big prints, where you can walk around with your eyes on the picture and enjoy the details
  • you don’t have to be Andres Gurski! My prints are up to 1x2m and I love them :)
  • with all these pixels you can use parts of the image like a shift lens

Please, all the PROs making money with DMF cameras out there, don’t kill me, I make fun – not money with my gear :))) I bought the Rinocam like anybody else and don’t get payed for my typing.

You find more information and a movie about the Rhinocam on the site of Fotodiox Inc.

You may find my images with the Rhonocam here or on my flickr album: www.flickr.com/photos/dierktopp/sets/72157634801332367/

Amazon sells the RhinoCam HERE

Too many words, here are some examples:

First, here is the “monster” on location

With my special NEX7-IR (converted to infrared) and the Zeiss Distagon 40mm/4. You see the ground glass for the first rough framing and the old-fashioned focusing aid in the center. It works for the first focus but for exact focus you use the NEX with the magnification. For the exact control of what you will get on the image you also use the liveview of the NEX and slide the camera to the outer positions.

Rhinocam with NEX7 and Hasselblad Distagon 40mm

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon 40mm/4 

stitch of 10 images (2×5) from Rhinocam = 14.000×9.300 pixel. A higher resolution of about 6000×4000 pixel is here

Rhinocam with NEX6  and Hasselblad Distagon 40mm@f/16

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a crop (the real 1:1 is here)

Rhinocam with NEX6  and Hasselblad Distagon 40mm@f/16

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon 40mm/4 

stitch of 8 images from Rhinocam about 110 MPixel. A higher resolution of about 6000×4000 pixel is here

Mail Attachment

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Sonnar 150mm/4

 stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 110 MPixel. A higher resolution of about 6000×4000 pixel is here. If you look at the upper right part, you will find, that this part is blurred, as the image for this part was blurred. But I had only this shot.

Mail Attachment

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Sonnar 150mm/4 

stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 80MPixel. A higher resolution of about 6000×2700 pixel is here. The distance to the houses is about 200m

80 MPixel with Rhinocam with NEX6  and Zeiss Sonnar 4/150mm

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NEX7-IR infrared with Hasselblad Zeiss Sonnar 150mm/4
stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 123 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 6000×2700 pixel is here

123 MPixel with Rhinocam with NEX7-IR  and Zeiss Sonnar 4/150mm

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170 MPix – 
NEX7-IR infrared with Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon 40mm/4

stitch of 10 images from Rhinocam about 170 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 5700×4000 pixel is here

170 MPix - NEX7-IR and Rhinocam with Hasselblad Zeiss Distagon 4

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Makro-Planar120mm/4
stitch of 2×3 images from Rhinocam about 80 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 6000×2700 pixel is here (here on the big image on flickr you see, what is on the picture with your mouse over for “who is who”)

yes, I know, but I was too lazy to clean up the dust :)

a real picture of a 1:1 crop is here

Rhinocam with NEX6  and Zeiss Makro-Planar 4/120mm

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Makro-Planar120mm/4
stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 100 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 5000×4000 pixel is here 

on this one I “invented” another trick: focus stacking :)
the camera and Rhinocam was on a macro rail. After shooting the two vertical shots I moved the rail by three cm to the back
this makes the whole picture like focus stacking and sharp from front to back. 
Normally you do focus stacking with the whole picture and let the software find the sharp ares for stacking. Her I just took only the sharp areas and let the stitcher put it all together.

Uff, hard to explain, I hope, somebody will understand, what I mean :)

Mail Attachment

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Makro-Planar120mm/4
stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 95 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 4000×4000 pixel is here 

a real picture of a 1:1 crop is here

95 MPix - NEX6 and Rhinocam with Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Makro-Pl

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NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Makro-Planar120mm/4
stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 95 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 4000×4000 pixel is here

95 MPix - NEX6 and Rhinocam with Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Makro-Pl-

NEX6 with Hasselblad Zeiss Makro-Planar120mm/4
stitch of 2×4 images from Rhinocam about 95 MPixel
a higher resolution of about 4000×4000 pixel is here

85 MPix - NEX6 and Rhinocam with Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Makro-Pl-

a real picture of a 1:1 crop is here (it is still 2600×2200 pixel)

85 MPix - NEX6 and Rhinocam with Hasselblad Zeiss 120mm Makro-Pl

I hope, you enjoyed it and have some neu ideas for your/our passion photography :)

Dierk
Amazon sells the RhinoCam HERE

Jun 102013
 

USER REPORT: The Noctilux of Hasselblad, the Zeiss 110 f/2 Planar by Jerry Bei

Hi Steve:

While I am waiting for the arrival of my Leica M typ 240 that I would like to share my recent experiences with a legendary Hasselblad lens, the Carl Zeiss 110mm F2.0 Planar lens. I am a big fan of super shallow Depth-of-field and bokehlicious images, I believe with the correct use of aperture that one can enhance the subject of the photo. The Hasselblad medium format film camera has been my companion for quite some time now, it is the “perfect” MF camera for me and part of this is due to the superb qualities of those Carl Zeiss lenses. After owning and shooting with a variety of these lenses, there is always a lens in back of my mind.

The Hasselblad 110mm F2.0 Planar lens is indeed a “dream” lens, just like the noctilux of Leica which outputs incredible bokeh and unique characteristics. I have been searching lens on the internet for quite a while since there are not too many of them available at once. There are basically two versions of the lens: the F and FE models of the lens. The F lens can only be used on focal plane Hasselblad bodies with built-in camera shutter and the FE version has some electronic parts specially designed for FE series Hasselblad bodies such as the 203FE, which demands a higher price tag for its more modern electronics. My lovely 2000 FC/M camera that I did my street photography work with has broken down due to focal plane failure so I upgraded to a more recent model, the 201F with a cloth focal plane shutter rather than fragile titanium ones in the 2000FC/M. It is the perfect match with the Hasselblad 110mm F2 lens and this combination works like a charm.

The first thing you notice when you are holding the lens is quite heavy, coming at 750 grams, which is significantly heavier than my Hasselblad 100mm F3.5 C lens. The F version of this lens were produced between 1991-1998 and the construction consists of 7 elements/5 groups with the aperture ranges from an insane F2 to F16 in 1/2 stop increments. Keep in mind that F2 in the Medium Format world is approximately similar to F1 in the 35mm format, which produces incredibly shallow paper-thin DOF. In practical use, the lens at the start was very challenging to use, especially for living subjects on the streets that I like to photograph but once you get used to it then everything becomes easier. Just as a side note, I would recommend for Hasselblad users to change their focusing screen to either Matte or Matte D with increased brightness/clarity when working with this lens, which helps significantly in practical use. The filter size for this particular lens is in bayonet mount (Bay 70) and I would recommend the 77mm UV size adapter since this is a much affordable option.

The performance of the Hasselblad 110mm F2.0 Planar lens is truly remarkable, it deserves to wear the crown of super-fast lenses in the Medium Format world. The rendering is typical Zeiss with tendency to the warm side with vivid colours and the out-of-focus areas are pleasing to the eye with smooth bokeh. The images coming out of this lens are very sharp, probably not as sharp as the Hasselblad 100mm F3.5 lens since that one is the sharpest but the 110mm lens possesses very unique and special characteristics. If you like super-fast lenses and looking for a unique lens in the medium format world then the Hasselblad 110mm lens cannot be missed.

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