Nov 132015

Spain, Costa Blanca with the Mamiya 7

By Dirk Dom



Spent a week in Moraira, Costa Blanca, Spain with my folks and my sister and her husband.

I took the Linhof technical camera and the Mamiya 7 with the 65mm and 150mm lens. These lenses were newly bought and I hadn’t used them yet.

The 150mm has a bad rap, because it is supposed to be difficult to focus with the rangefinder. So far, I only had the 43mm superwide for that camera, which I always zone focused. This was in fact the first time I was really obliged to use the rangefinder.

It turned out that all my exposures were focused spot on. I think the bad reputation of the 150 is because many people buy this lens for street photography (it’s equivalent to a 77mm on full frame (35mm film) and focusing with the rangefinder on moving subjects may be difficult. You need something with good contrast.

Because I was enjoying this vacation with other people, I didn’t use the Linhof. I shot the 150mm all the time, except for one shot with the 65. All in all I shot eight films, 80 images.

Well, enough said.

For the tech people:

Mamiya 7, 6×7 format.
150mm f/4.5
65mm f/4.5
Kodak Tmax 400 exposed for 800, developed in Tmax developer at 24°C for six minutes
Orange filter
Scanned with Epson V750 at 2,400PPI, photoshopped (levels, burning and dodging)
Prints on Hahnemühle Baryta.

Here we go:

Here I had this diaphragm spot. I decided to make it more obvious and use it in the composition. I think it came out nice, but of course it’s not something I do every day.


Underwater rocks are always beautiful. Black and white isn’t an obvious choice for this, because the brown rock and the beautiful blue water. I think this simple image came out nice.


On the way to Denia this landscape with three clouds.


This is the Ifach, the epic rock at Calpe which was a navigation landmark for the Phoenicians.


When I saw this image, I only had a second. I grabbed the camera and fired. This shot for some reason was extremely difficult to post process, because the coastline in the back was a perfectly even grey. It took four tries to make it into something sensible, and even now I’m not fully satisfied. But I can’t make it any better.


This tower I’ve been shooting for years. The sky happened to be beautiful this time.


I just love cloudscapes. A few weeks ago, I thought: “Why don’t I take photographs of just clouds, without landscape underneath?

These are my first images.



Only shot taken with the 65mm on this trip.


These cloud shots are a riot. I use the shot as a template and then I burn and dodge to taste. It may sound a little weird, but I take a great deal of time doing minute detail, going back and forth from a big image to a small one. I only stop when it looks perfect and balanced to me. I guess this is the ultimate “Negative is the Score, Print is the Performance” (the famous Ansel Adams quote) experience.


Well, ten shots out of eighty. Not bad.

The Mamiya 7 is an ultimate fun camera. It handles extremely easy, and the negatives… Well, let’s just say half a year ago I really, really wanted a Sony A7S, well that want has just gone away, I’m on a different road. I’ve never had such a positive photographic experience as with medium format black and white. I must say the rangefinder experience is extremely positive.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the show, thanks for looking.

Oh, yes, got a website now:



Oct 122015

Things have been gettin’ weird man, real weird. The noises in my head, the flashing of the lights.
Sometimes you stumble out of bed in the middle of the night to take a look.
Is it real or is it My Venice Acid Dream?

“My Venice Acid Dream”

Multiple exposure shot, Minolta XK, Rokkor 50mm 1.4, Fuji C200 film.

Peace out


My Venice Acid Dream

Oct 022015

Film Friday: Cote d’Azur with 500CM and Fujichrome

By Massimiliano Farinetti

Hi Brandon and Steve, after submitting you some black and white medium format long exposures ( here I am again with some medium format color slides…

I spent my holidays in Hyeres, west end of Cote d’Azur, a place I actually love. It is really comfortable to roam around: Porquerolles island is just fifteen minutes away by ferry, Saint Tropez forty minutes driving, Esterel massif and shoreline on the way to my destination.

These are places well-known to me and this year I went there with my Hasselblad 500CM with two lenses, Distagon 40/4 and Planar 80/2,8 with a pocket full of Provia 100F and Velvia 50.

Films have been processed in Tetenal E6 kit, this selection has been scanned with an Epson V600 at 1200 dpi as they are and they have not been photoshopped in any way.

Believe me, these digital files are simply a small, really small, idea of what a slideshow with my Rollei P11 can be…

I thank you again if you will admit also these photos to your always stimulating website















Massimiliano Farinetti

Oct 012015

Shooting mushrooms with the Schneider Tele-Arton 270mm f/5.5

By Dirk Dom

I bought this lens for my Linhof Technikardan 23 to be able to shoot close ups. This is a big lens, and the optical system is a tele, so that bellows extension on the camera is a good deal less than 270mm at infinity. It’s also an older lens, the shutter times go 1 sec, ½, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200 and there it stops. I paid $200 for the lens.


Diaphragm is thirteen leaves, which makes it pretty much round all the time, the lens stops down to f/32. It’s a big lens, weighs more than a kilo.


With the Technikardan I shoot 6×9 rollfilm. The 270mm is equivalent to 115mm on full frame.


Today I tried it out, on mushrooms.

I shot my beloved Kodak Tmax 400, pushed to 800, no filter.

Two things were new in my outfit:

To be able to get very low, I had put the ball head of my big tripod on a wooden board, so I could shoot from about 23 centimeters (nine inches) high. Normally, to get that low with long shutter times, you’d use a beanbag, but with the Linhof I have to exchange the ground glass for the film holder and I need to keep the camera absolutely immobile.

The second new thing I tried was the Gitzo GT 1543 T 6 layer carbon travel tripod. This tripod, which had cost me $400 used, I had taken in the Redwood forest in the vicinity of san Francisco, proved incredibly sturdy for its two pounds and a half and I decided to try it with the Tele- Arton at full extension of the camera.

My ball head-board and the Gitzo tripod worked beautifully, and the lens is like a dream come true. You haven’t seen bokeh until you try medium and large format.

But no doubt you’re waiting for the photographs. In three hours I shot sixteen images, six mushrooms. I bracketed a bit because the light was difficult and I shot in rapidly changing light under trees. Here are the good ones:

image020 image021 image022 image023 image024

The nice thing about film is that even very high contrasts don’t burn out. It’s all smooth and creamy. The mushrooms in the hollow of the tree were real dark and I had difficulty focusing. (It was a 8 sec exposure at f/5.5) You have to know my name “Dom” means “stupid” in Dutch. Well, I earned my name this time. I got the marvelous idea to put something contrasty and shiny at the mushrooms. So what did I do? I took the stainless steel dark slide out of the film holder and put it there. Putting it back, I discovered the naked film. Woops! Shot ruined. Next time I’ll take my car key or bring a small torch haha!. Shooting a technical camera is full of such things. There are no safeguards, everything that happens is your own fault.

Scanned on an Epson V750 flatbed at 2,400 PPI, Silverfast software, which works great.




Oct 012015


Leica is not just for Street

by Jesus

Hey Steve , love your website. I’ve sent you a few images in the past but never submitted any so here goes…

I recently had surgery for a torn adductor muscle so I’ve had time to do a little web surfing.

Funny thing most articles I’ve read  on the old inter web insist Leica rangefinders are strictly to be used as street photography instruments.

Apparently I didn’t get the memo. I’m a machinist by trade and I think that’s what drew me to the Leica M. I’ve been fortunate enough to own a dozen M bodies and 3 R bodies and around 50 lenses.


And I’ve never shot street photography.

I’m also amused by the comments that only dentist and doctors used Leica’s so here’s a few images that I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot with friends and live in muses

First Two Images

Leica M9 50 MM Asph



Amber Leica M8 75 APO



M9 50 Lux


And finally
Live in muse and friend

Leica M7
50 Lux
Agfa 100 APX


Abrazos ~ Jesus

Sep 302015

A Hot Summer in Rome

by Massimiliano Tiberi

Dear Steve how are you!

I am here in Rome waiting for the autumn looking back at what I shot this summer and I would like to share with you all my roll of film done with the Leica M2 and a great Tri-X. So refreshing to shot with a so simple camera.

Rome in August can be very hot and the city is a bit empty and lonely but so interesting because something that is hidden became more visible. The people in Rome are so incredibly surrounded by masterpieces that sometimes you forget the living ones to focus on what was done by the ancient inhabitant of this city.

Something of the beauty of this city is fading away so do not miss the chance to visit soon.

more if you like there :

I wish you can enjoy :-)










Sep 212015

A night of Post Processing

By Dirk Dom

What a night!

I did ten black and white shots of my San Francisco trip.

At first, I got all crazy about printing big and I wanted drum scans made. Since that, and printing four feet would see me bankrupt, I used my own scans and enjoyed these.

I’ll print 12 x 18 inches, 30 x 45 cm, on Baryta paper. With my own scans I can go to 24 inches, 60 cm at 300 DPI.

This was a night of calm creativity and intense concentration.

Ansel Adams, the greatest printer that ever lived, said: “the negative is the score, the print the performance”. I performed tonight.

I’m deeply grateful I can do this.

The tools I use would make any Photoshop specialist laugh so hard he’d get cramps, but I use them until I can’t make the print any better. I do burning and dodging, a little bit of levels, mainly to check if I reach the black and white limits (ALT key), that’s all. Of course the images need spotting. Photoshop is as refined as you want, no limit.

Usually I have a very vivid idea about the potential of the print and what I want it to become, getting there is usually not difficult but takes lots of time.

Well, here they are, I didn’t include shots of the city because buildings don’t fit in this series.

This one I made very high key to offset the jet black charred stump and the rest of the Redwood forest.


Here I think I got the range of light in the forest.


Another jet black stump.


The bank of a creek in Ukiah. This shot is so sharp you see every thread of moss on the trees. It screams “Enlarge me BIG!!!”


My son.


One afternoon, the clouds were just magic in Ukiah. I was out for hours watching it all evolve.





Finally, I include this city shot, because of the nice sky: San Francisco from Bernal Heights. I think that’s the best view of the city.


I’m so glad that last year I decided to go for film and not for digital black and white. There are always beautiful structures in the negative, often totally unexpected.

Like the cloud in the San Francisco shot:


No way you can get such a thing digitally! (Does Nik software emulate this? I’d like to know) Such structures make a print glow. A print shows this sort of detail, to discover and enjoy.
I think there is nothing more beautiful in photography than fine black and white.

Well, enough.



If it doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it’s no good.



Sep 142015

Quick Shot: Analogue Love by Matthijs Beentjes

I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and really enjoy it. At first, I was interested in the articles because of what people got out of their Fuji X-gear (I’m a X-Pro enthusiast) but more and more I learned to check out the photos instead of the gear.

And got interested in analogue photography again. This shot was made with a Yashica D on Kodak rollfilm. The film must’ve been quite old, hence the weird colouring. Other photo’s from the same roll don’t have that. But I like it as it is! The mood, the grain, the speckles, the weird red blob… The anticipation before and surprise after the development of the film… I missed that. But now I’ve got it back. An I love it!


Keep it up and thanks for reading,

Matthijs Beentjes

Sep 082015

Six weeks in San Francisco with a Hasselblad Xpan and a Mamiya 7

By Dirk Dom


For the second time I spent six weeks in San Francisco, photographing. Last time, two years ago, I used a digital Olympus PEN with Canon FD lenses. Now, I wanted to go with my Linhof Technikardan technical camera, but I got cold feet. I just didn’t have enough experience with that camera. So, I took my two favorite fun camera’s, the Hasselblad Xpan and the Mamiya 7.

For the Xpan I bought the 90mm lens, which turned out a very good choice, as I used it 90% of the time. I shot Kodak Ektar with it. The Mamiya 7, I have the 43mm superwide, and I used it with Kodak Tmax 400 black and white, pushed one stop because I’m crazy about grain, and an orange filter.

I didn’t bring a digital camera, which turned out a very good decision.

I walked the city for about five hours each day.

Well, let’s start with the Xpan.

In the beginning I carried the 45mm and the 90mm, but the last three weeks I just took the 90mm. This lens is equivalent (on 35mm) to a 50mm horizontally. Panoramically, the limited height of your image always makes for very nice framing, you can really get into details. Shooting the Xpan is immense fun, it’s a gem of a camera. I took some 220 images with it, only shooting when I had something which was really worth recording and taking great care of composition.

The colors of the Ektar 100 film are real nice and saturated.



I saw the extremely colorful tattoos on the arm of this British guy and I asked him if I could shoot him during the ferry ride to Sausalito. I got him with the Golden Gate Bridge behind.


Also on the ferry, this lady with fluorescent sunglasses. This is not a real panorama, but I like the calming width to the image.


Segway expeditions you meet regularly. This is my best shot of them.


Due to public transport schedules, because I had to get back to Pacifica every day I couldn’t really shoot during the perfect hours of the afternoon. Only a few times my ex-wife took me downtown between 3 and 6PM. The light is just incredible, then. I did this trip on a minimum budget, sleeping in a little tent on a deck at my son’s, but next time, I’ll go three weeks instead of six and spend the money on a rented car so I can go at any time and also explore the surroundings of S.F.


Golden Gate Park. Lots of opportunities. Still some poppies: the Xpan can also be used for other things than landscape.


I also continuously search for abstract opportunities. This is just a piece of pavement in deep shade.


The Mamiya 7

For some reason I’ve never used with anything else than black and white film. It’s strange, I have camera’s which feel like color and camera’s which feel black and white. Like my Mamiya C330 I have only used with Fuji Velvia so far. Shooting black and white is always very serious to me. These images are quickly postprocessed, the prints, I spend many hours on, perfecting.

Of course, I shot the Golden Gate Bridge.


See the grain in the sky? Love it.

The next picture I discovered with Easter, when I spent two weeks there. Now I had the Mamiya with me, and did it in black and white.


In a shopping center I saw a reflection of myself in an elevator door; I held the camera at my waist, after all I had a superwide, and got this shot: I look like a security officer.


I spent a weekend in Ukiah, about 130 miles from San Francisco. Nature was beautiful, and there was a park with Redwoods. Not like Muir woods, but here, there was no one and I could go averywhere. This is the first time I got good redwood shots. Next time, I’lll try it with someone posing to get the size. I shot from a tripod, with an orange filter, and a spotmeter. Shutter times were from 1/60th to 4 seconds. No way you can do this without a tripod. The orange filter made for very smooth images with lots of nice grey tones. There is a severe drought in California, and I read in the Scientific American that the Redwoods are beginning to die. Isn’t it horrible?

These trees are there from before Jesus Christ, and we manage to destroy them in 30 years. Bravo, Humanity!


The shot above and the one below are my two favorite ones from the trip. I’ll print them 4 foot longest side on Hahnemühle Baryta and hang them together. The lower shot, my son discovered when he saw the shade of the building on the sidewalk; He photographed it with his Iphone; it looked real nice, so I did it too. The iphone is an amazing camera. I made this composition in three tries, just not having the sun in and aiming for maximum diagonals:


A last one which is also a favorite, in the graveyard of Mission Dolores, a 300 year old grave.


Well, that’s it.

Which one is my favorite camera? The Xpan or the Mamiya? They’re both. I do very different things with them. The Xpan is very playful. The Mamiya can get very serious. I used it to its limit this trip, and I’m amazed by what is possible with it. So, they’re both my favorite camera. On trips, when it’s at all possible, I’ll take both. If I can only take one, like on a bicycling trip, it’s an extremely difficult decision.

The Mamiya images are so good that the urge to take the Linhof has gotten less. But I’ll spend a vacation in S.F. with that camera, with a car. The perspective correction possibilities and infinite DOF would do great things in the Redwood forest.



Sep 042015

Film with vintage Nikon F3HP and Lensbaby

By Art

I haven’t shot film since 2003 and really had no intention of looking back given the great digital tools that are available these days. However I was given a vintage film camera a while back and after testing it out casually just to see if it works, I got pulled back into the world of film. I have since purchased a number of film cameras from the 80’s and 90’s in different formats and have to say, I am having a blast! So far, the camera I am really bonding the most with is an early 80’s Nikon F3HP. The manual focus Nikkor legacy lenses are great. However I had a Lensbaby sitting around that I had purchased for my Nikon DSLR some years back collecting dust on my shelf… I thought I would give it a whirl on the F3. I discovered that the rougher more organic look of film really makes the Lensbaby come alive. The grain of the film just melts with the lens effect and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the result. I have attached a few shots below. They were shot on Kodak Portra 160, a really nice emulsion.

Thanks for reading and you can see more of my photography (both digital and film) at and






Sep 012015

NYC, Leica M6 and a pocket full of Tri-X

By Arda Ozum

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to walk the streets of NYC with a few friends and nothing on my agenda except to take photographs with my Leica M6. In an effort to travel light and keep things simple, I took only the Leica M6, 35mm ASPH Summicron and Tri-X film. This is my favourite camera/lens/film combination for street photography.

The Leica is a truly superb camera for this type of photography. It is small and unobtrusive and produces outstandingly sharp negatives. People are often surprised when they see a 16×20 print from a 35mm Tri-X negative because it holds up so well! I shoot Tri-X rated at iso 400 and develop in D-76 diluted 1:1 at 20 degrees C for 9.75 minutes.



I get into a great rhythm with this camera when I am shooting with it for extended periods of time. Without the distraction of menus, buttons, etc. I have a very simple tool with which to create images. I have only three things to consider: aperture, shutter and focus. I love the simplicity! I can focus on image making instead of navigating menus and settings. The viewfinder gives a view of real life as it happens. If there is daylight, I will often use hyperfocal distance to pre-focus the camera so that I can react quickly to things that are happening around me. For example, in sunny condition and relying on sunny-16 for exposure settings, I will set shutter at 1/500 and aperture at f/11. I will then set focus so that 1.5m to 10m will be in acceptable sharp focus. This allows me a nice working distance to react very quickly to what may happen in my immediate vicinity on the street. It is instant. No focus required! The photograph of the young man on the skateboard was captured with almost no warning as he came speeding past me.




In other situations, I will use the meter in the camera and the zone system to determine exposure. For example, at night, I would often meter a dark area of the street that I wanted to capture detail in and place that area in zone 2 or 3. I might also check a brighter area to ensure I wasn’t blowing out highlights. The meter in the M6 is not a spot meter so I would often pick an area in my scene that would be at least 10% of my viewfinder area and make a decision as to what zone I would place that part of my scene and set my exposure accordingly. Although everyone has different tastes, I did very little editing and in most cases, no editing of the film scans and I am happy with the way they look.




The Leica and I had some fun that week in NYC. One shot from the Empire State was shot at 1 second long using my elbows and forehead against the glass to steady the camera. One of the photos was even shot using a pint of beer as my tripod to grab a 30 second exposure of the interior of an old pub! In the week I was in NYC, I exposed 250 images and scanned 190 of them to take a closer look because they had potential. Of the 190 images scanned, I displayed about 60 of them. You can see more of the images from NYC and some of my other photography at



Aug 282015


A year with film – Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad

By Adam Laws

I hope your well and have a cup of tea close by, it’s pretty miserable here in London. It’s been awhile since my last submission and I thought I would write to you about my year of analogue photography with a Leica, Contax, Nikon, and Hasselblad.

Since my last post on portraiture with the Sony A7 ‘apparently’ I have been going all hipster though I must say without the beard by shooting analogue.

The majority of my work is still shot on my Sony A7.

Sony images 1, 2 and 3 – 

Sony 1

Sony 2

Sony 3

However I have been supplementing my digital work with far more analogue images, furthermore I generally shoot all my personal snaps now on film. I don’t believe film is better in any way but I do believe without trying to sound all hippy film gives a more organic image. Most importantly I enjoy the process of shooting film more, and surely fun is the most important element in the creative process.

So I’ve gone through some cameras this year, which I will elaborate on why giving a brief synopsis/feel of the cameras.


I bought a Leica M6 TTL with a .85 viewfinder and 50 ‘cron. Leica’s are beautiful aren’t they? The lore written about them makes them sound at times like unicorns at times, as such I romanticized owning one.

My thoughts on owning one – Well they are beautifully built. Solid and satisfyingly weighty. I did struggle with ownership, which ultimately made me sell it after a few months. This is not the cameras fault but more the time in my life I purchased it. Soon after I started my part-time photography degree, I needed to shoot an element of film in a studio and the Leica with its limited flash sync was not ideally suited to this task.

I also struggled with the notion of how expensive it was. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful piece of machinery, which evokes an emotive response and for that I totally appreciate why individuals buy them. However for the less money I could purchase a Hasselblad 500cm, Nikon FM2n, and Contax G2 all of them with glass and have change. Is a Leica M6 better than all 3 of these cameras? And would I have less fun shooting these cameras. So I sold the Leica to find out.

Leica images 1, 2, and 3

Lecia 1

Lecia 2

Leica 3


This camera is a beast. Well it terms what I’m used to. The sound of the low thud of the shutter makes me smile. I do struggle with its size. I’m used to traveling light so having a big medium format camera is somewhat strange for me. It also interesting shooting back to front, something I am still getting used to.

The best thing about the camera, even more so than the negative size it produces is the reaction I get from the model. As soon as a model sees this camera in my experience they instantly get more serious about the project.

Hasselblad 1, 2, and 3

Hasselblad 1

Hasselblad 2

Hasselblad 3

Nikon FM2n

This is becoming one of my favourite cameras I own. The bright viewfinder, the solidness of the camera, and the big manual dials. It does not feel as good as the Leica, not as well made or smooth. I would say the camera is more utilitarian workhorse. I use it with an awesome Nikkor 50mm 1.2, which is a joy to use.

Generally this camera is loaded with FP4 film shot relatively wide own in a studio environment, where I would be using the model light as a source of light in-between shots with Sony or Contax G2. I have started taking this camera on the street with me when I fancy shooting B’n’W.

Nikon 1, 2, and 3

Nikon 1

Nikon 2

Nikon 3

Contax G2

The Contax is pretty much always in my bag. It can do everything my Sony can but it uses film. Unlike the Nikon this is normally loaded with colour Portra. The focus is always accurate and makes a great travel companion.

The contax does feels better in my hand than the Leica ever did. This is due to the thumb rest situated at the back of the camera. In addition the dials are a step up from that of the Nikon, but the camera feels very electronic with autofocus sounding something like Robocop. I also use this as a secondary studio camera generally mimicking the settings I had with the Sony to have a comparative organic film image.

Contax 1, 2, and 3

Contax 1

Contax 2

Contax 3


Generally there isn’t one. I think ultimately as long as you enjoy the process of creating images that is the most important element.

Sometimes there is a more suitable tool for the job, but that doesn’t also mean it is the most fun way to complete the job after all.

For me I like the organic images, the slower pace of shooting, the challenges asked of you using antiquated cameras, and thought processes that go through your mind.

I have enjoyed playing about with different formats and cameras. I think it’s always a great idea to play around with as many cameras as possible that way you know what you like and don’t. In addition the challenges posed by new equipment makes you think about your photography, which is never a bad thing.

You can view more of my work on my website:

However I regular update my Instagram with my newest work:

Jul 312015

Film Friday: Death Valley 1987

by Dierk Topp

In 1987 I spent 3 months on an assignment in San Francisco, CA. At that time the Kodak T-MAX was announced and Kodak said: The world’s finest grained 100-speed black-and-white film.

To be sure I took many roles of film with me. On a weekend trip I took many shots in the Death Valley with my Nikon FA and good prime Nikkor lenses, polarizer, tripod and mirror lock up to make sure, to get the best possible results.

Of course I had no lab with me and gave the film to a professional lab for development.


When I got the developed film back, I was very disappointed. I could see the grain and dirt with the naked eye! It looked more like ISO 800 or even higher to me.

What I was told and did not know: Kodak tested new products abroad to avoid any problems in the USA.  When I asked the lab, they told me, they did not know the film and developed the film in their “normal soup” !!

Find the result below. It is about the best, I could get.

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

analog: Death Valey 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon FA

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

wrong developement of the T-MAX in the lab reulting in severe grain

More of this series in my flickr album “Death Valley 1987, T-Max 100, Nikon SLR”

I digitized the negatives with a Sony A7R, bellows with enlarger lens and flash. Processing with Lightroom 5.

Dierk Topp

Jun 292015

Instax fun, fun, fun!

In memory of my father, Andre Lietaert.

By Ivan Lietaert


On the 28th of February, my father, Andre Lietaert died. As my family and I were coming terms with this loss, we were going through old shoe boxes filled with pictures and old photographic albums, sifting through the pictures covering a whole life of 78 years. Then I suddenly came across a picture I had totally forgotten it even existed: a polaroid picture of me and my dad, shaky and awkward in color, between 35 and 40 years old. It must be the oldest picture I have of the two of us. In the days and weeks that followed, I was on an emotional ride, and my attention shifted to organising the funeral and more mundane tasks that needed to be done.

But that polaroid had nested deep inside my brain and soon after, I started doing research about instant pictures anno 2015. I quickly came across Fujifilm’s take on the instant picture: the Instax cameras. Until some weeks ago, I was so preoccupied with digital photography (and video), I didn’t even know that instant film is still around, or put to words even better: instant film is coming back. Polaroid stopped producing their instant film, but enthusiasts recreated the original film, and now have a huge following with their “Impossible Project”, I learned. And then there is Fujifilm’s Instax, quite popular in Asia, but less known here in Europe.

After quite extensive research, I decided to jump the wagon and I bought the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, Fujifilm’s most advanced camera, targeted towards the creative enthusiast.


Now, the thing is that using this camera requires a whole different approach and technique compared to digital photography. There is no chimping, no snapping, no shooting tens or hundreds of pictures and then simply deleting the bad ones. No! Taking an Instax picture is an event, it produces a unique print, that will cost you about 1 euro or 1 dollar. So immediately it makes you much more considerate and careful about the framing and the lighting, and even then, you will from time feel guilty when a shot failed. Basically, as when shooting film, it slows down the whole photographic process, and then, of course, there is the exciting waiting game as the picture is developing right there in your hands. As the picture leaves the camera after exposure, a rolling mechanism spreads the developing chemicals across the photographic paper and the development starts. After a minute or so – speed depends on the ambient temperature – the first details appear, and the picture is fully developed after approximately 10 minutes, when the chemical process comes to a halt.




So I took my little daughter to the park and shot my first packet of 10 instax pictures there. I soon found out that this kind of photography is definitely lo-fi, with quite unsharp results, and the lighting/metering is tricky as well, with various degrees of success. But I found the whole thing so intriguing, I was hooked, I guess, and by the end of the week, I had ordered an Instax 210 online, which takes Instax Wide pictures, double the size of the Instax Mini. Both Instax cameras have been around for several years now, and I find them to be both quite well built, though plastic, of course.

Instax has been marketed in various ways. First, there is the ‘fun approach’. Young children love instant pictures; they are fascinated by the pictures as they slowly, as if by magic, appear. Kids (and their parents!) will love it when you give them the pictures to take home, much more than staring at your phone, or the back of your camera. It is great fun at parties – for the young and the old – and the people take home a lasting memory of the event.

Second, Instax is also targeted towards the hipster crowd, male and female; the younger generation of creative people, fashionable, who appreciate the things that really matter. Especially the Mini 90, with its sleek, retro-modern Fujifilm design, seems targeted at young fashionistas and cool, macho hipsters.
There is yet another, more relevant argument to consider: Print It Or Loose It! As this campaign article explains, up to 70 per cent of the youth between 16 and 24 already have lost pictures of important events in their life (due to drive crashes, faulty memory cards, stolen phones etc). Not convinced? Read more about the phenomenon called data rot here. With the Instax camera, you get instantly printed pictures and they will last a lifetime, and beyond. So even in the scenario a global, cataclysmic event, in let’s say 50 years time, your Instax pictures will survive and be a testament to posterity! So here are a couple of my pictures that illustrate how families are likely to take advantage of the Instax cameras.



None of the Instax cameras have a true manual mode; in fact, I tend to get good results in auto mode, but still the outcome of each shot is quite unpredictable. My Instax Mini 90 has a tendency to slightly overexpose, which can be a nuisance. Also, the flash seems to have a mind of its own, ignoring my input. Both cameras have a fixed aperture (F12), there is no zoom and there is little tweaking possible as far as exposure is concerned: one can darken or lighten a picture, and that is it. The Mini 90 has a built in macro mode which allows the closest distance to be 30 cm. The Instax Wide comes with a macro/selfie clip-on lens. The macro mode is interesting for detailed close ups, and it also allows to create a background blur… sort of.


I have used both cameras for some weeks now, and I have still not made up my mind which camera I like best: they both have their positive sides, and their drawbacks. The Mini 90 is small and has lots of creative modes (macro mode, party, kids, double exposure, bulb, darken/lighten). The mini pictures are slightly smaller than a credit card. The Instax Wide is much bulkier, ridiculous really, but renders a picture double the resolution and size of the Mini; also, the great Robert Frank, yes the one of the legendary, groundbreaking photographic book ‘The Americans’, owns one and was quoted saying it takes pictures of “very high quality”. Mind you, this Instax 210 costs only about 70 euros… If you can’t seem to choose between the mini and the wide, like me, buy both because they are dirt cheap anyhow!

The Mini 90 has the most creative modes and my favourite is the ‘double exposure’; here are two results. Again, the outcome of the technique is quite unpredictable, which is actually a good thing, because it is all very exciting.



Really, these Instax cameras stimulate creativity a lot, and soon I was laying out the pictures on my scanner, with various fabrics, cloths and shirts on top them giving this as a result, like a scrapbook. It is great fun, and if you don’t have a scanner, just organise the instants on a nice surface, take out your mobile phone, and take a digital picture of them. Remember: it is likely that the original instant picture will outlive yourself and the digital scan/picture you made of them!


Admittedly, these two fun, dumbed down, plastic toy cameras had rekindled my photographic enthusiasm! I have even dreamed about them, really! But then I started wondering about how useful they would be in a more serious context. What about the unimpressive latitude/dynamic range of the Instax? And, when you start pixel peeping, these instax pictures are awfully unsharp, aren’t they? So my next step was to look at what could be done with them in post, creating a digitally remastered instant picture! I soon discovered that these Instax prints get even better when you add a bit of sharpness and detail. Then I discovered that they can be easily successfully worked upon in post, with various, very unique results. I prefer using the official Google+ app, these days, for my post work, and usually, adding just a few tweaks and effects, will give quite a spectacular, atmospheric result. Below is a picture I took at Polygon Wood, a World War One cemetery nearby where I live – the Ypres/Passchendaele region in Flanders, Belgium. The first is a scan of the original Instax. Those under that one are various tweaked images I got in Google+. Now, I’m not saying these are masterpieces, but they clearly illustrate my point.





Finally, I must warn you, dear reader, on at least two points. First, shooting Instax is highly addictive, and it is not a cheap addiction. So before you go out with one of these, make sure you are in a serene, meditative, controlled mood; if not, Instax costs will eat your wallet empty soon enough.
Second, using Instax may open the gate to analogue photography. I may introduce you, like it did with me, to a whole different photographic universe of laid back, slow paced photography… which, of course, is not a bad thing, is it?

Ivan Lietaert,


May 152015

Film Friday: Riots and Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 on Leica M6

by fiftyasa

Steve already wrote a good review of the Zeiss Biogon T* 2.8/25 back in 2009 (, but the lens does not seem very common among Leica M shooters, especially if compared to other Zeiss lenses like the Planar 50 or Biogon 35.

I recently picked up one copy and tried to shoot some street action in the city of Hamburg where every year peaceful demonstrations and riots take place as a tradition on May 1st. Mounted on a Leica M6 loaded with TriX 400 and TMAX 400, I made my way through the “urban guerrilla”…

Shooting from the hip while walking and pre-setting the focus distance seem to work OK with a bit of luck (although the agents seem to smile at me, I don’t think they realized that I took a photo of them shooting from the hip):


But the lens is wide! It seems you are never close enough… In the following 2 pictures I pre-set the focus distance, walked as close as I could and used the viewfinder to (guess-)frame.


In the picture “you are never close enough” it is interesting to see that the 2 subjects did not notice me despite I was at less than 1 meter from them, while the young guy and the woman behind were probably asking themselves what I was doing so close…


Unfortunately most of the copies of this lens bring up the 35 mm frame lines on the M6, M9 and Zeiss Ikon ZM. This is a bit distracting for me. The 28 mm frame lines would be a better choice (but not perfect, this lens is substantially wider!) if the external viewfinder is not available, but, at the time the lens came to the market, it targeted the M8 where the correct frame lines (35 mm equivalent) is triggered.

It is known that the lens can focus down to 0.5 m but the rangefinder disengages at 0.7 m. So if you want to use it from 0.7 and 0.5 m, you’ll have to guess the distance. I would also like to mention that, despite some websites state that the Zeiss Ikon ZM can use the rangefinder to focus down to 0.5m, this is not true. I have a Zeiss Ikon ZM and the rangefinder disengages at 0.7 m like the Leica M6 and M9.

Being the angle of view so wide, the Biogon 25 is an ideal companion for landscapes and cityscapes


Or to give a “wide angle effect” to your shots:


Or to capture a lot of things in one frame:


Yes, the lens is sharp. In the picture above you can actually read the street sign next to the last flag on the right:

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 11.42.24 PM

Three more attempts to get closer to the subject:




These pictures are digitalized by photographing the Kodak negatives with a Sony A7 mounted on a copy stand and equipped with bellow and macro lens Apo Rodagon-D 1x 75 mm. Negatives are inverted with negfix8 and post-processed (mainly tone curve adjustment only).

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