Feb 202013
 

Sharpness and Bokeh are bourgeois concepts by Dro Grigorian

As a Leica user, I know whats it’s like to have a bond with your camera. I myself shoot with an M8, M9 with a 50 Lux and 35 Cron. I get results that I like more than any other combination. But sometimes, you have to change your medium and let your hands and eyes experience something that you are less accustomed to.

When I was a little kid, my father passed me down his Voigtlander Vito CLR. I remember thinking this was the coolest piece of equipment I had ever seen. It took me a while to learn to use it. I didn’t understand the idea of using exposure settings properly. Over time however, I would get my prints back from the local Pharmacy, and a few of the slides actually had something to look at! This inspired me to keep trying.

Now that we’re in this digital world of pixel peeping and micro-sharpness and what have you not, it’s truly nice to step back and shoot with some old traditional equipment. It’s quite peaceful actually, and it allows me to slow down and enjoy the everyday aspects of life. For those of you who are not familiar with the Vito CLR, it is a 35mm film rangefinder produced in 1963. It’s got a build in light meter and the fixed lens has an aperture setting ranging from 2.8 to 22.

I recently stepped back again and started to shoot with it just for fun, and I’d like to share some of the pictures. The beach photo was taken with C-41 process film. These pictures show that sharpness and bokeh are not necessary elements, but a luxury.

Thanks,

Dro Grigorian

arch7

arch8

k

R1-02571-003A

Feb 102013
 

Afghanistan with a Leica MP & Film

By Daniel Zvereff

Afghanistan was truly an unforgettable adventure. This was partially because I never intended to visit there. I was originally bound for Turkmenistan and, at the last minute, was denied entry. Thus throwing me into a sort of tangent undertaking through Afghanistan’s incredible scenic north and then encountering the inspiring people of Kabul’s outskirts.

All photographs were taken with a Summicron 35 ASPH, and the Voigtlander 15mm 4.5 on either TRI-X or Across 100 film.

For more please visit my website at www.zvereff.com

1gaurds

1scissorboy

boy4

breadboy

gatekeeper

kabul-ollie

kabulman

men

tired

Feb 012013
 

HAS

Using the Hasselblad 200 FC/M for Street Photography by Jerry Bei

“UFO” Kodak Ektar 100

UFO

Hi Steve:

I am a street photographer based in Sydney and I have a strong passion for photography in general. I used the Leica M9 and MP as my main tools for street photography in the past couple of years but recently decided to acquire something different. The temptation of medium format have always been there but I could not justify the cost of digital medium format cameras, at least for now.

Hasselblad has always been my dream medium format camera and luckily I got the chance to buy a Hasselblad 2000FC/M camera body with a A12 magazine at a very reasonable price that got me started into medium format. The world of medium format film photography was new to me so I had to learn everything from the start. I got a grasp of how the Hasselblad V system works very quickly since I had quite a bit of experience shooting film before.

“J&M” Fuji Pro400H

J&M

First thing I noticed when holding the camera is its superb build quality, I have held many Leica cameras before but this thing is different, it is built like a tank; heavy and solid. The Hasselblad 2000FC/M with a lens attached is significantly heavier than my Leica M9 with a 50 Summilux ASPH combo but still lighter than a full-frame DSLR setup.

“Black Riders” Ilford HP5+

Black Riders

The viewfinder on the Hasselblad V system is like nothing else I have experienced, big and beautiful. It is almost like a live-view 3 inch LCD screen in the modern days but even better since it is all optical rather than electronic. Viewing through the viewfinder is a pleasure and truly a treat to eyes. I have upgraded the original stock viewscreen to a even brighter Accute Matte D screen that helps to achieve faster and more accurate focusing for street photography.

The Hasselblad V system is equipped with a waist-level viewfinder and it is perfect for street photography. You can simply hold the camera at your waist aimed at your subject and most people don’t even know that you are taking a picture. It’s discreteness is perfect for the streets. The shutter click sound is no where as quite as a leaf shutter or Leica quietness but it is still a pleasure to hear the mirror flipping when the shutter fires.

“Circus Lady” Kodak Portra 400

Circus Lady

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“Gossip Girls” Kodak Portra 400

Gossip Girls

One of the big advantage of the Hasselblad system over other medium format film systems is its inter-changeable backs, which allows swap between different films on the go. There are several different types of film magazines available that can shoot different number of exposures. The most common is the A12 magazine, which allows photographers to shoot 12 frames of 6×6 exposures of 120mm film. You simply insert the dark slide to remove the film back and apply another back loaded with the film you desire. Therefore, you don’t have to wait until all exposures to be finished and able to shoot B&W or Colour during the same photo-shoot.

The lenses are made by Carl Zeiss thus equates to superior image quality. There are several different types of lenses for the V system, some with lens built-in Synchro Compur shutter like in C and CF lenses and some without that uses the in-camera shutter like the F lenses. My Hasselblad 2000FC/M can uses all three types of lenses since it has a built-in shutter and a top shutter speed of 1/2000 second. The optics are all made by Carl Zeiss and has the typical Zeiss quality with its renowned 3D rendition. Some people buy the system because of their famous lenses. There are also difference in lens coating and are noted by the T* sign. The lenses I used are the Carl Zeiss 150mm F4.0 CF T* lens which is equivalent to 94mm in 35mm format, which is the perfect lens for head and shoulder portraits. I am also using the “magical” lens in the Hasselblad world , the Carl Zeiss 100mm F3.5 C T* lens that is equivalent to 63mm and it is a mysterious lens that is rarely used but contains some magical qualities. One day I hope to get the “Noctilux” of Hasselblad, which is the Carl Zeiss 110mm F2 lens that will produce stunning bokeh!

I loved shooting with 35mm film on my MP, although the film qualities are presented i.e. the great exposure latitude, dynamic range and tonality but the sharpness is not up to the standard that I desired. Medium format film seems to be the “Perfect” solution for this, it has incredible sharpness, even at 100% crop looks tack-sharp amazing to me. Although with the significant gain of resolution over 35mm film but it still retains all the film qualities that makes it so attractive. There is also a great gain in shallower Depth-of-Field and the bokeh from the lenses are incredible. The frame is 6×6 which makes it a unique square shape that stands out from all other images. I have yet to print those images in large sizes but have heard that you can even blown them up to 2 by 2 meters prints, which is perfect for commercial usage.

It has been a real joy to use the hasselblad and I am still amazed at its quality. While my journey in the medium format world continues that I would highly recommend for anyone wanting try out medium format film photography : do not hesitate!

Please feel free to visit my Flickr or 500px to see more of my work:

Flickr: HYPERLINK “http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrybay/” http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrybay/

500px: HYPERLINK “http://500px.com/jerrybay” http://500px.com/jerrybay

 

“Father & Son” Ilford Delta 400

Father & Son

 

“Hairy Chest” Ilford HP5+

Hairy Chest 

“1958 Chevrolet Corvette” Ilford HP5+ 

1958 Chevrolet Corvette

“French Nun” Fuji Reala 100

French Nun 

“In the Wind” Fuji 400H

In the Wind

Jan 022013
 

My top 12 for 2012 by Jason Howe

As the year draws to a close, I felt it would be a worthwhile exercise to reflect on 12 of my photographs from the last calendar year, images that I feel were significant to me for one reason or another and to elaborate on the reasons behind their selection.

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” these words, immortalized by the great Ansel Adam’s are of course well-known in photographic circles, but are they still relevant in todays photographic world? Well, I believe so, of course it’s true that this statement originates from a generation where even the most industrious of photographers would have taken far less photographs than we do in the digital age, yet despite this obvious imbalance I feel it still holds some relevance.

Firstly, we must understand the context to the word “significant”, as only a relative handful of individuals are in a position to be producing images of “global” significance it’s important that we measure significance on a personal level and furthermore that we’re clear on the underlying reasons for that significance. Whilst this objective may seem quite achievable vs. the number of photographs taken, we must endeavor to look subjectively at our “crop” amongst the good, great and wonderful images we’ve collected only some will hold true significance.

I’ve applied the definitions of “meaning” and “importance” to the word significant, in addition to this I have imposed a further caveat that the image be technically sound although one could certainly argue that there are technically poor photographs that are of extreme significance, that is really a personal judgement.

Of course you may have more and you may have less? If you have hundreds, I’d suggest you look again! Too few, well there is always next year. Remember, I’m not talking about the number of good shots you have, just your significant ones.

Bridge Dynamic – Leica M9 – 15mm Voigtlander Super WIde Heliar f/4.5

Bridge Dynamic – This image featured in my User Report on the Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar f/4.5, you can view that HERE. I know from the emails and comments I received following this post that many people either went out and bought this lens on the back of my report or were able to achieve superior results because of it. The satisfaction that came with knowing my images and writing had assisted others really was the most rewarding experience. As a result of that and because this really is the most incredible little lens this image is included here.

Bridge Dynamic

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Day Dreamer – Leica M9 – 50mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE

Day Dreamer – This is one of my favorite images of my youngest son and whilst that is reason enough in its own right to be included here it also marked the arrival of the 50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE lens. This heralded a significant shift in my thinking on lenses. Yes, I moved from cautious to cavalier in the blink of an eye, in the main, because I had established that rangefinders were going to be my cameras of choice for a long time to come. You can read about my purchase of this lens HERE if you want a laugh….. As it happens I have not used this lens as much as I thought I would, that’s no reflection on the lens, just my attentions have been elsewhere, it is on my list to explore further in the new year.

Day Dreamer

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End of the Road – Leica M9 – 35mm Leica Summicron f/2 Asph

End of the Road – Looking too hard, yes I’ve found myself doing this a few times over the course of this year, I’m sure it’s a condition many will relate to. Your traveling to interesting places, thinking there must be a photograph here somewhere and before you know it that’s all your thinking about and it can become counter productive. This image and several others that almost made it in to this selection were taken on a road trip with my son’s, relaxed and having fun I still managed to see photographs, in fact I probably saw more and it finally sunk in that you don’t have to be on high alert to see photographic potential around you. This particular scene was spotted in the rear view mirror as we drove past in the opposite direction, I guess that kind of proves my point.

End of the Road

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Awakenings – Leica M9 – 15mm Voigtlander Super WIde Heliar f/4.5

Awakenings – Striking a balance between your love of photography and your love of family, should be easy, right? I’ve touched on this before and it is still one of the biggest challenges I have come across photographically. My family was of course quite used to seeing me with a camera over the years, but when my relationship with the camera became a little more serious (ok, obsessive) then at times it seemed there was a conflict between to two. This image serves as a reminder that with a little care, it is possible to combine the two, although admittedly there is probably still plenty of room for improvement on my part. Taken on a celebratory break in Queenstown, this image almost never came about as I seriously contemplated leaving my gear at home in a bid to avoid any photography/family clash. A last-minute change of plan and some of that care I mentioned previously, proved the two can be combined, most of the time…..you can see all the images from this post HERE.

Awakenings

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Showtime – Leica M9 – 50mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE

Showtime – So many great memories are encapsulated in this one image, it really embodies all that is magical about the theatre in my eyes. My post The Producers which you can see HERE was the culmination of my time spent with the Tauranga Musical Theatre. What initially started as a one-off project has now evolved in to a more regular association. This ongoing involvement holds more than photographic significance to me, it enables me to be in the company of other creative individuals and that has been a real blessing.

Showtime

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The Mob – Leica M9 – 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1

The Mob – An image with dual significance, I realized a long time ago that you can either sit around and wait for things to happen or you can make them happen. Have the courage to ask and be prepared to try new things, this mindset got me behind the scenes at the regions biggest horse racing meet and I was delighted to capture this scene. Less significant but still worth baring in mind is a point about equipment, I was prepared to part company with the 50mm Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1 lens that was used in the making of this image. I hadn’t given it enough time on the camera and consequently I had not seen it at its best. I learnt a valuable lesson on the day I shot these images, you must get to know your gear and be prepared to take the time to do so.

The Mob

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Lakeview – Leica M6 – 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5

Lakeview – I began to shoot and develop film around 18 months ago because I felt somehow that I had missed out and also because it could only improve my photography in the long run, now with the benefit of hindsight I believe it was the right move and I would recommend this route to anyone. I suppose when I look at this particular image I associate it with my love of film photography. Certainly I have a very long way to go when it comes to film and this will be something I look to explore more in the coming year.

Kodak Gold 200

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Misty Mornings – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 Asph

Misty Mornings – I’ll always look at this image and remember the wonderful time I spent on the road with my boys earlier in the year, having fun, exploring new places and really seeing them in a different light. Much like the light in this image their personalities and sense of humor really shone through on this road trip, we had so many laughs. Photographically, this journey really highlighted the quality of the 35mm Summicron f/2 which I had considered selling just a few months before. I bonded with that lens and in truth it was the only lens I needed on that trip. You can see the full post of images from the East Cape HERE.

Misty Mornings

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Rock Thrower – Leica M9 – 50mm Jupiter 3 f/1.5

Rock Thrower – One of the main draws to the Leica M9 and indeed the M/LTM system was the ability to shoot with retro glass, this image underlines that appeal for me. Shot on an inexpensive, 49 year old lens from the former Soviet Union I still look at it today with the feeling that I could almost reach in to the scene, such is the quality of the 50mm Jupiter 3 f/1.5. Proof if any were needed that it is still possible to get great quality without spending a small fortune. Not to mention, so much fun to shoot because there is always a chance of a magic. You can read my User Report on this lens HERE.

Rock Thrower

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Reach Out – Leica M Monochrom – 35mm Leica Summilux f/1.4 Asph FLE

Reach Out – The Leica M Monochrom didn’t mark any great shift in preference from colour to b&w for me, it’s quite clear from my photographs that b&w imagery is very much a part of my photographic identity. I mention it here because I have a strong feeling from what I have already seen from this camera that it is going to be very significant for me, I guess only time will tell……….This image featured in my first post from this camera which can be seen HERE.

Reach Out

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A Turning Point – Leica M3 – 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar f/4.5

A Turning Point – This image has not appeared on here before, shot on Ilford HP5 plus 400 it made such an impression on me that for a while there I was considering abandoning digital and shooting solely with film. However one thing that I learnt early in photography is that your opinion on a specific genre, image, film type, you name it, can change quite quickly and decisions need to be considered. As time past my love of film remained strong but I eventually began to see that for me at least it did not need to be a choice between film and digital, I can see the merits of both, therefore I should enjoy both.

A Turning Point

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Lake Placid – Leica M9 – 35mm Summicron f/2 v.1

Lake Placid – I had the remarkable good fortune to not only discover some great equipment this year but more importantly the photography of the late Roland G Phillips-Turner, so far I’ve featured his work twice on my website with more to follow in the new year. It’s really been a discovery that has bought myself and many others a huge amount of joy. The image above was shot with the 35mm Summicron f/2 v.1 that belonged to the aforementioned photographer, this was certainly the first time it had been used in many years and it worked it’s magic accordingly. A great reminder of this wonderful discovery

Lake Placid

Food for thought…….

Taking an overview of my selections here it’s actually quite insightful and as it happens, a very accurate assessment of my shooting habits, for instance -

Two of the twelve photographs are film, equating to 1/6th of the images This is an accurate reflection of the amount of film I’ve shot this year compared to digital, I really want to increase this next year.

Three of the images or 1/4 are in colour. Again, I’d say this is a fair reflection. I only want to make great photographs, B&W or Colour it makes no difference to me, although it’s fair to say I can’t see the the ratio of colour increasing next year.

It’s been a good year for me photographically, I’ve continued to develop and whilst there have been challenges I’ve certainly done my best to overcome them and progress. Whilst it’s always rewarding to look back on the images you’ve taken the real excitement lies in the images your yet to capture, that thought should fill us all with encouragement and excitement in equal measure, enjoy!!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a safe and prosperous 2013.

All the best, Jason.

Dec 072012
 

The Ultimate Film Compact: The Olympus mju II

By Illya Reddy

I’d love to tell about the camera I have deep feelings for – legendary film point-and-shoot Olympus mju II (a.k.a. Stylus Epic). This summer I began to shoot film (i described my first impressions here http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/08/09/my-little-road-trip-by-illya-reddy/). This experience was un-forgetful, so I decided not to give it up. Following my friend’s advice I bought myself a mju II. And yet I would never exchange it for any other film camera. This is my world’s best camera #1. Let me explain why this camera got such a special place in my heart.

Size

To say that “This camera is small” means to say nothing. When I first got my hands on Olympus mju II it was hard to believe one could fit a roll of film in it. The shape is just right, the lens covering doesn’t open when you put camera in jeans’ pocket. Nevertheless the price you have to pay for compact body is ergonomics. It is not very easy to hold it with one hand and not to cover the lens with your finger. But I have gotten used to it, so hopefully everybody will.

Lens

The main point of mju II is fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens. They managed to fix this beautiful sharp technology masterpiece in such a tiny body. Focal length is just right for me – not too tele (like 50mm would be), not too wide (like 28mm would be). F/2.8 is not that large aperture, but for the lens this size it is great result. At f/2.8 images are a bit soft in the corners but when it stops down a little bit images are sharp edge to edge.

Automatic camera

Aperture and shutter speed are not manually adjustable, unfortunately. But good news is great metering system, I had no problems with camera under- or overexposing shots. AF is pretty fast, and it is MultiAF, so there is more than one AF point (I believe there are 3 of them, but I’m not sure). Nevertheless it does not misses focus sometimes, but it doesn’t happen often. Also you can use central metering mode (I believe in this mode both metering and AF use only the central point) and it actually works well. But you have to turn this mode on every time you turn on the camera, which is not easy at all: it requires pressing two buttons at the same time. Flash always resets to auto mode and if you want to be sure it won’t fire you need to turn it off every time you restart the camera.

Price

Price is quite reasonable. You can find it on e-bay for ~60$ if you are lucky as I was you’ll find it for 10-20$. Price looks even nicer when comparing to its main competitors’ price tags: Yashica T4, Contax G2 – these film compact cameras are also famous for their 35mm lenses, but they are much more expensive.

Not a perfect camera – that’s for sure. But if you manage with its quirks Olympus mju II will serve you faithfully. For me it is a perfect film camera: I just load it with 1$ expired film and grab it with me in any kind of tough places or just whenever I’m in a mood to shoot film. It does the job!
Thanks for reading!
My flickr page
My page on Momentum’s website

 

 

Nov 282012
 

Momentum: From Eastern Europe with Love

By Illya Reddy

Last ten years one could call a ‘photography revival’ decade. Not just for photography in general, but especially for street photography. More and more people are interested in it, some love it, some hate, but no one can ignore it. There is no point talking about reasons of photography and particularly street photography becoming so popular. We all know them – ‘all-mighty’ digital technologies.

And I am glad about it: new names, new masterpieces. Thanks to Internet connecting us all, it is now easier to exchange our opinions and knowledge than ever before. But quantity unfortunately does not always mean quality. And though it is easier to share information with each other, it became much harder to find something outstanding. The same tendency is present for street photography: there are numerous photographers, but in is hard to find the good ones. That is why some of them started creating communities trying to differentiate themselves following the good example of Magnum Photos. And that is why the Momentum street photography collective has been founded.

Let me tell a little bit about Momentum which has been established by the new generation of street photographers with Eastern European roots. I was honoured to be a co-founder of this community when it started in September 2012. Our idea was to unite passionate street photographers who were born and raised in former USSR countries and show the world through these eyes. We travel, we observe the world you see, just with our way of seeing.

When we started, there were four of us and then two more photographers joined us. So now there are six photographers born in Russia or Ukraine and now living in four different countries (Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Great Britain). We are here to show you how we see the world around us and hope that you will enjoy the views.

Our website: momentumstreet.com

Our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/momentumstreet

Our Vkontakte page: http://vk.com/momentumstreet

Anastasia Kichigina

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Mikhail Palinchak

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Dmitry Stepanenko

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Ilya Atlas

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Max Chichinskiy

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Illia Krasnoshchok

Nov 272012
 

 

I Shoot Digital Film by Ofri Wolfus

Hi Steve, how’s everything doing? The other day, while scanning some negatives, it suddenly hit me. I was shooting Digital Film. I immediately thought this might be of interest to your readers, and so decided to write this article. It’s a bit technical but I think understanding these things can really improve one’s work.

In the rest of this article I’d like to discuss what Digital Film is (other than a term I made up :) ), and how anyone can take advantage of it. However, in order to truly understand the idea let’s first understand how digital photography works.

From the moment we press the shutter button of our digital camera, to the point we have a finished photograph, the following three steps usually take place:

1. The sensor inside the camera captures the light hitting it, producing a bunch of digital data.

2. The camera’s firmware then creates a JPEG and/or RAW files. It usually does some processing on the data generated in the first step along the way.

3. We take the image files our camera produced to our computer, and then we apply further modifications to the image until we have a finished file.

Now lets zoom in a bit, and understand what happens in each of the above steps. Firstly, I bet a lot of people are unaware of it but our fancy digital sensors are actually *analog*. Yes, you’re reading this right. The part which converts light to electricity, the thing of which actual pixels are made of and where the magic really happens, is actually an analog device ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charge-coupled_device ). Once light hits this analog device it generates electric voltage, which is an analog signal. This analog signal is then passed through an analog amplifier which then effectively boosts the ISO and adds noise. Finally, the signal is fed to a digitizer and then, and only then, our photo becomes digital. Another little known fact is that a digital sensor has a single sensitivity to light. Increasing the ISO in the camera simply increases the amount of analog signal amplification, but the sensor’s sensitivity to light remains unchanged.

At this point lets stop for a second and look back at what we have. Surprisingly, this mechanism is extremely similar to how we work with film. First, we expose the film to light. Then we develop the film, at which point we can push process it, effectively increasing its ISO and adding “noise”. Finally we pick our scanner and digitize the analog data captured on the film. Have you ever noticed this similarity before? :)

Anyhow, lets continue with our process. Once we got the digitized data from our sensor, our camera starts to process this data. First, it applies some noise reduction in order to compensate for the noise generated by the analog amplifier (higher ISO). Then two things can happen – either the camera applies further processing and creates a JPEG, or it leaves the data as is and saves a RAW file. Conceptually however, creating a JPEG is just letting the camera automatically perform the tasks we’d be manually performing on the RAW file, so let’s assume our camera is set to produce RAWs. Again, this resembles the scanning process very much. We can set our scanner to produce RAW files or JPEGs.

Finally, we have our RAW files in our computer. Usually, we’ll apply the following processing in any particular order: color balancing, sharpening, further noise reduction, any kind of color manipulation (saturation, contrast, etc) and so on. Obviously, we’ll do this kind of processing to any type of RAW file, regardless of its origin – be it a digital camera or film.

Now ladies and gentlemen, you know what Digital Film is. It’s both a workflow and a state of mind. You’ve probably been doing it yourself already but perhaps didn’t fully realize the potential, so lets explore it a bit further. When working with digital cameras there are certain techniques that are common. We may also apply them to Digital Film in order to produce really interesting results. Before that however, I’d like to point out two key differences between the “pure” digital workflow and the digital film workflow.

First of all, when film is your origin you actually have the analog data at hand. The equivalent in a digital camera would be to record the electric voltage generated by the sensor to some intermediate media, and postpone its digitization to a later point. Obviously, separating the digitization stage leaves the maximum theoretical resolution fixed, but the actual sampled resolution highly depends on your digitizer (scanner). Conceptually, imagine you had a digital camera that produced huge RAW files. They were so huge that your computer was unable to open them as is. Instead, in order to be able work with them, it automatically scaled them down. If you had a better computer it could scale them down less, and let you work with a file that’s closer to the original. At the time of this writing, this is the state of film scanners (digitizers). They’re not advanced enough to fully extract the details in all film formats.

The second key difference is color. Every digital sensor has its own unique color signature. It’s the way the sensor converts light to a color image. Film however, has a much stronger signature, and each film type has a different one. Conceptually, it’s as if the digital sensor could apply saturation, contrast, color balance, etc before the analog amplifier that increases the ISO. If we had that, each digital camera would produce a very different look, much like different film stocks have completely different looks.

Finally, let’s see how we can exploit this difference in color rendition for our use. For many digital shooters, myself included, pressing the shutter is when we set the framing, composition and exposure. We then have a rough idea of what the final image should look like but we postpone all color modification to RAW processing. Taking this state of mind and applying it to film is simply fascinating. First of all, in my experience, RAW files from scanned film have much more latitude to work with. Second, we get to work with very interesting base colors. When opening RAW files from a digital camera one usually gets dull and flat colors. With film RAWs however, the film’s unique look is already baked in. Saturation, contrast and color balance are already “in the pixels”.

Another neat idea is to think of film RAWs as digital without NR and sharpening applied. Some tools have magical noise reduction abilities and are able to almost completely remove the grain of low ISO films. This then produces files that look digital in their cleanness, but retain the unique film look. Neat Image is one such tool. With low ISO films that have very fine grain, and high enough resolution scans it’s able to completely remove the grain without affecting the sharpness. That said, since grain size is fixed but scan resolution is not, different scan resolutions require different noise reduction techniques.

The last technique I found about lately, and became hooked, is to add film filters such as Alien Skin Exposure and Nik Color/Silver Efex to the scanned film. These can combine with the unique rendering of the emulsion and turn out spectacular colors that I’m unable to get in any other way. Converting color scans to B/W using some B/W “film” filter also produces a very unique look.

Pretty much any digital workflow can be adapted to film this way if you take a moment to understand where it fits in the different processing stages. However, there’s one thing you need to be aware of. Excessively modifying film RAWs will kill the unique film look. You’ll easily end up with a file that looks like it’s “completely digital”. Obviously this isn’t a bad thing, just something to keep in mind. Basically, like with any other effect, don’t overdo it :)

In conclusion, my personal belief is that neither film nor digital is better. To my eyes they are quite similar in the technical concept, but greatly vary in execution. Each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses. They are, in fact, completing each other if you get your workflow right and are not afraid of exploring new things.

Some Examples

So far I processed less than 10 rolls using the ideas described above, but here’s my flickr set with the shots I like so far http://www.flickr.com/photos/ofriwolfus/sets/72157632100772083 On each shot I tried to explain the methods I used for processing, though I’m quite new to film and its processing in general. This is turning into a really fun way of shooting for me, and I hope for others too.

Kodak Ektar 100 scanned with Plustek OpticFilm 7600i. Simply reduced any noise/grain with Neat Image, balanced color in Photoshop and applied unsharp mask. I tried to make it as clean as digital but retain the Ektar look.

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Me and my GF, shot on Kodak T-Max 3200 and scanned with Plustek OpticFilm 7600i. Tint added with Alien Skin Exposure, contrast was adjusted a bit in Photoshop from the RAW scan.

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Shot on Fuji Provia 400x pushed to 1600. Scanned with Plustek OpticFilm 7600i, but this time I used the proper color space for the file. It was then passed through Neat Image to clean up the grain, then further processed in Photoshop for color balance, sharpening and some curves.

Cheers,

Ofri

Nov 202012
 

Steve,

I’ve been through my own GAS cycle going from Canon 5D to Leica with side trips to the NEX and Fuji. The current equipment is Leica and Olympus. Recently, I bought an M6 and have been working with film, developing it at home. I scan the negatives/positives with an Epson V600. One great thing about film is the experience of waiting, developing, and then seeing what you got. NO CHIMPING.

I was shooting with the M9, M6, and X-Pro on my last vacation trip. The lenses used for these photos were a Voigtlander 15mm and a Leica 35mm Summarit-M. I usually work with 50mm and longer lenses so this was a departure from standard for me.

Film stock was Fuji Velvia, KODAK TMAX 100, KODAK Tri-X 400 pushed to 1000. Why push to 1000? Because I read an article, and I could.

Black and White developed in XTOL, Velvia developed by lab.

I make no claims as a great photographer or darkroom chemist. You can see that with just a few changes to equipment and chemistry a wide variety of looks are possible.

The last picture in this series came about when I was using up the last frames of a roll. Shooting the boys jumping in the pool and then there was a guest appearance…

 

Leica M9, Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5

(It was very hazy so I used a circular polarizing filter forgetting the effect it would have on a 15mm lens, thus the uneven sky color)

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Leica M6, 35mm Summarit-M. Kodak Tri-X 400

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Leica M6, 35mm Summarit-M, Fuji Velvia

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Leica M6, Voigtlander 15mm, Kodak TMAX 100
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Leica M6, 35mm Summarit-M, Kodak Tri-X 400
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Stop the camera madness!!!!!
Best,
Gary

Nov 112012
 

Using a DSLR to scan Negative film by Stefan Schmidt

Hi again folks! This is a follow-up article about how I’m using my Canon Eos 5D MkII to shoot backlit slides instead of using an ordinary flatbed scanner. (See previous article HERE) Now I will show you how I go about “scanning” my negative films using the film holder from the flatbed scanner and the light box I nailed together. Shooting the negatives is only half of the story though, the second half is actually developing the negatives to positive pictures and getting a decent result in the end. I have experimented a lot and I will share my workflow with you. That being said, I do not guarantee that my way is the “right” way. I just hope to get you all going!

The Rig:

For those of you who did not read my first article, here is a picture to show you my setup. I have a piece of MDF-board with a slide-projector at one end, a lamp-cover act as a diffuser and finally I have my “box” with the glass from an A4-photoframe inserted into it. In the lower left corner of the picture I have included an image of how the box look when I shoot slides. The white elastic band that is used to keep the slides from falling off the wooden strip is not used when shooting negatives, I just pull it down under the strip.

I use the same settings as for slides, ISO 320 , halogen light WB, Aperture priority and I set the aperture to 4,5. Finally I use a 2 second self-timer and after each shot I have a 2 sec preview. If the negatives have really high contrast like flash-exposures I venture into the menu and reduce contrast but typically I have all settings in there set to neutral. You may notice that I have a lot of small wooden strips and what not under my camera in this shot. That is because my box was designed (yes it’s ugly as hell but I use that word anyway) to be used for slides. The frame holding the negatives are wider in all directions and that makes the negatives end up higher than the slides. That is also why I needed to put a higher piece of wood behind the camera to keep it aligned. Finally I also put some of these strips of wood under the MDF-board in order to raise the end where I sit shooting just a little bit. This way the large film-holder will not topple down on the lens hood. Keep it simple.

You shot the negatives, now it’s time to enter the darkroom and get developing!

Let’s start with Photoshop. I myself use CS5 and by now you will have lots of pictures looking like this in bridge:

When I open a picture the RAW-converter will start. Before I choose to open the picture in photoshop I look at the histogram to see if there is a “burnout” in the black or white end of it. If there is I use exposure to adjust the curves to my liking. I also want the RGB curves to stretch out over as much of the Histogram as possible and I choose this setting for the picture in this example:

When the picture is opened it will still be negative. Press Ctrl + I to invert it (or CMD + I on a mac) and do not panic when it looks like crap! The colors are way out of sync. It will look something like this:

To start fixing this I usually add an adjustment layer with levels in the adjustments tab on the right. Clicking on the adjustment layer open up the ADJUSTMENTS panel and as standard it allows you to set levels for all three RGB-colors at once. Now however, you do not want to do that. You will need to click on the drop down menu and set the levels for Red Green and Blue.

Photoshop has an advantage over Capture one in that it seem to be programmed to “sync” the color-channels and that enables you to get a fairly good result pretty quickly. In the screenshot below you can see an estimation of how the picture is turning out better and better as I go through the channels and trim their levels. At the far left of the image is the altogether blue picture that looks just terrible after I inverted the negative. Notice how tuning each channel increase the quality of the picture. When the final, blue, channel is adjusted the far right of the picture looks pretty natural and we are on our way to get a nice picture.

Please also notice that by moving the middle “handle” under each channels diagram you can fine-tune the color balance of each channel. Now all that remains are repairing the scratches that is evident from the film itself, cropping and maybe reducing some noise with the filter “Despeckle”. Of course this can be tedious to do with each picture, that’s why I try it out on one picture and when I’m satisfied I go to the HISTORY-panel and click on the top action that is opening the picture. Then I click the ACTIONS tab and in that panel I click the icon next to the waste bin to “Create a new action”. I name the macro I’m about to record “Kodak negatives 100 iso”, for example, and redo the steps above on the channels adding the despeckle-filter and maybe even the crop. When I’m finished I stop recording, load up another set of pictures and apply the macro onto each of them. That saves a ton of work!

As different films have a different character and base color I have built myself a small library of actions for different brands and iso. Very handy to have.

In this example I had a small blue tone that was hard to get rid of, I finally solved that by adding a warm standard photo filter on a new adjustment layer and that hit the spot! I am mostly using levels but there is an adjustment layer using curves and that works just as well but I had to choose what I believe to be the easiest way to go about this for the article. I would also like to point out that Photoshop remembers that there is a negative picture as a foundation for the final picture and many tools can go haywire. In those cases, save your picture as a TIFF and load that copy into Photoshop again and you will be all set. No more misbehavior.

Developing negatives using Capture One

I’m not going to cover this in detail as the general idea is the same, I open my picture and after inverting it I begin to work the channels the same way as in Photoshop. (That is partly why I showed that method.) The trick is to invert the picture as Capture One Pro do not have a command or tool for it. I do this by going to the level-tool:

I then pull the black handle to the right and the white handle to the left and the picture is inverted! I am pretty sure you can do the same thing in lightroom but I have not tried it. Your levels-tool will now look like this:

Now you’re ready to work those individual Red Green and Blue channels in the levels-tool. Please note that Capture One really turns on it’s head a little when working with negatives like this. After inverting the picture all controls for adjusting light or color is inverted as well. For example, if you increase the light in the image it will turn darker! Just as it does in an old-school darkroom. The more you exposed the photo paper, the darker it got when it was developed. Call me crazy but I actually get a little nostalgic when my computer all of a sudden behaves like my old analog darkroom. (Except for the smell.)

Some of you will not enjoy this ;) and will therefore be better off by saving your picture as a TIFF as I mentioned above. When you work on that TIFF you will have no problem.

I create development recipes to apply on many pictures in Capture One and they make batch-developing a bunch of images super easy.

Examples of developed pictures from negatives.

As my article comes to an end I would like to show you a few pictures I developed from my negatives.

 

 That’s me in the middle of the picture above, it was taken 1988 in the Swedish alps. Below is a picture of my wife from around the same time. Kodak film above, Agfa below.

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This is shot in Halle Hunneberg in 1989 just before sunset. I was there looking for elk but I did not see any. The film is 200 iso kodak and the negative was somewhat underexposed.

If you have read this far I salute you! Well done! i realize this article got a bit long however I tried to shorten it. I hope this will inspire you people out there to dig out your old favorite negatives and give it a go yourself!

With my best regards

Stefan Schmidt

 

 

Oct 292012
 

The other way to scan positive slides, or, why I kept my big SLR.

By Stefan Schmidt

Recently I was asked by my father if I was interested in having his slides from when I was young since he never watched them and was thinking about throwing them out. In truth it was his wife who triggered the question since she had found out that he already had dumped two paperbags worth of slides in a container. “Of course!”, I said. And before I knew it I had two big boxes of slides delivered to my basement.

An idea began to form in my mind that I should do a book on my parents as a gift to them and my siblings. Obviously I needed to scan the pictures, but how? As it would happen a friend of mine recently had bought a Canon 9000F flatbed-scanner planning to do much the same thing as me. He graciously let me borrow it to scan the slides.

I installed the software, brought out the oldest magazine with slides and started scanning. The positives were mounted in glass frames and somehow there was a lot of dust between the glass and the film itself. Also there seemed to be small droplets of moisture or rather, fat, on the inside of the glass. I scanned in maximum resolution to TIFF and was really disappointed with the result. Not only did each slide take about nine (!) minutes to scan, the actual focus was off as well. It turned out that the scanner could not focus above the surface of the scanners glass. Meaning that it was the dirty glass in the slides frame that got sharp, making all the dust appear “perfectly”. Also, the picture got very pale colors and a really bad contrast. This simply would not do!

This is an example scanned in 4800 dpi. It’s my father on a vacation 1965 on Sicilian. I was born in 1966…

I was so very disappointed and my plan for a book seemed to vanish into thin air. In disgust I just stopped looking through the slides for several months. Instead I enjoyed taking photos with my spanking new OM-D and had a blast with it. Inspiration crept back again until one weekend when I realised that I had shot all through the summer with only my OM-D. The Canon 5D MkII and it’s lenses had been untouched for nearly four months and I started to debate with myself whether or not to sell it all off. I was so pleased with my Olympus.

Then it hit me! I had a full sensor 21 Mpixel camera and a 100mm macro f2,8 that shot 1:1 magnification, surely I must be able to use that! I realized that some things would be very important to make this work:

1. I needed to make sure that the slide and the camera was placed horizontally and vertically correct and in parallel to each other.

2. I wanted a good source of light.

3. The light needed to be soft, diffused.

I ran down into the basement, took an A4 photo frame and stole the glass from it. (Yes I know, I’m impulsive when inspiration strikes…) I then went into the workshop and quickly nailed together a box from a board of tree. I put the glass from the frame into the box fixating it with wooden pegs and a wooden strip across the glass.

Next I took a piece of spare MDF-board and placed the camera at one end focusing almost as close as possible with my macro 100 mm to be able to measure the distance to where the box should be positioned. I used a square tool to draw 90 degree lines across the MDFboard to be able to fasten the box in parallel to the wooden fixtures I use to place my camera correctly. Behind the box I put a milky white plastic cover from our basement lamps as a diffuser. A Leitz slide projector at the other end of the MDFboard was my light source. I measured how high up on the glass the slide needed to be and put a small wooden strip across the glass to put the slide upon. The slide wanted to topple over and fall off so I added an elastic band across the glass, by the top of the slide, as well.

O’boy, was I exited to see if it worked!

I set the ISO to 320 since I find that this is the best base-iso for the MkII. I set the aperture to F 4,5 in apperture-mode. I set white balance to halogen (warm lamp). I set the self timer to 2 seconds. Finally I set the camera to show each taken picture for 2 seconds after each shot in order to see if I would need to re-shoot it with any exposure compensation. As always I shoot with RAW.

Deciding to shoot the same pictures as before I went for the picture of my dad. I used live view to be able to position the slide correctly and AF-ON to fine tune the focus. Then I shot the first exposure.

I was stunned! Just watching the 2 second preview I could see I was really on to something here, and when I zoomed into the picture it was so sharp that I cold see the actual grain of the film! Amazing! This is the sample from that shoot. Notice the difference in sharpness, contrast and color. Even though the resolution is lower than that of the scanned file above. Another amazing effect is that nearly all of the dust and speckles above are out of focus here and most of it is not even visible.

Frankly, I’m amazed that it turned out so well! When I developed this in capture one pro 6 i did not alter exposure or colors. I did not crop it either because I wanted to show that I get a piece of the frame in the picture when I shoot the slides. This is by design since I saw that there was a difference in thickness and size between old glass frames and Kodachrome paper frames etc.

Below is a picture from my first tests in daylight when I fixed my Lightbox in relation to the camera on the MDF-board. It was easier to do the measurements i daylight. Also I wanted to know if daylight provided even better color. It did not. When test shooting I had to cut out some black plastic and nail it to the box to block light from the sides to illuminate the slides from the wrong direction. Obviously I have no use for it in my basement but the picture gives a fair view of how my setup looks.

I would like to point out that shooting slides this way works best in a dark room. If there is surrounding light, scratches in the film or dust will be more visible. Also dust can be both white and dark if the slide is photographed in full daylight making a bit more tricky to clone away.

Here are som pictured from Venezuela that I “camerascanned” for a friend of mine ( he with the scanner by the way). I thank him for letting me mail them to you. Below are three pictures from Fuji Velvia 50. The pictures are very clean and sharp! They were taken 1997 during a two month trek and only a minimum of work was required on the raw-files (cropping obviously but also bringing back some details in the shadows because slides can have very hard contrast and dark shadows). My friend lugged his Nikon F3 with a winder and four lenses up and down the trails during those two months, along with 30 rolls of film, that is some seriously heavy gear.

 

By now I have shot over 20 magazines with slides and it takes me about 30 minutes to “scan” two magazines with 36 slides each. Compare that to around nine minutes for each if I should use the canon scanner. I hope that this is something that you, or some of the readers of your brilliant blog will have use for. It sure has inspired me! Now I don’t feel like selling my 5D MkII just yet. It has also inspired me to dig out my old Contax 167 and shoot some film knowing I that have a way to bring pictures with the character of the film into my computer.

Slides are easy to start photographing this way. Color negatives and black and white negatives works extremely well too but that is an article in itself. Especially when it comes to “processing” the negatives to get a picture on-screen that looks good. As always, thank you Steve, for running such an inspiring site. You make people want to contribute and share their experiences and that is a great thing in itself!

With my best regards

Stefan Schmidt

Sep 082012
 

The Rolleiflex 6008 integral 6X6 camera review by Ibraar Hussain

It’s difficult to review such a camera as the Rolleiflex 6008 integral, as it is very advanced, yet needs to be made the most out of by able hands, who can get the most out of the handling and astounding lens line up. I wanted a 6×6 camera and I ended up buying this instead of a Hasselblad 500CM.

The Rolleiflex 6008i is part of the 6000 series of Medium Format 6×6 SLR which Rollei released as competition to the Hasselblad 6×6 Cameras, which was a mistake, I was told by a friend to look out for a Rolleiflex instead of a Hasselblad, but I didn’t know he meant the TLR – and instead I end up with this!

Rollei had traditionally been famous for their TLR’s such as the Rolleiflex and Rolleicord series of Cameras.

But with Hasselblad striking new ground with their SLR’s and the gradual disinterest in TLR’s Rollei engineers set to work on a 6×6 SLR system which would leave Hasselblad years behind technologically.

The SL66 was released which was purely mechanical, though it is a beautifully crafted piece, it’s main downfall is its size, weight and the V series like structure meant ergonomics were not up to modern standards.

This was followed by the SLX, and it is a futuristic camera compared to the SL66. It lacks the traditional look of the Hasselblad V series, and instead is very modern in design and electronics.

The shutter and everything is electronically controlled, so without a battery it will not function – this could be a disadvantage to those used to mechanical cameras.

From Carn Llidi, Pembrokeshire Coast. Wales. 50mm Distagon HFT f4. Fuji Provia 100F

The SLX was followed by a series of 6×6 Camera’s which follow the same design ethic. Easy to use 6×6 Medium Format SLR’s with advanced features, superb build quality and stellar lenses.

There are many available, and some more advanced than others. They are BIG, boxy creatures, heavy, yet fairly compact (not behemoths like the SL66) with perfect ergonomics and very versatile – incorporating a ‘grip’ with features such as shutter speed control and shutter release on them. So these could be used in a Studio, and also on the move.

The SLX mk 1 has solid German engineered build BUT has quirky electronics, and collectors/dealers suggest looking out for Mk 2 version which is far more reliable.

The crowning glory of this series are the lenses; superb glass from Schneider, Zeiss and Rollei (Mamiya) are all beautiful and pin sharp.

The most advanced Manual Focus version is the Rolleiflex 6008 integral II, and this was followed by (I believe) the worlds first 6×6 Auto Focus SLR; the Rolleiflex 6008 AF.

Light, shadow and clouds over the Beacons. Wales. 80mm Planar HFT f2.8. Fuji Provia 100F

This I believe was a competitor for the Contax 645, as both had Auto Focus, yet the Rolleiflex had the better build, larger negative size and a much wider array of Lenses (the downside being that many were MF rather than AF), plus a more illustrious lineage (as Contax 645 was Japanese built and a Kyocera camera rather than a purely German made SLR). I’ve spoken to photographers who have had both, and by and large they all prefer the look and feel of the Rolleflex images rather than the Contax.

The 6008i and AF can take Digital backs, so are more than geared towards the Digital age (though I have never used, nor can I afford a Digital back)

Rollei’s last foray into the market was the Rollei F&H designed and built Rolleiflex Hy6 6×6 SLR, which was also funded by Jenoptik (spun of company from Zeiss Jena which, I suppose, makes this possibly the last purely German Zeiss camera)

This magnificent camera takes Film along with Digital backs.

Though you can find Leaf and Sinar badged versions of the Hy6 – it is a purely German built beast and is STILL manufactured in Germany by F&H under their new guise

Sunset over the irish Sea. Pembrokeshire. Wales. 50mm Distagon HFT f4. @ f16 Hitech 3 stop ND Hard Grad. B+W Polarizer. Fuji Provia 100F

DHW Fototechnik interesting article 

Anyway, I have the Rolleiflex 6008i. I bought it a few months back and my kit consists of the standard camera, 120 Film back, a Polaroid back, Grip, battery and 2 lenses; The 80mm HFT Planar PQ f2.8 and the 50mm HFT Distagon f4. I’m looking to purchase a 150mm f4 Sonnar portrait lens. I’m also on the lookout for any Schneider lenses, which can be very expensive.

The PQ lenses are geared towards the more advanced features of the 6008i, AF and Hy6, the non-PQ lenses are compatible with every Rolleiflex 6000 and Hy6 series camera, but they can only be metered using the ‘stopped down’ method on the 6008i and AF and Hy6, on other 6000 series and SLX they are perfectly normal.

Saying that, the non-PQ lenses are identical to the PQ optically and are Bargains, costing less than half that of the PQ.

I bought the 6008i for travelling! Yes, a big heavy beast to take around the Mountains of The Hindu Kush and Karakoram when I go to visit again next time (with my Missus this time, I know you’re reading this, I won’t leave you behind again!)

But this beast, it’s easy to carry, the Action Grip is a revelation, it has a camcorder like strap, and can be adjusted to suit, it has a shutter lock, exposure lock and power/motor drive switch – it means I can trek, climb even, and won’t be resorting to clunky holding and fiddling as on a Hasselblad and can hold and shoot with one hand!

Marching Sheep being herded. brecon Beacons. 80mm Planar HFT f2.8 Fuji Provia 100F

Focussing the waist level View Finder gives you a massive bright image, it’s quick to shoot, and can shoot at 3fps.

The ergonomics are second to none in a camera this size, and I can shoot on FULL AUTO with ease! yes, a MF camera with full A mode, that even a compact digital camera snap shooter can use as long as they can focus manually!

the 6008i features centre weighted metering, spot metering along with multi-spot (a la the OM4Ti)

The other superb feature, which tends to put people off from MF camera’s is the Magazine dark slide, a simple slider! And one can chop and change magazines with ease!

I have only shot two rolls with this camera, as I’m ‘saving it’ for holidays and treks – I can only imagine the portraits I’ll get with Ektachrome e100vs of exotic looking peoples in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram.

Until then, I’m including a few photo’s I’ve taken on a Roll during my recent trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales, where I thoroughly enjoyed using it, but felt like a bit of a twat walking around with it as I got so many stares!

So all in all, an electronic, versatile, very easy to handle and use, wonderfully built 6×6 SLR with stellar lenses in the right hands (not mine) whose quality will most likely blow any 35mm sized SLR, DSLR or RF from here to Timbuktu! With the legend “Rolleflex” boldly inscribed on it! Pure class!

Drystone wall across the moors. Brecon. 80mm Planar HFT. Fuji Provia 100F

The SLX mk 2 can be bought for as little as $400 more or less with WLF and 80mm Planar, other’s can be bought for even less or for very expensive prices. If you want AF (the AF is obviously not to modern standards) you can check out the 6008 AF but these demand high prices.

The SLX mk 2 can be bought for as little as $400 more or less with WLF and 80mm Planar, other’s can be bought for even less or for very expensive prices – much less than a Hasselblad 500C/M.

QUIRKS

I need to mention these, in case people start lambasting me for failing to mention these.

1) Electronics, as mentioned earlier, the SLX mk 1 suffers from Electronic issues. And earlier versions of other models (correct me if I’m wrong) are said to have issues too. Though later ones do not, well, they’ll have as many issues as any other electronic camera I suppose

2) Battery. The Battery pack is an old fashioned one, and over time holds less and less charge – BUT these days that doesn’t mean much any more as alternative battery packs compatible with the charger are offered by some camera show and Dealers, and you can get a car charger accessory plus spares.

3) Ultimately the SLX/6000 series is an Electronic camera, so don’t expect eternal ownership, one day electronics MUST fail on every sort of electronic camera, whether a DSLR, Leica M Digital or Contax SLR/645/G series and the Rolleiflex.

4) In heavy rain, I have heard that if the rain seeps in it MAY affect the electronics UNTIL the camera has dried.

Sunset. Pembrokeshire. 80mm Planar HFT Fuji Provia 100F

Sep 032012
 

The West German Rolleiflex SL35

by Ibraar Hussain

In the history of photography there are a few legendary marques which have achieved Grail like status, and will always have a place high up in the pantheon of the Photographic Gods, far above Oriental pretenders. Marques which are coveted by collectors, professionals and those wishing to own a piece of History and precision, beautifully crafted engineering. Carl Zeiss of Jena (Est. 1846), Leica of Wetzlar (Est. 1913), Victor Hasselblad of Gothenburg (Est. 1841) and Franke & Heidecke of Braunschweig (Est. 1920) also known as ‘Rollei’.

Hasselblad and Rollei have been famous for their Medium Format cameras, Leica the M series, and Zeiss everything from 35mm to Medium Format Pentacon’s. Back in the day, the industry was smaller and more ‘in house’, and Rollei were the first to move production outside Germany when they acquired factories in Singapore, but their TLR’s were always German built.

Young Cadet 50mm SL-Xenon B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

The sands of time flow and times change, nowadays some of the original companies are great behemoth like Multinationals with factories and offices throughout the World. Carl Zeiss has been splintered into many factions, or spun off to form other companies such as Jenoptik, Docter Optic and Praktica (a shadow and mockery of its former glory) with other great associated names such as Exakta Ihagee and Pentacon having bitten the dust.

These days it’s 35mm Range Finder, the Zeiss Ikon is manufactured by Cosina in Japan, Zeiss manufactures Optics in Germany.

Modern Hasselblads are manufactured (bar the V Series) in Japan by Fujifilm and Leica make their M series in Portugal (complete with Chinese made components) (and are then ‘finished’ in Germany to warrant the ‘Made in Germany’ inscription).

Rollei has been split into three companies, the brand name ‘Rollei’ has ended up like Praktica has, owned by RCP-Technik GmbH & Co makers of budget Digital Cameras and accessories. The other branch specialises in producing old Agfa Film stock under the brand Rollei Film, but the real Rollei still survives as a small German based camera manufacturer spun off by Rollei engineers and employees with a direct connection to the original founders. DHW Fototechnik manufactures extremely expensive high-end and collectable Medium Format Cameras such as the Rolleiflex Hy6, the Rolleiflex 6008i and new versions of the Classic Rolleiflex TLR. These cameras are very expensive, but oh so beautiful and exquisite – especially the new TLR’s.

Schneider Kreuznach 50mm f1.8. Agfa APX 100, Rodinal. Silver reflector.

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My Niece Rolleigon 135mm f2.8 Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

Anyway, enough of the history, I seem to be going on and on a bit too much!

Most people covet a Leica M, and for good reason, they’re beautifully built and in the right hands make beautiful photographs, and they’re wonderfully built, solid, heavy and with a feel of precision, damped metal perfection – they look, feel and manifest sheer quality that just to handle one and own one is a joy – think Patek Phillipe or A Lange Sohne.

There are other camera’s out there which are just as beautiful to behold, and just as well-built and exude just the same feeling of quality, worth and treasure, and the Rolleiflex TLR is one such, others are hidden gems, overlooked, under rated such as the Exakta series and Pentacon Six, and can be bought relatively cheaply – if a Mint example can be found, in the 35mm sized world one such example is the Rolleiflex SL35.

The SL35 was Franke & Heidecke first 35mm SLR, and the original SL35 (and the far more rare and expensive SL350) is Rollei’s best.

A snap in Medieval City of Nottingham SL Xenon 50mm f1.8 Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

There are three versions of the SL35, the German-made SL35 of 1970 – 1972 and the later Made in Singapore version 1972- 1976 – both identical on the surface, but not the same underneath. Sure they are made using the same looking parts, but the Singapore versions aren’t built with the same love, care and precision as the German-made ones. I have both examples and you can feel the difference.

The German-made SL35 and SL350 are collectors items, a Mint example is a camera to keep – forever.

Later SL35E and SL35M aren’t in the same class as even the Singapore built SL35 and to be honest, aren’t worth bothering with as collectors items (though they are worth it if you want to use the exquisite optics and the more advanced features they have).

The SL35 is beautiful to behold, it has a simple, totally spartan but elegant bauhaus like design, devoid of superfluous switches and dials, even the hotshot is an after market accessory. The simple lines are difficult to date, 50ies? 60ies? 70ies? the design is timeless and in my view is as glorious as any classic Range Finder.

The German SL35 I have is the stealthy SL35 black, and the attention to detail on it just makes one smile and it begs to be used. It is crafted of solid metal, and feels dense, weighty. Ken Rockbuster describes a Leica as feeling like a well oiled revolver, and I can tell you that this Rolleiflex feels much the same. I also have a Mint German-made SL35 Silver body which is also a beautiful piece of work.

Pembrokeshire Wales. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 Kodak Portra 400

Comparing it to the redoubtable Olympus OM2n, the Olympus looks and feels sort of cheap in comparison! Sure the Olympus is a better camera, by better I mean it has Aperture priority and a user-friendly light meter, but then again a Seiko is probably more reliable and accurate than a Patek, and a Casio even more so. The Rolleiflex doesn’t need any gimmicks, it’s simplicity is its strength and any photographer who’s worth his or her salt should thrive with it.

The Film wind crank winds forward with a precision mechanical zip and it’s released to be eased back with a nicely damped slide. The shutter emits a satisfying thunk as it trips.

Looking at top of the camera, the only controls we have are the Film wind crank, shutter release with the stylised “R” situated on top of the shutter speed dial, the button near the shutter release is the stop down/ depth of field preview button. On the other side we have a solitary film rewind knob/ dial.

At the front we have the self timer lever and that’s about it! Basic as it gets!

Olympic Stadium Stratford, London. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

The Camera has a built-in light meter, powered by a small watch size battery and this is activated by pressing the Stop Down Button, it manifests itself in the form of a needle, visible through the big bright viewfinder (about as big and bright as the VF on an Olympus OM2n)

The meter isn’t the highlight of this camera, as it’s annoying pressing the stop down button, then having to control aperture and shutter speed to get a correct exposure. I have used it, and it’s fairly accurate but only to test it out – I find it easier and thus tend to use a hand-held incident Minolta Autometer III which is pretty good, but the internal meter is there if ever required.

The lenses, well, there are some gorgeous lenses available for this camera, lenses made by Zeiss with the HFT coating (HFT is Rollei trademarked T*) Schneider Krueznach, Voighlander and Rollei Rolleinar lenses. They render beautifully, they probably aren’t as sharp as more modern equivalents but that doesn’t matter, as they manifest a lovely feel in the photographs.

By Lord Byron’s House, Nottingham. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

The Zeiss and Schneider lenses are expensive, some more than others, the Voightlanders are rebranded Zeiss and Rolleinars, the Rolleinars can be bought for peanuts, but that doesn’t mean the Rolleinars are crap – on the contrary they’re superb lenses, made by Mamiya in Japan, well built and of very high quality, in fact tests show they’re to a hairs breadth of the Zeiss and Schneider in terms of quality.

I have the Schneider 50mm f1.8 and the Rolleigon 135mm f2.8 portrait lens., My next lens is going to be a 28mm Rolleinar, though I am watching a 25mm Distagon on eBay.

To sum it all up, the Rolleiflex SL35 is a stunning piece, and to demonstrate how much I value mine I wouldn’t swap it for any other camera bar a new Rolleiflex 4.0 FW – even if offered an Leica M3, M6 or an M9 I wouldn’t swap it – it is my favourite camera and even though I’ve not owned it long, and have only shot a couple of rolls with it, I prize it above all my others. the Rolleiflex SL35 just oozes class, a camera which you can keep and use FOREVER – it’s a joy to own and to handle, turns heads and in my opinion is just as classy as any Leica and it has those magical legend “Rolleiflex” inscribed on it!

 

Bird over Bedfont Lake. Middlesex. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

my rudimentary ‘blog’; http://rolleiflexed.wordpress.com and Flickr; http://www.flickr.com/photos/71817058@N08/

I’ve only shot three rolls of Film with this Rolleiflex SL35, two shot on Agfa APX 100 and developed in Rodinal, the other roll is Kodak Portra 400. It currently has half a roll of Agfa APX 100 left in it. The shots were basic family snaps and stuff, and I’ve included a few examples here – I’ve yet to shoot the camera in anger! Rudimentary scans with Epson Scan Epson 4990.

I tried to take some pictures of the Rolleiflex with my Kodak Easyshare Z990 – but pictures cannot do it a justice.

For more information check out this excellent site:

http://captjack.exaktaphile.com/rollei/dugrew.html

I bought my Black with SL-Xenon for £175 (around $280) and the SL35 Silver body for a meagre £20! That’s $30 !!

Aug 092012
 

My Little Road Trip

by Illya Reddy

I’ve never been film lover neither film hater. I just couldn’t understand why people spend extra time and cash for it. I loved digital and didn’t want to complicate my photography by using film. But everything has changed…

This summer I’ve had kind of a working road trip – a very small one. During this trip I’ve visited Oleksandriya park in Bila Tserkwa and some villages near Kanyvske reservoir (about 60 miles from Kiev). The gear I took there was rather unnatural for me: just film P&S with some Agfa and Polaroid film.

The camera is Olympus superzoom 105g, which actually belongs to my mom. Nice, simple automatic camera. Although lens is quite blurry towards the edges, it doesn’t bother me. I never use the zoom, just shoot at its widest FL 38mm. Plus it has got built-in flash, so I started experimenting with flash photography.

The feeling of a cheap-cheap plastic camera is not as bad as I expected it to be. In fact, it turned out to be stimulating, less concentrated on camera itself. You don’t think about your camera at all. You are not afraid to drop it or lose; you can take it wherever you go even in the roughest places.

First two images were taken in Oleksandriya park – what a nice place! I highly recommend it to everyone, who visits Ukraine. Great place to shoot also. People are walking, sitting on the ground, feeding swans and ducks, kids are playing… I just walked and took pictures – it was a great day.

This picture (above) was taken in Rghyshchiv village on a local football match. Couple just came to watch the game and drink some beer with fish. Very friendly people, but don’t like to be photographed, unfortunately. The below ones were taken in Balyko-Shchuchenka village during another local match. This time it was volleyball. These kids came on their bicycles just to hang around. We talked a little, than I drag raced on bicycles with one of them. I lost, obviously :)

 

 The picture above is my favorite one. This little guy looks like a real biker sitting on his Harley. The life in villages is pretty hard actually, even kids work a lot, and on this picture he doesn’t look like a child.

Bottom line

During this trip I met my new love – film. Photography started to feel different for me. No big changes, just different feeling – taking shots you never know which ones are good. You have to wait. This is so relaxing. And then, when you look on the negatives or slides or index-prints or whatever, it turns out to be better than you expected, or otherwise… Photography started to be less virtual, more real. When you hold negatives in your hands, scanning them, it feels more like an art for me.

Thanks for reading this small post about little trip, and thank you, Steve, for letting me share my thoughts on your website!

Feel free to visit my flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/illyareddy/

Aug 072012
 

Closing out the Summer with some film and the Yashica 230AF by Ibraar Hussain

Goodbye Summer..

Well, the Summer is almost over, and we didn’t get much of one, by much I mean an extended couple or more months of heat, sunshine blue skies and not much else. We got mostly rain, May was fine for the most part, but All of June and most of July was a complete wash out, and August has freaky changeable weather.

But I was lucky, lucky that for a few days here and there when the weather was fine, I was off from work and on leave and was able to go and visit my favourite place in the whole wide world – Wales, especially Brecon and Pembrokeshire. On the few visits I lugged around a huge backpack packed with camera’s, and I thoroughly enjoyed using them

I had a few Cameras in my bag, the Rolleiflex 6008i, Rolleiflex SL35 and a Kodak Easyshare max Z990. The Rolleiflexes are out of this world and precious, and I will give a brief review soon.

Amongst these was my Yashica 230AF, a relic from a bygone age, but a camera which also heralded in a new age – a sort of cross over. It was one of the first Auto Focus SLR’s. It was also the first and best of the Yashica AF SLR range which was made alongside the Contax/Yashica mount range.

The special thing about this camera is that you can only use the Yashica AF lenses with this series and NOT with any other, nor Digital as no adaptor has been made for it. So the lenses are pretty unique. The lens line up isn’t vast, you get a 50mm f1.8 prime, a 28mm, 24mm, a kit zoom, a 70-210mm zoom, a 60mm Macro lens, a 28-85mm zoom and a couple of other longer lenses. The body is pretty well made, constructed of plastic and metal and very solid and dense with a real 80ies type design. The controls intuitive enough yet different in ways from more modern SLR’s, the selector is a slider rather than a toggle, and it uses a ‘cyclops’ flash unit which is actually part of the body set up but can slot out.

As expected, the AF is slow! it’s quicker on the Primes, but it’s pretty usable and if things get a bit slow there’s always the MF option – and with the huge bright Viewfinder, focussing shouldn’t be a problem. the light meter nails it every time, it’s simply flawless with E6 slide film. It has a clever way of compensating for backlit subjects which meant I was not obliged to use exposure compensation much – the user manual does specifically state this too.

It also has a clever feature called ‘trap focus’, which i’ve never used but I presume it allows you to pre focus pretty easily. I have in my kit bag the 50mm f1.8, the 28-85mm f3.5-4.5. The 70-200mm f4.5 and the 60mm f2.8 Makro.

The 50mm f1.8 is an able performer, sharp and contrasty. I suspect the lens range is basically the Yashica ML range in this form, I’m no expert on lenses but I’ve used various ML (and Contax Zeiss) lenses and these lenses are easily comparable to at least the ML range and much better than the DSB. The 60mm Macro is very special, research and you’ll discover that it is very similar to the Contax Zeiss 60mm Makro Planar, some say it’s probably the same lens! regardless, the results are also very pleasing, and it doubles as a beautiful portrait lens. The 28-85mm is a versatile quality lens, and has a useful Macro feature which enables closer focussing. to be honest, all the lenses are pretty decent, even the standard Kit zoom is pretty good, I’ve heard it’s much better than the Minolta, Canon and Nikon contemporaries.

The longer zoom has a fixed aperture and a one piece design – it looks superb and is also a good performer, and all three of these especially are beautifully constructed, metal, solid and very fine with attention to detail. The range lacks a long portrait prime or even a telephoto prime, and a faster standard lens, but it was short-lived so perhaps can be forgiven. The one big advantage for buying into this system is price. Most lenses and the bodies are dirt cheap, a scout round eBay will get you a decent 230Af body plus a selection of lenses for around £40.00 (That’s how much I bought my one for – with the kit zoom and the 70-210 f4.5). In fact the only lenses which cost a premium (and are pretty rare too) are the 24mm f2.8 and 60mm f2.8 Macro.

Look out specifically for the 230AF, it is a much better camera than the others in the series, it’s Japanese made, solid, and mechanically/electronically very reliable.

For more information go to;

http://www.yashicaforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1578

So WHY use this camera? Why bother when there are others available? Well I use it as i like it, i like the controls and feel, it was so affordable I was able to get an almost complete kit for peanuts, and I like the look of it – it’ll give you some unique photo’s and is a decent piece of kit! All in all, I really enjoy using this camera, it is unique, has character, charm, the photographs are very pleasing and high quality, and it is built by the same guys who were responsible for the excellent Contax G2, N1, 645 and Aria SLR ranges, so they were hardly amateurs. Using it attracts stares as it’s obviously an 80ies camera, and most importantly, it’ll gives you very nice results for such little outlay.

My slides were scanned as quick basic Jpegs in Epson Scan Epson 4990, they don’t do the slides a justice. So don’t expect drum scans. i assure you, under an 8x kaiser loupe on a light table and projected the slides are lovely.

 

Grasses in sunlight
60mm Macro f2.8. Fuji Provia F100F. St Davids, pembrokeshire, Wales.

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Rainbow over Carn Llidi

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Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
60mm f2.8 Macro Fuji provia 100F

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At the Seaside
60mm Macro f2.8 Fuji provia 100F (top)
28-85mm f3.5 Fuji Provia 100F (bottom) Newgale Pembrokeshire Wales

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Kayaking
28-85mm f3.5 Fuji Provia 100F Newgale Pembrokeshire Wales

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Under the rainbow
28-85mm f3.5 Fuji Provia 100F Brecon Beacons, Powys Wales

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Achtung Sheep!

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The Beacons Road
28-85mm f3.5 Kodak Elitechrome EBX 100 Brecon Beacons Powys Wales

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Pembrokeshire
28-85mm f3.5 Kodak Elitechrome EBX 100 Pwll Deri, Pembrokeshire Wales

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Kid with a Sheep Mask, binoculars, camcorder and toy gun
50mm f1.8  Kodak Elitechrome EBX 100 Pembrokeshire Wales

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Bluebells and Flowers
60mm Macro f2.8. Kodak Elitechrome EBX100 Pembrokeshire Wales.

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Kid goat at a Farm (50mm f1.8 Kodak Elitechrome EBX 100)

Aug 032012
 

Tri-X: The Real Deal by John Shingleton

I cracked a wry smile as I read Anand Asar’s post -”How to get that film look“( 30th July) and the torrent of not always polite comments which followed. I felt for Anand but found myself asking “But why try to digitally emulate film when you can still have the real thing”?

Regular readers of Steve’s blog may have read my story of my personal photographic journey back in February HERE. In this I set out my philosophy of minimizing my camera gear and travelling light .

Since writing that post my photographic journey has taken an unexpected turn .For some time I had felt that I was taking too many photos and I was in danger of becoming a “snapper” as opposed to a photographer .The tipping point came whilst I was travelling in Europe a couple of months ago . Everywhere I travelled there were hordes of tourists touting big DSLRs and they were just “snapping”, often unthinkingly raising their cameras to their eyes and shooting away without making any effort to compose the photo yet alone think about or even observe what they were taking .I could see myself going the same way. To avoid this horrible fate I decided that I needed to get back to my photographic roots and to embrace “slow”photography in the form of film or analogue photography. I had done the Leica thing for over 40 years so there was no point in going there again. Ever since I had been interested in photography (52 years ) I have lusted after a Hasselblad (Blad) medium format SLR although in the last 10 years I had forgotten about this enthusiasm in my rush to embrace digital. For those not familiar with iconic camera brands Hasselblad was the king of cameras before the digital era and was embraced by both top line professional photographers and wealthy collectors. The Apollo astronauts took Blads to the moon with them–I understand that they even left one there –probably to save weight on the flight back to earth.

Spurred on by a friend in the UK I looked at the prices of ‘Blads and was really surprised by how affordable they have become . To cut the story short I picked up a beautiful vintage Hasselblad outfit/camera body/magazine and three lenses for $1000. Now the Hasselblad is a beautiful piece of kit with superb precision,  Swedish engineering made of steel, aluminium and glass with not a piece of plastic in sight and just handling it is a tactile experience. Not something you can say about many digital cameras apart from the Leica M9.

At this point I can almost hear the gear heads saying “is this guy crazy”? $1000 for a vintage clockwork film camera? For that money I could buy a super new Panikocany XZS 100-DM with 24mp ,auto focus faster than the speed of light, 128 very confusing menus , loads of little buttons , a touch screen but no viewfinder.”That would be totally missing the point.

This wonderful device called a Hasselblad has already given me enormous pleasure and I have only shot four 120 films -48 exposures so far. It is certainly slow and difficult to use . Even loading the film is a slow, tricky operation and the viewfinder is very dim and reversed which can be very confusing. If I tried using it after a few beers I would probably fall over. But setting the camera up, taking the photos ( it makes a wonderful noise as the mirror flips and the two shutters fire) and then waiting for the film to be processed to see the results is a completely different experience to digital photography. Yes, black and white film photos have a totally unique look and I have really embraced the black arts and purchased a developing tank and chemicals so I process the films as well. I did have all this gear once but gave it away thinking that I would never use it again.

But enough from me . I’ll let some of my first photos from the Blad do the talking. These are like the first beer made by a home brewer, I am sure I will improve with practice. These were taken on either Ilford FP4 or Kodak Tri-X film. Yes ,Tri-X the real deal. No digital emulation here.  In case you are wondering I won’t be taking my Hasselblad travelling with me. It is far too heavy and cumbersome for that. If I took the Blad outfit on a plane it would use all my luggage allowance. That’s no way to travel! A Blad outfit and one pair of underpants! No, the Leica X1 is safe .

If you want to see how my slow photography develops watch my eclectic blog on www.therollingroad.blogspot.com and please don’t comment that I am crazy as I already know.

 

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