You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

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A few weeks back I was in Riceball Photography shop where our friend Leon tempted me with the new Voigtlander 21mmF3.5. This is a beautiful lens, particularly with the metal hood attached. I had a try on my M262 in the corridor of the mall (below) and also a week later on the M6 (above).

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I was very enthusiast about the test shots, very sharp, no distortion to my eyes, no color shift on the digital sensor, unlike the test I did of the old Super Angulon F4 a couple weeks before (see below).

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At a price of about 800USD, even when adding the hood (100USD) and the finder (200 USD for 21-25 metal finder), this is a steal for a bout a third of the price of the next Leica lens.

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VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

At this point I came back to my senses and remembered that I bought a 21mmF4 Color Skopar back in 2013, to fit the Leica IIIc. This lens did not get a lot of love for the following reasons : the plastic finder is shait and was replaced once and repaired twice, the color banding on the digital bodies is awful, more subjectively I have a bit of difficulty with the 21mm : I always end up with skewed perspectives that I don’t like very much and also, yes, 21mm is very wide.

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Street shot : VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder : 21mm is wide but gives very dynamic shots

So the reasoning was that, as I have a 21mm already, why not try to address the finder issue first and if I still don’t love the 21mm then there is no point getting a new one. Of course that does not address the digital issue, but everything in its own time.

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Vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

So lets hunt for a 21mm finder. There is a bit of  choice on the market : the plastic VC, the metal 21-25 VC, the old Leica in plastic or metal version, the Leica Universal Wide Finder. Ken Rockwell vouches for the plastic version of the Leica, but I ended up with the VC metal version that Riceball provided me in two weeks.

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More vertical framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder

The VC metal finder is a nice piece of kit. It feels very good in the hand, (it better for about 200 USD), fits the cameras (IIIc, M6 and M262) and provide a nice view. I immediately tried it on the digital body and on two rolls of film. and I must say I am pleased with the results.

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Horizontal framing checked, VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder
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More Horizontal framing ( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)
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More vertical and back light( VC21mmF4 on M6 with the 21-25 VC finder)

So now what about the 21mm? Well I will probably have to shoot more before I decide, but already I think going back to my VC 21F4 by buying a new finder was a smart move : shall I love the 21mm and get the new lens, I already have a finder, shall I want to sell it I have a full kit now, or maybe I can just stick with the 21F4 for a  while.

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The 21 is very (very very) wide, the three street shots in this page were taken at about 2 to 3 meters from the subjects and they feel like I was miles away, so I will really need to step very close for my candid shots.

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I generally shoot 28, 35 and 50 Summicrons, so I must say that F4 is not mindblowing, but this is minor. On another hand the 21F4 is very tiny and pleasant to use, so I feel very comfortable when walking around that I look inconspicuous.

On a final note about the color shifting on digital bodies, some of the Leica profiles help correct it, I think one the 28mm F2.8 profile provides better results that others, have try.

  • Film color shots done on Kodak Portra 160NC with Leica M6 Classic
  • B&W shots done on Kodak TriX with Leica M6 Classic
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You can’t hurry love (About the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide

This is the second roll shot with the Hasselblad during the outing to Mc Pherson area. The Lego buildings at this point were behind us, so not too many shots of the “Mondrian” colorful pattern here.

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Shots are done with the faithful Hasselblad 500cm, with 80mmF2.8 and I used a more than 2 years expired roll of Rollei CR200 .

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When I collected the slides from the shop I watched them on light box there and they really looked brilliant. Once scanned I must say I am a bit disappointed, maybe not trying hard enough.

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I  think the high contrast of the slides make it difficult to scan.

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Also the weather started to turn a bit more cloudy and the colors less saturated.

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This type of shots may benefit from using a tripos as well.

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2019-18-Hassie-6-9  Being a slow shooter I did not finished the film that day so I carried the Hassie in Lavender area the following week and walked from there to my fav lab t bring the roll

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Tibetan Buddhist  temple in Beaty lane

I love this area, I used to hang around there weekly until two years ago, it goes under a slow gentrification, but still very interesting with its workshops, warehouses, small shops, bars, coffee shops…

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One of the commercial buildings along Lavender road
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On Jalan Besar a shrine in front of a Feng Shui consultant

I don’t like the rendering of the next two shots, but sure they look vintage enough.

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Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple on Waterloo street
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Waterloo street life

All in all a nice set, but not as nice as the Portra roll of McPherson “Lego”buildings . It does not seem the film has suffered from being expired, but it was kept in the fridge most of the time.

MCPHERSON “LEGO”BUILDINGS on slide

McPherson “Lego”buildings

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This is a set of pictures of the colorful public housing blocs situated on Circuit Road in Singapore.

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Circuit road is accessible via Mc Pherson MRT, and is located in the east part of town, 20 minutes ride from Orchard Road.2019-16-Hassie-5-04

This estate dates back from the early 1970’s and has recently received a face-lift, becoming the Lego or Mondrian estate. Apparently the “upgrade” as we say here was not only cosmetical as the area used to be a bit shabby from what I gathered.

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The outing was organized by Low Che Eng from the “Lets Shoot Film SG” Facebook group. We were nearly  a dozen freaks walking around the estate, with cameras ranging from various Leicas and medium formats to a view camera (Chamonix ?).

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I carried around the Hasselblad 500CM  and 80mmF2.8 loaded with a slightly expired roll of Portra 160vc (nearly two years I think) shot at 200iso and the Leica IIIc with the Voigtländer 21mmF4 loaded with a roll of Rollei retro 80s.

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The film was processed at the usual lab and scanned at home with the Epson v800.

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I did a bit of post processing in light room but even without it the film turned out quite well. 2019-16-Hassie-5-10

 

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Finally meet a resident, this gentleman used to a be a guitarist at the raffles hotel back in the days where hotels had musicians and is  now keeping fit in his old age. This is the last shot of the roll hence the slight issue on the top of the frame.

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The hassie keep on having problems shooting 12 complete frames, but this time I got lucky.

 

McPherson “Lego”buildings

A not so good roll of FP4+

I am trying to stay true to my promise to de-clutter the film box in the fridge and shoot some 120 film that sometime is expired for more than two years.

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The colorful Alkaff bridge on Singapore river

So I recently shot a not expired roll of Ilford FP4+ expiring in 2020 over a couple of Sundays walking around Singapore.

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On this second shot, a happy groom on his stag day, it is obvious there are some white dots all over the picture.  After discussion in the Facebook group “Lets Shoot film SG”. It appears this may be a problem caused by the backing paper of the film after being taken in and out of the fridge. Frankly I am a slow shooter so I am guilty of taking from the fridge more than I can chew and putting it back afterwards, but I cannot remember having seen this problem before.

 

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Pearl Bank Apartments

I kind of understand this is more common with Ilford which I rarely shoot, that is not encouraging me to do more (I still have a roll in the fridge, damn )

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Pearl Bank Apartments entrance

Pearl Bank Apartments is an iconic housing block in Singapore cityscape, built in 1976, it what is referred as brutalist style (Although Landmark tower nearby is more pure brutalist), it has now been sold and is empty since the end of April 2019.

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Pearl Bank Apartments the open side

It will be demolished and the plot redeveloped ; this is the traditional buildings life-cycle in Singapore.

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The white dot issue is also quite prominent on this shot

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No 5C
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Singapore Bi centennial statue
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Beware of falling branches – enter at your own risk
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Friendly waiter

The friendly waiter was shot wide open at 1/60th handheld, explaining the slightly off focus.

All done with Hasselblad 500CM and Planar 80mmF2.8

ILFORD FP4+ as I said, developed by the usual lab

Scanned at home with Epson v800

 

 

A not so good roll of FP4+

A walk around Singapore with the Hassie and a roll of Cinestill 50D

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One of the vintage public housing estates in Singapore

I realized when doing the math at the end of the year that in 2018 I did not shoot much medium format film. I must say that my only working condition camera is the Hasselblad 500 CM which is not so easy to grad around for my casual shots.

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A traditional flowers arrangement for a shop opening in Singapore, to wish success. Now binned

One of the consequences is that my film box contains now mostly 120 film, some starting to be expired for more than two years. Not that I think that the are going to be wasted, but it is never a good sign.

 

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Hong Lim park

So I have now decided to bring the Hassie along for casual shooting. There will probably be less people in the coming rolls as it is not greatly suited for “street” shots, but probably more city views from a local tourist.

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Hong Lim park
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Hong Lim park

Hong Lim park

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Bollywood Dhoom on Circular Road
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Mustapha shopping center
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Mustapha shopping center – with people

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Allenby House : a colorful building at Jalan besar

I think this is my last roll of the Cinestill 50D, part of the Kickstarter package. I quite like this film in the end as per my last post, it s quite punchy, is easy to scan. And slow speed is fine in good weather and daylight. I am not sure I ever shot many films with the Hassie at night or dusk.

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The thyme at Merci Marcel in Tiong Bahru. I love the light bulbs.

One thing the lead of the film is gooey so when you remove the lead you will often end up with some parts of the back that take up the film being sticky, and some goo ending up on the roll as in the first Hong Lim shot.

 

A walk around Singapore with the Hassie and a roll of Cinestill 50D

Not shooting much in Naoshima

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Kusama Iconic Pumpkin in Naoshima

Naoshima is an island town in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, it has been a long time project to go there, as it hosts several arts museum built by Tadao Ando as well as a famous hotel made by the same architect.

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This year we finally made the trip to Osaka and on the way to Hiroshima we stopped at Naoshima. Getting there seems difficult at first, but in the end it is quite easy, you take the train either to Takamatsu or to Tamano and ferry to the island.

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The Benese house hotel is full 6 months in advance so we had no chance to stay there. We then decided to sleep in Takamatsu and take a ferry for a day trip in Naoshima. Takamatsu is a secondary town, with a big hotel “JR Clement” (a bit expensive for what you get) and a few restaurants where you can manage in english. It also hosts the garden-museum of Isam Nogushi which is well worth the visit.

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A day is Naoshima is probably enough, the Chichu museum hosts some art pieces made to measure and the Benese house museum has an awesome collection of modern and contemporary art. The Lee Ufan museum is also worth the visit, although less well know if you are not into minimalist art. We took a bus to the Chichu Museum with is the furthest palace from the ferry and walked our way back from there.

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The subtle architecture of Tadao Ando is beautiful and invite to meditation. All the buildings are no photo, so you will see here no photos of the them. And I must say I did not miss being surrounded by people taking selfies, not that the place is packed though.

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The rest of the island contains minor exhibitions in some traditional houses and some outdoors installations.

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We spent a nicely filled 10 hours there and probably enjoyed most of it. Time to take the ferry back to Takamatsu

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Pictures shot with Leica M262 and Summicron 28/35 or 50.

Not shooting much in Naoshima

By the sea in Thailand with the Leica M6

I always found the mix of photography and beach repulsive, the salty breeze, the sand that gets everywhere, hands oily with sunscreen, splashes and the odds of falling into the water,… so much things happening that you don;t want a camera, let alone your precious Leica mixed into.

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Well I must say I am a bit fantasizing here, as an adult the experience of the beach is not necessarily the one I had when I grew up along the shore of the french riviera. A stroll along the water not involving leaving the camera on a beach towel or in a bag in the sun is now more common that is use to be, and if it is a day I intend to go for  dip, I generally take a lesser camera (read MEDIUM FORMAT ON THE BEACH : “LE CABANON DE LA PLAGE” AND MORE)

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The sea side always offer a special quality of light, that works particularly well in black and white.  2018-51-M6-21-05

Also it is an endless opportunity of activities, landscapes and man made constructions.2018-51-M6-21-082018-51-M6-21-092018-51-M6-21-102018-51-M6-21-132018-51-M6-21-14

All shots with Leica M6 on Kodak TMAX400 (The shop ran out of TriX), the first three were taken with the Summicron 50 v5, the rest with the Summicron 28mm Asph v1. Shooting at 400 on this very bright morning means the lenses are completely stopped down and the shutter speed at 1/500s or 1/1000s, which may not be idea technically. My favorite film the TMAX100 would surely have been better, but…

As I am here, on the same roll of film were also some street shots taken in Bangkok on the say back from Hua Hin.

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A young film photog with his Olympus pen, he also shoots medium format.

Below are four shots of the food hawkers around our hotel near Lumpini park.

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A friendly and muscular worker along the Chao Phraya river near the Grand Palace2018-51-M6-21-32

Finally below are two shots of worshipers inside the Grand Palace i think.

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By the sea in Thailand with the Leica M6