Beginning of the year and excitement to try the Ultrafine Xtreme 400 that I am bulk loading, I am taking the odd camera from the treasure box.
A couple of weeks back it was the turn of the 1970’s Minolta Himatic 7s. Actually the 7s was released in 1966 same year as me. The Himatic is a rangefinder camera with a sharp, fast 45mm F1.8 lens, and in-camera metering.
Ok I don’t quite like the the Himatic too much : it is heavy feels clunky compare to the German rangefinders; it is not that fast to operate, and also the metering died on mide during a bike tour.
I also the viewfinder to be not that bright and having too many signs inside; there are just three visible sides of the frame, so I always wonder how to frame the fourth.
BUT when I got the roll from the shop I must say that I am impressed by the result, the lens is fast and sharp and the 45mm give a bit of air to the shots.
This is my 3rd roll of the Ultrafine Xtreme 400 bulk and I quite like it. I am new to handrolling, the picture below is the last of the roll, so the first from the bulk that I attached to the canister and I think it was exposed to light. Pitty I like this shot.
I think I like the film, it is now 3 rolls I shot this year and 2 last years, it is on the contrasty side but nothing too extreme, so it makes a good replacement for TRI-X or TMY 400. The shot below is quite smooth as I like it. Actually tones quality reminds me of a proper wet paper print.
Mmm also I fell the Epson v800 gives immediately better results that the v500, but this may be just because I paid so much for it.
There will be no declugging for the Minolta, it belonged to one grand uncle, so that’s a keeper even if it goes out of the box only once a year.
Here we go again, here is my new year message to the world : happy new year to all go out and keep shooting film.
I think 2017 has been another very good year for film photography; the medium is getting more and more momentum. We saw a lot of new films released :Cinestill finally delivered the 120 version of 800T and 50D, Rollei gave us the Vario slide, Kodak is working on reviving Ektachrome, Japan Camera Hunter made more street pan and now has a second line, and more niche brands are creating or reviving special films. Of course Fuji keep on thinning his product line and Film Ferania is still not able to deliver its products. All in all the future of film is bright and it looks we are living more than just a fad. On the down side film camera prices are going up, but for most of it probably just from insanely low to still acceptable. The most expensive gear, Leica like, has not gone up much. Only the lenses that can be used on DSLR or four third cameras has seen unreasonably hikes.
As in the past (2015, 2016) lets see how I plaid my part this year.
I managed to beat my own record once again by shooting 65 rolls this year, 1 more that last year. With both 120 and 35 mm format that should be close to 2000 pictures. I would say that 1 roll per week is a good average, as I also shoot digital.
Below is breakdown of the rolls shot by camera:
Number of rolls
Last year rank
Agfa Isolette III
Kodak Autographic Jr 3a
Heineken Toy Camera
Clearly the Leica’s are the star of the year, now I shoot Leica digital, I always carry the M6 on holidays. Apart from a small issue on the winding side, this is a perfect image making machine and I now have a good set of lenses (28, 50, 90) that are foolproof and cover most situations. The Leica IIIc, is still my most used “lesser” camera, I invested in a beautiful 35mm F3.5 Summaron this year, and despite maybe a small intermittent curtain problem I can now use it without second hesitation. I still love the M4, but lacking meter it stayed home most of the year, until I dig it out this autumn, this one is faultless. I still love the Hasselblad, but I hardly carry it with me on holidays anymore, pity because my fridge is loaded with 120 rolls ,I have a long standing project of portraits that I may finally launch this year… The rest is done with my older cameras which for most have issues now, so I managed to make some odd nice shots but I would think twice before using them again.
This year again I offer you a breakdown of the films I shot :
Count of Film No
Rollei Retro 400s
Kodak TMY 400
Kodak TRI X
Fuji Fuji Xtra 800
Kodak Portra 160
Kodak TMX 100
Rollei Retro 80s
JCH 400 pan
Kodak Portra 400
Rollei Superpan 200
Fuji Superia 400
FilmNeverDies Shirokuro 400
Fuji Velvia 50
Rollei Retro 80s
Ilford Delta 100
Rollei ATP 32
This is a big variety; but as last year majority is 35mm, back and white; but there are about 20 colors rolls (10 last year) and a total of 16 120 format films (7 last year). The surprise may come at the Polypan 50 iso coming first with 9 rolls, these (and more) were given to me by my friend Ray, I like how it goes out and enjoy shooting at iso 50. Kodak and Rollei are still high up in the list.
The news was the Bergger Panchro, the Cinestill 50D and 800T in 120 format, but I did not made anything outstanding with them.
I confirmed this year my attachment to Leica systems, I nearly did not shoot any Nikon, apart on digital for some events. This year I plan to stick to the same program, camera and film wise, I have a bulk roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400, so this will give me 20 roll of 36 shots more or less, and the fridge is still stocked (around 50 rolls in there). I plan to upgrade my scanner, I have the Epson 500 for 8 years now, it served me well, I may have scanned, 300 rolls with it so that’s 1.5 $ a roll for scanning, I think it paid well for itself.
Patiala looks to be a very interesting place, but we had little time to hang around. We try to visit the two palaces but both were under renovation and although we were allowed to the grounds in both (many thanks to our guide), I was denied using my camera. The first palace was a residence for the maharajah and his many spouses; the buildings we could see are set around a very large pond. It is located in a residential area on the town outskirts.
The second palace, Qila Mubarak, is located in the heart if the city, it is normally hosting a museum which was closed at the time of our visit (Oct 2017) and the building also under renovation. This is an incredibly big compound to be located in a city center. There is a fort behind the main buildings and more buildings behind the fort. No pictures available unfortunately.
We then start our drive to Chandigarh through the busy city streets and then on the very good roads off Punjab. Chandigarh is only 70 km away, but with a few stops, we got there in about 4 hours.
The main stop was in Sirhind-Fategarh, the Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib there is famous as it is the place where younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, who were bricked-up alive in 1704 by Wazir Khan and a place to commemorate the memory of the brave Sikhs who were killed while fighting with Mughal forces.
Outside the Gurdwara itself is a shop for religious artifacts where I finally decided to satisfy my long lasting envy to buy a Kara (a Sikh bangle). After a long debate we decided to by one each (ok my wife wanted two) and to our great surprise the shop keeper refused us to pay for them and offered them as presents. Another sign of the great Sikh hospitality and friendliness.
Next to the main Gurdwara is another one, where we met the guy in charge (below). Very happy to talk about his religion; probably on of the first guys we could exchange in English.
Not far from this site is a Mosque, which is supposed to be linked to friendly Muslim people at the time of the war with the mughals. The complex is very nice and spacious. Not all places are allowed for women to visit and photography is a bit more limited than in the Gurdwaras.
The basement of the main building above contains the tombs of some saints where people come to make offerings.
Back on the road again, our guide stopped us by one of the many places where a few men where boiling some sugar cane to make some solid sugar.
We tasted the sweets and pack-up after a little while and finally made it to Chandigarh.
Polypan F50 is a mysterious beast : it is a film made to copy cinema movies. It has no anti halation layer: it means the light bounces back from the pressure plate of the camera and on highlights produce a “glow” effect (To reduce the glow you can put apply some black backing paper to the pressure plate).
It comes in bulk of various lengths and can be found on auction sites, it looks it was produced until recently. It can be pushed to 100 or 200 as some friends do, I may try on the next roll.
This roll was shot with the Leica M4 + Summilux 50v2, at 50 ISO, hand metered (Sekonic 308S). I processed mine at my local lab which used Kodak D76, I was told the buy pushed it one stop.
The result is quite OK to my taste, the grain is quite smooth in some of the shots, more present on others, like a generic 100 ISO film. There is something special on some shots that can be related to the “Glow”.
This is a 50 ISO film, so not so easy for street shooting, but still I think three out of four shots are OK technically. Using the Summilux gives a bit more leeway to play with compare to slower lens, and on a sunny day I could shoult at 1/125, 1/250
The film is moderately curly, scanning did not show any special difficulties. The highlight seems to be a bit blown, bringing them in line needs darkening the pictures a bit too much to my taste, but I cannot deny the palette of grey is interesting.
I though it was more interesting to share about this new experience that following up my last post about the art of curating films. But I can quickly share the following: on the 25 shots of this roll, 5 where not good technically, 4 are of my family, 13 seriously lack of interest or are dupes. So I am left with the 8 shareable shots shown here
A bit high ratio, but I am a slow shooter, specially with a film of such slow speed, so maybe I paid more attention. The first and last shots are probably a bit above OK. “Music head” with its quirky composition is probably very close to be an OK. The “Girl in Wanzi” would have been as well if not for some motion shake I think. “Bump”, “Egg Business” and the “Time Off” are on the very low end of the interesting range.
The title is a bit pedantic, but actually it came from something very down to earth. I recently reviewed 30 years on pictures for a small personal project and the experience was both fun and sad. The fun side came from the obvious pleasure of looking at them : the reason why we like photography. The sadness was brought in by the shots I did not take: these long lost friends I have no portraits off, this great week end, that awesome holidays; my first car, but also for the lack of quality of some shots, making them unusable for my project, and just plain depressing : how could have I done that?.
This lead me to reflect (quickly) on the quality of the many shots I take, and my overall photographic journey. A bit further in my thinking came the idea of sharing how I select my shots maybe for a rolls or two.
I just collected today a roll of Ilford Delta 100 from the lab, it was shot with the Leica IIIc and the Summaron 35mmF3.5, over two weeks of relatively no inspiration and crap weather. So maybe this roll is a bit more lame than usual, but let’s see.
So this was the first day of the holidays; after the long-haul flight from Singapore to Nice and a night or rest, here I am driving up 2 hours from Cannes to Allos in the Parc of Mercantour in the southern french alps, a couple of boys day’s out with my son and my dad.
I had a couple of ideas of things to shoot on the way, including a stop at the railway station in Thorame Haute a stop on the “Train des pignes” that link Nice to Dignes-Les-Bains.
To our amusement, when we stepped out of the car a vintage steam train was parked along the station. It appeared it had to make a stop to let the regular train pass by as there is only one track in this area.
The people attending the train were very nice, happy to have a chat and camera friendly, hell they had 2 hours to kill
This train is kept by a non profit association it travels from May to October on Sundays.
Last week I went out with fellow members of the “Lets shoot film SG” group, in the area of Arab Street in Singapore. The intent was to shoot the crowd : this has became a very popular spot now and there are many opportunities for candid shots.
I loaded the Agfa Isolette III with my second roll (on 3) or Pancro 400, to see how it fares with a slightly better camera. I must say this was not some precision work, the uncoupled rangefinder is not working so the distances are guestimated and I preset the exposition most of the time. I put the original yellow filter (probably 1/2 stop) in front of the Apotar 80mmF4.5 lens as well as the aluminium hood for good order.
The film was processed at the same lab as the first one, I was not told the film need pushing this time, so maybe they worked out how to process it “normally”, go figure!
The results : as the first film, this one came fairly flat from the lab and was easy to scan. A bit of tweaking in Lightroom, et voila!
Is it the conjunction of the small aperture used and / or the yellow filter? The results surely have more contrast that my first roll but still shows pretty smooth tones, and no hard contrasts. Highlights were easily recuperated, underlining the claim to large latitude.
Something keep on surprising me ( as I also just scanned my first roll in 35mm format) it is that this film manage to be quite grainy and still preserves an impressive amount of details even in under or over exposed shots (no shown here) or areas.
I will shot the last 120 roll with the Hassie; maybe I’ll try to do some portraits to see if in a more controlled environment something else is revealed.