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)

Around city center with a 1970’s Minolta Himatic 7s

The Himatic 7s

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.

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The painter (who is also a photographer)
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Major checker competition
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Back alley

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Shoe locker outside Mustapha

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.

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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.

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Upside down nap

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.

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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.

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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.

Around city center with a 1970’s Minolta Himatic 7s

THE SECOND ROLL OF BERGGER PANCRO400

Most common activity : posing in from the Mexican style mural

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.

Second most favorite activity : show your best profile to the camera

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.

Painting is older than film

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!

Small variation : a duo in from of a plain wall

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.

Whats going on there?

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.

 

 

THE SECOND ROLL OF BERGGER PANCRO400

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

Small walk to Neil Road a few weeks back  to check the intriguing architecture of the old abandoned St Matthews Church.

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Most of the information here is taken from Remember Singapore  a great site about things of the past in Singapore.

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The original church was built in the 1890’s as a place of worship for the British sailors.

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It operated though all the first half of the 20th Century, including the Japanese occupation during WWII.

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In the late fifties, St Matthew’s embarked on a re-building plan of its main church building.

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Designed with a distinctive Modern style, the new double-storey building consisted of a prayer hall on top of a large function room. It also possessed an unique vertically protruding roof that looked like a ship’s prow, and a tall concrete bell tower that was erected beside the main chapel.

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The bell was removed sometime in the 2000’s.Flickr-1006999

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Also, after the war, St Matthew’s Church carried out plans to, expand its premises, including the construction of a vicarage and a kindergarten was also built in the early fifties.

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The new kindergarten was designed in simple Art Deco-style; it had a sloping roof laid with terracotta Marseilles tiles and timber windows with louvers.

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Color pictures Leica M262 ; B&W pictures Leica M4 with Kotak TMAX 100.

Wide angle Summicron 28mmF2 Asph ; normal lens Summicron 50mm F2 type V

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

THE SECOND FILM WITH THE LOMO KONSTRUKTOR.

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This has been more than two years since I was offered the Lomo Konstruktor kit by my wife and my son. It took me 2 month to complete and shoot the first roll and actually it took another two years for me to shoot a second roll.

(See my first post here)

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There are a couple of reasons for this none might be very good nor definitive, but here they are.

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I first found the Konstruktor very flimsy.  The winding is very hard (hence the frames overlapping, or extra spacing), the shutter mechanism is quite hard to press causing camera shake more often than not.

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The F10 lens and 1/80s speed are only allow well lit scenes; my first roll for 400 ISO and a few of the pictures were underexposed. I had a try this time with a 800 ISO Fuji Extra, and some shots are over exposed but all in all that’s not too bad.

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I found the framing and focusing difficult, ok focusing a F10 lens is not that critical after all.

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Finally I have enough sh*t cameras a home and the Lomo does not bring anything really new. It’s back on the shelf now, it may stay there for a little while.

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THE SECOND FILM WITH THE LOMO KONSTRUKTOR.

Fuji Superia 800 galore

One of the members of the Lugs (Leica user group Singapore) and prominent film shooter has ordered a bulk of Fuji Superia 800 and offered to share them. So even if I’m not a Fuji guy myself I picked up the occasion and snapped 12 rolls of 24 shots a 5 SGD a piece.

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We met last week with his gang at Brawn & Brains café and had a nice meet up session, discussing gear, film and shooting stories.

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I brought along the Leica M6 with the Summaron 35mmF2.8, the fool proof combo I bought last year. A couple of nice camera were on the table, some Olympus, Minolta, Nikon and Leica of course.

Heading back home I met junior at the skate park and had him pause.

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The 24 shots were quickly finished in the afternoon, my dad use to favor them over 36 as you could finish them quicker, but also that in a time where you had to pay for the prints  doing extra useless shots was not an obvious choice.

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One friend said yesterday that he dreaded two things in Singapore, the haze and the formula one. Well we may skip the haze this year but formula one is upon us.

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I must say I am quire disappointed wit this shot. Not only did the big baboon insisted to be next to miss formula one, but the light is poor and the color is so so, making me remind that I don’t like Fuji colors.

I must say the colors for these indoor shots are quite nice, and those of the skate park are ok as well (a bit less nice). The pictures are quite grainy, is it the film or an effect of the exposure I do not know. Well I have 11 rolls left so I can load them in many different cameras over the coming weeks and see what I get.

 

 

Fuji Superia 800 galore

A roll of Rollei RPX 25

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I had high hopes for my holidays in the alps, so I brought some slides and low speed B&W film, but alas, the weather was, how can I put it politely, not so great.

And over the week I did not took out the film body.

When I hit the french riviera I was still quiet excited, but I could not really convince myself that this was the time for shooting this last roll of Velvia.

Not your average glass

Anyway so I loaded the M6 with a roll of Rollei 25, I used a mix of 50 Summiilux V2, the 35 Summaron 2.8 and the newly acquired Summicron 28mm.

Needless to say I still find the M6 is a joy to use with any of these lenses.

In my ignorance, I though that a low speed film would be better used in bright daylight on a great sunny day. Actually this is a  very contrasty film and in bright light you end up with very high contrasts. You may like it or not, I am so so.

The Fig Tree

In subdued light like on the next picture taken on the beach on a cloudy day, the grays are nicer.

On a practical point of view, the film is very flat when coming back from the lab so it’s fairly easy to scan.

The Fig Tree

There is a very thorough review of this film (and many more) here:

http://photo-analogue.blogspot.sg/2014/03/rollei-rpx-25.html

Clearly it is a bit childish to play with these “special” films and bring them to a commercial lab. It looks like their “specialness” need to be handled with care when processing the film, and the character can be managed one way or the other.

Note that I did not use any filters for these pictures

A roll of Rollei RPX 25