I spent a week in London recently with my family and brought the usual travel kit (Leica M, M262 and the Summicrons 28mm Asp, 35 Asph v2 and 50mmv5), I brought a nice set of films but in the end I did not shoot much, only a roll of TriX and half a roll of Portra 400. And on digital as we are here I took a mere 300 shots.
Looking at the TriX shots I am quite pleased; as usually they have been dropped for processing at Ruby photo in Singapore and scanned at home ; but when I was there I was a bit puzzled about what or who to shoot.
On one hand I am so used to travel in Asia that I am a bit lost in European cities, I am not sure about people reactions to the camera (I like candid shots), but also I think the whole way the big city works need so getting used to. So a bit of frustration. Maybe also my expectations were a bit too high, who knows.
London as changed a lot since I was last there 14 years ago. The south bank area is so lively now, also packed with tourists and street performers.
Asian tourists selfy-ing themselves are everywhere, but that’s the same all over the planet. Here at the Borough Market, a place that I never saw before, this is definitely a good area to shoot.
There are many food stalls there.
Some attractions on South Bank are using old lorries that are worth a shot imo. I only realized today that the London eye was reflecting on the bonnet of the lorry, I would have framed it better if I have known.
A morning stroll in SOHO, is also a nice opportunity for people shooting.
Or just window shopping.
In the places I never visited before was Ealing Broadway, home of the Ealing Studios who produce(s/d) cinema and television shows.
Finally another happy discovery was Old Spitalfields Market that I visited the day of the vintage records market.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This is a set of pictures of the colorful public housing blocs situated on Circuit Road in Singapore.
Circuit road is accessible via Mc Pherson MRT, and is located in the east part of town, 20 minutes ride from Orchard Road.
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.
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 ?).
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.
The film was processed at the usual lab and scanned at home with the Epson v800.
I did a bit of post processing in light room but even without it the film turned out quite well.
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.
The hassie keep on having problems shooting 12 complete frames, but this time I got lucky.
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.
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)
The sea side always offer a special quality of light, that works particularly well in black and white.
Also it is an endless opportunity of activities, landscapes and man made constructions.
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.
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.
A friendly and muscular worker along the Chao Phraya river near the Grand Palace
Finally below are two shots of worshipers inside the Grand Palace i think.
This a somewhat long post (30 shots) of a ceremony I came across in the streets of Hua Hin in Thailand during Christmas break. Getting of the main temple in the center of the city we came across the person above dancing of a building at the sound of loud reggae type music.
This happen to be in the honor of a your man turning 20, the one you can see with a shaved head in some shots after.
I am not a specialist, I believe this guy is going to become a monk for a certain time. Kids in Buddhist countries often spend some time in monasteries for their education but in Thailand they cannot spend any time as a monk until they reach 20 and it seems this is quite mandatory in a man’s life.
The parade involved a group of people walking the whole city center area around the temple. Carrying alms as above.
Dancing as the sound of a band, plating from the top of a lorry.
There i some support for the guy carrying alms or umbrellas, the pink bucket is for quench his thirst.
The birthday boy and the older lady below are paraded on cycle rickshaws.
More dancing …
The auntie had a lot of energy and good sense of rhythm.
I am not sure if they are strictly singers or also MC’s my command of Thai is very poor.
That was a very enjoyable moment, I really love shooting these events, and the lovely Thai people seemed not to matter my presence.
Color shots: Leica M262+Summicron 35mmF2
Black and White shots: Leica M6+Summicron 50mmF2 + kodak tri-x
Happy new year everybody, happy film shooting to all the film photogs. If I looks around me in Singapore it looks like more and more people are shooting film. I see young kids buying film at the shop and carrying around some analog point and shoots, SLRs or rangefinders. I met fellow film shooters in Japan, Laos and Thailand this year and at the big dismay of my family I (nearly) always go and talk to them, and take their picture sometime.
In my own opinion 2018 has been less exciting that 2017 in term of the film industry : Cinestill is now part of the landscape, KodakEktachrome is said to be available but I have not tried it yet, Film Ferania is still nowhere near the shelves. The only new film I tried is the Rollei variochrome positive film, which is quite gimmicky.
Below is a breakdown of my film rolls:
Rollei Retro 80s
Kodak Tmax 400
Rollei CR 200
Fuji Reala 800
Kodak Gold 200
Rollei Superpan 200
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak Ektar 100
Kodak Tmax 100
Kodak Portra 160
Kodak TMZ 3200
Agfa APX 400
And by Brand
The first thing to notice is that I shot a bit less that last year (I did 63 rolls then), I think I also shot less digital, I spend some time in a couple other projects. But still I am holding the one roll per week rate.
I shot 17 rolls of Ultrafine that I hand-rolled myself : this is a first for me. This is a quite good film : I told the lab it is Kentmere 400 and had no problem. I liked the experience of hand rolling shorter rolls, but as I don’t process myself there is a balance to reach between the cost of processing and not having to throw away the last shots of a roll (or shoot meaningless pics with them).
Kodak is a mix bag of black and white and the cheap color films like Colorplus and Gold 200. I tried the new TMZ 3200 once again this year and I think a good performer. I am a Kodak fanboy.
On the disappointment side are the Bergger Panchro and the Rollei Superpan, they lack contrast and have too much grain to my taste (or maybe I lack the skills to make them shine). I cannot make them out of my fridge fast enough, so I will still have some to shoot this year. I finally finished my two years expired Fuji reala 800, both shot with the Leica IIIc, I don’t really like this film (but it was so cheap) and also I have problem measuring for 800 Iso in daylight, so results were not great.
Finally the Rollei Vario ( you can read the full review here ) : it is very gimmicky so one roll is enough. I think if you are a pro and shoot a wedding, you can have a nice couple of pictures with a very different look, but apart from this the tint makes its usage very limited.
Camera N.5 : Agfa Isolette with Bergger Panchro 400
Now let’s look at the gear.
Agfa Isolette III
Kodak Autographic Jr
Minolta Himatic 7s
Once again Leica’s are on top of the ladder, I am still investing in my Leica Kit, so the M system is set to shine for a while. My travel kit now is the M262, the M6 and 3 or 4 lenses in the shoulder bag.
The Leica IIIc paired with the 35mm F3.5 Summaron is my walk around camera, as a consequence the M4 lags a bit behind.
I only shot 7 rolls of medium format, the Hasselblad has a problem now and only takes 11 shots per roll, and stays at home during holidays; the Agfa still cannot focus but I like taking it out a couple of times a year (exactly two times)
I kept on my decluttering habit this year, so I got rid of my broken Olympus Mju1, the EOS 1N, the Kiev and some Nikon Zoom lenses.
Finally my v500 scanner died in the first week on 2018, so I upgraded to an Epson v800. Frankly the difference is not that visible but it is a lot faster and the Silverfast software is quite better than the Epson one, although I must say I still have some work to master it.
If you are curious you can check the past reviews : 2015, 2016, 2017.
I had a couple of events recently and thought about trying the new Kodak TMax 3200. This is supposedly a new film, replacing the old TMZ 3200 discontinued in 2012.
I loaded the Leica M6 and used my brand new Summicron 35mm Asph v2. The M6 meter is basic but consistent.
The result is quite disappointing, chances are that can be some issue with the processing as the lab may not get used to this film yet (but they have been quite reliable so far).
What is so disappointing? Mainly the high level of grain. I shot a roll of Ilford 3200 last year and it was far lot better. Ok the lighting conditions vary, last year was a concert where the band was quite lighten up on a dark background.
On this roll there are different scenes with various lighting conditions. The first shot isoutdoor, late afternoon light. The next two ones are a show for kids, one make up session lighten through a bright large window, the second a little girl during the show.
Shots 4 and 5 are taken during the preparation of the Charity day in my office. Light on shot 4 is challenging, as it’s shot through glass. But 5 is standard office neon light.
The last 6 shots were taken during the opening party of Merci Marcel restaurant in Singapore (thank you guys this was a nice party). The pictures are quite moody, and the 35 mm is a great party lens. Maybe I should have overexposed a bit?