Friday, December 4, 2009

Rental Cameras: Hasselblad 503C/W, Part 2

Risotto With Shaved Truffle
Risotto With Shaved Truffle; Hasselblad 503C/W, 120m f/4 Makro-Planar, Ilford HP5+

This continues part 1 of my discussion of the Hasselblad 503C/W. I didn't take as many rolls with this as with the Mamiya RZ67, since I didn't get to take any trips with it. Thus all the images are from San Francisco, or from food/camera photography in my apartment. I shot 1 roll of HP5+ at 1600, 1 roll of HP5+ at 400, and 1 roll of Provia 100F. Because I was hand-holding the camera in some very low light situations (hence the 1600 HP5+) I had a little less luck than with the RZ67 images, but still got plenty of good frames.

Pond Reflection
Pond Reflection; Hasselblad 503C/W, 120m f/4 Makro-Planar, Ilford HP5+ @ 1600

In terms of the lenses used, all of them worked well, although I had a strong preference for the 120mm f/4 Makro-Planar (as I suspected). The 150mm f/4 Sonnar was my second favorite, which is again not a surprise. I didn't rent a wide-angle lens this time, preferring to compare with the normal lens instead. If were to have to use only one lens with this camera, it would have to be the 120mm, or possibly the 150mm with extension tubes or close up filters.

Trunk Detail
Trunk Detail; Hasselblad 503C/W, 150m f/4 Sonnar, Ilford HP5+

For the food and product photography, the 120mm worked very nicely. As with the RZ67 + 180mm, to get any closer I would need tubes or filters, but without these it can just about fill the frame with a plate, which would be what I need. I also didn't find any exposure compensation needed at the closest focus distance; I shot the food pictures in 0 and +1/2 EV pairs, and the 0 versions worked fine.

Otsu Soba Noodle Salad (Provia)
Otsu Soba Noodle Salad (Provia); Hasselblad 503C/W, 120m f/4 Makro-Planar, Fuji Provia 100F, Canon 430EX, Lumiquest SB-III, LumoPro LP120

Provia continues to display its blue color cast in the shadow areas, which works well for pictures of the high-tech DSLR. For the food, since there wasn't a white background, I could "correct" it, resulting in a frame much warmer than the more neutral DSLR versions.

Canon 30D 2 (Provia)
Canon 30D 2 (Provia); Hasselblad 503C/W, 120m f/4 Makro-Planar, Fuji Provia 100F, Canon 430EX, Lumiquest SB-III, LumoPro LP120

In terms of comparison to the Mamiya RZ lenses, at least to my eyes, there's not much in it. Along with the extra 1cm in the 6x7 negative (it doesn't sound like a lot, but 6x7 negatives do look much larger than 6x6), I certainly wouldn't choose the Hasselblad for image quality reasons, especially not if wanting to print rectangular. There's certainly nothing wrong with the lenses, but neither is there anything that makes me go "wow". I feel like all the frames I took with them would have been just as good with the RZ lenses. The reason to choose the Hasselblad, for me, would be the size/weight savings. Two things are making me prefer the Mamiya, though. The first is the price, which even used, is high for the Hasselblad system. The second is the close focus issue (the 120mm would solve this problem for me, but again, $$$). To take price out of the equation, a Bronica SQ system is comparable to the RZ67 system, and has some cheaper lenses that focus fairly close. However, I'm still not sure that the size/weight savings over a minimal RZ67 system would make it worth it; a rangefinder system is much more portable than either SLR system, and a 645 SLR system would also be fairly small. I feel like if I'm going to carry a medium format SLR system, it may as well be 6x7.

Flowers After Rain
Flowers After Rain; Hasselblad 503C/W, 80mm f/2.8 Planar, Ilford HP5+

In summary, the RZ67 is still my top choice for a medium format system. I'm also planning to make a slight change in my rental plans, and not rent the Mamiya 7 system; the prices for both the Mamiya 6 & 7 systems are such that I don't really want to consider them. Instead, I'll move on to the Fuji rangefinders (and possibly try a GA645 as well as the GW/GSW series), and then make one very different comparison: 4x5. I don't think I'm ready to give up handholding, and work purely from a tripod, but who knows? I should at least try it. Finally, all the photos from my rental can be seen in this Flickr set.

Stair Step Building
Stair Step Building; Hasselblad 503C/W, 120m f/4 Makro-Planar, Ilford HP5+

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rental Cameras: Hasselblad 503C/W, Part 1

Hasselblad 503C/W with 120mm f/4 Makro Planar
Hasselblad 503C/W with 120mm f/4 Makro Planar; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

The second camera on my rental list is the Hasselblad 500 series. There are a few places in my city that rent these, and so I ended up with a 503C/W body and an 80mm f/2.8 CF Planar lens, a 120mm f/4 CFi Makro Planar lens, and a 150mm f/4 CF Sonnar lens. Part 1 of my discussion of it will focus on ergonomics, handling, size weight, etc; Part 2 will show results from the 3 rolls of film I exposed with it, and discuss my final conclusions. Again, since information on Hasselblad camera and lens stats is easily available on the web, I won't be discussing specifics in this area (except for close focus ability).

In terms of size and weight, this is a much more manageable camera than the RZ67, as the following size comparison pictures with a Canon 30D + 200mm f/2.8 lens and a Yashica D TLR show. The 503 has the 120mm f/4 Makro Planar on it. Looking at the same comparisons in the Mamiya RZ67 discussion should give a good idea of the relative sizes of the two cameras.

503C/W vs 30D 1 503C/W vs 30D 1
503C/W vs Yashica D 1 503C/W vs Yashica D 2
Hasselblad 503C/w size comparisons with Canon 30D, Yashica D; iPhone

Worth noting here is that I could easily fit the 503 body with the 80mm lens attached plus the 150mm lens into a Crumpler 5MDH, while the RZ67 with 65mm and 180mm lens was a tight squeeze in my Crumpler 7MDH. This comparison is not quite fair, since the normal lens is usually the smallest for any camera, and I didn't have the Mamiya 110mm lens to compare.

I was already used to a 6x6 waist-level finder from the Yashica D, and while it's certainly nice, it's not as nice as the 6x7 (really 7x7 with movable mask) finder on the RZ67. The ergonomics of the Hasselblad, on the other hand, are just lovely. The camera can be easily cradled in your left hand with a finger on the release, and the other important controls (focus, aperture, shutter) are all on the lens for easy operation with the right hand. While the reduced size and weight vs the RZ67 is what makes this possible, it's possible that this also allows for more camera shake than the rock-solid RZ67, where the weight helps keep the camera steady.

120mm f/4 Makro Planar Lens Barrel
120mm f/4 Makro Planar Lens Barrel; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX

The lenses, on the other hand, are not hugely smaller or lighter than the Mamiya lenses. I spent most of my time with the camera with the 120mm f/4 Makro Planar mounted, because of the close-focusing ability, but I did use all three lenses. In use, all the lenses were very nice; these are the newer lenses without the EV interlock. My only minor complaint is that the focus rings are perhaps a little too damped for how long their travel is (basically all the way around the lens barrel).

Image quality assessments will have to wait until I have all the film processed, but I can discuss the close focus issue now. The 120mm lens is the best in this regard (by design), focusing down to 0.8m, giving 1:4.5. For comparison, the 180mm Mamiya lens focues to 1:3.8 (and the shorter lenses do even better; the normal 110mm lens does around 1:2, although with a shorter working distance). The Hasselblad 80mm and 150mm, by comparison, do 0.8m/1:9 and 1.2m/1:7.1, respectively. While there are options for improving the close up situation (filters, extension tubes, and tele-converters), all of them require something additional to be carried. Being able to carry around any lens with focal length less than 180mm and get at least 1:3.8, instead of being limited to one specific lens or extra accessories, is a major point in favor of the RZ67.

T*; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

While I didn't do any long walks with the Hasselblad, I can see that the smaller size and lighter weight would be quite a bonus, especially when traveling. For equivalent setups (body, waist level finder, one film back, wide angle lens, telephoto lens), the Hasselblad saves about 1000g, or 2.2lbs, compared to the Mamiya, which is not insignificant. Of course, a rangefinder setup could save 800-1000g compared to even the Hasselblad, making such a setup ridiculously light.

One other comparison: the Hasselblad looks gorgeous, especially in chrome, while I think the most anybody could manage to say about the Mamiya is that it looks solid or perhaps handsome.

On the positive side, the Hasselblad is a good-looking, nicely sized, and easy to use camera; on the negative, I have some concerns about close focus, and handheld use. Part 2 will examine some frames from San Francisco, as well as some food photography.

'blad; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rental Cameras: Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Part 2

Bent Sapling
Bent Sapling; Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 65mm f/4, Ilford HP5+

This continues part 1 of my discussion of the Mamiya RZ67. After a week of developing and scanning 4 rolls of film, I finally have all the results from my weekend with the RZ67 available, and the camera did not disappoint me. I shot 2 rolls of HP5+ rated at 400 in Muir Woods, 1 roll of Velvia 50 on and around Mt. Tamalpais, and 1 roll of Provia 100F for food photography, and all of them look great.

Rock On The Hillside
Rock On The Hillside; Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 180mm f/4.5, Ilford HP5+

Both lenses worked very well; the 180mm focal length in particular felt very natural to me, and I was very happy with many of the shots I got with it. This is not a huge surprise to me, as my first lens for my Canon 30D was a 50mm prime, which is actually a short telephoto lens on an APS-C sensor camera. Since then, I've always liked a longer than normal focal length. Were I to buy an RZ67 with only one lens, I think that this would be the one.

Coastal Grass
Coastal Grass; Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 65mm f/4, Fuji Velvia 50

The 65mm lens was also great, however. Having to adjust the floating element for close-up sharpness was a little annoying, but it seemed to work very well. The wide-normal view (about 30-35mm in 35mm terms) is also one that I like a lot. This is probably attributable to the 42mm lens on my Olympus 35RC, which has always felt very natural.

Fern Leaves
Fern Leaves; Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 180mm f/4.5, Ilford HP5+

For landscape work, both lenses worked very well, and the HP5+ looks lovely. One advantage of the 6x7 format is that a 400 speed film like HP5+ appears very grain-free as compared to 35mm (which is good, because the 400 speed lets you use much needed higher shutter speeds, especially somewhere as dark as Muir Woods). The bellows also enable some nice close ups like the fern above.

Hummus Plate (Provia 1)
Hummus Plate (Provia 1); Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 180mm f/4.5, Fuji Provia 100F, Canon 430EX, LumoPro LP120

One result that I was very interested in was how the food photography with Provia came out. Here, I was not disappointed either. There's a slight blue cast to the Provia, which I expected, and the DOF is much smaller, but the result looks very good. All of it was done with the 180mm, which worked nicely; it did require a stop of exposure compensation, but I expected that. Compared to the digital versions of the same shots, the digital is a little warmer, and has more DOF (same aperture for both, so this is expected), but the film version has a magic all its own. One thing I do note is that I would need an extension tube to get any closer with the 180mm, but this is not a huge hardship (although it would make my flashes work harder!).

Hummus Plate (Provia 2) Hummus Plate (Digital 2)
Hummus Plate (Provia 2) & Hummus Plate (Digital 2); Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 180mm f/4.5, Fuji Provia 100F, Canon 430EX, LumoPro LP120 & Canon 30D, Canon 200m f/2.8L

Roasted Squash With Salsa (Provia) Roasted Squash With Salsa (Digital)
Roasted Squash With Salsa (Prova & Digital); Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 180mm f/4.5, Fuji Provia 100F, Canon 430EX, LumoPro LP120, LumiQuest SB-III & Canon 30D, Canon 200m f/2.8L

All of the shots with and of the RZ67, including the ones in this post, can be seen in this Flickr set. All in all, I'm very happy with this camera, and with the results it produced. Really, the only negatives are the size and weight. Next, it's time to see how a 6x6 SLR fares.

Leaning Tree
Leaning Tree; Mamiyz RZ67 Pro II, 65mm f/4, Ilford HP5+

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

City Night Photography with Ektar 100

Bi Rite Night
Bi Rite Night; Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Kodak Ektar 100

With most people raving about the new Kodak negative film, Ektar 100, I got a 5 pack of it in 120 format when it became available. However, I ended up not being very happy with it in daylight conditions; I prefer Portra 160VC for negative films, or slide films in general, I'm finding. Thus I found myself with extra Ektar 100 to use for experimentation. One experiment I decided to do with it was long exposure night photography in color.

Tri-Cycle Alone At Night
Tri-Cycle Alone At Night; Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Kodak Ektar 100

I found little information about reciprocity failure with Ektar on the web, but what little I did find indicated that exposure, at least, was not too badly affected. So, I took my folding Nettar, a mini-tripod, cable release, and light meter, and set out to do some night shots. I rated the Ektar at EI 64 instead of 100, since most people seem to prefer over-exposing it a little. For each frame I wanted, I tried to take 1 shot as metered, 1 with 50% longer exposure, and 1 with 100% longer exposure. Time constraints meant that I couldn't always do the very long one, but luckily, it turned out not to be needed.

Fillmore Skyline
Fillmore Skyline; Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Kodak Ektar 100

As I found out, the shots I took as metered (Gossen LunaPro F) came out fine in terms of exposure, with very little difference from added exposure time. The shortest exposure I had was 4 seconds, and the longest 30 seconds, before correction, and both of these looked fine. Color shift is another matter, but if I cared about that, I would take long exposure black & white shots! When scanning, I was able to get the colors to my liking in any case, and part of the fun of night photography in a city is all the different colors as compared to daylight.

Waiting In The Bus Shelter
Waiting In The Bus Shelter; Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Kodak Ektar 100

My conclusion? I may have found a new use for some of my other rolls of Ektar. I'll be sure to save a few for other experiments though.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rental Cameras: Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Part 1

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II
Mamiya RZ67 Pro II; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

The first camera on my list of rentals is the Mamiya RZ67. I rented it along with a 65mm f/4 and 180mm f/4.5 lens. Part 1 of my discussion of it will focus on the camera in use: ergonomics, size, weight, etc. Part 2 will show images from the 4 rolls I exposed with the camera this weekend, and discuss the final results. Since none of these cameras are especially old or unknown, I won't provide basic information/stats; user manuals and lots of other information is easily available on the web.

As far as size goes, here are some comparison images (iPhone camera, sorry; since one of the comparisons is with my DSLR, I couldn't use it to take these!), with my 30D and Yashica D. The 30D has a 200mm f/2.8L on it, the largest lens I own; the RZ67 has the 180mm lens on it, although the 65mm isn't really any smaller. I'll try and reproduce these comparisons with all the cameras I rent.

RZ67 vs 30D 1 RZ67 vs 30D 2
RZ67 vs Yashica D 1 RZ67 vs Yashica D 2
Mamiya RZ67 size comparisons with Canon 30D, Yashica D; iPhone

As you can see, this is a large, serious camera. In use, however, it feels very good in the hand. All controls are easy to operate and see from the top of the camera; shutter speeds on the side, aperture on the lens, and the focus knobs down at the front. Also, a 6x7 waistlevel finder is a thing of beauty! The size and weight of the camera help hold it steady. I took several handheld shots with it, and the mirror also appears to be well damped; we'll see if the developed film bears out my conclusions here.

Mamiya-Sekor Z 180mm f/4.5 W-N (RZ67)
Mamiya-Sekor Z 180mm f/4.5 W-N (RZ67); Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

The lenses likewise are very large, not so much in length as in width, since they have to cover 6x7. With the bellows focusing, both lenses can focus very closely; the 65mm in particular can get right up against a subject (the bellows provide around 43mm of extension I believe). This allows for some nice near/far compositions with the 65mm, and with the 180mm, some nice single-detail close ups; I should have examples of both in my films. One minor quibble is the floating element adjustment on the 65mm, something I often forgot to adjust, since most of my shots were at infinity with that lens.

I ended up walking about 3.5 miles around Muir Woods carrying the RZ67, two lenses, meter, film, and tripod. With a comfortable shoulder bag, this was not a problem. The neck strap I had for the RZ was not the most supportive, but with a better strap the weight of the camera would not have been a problem. Adding another lens, another film back, or a prism finder would not be something I would want to do for very long. And I probably wouldn't want to take even the setup I had out all day for multiple days in a row.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Shutter Dial
Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Shutter Dial; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

In general, though, I liked the RZ67 a lot. Of course, as it's the first camera I'm trying, I don't have many comparisons to make; perhaps a 6x6 SLR will feel even better. Part 2 will examine frames from Muir Woods, Mt Tam, and some food photography to see if the results are as nice as the camera itself, and will discuss whether the camera satisfies my criteria.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Front
Mamiya RZ67 Pro II Front; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX & LumiQuest SB-II, LumoPro LP120

Rental Cameras: The Project

Medium Format Lens
Medium Format Lens; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX + LumiQuest SB-III, LumoPro LP120

While I love my Zeiss Ikon Nettar and Yashica D cameras, recently I've been wishing for a more versatile medium format camera. Specifically, I wanted the following things:

  1. The ability to use focal lengths besides "normal" (the Nettar is 75mm, the Yashica 80mm).

  2. SLR viewing and close up ability for portraits and food photography (the Nettar is focus guessing, the Yashica has a real focusing, but neither focuses close).

  3. A versatile medium format "travel kit" (both my current cameras are actually good travel cameras).

  4. 6x6 or larger. I know 6x4.5 is a good percentage larger than 35mm, but honestly, I'd rather not bother carrying a medium format camera for just 6x4.5.

In the medium format world, though, having both #2 and #3 is tricky; the more versatile SLRs are the larger/heavier cameras, which tend to be the ones you don't want to travel with. With that in mind, and with the many options available in MF, I decided I needed to make a list of candidates, and try and rent as many as I could to make an informed comparison and choice. It's possible to read forever about how some people can handhold a certain camera, or carry it around all day, and others would never do that; what matters is whether you can or want to do it, and for that, you need personal experience.

Without further ado, the candidates:

  1. Mamiya RZ67. Widely known as an excellent "studio/tripod" camera, with good close focus ability on every lens because of the built in bellows. The rotating back also makes it possible to reasonably shoot 6x7 while using a waist-level viewfinder. Very popular landscape, portrait, product, food camera, which is why it made my list. The downsides are the size and weight.

  2. Hasselblad 500 series/Bronica SQ series. These 6x6 SLRs are smaller and lighter than the RZ67, but lack the close focus ability except on a few lenses (or by adding extension tubes/close up filters). The two systems have been compared a lot, mainly because the Bronica is much cheaper used. In terms of rental, however, none of the shops in my city rent the Bronica, and so the Hasselblad will be the representative 6x6 SLR in my comparison.

  3. Mamiya 7/Mamiya 6. These rangefinder systems (7 = 6x7, 6 = 6x6) offer fewer lenses than the SLR systems, with better wide-angles, but fewer telephoto options (150mm is the longest). The huge advantage is that with no mirror assembly, they're much smaller and lighter, making them excellent travel cameras. In terms of portrait/food cameras, however, these will be vastly inferior to the SLRs. Again, none of the shops in my city rent the 6 (it's an older camera), and so the 7 will be the representative interchangeable lens rangefinder.

  4. Fuji GW/GSW 670/690. These are fixed lens rangefinders, with either a 90mm (GW) or 65mm (GSW) lens, and a 6x7 (670) or 6x9 (format). These have the same advantages and disadvantages as the Mamiya rangefinders, but are cheaper, and can have a larger negative with the 6x9 option. I plan to try the GSW690, as despite being a fixed lens camera, it's not a normal length lens.

From the above choices, an optimal system could be the RZ67 for food, portrait, and some landscape work, plus a rangefinder (Mamiya 6, 7, or Fuji GSW690) as a travel camera. A compromise system would be a 6x6 SLR with a few lenses, that could function well for studio-style work, but be light enough to travel with (probably with only 2 lenses).

In the following weeks, I'll be renting the list above, and posting about my experiences with each system, followed by a conclusion when I decide what's right for me. Hopefully this can help other people who are making the same sort of decision that I am.

Here are the posts so far:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Olympus 35RC

35RC & Fence
35RC & Fence; Canon 30D, Sigma 10-20mm, Canon 430EX

For my next camera profile, I thought I should talk about the camera that got me into film photography in the first place, the Olympus 35RC. I initially considered film when I was looking for a very pocketable camera to complement my DSLR. All the digital options sacrificed too much quality compared to my DSLR set up that I felt that I wouldn't have been happy with them. However, there were many compact cameras made that used 35mm film, and having seen many nice black and white film shots, I decided to investigate this option some more.

My first stop was the excellent Cameraquest page on compact 35mm rangefinders. Many of these caught my eye (and some still do, such as an Olympus RD or a Canonet QL17), but the one that stood out was the Olympus 35RC, for reasons I'll discuss below. Luckily, KEH at the time had one in decent condition for a good price, so I didn't have to hunt on eBay.

35RC Outside 1
35RC Outside 1; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L

Unlike previous profiles on this site, I won't list all the stats of the 35RC. Instead, here are several good reference pages/reviews:

35RC Outside 2
35RC Outside 2; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX

Now, my impressions. First the positives:

  1. The lens. Very compact 5 element Olympus lens, very very sharp, even wide open, and great when stopped down.

  2. The size. This was the inital attraction for me. The camera easily fits in a jacket pocket, or can be carried with one hand.

  3. The features. Full manual control as well as shutter priority AE with a meter; bulb shutter speed; hot shoe, and many more (see the pages above for a full list). Despite the wonderfully small size, it offers basically all the features I want in a camera.

And the negatives:

  1. The lens. Despite the positives above, there are two negatives. First, it's only f/2.8, so it's not the best low light camera, although some 3200 speed film helps (but see below). Second, the minimum focus distance is not wonderful (3'), although this is a common flaw in this class of camera (the Olympus XA4 focuses down to 1', but it's scale focusing).

  2. The meter. It was designed for mercury batteries, and the max speed is only 800, so if you want to use film faster than that you'll need to carry a external meter (or guess).

  3. The size. More specifically, the size of the controls. It's very hard to adjust the aperture ring, especially if you have larger fingers.

35RC Outside 3
35RC Outside 3; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX

With all that out of the way, let me say this: I love this camera. It's my go-to film camera, great for taking out with friends, or taking out for street shooting, and it would be a great travel camera too. I'm very glad I got it, and will hopefully never get rid of it, just complement it with a faster-lensed but larger camera.

35RC & Luna Pro F
35RC & Luna Pro F; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX

Since I'd already taken the traditional "camera on white" shots of the 35RC when I first bought it, I decided to take some different shots of it for this post. All except the black and white were taken with flash, and I realized again how harsh hard flash is on old cameras; I wished I had some kind of portable diffusion solution.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Overlapping Frame Cyanotypes

Chicago Campus 1 Cyanotype
Chicago Campus 1 Cyanotype (Overlapping Frames); Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Ilford HP5+, Cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish

My final plan for the overlapping frame images was to print them as cyanotypes. I felt that the two processes would meld very well; both are analog, not exact, and the wide overlapping frame images would contact print very nicely. I printed the two Chicago images this week, and was very pleased to see that I was right. Both cyanotypes look great, and I think there's a lot of potential here. At some point soon I'll probably set up an Etsy store, and start selling prints of these two on some nicer 5x7 paper. I'm also tentatively thinking about doing a larger series in this style, perhaps 5 images or so. I have a few ideas for the subject, but for now I'm very happy with these two.

Digital negative experiments are ongoing, but so far not great.

Chicago Campus 2 Cyanotype
Chicago Campus 2 Cyanotype (Overlapping Frames); Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Ilford HP5+, Cyanotype on Cranes Kid Finish

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Overlapping Frames In Chicago

Chicago Campus 1 (Overlapping Frames); Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Ilford HP5+

I continued my experiments with overlapping frames on 120 film in Chicago, and here are some of the scanned results; these demonstrate another of the frame overlap techniques from my list in my first post on the subject. The first two are using the second method, with 3 overlapping frames.

Chicago Campus 2
Chicago Campus 2 (Overlapping Frames); Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Ilford HP5+

As you can see from these scans, this method of overlapping the frames really gives a wide image. Additionally, while there are two join points, with careful placement of the joins, small errors in the overlap lend character to the image rather than looking like errors. For example, the building in the first image looks like a somewhat crooked building, making the image slightly whimsical; in the second image, the two turrets from the two images just look like two turrets on the chapel.

Bond Chapel
Bond Chapel (Overlapping Frames); Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16, Ilford HP5+

This final image is another example of the first technique, but with a twist applied. I wanted to see if the overlapping technique would be helped by handholding two long exposures. My conclusion is that no, it is not. The movement does not mask the overlap in any appreciable way, and while it does look a little like a ghost movie, that wasn't the effect I wanted. My next plan is to try purposefully having the images out of focus, which will hopefully impart a dreamier look.

For now though, I'm very happy with the first two images here, and will be printing them as cyanotypes (the original purpose of this exercise); scans of those coming soon!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yashica D

Yashica D
Yashica D; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Canon 430EX

I've been thinking about getting a TLR for a while now, and considering various models. Recently, a fellow photographer on a forum I read was selling his Yashica D TLR, and I decided that this was a good time to get one. It arrived, and I had a chance to put it through its paces as well as take some photos of it.

Yashica D Taking Lens
Yashica D Taking Lens; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Kenko 56mm extension tubes, Canon 430EX

Vital stats:

  • 120 film in 6x6 format

  • 80mm Yashikor lens pair, f/3.5 - f/22

  • Copal MXV shutter, B, 1-1/500 seconds

  • Ground glass focusing with pop-up magnifier and sports finder

  • No double exposure prevention or shutter/film transport coupling at all; you must cock the shutter manually after setting the speed, and you can continue to expose the same frame as many times as you like

  • Knob film advance with automatic spacing

  • No built in metering; use a handheld meter or sunny 16

Yashica D & Luna Pro F
Yashica D & Luna Pro F; Canon 30D, Sigma 10-20mm, Canon 430EX

I took it for a quick photo-walk on the way to work one day to get some first impressions and test it out. I quickly decided that I love having the ground glass to focus on, although it will take me a little bit to get used to the left-right reversal. Being able to actually see the image almost exactly as it will appear on the film is very very nice. Furthermore, I feel that having the viewing not be at your eye makes it feel more like you are looking at a picture, rather than looking at an object through a viewfinder. Very helpful for visualization.

Yashica D Shutter Release Yashica D Yashikor
Yashica D Shutter Release & Yashica D Yashikor; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Kenko 56mm extension tubes, Canon 430EX

In operation otherwise, it's very nice. Having to manually cock the shutter is not especially onerous (especially since my other medium format camera requires it too). A little viewing window just above the viewing lens means that you can set the shutter speed and aperture while keeping the camera at your waist the whole time. Like all TLRs, it suffers from the "viewfinder camera" problem, where what you see through the viewing lens (or viewfinder) is not exactly what the taking lens sees, but at reasonable distances this stops being an issue; close-up, I guess I'll just have to learn to compensate for it.

Pink Flower Bush
Pink Flower Bush; Yashica D, Kodak Portra 400VC

I took the chance while testing the camera to also test some color film, in this case Kodak Portra 400VC. Every time I shoot color film I keep hoping it will look great, and every time I'm reminded why I shoot black and white film, and use digital for color work. That said, many frames on the test roll came out nicely. The Yashikor lens is supposedly only the second best lens found in Yashica TLRs, but from these tests I think I'll be quite happy with it.

Red Plant Telephone Pole Fire Box
Pink Tree Empty Lot
Various; Yashica D, Kodak Portra 400VC

The inside shots of the Yashica D were all taken using a Canon 200mm f/2.8L lens, with some of them using 56mm of Kenko extension tubes as well. Strobist setup was one Canon 430EX into a reflective umbrella high above left of the subject; the white board used as a base also acted as a nice reflector, spreading the light around even more. The outdoor shot used a Sigma 10-20mm, with one Canon 430EX bare on a GorillaPod camera left. More to come in a further post about shooting camera pictures with flash outdoors.

Yashica D Nameplate
Yashica D Nameplate; Canon 30D, Canon 200mm f/2.8L, Kenko 56mm extension tubes, Canon 430EX