Feb 24, 2017

30-30-30 : Day 08 : Yashica 635

Setup for Day 08 (Feb 22nd, 2017):

Camera: Yashica 635
Lens: Yashikor 80mm f/3.5
Film: Ilford FP4+ 125 ASA (expires Jan. 2020)

Mini-review of the setup:

Camera: I've had several of similar Yashicas myself, but never the 635 which is basically a "D" model with the ability to take 35mm film if you have the accessory kit that goes into the film chamber.

Self-cocking but manual shutter so you can do double-exposures or forget to expose the film if you don't have a system for when you wind the film and take the photo. I've moved away from these sorts of cameras preferring the automatic due to forgetting where each camera is in the cycle. For someone with a reasonable sized collection or just a couple cameras, this would be less of an issue.

Knob wind, so there is less to go wrong than with the lever advance/crank models like the Yashica-mat EM or LM or 12 or 24 or 124 or 124G, etc.

Viewfinder is bright and clear as I have just gone through and cleaned it all up. New mirror was installed yesterday and lenses were cleaned. Shutter was cleaned as well as the many blades of the aperture so the controls are quite smooth, although the shutter cocking mechanism likely could improve a bit if a full teardown was done. That would require new coverings so was elected to not be done at this time.

After using this, the setup with the focus knob being on the right is pretty useful. Some of the TLRs have the focus and winding on separate sides so you need to switch hands as you advance through the film but this one, you can keep holding it in left hand and do everything else with your right. Small point but it makes a difference, especially if you want to capture some action as it develops in front of you.

Lens: The Yashikor is a 3-element lens (aka triplet) vs the Yashinon which is a 4-element (Tessar clone). Supposedly the triplet is not as good at wider apertures, which echoes the Tessar vs Planar comparison like some of the higher end Rolleiflex models had. At f/8, some people say they are indistinguishable.

The coatings on this should be much better than what was seen on the Flektar, and overall lens performance should be improved by this coating.

In general, because you have such a large negative to work with when looking at medium format cameras, the enlargement factor is smaller than with 35mm and so even simple lenses like this which might be not be up to quality standards for 35mm can be used with great results in medium format. This is again true for large format, with even less of an enlargement factor.

This is not to say that negative size always decides ultimate image quality but it is certainly one of the more important factors after 1) lighting, 2) proper development, 3) motion blur due to camera movement or subject movement 4) proper aperture selection.

Film: For some reason, even though one of my favorite monochromatic emulsions is Kodak's discontinued Plus-X, I have not used very much of Ilford's closest offering, FP4+.

After using it, I like it. It's still a bit older-looking than what I might normally prefer my photos to look like but for certain applications I can definitely see the appeal.

Please Note: These were all taken with a red filter, just to add yet another variable. The two shots of the Art building were taken to compare with the red filter and without. The sky is brighter relative to the building in the unfiltered image.

30-30-30 : Day 07 : Mamiya 645 + 80/1.9

Setup for Day 07 (Feb 21st, 2017):

Camera: Mamiya M645 1000S with Meter Prism Finder
Lens: Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/1.9
Film: Ilford Delta 100 ASA (expired 2008 or 2009)

Mini-review of the setup:

Camera: I found the Mamiya 645 awkward to hold. Controls are very different from any other camera I've had or handled, but logical in their own way. Viewfinder is fairly small but it's pretty bright with this fast lens for the format. Dual shutter releases, I didn't use the top one but I suppose it's more for when you have the waist level finder installed rather than the prism as shown here.

The meter doesn't work in this prism but that's no problem to me as I just used Sunny 16 or confirmed with my phone's light meter and got a roll full of just fine exposures.

Film can be pre-loaded into the removable cartridges but you can't hot swap like you can on the later evolutions or the Hassy 6x6 or Contax 645 that this was up against.

This is the 1000S model so it has the lock on the shutter speed dial which I found to be a nice touch rather than much of a nuisance. Also, the built in shutter lock is great. I abhor wasting film taking pictures of the inside of a bag so any camera with a lock is ahead of the game there.

Lens: This is the fastest commercially available medium format lens. It's the "Noctilux" of the 645 format. I'd actually call it the Canon 50mm f/0.95 compared to the Contax 645's 80/2.0 which I would compare more directly to the Noct but they are all super fast for their respective formats.

The 80/1.9 is basically designed for portraits. It's rather slow to focus, it's not designed to be supremely sharp wide open but has a distinctive look to the images. It's got it's own group on Flickr so you can see what I mean. It's large, heavy, gets attention and so is not what most photographers would consider for their general purpose, every day lens. This is compared to the Pentax Takumar 105mm f/2.4 which is the fastest commercially produced lens available for 6x7 format and does get used as a general purpose lens by many users of the Pentax 67 system.

Comparing the two lenses is possible but it really comes down to which format you are wanting to use. Can you make do with 10-11 shots

Film: Delta 100 is Ilford's medium speed (in film terms, with 50 being slow, 400 being fast and 3200 being ultra-fast) b&w T-grain film. This means it's going to be fairly modern looking, vs the older style emulsion like FP4+. I tend to prefer the T-grain films but the old style emulsions can do some wonderful things as well.

The T-grain films tend to be a bit sharper, have smoother grain, higher resolution, less apparent grain and to my eye, have more shadow detail than their traditional grain counterpart for the same speed. Some people believe that the T-grain films look too digital, too smooth, they want the toothy grain to show through and so they use the old style or a smaller format.

As always, please click on the image to get a full window view.

Feb 20, 2017

30-30-30 : Day 06 : Fuji Instax Mini 8

Setup for Day 06 (Feb 20th, 2017):

Camera: Fuji Instax Mini 8 original gray version
Lens: Fuji somethingsomething
Film: Polaroid 300 (AKA Fuji Instax Mini), expired 2013

Mini-review of the setup:

Camera: Flash is pretty much always on and starts affecting images any time of day that isn't high noon. Does a decent job of matching exposure to ambient light but it looks like an on-camera flash. Oh well, there's two controls on this camera so you can't expect (or need) anything else.

Shutter button is responsive, only lag really is when it needs to charge the flash more. Icons around the lens are supposed to be a helpful guide to getting the right exposure but it's not exactly intuitive. I should probably read the manual but it seems like with something this simple I shouldn't need a manual.

I noticed on some images the field of view is considerably wider than what the viewfinder covers. Sometimes it was much closer to what I was expecting.

Have not shot too much with this, I bought it mainly to process Instax shot in other cameras but it's pretty much fool proof and fun to forget all the technical bits and just concentrate on showing what you want to show.

Lens: Not sure what it is, but it doesn't matter. Plastic? Glass? Really...doesn't matter. It's not great but it's not terrible.

It's slow (small max aperture) so no dreamy, blurred backgrounds with this setup, and from what I have seen with putting Instax into other cameras with better lenses, the lens here is the weak link for image quality, same as the Instax 200 is for Instax Wide film.

Film: This was bought for $1, because it was expired. Can't complain about the price, and hopefully not being very old, it shouldn't show much color cast. I've shot Polaroid materials that are much older that still look good. The Polaroid MIO was basically the same camera but a different body. Takes the same film, or the Polaroid 300 like this film is. Polaroid never had anything rebadged for them for the Instax Wide, to my knowledge.

Yep, it looks pretty darn good. Colors are close to reality, plenty of contrast. It's not "creative" looking like the considerably more expensive Impossible Project films but for bringing to a party and having people be able to take home physical objects as reminders, it is great.

Before you look at the photos, please note that my Cancan 9000F would simply not scan these without some sort of lines through them. If you see any defects, that is simply from the scanner having some sort of issue and not the film, even though it is expired!

30-30-30 : Day 05 : Canon F1n

Setup for Day 05 (Feb 19th, 2017):

Camera: Canon F1n (revision of the original F1)
Lens: Canon FL 58mm f/1.2, T-60-2 lens hood
Film: Fujifilm Acros 100

Mini-review of the setup:

Camera: I'm familiar with this camera, I've shot a few rolls with it before we had moved to Portales. As such, the controls seem to be well placed. It is hefty in hand and that's without the optional battery pack and winder/motor drive. Great impression of quality as soon as you pick it up. This one is in very good condition aside from the missing bottom plate (on this style of F1 you had to pull the bottom plate to add a winder) which helps this impression of quality, but still, controls have heavy detents but are still smooth to use. Winder is nice and smooth and snaps through the stroke with confidence.

Very much feels like a "pro" camera and holds in the hand well while shooting. Standout position of the film wind lever lets you hold it without a strap easily, even with a hefty 58/1.2 lens on the front.

The viewfinder is excellent, I have the grid focus screen in it and the Speed Finder is great for use with glasses.

Speed Finder: High eye relief (you can see the whole screen from farther away) so works great with glasses or if you can't otherwise stick your eyeball right up against the view port. It also rotates around so you can use it like a Waist Level Finder, in case you want to shoot from a lower perspective. Not quite as bright as a normal finder, heavier and with lower magnification, it is not perfect but it works great for me.

Overall, it's simple and just gets out of the way. It doesn't do anything for you, for good and bad.

Lens: Dense piece of brass, aluminum and glass, this was Canon's first ultra-fast "normal" focal length lens for their SLRs. Aperture ring is up near the front of the lens, which is slightly slower in use but with a bit of use, it falls to hand naturally.

There is a second ring for stopping down the lens to your pre-set aperture for metering (hence the "preset" designation, as opposed to the later "Auto" lenses which closed the diaphragm for you) but the camera/lens will also stop it down when you take the shot. So, if you are using Sunny 16 or external meter like I do, you don't have to try to focus and compose through a dark viewfinder.

Focus is heavy and slow, but precise. If you wanted faster focusing to follow action, you likely would have gone with the 50/1.4 lens so the precision of the heavier damped focus here for portraits is welcome. It has become second nature for me, when focusing with a very shallow depth of field, to move my upper body rather than trying to get it exactly right with the focusing ring. Leaning forward/back is faster and can be just as precise when practiced.

Film: Fuji's Acros in medium format is beautiful. I haven't used very much of it in 35mm so I'm looking forward to seeing the scans.

Disclaimer about scans: My Canon Cancan 9000F has always been mediocre when it comes to 35mm and these are probably some of the worst negs I have scanned with it thus far. I can see much greater detail and sharpness in the negs themselves than I can in the scans. I'll try some alternate methods and see if I can get the film flat on the glass or possibly "scan" them in with my DSLR as that would at least give 10MP of information.