Tag Archives: agfa rodinal

The last roll – I sold the Mamiya 645Pro

My first post in 2017 shows some old pictures I took on a trip to India in 2015. I also showed some of the images here before. These here are the last images taken with a Mamiya 645Pro that I sold a couple of weeks ago on eBay. Next to the 80mm standard lens, I also had a 45mm/2.8 wide and 150mm/4 long lens. While I never used the long lens, the 45mm was a great choice for traveling. I also had two film magazines and a metered prismn finder for the camera, which I also didn’t use much. I really preferred the waistlevel finder and a small handheld light meter hanging around my neck looking extremely nerdy. Honestly, the set, excluding the prism finder and the 150mm lens, was pretty perfect for traveling. The camera is reliable and not too heavy. The electronic shutter needs a battery that lasts quite long at least. I’m not a big fan of electronic shutters but I’m able to tolerate as long as the camera works. The lenses are good but not great though. They would lose the direct comparison to Zeiss lenses for Hasselblad or old Nikkor lenses for the Bronica S. But they are good when compared to Pentax or the later Bronica Zensanon.  

I guess it’s a valid question why I decided to sell the entire system in the end.  Before Christmas I decided to simplify my camera collection and decided to let go of the Mamiya 645Pro and kept the Mamiya 645AF which seem to have a couple of advantages. Admittedly, the AF isn’t as compact but lenses are good, the auto focus is fast for a medium format camera and the meter works just fine. 

Enjoy the photos I took in Agra and Delhi in 2015. 

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Camera talk – an affordable panorama camera

Let me put one thing straight right at the beginning. What I really want is a Fuji 6×17 or maybe a medium format Widelux. On a good day I might settle for a MF Noblex. However, these are pretty much out of reach right now. So I settled for an older Russian Horizont made in the years of 1972 and 1973. The younger “plastic” version Horizont 202 can also be found on eBay and lomography even sells a range of new Horizon cameras.

Soon after my camera arrived, I shot the first roll on top of Saentis mountain in Switzerland. After developing the roll, I found lots of light leaks. Also some the shutter speeds were pretty off. All images seemed to be out of focus due to camera shakes. I got the problems fixed, shot the next film and found some more light leaks while the speed issues were resolved. The camera went back to the clinic. I shot another roll when I got it back and all frames were just a little bit out of focus. Oh well, I thought, and put the camera into the shelve to spend the rest of its days there. When I picked up another camera from the repair shot, I gave it a try and ask the guy to take a look again and he found out that the lens was a bit lose changing focus a tiny bit. I went to the nearest store selling film, got a roll of Ilford FP4+ with twenty four exposures to have another test run. I didn’t have high hopes but tried anyway.

I strolled along Munich’s Christmasmarket and up Kaufinger Straße to Stachus. People seem to look at this strange apparatus but don’t seem to get its function. An American guy asked me what that thing is and I showed him how the camera worked with its rotating lens. Then I had a cup of hot punch, shot one more frame and the film was done.

Since it was a dark and wet December day, I shot the film at ISO400. I developed in Rodinal (1+25, 20min) and when I scanned the film, I was happy to see all was good and well focused. To be honest, I was surprised how sharp these images were and also how well FP4+ behaved being pushed about two stops. The contrast is as expected a bit higher and the shadow detail is suffering a bit but all things considered the images look quite good. The sharpness is excellent and the detail free grain in the dark areas isn’t annoying at all.

There is not much thrill handling the camera. It has shutter speeds from 1/30 down to 1/250 of a second and aperture from 2.8 to 16. The lens is a 2.8/28mm lens. The depth of field depends on the chosen aperture, for example at 2.8 it starts at about 5m to infinity while it’s just 1m for aperture 16. Inserting the film can be tricky but YouTube features some how to do it videos. The most difficult thing is not to get a finger in the way of the lens. Shooting becomes a bit “inconvenient” since holding the camera, as I normally do, would certainly be visible on the negs. The new versions like the 202 have a special grip while you just need to be careful with the older releases.

The entire process from buying to having a functioning camera took me about a year. Now I have a working panorama camera that gives excellent output (as long as it lasts). The It doesn’t really replace the wish of having a Fuji 6×17 but it helps that craving to shoot wide for a while.

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One roll, one topic – autumn mood in b&w

All you need to catch the mood during fall is a film camera, some black and white film and a little bit of determination to find the spirit of autumn beyond the warm colors. Yes, you’ve heard right: black and white film and I’ll explain why.

There is more to autumn than its warm, yellow, red and brown colors. There is the low sun and the long shadows, the decay of last summer’s flowers, bushes and trees, the muddy smell in the woods. There are so many aspects b&w film can capture with exception of the smell of course. And I didn’t catch any fog yet which certainly belongs to autumn as well. 

What made me choose Ilford PanF+? The easy answer is: I still had a roll in the fridge, winter is coming and I better use it before the really dark days come. I seldom shoot ISO 50 and when I do I ask myself afterwards why don’t I use it more often. I love shooting with a wide open aperture getting that limited DoF that makes images so much more exciting and I’m not yet talking about the lovely bokeh an open lens produces. At least the 80mm/2.8 Planar on my Hasselblad gives pleasing pentagonal shapes. In addition PanF+ performs excellently renditioning grey tones and the contrast is very pleasing. The grain is hardly visible which makes the film the perfect choice for nature shots and details.

The low ISO of the PanF+ as well as the high contrast call for a balanced development and I think a semi-stand in Rodinal works best. I developed the film for one hour in a highly diluted (1:100) solution. I usually agitate medium format film two times after the initial one minute of agitation after ten and thirty minutes. 

You might wonder why there are only eight frames instead of twelve here. The calculation is quite easy. Two images are of private nature since I never post images of family, friends or myself with the exception of having acquired a permission to do so. One frame I shot twice since I wasn’t sure about the framing. And last but not least, frame number twelve was never shot. That makes it eight frames you can see here.

Enjoy and don’t hesitate to comment. In my next post I’ll show some colorful fall images taken with a Rolleiflex 6008. However, it’s less about the colors but reasoning whether to keep the camera or sell it.


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A walk along the river Elbe with a Hasselblad, Rollei Retro 400s and a red filter

One of the largest man made park landscapes in Europe can be found close to Dessau in the German state of Sachsen-Anhalt. The area is great for hiking and cycling since it’s loaded with parks and their noble residences. Also 1919 The Bauhaus art and design school settled in Dessau and many typical Bauhaus landmarks can be found here. In my last post I wrote about the “Meisterhaeuser”, the houses of the Bauhaus masters. In my new post you can find some images of the Kornhaus designed and built by the Bauhaus architect Carl Fieger as an restaurant and event complex in 1930. In 2012 the restaurant was re-opened and I certainly enjoyed having lunch on the terrace. 

Ok, let me write about the photography now. The format 6×6: that’s something that was hard for me when I started taking images with the Hasselblad. However, soon enough I realized that the square is a great format and it doesn’t have the limitations of other “cuts”. The subject can as well be centered as off center. All that matters that the extra space is “filled” with something interesting compared to a portrait or landscape shot. 

The film Rollei Retro 400s: usually I’d use it for urban subjects but not for landscapes. The fine grain, the high contrast and the excellent sharpness work well for architectural  photos. I’m positively surprised that the film also has a wide range of grey tones and that the contrast can be tamed. 

The red filter: in short it darkens the blues, lightens the reds. A nice effect is the brighter greens as well. Although, it’s not that strong in summer compared with the fresh greens in spring time. I like how white clouds and bright buildings get this natural glow against the darker blue sky. The effect can certainly be driven to an extreme as  it’s done in infrared photography. Here I appreciate the filter’s subtleness. My favorite is the last image. The sun was setting against a cloudy sky. The llight green of the trees and all these nice grey tones work harmonically together. I didn’t know the red filter would work this well in the evening.

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One roll, one topic – the Bauhaus Meisterhaeuser in Dessau

I think I tried several times to take decent images of the Bauhaus Meisterhaeuser in Dessau and I’m not sure I succeeded this time. The three double houses for the Bauhaus masters and the single house for the director were built in a small pine forest between 1925 and 1926. The architect Walter Gropius assembled cubic shapes of different sizes and envisioned an industrial Lego to build the houses. The houses have spacious patios and balconies as well as large windows on the sides illuminating the stairways. The    street side of the houses are mostly shaped by the large atelier windows. 

Now let me talk about the challenges of shooting these houses. There is trees allover the place. They are everywhere and really ruin the light as well as an unblocked view. On the other hand, these tall parallel pine trees somehow underline the cubic architecture and sometimes a tree cleverly breaks the parallelism. I guess I was rather luck with the light and the sun even broke through the clouds. I took this as a chance to use a dark red filter and together with the Rollei Retro 400s film it lightened the greens which looks quite fresh compared to the expected heavy dark above the white buildings.

Another quite annoying issue is that the space is very limited. Regardless of the lens used, lines will be falling and nothing is worse trying to portrait a design based on parallel lines and 90deg angles. Sometimes it seems beneficial to make the falling lines even stronger by using a wide angle lens or a low point of view but except using a large format camera or a tiltshift lens, we need to live with it. 

None of the images show the street side views of the houses. I tried one out of twelve and didn’t find it worthy to be shown here. The issues with the trees, the light and the falling lines just seem to be worse. However, maybe a good reason to return and focus on the street facing side.

Last but not least, I want to make some comments about the choice of film. Rollei Retro 400s is a fine grain emulsion that is also very sharp as well as high contrast. I think it’s a good pick to shoot architecture. However, I usually tame the contrast a bit by shooting at ISO 200 and reducing agitation during development. 

The last image doesn’t show one of the original houses. The homes of the directors were destroyed during the last days of WWII. In 2014 new houses were built but they do not resemble the originals. These two houses are new interpretations of the old without being the old.

i will continue with a bit more Bauhaus in a couple of days. Until then, enjoy.

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Cars, cars, cars

I don’t take the distagon c 40mm f/4 out very often. It’s a really nice wide angle lens but it’s bulky and heavy. The lens is sharp and looking through the waistlevel finder is amazing. The lens still has a small enough depth of field at f/5.6 to work with (compared to the 24mm equivalent for 35mm film). Another very nice feature is the close focus of 45cm: the lens gets close and is wide which is a very special way approaching photographic objects.

The images below were taken during a car show using Rollei Retro 400s developed in Rodinal (1:50, 20C, 22min, reduced agitation: 2x every two minutes). 

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Ilford HP5+ – the expired film page

The other day I rushed out of my place, grabbed the Konica Hexar AF for the AF and the ‘ease of use’, took a roll of HP5+ and thought that this would serve my intend. I set the ISO to 800 with the believe that HP5+ pushes with some ‘grace’.  I developed the film in Kodak HC110, dilution B, 21C for 7min.

When I looked at the finished film, I realized that it might have been a roll that expired long ago. I checked the canister and it gave an experation date of 1993. Damn, that thing has been expired for 24 years and I treated it as just coming out of the factory. 

What do the years of unknown storage conditions do to a roll of HP5+? First thing I noticed is the totally foggy film base which really doesn’t help the details in the shadows: they are pretty much gone. In the lights you can still find quite some separation and the scan gets this perculiar semi high contrast look of having separation up to the middle of the tonal scale and falling off right after. Some time ago I observed the same with expired UP400 by Maco. The emulsion is apparaently the same as HP5+. So no surprises here.

What I should have done knowing about the film being expired is to rate the film at ISO 100 or 200 and do a semistand development with 1g of potassium bromide added to avoid extensive fogging. However, it’s obviously too late now. I can try the 2nd roll I still keep in the fridge. Or, I might just get rid of it. Sometimes, if the results look like this, using expired film isn’t fun at all.

My cat Maya served as the model of the example images posted here. The rest of the film is far from usable. Images I imagined to be quite well composed were extremely underexposed. 

THIS AIN’T FUN. SAD.

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lens talk: the voigtlaender color skopar 35mm/2.5

After talking so often about traveling, it’s time for some tech talk again. Today, I just want to write a short entry about a lens I recently got on ebay: the voigtlaender color skopar 35mm/2.5.

About ten 10 years ago when digital cameras started to become mainstream, I got a voigtlaender bessa r and a very good 50mm/1.8 lens There was little not to like about the combination. Just that I wanted a digital SLR as much as the rest of the world. I sold the voigtlaender set as well as my beloved Nikon N80 on ebay and got a Nikon D2 when it came out.

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Now I got rid of all my digital equipment again and am 100% converted back to analog photography. Looking for quality film cameras, you can’t turn away from the rather modern voigtlaender bessa r rangefinder camera series by the japanese firm cosina. Running a search on ebay doesn’t return a lot of hits in Europe but in the US and Japan these cameras are quite easy too find. I even found a store in Taipei still selling factory fresh pieces for a quite good price.

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So I got myself a Bessa R with the old 39mm leica screw mount since it’s the most affordable version. The R2s, R3s and R4s are still expensive even on the 2nd hand market. Of course the leica m mount version of these cameras would allow a wide range of lenses to be used. After getting the camera from Japan, I searched for the lens. I wanted to have a rather small 35mm focal length since I have plenty of cameras with normal lengths lenses already. The color skopar 35mm/2.5 seemed the best choice. The open aperture of 2.5 still allow low light shooting and the lens is just 2cm high which makes it a pretty small, light and versatile camera set.

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After shooting the first rolls in Munich as well as in Taipei under normal and low light conditions, I judged the results as very sharp and well exposed by using the built in meter. A relatively strong vignette could be observed which is still ok with me. It’s still a bit strange because I didn’t find any hints of vignetting online. I also shot a roll directly into the light and the results are shown here. The first image shows all kinds of optical artifacts proofing that the lens glass isn’t of the highest quality.The last image taken slightly angled away from the sun is already much better but still showing some subtle lens flare.

All considered, the color skopar 35mm/2.5 is a decent but not a cut throat all purpose lens for the voigtlaender bessa r. Its size and light weight make the perfect travel companion. The shortcomings shooting into the direct sun light just show that there are limits.

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India – the urban and the rural life

This is supposed to be the last entry of my India trip and I wanted to keep a set of images that show the urban and rural life. Interesting is that the pictures don’t look so different. It seems to me urbanization happened extremely fast and people just brought the village with all its inhabitants into the cities.

Enjoy!

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India – the people – part 2

It is most certainly the people that make India such an interesting country to travel. I hardly found someone who doesn’t like her or his picture taken. Most people are a bit shy in front of the camera and go into some kind of open eyed coma. Often I waited to get a shot with a little action or stay unnoticed while shooting. Often I was asked for some money after taking the shot which is a bit of an annoyance if it happens again and again.

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_006-EditSadu at the karna mata temple

201508_India_MF21_RPX100_014-Edityoung sikhs, Dehli

201508_India_MF20_Delta400_002-Editplaying, itimad ud daulah

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_010-Editmonkey prayers, hanuman temple, jaipur

201508_India_MF14_Delta400_013-Editvisitor, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF14_Delta400_010-Editstudents, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF22_Portra160_004-Edit muslim kids, taj mahal, agra

201508_India_MF12_RPX100_015-Editsightseeing, udaipur palace

201508_India_MF12_RPX100_012-Editwaiting, udaipur palace

201506_India_MF2_Delta400_Mamiya645_004-Editkid, mandawa

201506_India_MF2_Delta400_Mamiya645_001-Editold man, Churi Ajitgarh

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_015-Editin white, delhi fort

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_014-Editin line, delhi fort

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_022-Edittatoo, india gate, delhi

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_012-Editrickshaw driver, delhi

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_009-Editbus driver, jaipur

201508_India_KB5_APX100_018-Editman and elephant, udaipur

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_020-Editgoing to work, chandelao garh

201508_India_KB3_APX100_024-Editjust girls

201508_India_KB3_APX100_010-Editjust curious, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_005-Edithanging out, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_022-Editbumpi

201508_India_MF21_RPX100_012-Editin the mosque, delhi

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_008-Editwelcome song, jaisalmer

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