Tag Archives: Ilford Delta 400

It’s working. Finally. The Pentacon Six TL

Most of my camera purchases are emotional. I don’t sit down and compare features, draw a chart and make a decision based on technical facts. I listen to the resonance a camera leaves behind. I guess that’s the reason I buy and sell quite frequently since I give a new camera a shot but get rid of it again when we’re not becoming good buddies.

The Pentacon Six TL is one of these cameras I always wanted to have since I believe it’s the best looking 6×6 camera. Growing up in East Germany where the camera was made, i had no chance to get my hands on one. The cameras were almost exclusively made for export or for professional photographers. After the reunification I forget about the camera and focused on Japanese made SLRs with all bells and whistles. After my digital era, my analog work horse became a Hasselblad 500c/m but I started to look into finding a Pentacon Six TL.

The first one I got on eBay was cheap, didn’t look that good and fell apart when I unwrapped it. I was pretty frustrated and sold it as defect again. After that I kept looking on eBay but was concerned buying from a private seller and a bit scared by the high prices of the stores. Finally, I found one that was  in great shape cosmetically and seemed to work as well. Only the film counter seemed broken. 

I took the camera on a weekend trip, shot a couple of rolls only to find out that the filmtransport wasn’t working and that most of the shutter speeds were off as well. While the speeds were easily fixed by cleaning the mechanics, the transport is apparently not easy to fix. It took the repair guy about a year to heal the camera. I went by a couple of times and he continued telling me that he hates dealing with Six TLs. 

Since the camera is ready I’ve shot a couple of roles. Honestly, I love the camera even though it’s far from perfect. The waist level finder is bright and allows easy focusing. The ergonomics of shutter and film winder is quite good. It rather feels like a heavy 35mm than a MF camera. I’m not gonna go into much more technical detail describing the few knobs and wheels. It’s worth to mention that inserting the film always makes me nervous. If the counter is working, the camera is ready when it points to the “1”. Otherwise, advance and release three times to be on the first frame. The camera also allows you to shoot a thirteens frame but where to put this extra frame if the film sleeve only holds twelve 6×6 images. The biometar 80/2.8 is a good lens. It’s sharp and quite high contrast. Light falls of towards the edge giving the images quite a vintage look. I haven’t done a lot of crazy testing yet but I like what I see even shooting with wide open aperture. I recently also acquired a Flektogon 50mm/4 and looking forward taking it out together with the Six TL.

Here a little update after I got a response on twitter: I’ve decided to love the camera as long as it works. She’s an old lady on her last mile and we will enjoy this time.

The images are taken on Ilford Delta 400 pushed to ISO 800 and developed in Spürsinn HCDnew.

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The last roll – I sold my Konica Hexar AF

I love to get new cameras and try them out. However, I’ve come to a point having so many cameras and not being neither able nor willing to use them all. Yeah, I have cameras that cost €30. I shot one or two films with it and they are sitting in the shelf now waiting for better days or just enjoying a well deserved retirement. I’m not going to bother about these anyway. 

Then, I have cameras that were quite expensive (range of €300 to €800), that are loaded with features or gimmicks (from the eye of the beholder) and I still don’t use them. The first item on the chopping block is a Konica Hexar AF. I believe I’ve owned it for about two years and I shot three (tops four) films with it.

Why did I buy the camera in the first place? Since giving up 100% on digital photography, I’ve slowed down a lot. I only own one autofocus camera and that is a heavy and bulky Mamiya 645AF. So, i thought it’s time to get a bit faster again and to invest in that little AF support since my eyesight is deteriorating more and more. The article  of the Japan Camera Hunter certainly intrigued me into getting the Hexar AF, It is interesting how the “advanced” compact camera market changed and how more and more people are going crazy to get their hands on a Ricoh GR, a Contax G and a Konica Hexar AF. 

What bothers me about the camera? I guess I never got warm with the feel and the handling of the camera. I shot a film. It was ok but i wasn’t really thrilled with the results. Sometimes when I focus on a subject close to me by pressing the shutter half way and move the frame and press the shutter, the camera starts to focus like crazy and the shot has its focus far behind the chosen object. Yes, I’m in single AF mode and not continuous AF. Often it just works but it is annoying since the behavior reduces the number of good frames.

Second and in my opinion the main reason, I can’t get attached to the camera, is it’s speed. I shoot, the machine loads the next frame automatically, and I shoot again. It’s like shot after shot and feels like digital photography without its advantages of course. Also, before even a couple of satisfying images had built up in my head, the film is already gone. In other words, the camera doesn’t slow me down enough and I just don’t enjoy the “autobahn” style of photography.

There is another thing that drives me nuts. I love high speed films and hardly use film rated under 400. I love pushing films even in normal daylight. The problem is the fastest shutter speed is 1/250 and end up shooting with arpartures of 16 or 22. It’s a nightmare to come up with images that all look like taken with a phone. 

Some minor things that bother me are: finding the manual ISO settings, manual focus is pretty much unusable, exposure adjustment is always reset when the camera is switched off.

Here are the last images I took with the Konica Hexar AF before selling it on eBay. I took the camera to a Renaissance fair close to my home. As usual quite a number of shots are focused somewhere behind the main subject as I described before. However, the shots that are focused correctly are spot on. The lens is incredibly sharp and the autofocus is quite fast to be able the react fast and take the right shot. It also reminded me of the days when I was shooting right into people’s faces more often. But, as I said before, the yield of good shots is quite low. 

While I scanned and edited the images, I felt a bit of regret but it was too late. The camera had been sold already. I know I wouldn’t use it often and hopefully the next owner knows how to appreciate the camera better.

The images are taken on Ilford Delta 400 pulled to ISO 200 and developed in Spuersinn HCDnew. 

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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 places – the rest – 2 of 2

I just post a couple of images today showing some more places I visited in India. You can find the other blog posts about my trip here:

Shri Kolayat

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Gadi Sagar Lake

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Chatris Sunset Point

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Jodhpur Jaswant Thada

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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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India – the places – the rest – 1 of 2

I have a lot of images and still some memories to write down. I’ll split up the places further and add another entry with just faces. Should this be the first post you’re reading, check the others as well:

Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur

The fort was built as retreat overlooking the city of Jaipur. The guards are happy to show you around and explain a couple of things for one hundred rupees. The living rooms of the maharajah are on the one side of the palace while the seven of the eight wives lived along the several hallways leading to the opposite side of the palace where the maharajah’s favorite wife recited.

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Jaipur old city

Jaipur is the biggest city of Rajasthan and it seems the bigger the cities become the messier they are. I started my trip in smaller places enjoying them more. I would the people made the biggest difference which were much less daring in the smaller places. I liked the area behind the city palace. It was a bit quieter and without the busy stores of the main streets. I’m not going to show you the Hawa Mahal (palace of winds). I know it’s the most photographed building in entire India. And yes, I took some pictures of it as well. I’m just not going to post it here.

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Phalodi city

Not many tourists visit the small town on the road from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. However, the Jain temple and a couple of beautiful havelis are worth a look. Here I made the purchase of a colorfully painted window which isn’t anything very old but apparently collected from an old house. Although, the salesman was a jain and it’s said that followers of the jain religion never lie, I believe the window is brand new since I saw similar windows in many tourist traps later on. I still like it and when I look at it, I smile remembering the conversation with the Kanooga brothers.

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Udaipur

I guess the city of Udaipur should have made it in the top 10. The old city with the havelis and hotels lining up at the lake side as well as the roof top restaurants and cafes and of course the palace watching over all this from an elevated position seems like a still uncut gem in Rajasthan. A stroll through the many little streets and narrow paths appears almost enjoyable while still not being comparable with a Sunday afternoon walk in an European metropolis.

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Pushkar

The day I visited Pushkar, hell came down in shape of heavy monsoon rain to this holy place. Pilgrims come to Pushkar to wash in the sacred lake and visit one of the few temples worshiping god Brahma. The lake is surrounded by 52 stone steps down to the lake which are used for sacred bathing as well as religious rituals. Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were immersed into the lake here as well, Unfortunately, the ghats are also used to extract coin from travelers. The thing starts as a harmless introduction to the ritual to the point being ask for quite large amounts of cash and even credit cards. The argument, that also gods have to eat and that inflation really drives up the prices, didn’t really impress me. I did give some, still far off the requested amount, but seemingly enough to make the heavy rain stop.

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The Agra fort

The Agra fort is more a  walled city than a fort. The current structures were built under the Mughals but the fort goes back to the eleventh century. During my visit I had two film backs, one loaded with color film and the other supposedly with black&white. However, after shooting twelve frames, I realized it was empty. And that was much later in the day with no chance to return to the fort. Now I only have left three images of one of the amazing courts. Dark clouds started to come up in the sky giving the colors a special hue. I’m still mad that the images I took of the marble structures in black&white are lost but I guess that’s karma. Actually, the view from the castle down Yamuna river to the Taj Mahal is just amazing ….

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India – the people

Again, it’s been difficult to select some images out of so many. Also, what’s a good number to give a wide spectrum of the impressions. Let me start with about 25 images in color as well as black & white, not sorted by any kind of  timeline or importance. Every image has a title as well as they location of capture. Enjoy and don’t hesitate to feedback …

201508_India_MF16_Portra160_006-Editthe model, nahargarh fort, jaipur

201508_India_MF4_Delta400_006man and donkey, mandawa

201508_India_MF7_Portra160_009-Editthe brahman, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB3_APX100_001-Editneighbors, jaisalmer

201508_India_MF10_Portra160_014-Editguides, junagarh fort, bikaner

201508_India_KB7_Foma400_024-Editbubbles, india gate, new delhi

201508_India_MF5_Portra160_012-Editstone maker, close to kolayat

201508_India_KB1_Foma400_021-Editbig smile, bikaner

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_001-Editsheep herder, jaisalmer

201508_India_MF4_Delta400_008meeting, mandawa

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_012-Editboys, chandelao garh

201508_India_KB5_APX100_020-Editin the bus, udaipur

201508_India_MF8_Portra160_012-Editdesert, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB5_APX100_030-Editold city, udaipur

201508_India_MF3_Portra160_004-Editwaiting, jhunjhunu

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_007-Editwaiting for a customer, jaipur

201508_India_KB2_Portra160_018-Editscared, jaisalmer

201508_India_KB5_APX100_028-Edittalking, udaipur

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_026-Editworking, chandelao garh

201508_India_MF18_Delta400_005-Editcurious, abhaneri

201508_India_KB4_Portra160_003-Editspice trader, jodphur

201508_India_MF13_Delta400_015-Editbathing, chittorgarh fort

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_011-Editjust kids, chandelao garh

201508_India_MF17_Delta400_009-Editrickshaw driver, jaipur

201508_India_MF9_Portra160_006-Editguide, jodphur

201508_India_MF20_Delta400_004-Editmonsoon, agra

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India – the places – top ten

I’m gonna post three images of my top five places for each and two for sixth to tenth place. I know this is highly subjective and other people might choose differently. Also, it’s difficult to come up with a ranking. There are so many incredible things to see and to experience in India.

1. Taj Mahal in Agra

The Taj Mahal was certainly the highlight of the trip. In spite of the many people visiting the place, I enjoyed every moment there. I know all the photos taken are just pale copies of shots done a million times before. I didn’t  visit Taj Mahal to take pictures. I wanted to stand in front of it and see if I can feel the amazement of this one of a kind structure. And i did.

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2. Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke – the temple of rats

I’ve been afraid of rats since I was a small boy. Don’t ask me why. It’s just the way it is. And the rat temple has been on a never existing list of places to visit for quite a while. It’s not only that there are rats allover the place but that one has to conquer the temple barefooted. If this isn’t a way to get rid of one’s fear, what else is? In the end I just stopped contemplating, took off my shoes and stepped in the land of cute little rats. I even mastered to see one of the very rare white rats which propels one into god like status already. I guessed there will be other places during my journey where a “god like status”  is a good thing.

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3. Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh fort was a recommendation by an Indian co-worker of mine. She comes from the south of India and has done a Rajasthan trip just a couple of years ago. The place wasn’t on the original itinerary but i managed to convince the driver that this is a “must do”. The old fort, that hosted the capital of the Mewar rulers until Udai Singh II left it and founded Udaipur in 1567,  is one of the largest and grandest in Rajasthan. Among the many different places to visit within the walls of the fort, these are my recommendations: the gaumukh reservoir, the ruins of the rana kuhmba palace as well as the almost romantic padmini palace.

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4. Mehrangarh Fort in Jodphur

Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur already greats you with its former power from a far distance. The fort certainly keeps its promises once you step through several gates walking through several courtyards serving as official parts of the palace, as living space for the maharajah or his wifes. The museum is very professional run by a trust established by the former maharajah Gaj Singh in 1972. The audio guide included in the entrance fee is just amazing. The guided tour is well planned and there is so much extra information included, even maharajah Gay Singh contributes a couple of words. The views from the fort down to the “blue city” are also worth climbing up there.

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5. Thar desert

The desert is the desert is the desert. It’s sand, dunes and the sky just disturbed by some people and camels. I enjoyed just walking up the dunes and feel the sand under my slippers. I didn’t participate in the many activities offered for tourists such as camel rides, dinner in the desert, folklore performances or even sleeping in the desert. I just walked over the dunes and took some photos.

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6. Jaisalmer fort and old city

The jaisalmer fort is palace and old city within impressive walls. Looking from the edges of the wall down into the new city as well as the endless desert behind isn’t tiring at all. Walking around in the narrow streets of the old city can be a bit confusing. However, you’ll hit a wall quickly while strolling around. People here might invite you into their houses or show you the view from their roofs. Some will ask you for a little money and twenty rupees are usually enough and definitely worth to get a little look inside the life here.

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7. Amber Fort in Jaipur

What an amazing early morning landscape: the amber fort just outside of jaipur. At the time of the trip I visited jaipur I was already a bit tired of visiting another fort and my brain wasn’t willing to take more information in. So, I don’t know much about the place and I also didn’t like most of the images I took there. However, the fort and its surroundings are very unique.

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8. Jain temple in Ranakpur

A temple that just lives up to its destination, a place of worship, a place where gods live, built with an uncountable number of pillars giving one the illusion of something floating. The temple is located in the aravalli mountains with lush green sub tropical vegetation.

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9. Havelis in Mandawa

The Havelis in Mandawa were just built for the purpose of extravaganza showing off the wealth of the traders along the old silk road. They are just lined up in Mandawa, one behind another and all of them are witnesses of a long gone time. Even though many Havelis are not really taken care of, they still exhibit their former beauty. I also loved about Mandawa that there were hardly any western tourists around. Walking through the busiest street wasn’t a race between people asking for money or trying to sell something. It was just a walk through a busy street, people minding their own business. I really enjoyed taking pictures here in Mandawa and I won’t state this about some of the bigger places I visited.

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10. Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri, founded in 1569 and built during the next fifteen years by the mughal emperor akbar, is one of the best preserved examples of mughal architecture in India. Visiting the place in the late afternoon with its low lights and long shadows is a nice experience. The few visitors get easily lost in the large terrain. Just the area around the jama masjid mosque and the tomb of salim chisti was a bit busier. Now I’m slightly mad that I didn’t take more pictures here. Although this gives me a reason to come back to this place.

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India – the first roll

I came back from my trip to India with twenty two medium format and seven 35mm rolls of film shot with a Mamiya 645Pro and a Contax RTS. These are a maximum of five hundred eighty two images to scan, edit and select for presentation. I guess that doesn’t mean much when shooting digital but it’s a hell of a lot using film. Since the moment I touched down back home I’ve been thinking how to sort, condense and write about all the impressions I collected as images as well as thoughts during the sixteen days of my visit to Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi.

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_002-Edita mughal time well in a village close to jhunjhunu, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

The straight forward approach had seemed to do a couple of chronological blog entries with the places I visited as titles. I decided against it since it doesn’t really help to focus on the quintessence. I visited so many places, met so many people and took so many shots that there is more confusion than clearness in my thoughts. In addition, India’s stark differences don’t make traveling always easy for the stomach as well as one’s patience.

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201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_003-Edit30m deep mertani baori (stepwell) in jhunjhunu built in 1783, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

Here is the plan. I’ll do four blog entries trying to concentrate or even just to find my message:

  1. the first roll – introduction and some the images from the very first roll
  2. the places – two images and two sentences with my personal impression in order of my preference
  3. the people – top ten portraits
  4. the urban and rural life – in the end I’m not sure if there was a difference

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201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_006-Editwalking through churi ajitghar village, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

I’m in the middle of showing the images of the first roll already. The images were shot on the way from Delhi to Mandawa and in Churi Ajitghar village during the first two days of my visit. It wasn’t easy to shoot the first film as it isn’t easy to start this series of blog entries.

I find my first images rather dull and mediocre, a forced trial to find a way inside. Some images were out of focus and it took some frames getting used to the Mamiya’s waist level finder. I did miss my Hasselblad and the square frame. The gray sky of the first days didn’t encourage to take a lot of photos, either. The weather got better and worse again and somehow I think my photography took the same route.

201506_India_MF1_Delta400_Mamiya645_007-Editjohnny in churi ajitghar village, Ilford Delta 400, Mamiya 645Pro

During my trip I shot ten medium format and two 35mm rolls of Kodak Portra 160 for the film’s natural color, eight medium format  rolls of Ilford Delta 400 for its versatile ISO range as well as the rich gray, tones, four medium format Rollei RPX100 as my favorite ISO100 film right now, three 35mm rolls of Fomapan 400 and two 35mm rolls Agfa APX100.

I’ll start working now in parallel on the three (maybe four) remaining entries. From here on it’s all about choosing the right images …

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A good night out

It’s been a long time since i posted anything on my blog. Many things go through my head but the time’s always running out.

So, I got this new toy recently, a Mamiya 645Pro with a 45mm/2.8 lens, and I went to try it out. I loaded some Ilford Delta 400 rated at ISO 1250 with the plan to shoot at a outdoor concert in the evening. Last but not least, I wanted to try the new Spur Ultraspeed Vario which sounds promising for pushing and pulling film as well.

Not yet totally dark I started shooting trying out the fast shutter speed of the Mamiya 645Pro.

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When KaLi a pretty cool rock band based in Regensburg came on to the stage, the real fun started and the audience finally had a chance to warm up. And yes, focusing was still OK.

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Afterwards Sahara hit the stage. I wanted to see them since Nick Woodlands is part of the band. I’ve seen him before and liked his Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers style. It turned out that Sahara played a very different tune and I didn’t like it very much. I ended up taking some more images having difficulties focusing in the dark and walking off before they even finished playing. The audience, mostly old folk who’s been following Sahara for the past 40 years, seemed to enjoy it, though.

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201408_Olympiapark_Delta400_SpeedVario_007-Edit

The Mamiya 645Pro is fun to use. I’ve used other 645 format cameras but like this one the most, by far. A Pentax 645N with autofocus and all the goodies died on me and I don’t want to pay for revitalizing measures. I also got a Fuji GS645 but don’t really enjoy the handling. The Mamiya 645Pro gives me the right feeling and releasing the shutter feels good. It’s not easy to focus when it’s dark. maybe I can find a different screen for more focusing convenience.

Maybe some words about the Spur Ultraspeed Vario. It seems to do its job for pushing Delta 400 to 1250. I’m not totally sure how to meter a scene like this. It’s certainly dark and some details in the shadows can be sacrificed. Yet, I find it quite confusing, taking the readings, setting the camera and taking the picture.

Camera: Mamiya 645 Pro

Lens: Mamiya 45mm/2.8

Film: Ilford Delta 400 rated at ISO1250

Developer: Spur Ultraspeed Vario (two component developer, datasheet)

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