Tag Archives: Spur

The weirdest camera – the Noblex 150u Pro

I write here before about my endeavors with the old horizon panorama camera. The odyssey continued since the next role I shot had light leaks again. However, I didn’t want to miss that film format. I started looking for all kinds of panorama cameras on eBay. There were some new horizons on the market but I hesitated because there i already one in the household. The Noblex 135 for a decent price are mostly “sport” versions without a level inside the viewfinder. One day I saw a Noblex 150, the medium format version for a decent price. I wrote the guy that he will never sell for this price but I’m willing to go for €100 less. He agreed, started a new buy-it-now and I got the camera. 

The camera arrived in a nice aluminum case it seemed to work as well, but of course I’m not that lucky. Exposing the first real film, I discovered that the camera doesn’t always fire or when it does it’s way to slow. The price I paid was too high to just take the loss. Therefore my first reaction was to return it. Thinking about, I still had such an attractive price that it might be ok to get it fixed. So, I postponed this decision after getting the opinion of my favorite if not the only camera repair guy I know. He told me that it’s most likely the rubber belts driving the movement of the lens that a dry and loose after so many years. The €100 he charged to fix it made the decision easy. 

I ran the first roll through the camera on the same day. I still struggled a bit with loading the film and keeping the 1.8kg heavy thing straight. The horizontal level is inside the viewfinder while the vertical tilt can be seen only outside. The camera was originally developed for landscape photography assuming the camera is mounted on a tripod. However, I think it’s much more fun to use it in urban or suburban places using to camera tilt as means of expression especially in narrow places.

I was wonderung what exposure speeds are possible handheld. The rotation of the lens seems even at 1/250 awfully slow. Online I’ve found the information that it’s safe to hold 1/250 or 1/125 of a second and I didn’t have any problems with it. I guess it’s always good to choose a fast film to be able to do that. The images are extremely sharp. There is just a little bit of distortion in the extreme corners of the image. The model I have has a built in 5mm lens shift upwards. That helps with the composition without tilting the camera. Another cool feature is the three step zone focus. One meter, five and infinity can be chosen. I haven’t tried it yet but I always find it more interesting to have a limited depth of field.

There are two things that I didn’t get used to yet: the fingers need to stay away from the orbit of the lens. Otherwise, you have them on the negative. Also the camera back opens fairly easily. You will loose at least two of the 6 frames of a film.

It’s truly a cool camera. A bit heavy for sure but the five times twelve centimeter negative covering an angle of one hundred and fourth six degree is worth hauling that thing around. Stay tuned. There will be more soon.

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The return of contrast – film talk

I guess my plans to write a blog post every week is an illusion. However, I’ll try harder (lol). My Lightroom library is full with edited and unedited photos. I still have a couple of undeveloped films waiting to be soaked. At least I can keep up better with the scanning. Maybe I post some of the images under the “places” category with less text. Also, I enjoy writing these … but it’s all about time.

Today, I share some images I took recently. A couple of years ago I purchased ten rolls of Rollei RPX 25 at a very much discounted price on macodirect.de. I admit I didn’t know what to do with them. I’m not a shooter of slow film. Sometimes, I shoot a roll of Ilford PanF just to realize that I should shoot it more often but then I seldom find the right moment. 

Finally, the right developer got me to take out the RPX 25 out of the fridge. Spur Speed Major allows me to shoot from box speed up to ISO 200. The first two rolls I shot at ISO 100 expecting some pretty high contrast, loss of detail in the shadows and missing mid tones. To my surprise the contrast is punchy while neither the mid tones nor shadow detail go away which isn’t common for pushing two stops. 

The ISO 25 film has pretty much no grain which isn’t helping for the “digitally felt” sharpness. However, I would assume a darkroom print would look quite fine as usual I didn’t sharpen the scanned image anyway. The images were taken with my 6×6 work horse, the Hasselblad 500c/m with the 80mm/2.8 standard lens. 

I’m usual looking for “anti-contrast” and the rich greys. High contrast as seen in all these pseudo street pics annoys me incredibly. But here it perfectly works. Blacks are deep and whites are shinning but all the tones in between are present as well which makes the film and developer a perfect couple.

 

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Fomapan 100 is the new Acros

After ranting about the digital camera manufactures and their pixel dreams of growth, i’m going to talk about …

Baumkuchen

Thinking about it there isn’t a cake being more German than Baumkuchen. Somehow it’s complicated to make since it’s built later by layer with some filling in between. It might come with chocolate or other frosting. But most importantly the pride of German baking tradition tastes mostly dry. If there wasn’t the Japanese. I found a Japanese bakery in the takashimaya department store in Singapore that makes the most delicious Baumkuchen on earth. I quickly got addicted to the Kuchen and the long queues told me I wasn’t alone.

So, what’s the point?

There was someone Japanese who took on this dull German thing and made it a modern and great tasting desert. It’s still the same old thing conceptionally but at the same time it’s something brand new and exciting attracting new customers and markets

Let’s talk about Fuji Acros

I think Fuji did a similar thing with developing Fuji Acros 100. Technically, it’s a black&white film. It even has the feel and touch of one. However, looking at the scanned image it doesn’t look like analog anymore. However, it doesn’t look like a digital picture either. The dynamic range is way bigger than a digital sensor could handle but the absence of grain let’s one wonder. The film handles underexposure quite well. The contrast is rather high but shadows are still beautifully detailed. To make it short, the film is perfect just like the Baumkuchen I was talking about. And while I liked the Baumkuchen a lot, I never shot a roll of Acros in my life. It is interesting to observe that the ingredients that make the perfect desert don’t interest me in a photographic film. While the perfect taste seems to be an achievable goal, the perfect look is not and needs to be placed one step ahead, permanently.

Now that Fuji Acros won’t be around much longer

many are trying to build a little stock. Prices for the remaining material in the market are going up already. Here in Germany the medium format seems already sold out. I admit I also got some rolls right after Fuji’s announcement to discontinue the film. Finally, I can try knowing all perfection has an ending. I also haven’t eaten the Japanese Baumkuchen for over five years now. However, I’m glad to find Juchheim’s Baumkuchen still around. The company was founded by the German Karl Juchheim in Tsingtao, China in 1909. Later the company moved to Japan and after WWII the Japanese employees took over the company and have run it since. 

In the meantime …

I ordered lots of Fomapan 100 for the summer. Developed in the correct chemicals the film can deliver awesome results. The grain is subtile, contrast is high, the image is sharp and shadow detail is there as well. So, it’s just like Acros at a fraction of the price. Although, this was kind of unexpected. Before I developed most ISO 100 films in Rodinal and results were ok. However, I’m always looking to find the perfect match of film and chemistry. I already decided that Fomapan 100 isn’t my cup of tea but I found the roll in the fridge and needed some slow film to go with sun and snow. I also just acquired a bottle of Spur SLD high speed developer and gave it a trial. The developer allows to shoot at nominal speed or even faster. Also an additive was developed to achieve even higher speeds and still keep the contrast increase and loss of shadow details under control. I’ve been trying quite some film and speed combinations and the developer has not let me down yet. My favorites are Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 800-1600 and the Fomapan 100 at boxspeed. Getting to high sensitivities isn’t the only advantage of the developer. For some film contrast can be controlled by one or two stops. That’s pretty cool considering a very moderate loss in the shadow areas as it’s often the case for push developers.

Let the results speak for themselves …

Some links … the Juchheim company making the amazing Baumkuchen … Spur SLD developerFomapan website

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Pulling HP5+ and some thoughts about trying new things

I’m an engineer and I spent most of my time making things faster, smaller und cheaper for the sole purpose of increasing the share holder value of the company I work for. How are investors kept happy? One thing is making enough money to pay a hefty dividend. Another, increasing the market capitalization and again another reducing cost while making more money. But the most important is to tell the investors that the company has a vision how to grow in the future. 

It seems that the digital camera industry just works the same way and the best story seems to be the number of megapixel. Nikon seems to lead the dSLRrace with the 45MPixel D850. The Sony alpha a99 follows with 42MPixels. There is even a mirror less Sony a7r that features 42MPixels as well. Sorry, but this is just crazy. When I got out of the digital race, my pro dSLR had just sixteen lousy MPs. At the time of purchase that Nikon flagship cost me about $4000 (body only) and when I sold it a couple of years later it wasn’t worth much.

I also participated in the mirror less race quite a bit since I liked the concept but never liked the results. It all started with the first digital Olympus Pen. Nice Retro looking piece but the images just “to cry for”. I had to edit every frame heavily and the absence of an unsharp region drove me nuts. Later I tried a Fuji X100 with the fixed 35mm pancake lens. Also, I loved the looks of it and actually the results were quite ok but it wasn’t quite versatile. Much later when I already switched back to analog, I tried a highly appraised Olympus OM-D since the Hasselblad died due to a little bit of ice cream jamming the mirror. That was the last resort. I’m sticking to film and I rather stop shooting than going back to serious digital photography. 

I like to be slow and focus with my own hands. I enjoy looking at 12 frames instead of 200 at the end of a day. I think about film, developer, speed and contrast before I go shooting. I’m crazy about collecting all these weird ass cameras and only spend little money on them. For me it’s all about the experiment and the unknown results trying new film stock or chemistry. Messing things up and starting all over again is part of this game. And when I tried it all, I hope there will be Ilford HP5+ which is in the end all one needs to take great photos.

 That’s why here some frames on Ilford HP5+ pulled to ISO200 and developed in my last stock of Spuersinn’s HCDnew. The images were taken with my more than bitchy Rolleiflex 6008. I still don’t know what to do with this camera. 

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