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Alan7140

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Posted (edited)

Hopefully there'll be some interest in this Analogue Club along with a few posts as well. I've been back with film (monochrome only) for over two years now, and for me it's been the best thing I've done for a long while, having completely reversed what was a declining interest in taking photographs, which I had initially thought was just a natural thing after nearly 50 years of being involved professionally, but has since been proven to have been caused by a boredom and disenchantment with the digital methods having taken over, and the predictability and expense of both the outcomes and the incessant update cycles of both camera and computer equipment that has resulted.

 

Having recommissioned my dormant darkroom and bought a virtual barrow-load of film cameras from 35mm through to a half-plate Thornton Pickard, including a bunch of pristine lenses to suit (and all for less than the cost of a single pro digital body), I have an equipment arsenal that will outlast me with nothing further to buy than film (after I get through the dozens of rolls in the freezer left over from when digital became mandatory in the industry), and fresh photographic paper when and as needed (which costs less than plain cotton-rag inkjet paper), and therefore I'm all set for a film-based retirement.

 

Meanwhile my digital outfits have been gathering dust, other than when I use the Fuji to photograph my film cameras and lenses to illustrate posts on my equipment the Internet, or the Sigma sd Quattro H to photograph the negatives to post the images online.

 

I have now settled on the somewhat quirky Pentacon Six cameras as my go-to system , and somewhat enjoy the intrigue of why there is always a question in the back of my mind when I am using them as to whether they're working correctly or not (everything is pre-1990 in manufacture, after all). However the results continue to please me greatly, and that is no doubt helped by being familiar with the medium through having spent the greater part of my career using nothing but film, and most of all B&W film.

Unfortunately I have discovered that the conversion of film negs to digital and the reduction in resolution through resizing for the Internet is not at all successful in transmitting what an actual photographic print from the negative actually looks like, an idea of the appearance of the finished article can be obtained. However, and almost inevitably, interpolation accentuates the graininess of the image often to a ridiculous degree, which is partially why I am sometimes reluctant to post. However, that aside, I welcome this subset club of Fotozones and hope that it does attract at least a few participants.

 

Last Friday I escaped the dreary cold of the fog shrouded valley in which I live to take a day's drive up into the Tasmanian Midlands town of Ross, and once again came away amazed that I'd managed to spend a day with my camera and yet only shoot 10 frames on one film, most of which I was perfectly happy with. The difference between that and the now over-shot barrage of images that a normal digital shooting day routinely involves is obvious, and it's a working style I far prefer, carefully composing and calculating each shot before pressing the button, rather than "shooting around the shot" and leaving a headache of editing in front of a computer monitor to follow. Again, low-res copies, but here are a few that I took, mostly with the extraordinarily good and flare-free Carl Zeiss Jena 4/50 lens on a Pentacon Six body and expired Ilford 400 Delta Pro film.

There's nothing in Australia to beat the Tasmanian mid-winter light on a still, cool day, and nothing like the silvery glow of B&W film to to justice to that light.

Church Street, Ross, without the summer hordes of tourists:
lFrlMlY.jpg

 

Ross Uniting Church:

EdNi1X8.jpg

 

1836 Ross bridge:

CDJ0Xax.jpg

 

Overgrown sign at the Scitch Thistle Inn:

6UpF8Lq.jpg

 

And one for good measure - the next morning the fog still hadn't lifted in New Norfolk, but that, and freezing temperatures were not enough to stop hardy Tasmanians holding the usual Saturday morning street market, even if attendance was below par:
5MXfvJT.jpg

Edited by Alan7140
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These are great, Alan. 

 

I do hope that more people will join in on this club and I look forward to seeing it flourish. I too would still like to learn proper B&W medium format photography and I may just bend your ear on here w.r.t. what equipment I should look at getting. 

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Those images are wonderful. My first sight of the first one caused a sharp intake of breath.

 

Disclaimer: I do not currently shoot with film. But I would love to get back into it; I was never happier than when I was shooting with slide film in my Zeiss Ikon rangefinder camera and the results were very pleasing to my eye.

 

What stops me? Well, I have neither the premises nor the knowledge to set up and use a darkroom. 

 

Also, as Alan mentions, the loss of quality in converting images to digital is off-putting.

 

I will continue to think on it ....

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Hopefully things will get easier as more either return to film, or try it for the first time and get hooked on the difference in everything about it, from technique to end result, when compared with shooting digital.

 

There is no doubt that there is a movement underway of people using film - it is evident both in the steadily increasing prices of old film equipment on the second-hand market, through the increasing groups and posts on various places on the Internet, to to the reintroduction discontinued film products by various manufacturers, most recent being Fujifilm's announcement that they'll be re-releasing Acros 2 in the next few months, barely a year after deciding to discontinue the original Acros 100 ISO B&W film, which is pretty much an admission of perhaps having misread the potential market for the product.

 

I know that I am thoroughly enjoying using film again and that it has re-ignited what was a waning passion for photography, and for that I am very grateful. I also know it shows in both my photographs and demeanour, as a friend recently commented on one of my photos posted online: 

"I can tell you're happy by the way you post these days. It's brilliant."

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6 hours ago, Dallas said:

These are great, Alan. 

 

I do hope that more people will join in on this club and I look forward to seeing it flourish. I too would still like to learn proper B&W medium format photography and I may just bend your ear on here w.r.t. what equipment I should look at getting. 

 

At the moment I'm absolutely besotted with the cantankerous, temperamental, idiosyncratic Pentacon Six cameras and their Carl Zeiss lenses, so any recommendations might end up being biased towards that system. I simply love using the camera more than just about anything I've ever used before - although many will call me crazy for even suggesting that given the lengthy list of shortcomings the experts will reel off at the slightest mention of the name.

 

In contrast, and while it has taken three examples of each to end up with a good camera, as far as 35mm goes I always used to, and now still do swear by the Olympus OM1 and the Minolta SR-T 101.  there are literally dozens of these available on ebay in good working order at around $60-$120 for a body only, and maybe $30 or $40 more with a standard lens. The dodgy areas appear to be the meters, and of course the unavailability of the original 1.35v mercury button cells that used to power those meters. There are substitutes, and I've found them to operate well enough with plain 1.5v LR44 Alkaline cells, or better yet with more stable silver oxide versions. Both cameras are accurate enough, the Minolta can also be adjusted by changing the position of two tabs located under the base-plate, although, as mentioned, getting one that works in the first place is very much the luck of the draw. Get lucky and you can have a pristine 35mm camera and a wide, normal and moderate tele lens for around the $200-$250 mark, which is almost a joke when considering what these things cost, even second-hand, when film was still the means of taking photos.

 

As far as processing goes, Paterson tanks complete with two reels are available new for around US$30, chemistry is easily available in economical 1 litre bottles, and bulk 30m rolls of film and daylight loaders are also available. My materials supplier since 1983 has recently been increasingly turning his business over to supplying film-related product; you can get an idea of just how undead film is by having a look at his site for the sheer variety of choice that exists off-the-shelf/in stock here:

Photoresource

 

Eventually I suppose some manufacturers will start producing film cameras again, but with the huge numbers of good second-hand gear that fell out of use when digital hit still surfacing on ebay, it might be a while yet before new gear becomes a viable thing to manufacture again.

 

Unfortunately they'll never manufacture the Pentacon Six again - that was a permanent casualty of the Soviet collapse, and Pentacon itself was sold off and dismantled as a company by 1990. As the highest serial numbers reached were around the 205,000 mark (which includes the several thousand around #185,000 that were sold as chassis to Exakta in West Germany as the base for the Exakta 66), there really aren't going to be that many available into the future, particularly given their reputation for being rather delicate in construction and tricky to repair - if you can even find someone to repair them. :( 

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Thanks Alan. 

 

I don't think I will play around with 35mm film again, although somewhere in my house (probably buried deep in a box somewhere in the basement) I have a bulk 35mm film reloader, along with several dozen re-usable canisters and a changing bag. I also sold off my last working 35mm cameras last year, which were the Olympus OM-2n and Canon A-1 bodies. 

 

As I have indicated before I would like to try out the Mamiya RB or RZ, however many, including yourself, have warned me about how clumsy those guys are to use. There would be angels singing in heaven if I could get a Hasselblad 500CM for ordinary money here, but I am not holding my breath so I may just look for a decent TLR. I actually have a Yashica A, but I fear it is beyond feasible repair. 

 

Interesting times afoot! 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Dallas said:

Thanks Alan. 

 

I don't think I will play around with 35mm film again, although somewhere in my house (probably buried deep in a box somewhere in the basement) I have a bulk 35mm film reloader, along with several dozen re-usable canisters and a changing bag. I also sold off my last working 35mm cameras last year, which were the Olympus OM-2n and Canon A-1 bodies. 

 

As I have indicated before I would like to try out the Mamiya RB or RZ, however many, including yourself, have warned me about how clumsy those guys are to use. There would be angels singing in heaven if I could get a Hasselblad 500CM for ordinary money here, but I am not holding my breath so I may just look for a decent TLR. I actually have a Yashica A, but I fear it is beyond feasible repair. 

 

Interesting times afoot! 

Agreed, Hasselblad prices have gone silly, and I do have some regrets at having sold off my outfit - in late 2009, I think) - but financing digital acquisitions demanded by my work at the time meant unused equipment had to go, and I'd only used the 'blad two or three times in three years, so it drew the short straw. At the time I could see nothing but doom for film, anyway, as from a money-earning perspective at the time, no-one wanted anything on film.

Occasionally a cheap Rollei SL66 appears on the market these days (amongst a crowd of overpriced hopefuls) - it was never a popular camera, but it was very well featured with bellows focusing, lens tilt and a mount that enabled lenses to be mounted in reverse for macro photography as standard. I noticed a few of the Rollei lenses appearing on ebay recently modified for for Pentacon Six mount as well as some with Arriflex mount modification, which points to low demand for the Rollei SL66 system itself and therefore the possibility of a bargain popping up. You might put that on your list of considerations as well - the lenses are undoubtedly just modified versions of the Zeiss Hasselblad lenses, so end results will be in the same ballpark. Of course their unpopularity at the time means they're pretty rare today - the follow-up Rollei SLX/6006 system was more Hasselblad-like, but they bring higher prices these days.

The only TLR I'd really consider is the Mamiya C330, or its less featured sibling the C220, but they're no longer cheap, and personally I never liked using them - again, Mamiya seem to enjoy making awkward-to-use cameras. By far the worst camera I ever had to use (at my first job) was the awful Mamiya Press. Yes, it was versatile in being able to use several different film format backs, but it really took the prize for being the most horrendous thing to use in an actual working situation. If ever there was an anti-ergonomic design, this piece of crap was it. Rollei TLRs are way overpriced in the fashion of collecibles like Leica, although you could consider an Ikoflex for less money, but both these are old designs.

There is another camera I've looked at over the years, namely the Fujica GW690 (90mm lens) and GSW690 (65mm lens) rangefinders, nicknamed "Texas Leica" for their large physical size (and 6x9 format). The original version G690 and G690BL came as an interchangeable lens camera with a choice of lenses (50, 65, 100, 150 and 180, from memory), but the later GW and GSW were fixed lens cameras. If you want a larger-than-life 120 film format camera with the convenience of rangefinder simplicity, it's hard to go past one of these. They, too, are rather rapidly gaining in price, from the mid $200's a few years ago to over $600 for a good one these days, and more for the GSW690.

 

 

 

Edited by Alan7140
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Thanks Alan, very good info. 

 

I know of a Mamiya C330 that I could get my hands on. I will need to negotiate with its owner (who used to come to me for lessons), but I will also keep an eye open for your other recommendations. 

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Posted (edited)

Hmmm - I might need to resurrect my battery eating Bronica 645 ETRS   -   I probably need to put an external power pack and cable together to tame its thirst for batteries. :crazy:

 

Fortunately I still have my tanks, trays, and enlarger gear.  :)

 

My only B&W work over the last 20 years has been to develop old undeveloped B&W  films that people have found amongst their belongings.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Hugh_3170
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1 hour ago, Hugh_3170 said:

Hmmm - I might need to resurrect my battery eating Bronica 645 ETRS   -   I probably need to put an external power pack and cable together to tame its thirst for batteries. :crazy:

 

Fortunately I still have my tanks, trays, and enlarger gear.  :)

 

My only B&W work over the last 20 years has been to develop old undeveloped B&W  films that people have found amongst their belongings.

 

 

 

 


Half the fun is using a medium format camera that needs no batteries, I reckon - probably trade off the ETRS for a good old S2? Maybe I'm just a bit of an odball, but I sort of expect that many more who gave up B&W darkroom in favour of staring at a computer monitor will find getting back into the darkroom as addictive as I have, and not at all as dismal as we all seem to remember slaving under safelights to have been.

(Actually, Dallas, add the Bronica S2A to your list of possibles - they're pretty cheap at present on ebay.)

Personally I also prefer working in the square - I never warmed to 645, and hated that my workplace in the mid-'70's changed from Hasselblad to Mamiya M645 and Pentax 6x7, and therefore I traded my 'blad in for an M645 outfit to remain compatible with at least some of the studio's camera equipment, and which was a camera that I actually grew to despise. :)  Horrible, tinny, flimsy little thing that started to rust from under the paint within a year, and not having interchangeable magazines made matters even worse. The lenses were OK, but nothing to get excited about, either.

 

I also never thought much of the Pentax 6x7 - heavy, bulky, and my boss as a left hander insisted that the awful wooden accessory grip fitted to the left side of the camera remain permanently in place, which made the thing almost impossible for me to use.

 

The Pentacon Six is a positive lightweight midget compared to that Pentax (and it sure is obvious that the Pentax copied the Pentacon Six concept; in fact the name Pentax was bought from Dresden KW/Pentacon who had copyrighted it during the Zeiss West/East Germany Zeiss trademark disputes of the 1950's; Pentax comes from PENtaprism/conTAX - as I think I've mentioned here before. Pentacon had previously opted for PENTAprism/CONtax as their name out of the two choices in order to keep their Zeiss Contax roots more obvious).

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Actually the ETRS will run without batteries, but only at its top shutter speed of  1/500th of a second.  ND filters are a handy thing with this camera if fast films and wide apertures are desired.

 

The square format would simply compositional and framing matters a lot.

 

 

On 10/07/2019 at 19:33, Alan7140 said:


Half the fun is using a medium format camera that needs no batteries, I reckon - probably trade off the ETRS for a good old S2? ..........................................................

 

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