Monthly Archives: March 2015

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 3 – Rangefinders

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A favoured camera of the street photography group, the rangefinder, is one of those niche cameras that is often associated with brands like Leica. However while none of us have a Leica to present this episode we have some fine (cheaper) alternatives to the Leica that are sure to get your attention. The main feature of the rangefinder is that the viewfinder is often off-set from the taking lens, and uses a super-imposed image that you ‘line up’ to get the focus. However, composing takes a bit of work. The first rangefinders were produced by Kodak back in 1916, but really got popular in 1925 with the first Leica camera.

The cameras featured on this episode are:

Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – The Upgraded version of the Hi-Matic 7, this beautiful fixed lens rangefinder has a Rokkor 45mm f/1.7 lens, hot shoe and an auto exposure system from the SRT line of SLRs. But since it takes a mercury cell is no longer usable. But being mechanical the camera still works like a charm!

The Collection - September 2012

Foggy Dew

Golden

Parking

Kodak 35 RF – The coupled rangefinder version of the original Kodak 35, this ungainly looking camera was introduced in 1940 but don’t let the weird looks fool you, it’s a solid camera with legendary Kodak optics backing it up.

kodak35

k35-02

k35-01

Olympus 35 SP – Another cult favourite of Olympus with both a centre weighted and spot metering system built in, and a 42mm f/1.7 Zuiko lens to back it all up, this compact rangefinder is very user friendly with wickedly sharp optics!

olympus35sp

oly35sp-01

oly35sp-02

oly35sp-03

Voigtlander Bessa R – The only interchangeable lens rangefinder on the show today, the Bessa R, gives all those folks who are fans of the Leica Thread Mount (LTM/M39) a camera with TTL metering and easy loading! While not actually from the famous Voigtlander name, but rather designed and built by the Japanese company ‘Cosina,’ the the Bessa R is a solid contender.

bessa-r

bessar-02

16722352580_190d09e416_o

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Of course, this is far from a complete list of rangefinders out there. In addition to the iconic Leica lineup there are some other good cameras to look at.  Such as the Yashica Electro 35G, Canonet QL17 GIII, Konica S3, and Olympus XA.

The Darkroom
A topic that will get any traditional photographer going for hours (thankfully it didn’t for this episode) is developers! Even today there are still a pile of different developers available for black and white films, and they come in two different varieties. First being powder which you combine with water to create a stock solution which can be used on its own in many cases or diluted down with water. Second is liquid, which can be mixed into a stock solution (like Kodak HC-110) or diluted straight with water into a one-shot working dilution, such as Rodinal.

Some of the developers mentioned in today’s show include.

  • Rodinal – The oldest commercial developer still in production today, however it’s known as Blazinal, Adonal, or Agfa R09 One Shot. Produces incredibly sharp images but does enhance grain.
  • Pyro Developers – These are staining developers that produce amazing tones, fine grain, and sharp images. They do leave almost a sepia stain on the negs. Two types are mentioned, Pyrocat-HD and PMK Pyro, both are avalible from Photographer’s Formulary.
  • Diafine – This unique two bath developer (don’t mix the two baths) will produce ultra-fine grain, and increase film speed, sharpness, and resolution. Oh and the stuff lasts forever!
  • Kodak Xtol – A powdered fine grain developer from Kodak that produces good sharpeness and fine grain. It’s also one of the more environmentally friendly developers out there being based on Vitamin C. The downside is that you have to mix it up 5 liters at a time. A jerry can is a good idea for storage.
  • Caffenol – a developer that you can mix up yourself and you can make it in so many different ways. At the core is instant coffee, then you add additional stuff to change the results. Best part there’s nothing really dangerous that mixes in with it, just don’t drink it. Co-Host Alex did a good experiment with Caffenol a year or so back.
  • Kodak HC-110 – One of the more interesting developers because of the alphabet dilution table, and introduced without much fanfare. You can mix it up as a stock solution and dilute from there, or just dilute straight from syrup. If you want that ‘Tri-X look’ HC-110, Dilution B.
  • Kodak TMax Developer – Designed for use with the T-Grain (TMax) films, but don’t let that scare you, this is a fantastic developer that makes most film (even Tri-X and Plus-X) sing! There’s a little more grain but you do get nice sharp negs.
  • Ilfosol 3 – A general purpose film developer designed for use with slower films with great results especially with Pan F and Delta 100

If you want to try mix up your own developers you can find a pile of great recipes online at the Unblinking Eye. Also check out the Massive Dev Chart to get starting developing times. If you’re just starting out with film developing a good one to start with is Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-11, as it’s cheap and works with almost every film out there! And more importantly don’t be afraid to experiment and find your favourites that get the results that you want! Just note that if you order liquid developers from US distributors you may not be able to ship them across the border, you may even face some restrictions with powder as well. New York City isn’t that far away and totally worth the trip just to see the awesomeness that is B&H!

If you are in the Toronto area be sure to check out host, John Meadow’s first gallery show: The Silver Path. Running from the 10th of April to the 19th. Check out his site for more details: johnmeadowsphotography.wordpress.com/the-silver-path-film-photography-by-john-meadows/!

Looking for a place to get this chemistry, check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, or Film Plus if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Exploring Ilford – Part 1 – Ilfotech DD-X

Before working on the camera review (CCR) blogs I had very little experience with Ilford Chemistry, so I made a choice to use only Ilford Films and chemistry over the course of the CCR blogs. So as I come to the end of the first quarter of blogs I figured I would give a review of the first developer I used. Ilfotech DD-X. According to the Ilford website this is a similar developer to Kodak’s TMax developer which I’m a big fan of, so I figured it would be a good place to start. Plus I see a lot of people using it. However for the most part…I wasn’t too happy with the results. For me to be happy with a developer it needs to give solid results across a broad range of films, not just one or two. Which can be hard for a developer to do.

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
Toronto, Ontario – Nikon F4 – DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000
Willamsford, Ontario – Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

Now I know that HP5 in 35mm is a very grainy film but DD-X just made the grain super muddy when scanning the film, and not exactly the most pleasing results. The detail and sharpness I would expect out of a developer for T-Grain film, even on a film with a traditional grain structure just wasn’t there, and while the contrast is present and pleasing for my tastes, it just doesn’t work for me.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

So I thought I’d better give it a test using a film that it’s designed for, starting first with Delta 400, and the results even worse, it was just a big muddy grain fest with little contrast. Now Delta 400 isn’t exactly a film known for the nice contrast-y results that I look for in my black & white work, but it was just all grey! I’m not going to give up on the Delta 400 film, I do plan on giving both it and HP5 in 35mm another chance at a slower speed in the different developers as the project continues, and also in medium format as well. But enough with the negative lets get onto more pleasing (at least to me) results.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Ilford FP4+ – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35 – D.Zuiko f=40mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilfotec DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

Next up on the list was Ilford FP4, a favourite film of mine, while not Kodak Plus-X it’s pretty darn close and again I rather liked Plus-X in TMax developer so time to give another traditional grained film a shot! This time I had the chance to try both 35mm and Medium format with the developer. And the results, beautiful! While there’s still not exactly the same contrast I like, the results were much better than HP5 or Delta 400. While the grain is still a little more apparent as I’d like, it wasn’t as bad as the Delta 400! It certainly works for me.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

And finally saving the best for last is Delta 100, like TMax 100 looking amazing in TMax Developer, Delta 100 is the perfect match for DD-X in my view. Sharp, fine grain, the contrast spot on. The blacks were black and the whites, white, and the midtones were dead on. Of course this is only in 35mm and not 120 but I still have some DD-X left over so I’ll give it a shot soon to see if the results are similar or better.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

My final verdict on DD-X, not a developer I would use again anytime soon, I can get more constant good results out of Kodak TMax Developer and at a lower cost. The bottle of DD-X runs about 22$ in change, while TMax developer only costs 15$ in change. While not much of a price difference it’s more the results that matter to me, if DD-X had given better results than TMax it would’ve replaced it in a heartbeat (after I finished off the bottle of TMax developer in my cupboard). So sorry DD-X you’re being voted off the island.

CCR Review 6 – Olympus Trip 35

Olympus seems to have a way of creating cult cameras and the Trip 35 is no different, this is a fantastic compact and fully automated camera that can fit in a pocket or bag. But don’t let the size give it away, the Trip 35 produces fantastic sharp images mostly thanks to the fantasic Zuiko lens. It’s a great way to get quality images in a compact camera.

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

The Dirt
Maker: Olympus
Model: Trip 35
Type: 35mm Point & Shoot Zone Focus
Lens: Fixed, Olympus D.Zuiko f=40mm 1:2.8 (Tessar Design)
Year of Manufacture: 1967-1984

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

The Good
No batteries here, the fully automated system can be used in any weather anywhere in the world without needing to seek out a camera store to get a battery. And as mentioned before the optics on the camera are fantastic for a compact point & shoot camera that produces sharp images at any aperture, and the 40mm focal length gives you a happy medium between the normal 50mm and the wide angle 28mm. Another feature that I really like about the camera is the red flag, this flag will let you know that there’s not enough light to actually take a photo, and to put on a flash (there is a hotshoe and PC socket).

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

The Bad
Like any camera with a selenium meter there’s a chance that the older models will start to suffer from the meter being burned out, mine is an earlier model but still going strong. There is also little in the way you can do a manual override, sure you can easily change the aperture on the camera, but having only two shutter speeds (1/40″ or 1/250″) there’s little adaptation you can do. But if you’re out shooting with the Trip 35, good chance you’re just leaving it in automatic. And finally zone focus, if you have poor spacial reckoning this might be an issue, although the focus icons (mountain, three bloaks, two bloaks, one bloak ect) do make it easy, you also have the actual distance scale, which for me is helpful.

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35

The Low Down
If you like to travel light without loosing image quality the Trip 35 is for you, but make sure you are able to test the camera fully first! You don’t want to find one that has a burned out meter, or non-working red flag. But if you have a good camera, it really won’t let you down honestly. I’ve been running the camera for several years, not as much as I should be, but have never had a bad image out of the camera. It’s a great exercise in limiting yourself.

All Photos shot along College Street in Toronto, Ontario
Olympus Trip 35 – Olympus D.Zuiko f=40mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

Ottawa on Large Format

Back when I visited Ottawa for the first time in several years this past September I lugged along my 4×5 camera, and while I wasn’t too pleased with every shot, I made a point when I was there this past weekend to really focus, slow down, and work with the 4×5 primarily and put the smaller formats away. The results were a much stronger set of images that I am incredibly proud of and do plan on getting these into the darkroom to print.

The Centre Block
Centre Block

The East Block
East Block

Chateau Laurier
Chateau Laurier

Short Days Ago We Lived
Details of the National War Memorial

Connaught Building
The Connaught Building – National Headquarters

National Gallery
The National Gallery – as seen across Major Hill Park

Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 & Schneider-Krueznack Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak Plus-X Pan (PXP)
Kodak Microdol-X (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 5 – Nikon F2 Photomic

There aren’t many cameras out there that I’ve picked up and loved right off the bat. In fact I could probably count them all on just one hand. Oddly enough they’re all from the Nikon F series. The Nikon F2 Photomic (pronounced Pho-Tom-ick) is one such camera. This workhorse professional camera from the 1970s was the popular update from the original Nikon F, an all mechanical wonder that continued to be produced and sought after even after the electronic replacement Nikon F3 was released, and today remains a popular camera. This camera will take anything you throw at it and give you beautiful photos in return.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
The beauty that is the Nikon F2 – Yes, that’s a box of Kodak Film, and yes the lens is dirty, it was out in the rain.

The Dirt
Maker: Nikon
Model: F2 Photomic
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Bayonet, Nikon F-mount (semi-AI support)
Year of Manufacture: 1971-1980

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

The Good
This is an all mechanical camera that will work both with or without batteries making it a great camera to learn on. It’s also still fully repairable! And being a modular system you can easily ‘upgrade’ and replace parts as they need to and there are lots of good working parts out there. And you can still get a lot of really good glass for this camera in pretty much all the early Nikon lenses, Non-AI, AI, and AI-S will all work on this camera. Also this camera was literally love at first grip, it’s well made, and ergonomically sound. The controls are well placed, easy to reach, and while the meter view is a little small, it’s a match needle style so easy to set the camera (providing your meter functions, if not, shoot Sunny-16). And probably my favourite part about the camera is the awesome shutter sound, you know you’ve taken the photo!

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

The Bad
While my camera cost me less than 100$ the F2 remains a highly sought after camera, it can get fairly expensive, especally the ones with the non-metered prisms. Also given their age, often the cameras which were the workhorses of the press through the 1970s have been beaten up. But working ones are still easily found, but could cost a bit. But the non-working ones can be repaired. In addition to that, the glass can get fairly expensive as well since a lot of digital shooters love the old manual focus lenses so the price remains fairly high. But you should be able to get a deal on an older Non-AI lens.

CCR Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

The Low Down
If you’re looking for a solid all mechanical SLR that has a proven track record, this is the camera for you. I got mine for under 100$ from KEH in their Bargin condition, and it showed just a touch of brassing around the name plate, threw in two batteries the camera lit up and the meter worked perfectly! Also you can still get these cameras serviced thanks to Sover Wong who received all the remaining spare parts from Nikon when they shut down their F2 repair services.

Need More Proof? Rick Paul talked on the F2 in the Film Photography Podcast Episode 85, Mark Dalzell in Episode 103, and Leslie Lazenby in Episode 118!

All Photos shot around Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C