Category Archives: Reviews

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Film Review – Fomapan 100

With my film photography, I have had limited experience with the Fomapan products. I’ve shot Fomapan 200 with okay results and the surveillance variant of Fomapan 200 available through the Film Photography Project with much better results. I’ve tried Fomapan 400 in sheet film and got no results. But after seeing some amazing work with Fomapan 100, I decided to pick up four rolls in 120 from Argentix.ca to give it a try. I certainly found the film pleasing to work with, a classic response with the four different developers I worked with over the course of shooting the film in several different situations.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic Black & White Film
  • Base: Format Dependent (120/4×5 – Clear Polyester (PE), 135 – Cellilous Triacetate)
  • Film Speed: ASA-100, with a latitude between ASA-50 to ASA-400
  • Formats Avaliable: 135, 120, and Large Format

Rusted Out
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C

Opposing Doors
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C

The number one good thing about Fomapan films is the cost; these are very inexpensive films to shoot which makes them a great film to start with if you’re learning to develop your own black & white film. But if you want the best bang for your buck, Fomapan 100 is the film of choice. And don’t think you’re getting a cheap film, Foma 100 is one of the nicest mid-speed films I’ve ever used. It has almost a classic look and film, like the films of the mid-twentieth century, great if you want to shoot World War Two reenactments on film.

Summit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

Grab a Pint?
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

The developers I used for the review are as follows, Rodinal, Kodak D-23, Pyrocat-HD, and Kodak HC-110. It was Rodinal that brought out that classic look and feel, while slightly more grain than you’d expect in an ASA-100 film, but nothing too serious. I saw a reduction in grain using Pyrocat-HD, but I felt that the film came out of the tank slightly under-developed, so it either needs about thirty seconds more in the developer or slightly warmer water, maybe 1-2 degrees hotter. Kodak D-23 is another winner, a bit grainer but brought out the tonality of the film and continues that same classic look that you get with Rodinal. I was also fairly pleased with the results of HC-110 Dilution H, kept the contrast on mark, and surprisingly the grain was hardly noticeable. My final say is that Rodinal is the best developer for this film as it gives you the shortest standard developing times with the best results and can easily be done in the field as you can just use water for your stop bath. I say standard developing times as Dilution B and A of HC-110 has shorter developing times but requires constant agitation.

TFSM - Spring '17
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Spring '17
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 10:00 @ 20C

Of course, no film is without fault. While many may target the film’s polyester base, it is not much of an issue. In Medium format, the PE base handles well and easily mounted onto the plastic reels of the Patterson system and will probably handle just as well on steel. No the biggest issue I have with Foma 100 is the long developing time. Most times are around the 10-minute mark, while not much of a slight against the product just a minor annoyance. Thankfully the Rodinal time is under the 10-minute mark. I mostly say this because often we do marathon developing sessions and working late into the night is tough because as you get tired, you’re more likely to make a mistake.

A Walk In the Park
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. H 10:00 @ 20C

A Walk In the Park
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. H 10:00 @ 20C

My final word on the film, it’s certainly worth a shot if you’re on a budget or just learning. You can pick this up for under six dollars a roll (Canadian). And if you’re shooting the film in 4×5, you’re looking at a buck a sheet, only Arista.EDU and X-Ray film is cheaper. It’s also good if you want that classic look-and-feel that you often saw with Adox and Efke films, it works well in daylight and shadow and just sings in the right developer. I hope to pick up some of the 35mm version and see if there’s any difference between the two formats.

Lens Review – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm

When the fine folks at Lomography began their Art lens line, they caught my eye right off the bat. Their first generation Petzval lenses looked amazing. And who wouldn’t want to have that retro style lens coupled with a modern camera system in either 35mm or digital? Sadly I would miss the boat on these lenses, not trusting in crowdfunding that could have given me the lens at a good price point. And the regular retail cost would be far out of reach for me. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. When Lomography announced, they would be continuing to bring back historical lenses their next product would harken back to the early days of photography using a design by Charles Chevalier from 1839, a design that pre-dates the Petzval. Compared to modern glass, the Achromat design is simple. Using only two lens elements in a single group fixed Chromatic Aberration by ensuring that all the wavelengths of light focused onto a single pane. An issue that plagued early optics.


The Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm certainly has a commanding presence when mounted on the a6000

Lens Details

  • Make: Lomography
  • Model: Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm
  • Focal Length: 64mm
  • Aperture: f/2.9-f/16, via Waterhouse Plates
  • Construction: 2 elements in 1 group
  • Focusing: Infinty to 0,5m with helicoid mechanisim
  • Mount: Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K

It's an FP4Party!
Nikkormat FT3 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

It's an FP4Party!
Nikkormat FT3 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The Good
If you remember watching the original Star Trek series, you’ll notice that whenever a woman appears on screen, the image has this soft dreamy look about it. This lens gives you that effect if you shoot it wide open at f/2.9. And what a look it gives, I plan on using the lens when shooting weddings, especially when shooting portraits of the bride. But this lens isn’t a one-trick pony, as soon as you start stopping down the image sharpens up rather nicely, you start to see this around f/5.6, anything wider you start to see some softening around the edges that can give its own unique look. And if you pick up the creative plates, you can make out of focus light points into different shapes, like stars, snowflakes, and other shapes.

O Christmas Tree
Sony a6000 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm

Heather
Sony a6000 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm

The Bad
It’s probably just me, but probably the part of the lens I’m not a fan of is the Aperture control on the lens. The Waterhouse plates are easy to loose (I still haven’t found my f/4 plate, it’s either buried in a camera bag or somewhere in Washington DC), and they’re finicky to change on the fly. But installing a traditional aperture system would probably have increased the cost of the lens. The second issue is weight and balance, while it is a wonderful lens to use on my a6000 compact system camera, it throws off balance. On the other hand, if you mount the lens on a larger camera body, such as the Nikon F5 or even the Nikkormat FT3 it provides a fantastic short telephoto lens, and the weight isn’t an issue.

Waves
Nikon F5 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm – Kodak Ektar 100 @ ASA-100 – Unicolor C-41 Kit

FDR!
Nikon F5 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm – Kodak Ektar 100 @ ASA-100 – Unicolor C-41 Kit

The Lowdown
The Achromat isn’t a lens for everyone. It carries a large price tag (~500$) and isn’t designed to be a carry lens but rather for a particular purpose. But if you’re looking for a way to get a brilliant portrait lens that if applied correctly could open up your creativity and give you something unique to look. Not to mention a lens that you can get in the three major mounts and easily adapted to many other mounts without any loss of quality. It also means that you can use this lens for motion pictures. You can pick the lens up from your local Lomography store, or purchase it online!

Photo Notebook Show Down

For anyone who shoots a large volume of film and doesn’t always process it right away or sends it off to get processed. It can be difficult to retain a lot of the details in your head. So when I began to send film away to the awesome folks at Old School Photolab and The Darkroom. I needed something to record the date, camera, location, lens, film, and any other details that I may need for when I posted the images. I started carrying around a simple notebook and pen to record all this in. It worked! When I started shooting large format, I would also record the exposure information. I would then transfer the information into a spreadsheet, with additional information such as processing and where I stored the negatives. But there weren’t any dedicated notebooks on the market specifically for film photography. But in 2016 two dedicated photo notebooks entered the market and it’s those notebooks I’m going to talk about today.


(L-R): TWSBI Diamond 580 (for scale)k, The Galaxy Handbook, The Photomemo Book, and my normal notebook.

Galaxy Photographer’s Planer and Handbook (GPP&H)
The Galaxy notebook was a highly anticipated notebook from the folks at Galaxy who brought us a high speed direct positive photographic paper. The journal is based on one used by photographer George Murray Levick during the Terra Nova Expedition. The GPP&H is a beautiful journal, well made, leatherette cover, ribbon bookmark, and an elastic to hold it closed. The paper is heavy weight and holds ink well without any feathering (what happens when the ink spreads into other fibers of the paper). The paper texture is smooth making it easy to write on. Inside the book, you’ll find a wealth of information for almost everything related to photography. Exposure information, the Sunny-16 Rule, Online Resources, there’s even a pile of film and paper developer formulas. There’s also a calendar and plenty of space for your photography logs; this is where the book fails. While this keeps the book fairly thick, it isn’t too bad to carry around in your camera bag or even a pocket.


The large format log sheet, lots of space for all the gritty details of shooting LF. Most of which I don’t use.

The simple fact is that the GPP&H tries too hard. Is it a planner, Handbook, or journal? Well, it attempts to be all three and loses out because of that. The book contains a full history of the journal and its design, a pile of key dates, calendar, exposure logs, location scouting, and blank note space. It’s all well and good, but seriously it’s a bit overloaded when all I want in such a book is to record the film I’ve shot. The first of these logs is the Ansel Adams’ designed “Exposure Record” I can’t make heads or tails of these sheets. I know they have something to do with the zone system, but not knowing much about that system, beyond how I apply it (Shadows in Zone IV, thanks, Mat!). Next up is the Large Format records, these are my favourite part of the book. I pretty much have everything here that I usually would record and then some, the only thing missing is a spot to record any camera movements. The roll film section just asks too much information that I simply do not record such as lens and exposure data. So these sections just are a waste of space, to be honest. Also, the notebook states that it’s for all types of roll film yet there are only 12 spots per page, which means you’ll have to take over several pages per roll and heaven forbid you’re shooting half-frame on a 36 exposure roll. The area for darkroom prints is pretty handy, and I’ll probably give that some love when I get back into the darkroom printing. The location scouting section is well laid out also giving you plenty of space to make notes on spots you come across in your travels, and I’ll certainly use it to keep notes for future shoots and walks.


The Roll film log sheets, you only get twelve shots per page, and I just wrote a single roll on each line./em>

Despite some added bulk, the GPP&H isn’t a bad notebook; it just tries too hard. And with the calendar element to it, you loose out because once the year ends, two whole sections of the journal can no longer see use. And while I probably won’t be using it on a regular basis as one that comes with me on trips, it will have a spot on my shelf for various other uses like the formulas and journalling locations and darkroom prints.


A comparison of thickness between the two

Shot Film Co. PhotoMemo (SFPM)
If the GPP&H is the Moleskine, then the SFPM is the Field Notes of the Photography Notebook world. The SFPM does not try to be anything other than a practical book that does one thing and one thing only, record notes on roll film. But don’t let the small thin size scare you off, I don’t call it similar to Field Notes for nothing. This one is tough, having used several Field Notes books in the past this thing can take a beating. Inside you’ll find smooth paper, that is nominally thick and can hold pen ink well, and I’m talking fountain pen here. There is a small amount of feathering and some bleed through but nothing to cause me alarm.


A close up of the ink on the page, you can start to see some of the feathering from the ink

While the SFPM doesn’t try to be anything more than a book to record roll film notes, It does suffer the same problem as the GPP&H on the log pages; there’s way too much space for what I record, so I end up only using the top sections and recording some additional notes below. Which makes me feel bad that I’m wasting such a great notebook. But if you do record everything about every frame you shoot than there’s plenty of space for around 35 exposures per record. Honestly, if you don’t like drawing up your notes in a simple notebook, the SFPM is the book I would personally recommend, especially if you take a pile of notes on each roll. While smaller than the GPP&H you certainly have more space to record details in the PhotoMemo.


While the SFPM book gives you more room, I still only use the top section.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ll be using either notebook in any substantial capacity in the field. I’ve come to realize that I only record the necessary information when I’m in the field and my simple reporter style notebook is enough for me plus I can always fill in the gaps when I go to enter the data into the Excel spreadsheet. But if you’re the type who likes a dedicated notebook you can pick up both items online, The Galaxy Photographer’s Planer and Handbook from B&H and the PhotoMemo directly from Shoot Film Co. And to close I would like to give big thanks to Shoot Film Co. who graciously donated their PhotoMemo book to me for this review.

Film Review – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400

So I’ve managed to shoot through my brick of JCH Streetpan 400 film and feel I’m good to begin writing an in-depth review of the film. I’m going to start off with saying that this is a fantastic film! Well worth the time and effort that Bellamy has put into researching, marketing, and tweaking to suit his amazing photography and now has taken the bold step in bringing it to the rest of us. You will have probably heard a lot of negative press related to this film, even recently someone put a comment on one of my Streetpan images to a video review of the film that stated that it was an old Agfa stock that Bellamy found a core roll of and just spooled and repacked. Well, I just can’t believe that, because the film edges are branded, and there’s a current expiry date on them, and from all my interactions with Bellamy, he’s not to type to pull the wool over the eyes of thousands. I’m glad I went ahead and invested in this film early. These days we hear too much about film stocks cut, but 2016 has been a great year for film, Rollei, Kodak, and Ilford all holding steady with their commitments to maintain traditional stocks, and the continued promise of Ferrania pulling out a new E-6 film. Streetpan, it was a bonus, an excellent bonus!

Product Highlights

  • Type: B&W Panchromatic up to 750nm
  • Base: Polyester (0.10 mm)
  • Film Speed: ASA-400
  • Formats Available: 35mm

So now that we’ve gotten the dirt taken care of let’s dig in. I decided to approach this review a little differently that my other reviews have been because it’s a film, not a camera it changes depending on how you develop it. Using my trusty Nikon F5 to make sure the film was being exposed with the same meter with every roll I set about using the developers I had access to and the times listed on the box.

Kodak HC-110
My first experience with Streetpan 400 was under cloudy conditions and developed in HC-110 Dil. B. I was hooked right off the bat with this combo. The contrast is dead on, the extended red sensitivity shows up by cutting through the haze that was 5000% humidity. For a 400 speed film paired with HC-110, the grain looks like something from a 100 or 200-speed film even when scanned. What makes this combo shine is the contrast, not too harsh, not too soft. You have blacks and white complete with mid tones across the spectrum.

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Kodak Xtol
Now I’m a big fan of Xtol as a developer, but in this case, it wasn’t that good of a chemical to use with Streetpan. It made the images look soft, and not in a good way. The shots I took were on a dull day that was humid, but my lens was often working in the f/5.6 to f/8 range, and since it’s the same 105mm f/2D it should be sharp. But the edges appear soft. I actually had a bit of a scare when I first pulled the film out of the tank, I thought that I had over developed it, but once I got it in the scanner I realized I hadn’t. Development was again spot on with little adjustment needed in Photoshop with the levels/curves. The tone was excellent, with great blacks and whites with stable mid-tones. There was also no real difference in grain, it wasn’t any finer, compared to HC-110. Xtol would not be my first choice however for this film.

Reflection
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

The Brush Past
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

An Entertaining Conversation
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

Ilford Perceptol
Now these are the results from Streetpan that I have come to expect from the film. Clean, fine grain, sharp and the contrast point is dead on. The only trouble was that the negatives were a bit dark and needed some heavy adjustments in Photoshop to pull up the images. So I would say that either an additional 30 seconds in the developer or a slight pull to say ASA-320 would be enough to produce a cleaner negative. But overall Perceptol is another winner for developing this film to give the best results.

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Ilford Ilfosol 3
Ilfosol 3 was one of the first developers outside of D-76 that I worked with so it remains a bit of a soft spot for me. And for Streetpan it does a fine job, despite me shooting the film in less-than-ideal conditions. The grain is acceptable but noticeable more than other developers, and the film shows off the tonality that it can produce. While Ilfosol 3 wouldn’t be my first choice for developing the film if it’s all you got, you’ll create some fantastic images! As for the time, I might opt to bump it up 30 seconds, but I’d have to test it out under better conditions.

Bending Light
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Halfsmoke?
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Ending the Day
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Rodinal
If you had to pick two developers to use with this film, HC-110 would be the first. And in a very close second would be Rodinal. Usually, you would avoid using a sharp developer with a 400-speed film in 35mm. But in this case, the film itself is designed to produce a fine grain even with a sharp developer and the negatives look good! Right out of the tank I could see to fantastic tonality and stunning contrast that I saw with HC-110. And yes the grain is a little more noticeable but nothing that would take away from the quality of the images. And if you do the long soup and switch up to a 1+50 dilution it makes for an even better image with better, finer grain, without a loss in sharpness.

Deco
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

Heather
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 62 - Canon T90
Canon T90 – Vivitar Auto Wide-Angle 28mm 1:2.5 – JCH Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+50) 22:00 @ 20C

CCR - Season 3: Recording Session 2
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – JCH Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+50) 22:00 @ 20C

The Final Word
Streetpan is certainly a film I’ll be working with again. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, I will have already ordered another brick of 10 rolls of the film from the JCH site. For use on my honeymoon in April in New York City and at a wedding I’m photographing in April. Despite all the praise I have heaped on Street Pan, there is one thing I have noticed with it. It likes light; it doesn’t need direct light, I would avoid shooting in it harsh light, but it wants gray days, soft even light or open shadow. But it does suffer in low light; I had a tough time pulling out good images when I was shooting it just after dusk or in darkened interiors. As for the developers, I do highly recommend using either Rodinal or HC-110 to develop this film as I got the best results from those with good tone, not overly contrasty and it shows off the sharp fine-grained nature of the film stock. It’s a good stock, and a welcome addition to my choice of shooting media.

Big thanks to Bellamy, the Japan Camera Hunter himself, for taking the plunge and bringing Street Pan to us hungry film photographers, he took a leap of faith, and the results are stunning. You can pickup the film directly from his shop and now you can buy single rolls, three and five packs, or a full brick of ten. I recommend the ten. If you’re in Toronto you can pick up the film from Downtown Camera, currently the only Canadian Supplier of the film!

Film Review – RPX 400

The final film in the RPX line is their fast film, RPX 400. RPX 400 is not my favourite film of the trio; I’m not saying it’s a bad film, it’s just not my favourite. As the name says this is an ASA-400 film but has a substantial exposure latitude going down to 100 and up to 3200 but I would recommend that you stick to the 200 to 800 range for the best performance.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic B&W Negative Film
  • Base: Triacetate
  • Film Speed: ASA-400, with a Latitude between ASA-100 and ASA-3200
  • Formats Available: 35mm/120

52:500c - Week 33 - Transit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-1600 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. A 5:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 32 - Lakeshore Evenings
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (Stock) 9:00 @ 20C

The Good
There are two solid points on this film. The first is how easy it is to handle, many films of this time suffer from a centre line curl once it’s been processed and hung to dry. While some films this is very noticeable (I’m looking at you Tri-X) other are not as bad (HP5), this film despite the base materials stays flat making it easy to scan. The second point is that it has pleasing fine grain for a fast film. I only started to see heavy grain when shot at ASA-1600, and that’s in HC-110 Dilution A. The best developer I’ve found for this film is Pyrocat-HD at ASA-320 the fine grain nature of the film shines and the contrast point is dead on. I’ll probably even try this film out in Rodinal in one of the later weeks of the project!

52:500c - Week 28 - Cruisin'
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-320 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 18:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 23 - Battlefield House
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 7:00 @ 20C

The Bad
The biggest problem I have with this film is contrast! Unless you develop it in a high-contrast developer like Rodinal, HC-110, or Pyrocat-HD, it becomes a muddy mess. It’s all a mess of greys. The developers include the specialised RPX-D and Xtol (diluted, not stock). This is also not a sharp film, it’s pretty soft around the edges in most developers, even HC-110 I find the film a touch too soft for my taste. Of course in Pyrocat-HD the film is sharp and probably will give similar results in Rodinal. And finally it comes down to the RPX-D developer, while it was designed for the film I really found that it didn’t do much over using something more normal like Xtol or HC-110.

52:500c - Week 14 - Just Won't Quit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Disagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-800 – Rollei RPX-D (1+7) 13:00 @ 22C

52:500c - Week 08 - Fort Town
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 400 @ ASA-400 – Rollei RPX-D (1+11) 11:00 @ 20C

The Lowdown
Let me state again this isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t a favourite of mine. And that’s because it reminds me of HP5 (in 35mm) along with Delta 400 and TMax 400, these all aren’t bad films, it’s just I don’t like how they render contrast and it’s the same with RPX 400. But like anything, it’s all about freedom of choice, and if you like RPX 400, go for it, I am not one to stop you, this is just my view on the film.

First Impressions – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400

I’m not often one to give the first impression of a product, especially after only shooting it once. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been so impressed with a product I had to write a ‘first impression’ blog. The Nikon F2, Nikon F5, Sony a6000 are all cameras that I was so happy with I couldn’t wait to tell the world, now I add a fourth thing to the list, Japan Camera Hunter’s Streetpan 400. So when my order arrived the next photo walk, I went to I make sure my Nikon F5 was loaded with one film, Streetpan.

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

I was pretty excited when Bellamy Hunt, the amazing photographer behind Japan Camera Hunter, announced that he was bringing back a dead film stock. That’s right, using money out of his own pocket, to bring back a film stock. Sadly the world of photography instead of being excited along with him, tore into him. It’s a sad state of affairs when that happens. But I stayed on the positive side of things, defending the film stock. Many claimed that it was dead-stock found in a dusty warehouse or just Retro 400s in a fancy new package. But I’ve shot Retro 400s, and this film stock, while similar in the sample images, certainly did not look like Retro 400s and the developing times were different. This was infact a rebirth of a film stock, something we in the film photography world don’t see often.

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

What do I like about the film, well first off it’s a 400 speed film, as much as I like slower emulsions, when I’m out shooting in the streets or on vacation I want to be able to shoot quickly, see, think, shoot. So a fast film really is needed. It’s designed for scanning, the polyester base, while making it a little more of a pain to get onto the plastic developing spool, does dry and lay perfectly flat. And it’s really not as thin as other polyester base films I’ve shot like Retro 80s or the Svema line of films. And when it comes to scanning it is beautiful! I really didn’t have to make any real changes to the raw scans.

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

So that’s about it, for now, once I start working with this film more and developing it in other developers like Rodinal and Xtol as well as more in HC-110. And see how it plays with other cameras in my collection I’ll do a more in-depth review, but for now, I’m leaving it at this. This film rocks, I’m looking forward to shooting it more, and if you like what you see head on over and give Bellamy some love and order yourself a brick. And just remember this is fresh stock, not dead, not rebranded. And today, a fresh film is always a good thing. Happy World Photography Day!

Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Film Review – Rollei RPX 100

Next in line is the middle-ground for the RPX line, RPX 100. And frankly, this is another winner in my book. Beautiful tones, fine grain structure and a tremendous latitude! The film is seriously the Portra 400 of the RPX line. I may even go as far to say this film is just a little better than my two favourite mid-speed films, Kodak TMax 100 and Ilford FP4+.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic B&W Negative Film
  • Base: Polyester (PE)
  • Film Speed: ASA-100, with a Latitude between ASA-25 and ASA-800
  • Formats Available: 35mm/120

52:500c - Week 15 - A Fort Named George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 (Red) – Rollei RPX 100 – Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 27 - The Ships of Summer
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 100 @ 100 – Kodak Xtol (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

The Good
If you’re looking for a solid middle of the road film with plenty of room on either side of the box speed, this is certainly one to try. I have not experimented with the range beyond box speed only because it looks just beautiful right at ASA-100. While I was worried about this film at first when I shot it back in October of last year, I felt that it lacked the contrast where I wanted it. But after playing around with other developers, I found that it could be done at a good contrast point. This film sings in almost any developer that you soup it in, especially the specifically designed RPX-D developer. In fact, I find this film a close cousin of Kodak TMax 100 and often behaves in the same way, in fact when I went to use FA-1027 I used the TMax 100 times with great results. I have also noticed that it does respond well to contrast filters especially with either Orange or Red filters to darken the sky on bright days with beautiful clouds. And finally there’s the grain, it’s a good structure and even in sharp developers like Rodinal, it doesn’t make the grain look terrible.

52:500c - Week 31 - Vieux-Québec
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 9:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 19 - The Gully
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-50 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

The Bad
The one thing I don’t like about the film is that in certain developers you can get a lack of contrast, mostly in Xtol cut 1+1, but I mean that’s just a personal preference. As I mentioned before the film is fine grain, which is true but you have to keep that agitation light. I’ve found that in HC-110 if I’m a little rough on the tank, you will get a bit of an uptick in grain.

52:500c - Week 22 - A Farmer's Life
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 17:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 26 - Close to Home
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – FA-1027 (1+14) 9:30 @ 20C

The Lowdown
If you’re balking at the price increase on Kodak TMax films then this might be a good alternative and it readily available both in Canada and the United States and offers similar times so even with the limited ones specifically for RPX100 you can experiment and begin to use the TMax times. Just remember if you’re a little unsure give a clip test first. I wish that Rollei would begin to produce this film in 4×5 as well, but hey, you can’t be too picky these days.

Film Review – Rollei RPX 25

When I first learned about the RPX line of film I was pretty excited, these days we often get news of discontinuation of films more than the addition of a new film stock. I was also excited when I learned that these would be the modern reincarnation of the legendary Agfa APX films and what a return to the photographic stage. Now these films are produced by Agfa but marketed under the Rollei Name. So with my on going 52-Roll project just past the halfway mark I figured now would be a time to give them a bit of a review! So to kick it off I’m going to review the slowest of the three flavours, RPX 25 and so far my favourite of the lot.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic B&W Negative Film
  • Base: Polyester (PE)
  • Film Speed: ASA-25, with a Latitude between ASA-12 and ASA-50
  • Formats Available: 35mm/120/4×5

The Good
I’m not going to lie; I love slower films these days, and the RPX25 doesn’t fail. The film delivers on its promise of being a fine grained film and sharp. I mean razor sharp. I’ve had excellent results developing this film in Rodinal and HC-110. It really likes Rodinal at 1+50 dilution and delivers super sharp negatives and fine grain which is something coming from a sharp developer. In HC-110 the high contrast nature of the film really shines but still provides a sharp image with a bit of an uptick in the visible (but beautiful) grain and you still have some great mid-tones. A huge plus for the RPX 25 is that it’s available in both roll film and sheet film, that’s right an ASA-25 sheet film. Something that hasn’t been seen natively in a long time.

52:500c - Week 10 - Capital National
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 (Yellow) – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Blazinal (1+50) 11:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 17 - No Place I'd Rather Be
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

The Bad
There are a couple of points against this film, which aren’t really all that bad, they’re more minor annoyances. The first is developing times, often if you’re getting into highly-dilute developers, even 1:1 you’re looking at 10+ minutes but the results speak for themselves. And these are just the results using medium format, I haven’t had a chance to shoot this film in 4×5 but I’m sure the results will be even better. Another thing that might be of an issue with some folks is that if you’re developing for under ten minutes you will want to use a chemical stop bath. And continuing on the theme of developers there are a limited number of times available for this film stock. But it is still the new kid on the block, so it is just a matter of time.

52:500c - Week 21 - Welcome to the Roc
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 29 - Lovely Saturday Drive
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 (Yellow) – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Blazinal (1+50) 11:00 @ 20C

The Lowdown
If you’re a fan of slow films, this is not one to overlook, or if you’re in the old school and loved APX 25 then this film is certainly a real winner for you. A future classic for sure. Ideal for landscape and architecture work as you do want to use a tripod to get the full experience with it. Although even on a sunny day you can hand-hold it. And being available in the three top sizes for photography it certainly is an excellent product that I plan on using in the future. And plan on expanding that list of developing times.

Kodak Day – Developer Review – D-23

Sometimes simple is the best way to go about things, and what could be easier than Kodak D-23. So with today being George Eastman’s birthday I figured I’d dig into this wonderful developer that is new to me and give some of my first thoughts on this developer. Now for those who have been in the photography field for some time you probably are wondering why I’m reviewing a developer that hasn’t been commercially available for many years now. While I can’t pinpoint when D-23 was released, all I know is that Ansel Adams used the stuff.

Miners Falls
Miner’s Falls — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Munsing Falls
Munising Falls — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Kodak D-23 is a semi-compensating developer, which makes it a favourite of those who use Adam’s Zone System to determine their exposure settings. The two chemicals that drive D-23 is Metol and Sodium Sulfite, both of which you can purchase in bulk from Photographer’s Formulary, or you just buy their “Developer 23” Kit. The kit was actually how I first started using this developer. I have used D-76 in the past and while I can see why D-76 is still around as it has a better shelf life, I much prefer D-23 after using it. I find that it produces the same grain and sharpness as D-76 but has way better contrast in my negatives.

Project:1812 - The Forts of Prairie Du Chien
The Old Prairie du Chien Museum — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – D-23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Project:1812 - The Battle of Tippecanoe
The Prophetstown Historic Marker — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – D-23 (stock) 6:00 @ 20C

As you can see with these images, the lighting conditions were pretty severe with lots of shadows and highlights especially when I was in Prairie du Chien thankfully my head was right in the game that day, and I was nailing my exposure (thanks to filters and my trusty Pentax Spotmeter V). The addition of D-23 into the mix was the secret weapon and brought these images to life in my opinion. I think I prefer to work with D-23 in stock dilution you can dilute it 1:1 which does help tame the contrast on films like Pan F, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the images the diluted developer produced.

In the Shade
A Quiet Spot — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

Bicycle Races are Coming to Town
Old School Bike — Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Pan F+ – D-23 (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

As I mentioned at the start Kodak doesn’t make D-23 anymore; it is super easy to make at home. For 1 liter of chemistry, you need 7.5g of Metol and 100g of Sodium Sulfite, I placed an order yesterday for a pound of Sodium Sulfite and 100g of Metol, so I’m laughing for the near future and can start to explore what this developer can do with films beyond Ilford stock. But the one thing that I will be using D-23 for in the future is to work as a historical developer with a WW2 combat photographer impression.

The Grudge Match – 1950s German Style

These days the two big camera names that see fanboys (and girls) in both camps is Cannon vs. Nikon. But that wasn’t always the case. In the 1950s Nikon and Canon were still fairly unknown in the pro-market, both were producing rangefinder cameras stamped with “Made in occupied Japan” the real competitors of the 1950s was Contax and Leica. Since I have both a Leica IIIc and a Contax IIIa I figured I should do a side by side comparison and have these two heavy-weights of the mid-century fight it out. Before you continue, I suggest reading by reviews of each camera, first the Contax IIIa then the Leica IIIc. So let’s begin! In one corner we have the Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa, a 35mm Rangefinder with a Contax RF lens mount, manufactured between 1940 and 1951 equipped with a selenium meter! In the other corner we have the Leica IIIa also a 35mm rangefinder with a M39 thread mount, manufactured between 1951 and 1962! For the purpose of this match we have both running a standard 50mm lens, the Contax has a Zeiss-Opton Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 while the Leica is running a Lietz Summitar 50mm f/2! Each has been loaded with Kodak Tmax 100 film, rated at ASA-32 developed in Xtol (1+1) for 8:45 at 20C. Both metered with a Gossen Lunasix F.

grudge-match

Film Loading
So I’m not going to lie, the method of loading the Leica IIIc is a pain in the butt, and usually takes me a couple tries before I get it right. I’ve actually seen a fellow photographer fail many times to load his M6, which has the handy back door to see if you got it, the IIIc doesn’t have that. I’m sure with practice and some pre-cut rolls of film you can easily load it on the fly, but honestly, it would still be one that you’d want two around your neck and your assistant nearby to load and unload as you shoot. The Contax IIIa is a little easier as you can remove the entire back, which also slows down reloading and you have to juggle a bit but you’d have an easier getting the film loaded right the first time. But I do see why Capa carried two into combat, you don’t want to be juggling three things with bullets flying.

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa
Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc

Optics
This is where both cameras stand out is the optics. While some might hold Leica glass over Zeiss glass. I really cannot tell the difference between the two. The only real difference is the aperture on the Summitar and the Sonnar that gives different effects with the out of focus area, but both produce a pleasing Bokeh. But when it comes to the optics I’ll give the edge to Leica, not for the glass but for the mount. Going with the M39 (aka Leica Thread Mount) was probably the part that wins out because there is a lot more glass available for it and it remains adaptable easily for compact digital system cameras. The bayonet mount on the Contax IIIa is a bit finicky and with the lack of a focusing helical on many of the lenses makes it difficult to use this wonderful glass on my a6000 (which is a big selling point for me).

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa
Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc

Usability
Both cameras are solid performers, easy to handle, not to heavy, not too light, great for carrying with you for a long time. The one draw back to the IIIc is the twin window rangefinder. And it’s really tiny so I’ve often found I’ve missed the focus mark. The Contax IIIa on the other hand has a single window view/rangefinder and it’s pretty bright so I’ve been able to focus with ease. Of course the Contax isn’t perfect, the way I hold the camera and use the focus dial (as opposed to the focus ring), I find that I block out the second rangefinder window at the front of the camera making it near impossible to nail the focus. This is where the Leica wins with the focusing handle on the bottom of the lens preventing this from happening. Similarly both cameras have an infinity lock, but the Leica’s is much easier to operate than the one on the Contax. When it comes to the shutter speed the Contax has a much nicer layout of the control dial with only a single dial to control all shutter speeds (and you can adjust without having the shutter cocked like the Leica), so if you are shooting at speeds under a 1/30″ you aren’t fiddling with a much smaller dial. The rest of the camera functions, shutter release, film advance are pretty similar is style and function and really aren’t worth mentioning overall. Both cameras are easily to use really with the functions easily accessed while holding and nothing really super out of place.

CCR - Review 35 - Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa
Contax IIIa

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc
Leica IIIc

Final Words
Like Cannon and Nikon these days I really cannot find anything that makes one camera better than the other beyond my own personal preference. I’m sure Contax and Leica fanboys of the time would be able to point out things that I failed to or didn’t want to notice. Like anything in photography these were the top dogs of their day, both operated in a similar manner, produced similar quality images, and both were handled and used by the greats of their day. Is one better than the other, no. Do I like one better than the other, yes. But as I said, the only major points that make the Contax stand out to me more than the Leica is the rangefinder window and the film loading. But that’s just my personal taste, as both are amazing cameras and worth looking at if you want a mid-twentieth century rangefinder with some class and style. So in my view the results of the match, is a tie.