Why Do I Shoot Large Format Film? Why do I shoot large format film? That question can be also rephrased to why shoot film at all? The problem with the world today is instant gratification. Instant coffee, online buying, instant 24-hour support etc. This also crept into the photographic arena during the time of film photography when people shot polaroid images. The next question that usually comes up is: “Is digital better than film?” The answer to either way of asking this question is… no. Just as one might prefer the crisp, clean sound of a digital song, another may prefer a classic vinyl record for its depth, tone and warmth. In the same way, digital photography gives way to predictable, clean and precise results, while film brings in a warm beautiful imperfection that often times speaks to the romance of a scene. Grain is not noise, grain is film and in the right composition ISO 3200 pushed to ISO 6400 can produce beautiful images. Ever wonder why there were so fewer professional photographers in the days before digital? Photography was a skill, an art and craft to master. Today, every cellphone has a camera, everyone is a photographer, and anyone can walk into a camera store, buy an entry-level camera and announce themselves as a professional! Do they really know their craft, have they acquired the necessary skill needed for the task at hand? With 14fps and high megapixel cameras, anyone can fire away and hope to land 3 perfect shots in that second. Spray and pray they say! With 35mm, 120 medium format and large format film - 4x5" and larger, there is no back of the camera peeping to see if you got it right the first time, every time! You need to wait until the film is processed to know if you got it right in camera! Film slows you down, you need to think about your composition, make sure everything is 100% before you press the shutter button. If you shooting 35mm, you will more than likely have 24 or 36 frames to complete. On medium format, that is 12 frames. Large format and ultra large format film, it is 1 sheet at a time, which are not cheap, more so if you going above 4x5''. There is no delete button and try again, once the shot is fired that is it! It has to count, it has been exposed and you cannot under that, there are no second chances, more so in critical moments. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA When you shoot film, you are rewarded with images that stand out, knowing that you had to go back to basics to create that shot. You captured the moment on an old outdated camera, some nothing more than a wooden box with a ground glass, bellows, lens and no electronics! Large format is a totally manual shooting mode, no autofocus whatsoever the only external electronics is your lightmeter. Seeing the film image come to life in the darkroom before your eyes is something else to behold. Seeing the resolution in comparison to 35mm digital is astounding! This is why I shoot 35mm, medium and large format film, its the challenge of getting a 100% success rate for every roll or film sheet exposed, slowing down, thinking about what I am are doing, capturing images that I will actually print and most of all, to enjoy my photography. The rewards from large format for me is once you get it right in camera, the results are mind-blowing, get it wrong and they are amplified as much! Here are two images from a shoot recently shot in my studio. I had my friend Chris Hart fire the shot for me while I posed with my mom, the other I took of my makeup artist - Anne-Mart. Works like these get me so excited about film! Do look out for an upcoming blog regarding this studio shoot. Noleen & Craig Anne-Mart I began photography in 1998 on a Pentax MZ50 35mm camera after playing around with a few point and shoots. My foundation has been a solid one in film, and I am all the better for it. People with a discerning eye know that digital does not look like traditional film, even with the available film plugins or filters. Both can be beautiful in their own right. The artist needs to decide which method or combination of methods best produces the final work of art. What Different Formats Do We Get? The different size formats are as follows 35mm, medium format also called 120, 220 and 645, large format and ultra large format. 35mm or 135mm 35mm or 135 film, was introduced by Kodak in 1934. Individual rolls of 35mm film are enclosed in a single-spool, light-tight, metal case that allows it to be loaded into cameras in daylight. The standard image size on a 35mm film roll is 24 x 36mm with a perforation size of KS-1870. This standard ensures that the film properly advances eight perforations to allow a two-millimetre gap between frames and eliminate overlapping of images on the film. On my Nikon F5, I have an MF28 databack attached, which allows me to record various fields of information such as date, time, shutter speed, aperture and more between these frames. Nikon F5 Medium Format Medium format film is much larger than the 35mm counterpart and is usually preferred by many professional photographers - digital and film. Of course, due to the size of medium format film, a medium format camera will be needed to use it. Most often, medium format film is 6x6cm square or 6x4.5cm rectangular (commonly referred to as 645). In addition, there are also these following sizes - 6x7cm - 10 exposures and 6x9cm - 8 exposures; and longer if you doing panoramas. Each format creates an image with one side equal to 6cm. Today, medium format photography utilizes the 120 film format and, in some cases, the 220 film format. These formats are nearly identical except that 220 film is twice as long and allows twice the number of exposures. With 120 film, you can get either 12 or 16 exposures and double that amount with 220 film. So if you think that Instagram is a new thing, think again, these are generally square images. Why not give a try and upload these to your Instagram account? One Of My Two Yashica-Mat Cameras Large Format The most common large format is 4×5", which was the size most common cameras used in the 1930s-1950s. The 4×5" sheet film format was very convenient for press photography since it allowed for direct contact printing on the printing plate, hence it was widely used in press cameras. This was done well into the 1940s and 1950s. Less common formats include quarter-plate, 5×7", and 8×10" (20×25 cm). Large format film works a little different than both 35mm film and medium format film as there are no spools used. Instead, large format film is individual 4x5" sheets that are loaded into a special film holder that locks into the back of a large format camera. Film loading using sheet film holders must be loaded in complete darkness, or a dark space to load and unload the film, typically a changing bag or darkroom. The holders will hold two sheets of film on both sides. When loaded into the back of the camera, the light protective sheet or dark slide is removed and will allow you to expose the film, once the shutter is released. The protective sheet or dark slide is then returned to the holder before your film is removed. The film will remain in the holder until ready for development. In May 2017, I had seen a post circulating on social media where Paul Joshua was photographing Formula 1 with a 104yr old camera, a 1913 Graflex 4×5" View Camera, at the time he was on his 5th season of Formula 1. Here are the links to those articles and on PetaPixel, definitely well worth the read! If ever there was a sport that required rapid fire photography, Formula One racing is it. Which makes what photographer Joshua Paul does even more fascinating, because instead of using top-of-the-range cameras to capture the fast-paced sport, Paul chooses to take his shots using a 104-year-old Graflex 4×5 view camera. The photographer clearly has an incredible eye for detail, because unlike modern cameras, which can take as many as 20 frames per second, his 1913 Graflex can only take 20 pictures in total. Because of this, every shot he takes has to be carefully thought about first, and this is clearly evident in this beautiful series of photographs. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA Shen Hao HZX45-IIA Ultra Large Format Above 8×10", the formats are often referred to as Ultra Large Format (ULF) and may be 11×14", 16×20", or 20×24" or as large as film, plates, or cameras are available. These cameras are extremely heavy, and usually made of wood. There is an article on F-stoppers where an 8x10" large format photographer - Ben Horne captures an astounding 709-megapixel image! His 150mm lens is referred to as a wide angle lens! Ben ends up with a digital file that's almost 30 000 pixels on the long side and weighs in at an astounding 4 GB for the *.tiff file, but it appears the unwieldy size is worth it. This image was shot on Velvia 50. The YouTube video is worth watching. What Gear Do I Need? Camera I shoot a Shen Hao HZX45-IIA 4x5" format field camera as pictured below. These cameras new at the time of writing, retail for around $1000 or more depending on where you buy. The tripod in this set up was seriously expensive, more than the camera itself; together they do a very good job as the camera is by no means light. Although the camera is a Chinese make, the quality is very good and I am well satisfied with mine. Shen Hao HZX45-IIA at Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve Specifications: • Made from Black Walnut and black stainless steel. • Format: 4X5" • Movement: Front Rise - 37mm Rear Rise - 45mm. • Fall 32mm • Right Shift rear - 40mm • Left Shift rear - 40mm • Swing 17° +17° • Front Swing 20° +20° • Rear Base Tilt: 90° • Front Base Tilt: 90° • Rear Center Tilt: 10° +10° • Rear Back Front 40° • Back Rear 20° • Forward Rear 70mm • Bellows extension from 50mm-360mm. • Dimensions: 17X17x10cm • Weight: 2.54kgs Tripod And Head The tripod that I am using is the Gitzo GT3542L Long series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod which is designed to securely support professional cameras with 300mm lenses (up to a maximum of 400mm), and to reach eye-level when fully extended. This professional tripod features Carbon eXact tubing with larger leg tube diameters. Its top leg-section diameter of 32.9mm and high modulus carbon fibre lower leg sections make this tripod stronger, more rigid and more lightweight than its predecessors. The Gitzo GT3542L weighs just 1.95kgs, reaches a height of 178cm and folds down to 59cm. This tripod is the perfect choice for professional photographers who want highly resistant, reliable support that is light enough to carry for hours while exploring the great outdoors. Large format gear is far from light, and this is a great tripod for my digital long primes too. The tripod’s rapid centre column is easily removed, transforming it into a ground level set enabling photographers to capture the broadest range of perspectives. It also has a reversible column mechanism. The Gitzo GT3542L four-section legs are secured by G-lock Ultra twist locks, with a built-in O-ring that keeps dirt and dust out of the leg mechanism. The tripod’s top spider is newly designed for extra rigidity, and large leg angle selectors provide broader grip-area for leg-angle adjustment. The tripod features a stabilizer hook on its centre column to add weight and increase stability when required by terrain or equipment weight. Its removable feet enable it to adapt to any type of surface. A wide array of heads and other accessories can easily be added via the 1/4" and 3/8 attachment on the upper disc. It can support 21kgs. Gitzo Tripod Mountaineer Series 3 Long, 4 Sections The Gitzo GH5381SQD Systematic Series 5 Quick Release D Ball Head is a low-profile tripod head that fits into the upper casting of any Systematic Tripod or attaches to any tripod via its 3/8” thread, providing an ultra-stable platform. The D-profile head is supplied with an Arca-Swiss compatible plate, enabling the included Quick Release plate to be snapped into the head from above, which is faster and easier than sliding it in from the side. With the GH5381SQD, cameras can be mounted very close to the top of the tripod for optimal support. It tilts up to 28° in all directions and features a hydraulic locking system for fast control and smooth locking speed. A ring adaptor (GS5300S) is included and is required when using this head with a Series 5 Systematic Tripod. This tripod head model also features the new Systematic safety catch: when used together with the latest Systematic tripods equipped with the safety button, the head is held safely in place until the release button is pushed, so that it stays safe, along with any camera equipment attached to it, even if the tripod’s top casting is inadvertently left open. The tripod head is made of high-quality, resistant aluminium, weighs 930g and secures an impressive payload of 30kgs. It includes a built-in spirit level to facilitate flawless framing. Gitzo Systematic Ball Head Quick Release - Series 5 Cable Release I am using the Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release, this is a standard type cable release plug for cameras that have a threaded shutter. This screws into the Copal shutter that you using with your lenses. It can be tightened at the trigger end to facilitate long exposures beyond the lowest shutter speed supported before using B and T. There are no electronics on my Shen Hao. Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release Lenses Nikon Lenses All of the Nikkor large format lenses are multicoated. Nikon never made any single or non-coated large format lenses. Nikon SW Series The SW-series lenses feature wide covering power and a wide image circle. Maximum apertures of f/4 and f/4.5 assure fast and pin-point focusing and bright images, corner to corner. Covering power can be extended to 105° ~ 106° by stopping the lens down. SW series lenses deliver high contrast and resolution, reduced flare and excellent colour rendition, thanks to Nikon Super Integrated Coating and strict control of aberrations. SW-series lenses with a maximum aperture of f/8 are compact and well compensated for distortion. Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S The Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S can only be used from f/16 as the image circle is too small at f/4 on the 4x5 format at 110mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 170mm. The f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 20mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S is excellent; it weighs in at 370g. The f/4S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S The Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S can only be used from f/16 as the image circle is too small at f/4 on the 4x5 format at 126mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 200mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 25mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S is excellent; it weighs in at 420g. The f/4.5S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. Like the Nikkor-SW 65mm f/4S, it has a 67mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 75mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S The Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5 is both huge and excellent; it weighs in at 600g. I had the opportunity to buy the f/8 version (which weighs 360g), but chose this faster lens instead, as the f/4.5 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has an 82mm front filter thread with 7 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. The image circle is at f/4 on the 4x5" format at 154mm. At f/16 you will get an image circle of 235mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a wide angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 28mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 35mm format approximate equivalent. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stop down to f/8 or smaller for the best performance when you shoot. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikkor-SW 90mm f/4.5S Nikon W Series Covering power of the W series Nikkors is an ample 70° ~ 73° when stopped down. Lens construction of six elements in four groups in the series gives these lenses an outstanding degree of freedom from distortion, field curvature and chromatic aberration. And Nikon Super Integrated Coating applied to each lens assures high contrast and overall faithful colour rendition. The W series lenses are recommended for a variety of subjects, including landscapes, portraits, architecture, and table-top photography. I am in the process of acquiring these lenses in this series, to complete the large format lens range that suits my style of photography. Nikkor-W 135mm f/5.6S Nikon NIKKOR-W 135mm f/5.6 S The Nikkor-W 135mm f/5.6S has an image circle of 156mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 200mm. The aperture of f/4 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a standard angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 45mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 45mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-SW 135mm f/5.6S weighs in at 200g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 52mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 0 T, B, 1-1/500 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/4.5, where it's a little soft due to coma. This is the same as other f/5.6 lenses; stopped down to f/8 or f/11 it is sharp from centre to corners. For landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 208mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 253mm for 5x7" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a standard angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 60mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 60mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6 weighs in at 380g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 1 T, B, 1-1/400 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 210mm f5.6 243mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 208mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 295mm for 6.5x8.5" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a telephoto angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of a 60mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 60mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor lenses in the T-series are telephoto-type lenses which do not require long-length camera bellows. The Nikkor-W 210mm f/5.6 weighs in at 460g. The f/5.6S makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has a 67mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 1 T, B, 1-1/400 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 The Nikkor-W 240mm f5.6 243mm f/5.6 has an image circle of 278mm at f/5.6 and at f/22 it is 336mm for 8x10" cameras. The aperture of f/5.6 allows you to focus better under low light conditions. This is a telephoto angle lens which is the 35mm equivalent of an 80mm lens. The rule is to divide the focal length by three to arrive at the 80mm format approximate equivalent. The Nikkor-W 240mm f/5.6 weighs in at 820g. The f/5.6 makes it easy to compose, focus and make camera movements. It has an 82mm front filter thread with 6 elements in 4 groups. The shutter is a Copal № 3 T, B, 1-1/125 which is also the sync speed in the studio. Of course, you don't actually shoot at f/5.6, for landscapes, you generally shooting at f/22 and f/32. This is a beautiful lens for portraiture for both the studio and outdoors. Schneider Lenses Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens I do not own a Nikon 150mm lens. At the time of me purchasing my 4x5" system, the Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens came part and parcel with the package. I do not see the need or purpose to purchase a Nikon 150mm lens as this lens does a fabulous job. This is a standard angle lens, all-purpose large format lens which gives the highest image reproduction quality possible in a broad range of applications, equivalent to a 50mm lens in 35mm format. The 75° angle of coverage permits generous shifts on the 4x5" format, which is very useful in architecture photography. The 150mm Apo-Symmar L uses 58mm filters and weighs 267g. It is an ideal everyday lens for users of 4x5" large format cameras. Compact, extremely sharp slightly wide lens for the 4x5 format Increased coverage (to 75°) for the classic 6-element, 4-group optical design Bright ideal working aperture range of f/11-22 for shorter exposures and sharper outdoor images Small and light for unobtrusive use Maximum image circle of 233mm allows ±35.5mm of rise/fall/shift (in both vertical/horizontal composition) for 4x5" format Accepts 58mm filters Standard-style Copal #0 shutter with calibrated aperture scale and maximum 1/500th speed The Apo-Symmar-"L" series of lenses replaces the well-proven original Apo-Symmar. As some glass types have been phased out for environmental reasons, new designs with substitute formations were necessary. Seizing the opportunity, Schneider-Kreuznach has now completely re-designed this successful, all-purpose lens to bring it up to the current state-of-the-art of lens design and fabrication. The covering power has been expanded in nearly all cases and the imaging performance further optimized. The current focal lengths and the principle technical specifications are shown in the table here. Used according to the maximum photo format, the focal lengths between 120 and 480mm offered by the new "L-Series" deliver normal perspective pictures without a wide angle or telephoto effects. This is a large format photographic lens for view camera photography with film formats up to 5x7", although it's most common use is for 4x5 inch photography. It has a 75° angle of coverage at f/22. This results in an image circle of 233mm at f/22, which allows a shift of up to 52mm vertically and 46mm horizontally with 4x5 inch film. Schneider 150mm f/5.6 Apo-Symmar L Lens This is a large format photographic lens for view camera photography with film formats up to 5x7", although it's most common use is for 4x5" photography. It has a 75° angle of coverage at f/22. This results in an image circle of 233mm at f/22, which allows shift of up to 52mm vertically and 46mm horizontally with 4x5" film. Shutters Copal Manufactured in Japan by the Copal Company LTD since 1946, Copal shutters are widely used on large-format photography lenses. Fully mechanical, very reliable lens shutters, they are quite repairable by many technicians all over the world. There are two types, self-cocking or press shutters and manual cocking. They are basically old-fashioned clockwork systems with leaf blades for the shutter. Copal Shutters Specifications COPAL LENS SHUTTER № 0 № 1 № 3 № 3S Weight 115gr 160gr 372gr 340gr Outer diameter 61mm 73mm 102mm 102mm Lens mounting Front: M 29.5mm x 0.5 Rear: M 29.5mm x 0.5 Front: M 40mm x 0.75 Rear: M 36mm x 0.75 Front: M 58mm x 0.75 Rear: M 58mm x 0.75 Front: M 56mm x 0.75 Rear: M 56mm x 0.75 Cable release nipple M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 M 3.2mm x 0.5 Shutter speeds T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30,60, 125, 250, 400 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125 T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125 Shutter speeds tolerance +- 30% +- 30% +- 30% +- 30% Maximum iris opening 24mm 30mm 45mm 45mm Minimum iris opening 1.5mm 2mm 2mm 2mm Number of iris blades 5 7 7 7 Synchronization all shutter speeds all shutter speeds all shutter speeds all shutter speeds Max. sync delay times before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms before max. opening: 0.5ms after max. opening: 0.7ms Threaded mounting ring M 32.5mm x 0.5 M 39mm x 0.75 M 62mm x 0.75 M 61mm x 0.75 Lens board hole 34.6mm 41.6mm 65mm 64.1mm Copal № 0 This is a Copal № 0 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 500. It has an aperture scale range of f/5.6 to f/64. Copal № 0 Copal № 1 This is a Copal № 1 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 and 400. It has an aperture scale range of f/5.6 to f/64. Copal № 1 Copal № 3 This is a Copal № 3 shutter. The shutter speeds are T, B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60 and 125. It has an aperture scale range of f/4.5 to f/64. Copal № 3 Film Various Film Formats Alex Burke of Alex Burke Photography a large format landscape photographer from Greeley, Colorado, in the USA has a fully comprehensive blog on various film types, both current and discontinued. Do have a look at his blog and consider buying his informative ebook on large format photography. My choice of colour film is Kodak Portra, I am not so wild about Kodak Ektar 100. My choice for slide or transparencies is Fuji Provia and Velvia. Bellini manufactures developing chemicals that allow you to process your negatives to positives or slides, so one is not necessarily limited to only Fuji for slide films, these can be purchased here. Black and white film, its a mix between Kodak and Ilford, there are other brands on the market like Adox, Bergger Pancro, Fomopan, Arista etc which I have not shot yet. I would like to shoot Rollei Infrared and would like to see how that performs, infrared produces amazing portraits with soft skin textures. Kodak Professional T-Max 100 Black and White Negative Film Film is best stored in the fridge to ensure an even, constant temperature and longevity. To prevent condensation from forming on the surfaces of film taken from a refrigerator or freezer, allow the package to warm up to room temperature before breaking the seal or opening the container. Warm-up times vary with the amount of material, the type of package, and the storage temperature. Typical warm-up times are given in the table below in hours to reach a room temperature of 21°C from a storage temperature of: FILM SIZE -18°C 02°C 13°C 120 01h00 00h45 ooh30 135 01h30 01h15 01h00 135 100' Roll 05h00 03h00 02h00 10 Sheet Box 01h30 01h00 01h00 50 Sheet Box 03h00 02h00 02h00 Film Holder Cases These are very handy, as 10 holders or 20 exposures become rather bulky in one's bag. The need for these to be either attached to your bag in a film holder or kept in your Pelican case helps keep things in order. If you are travelling light, I can strongly recommend these bags. 4x5"Film Holder Bag I have a system in place; all film that is not exposed is sealed in plastic packets, the holders are labelled with the type of film and kept in either my camera bag if I am not shooting a lot of film. The exposed frames are then put back into the opened plastic bags and those film holders placed in this bag which eliminates the mistake of double exposing my film. They are well padded and can protect and carry up to six 4x5" film holders. A mesh pocket on the front provides convenient storage for dark slides or small accessories. Film Holders These hold the same size film format as the camera size you shooting. It is basically a lightproof tray with a darkslide. Once the film holder is in place in the camera, the darkslide can be removed and the film is ready to be exposed. Once exposed the darkslide is returned and your image is safe, as long as the darkslide is not removed before development in the darkroom. I keep the white side of the darkslide facing outwards to show it has not been exposed and doesn't need the darkroom. Once exposed, I flip it around, black side outward. 4x5" Film Holder Camera Bag The made in England, 550 Original Shoulder Bag from Billingham is designed to carry a medium-format, large-format or DSLR camera plus accessories. The case is khaki with tan leather trim. It is constructed from soft-weave fabric which helps eliminate abrasions, combined with Stormblocker dual-laminate waterproof canvas and a heavy-duty, closed-cell, foam-padded interior. It has Superflex 10-15 and 10-18 partitions for organizing gear. There is a large rain flap with buckle fastening. Billingham 550 - Khaki Canvas Tan Leather The 550 bag has two full-height zippered pockets inside the main compartment, double-bellowed front pockets with press-stud fastenings, two removable end pockets, and an external back pocket. It is carried by dual handles with an overlapping leather grip or an adjustable shoulder strap with an SP20 heavy-duty, neoprene-backed leather shoulder pad. This is a really expensive and good quality camera bag. How to shoot a 4x5 camera Here is a breakdown of roughly how one goes about shooting a frame on a large format camera: Choose the camera position, approximate orientation, focal length. Set up and level the tripod and camera. Attach the lens and open it to full aperture. Focus roughly using the focusing knob. Adjust precisely the composition while looking at the ground glass. Focus precisely with tilts/swings. Determine the optimal aperture. Close the lens, cock the shutter, rap and insert the film holder. Determine the shutter speed. Set the aperture and shutter speed. Remove the dark slide. Look at the subject. Fire the shutter with a cable release. Put the darkslide back in with the black side outwards to show it is exposed. Remove the film holder. Pack and move to the next spot. With today's technology, instead of using a traditional light meter to calculate the exposure time, you can simply use an app on your phone. There are plenty of mobile phone apps which are available from the various app stores where you in dial the aperture and ISO, and it calculates the time needed to properly expose your image. I use a Sekonic L-478DR light meter as well as a phone app. Acknowledgements Product information and images have been acquired from the relevant manufacturer websites.
Scanning without a Scanner: Digitizing Your Film with a DSLR By Bjorn Petersen There is no doubt that digital photography is here to stay, and film has certainly seen better days, in terms of availability and affordability. However, what if you’re a digital photographer who simply wants to shoot a roll of film every once in a while for fun? Film photography has a distinct look that, even with the latest and greatest 50MP cameras, cannot be duplicated by digital imaging. It’s subjective to say whether one look is better or worse, but there is no denying that there is a unique quality to film. Back in the halcyon days of film photography, you could easily drop your rolls off at the local lab or drug store, come back an hour or day later and have nice 4 x 6" prints along with a sleeve of negatives. Nowadays, this simple convenience is becoming harder and harder to acquire, and even if you’re able to find a professional lab to develop your film, you usually won’t want to pay the premium for all of those prints to be made. This is where being able to scan your negatives makes practical sense. A common process that photo labs have been using for years, as well as nearly any kind of printing production process, a scanner acts much like your regular camera; its job is to record an image. The difference is that the scanner is a very specific image-making device, designed only for reproduction. Scanners come in many sizes and are able to perform a range of functions, some of which are able to scan film. Split into two main categories for consumer use, there are flatbed scanners and film scanners. Flatbed scanners have a large glass surface and can record reflective materials, and some incorporate a transparency unit for scanning film and transparencies. Film scanners, on the other hand, are primarily dedicated to only scanning transparent originals, albeit usually at a higher quality than a flatbed scanner. "Luckily for most photographers, a truly sound tool for digitizing your film is something you likely already have: a digital camera." Scanning is a common process that most film shooters in the last 20 or so years have come to incorporate into their practice in some manner, whether it is for scanning film or your prints to share online or make digital prints. While a scanner is certainly a sound investment for those who shoot and need to scan large amounts of film, sometimes it is not the most practical investment. If you’re the type of photographer who will only shoot a handful of rolls a year, or if you’re the type of photographer who enjoys using medium and large format films, finding a suitable scanner can become a greater expense. Most dedicated film scanners seldom accept medium format film, let alone sheet film of any size. Luckily for most photographers, a truly sound tool for digitizing your film is something you likely already have: a digital camera. As previously mentioned, a scanner functions much like a regular picture-taking camera, and likewise a camera can be used to perform similar functions as a scanner. Chief among these is the ability to re-photograph or duplicate your film for digital use. And with DSLR and mirrorless cameras’ resolutions on the rise, you now have the ability to produce high-resolution digital files of your film for printing and simple online sharing. As someone who primarily shoots film, this was a technique I have wanted to try for quite some time. I’ve already become accustomed to working with both flatbed and dedicated film scanners for some time, but I had been hearing about a number of potential advantages for using a camera to digitize film. Chief among them was the possible dynamic range, and the ability to extract greater shadow and highlight detail from negatives than a scanner. Modern sensors are often touted to have a wide dynamic range, and you frequently hear claims such as, “this camera has a 12-stop dynamic range.” Assuming this is true, this range often exceeds the amount of detail in most film and, as such, should be a good match for gaining as much detail as possible from the film. Another advantage is the ability to shoot raw files for greater flexibility when processing images. Just like normal shooting, the greater range of information in a raw file even benefits working in controlled situations. One of the drawbacks I foresaw, however, was the resolution. Even though DSLR and mirrorless cameras are at an all-time peak in resolution, the highest native file sizes still produce images of around 24 x 30", at best. This is a number that is pretty easily matched with a scanner. However, this is a non-issue if simply digitizing your film for Web sharing or some smaller prints, which is the same practical limit of most flatbed scanners, in actuality. The Process With these ideas in mind, I set out to do a fairly non-scientific comparison between three classes of image-capturing devices to test the viable limits of each, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of one process versus another. For the camera setup, I worked with a Nikon D800 fitted with the AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens, and was backlighting my film with the Logan Electric 4 x 5" Slim Edge Light Pad. For the scanning portion of the test, I worked with both a flatbed and film scanner: an Epson Perfection 4870 flatbed scanner and the Imacon Flextight 646 virtual drum scanner. While it is possible to scan reflective material with the Imacon, it is primarily a film scanner by reputation. Black & White 4 x 5" and 6 x 7 negatives photographed with a Nikon D800 and AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8GIF-ED Lens Before delving into the comparison, I first wanted to give a breakdown of the process I used for photographing my film with the DSLR, along with the steps I took to convert my out-of-the-camera files to usable images. The basic premise of this method is to photograph your film against a backlit surface using a macro lens. The closer you are able to get to the film, the higher the magnification you can achieve, and the higher-resolution results you’ll have for your file. Without working with a copy stand, the next best method to ensure consistency and accuracy is to photograph atop a tripod and, in my case, I worked with the tripod pointed straight down at the film. I also decided to work with the film holders from the flatbed scanner for easier handling of the film and to slightly elevate the film above the light box to avoid picking up any texture from the Plexiglas surface. If I were planning on making this a more full-time, repeatable operation, I would likely look into something that would guarantee me consistent registration and a more taught film surface that the holders provide, but in a pinch this solution worked well. For the image settings in the camera, I wanted to record the absolute highest-resolution, most detailed files possible. I photographed at the full 36.3MP resolution, set the lens to its middle aperture to get the greatest combination of depth of field without diffraction, shot in raw+JPEG, in the Adobe RGB color space. I bracketed my exposures in ⅓ EV steps for a stop or two on each end, and also worked with the self-timer to lessen any chances of causing vibrations. From here, the process was very straightforward: with each negative, I would take the same precautions to eliminate dust as I would during scanning, which included a firm wipe between layers of an anti-static cloth, then position the film inside the film holder, give some final quick bursts of air to both sides, and place the film holder on top of the light box. With the negative in place, I would adjust the height of the camera on my tripod, using the center column, and would try to fill as much of the image frame as possible with the film. Finally, I would manually focus using the rear LCD of the camera when working in live view; I would magnify the image and usually pick a sharp edge within the film image or just focus on the text on the side of the roll of film. Next I would record my series of bracketed exposures and move on to the next piece of film. Post Production Armed with several versions of each negative I re-photographed, I imported my files into my computer and sorted them according to the corresponding negatives. Throughout the shooting process I photographed both color and black-and-white negatives, and I primarily photographed my medium format, 6 x 7 film. Besides these being my personal tastes when shooting film, they also seemed to be a prime area to investigate using this new technique—35mm film scanners are fairly prevalent and slides or positive film would not require the same scrutiny during post production, unlike negatives (especially color negatives, due to the orange mask). Medium format is a size of film that is more difficult or more expensive to digitize, just due to the more specialized equipment needed. When converting the negatives to positives, I chose to work in Adobe Camera Raw with the NEF files, prior to doing any fine-tuning in Adobe Photoshop. Beginning with the black-and-white film, I knew ahead of time this would be the easier of the two, since there would be no color cast to deal with. Here are the basic steps I used to convert the black-and-white negative to a positive grayscale image: 1. Since color casts aren’t going to affect black-and-white imagery as much as color images during post production, I moved straight to the curves in Camera Raw and inverted the curve. 2. I had a pretty flat image, mainly due to the overcast lighting conditions and the development process I use for my film. Much like when recording video or even shooting stills, a flat image is much easier to work with than an overly contrasty one. Here I just bumped the contrast some and tinkered with the other exposure controls before opening in Photoshop. 3. I still have an RGB image when I start working in Photoshop, so I use the black-and-white conversion tool to bring a bit more contrast out of any remaining color in the file prior to converting the image to a grayscale working space. 4. I use a curves adjustment layer to fine-tune the contrast and brightness of the image. Overall, this is a pretty simple process with nothing too special going on. The tonality is really nice and the photograph of the negative has contained the highlights and brought out the shadow details well. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Moving onto a color negative, I knew the process was going to be a bit trickier to deal with the orange mask of the film. Scanners are tuned to deal with this mask already, so the effect of it is pretty moot when using a film or flatbed scanner. When photographing the negative, however, it became my main concern. 1. The most effective way I found to negate the orange mask was to treat it almost like it was a strong color cast, so here I pull the color temperature slider down to 2000K to compensate for the overwhelming orange tone. 2. I then move over to the curves tab and invert the curve to give me some semblance of a positive image. 3. My first attempt to bring a bit of contrast to the image here—notice how much more dramatic the shape of the curve is compared to the black and white one. 4. Moving back to the exposure tools, I add a bit more contrast and tinker with the exposure, highlights, shadows, blacks, and whites sliders. Note that since you are now effectively working with a negative image, as in how Camera Raw sees it, the exposure controls are in reverse (i.e. moving the exposure slider to the left makes the image brighter). 5. Finally, I open the image in Photoshop, flip the image horizontally since I shot it backward, use a curves adjustment layer to fine-tune my contrast, and move on to working in the individual color channels to keep working at getting a neutral color balance. When comparing color balance between the three capture methods, it is noticeable how each process negotiates the orange mask of the color negative film in a different manner and requires a decent amount of fine-tuning to balance the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows across the spectrum. The variance in color casts is mainly present due to the comparative nature of seeing three different versions next to one another, but it should be pointed out that none of the images are unusable or show gross, uncorrectable false colors or irrecoverable details. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Comparison Now that I’ve produced some working examples of photographing my negatives with a DSLR, I wanted to see how they stacked up to both a flatbed and film scanner. With the flatbed scanner, the Epson 4870, I used a method where I chose the output size (16 x 20") when scanning, along with the printing resolution (360 dpi), rather than going for simply the highest dpi possible. I have had better experiences in the past using this method of choosing the output size and a smaller resolution, since there is less chance for the scanner to up-res or interpolate resolution. With the Imacon 646, I chose to scan at the highest resolution for my film format, which is 3200 dpi and, for comparison, gives you approximately a 20 x 24" file at 360 dpi. Looking at the 100% crops of the black-and-white image, my first impression is that I’m truly, pleasantly surprised with how well the DSLR’s detail holds up when resolving the finer details of the image. While the flatbed scan looks fairly muddy and none of the grain detail is really resolved, the DSLR was able to pick up some of the acutance of the film and separate similar tones more clearly. However, comparing the DSLR image to the scan from the Imacon is again a pretty dramatic difference, with the Imacon able to fully resolve grain detail to provide a much sharper, clearer appearing image. However, the DSLR certainly is no slouch in making out the minute details. In the end, the Imacon scan offers a lot more room to adjust the image before it degrades, and will hold up better to printing than either the DSLR or flatbed scans, but for Web and portfolio purposes, the DSLR is a definite contender. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Moving to the color image, some more differences between the various tools become more apparent. For one, it is difficult to achieve the same color balance between all three scans, which I feel can only be attributed to the handling of the orange mask, since all images were processed using the same screen. Beginning with the flatbed image again, the colors appear to be the dullest, and it has trouble holding onto detail in the highlights and shadows when trying to add a bit of contrast to the midtones. Conversely, the DSLR image of the negative shows a pretty tremendous dynamic range with detail in the shadows near the wheel, as well as some highlight detail. The Imacon scan loses a bit of detail in the deepest of shadows, but does show an extended range throughout the midtones, compared to the other two. The colors, to my eye, appear truer and the highlight detail is best. In regard to edge detail, the results are the same as the black-and-white scan, with the flatbed not being able to preserve the same edge detail as the DSLR, which is not able to produce the same sharpness as the Imacon. Nikon D800 Imacon Flextight 646 Epson Perfection 4870 Overall, I will admit that I was surprised with how well the DSLR held up when photographing the negatives. The detail was immense, and I feel like it could be pushed even further if you were to adopt a process where you make multiple images of the negative in smaller segments and stitch them together during post production. However, the process I used was very easy and fast, and the results certainly outperformed my flatbed in a number of ways. The two main drawbacks to photographing your negatives, to me, are the difficulty in achieving a truly neutral color balance and the limited ability in making larger prints; once you develop a system to overcome these challenges, or are just working for smaller output applications, a digital camera can certainly be the new unlikely addition to your bag of film tricks. Acknowledgement Written by Bjorn Petersen Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Nikon Lenses - An Explanation of Terms If you're new to Nikon lenses, or perhaps even if you're not, the endless strings of seemingly random letters that Nikon attaches to the end of their lens names can seem confusing. Beyond the basic focal length and aperture designations, there's a lot you can learn from it. Nikon lens naming system can sometimes be rather confusing, because Nikon uses letters and abbreviations to identify different lens components. Knowing what each of those stands for can be valuable, especially during the process of evaluating and purchasing lenses. Since Nikon has been producing lenses for so many years and the technology has significantly changed overtime, some of the older abbreviations are no longer used on modern lenses and those are marked appropriately below. Most new lenses are autofocus, which Nikon thankfully designates as AF. That's an easy one, but when it comes to non-autofocus lenses it rapidly gets more complicated. The earliest manual focus lenses didn't need extra letters to designate them as such since no other kinds yet existed. Today however they are known as non-AI or pre-AI to distinguish them from the later AI lenses. If you have a lens with a funny metal forked prong (known commonly as "ears") sticking out from one side near the bayonet mount, it may well be a non-AI lens. These ears actually mated with a prong on early camera bodies. To tell for sure if it is non-AI, check the outer black rim around the lens mount. If it's continuous and smooth all the way around, you have a non-AI lens. Today, purchasing non-AI lenses is pretty much limited to lens collectors rather than photographers. In fact, such lenses aren't even compatible with current bodies and can in fact cause damage if used. The designation AI stands for auto-indexing. These lenses still have ears for backward compatibility but now have an AI ridge on the edge of the lens mount as described above. This made changing lenses far simpler since the camera and lens mated correctly pretty much on their own. AIS lenses are similar but have a scoop shaped groove machined into the bottom of the lens mount to improve the process. Nikon used to offer a service to modify a non-AI lens to add an AI ridge (referred to as being "AI'd"). There are still a few companies out there who can do this if you are in need - Google is your friend. Around about 1986 Nikon introduced AF lenses that featured a CPU chip built into the lens. Computer components are commonplace today, but this was indeed radical back then. Still, other companies were coming out with AF lenses too so Nikon had to compete. In addition to the mechanical couplings that earlier lenses had, AF lenses included a row of small metal bumps that served as electrical contacts on one side of the lens mount rim. Over the years Nikon has added additional electrical signals and it is quite common for new lenses to have more contacts than are utilized by current bodies so Nikon can build a path to the future. Early AF lenses were designated simply as AF but Nikon later came out with AF-D to pass a distance signal based on how the lens was focused. AF-D was mainly just hype, the signal consisted mainly of just "near" or "far." It wasn't an actual distance measurement in feet or meters or anything. Some macro situations did benefit from the added information though, primarily in terms of flash coverage. Then came AF-S which offered a huge advantage in that the lens contained a motor to focus much more quickly than earlier AF systems that made use of a mechanical linkage to a focusing motor in the body. The "S" stands for "silent wave" and compared to the earlier gear linage system, it was amazing. Quite a few lenses these days are AF-S but when they came out they were revolutionary. Being able to focus that quickly was cool indeed. There were and still are a few AI-P lenses that weren't auto-focus but still had CPUs in them. I currently own the 24 and 45mm macro tilt-shift AI-P. Having a CPU allows them to be compatible with all current Nikon bodies even if you do have to focus them yourself. Don't be confused by the letter "P" in the names of some non-AI lenses which stood for five ("penta"). For a number of years Nikon labeled lenses based on how many elements they contained. "Q" stood for "quadra" (4), "H" for "hexa" (6) and so on. If you are unsure, look for the row of metal bumps on the rim of the mount. These are the main types of lenses Nikon has produced thus far. Additionally, there are quite a few letters that have been used to describe various features. Here are some of the main ones: Nikon Lens Naming Explained Here is a detailed list of all Nikon lens abbreviations: AF – stands for Auto Focus, which means that the lens can automatically focus through the camera. AF-D – Auto Focus with Distance information. Same as AF, except it can report the distance between the subject and the lens and then reports that information to the camera. The distance information can be useful for metering. See “D” acronym below. No longer used on modern lenses. AF-I – Auto Focus with an integrated focus motor. No longer used on modern lenses. AI-P – Manual focus AI lenses with a built-in CPU that transfer data to camera for exposure metering. No longer used on modern lenses. AF-S – Auto Focus with Silent Wave Motor. The AF-S lenses have built-in motors inside the lens, which work great on all cameras without built-in motor such as Nikon D40/D40x, D60, D3x00 and D5x00 series. AI – Indicates “Automatic Indexing”. This abbreviation was used on very old manual focus lenses, so it is no longer used on modern lenses. AI-P – Manual focus AI lenses with a chip to send data to the camera. No longer used on modern lenses AI-S – Manual focus lenses that could be used with cameras that had Program and Shutter Priority camera modes. On AI-S lenses, aperture can be changed directly from the camera. No longer used on modern lenses. ASP – Lens contains at least one aspherical lens element, which is used for correcting coma and other lens aberrations. Sometimes goes by “AS”. CRC – Close Range Correction lenses that are optimized for close focusing distances. D – D-type lenses send camera to subject distance information to the camera. DC – Defocus Control lenses allow controlling the bokeh, which is great for portraits. ED – Extra-low Dispersion glass elements within the lens do not disperse the light as it enters the lens. Most modern top of the line Nikon lenses contain ED glass, which also delivers better sharpness and reduces chromatic aberration or color fringing in photographs. E – The new “E” type lenses feature electronic diaphragm control, similar to what we have previously seen on PC-E lenses (below). These lenses do not have the aperture lever on the back of the lens and are fully electronic, so there is no way to manually adjust the aperture anymore. “E” type lenses are more accurate than “G” type lenses, especially for shooting at high frame rates, because the lens can stop down to a desired aperture without the need to be engaged from the camera motor. FL – Newly introduced in 2013. Indicates that the lens has Fluorite Lens elements, which are optically superior and significantly lighter glass elements. A number of new lenses such as the Nikon 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR, Nikon 600mm f/4E FL ED VR etc now feature fluorite elements. G – If you see a letter “G” after aperture in the lens, for example “Nikon 50mm AF-S f/1.4G”, it means that the lens does not have an aperture ring like the old lenses. All modern Nikon lenses are “G”, because the aperture ring is only needed for old manual focus camera bodies. IF – Internal Focusing allows the lens to quickly focus by moving some of the elements inside the lens barrel, without moving the front barrel or extending in size. Many of the modern Nikon lenses such as Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II are IF lenses. Lenses with IF acquire focus faster than lenses without IF. Micro – Same thing as Macro, which is designated for macro lenses for close-up work. N – The letter “N” stands for Nano Crystal Coat and it is always displayed in a golden sticker on all top of the line Nikon lenses. Nano crystal coating, a high-tech coating used on some newer lenses to cut down on ghosting and flare. This can make a big difference on some lenses when shooting outdoors. Like P, N is also another one of those letters Nikon used in the early days for how many elements a lens had. Back then N stood for "nona" or 9 elements. Times change though, and letters get reused. It is a special type of glass coating that NOCT — Nocturnal. These lenses feature extremely wide maximum aperture and are designed for shooting in very low light. PC-E – Perspective Control with electronic diaphragm. Allows lenses to tilt and shift to create special effects. RF – Rear Focusing. The focusing is done by moving the rear element inside of the lens, which means the rear element moves while focusing. The latest Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lens, for example, is RF. Reflex-Nikkor - Refers to the mirror lens system Nikon used for example: Reflex-Nikkor 2000mm f/11. SIC – Lenses with Super Integrated Coating have better color performance and are generally deal better with ghosting and flare. SWM – Silent Wave Motor allows quiet autofocus with a quick switching between autofocus and manual operation. Overriding autofocus is very simple – you just turn the focus ring, instead of switching to manual mode first like you have to on AF-D lenses. VR – Vibration Reduction allows using lenses hand-held without the need for a tripod in low-light situations. Special motion sensors inside the lens detect hand motion and compensate for the motion by stabilizing the lens in the opposite direction. CX – Nikon has a mirrorless system called “Nikon 1”, with a sensor smaller than DX. Although the CX abbreviation is not included in the lens title, you might see it in descriptions and other marketing material. If a lens title starts with “1 NIKKOR”, it means that the lens is specifically designed for CX camera bodies such as Nikon 1 V1/V2/J1/J2. CX lenses do not work on any other Nikon mounts. DX – If a lens says “DX”, it means that it is specifically designed for APS-C DX camera bodies (see sensor size comparison below) such as Nikon D3000/D5000/D90/D300s. DX lenses do work on FX bodies (they will physically mount), but will operate at only half the resolution. FX – this abbreviation indicates “full-frame”, as in 35mm film equivalent. Abbreviations like FX, DX and CX indicate format size (size of the digital sensor). You will never see FX on descriptions of lenses, because unless indicated otherwise, all lenses are full-frame by default (see DX and CX below). IX - Physically about the same size as the DX digital format, there once was a film system known as APS or "Advanced Photographic System." Far from being advanced today, the system is completely obsolete. IX was Nikon's name for its APS lens line. Nikon also made lenses with the type of IX. These lenses were designed for the Pronea series of cameras, which used the Advanced Photo System format film. They cannot be used on 35mm film or digital bodies, so just ignore them unless you have a Nikon Pronea. Example Let's take a look at the following Nikon lens: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens As you can see from the lens image, it says “AF-S Nikkor 105mm 1:1.4E ED” on the lens, which basically means that it is a fixed Nikon (Nikkor and Nikon are the same thing) 105mm lens with a maximum aperture of 1.4, has built-in auto focus with silent wave motor (AF-S), has an electronic diaphragm control (E) and contains extra-low dispersion glass (ED). The large letter “N” on the side indicates that the lens has Nano Crystal Coat. The Nano Crystal Coat provides an extremely high preventive effect against reflections over a wide wavelength range by reducing the reflection of light. Finally, even Nikon lens hoods have meaningful acronyms; the letters in the name of the hood specifies something about the hood itself: HB - Bayonet mount hood HE - Extension hood for long lenses that already have a hood HK - Slips onto the lens and then locks using a knob HN - Screw mount hood HR - Rubber hood, usually screw mount HS - Snaps onto lens like a lens cap Lens hoods can either be metal, plastic or carbon fibre. If you need to determine what other third party vendor's names are for the same Nikon lens attributes, here are the primary things you need to know: Nikon Sigma Tamron Tokina Lens with motors AF-S or AF-I HSM USD IF-S Lens with stabilization VR or VR II OS VC not applicable Lens for Full Frame Cameras (FX) DG Di (FX) Lens for Cropped Frame Cameras DX DC Di II DX I hope this sheds some light on the subject and helps you make an informative decision on your next Nikon lens, whether you buy locally new or second hand on eBay or Amazon. Acknowledgements Information sourced from various websites and adapted for this blog, including: http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/nikon-lens-letter-codes.html https://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/9919/~/glossary-of-nikkor-lens-terms https://photographylife.com/ Newsletter Please subscribe to my newsletter which will inform you of any new workshops, activities, products and upcoming events. Subscribe
Professional Films vs Consumer Films By Jim McGee In general professional film have more saturated colors and finer grain than consumer film. But photographers are often surprised to learn that many professional films have consumer counterparts that have identical emulsions. The difference in name and price refers to the quality control of how that film is produced and handled before it gets to you. Kodak ColorPlus 200 Professional photographers need to know that a given emulsion will always produce the same results with no surprises. This can be particularly important for catalog and fashion photographers where accurate color reproduction is a must. Film ages. That can lead to subtle differences in shades and grain. Imagine a fashion photographer shooting for a magazine layout. Let's say he shoots fifteen rolls of film with a model in several locations. Now imagine if the model's dress is a different shade of blue from one roll to the next. You'll have an unhappy editor and a very unhappy photographer (because he'll have to re-shoot the layout). Fuji Natura 1600 Film also has a peak where the colors are the most vibrant and accurate. Refrigerating film dramatically slows the aging process and preserves the film at it's peak. Professional film is manufactured to tighter tolerances and is kept refrigerated from the time it is produced until it reaches the photographer. The idea is that by slowing the aging process and manufacturing to tight tolerances you are assured that every roll of brand X pro film will produce results exactly like every other roll of brand X pro film. Fuji Professional Films In reality today's films are much more accurate and temperature tolerant than the films of yore. They also age better with fewer noticeable shifts in color, contrast, and grain. Films like Fuji Superia and Press are identical emulsions. The difference is in the handling. The same is true of some slide films. Kodak Ektachrome 100 ExtraColor and Kodak 100VS for example, are the same emulsion. Whatever film you buy it's a good idea to throw it in the back of the fridge if you won't be using it for a while. This slows the aging process and assures that you'll get the best performance from your film.
Focal Length of 6×6 compared to 35mm Lenses By Ken Williams Yashica Mat TLR How does the focal length of standard lenses for medium format cameras (75mm/80mm) compare with 40mm-58mm on 35mm cameras? When I was younger, I just accepted that the 75mm lens in my Rolleicord was equal to the 50mm lens in my Praktica. This is not so, nor is it clear cut. It depends on how you calculate it. The focal length of a ‘standard’ lens is calculated by measuring the diagonal of the film format. As every schoolboy knows that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. From the diagonal of a film format can be easily calculated. For those who have forgotten: to calculate the diagonal of a 35mm negative use the following formula. (24 x 24) + (36 x 36) and find the square root of the answer. You can compare the focal lengths of 6 x 6 and 35mm by: Leaving the formats as they are. Making the 6 x 6 format the same proportions as 35mm format, Making the 35mm format the same proportions as the 645 format. Let’s look at leaving the formats as they are. 6 x 6 is actually 56 x 56 from which the diagonal is 79.20mm. This means that 80mm is about right or maybe 75mm. But when it comes to 35mm the diagonal measures 43.2666153055mm – So a focal length of 45mm would be closer to the medium format standard lens of 80mm. There are some cameras with a standard lens of 45mm – notably the Contax G series. The popular Rollei 35 series used a 40mm as did the Leica CL and Minolta CLE. But most 35mm cameras used the 50mm.But even this doesn’t work as the 6 x 6 format is really meant to be 645 which is 41.5mm x 56mm, unless of course you take pictures for calendars. I am assuming that Rolleiflexes/cords use a square format, as the right-way-around pentaprism had not been invented when the cameras were introduced . The TLR can be turned on its side to get a vertical format but it is scarcely convenient. From that, you think in 645 terms when taking the picture but can have either vertical or horizontal at the time of printing. So with that in mind, the diagonal of 645 is 69.70mm so a 70mm would be closer to the correct standard lens. Even this is not quite right as the 35mm format has a ratio of 1:1.5 whilst 645 is about 1:1.35. So now you could alter the 645 format to 35mm proportions which works out as 56mm x 37.33mm. The diagonal of which is 67.30mm making the standard lens as 65mm possibly 70mm. Now, for those who like the 35mm format in those proportions then this is a correct comparison. From that you can calculate other focal lengths. Medium Format TO 35mm Format Equivalent (Divide by 67.3 and multiply by 43.26) 40mm 25.71mm 50mm 32.13mm 60mm 38.56mm 75mm 48.20mm 80mm 51.42mm 90mm 57.85mm 120mm 77.13mm 150mm 96.41mm 180mm 115.70mm 250mm 160.69mm 35mm Format TO Medium Format Equivalent (Divide by 43.26 and multiply by 67.3) 21mm 32.67mm 24mm 37.33mm 35mm 54.44mm 40mm 62.22mm 50mm 77.78mm 90mm 140.01mm 135mm 210.02mm 200mm 311.14mm From this you can see that 80mm is roughly equal to a touch over 50mm in 35mm terms, which is probably how the factory arrived at these focal lengths. IF YOU DO IT THAT WAY ! Now, I don’t like the proportions of 35mm. It is OK for landscapes but portraits look odd, as the picture is too tall. On top of that very few sizes of standard B&W printing papers are of the same proportions. None conform to 35mm format with the exception of the enprint size of 6 x 4 recently available for that very purpose. 8 x 10 needs only 30 x 24 as does 16 x 20. I have found that 24mm x 32mm would be better. It is interesting to note that the original Nikon cameras, made just after the war, were this very size. The USA forbade their import as it didn’t suit Kodachrome processing mounts of 24mm x 36mm. It is also interesting to note that 24mm x 32mm conforms to this 4/3rds format frequently mentioned in the photo magazines in relation to digital photography. It is also interesting to note that the 645 format is all but the same ! If you want to be awkward then 42mm x 56mm IS the same proportions rather than 41.5mm x 56mm. So the calculation now alters as the diagonal of a 32mm x 24mm is exactly 40mm. Perhaps that is why the famous Rollei 35 series had a 40mm lens ! Medium Format TO 35mm Format Equivalent (Divide by 69.7 and multiply by 40) 40mm 22.95mm 50mm 28.69mm 60mm 34.43mm 75mm 43.04mm 80mm 45.91mm 90mm 51.64mm 120mm 68.86mm 150mm 86.08mm 180mm 103.29mm 250mm 143.47mm 35mm Format TO Medium Format Equivalent (divide by 40 and multiply by 69.7) 21mm 36.59mm 24mm 41.82mm 28mm 48.79mm 35mm 60.98mm 40mm 68.70mm 50mm 87.12mm 90mm 156.82mm 135mm 235.23mm 200mm 348.50mm So there is not a lot of difference between the two. Making the 645 format the same proportions as 35mm is roughly in agreement with the manufacturers. 50mm being slightly less than 80mm and slightly more than 75mm in medium format terms using the first method. Using the second method which fits the paper better anyway changes the situation making 90mm the equivalent focal length of a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. It is also interesting to note that a 50mm lens is based on a 2” lens which is a hint longer in focal length. The theoretical focal length of a Zeiss (Kyocera/Contax) 50mm f1.7 is actually 51.9mm making 51.64mm even closer to 90mm in medium format terms. It is interesting to note that a 42mm x 56mm format has a diagonal of exactly 70mm so calculating becomes easy to remember and easy to do. So it is up to you whichever format suits you best as to which are the correct equivalent focal lengths.
Sporting Event - Ice Hockey Grand West Casino Welcome to one of the fastest team sports on Earth! I had never been to an Ice Hockey event in my life before, and decide to look up some information on Ice Hockey on Google. I had no idea that we as South-Africans even played Ice Hockey, as it is most commonly associated with North America and Canada, as well as Europe and Russia. I was very surprised to learn that South Africa has a team that competes internationally! The U/18 team's mascot is the white rhino called Rocket. They played against New Zealand and Hong Kong in Division III Group B in Cape Town in Feb 2016. MEET THE U/18 SOUTH AFRICAN TEAM Image from http://www.iihfworldchamps.capetown/ website Here is the link the Facebook page for this years event and their website. History of South-African Ice Hockey The South African National Team was created as the South African Ice Hockey Association gained its International Ice Hockey Federation membership on February 25 1937. Despite this early admission, it took almost 25 years before a South African squad took part in the World Championships. The team made its debuts at the 1961 World Championship on March 3rd 1961, as they were beaten 12-3 by the Yugoslav National Team. The South Africans finished 5th in the Group C, and 19th overall in the world. The team was absent from competition for five years before returning for the 1966 World Championship, where they once again finished 19th in the world, and this time, third in the Group C. South Africa would then pull out from competition until 1992, where they returned with a senior squad. Since 1992, South Africa has sent a contesting team every year in at least one of the three annual Men's World Championships competitions, and failed only twice, 1996 and 1997, to take part in the senior World Championship. South Africa has, so far, been able to earn promotion to a higher division of play on two distinct occasions. They first accessed Division II via promotion in 2006 after finishing second in the 2005 World Championship Division III. The journey in Division II lasted a single year, with the South Africans losing all five games and finishing sixth and last in the group stage. The second time the national team had a shot at Division II play was in 2009, following another second place finish at the 2008 World Championship Division III. There again, the adventure at the upper level only lasted one tournament before the team was back in Division III. The Ice Hockey Teams There are 3 provincial regions with their various teams belonging to the various associations: Western Province - Western Province Ice Hockey Association Gauteng - Gauteng Ice Hockey Association Kwa-Zulu Natal - Kwa-Zulu Natal Ice Hockey Association Western Province Under the Western Province banner there are 3 teams. These teams are listed below with details about their age divisions, players and features: Cape Town Penguins TEAM PHOTO The Penguins are a local hockey team made up of players from Cape Town. They have 3 teams that take part in the divisions ranging from peewee - U/20 / intermediate - premier league. The Premier League Penguins are majority an U/20 team with the mentoring and guidance of WPIHA coaches Marc Giot and Chris Reeves. This team is made up of various Western Province & South African U/18 and U/20 players that have represented their province or country recently. New up and comers are introduced to this team as development players and are mentored by various of the more skilled and veteran players. The two coaches lead their respective roles (forward and defence) and this setup seems to be working well for the development of hockey athletes in Cape Town. Click here to follow them on Facebook. Cape Storm The Storm team hosts teams in the 3 divisions (peewee - U/20 / intermediate - premier league) and is lead by coaches Deen Magmoed and Klyde Stevens. Their Premier League team is made up of the senior players in Cape Town along with some internationals (Namibia, Russia, Canada, etc) and this team is lead by Deen Magmoed. Deen is a very accomplished player, plays on the National Team and is well respected by all the players and leads by his actions on the ice. This team offers a dynamic style of play and great work ethic, they play solid hockey and are a pleasure to watch. Click here to follow them on Facebook. Griffin Ladies TEAM PHOTO The Griffins are a ladies only team that was instigated early 2013 by Sandy McClurg, former goaltender, now defenceman. The Griffins take great pride in recruiting young and keen female athletes to join their team and learn the great game of ice hockey. This team hosts players from the ladies national team and they take part in the U/20 league, playing against the U/20 Penguins and U/20 Storm teams. Although they are still very much in a development stage, they are competitive in their league games. WPIHA is hosting at the Grand West Casino Complex and Entertainment World situated at 1 Vanguard Drive, Goodwood - Cape Town, home of the Old Goodwood Showgrounds. The arena is a state of the art Olympic-sized hockey rink (60m x 30m) furnished with 3 zambonis, skate sharpening facilities, hockey shop, rental skates, public sessions, figure skating, 1050 heat air conditioned seating... The arena has hosted various international competitions and shows such as Disney on Ice & IIHF World Championships. Click here to see their Facebook page. Gauteng GIHA hosts ice hockey at various rinks all over Gauteng, with multiple teams playing from the various rinks. The ice rinks are located in shopping malls and this creates great interest from the masses of traffic that are able to watch the ice and activities while shopping and walking by; these being Festival Mall - The Ice Rink (Kempton Park) and Grove Mall - The Ice Rink (Pretoria). The Gauteng Province consists of 11 teams: Ducks Forest Knights Forest Rats Grizzlies Ice Hawks Johannesburg Scorpions Pretoria Capitals Sabres Vipers Warriors Wild cats Ducks Ice Hockey Club The Ducks form part of ‘The Ice Hockey Initiative’ non-profit organization, but compete in the Gauteng provincial league. D.I.H.C is a new and exciting Ice Hockey Club based at Festival Mall in Kempton Park. The club offers coaching for players from Junior to Senior level. Founded by Farrell Foy and Andrew Rundle, Ducks Ice Hockey Club promises to offer the best coaching possible, create an environment for players to have fun but become skillful at the same time. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Forest Knights Ice Hockey Club The Forest Knights Ice Hockey Club resides at the Forest Hill Ice rink, Centurion, South Africa. The ice hockey club is a development club with members ranging from 4 years to 54 years. The Forest Knights Ice Hockey club practices are on Thursday nights from 17:15 to 19:15 at Forest Hill Ice Rink. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Forest Rats Ice Hockey Club The Forest Rats Ice Hockey Club are a fun, family oriented Ice Hockey Club, they play at Forest Hill Ice Rink. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Grizzlies Ice Hockey Club The Grizzlies were previously known as the Northgate Hockey Academy Sweepers and have their home at the Northgate Shopping Centre Ice Rink. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Ice Hawks Ice Hockey Club The Pretoria Ice Hawks Hockey Club is a family of Ice Hockey Players who enjoys the sport of Ice Hockey and wants to share their passion with others by developing new players to formally and informally participate in this exciting sport. Club membership is open to players of any age and any level of expertise. Training will depend on the skill level of the student and can include skating training, Learn To Play training and advanced training. They are affiliated to the Gauteng Ice Hockey Association (GIHA), South African Ice Hockey Association (SAIHA). Their home is the Grove Ice Arena. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Johannesburg Scorpions Ice Hockey Club The Scorpions are one of the older surviving clubs in Gauteng, which was formed out of the Cr0ws, Can-Am and Blades clubs of the Carlton Sky Rink. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Pretoria Capitals Ice Hockey Club Pretoria Capitals Ice Hockey club was founded in January of 2013. A large number of our players trained at the Kolonnade Ice Rink in Pretoria for another club. Unfortunately the ice was literary pulled out from under our skates with the announcement that the rink would be closing end January 2013. The nearest ice rinks would now be Forest Hill and Kempton Park. We can also now announce the opening of the new ice rink at the Grove Shopping Centre, home of the Pretoria Capitals Ice Hockey Club. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Sabres Ice Hockey Club Sabres practices on a Tuesday at Festival Mall in Kempton Park. 1st Hour – U/14, U/16 and Development 06:15 pm – 07:15 pm. 2nd Hour – U/18 and 2nd Division 07:15 pm – 08:15 pm. 3rd Hour – 1st Division and PHL 08:15 pm – 09:15 pm. All ages welcome Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Vipers Ice Hockey Club The Vipers IHC has now been running for two years, a family affair that keeps old and young entertained. We are based at Festival Mall Ice Arena, Practice times are on Sundays from: 07h45 to 08h45am Snr and Jnr combined 08h45 to 09h45 Snr only Game times will be advised to members via Whatsapp, BBM, sms or e-mail. Looking forward to continued growth from our Junior teams with the fantastic management and coaching team. They are affiliated to South African Ice Hockey Association, Gauteng Ice Hockey Association, IIHF, SASCOC. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Warriors Ice Hockey Club Previously known as the Pretoria North Stars. Our coaches are the best and have been involved the sport for several years and know what they are speaking about. Our head coach Alan has been involved with the sport for almost 40 years and has coached all levels including provincials and nationals. We cater for all ages boys and girls: U/12 U/14 U/16 U/18 Ladies Seniors Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. Wildcats Ice Hockey Club Originally formed at the Krugersdorp Ice Rink. Kwa-Zulu Natal The KZN Province consists of 2 teams: Southern Storm Ice Hockey Club DurbaKnights Ice Hockey Club KZNIHA hosts 2 small scale ice rinks in malls across Durban. They are currently getting a full-sized rink. Southern Storm Ice Hockey Club Southern Storm Ice Hockey Club was founded on January 12th 2012 at the Galleria Ice Rink. The Southern Storm Ice Hockey Club is a close knit family of athletes, who love the sport of ice hockey and grow as individuals in an environment of positivity, enthusiasm and fun. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. DurbaKnights Ice Hockey Club DURBAKNIGHTS© is a registered ice-hockey club operating since 2012 at the Durban Ice Rink. DURBAKNIGHTS© is a registered member of KZNIHA and SAIHA and has been the ONLY ice hockey club in KZN that has consistently maintained it's affiliation to both KZNIHA and SAIHA. Click here to see their Facebook page. Their website can be found here. The Ice Ice hockey is both a non (juniors) and contact (seniors) team sport played on an ice rink, in which two teams of 6 skaters each use their sticks to shoot a vulcanized rubber puck into their opponent's net to score points. Ice hockey teams usually consist of four lines of three forwards, three pairs of defencemen, and two goaltenders. Each team has five players who skate up and down the ice trying to take the puck and score a goal against the opposing team. Teams have a goaltender as their sixth on-ice player, whose job is to prevent the puck from entering the goal. A fast-paced physical sport (leading to the nickname "The Fastest Game on Earth"), ice hockey is most popular in areas of Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is the formal governing body for international ice hockey. The IIHF manages international tournaments and maintains the IIHF World Ranking. Worldwide, there are ice hockey federations in 73 countries that includes South Africa. The Shoot This was a fantastic evening for me to have been able to shoot this event, it is technically challenging from a photographic perspective. Although magazine images portray the arena as being brightly lit, they actually have poor lighting. One needs to shoot with fast lenses, ie f/2.8 using either a 14mm, 16mm, 14-24mm, 70-200mm, 300mm or a 400mm lens, depending on where you are positioned. If you are positioned behind the glass, black is a must as your reflection will be greatly reduced. The ISO needs to be in the range of 1600-3200, and you need to shoot in manual mode as well. Don't worry about noise, most pro camera bodies deal very well with it these days. Flash is not recommended from behind the glass, as it will bounce back a horrible glare. If at all possible, clean the glass on both sides where you will be shooting from, to remove marks and scuffs. This obviously will reduced post editing work or throw away shots and autofocus issues whilst shooting. Depending on the arena, one can use remote speedlights, with radio transmitters and receivers on either a 3 or 4 point holder (like Foursquare or McNally), mounted in strategic positions on the catwalks near the roof top lighting. It would necessary to come early to set this up, more so if it is a provincial or an international game. This allows one to shoot in high speed sync mode and to freeze the puck or any other action at high speeds, and not being limited to 1/250 or 1/320 sec, depending on your camera model. It is highly recommended to not only secure your flash units to the mounts, but also a steal wire safety line attachment to say a carabiner and the mount, which should be secured to the mounting beam of the catwalk. Considering the current price of my Nikon SB-910 units, I seriously don't want them falling from the rooftop getting destroyed or injuring players! The Photos Cape Storms vs Cape Town Penguins Ice Hockey, Grand West Ice Station, Cape Town, South-Africa I thoroughly enjoyed this experience! The lighting in the arena was quite challenging, yet I was still able to produce amazing images, and some unique angles too. Taking shots from within the goal box was quite something, that puck travels at quite a speed! Being my first ice hockey event, you dont realise just how quick time flies in a game, more so when you having fun whilst working! Information sourced from www.iskate.co.za and team respective websites and team Facebook pages. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.
The Wonderful World Of Rolleiflex TLR Photography: Loading Film By Dan Wagner For many photographers, one of the most daunting tasks is loading a Rolleiflex TLR camera. While not very difficult, when approached haphazardly, one can feel a bit like the proverbial one-armed wallpaper hanger. Photos by John R. Harris My method is to simply turn the camera upside down while it’s still hanging from its neck strap, open the rear door so it falls away from me, and begin the loading process. The advantage of this approach is that it may be employed while walking, without the need to set the camera on a flat surface. If there’s an exposed roll of film in the camera, I use one hand to prevent the film from unrolling, and my other hand to pull out the spring-loaded spool release. I then remove the roll, lick the adhesive-backed band to seal the roll tight, and secure the roll in my camera bag. Although the sealed roll is light-tight, one must still take precautions because the only thing preventing light from reaching the top and bottom edges of the film are the overhanging plastic ends of the spool and the slight overlap of the paper wrapped around the film. That’s why always keeping the roll tight is so important. Preparing to Load a Rolleiflex TLR In a Rolleiflex TLR, 120 film, also referred to as 2¼-film, provides 12 square-format exposures. 220 film is roughly twice as long as 120 film and doubles the number of exposures to 24. Unless your camera is equipped with a 12/24 switch, it will only accept 120 film. Furthermore, owing to the digital age, most manufacturers have discontinued making 220. Additionally, if you process your own film, you would need 220-size reels, as well. Rolls of film are manufactured with a length of film and lightproof paper sandwiched around a plastic spool. The leading edge of the film is taped to the lightproof paper. The inside of the paper is black to prevent light from reaching the film, and also to prevent any light inside the camera from potentially fogging the film during exposure. Numbers are printed on the outside of the paper for use with cameras that feature a round window covered with a dark red filter. With these types of cameras, users look through the window and advance the film until they see the number corresponding to the next exposure. Fortunately, later model Rolleiflex cameras have a sensor underneath the first film roller to automatically signal the transport mechanism when film passes over it. After the film is advanced to the first frame with the crank on the right side of the camera, the counter will display the number 1, and the crank will no longer rotate forward. With the film advanced to 1, the crank is wound one revolution backward to cock the shutter. The process is to shoot, then wind forward to the next exposure, and wind backward to cock the shutter. Rolleiflex transport mechanisms have a little play; so don’t worry if the spacing between the exposures on your negatives is slightly uneven. How to Load a Rolleiflex TLR Before the film can be advanced to the first frame, it has to be carefully loaded. When loading a Rolleiflex camera, one needs both a fresh roll of film and an empty film spool. Unlike a 35mm roll of film that is rewound back into its canister, a 120 roll of film is wound forward from the full roll onto the empty take-up spool. So, with the camera suspended upside down and the exposed roll of film removed: 1. Move the empty spool to the take-up chamber where the exposed roll of film recently resided. Once this is done, remove the paper band securing your new roll of unexposed film. Be sure to grasp the roll firmly so it doesn’t unroll or loosen. The paper band must be removed entirely, or leftover pieces may find their way on the inner side of the lens or film surface and result in ruined shots. 2. Insert the roll into the empty film chamber. This chamber will have a silver piece of curved metal, referred to as the brake. The brake helps maintain even pressure on the film as it unrolls. Take the paper film leader and slip it under the first metal roller and insert the tip into the slot in the empty take-up spool. Throughout this process, use a finger to maintain tension on the roll of film so it doesn’t loosen. The first metal roller is the only roller that the film goes under. And as mentioned previously, this is the roller that has the film-sensing mechanism beneath it. 3. With the tip of the paper leader in the take-up spool, wind the crank slowly forward. The goal is to make sure the leader doesn’t slip out. Should it slip out, simply repeat the process. It’s only necessary to get a single revolution on the take-up spool. 4. Once this is achieved, close the film door and lock it shut with the sliding mechanism. 5. Use the crank to advance to the first frame, take one reverse crank to cock the shutter, and you’re ready to shoot. The term “cock the shutter” refers to tensioning the shutter’s spring mechanism so it’s ready to release and open when you trip the shutter. Some photographers may wonder whether or not it’s okay to leave the shutter cocked and under tension for long periods of time. While on some cameras this may not be recommended, I have not found it to be a problem with Rolleiflex TLRs. You can even change the shutter speed with no ill effect. Underneath the shutter release is a sliding lock to prevent the shutter from tripping if you inadvertently bump it. The downside is that one may forget they locked the shutter and wind up missing shots. This happens to me several times per month. As some photographers may take days, weeks, or even longer to finish a roll of film, it’s a good idea to set the film speed on the dial on the lower left side of the camera as a reminder. This has the added benefit of communicating the film speed to the coupled exposure meter. The film speed dial reads ASA instead of ISO because at the time the camera was manufactured, film speeds conformed to the American Standards Association and not the International Organization for Standardization. No matter—although the name changed, the numerical setting remains the same. To help remember what type of film is loaded, many photographers tape the film band or packaging, which has the film type written on it, to the camera. Selecting a Type of Film This brings us to choice of film. Rolleiflex TLRs render both color and black-and-white quite well, so it’s really a matter of personal preference and practical considerations. Personally, I like shooting Kodak T-Max 400 or Tri-X 400 and developing in T-Max developer. And for color, which I seldom shoot, I use Kodak Portra 400. I shoot mostly black-and-white because one of my goals is to build a body of work with an aesthetic consistency. The reason I shoot primarily 400-speed film is that it helps me get a usable negative at 1/30-second and f/2.8 in many low–light situations. It also gives me 1/125-second at f/8.0 in shade or overcast light. In sunny scenes with black-and-white, I use a 1.5 yellow filter (darkens the sky), for an exposure of 1/250-second at f/11.5, and with color I use a 2.0 neutral density filter at 1/250 and f/11.0. The great thing about a Rolleiflex TLR is that, at distances of 10 feet or closer, one can use smaller apertures such as f/11.5 and still achieve pleasing out-of-focus areas and subject-background separation. By using the same film speed, knowing the correct exposure is easier. With only 12 shots on a roll of 120, photographers are forced to not only economize, but to pre-edit by deciding if a shot is even worth taking. Before shooting an event, such as a race or wedding that can’t be repeated, it’s important to take note of how many shots are left on a roll. If the roll is almost finished, then a photographer needs to decide whether or not to blow through the remaining frames in order to have a fresh roll loaded for when the action begins. Film management and loading can be made more efficient by: • Saving time by removing foil film wrappers in advance. • Remembering to completely remove the paper band when loading a fresh roll of film, lest part of it becomes lodged between the lens and film and interferes with light reaching the film. • Keeping a bendable drinking straw in your camera bag in case part of the adhesive paper strip at the end of a roll breaks off and gets stuck behind the film pressure plate. Blowing through the straw will make it possible to retrieve the paper. • For fast and convenient film loading, the easiest method is to turn the camera upside down while it hangs from the neck strap; open the rear door away from one’s body; remove the exposed film; move the empty spool to the take-up side; and then reload. • Worth noting is that when using an Ever-Ready case, the neck strap is disconnected from the camera and attached to metal strap lugs on the case. The downside to this is that when removing the camera from the case, it won’t have the added security of being attached to a strap. “The Wonderful World of Rolleiflex TLR Photography” is a three-part series. Please click here for “Part I: Buying a Used Rolleiflex TLR” and “Part 3: Street Photography "
Scanning and Editing Color Negative Film By Alex Burke A lot of people have come to me over the various online photo sharing sites - especially flickr - asking me how I get the colors the way I do on my scanning and editing colour negative film. People have been most curious about my color negative film shots, particularly the ones taken on Kodak Ektar film. For an overview of the various film types I use, see my blog post here. I've been wanting to do this for a long time to help everyone out and here it finally is! There will be a lot of photos and a lot of text, and if everything goes right I will help a few people out. At the very end I will have a Photoshop file with all the layers for you to play around with and learn! Disclaimer: This is not necessarily the right or only way to do anything, this is just an outline of the general workflow I use. The photograph - This image was taken in rural Pennsylvania last month about an hour after sunrise. The light filtering through the trees was still very warm and pleasant, and there was a hint of haze in the air making for a wonderful sense of atmosphere. The leaves had just sprouted on the trees and were very green in person. I planned on cropping the image to a panorama while framing it, but I don't crop an image until the very last step. All of these things are important to keep in mind as you scan and edit the film. The image was shot on Kodak Ektar 4x5" film, and the exposure was 1 second at f32. The film was developed at home with a C-41 press kit. Scanning - First off, I want to say that scanners don't really seem to care how your film looks. They don't know where you were, what you were photographing, or what your vision is. They just want to turn that sheet of film into data and they do it well enough. For those of you who don't know, I photograph primarily with a large format 4x5 inch camera that produces wonderfully large negatives with incredible detail. The film records all the details and rich colors, but it's up to us to pull those colors back out of the image after it is scanned. Epson Scan with no color corrections I use an Epson V700 flatbed scanner for all of my scans. Of course it is not as good as a high-end drum scanner, but it is a fairly popular home-use scanner among large format photographers and great results can be had from it. I start by using the Epson Scan software that comes with the scanner in "professional mode," which just means that you have more access to features and color correction options while scanning. I make a preview scan with the film type set to "Color Negative Film." You will end up with some very cyan colored rough scans. This is more or less just an inverse view of the orange-brown colored sheet of film. Not very pretty to look at. I click the "Configuration" box (marked above with the red arrow) and then go to the color tab and click on the "Continuous Auto Exposure" checkbox, set the slider to low (see image below) and click "OK". All I want at this point is to get the image looking a little more color-correct without the scanner messing up my image by stealing precious details. Epson Scan with auto color correct Unfortunately, even with the slider set to low, it still manages to clip some of the highlights and shadows. I still use the auto exposure feature because it typically does a good job of getting the colors somewhat right. Now we need to bring back those details that Epson Scan wants to take from us. Click on the levels adjustment button on the left of the screen (see below). Epson Scan Levels Adjustment Now you'll see the histogram and will be able to tell where Epson Scan has clipped the shadows and highlights. We're going to want to make some adjustments to this to make sure we aren't missing any details in the shot. A small adjustment goes a long way (see image below). As a warning, the histogram displayed in Epson Scan does not seem very accurate, and you may decide to not move the right marker all the way to the edge of the graph. If you do, the image will become incredibly dark, and the software will quite often really mess up the colors. For this reason I leave it a little bit away from the edge but the highlights are still safe and not blown out. I move the shadows marker quite a ways past the end of the histogram, I want to be able to set the black point later on. See the image below to get an idea of the adjustments I made on this image. Epson Scan Levels Before and After This image had fairly accurate colors so I didn't mess with them in Epson Scan, but if you need to you can select the various color channels and move them around a bit. Quite often, Epson Scan will add a lot of red to the image when you mess around with the levels adjustment. This can be fixed by sliding the right slider in the red channel just a couple of numbers to the right. No need to get anything perfect yet, we'll save that for Photoshop when we can see the image in full size. Right now we just want a flat, low contrast image with all the highlights and shadows still intact. Go ahead and scan as a *.tiff file. Editing - Now comes the part where we make the image look the way we want. You need to picture the scene as it was and remember how you wanted it to look. With color negative film, there really is no "correct" color. If you were to make an exact inversion of the film it would just be a cyan colored mess. You need to choose the way you want the colors to look, just as someone would when making traditional darkroom prints. A few years ago, I borrowed a digital camera from someone and really enjoyed the easy adjustments that Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) has to offer, especially for simple global color correction. It got me to start opening up my scans in ACR by going to file>open as and selecting "Camera Raw" from the drop down list and then opening the tiff file. If you have Lightroom, it's probably a much better program than ACR. I just use ACR because it's what I have. Use whichever you prefer here. Adobe Camera Raw Before and After There isn't really much rocket science to what I do in ACR. I use the tint and color sliders to help get the colors close. The scene as I remember it was very warm and there was no need to have any blue in the road, so I moved the slider towards the warmer colors and the tint slightly towards the green. Other very handy features in ACR are the "recovery" slider to help with overly bright highlights, "fill light" to bring up the shadows, and the "Graduated filter" button up top. The graduated filter lets you easily adjust parts of an image that need extra contrast, more exposure, or maybe have a slight color cast. Play around with every button in this program. I also use the "vignette" slider in the lens correction tab to help get rid of the the vignette that happens on most wide large format lenses. This image was taken with a longer lens so it didn't really need it. As you can see above, the image is still not very contrasty and I haven't adjusted the saturation at all. Now it's time to open the image into Photoshop and make the final adjustments. Photoshop - The very first thing I do in Photoshop is make a copy of the background layer. I use this layer to remove any dust and scratches using the healing brush tool. After that is done, I move onto luminosity masks. You may or may not be familiar with luminosity masks, but they are a very handy feature in Photoshop. I will only explain them briefly for now, there are many other resources on the internet that can explain them in greater detail for you. Please let me know if I lose you here, I'd be glad to re-word or explain things for you. Luminosity Masks - an important tool for editing Luminosity Masks - By pressing Ctrl+Alt+2, Photoshop will create a selection similar to what you see above. Pixels will be selected based on their brightness, with a pure white pixel being selected 100% and a pure black pixel not being selected at all. Everything in between is selected proportionally based on its brightness. Once you have this selection, I like to start by making a curves layer with it by going to Layer>New adjustment Layer>Curves on the top menu. Now you have a curves layer that will mostly just adjust the highlights in the image. I then Ctrl+Click on the curves Layer to get the same selection again and inverse the selection by going to Select>Inverse on the menu at the top. I then make another curves layer just as I did before with this selection, only now it will mostly adjust the shadows. When you Alt+Click on the image for this new layer, you will see something that looks like the image above-right. This is more or less a black-and-white negative of your image, where any curves adjustment you make will affect white areas the most and black areas the least. Red channel curves adjustment made to the shadows I find that a curves layer that adjusts the shadows is a great way to remove some of the unwanted shadow color casts that film scans tend to have. Ektar likes to have too much red in the shadows, while some of the slide films like Provia will quite often have way too much blue. This has been one of the main keys to getting the colors right on my scans. Once you get the hang of these selections, there are all sorts of things you can do with them. You can use the brush tool to cover part of the mask with black, or use a white brush to increase the area that will be affected by the adjustment layer. You can do a whole lot more that just curves adjustments, using the masks to apply contrast, levels, saturation, vibrance or whatever to a specific part of the image. I you want a particular patch of trees to be brighter, just mask it off and make your adjustment. Really feel free to bring the image back to the way you wanted it to look when you took the photo. Hue/Saturation Layer - I have found this to be a necessary adjustment for color negative films. This image didn't need it very badly because it didn't contain and blue sky but I have found that I typically need to remove a significant amount of cyan from skies to make them look natural. Color negative film really seems to have an excess of cyan, and to be honest it's not my favorite color. I will likely make another tutorial just about this with a different image just to show you what I'm talking about. It's not uncommon for me to adjust the cyan slightly towards blue with the hue slider, and then desaturate it as much as -50. For now, just go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation and play around with it. It is really easy to go over the top with saturation so I like to keep it subtle. Sometimes I will walk away from the screen and come back later to let my eyes re-adjust. Here's the final image! Pennsylvania County Road For now, I think I will turn you all loose with the Photoshop file that has all the layers in it so you can see exactly what I did. It might be the easiest way to illustrate my workflow. If you have any questions about what I did, feel free to ask me in the comments and I'll try to explain or add it to the tutorial. Click the button below to get the .psd file. Download Photoshop File Thanks for looking, I hope this helps some of you out there! Used with kind permission, check out Alex's website, click here. Since the time of writing, Adobe has updated Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, the sliders in ADC have changed.
The Wonderful World of Rolleiflex TLR Photography: Buying a Used Rolleiflex TLR By Dan Wagner What makes a Rolleiflex TLR so special? Many things. To start, TLR stands for twin lens reflex. “Twin” because there are two lenses. And reflex means that the photographer looks through the lens to view the reflected image of an object or scene on the focusing screen. Photographers also look through SLRs, or single lens reflex cameras. One of the differences between the two is that the SLR is held at eye level, and the TLR is held at chest level while the photographer looks through a “waist-level” finder. Another difference is that most SLRs are oriented a horizontal format and must be rotated to shoot vertically. TLRs, however, are 6 x 6 cm square format cameras, so if a photographer wants a horizontal or vertical photo, they will shoot square and crop later. Since a 6 x 6 cm square is roughly three times larger than a 35mm film image, little is lost in terms of detail from cropping. That withstanding, most people are drawn to TLRs because they love shooting with a square format camera, and find it fun. Photos by Dan Wagner Rolleiflex TLRs Are Fun and Peculiar The advantages of shooting from the waist, or more accurately, the solar plexus, is that people will look more “heroic” as the horizon line and related background areas behind a subject will be shifted higher. And for seasoned photographers, shooting from a new perspective can be liberating and inspiring. Besides being fun to use, watching someone shoot with a Rolleiflex TLR for the first time is comical, as the mirror reverses the viewfinder image from left to right, frequently causing the photographer to point the camera the wrong way. This is because when one moves the camera to the right or left, the subject seems to move in the opposite direction. It’s also difficult, at first, to hold the camera level. Fortunately, with a little practice, both of these issues are easily overcome.In the case of a Rolleiflex TLR, you look through the upper or “viewing” lens. The lower lens, which is referred to as the “taking” lens, is situated in front of the film plane, and is the lens that captures the image. Inside this lens are the shutter and aperture blades. Unlike an SLR camera, the TLR has a stationary mirror, not a moving one. The absence of a moving mirror has the advantage of lower vibration for slower handheld shooting and a viewfinder that doesn’t go dark during the moment of exposure. By allowing the photographer to view a subject the instant the image is recorded, the photographer will know if the desired image has been captured. It’s also quieter than the sound of an SLR firing.Rolleiflex TLR Cameras Are Built SolidlyA major appeal of Rolleiflex TLR cameras is that they are so well made. Constructed primarily of metal and glass and covered with a luxurious leather skin, Rolleiflex cameras are solid, and feel good in the hands. The precise manner in which parts fit together speaks to exacting craftsmanship. And it’s this manufacturing skill that makes a 50-year-old Rolleiflex feel relevant and demand to be picked up, appreciated, and used. The worst fate for any camera, let alone a Rolleiflex, is to become a dusty shelf queen. One example of how well-designed these cameras are would be the fit of the removable film door. On vintage cameras manufactured to less demanding tolerances, black foam inserts were used to keep film doors light-tight. But on Rolleiflexes, the film door fits so precisely that there is no need for foam liners—the metal-on-metal fabrication alone assures that the door remains light-tight.Purchasing A Used Rolleiflex TLRThere are numerous concerns and things to look for when buying a used Rolleiflex TLR. Because the first Rolleiflex was introduced in 1929, and the popular 2.8f and 3.5f models were made more than 50 years ago, finding one in pristine condition can be difficult. The most important consideration is the condition of the lenses, especially the lower taking lens. Scratches, which some sellers will describe as cleaning marks, fungus, excessive interior dust particles sometimes described as haze, and balsam separation of lens elements from aging cement, are the main problems to look for.Other factors, while not necessarily deal breakers, are also important. These factors include the presence of oil on the aperture blades, transport mechanism gearing problems, alignment of metal bellows, shutter speed accuracy, and more. Odds are that the camera you purchase will need a cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment (CLA). The main reason for this is that most cameras, especially vintage cameras such as the Rolleiflex TLR, were engineered with the expectation that they would be serviced at regular intervals. In addition, lubricating oils were never meant to last a lifetime, and over time will become sticky and impede camera functions. Simply leaving a camera in a hot car for too long can break down the lubricants and cause problems. Therefore, buyers should be prepared to spend an additional $300 or more to have their newly purchased camera serviced. Photography-related sites with for sale/wanted forums, eBay, and camera shops with used departments, such as the Used Department at B&H, are good places to find your Rolleiflex.When buying a Rolleiflex TLR: Always weigh seller representations such as “the shutter sounds good at all speeds,” “the lenses have a few minor cleaning marks, dust, haze, separation—but they have no effect on image quality,” “my friend’s a photographer and says the camera works great,” and “I don’t know anything about cameras, but this one is nice,” with trepidation. Seller representations that inspire confidence are, “I will supply paperwork for CLA performed on specific date,” “please e-mail for larger photos with additional details,” and “returns may be made within 14 days.” If possible, run a test roll of Tri-X or other 120 film through the camera to check the transport mechanism. All else being equal, a camera that comes with a neck strap, case, hood, and other accessories is preferable to one that doesn’t. A neck strap, case, hood and a few filters can easily add up to an additional expenditure of $300 or more. Exercising a shutter at different speeds can, in some cases, help distribute lubrication where it’s needed and result in more accurate shutter speeds. And exercising the shutter from time to time between rolls, while a good practice, is only a temporary fix for a camera in need of a CLA. Properly functioning Rolleiflex 2.8f cameras generally sell for between $900 and $1,500, with finer examples commanding a premium. 3.5f models can run about $200 less. Both lenses come in single-coated Planar and Xenotar versions and produce sharp photos with beautiful rendering. Models referred to as “white face” have serial numbers printed on the silver metal bordering the lenses to the right of the taking lens. Because white face cameras represent the final f-model run, and are 10 years or so newer, they go for the highest prices, which often exceed $2,500. When deciding between a 2.8f versus 3.5f and white face versus non-white face camera, always let the camera’s condition be the deciding factor. Telltales to how a camera was treated may be revealed by wear to the leather panels on the camera, wear to the leather case, missing paint, dents, and worst of all, damage to the optics.Servicing A Rolleiflex TLRWhen considering where to have your Rolleiflex serviced, be sure to examine the repairman’s reputation. Fortunately, there are superb Rolleiflex repairmen, such as Harry Fleenor, in California, and Krikor Maralian, whose service is called Krimar, in New Jersey, both of whom have websites describing their services. Best of all, Fleenor and Krimar were factory trained by Rolleiflex, have a half-century of experience, use specially machined repair tools and maintain an inventory of original replacement parts.When having a CLA performed on a Rolleiflex, it’s a good time to install a brighter focusing screen. Harry Fleenor offers this service, and while it’s easy to install a focus screen, Fleenor will check and adjust the focus to accommodate any variances introduced by the new screen and align focusing mechanisms to factory tolerances. This is important for wide-open shooting, where depth of focus is at a minimum and fractions of an inch can make or break critical focus. Another optional service is camera leather replacement. Companies such as Aki-Asahi.com and cameraleather.com sell easy-to-install leather for Rolleiflex TLRs and other cameras. And the new leather will improve both the grip and cosmetics. Finally, if a seller claims that their Rolleiflex TLR had a CLA, there should always be a sticker with the repairman’s name in one of the film spool chambers.Viewfinder ChoicesThe Rolleiflex 2.8f, 3.5f, and some later 2.8e and 3.5e models have removable viewfinders. This offers the option of shooting with a chimney finder, which is hard to come by unless one is using a Baier adapter with a Hasselblad or other third-party chimney. If opting for a Baier finder, one will probably need a diopter for the finder they select. Baier’s website offers info on this. Best of all, the Baier adapter cosmetically matches the Rolleiflex aesthetic. By the way, some Hasselblad or Kiev finders have cold shoes for mounting a small flash, or even an exposure meter or other shoe-mounted accessory.Other finders are available, such as 90-degree or 45-degree eye-level pentaprism, which are heavy but allow photographers to view subjects without the image appearing reversed horizontally. However, make sure that any vintage finder with a prism is free of balsam separation. And if there’s an eyecup, most likely the rubber will be deteriorating.Another advantage of Rolleiflexes with removable finders is the ability to clean the mirror behind the viewing lens easily and quickly replace the focusing screen with a brighter one for improved focusing, especially under low-light conditions. Also indispensible for critical focusing is the flip-up magnifier located on the underside of a waist-level finder’s lid. Other options include: Magnifiers with diopter correction for photographers who wear glasses. Many chimney finders have adjustable eyepieces for easier focusing, as well. Brighter focusing screens, which generally cost more than two hundred dollars, are easily scratched, and should be handled only by the edges. Focusing screens are available with or without grid lines, with a horizontal or diagonal split-image center rangefinder, or plain. Because one of the beauties of focusing with a Fresnel lens is watching the image “pop” into focus, and because a central rangefinder can be distracting, many photographers opt for a plain focusing screen, or one with a grid. The grid is, of course, helpful for keeping horizontal lines level. Using A Smartphone Exposure AppIf you buy a Rolleiflex with a non-functioning exposure meter, the options are to use your knowledge to set exposures manually, work with a small digital camera set on manual to take readings—or even better—simply install a light meter App on your smart phone. The App will enable you to select your film sensitivity and an f/stop or shutter speed accurately. This App can function as a spot meter by dragging the cursor over different parts of the scene. As the cursor is moved, you will see the image get lighter or darker, because the meter is calculating the exposure for the area under the cursor. When the best compromise between light and dark areas is reached, the displayed settings are the ones to go with. What’s nice about this method of exposure selection is that it gives a visual representation that makes adjusting for backlit, low lit, and other tricky situations fast, reliable, and easy to visualize and understand. So, even if you’re lucky enough to score a Rolleiflex with a perfect meter, you may still prefer to work with the App.Leather Neck StrapsAs with any handheld camera, there are numerous ways to set up and shoot with a Rolleiflex TLR. The first step is to adjust the neck strap to an ideal length that keeps the camera at a comfortable height where it may be quickly raised to take a photo. Sadly, due to age, the leather on most original Rolleiflex neck straps will be brittle, cracked, and in need of replacement. When replacing the leather, reuse the alligator clips that attach to strap lugs on either side of the camera. These clips are spring loaded, and offer a connection that is secure, yet easy to quickly disconnect.Because the clips bend outward and away from the camera, when a photographer lifts the camera, the neck strap will fall to the sides instead of getting in the way. Thanks to details like this, Rolleiflex TLRs earned their reputation for being superbly engineered. To replace the leather on the neck strap, drill out the rivets on the alligator clips, insert a fresh piece of leather of the same width, and install new rivets. For a professional result, one can bring the alligator clips to a leather repair or saddle shop, such as Schatzlein in Minneapolis, Minnesota—ask for Gary. Leather strap options include: Adjustable or non-adjustable straps. The benefit of a non-adjustable strap is that there is no excess material. However, the downside will be that it will most likely only fit the intended wearer. By including the buckle hardware, straps with the same adjustability as the original can be ordered. For a nominal amount of money, a matching neck pad can be made, as well. Another option is to attach connectors to the alligator clips for use with other straps. Pros And Cons Of Rolleiflex TLR CasesOne commonly sought Rolleiflex TLR accessory is the ubiquitous Ever-Ready case. These attractive cases were made with brown leather, burgundy felt interiors, and were stitched together with thread. Like the neck straps, they are often in need of repair. However, with the cases, it is the thread that often needs replacing, not the leather. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find a shop willing to spend hours re-stitching a case.This is a simple do-it-yourself task. The reason it’s simple is that the holes are already there. Just buy a roll of suitable thread, some sturdy needles, and replace the old thread with new. To make the job easier, keep the leather pieces properly aligned by only removing a small amount of the worn thread at a time.Ironically, while Rolleiflex Ever-Ready cases are nice to look at, they’re not very practical for shooting. The problem is that with only 12 exposures per roll, too much time will be wasted removing and reinstalling the camera in the case. Therefore, for the sake of practicality, most shooters will either leave the case at home or use a small camera bag. Case options include: Rolleiflex manufactured an all-metal, copper colored case for use in humid, wet tropical climates, called the Tropical. This case came with a desiccant cartridge to absorb moisture and a leather strap that attached with a hole-and-slit method instead of alligator clips. One of the best cases for shooting in rainy weather is a locking, clear plastic bag. Simply make two slits for the neck strap and a hole for the taking lens. Attaching the bayonet lens hood after making this hole ensures a tight connection. While not waterproof, the bag takes up almost no space and can make it possible to shoot in light rain. If you go this route, be sure to bring lens-cleaning supplies and a few paper towels to wipe off your camera. “The Wonderful World of Rolleiflex TLR Photography” is a three-part series. Please click for Part 2, “Loading Film,” and Part 3, “Street Photography.”
Tilt-Shift Lenses And Their Uses Tilt-shift lenses and their uses are primarily for architecture, landscape and portraiture. Tilt-Shift Lenses can also be used creatively to create toy town effects and to increase depth of field in product photography. Nikon launched their current series of Tilt-shift Lenses in January 2008, that being the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens, Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens and Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens. I currently own the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens, Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens and Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens, which I use for landscape, portraiture and architectural shoots on both film and digital bodies. The Nikon series all offer a tilt of 8.5° and a shift of 11,5mm for all their lenses. Nikon Tilt-Shift Lenses Canon's range of tilt-shift lenses are very similar in range to Nikon, except that they have a 17mm wide angle. They sport the following lenses: Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L; Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 LII Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8; Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8. The Canon series all offer a tilt of 6.5° and 12mm shift on the 17mm; 8.5° and a shift of 12mm on the 24mm; 8° and a shift of 11mm on the 45mm and 90mm lenses. I have not had any experience with the Canon lenses. Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses Given the very wide angle images you can get with a 14mm or 16mm lens and the ease of correcting perspective in Photoshop, why bother with this manual focus lens and all the extra effort involved in using it? Tilt-shift photography is commonly misconstrued solely as producing miniature effects in your images. But tilt-shift photography is much more than producing toy towns. These are extremely versatile lenses, and used correctly can produce some really pleasing results. The shallow depth of field effect available from using tilt-shift lenses has become their most popular use. However, creating this ‘toy town’ look is not their only use. Tilt-shift lenses allow you to move the body of the lens in relation to the sensor. The shift movement keeps the lens parallel to the sensor, but moves it up, down or from side to side, allowing you to control the perspective of your image. Tilting the lens shifts the plane of focus, allowing you to increase or decrease the amount of the scene that is in focus. If you want to get the best quality results without having to resort to any software tricks, a tilt-and-shift lens is the only option. Note that at present their are no lens correction profiles in Adode, DxO; I have however found that PTLens do have profiles for some of these lenses. Since the tilt-shift information is not stored in EXIF data, Lightroom or ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) will not correct issues that occur when the lens is tilted, swung or shifted. You would have to address those manually. One of the main tools for an architectural photographer is the tilt-shift lens. The most important quality of this lens and what makes it so popular and needed in photographing buildings and interior spaces, is the fact that it can keep the verticals of a building parallel, thus presenting the object as we see it and not with the verticals converging, as a normal or wide lens would capture it. In other words the use of tilt-shift lenses “removes” the wide angle lens distortion, or rather it does not introduce it in the first place. It removes the “keystone effect”, as the convergence of the verticals in case of tilting the camera is otherwise known. Another important characteristic of this lens, a characteristic that makes it ideal for the architectural photographer, is its exceptional clarity, sharpness and lack of chromatic aberration, that are not equaled by the more common lenses. The superior sharpness and high quality image is one of the characteristics of the prime lenses, as all tilt-shift lenses are, and more specifically of the tilt-shift lenses, due to their construction and exceptional glass quality. Correct Converging Verticals The classic use of the shift movement in tilt-shift photography is to avoid converging verticals in your images. To achieve this you start with the lens in its normal position and, making sure that the camera is level and the sensor is vertical, frame your basic image. But at this stage the shot won’t include the top of the subject, and there will be too much foreground, so you shift the lens upwards, which will alter the framing of the shot to include the top of the subject while keeping everything straight in the frame. Only after my return to photography, did I discover my limitations of capturing cathedral interiors in Croatia with my Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens. This is when I discovered tilt-shift lenses and decided to invest in them on my return home. Had I had a tilt-shift lens for this purpose, I would have walked away with many more pleasing images than I currently did. Panoramic Shots Using the shift movement you can produce a series of images that can easily be stitched together in software such as Photomerge in Photoshop, or any other that you may favour. Once you have positioned the camera, all you need to do is to take three shots, one with the lens shifted left, one centred and one right. This tilt-shift photography technique can’t produce the extremely wide panoramas that can be done by rotating the camera, but because the camera is in a fixed position they are easy to set up and stitch together. This eliminates the need for a panoramic head on your tripod and the loss of the image when cropping in post, as the camera has not moved from it's position, rather that the lens has shifted in the case of a horizontal image; tilted in the case of a vertical image. Sometimes it’s impossible to position the camera to avoid obstructions such as fences appearing in the frame. However, it’s often possible to use the shift movement to alter the viewpoint enough for the obstruction to be just out of the frame. The shift can also be handy for avoiding including a reflection of yourself when shooting shiny surfaces. Toy Town Effect This effect is usually achieved by pointing the camera down, and then tilting the lens up. It’s often most successful when shooting from a high viewpoint, as this means that you can angle the camera more than when shooting at the same level as the subject. Tilting the lens upwards means that the plane of focus moves in the opposite direction to the way that the subject is positioned, producing an extremely shallow area of sharp focus. This tilt-shift photography effect is most pronounced when using wide apertures, and you will also need to refocus on the area that you want to be sharp, because tilting the lens completely alters the focus settings on the lens. Sideways Tilt Similar to the toy town effect, this relies on the extremely shallow depth of field, but instead of tilting the lens up you rotate it and tilt it to one side. This is perfect for shooting scenes where there are objects that are the same distance from the camera at either side of the frame. By tilting the lens sideways you can then throw the subject on one side of the frame out of focus, while keeping the subject on the opposite side sharp. An example would be a shooting a row of shops, and all you want in focus is a single doorway. Increased Depth of Field This effect is one of the more subtle uses of the tilt movement. It can allow you to keep a subject sharp, which would otherwise be impossible even using extremely small apertures. Once you have framed your shot, tilt the lens slowly towards the subject that you want to keep in focus. This moves the plane of focus, so that instead of being parallel to the sensor, it corresponds to the surface of the subject that you want to keep in focus. This is great for product photography. Focusing With A Tilt-Shift lens You will only be able to focus manually, since the mechanics of the tilt-shift makes impossible the use of an auto-focus system in this lens. By using the tilt function it allows front-to-back depth of field (DoF) meaning we can keep everything in focus, no matter the aperture, even at f/3.5 of f/2.8. What you need to do to get a front-to-back depth of field is to use a “trial and error” method: Mount the camera on a tripod. Set your aperture at f/8 for best quality of the image (you can also set a different aperture if needed). Open the Live View of the camera. Choose two important subjects (points) that you want to be in focus, one in the foreground and the other one in the background. Focus on the closest point you want sharp in the scene (the foreground subject you chose). Tilt the lens downwards slightly till the furthest point in the scene is in focus (in general a tilt of no more than 1-2 degrees will be enough most of the times to bring everything in focus). Go back and forth 2-3 times with fine tuning, while zooming up to 10x in Live View to check out the focus, till both subjects (in the foreground and in the background) are in focus, and the entire scene will then be in focus. Metering Light And Setting The Exposure With A Tilt-Shift lens When tilting or shifting the lens, the exposure the camera meters changes due to the light that leaks into the camera when the lens parts move relatively to each other, since the parts of a tilt-shift lens are not sealed between them and the fact that they are moving relatively to one another creates small openings that allow the light to enter the lens and confuse the light meter that indicates us the right exposure. How to deal with this? It is not very difficult, just meter your scene before tilting or shifting the lens, while it still works like a normal lens from the point of view of the movements it makes. Tilt-Shift And Long Exposure Photography Issues Concerning Shooting Long Exposure With A Tilt-Shift Lens At first glance, shooting long exposure with a tilt-shift lens is not different from doing it with any other regular lens. There are though two aspects to take into account when shooting long exposure with this lens and that make it different from shooting long exposure with a regular lens: Focusing And Metering Light The first aspect and issue is related to the way we will focus and meter the light so we can calculate the needed exposure. In the case the lens will be used tilted or shifted or both, just as in the case of short exposure, the light metering will be done before tilting or shifting the lens. This needs to be done so the light meter does not get confused by the light that may enter through the small openings created between the tilted or shifted parts and reach the sensor when tilting or shifting the lens. Light Leakage Issue The second aspect and issue is the light leakage that can occur in a tilt-shift lens during a long exposure. Just as in the case of metering light in a regular exposure with a tilt-shift lens where, if tilted or shifted, the lens allows the light to leak in and confuse the light meter, the same can happen in the case of a long exposure because of the extended time the lens is exposed to light while not being sealed properly and meant for use in long exposure photography. How To Overcome Light Leakage In A Tilt-Shift Lens During Long Exposure Photography It is not difficult to avoid light leakage. You will use the same principle you use so the light does not leak into the camera through the viewfinder: cover it. Thus, you will cover the lens in the case of a long exposure with a black cloth that will need to have the shape of a sleeve and be rather thick so it does not let the light inside the lens. You can also cover the entire camera with a black cloth and just leave uncovered the opening of the tilt-shift lens. How To Use A Tilt-Shift Lens For Portraiture Rotate the lens to a 45° angle, this will give you a diagonal blur through your plane of view in your image. Make sure your dioptre is calibrated for your vision. Since the tilt-shift lens is manual focus, you really need to make sure what you looking at is actually in focus. Shoot at f/5.6 for these shots, the out of focus areas will still produce pleasing results and a beautiful bokeh. When shooting at full length or 3/4, keep your subject close to their background, otherwise you may see distracting objects in your background come into focus. When shooting portraits, check your background is far away enough to be out of focus as in the full shot. Make sure to focus sharply on the eyes. YouTube Video Clip This 08:28 minute video clip visually explains the uses of a Samyang Tilt-Shift 24mm f/3.5. In Conclusion The Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens can be a very powerful and valuable tool in a photographer’s bag. It has many different uses – the lens can act as a normal 24mm lens for wide-angle photography, can swing left and right or tilt up and down and can be shifted in different directions at the same time. The shifting capability gives photographers the ability to control converging lines, while tilting and swinging allow changing the lens plane to either bring everything in focus, or to selectively apply focus to certain parts of an image. These unique features make the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens a very specialized lens. They also add to complexity of using such a lens. It took me several weeks to fully understand how to work with PC-E lenses and even after using them for a while, I still had occasional issues with focus and depth of field. Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens is very much like a nifty-fifty for me, except that it is a tilt-shift lens. Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens is very special portrait lens, and can give very pleasing results if used creatively. One major annoyance with most tilt-shift lenses, including the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens, is the factory default setting for tilt and shift movements. All Nikon PC-E lenses are shipped in such configuration, where you can swing the lens left and right, but you cannot simultaneously shift the lens in the same parallel direction. If you tilt the lens, you can only shift to the left and right sides and if you swing the lens, you can only shift it upwards or downwards. To fix this issue, you have to send your lens to a Nikon service center for reconfiguration. Nikon does not sell these in parallel configuration, but if you buy a used unit, it might be already configured for parallel movements. If you are a landscape photographer, definitely get yours adjusted. I have had my Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens done at Orms and it makes such a difference! The Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens and Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens cannot be converted as the electronic ribbon inside is too short to allow for this. There is a high learning curve with these lenses, be sure to experiment with what works best for you, as well as a lot of creativity to be had with mastering these lenses. Information sourced from various sources on the internet, as well as my personal experiences.