I have developed my own black and white film since the beginning of 2013 and I am pretty comfortable with the process as I shoot so often. I have quite a casual approach to B&W film developing and it still seems to work for me every time now I know the basics. I have a degree in science so I like to apply the common sense approach as to how chemicals work rather than strictly following the film/ developer guidelines. When I started out I used the developer Rodinal for semi-stand development but I have since move to Xtol and have settled with that for the meantime. I am happy with the results Xtol gives me so don’t see a need to change yet. For fixing black and white film I use Kodak T-Max fixer.
Paterson Developing Tank
I develop all my film (colour film and black and white film/ 35mm, 120 and 4×5 film formats) in Paterson style developing tanks (a 2 reel tank plus a 3 reel tank). For readers new to film developing a 2 reel tank can accommodate 2 rolls of 35mm film or 1 roll of 120 film. A 3 reel tank holds 3 rolls of 35mm film or 2 rolls or 120 film. Sometimes I wish I had a 5 roll tank but I haven’t got to that stage quite yet! A Paterson developing tank for those that don’t know is a light tight tank so film can be developed in daylight without the need of a dark room. Film must be loaded into the developing tank in complete darkness using a changing bag or a room with no windows. (I just wait until it is dark outside and use a part of the house where there is no windows. I then bring the developing tank into the light and develop the film in my kitchen.
C41 Colour Film Developing
After avoiding colour film developing for the best part of 18 months I finally took the plunge when my local film lab rejected my first roll of Kodak Vision3 motion picture film that I sent for developing. I had bought a bulk roll of Kodak Vision3 500T movie film which is ECN-2 colour negative motion picture film and not the standard C41 colour negative film. In brief, ECN-2 film has an additional rem-jet or remjet anti-static / anti-halation layer, a black carbon layer that needs to be removed prior to film developing. ECN-2 film cannot be developed in a standard film lab C41 process and doing so would contaminate the C41 chemicals resulting in machine downtime. I removed the remjet layer from the Kodak Vision3 film at home (see below) and then sent it to the lab for standard C41 developing. Unfortunately some remjet layer residue remained on the film so the film lab returned it back to me undeveloped. *I would not recommend trying to send ECN-2 film to a lab as C41 film as in hindsight I don’t think it is not fair to risk other peoples C41 film if any remjet residue remains on the ECN-2 film resulting in film not being developed properly and the developing chemicals failing.
As a result of not being able to develop my Kodak Vision3 ECN-2 film at my local film lab I decided to purchase colour film developing chemicals and try to develop the film at home myself. I looked at a few different colour film developing chemicals and decided on the Tetenal C41 Kit 2.5L kit.
Before attempting to develop my own ECN-2 film I did some reading to try to understand how to remove the remjet backing on the film. Popular choices seem to be to use washing soda or baking soda. Both make an alkaline solution when dissolved in water. Personally I tried baking soda as I found that in my local shop first. My remjet removal method is as follows:
4 teaspoons of baking soda
1 litre warm water (40 degrees Celsius) to dissolve the baking soda in
Pour solution into Paterson developing tank containing ECN-2 film
Soak for 3-5 minutes (nothing exact as all guestimated)
Shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes (nothing exact as all guestimated)
Empty the tank content into a white bowl/sink (Solution should appear coloured yellow-pink at first then towards the end of the emptying start to go black (carbon remjet layer))
Refill developing tank with warm water (40 degrees Celsius)
Shake vigorously for 1 min
Empty the contents into a white bowl/sink (solution should be black)
Repeat warm water rinse process until water runs clear
Remjet removal process finished.
Next see colour film developing process below
*Note – The above remjet removal process has worked for me but there may be better or alternative methods if you search online. If you search “Rem-jet removal” or “Rem jet removal” on YouTube there is also similar methods shared but with the advantage of the visual aid!
TetenalColortec C-41 Kit 2.5L
What is in the box – 6x 0.5 litre bottles, including 3 bottles of film developer (Part 1,2,3)(mixed together to make the developer solution), two bottles of bleach fix (“BLIX“)(Part 1&2) and 1 bottle of stabiliser.
Product description – “The TetenalColortec C-41 kit is ideal for the enthusiast, professional or home user looking to process their own colour negative films. This kit will process around 30 35mm or 120 films or equivalent in sheet film. This is a 2 bath kit, a simplified version of the C41 process where the fix and bleach are combined. May be mixed to make 2.5L of working solution in one go, or smaller quantities may be made retaining concentrate for future use”.
Tetenal C41 Chemicals – Mixing
To make 1 litre of film developing chemical solutions –
My colour film developing is nothing mind blowing. I simply followed the Tetenal C41 film developing instructions and opted for the 38 degrees Celsius method. In summary this involves the following stages/times/temperatures (based on developing times recommended to develop the first 1-4 films in fresh chemical dilutions from concentrate):
C41 Developing Instructions
Pre-Soak Water Bath: 5min @ 40C (+/-5.0)(Not temperature critical)
Developer: 3min15 @ 38C (+/-0.3)
Water Rinse: 1min @ 40C (+/-5.0)(Not temperature critical)(*extra rinse I like to do)
Bleach-Fix: 4min @ 38C (+/-3.0)
Water Rinse: 3min @ 30-40C
Stabiliser: 1min @ 20-40C
The common term you always hear associated with colour film developing is “very temperature sensitive”. To give myself the best chance of keeping the film developing chemicals at the required temperature I filled my kitchen sink bowl with warm water at around 40 degrees celsius. I made up 1 litre of working solution for each of developer, bleach-fixer (BLIX) and stabiliser per the Tetenal C-41 film developing instructions and put the 3 solutions into 3 used plastic pop bottles and labelled accordingly. My bottles are not as good as the recommended 1 litre collapsible film developing chemical bottles but they function OK to start me off. I ensure all the air is squeezed out of the bottles after use and store in a dark cupboard out of the light.
*Note – Recommended shelf life is assuming chemicals kept in full / sealed bottled
So is colour film developing as impossible and risky as I feared? Not at all. I really wish I had started developing my own colour film 12-18 months ago. Yes you need to watch the time and temperature of the developing chemicals more than if developing black and white film but it is merely like following a recipe in a cook book. If you follow the instructions the results are a success! I love the fact that I am now self sufficient and can develop and scan all my film in house. It gives much better control in terms of not having the risk of film being lost in the post, a much much faster lead time (as can develop the film the day it was shot) and a big cost saving if you use the chemicals within their active lifespan (per above).
Going forward I will buy bottles of colour film developing chemicals separately rather than as a developer kit as each chemical has it’s different shelf life. I also read that by doing a 3 bath C41 development (developer + separate bleach and fixer) rather than a 2 bath C41 development (developer + bleach-fix)(above) it gives greater control so win win. I understand you cannot ‘fine tune’ colour film developing like you can with black and white film developing but I will certainly try to modify my process after each film batch developed to try to get ‘better’ and better results.
E6 Colour Film Developing
Now I have tried C41 colour film developing I am now interested to look into E6 slide film developing as I love the colours of slide film. Watch this space! 🙂
After buying a 35mm film bulk loader (Computrol film loader as pictured) what seems like a long time ago now I finally started using it. I bought the film bulk loader online as a bundle together with some 35mm Kodak Plus-X 125 black and white film. I spooled the Plus-X onto used 35mm cassettes by taping the new film to the film stub end of the original film in the film cassette. I develop my own black and white film so where possible I manually rewind the film in the cameras. Most of my 35mm film cameras can do this; Leica M’s, VoigtlanderBessa R3A, Nikon FM, Nikon F4, Olympus PEN-F but the Hasselblad XPan doesn’t. I rewind the film to leave the film leader protruding so when I removed the film for developing I don’t have to break open the cassette (and then discard). I then use the bulk film loader to spool the desired number of film frames onto a used film cassette ready to use.
I can spool for example the usual 24exp or 36exp rolls but also perhaps just 10 frames if want to test out a new-to-me old camera. I always count 3-4 frames extra to what I need as some film will be lost (being exposed to light) at each end of the film when loading/removing from the bulk film loader. Some cameras like my Leica M3 and Leica M2 will accept slightly more frames such as 39 frames but automated film cameras like the 35mm Hasselblad XPan just gives an error messages and locks up if the film is too long. My Leica M6 has the known problem of jamming up after around 25 exposures (for me) so I now just spool myself 25exp rolls for the M6 and 39exp rolls for my M2/M3s. The bulk film loader has a counter on the side so you can keep track of how many frames is on each roll you spool.
Reusable 35mm Film Cassettes
A second option is to buy reusable plastic film cassettes where the end unscrews to load/ unload the film. I have recently bought some of these as shown below. To load film onto reusable film casssettes simply tape the end of the bulk film to the cassette central spindle. Once secure slip the cassette outer over the film protruding from the cassette inner so the film fits into the groove of the cassette (to look like a normal roll of 35mm film) then screw on the film cassette end cap to make the film cassette light tight. Film can then be wound onto the film cassette with the 35mm bulk film loader and you are ready to go.
* (There are plenty of YouTube instruction videos on how to use a bulk film loader and how to load film onto a 35mm reusable film cassette if you need visuals).
Advantages of Bulk Loading
The obvious answer of course is cost (in addition to my Leica M6 issue mentioned above!). Buying bulk film works out much cheaper per roll. The exact saving varies by film manufacturer and also by what length of bulk film you purchase. The more film you buy the cheaper it is. Many manufacturers sell bulk film in 100ft or 30.5m lengths such as Ilford film and prices in the UK are around £65-£70 (example price rather than average/norm). Foma make a 30.5m / 100ft Bulk Fomapan 100 roll for under £40 which is one of the cheapest options I have seen when buying new. The 100ft/ 30.5m length of film roll to my knowledge is manufactured for a target audience of still photo photographers. Kodak however also manufacture 400ft and 1000ft bulk film rolls (example lengths) of motion picture film for cinema and TV such as Kodak Vision3 500T which is the film CineStill modify before rebranding it as CineStill 800T (Please see my followup Kodak Vision3 blog post to come for more details).
Kodak Vision3 vs Kodak Portra – Cost
Buying 400ft of film offers excellent value for money if you think you will use that much film. A 100ft bulk film roll is said to equate to about 18 rolls of 36 exposure film and so a 400ft film roll will give 72 rolls of 36 exp film. Quite a lot of film but if you were previous buying for example 35mm Kodak Portra 160 /400 film at say £6 a roll you can now buy Kodak Vision3 bulk film for less than £1 a roll! A crazy cheap price for professional colour film. (AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film can be bought in the UK for £1 a roll but I would argue that Kodak film gives ‘better’ results)(better being grain structure/latitude/skin tones – for my taste*).
Blog post to follow to show results I obtained using ECN-2 Kodak Vision3 500T film and Kodak Vision3 200T in my Leica M cameras and Hasselblad XPan. I bought a bulk roll of each! If you want to see previous example photos using the Kodak Eastman Double-X black and white film see the link below.
Vision3 500T film and Kodak Vision3 200T – to follow*
Here are a selection of photos I shot in May with Sophie. All photos were shot on Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 35mm film and lab developed / scanned. Photos were taken using daylight only and with my Nikon F4 SLR camera. I used two lenses on this shoot, a Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro lens and Voitglander 40mm f2 SL-II pancake lens. Photos watermarked in Lightroom.
I tend to prefer black and white photography / B&W film photography but on occasion I really like colour film. This is one of those occasions and I was really pleased with how the photos came out. I am getting to the point now where I have far more photos to share than I can post in 1’s and 2’s on the likes of Flickr and Facebook. As such I have started to share similar photos in groups of 3 on Instagram – @MrLeicaCom
That said I will also try to share more frequent smaller blog posts like this one containing a series of similar images.
My latest camera purchase is a 1989 Mamiya 6 medium format analogue rangefinder camera. The camera has a 6×6 film format and came with the 75mm f3.5 kit lenses. There are 3 lenses available, 50, 75 and 150 and all use the built in camera viewfinder with rangefinder patch.
Why did I buy another camera?
I had overseas model trips fast approaching and I wanted to take a medium format film camera with me. The 6×6 Hasselblad 501C continues to be perhaps my favourite camera to operate and the results it gives but I use it with a prism viewfinder so it’s not as compact as it could be. I have smaller medium format cameras already, Fuji GF670 (6×6 & 6×7), Fuji GS645 and Fuji GA645. I tried to love the GF670 again recently as it ticks most of my boxes but didn’t really work for me. The GS645 shutter sticks so needs repair but is otherwise a nice camera. The GA645 is too automated for me but that was the camera I had planned to take as it is super compact yet has the crazy sharp Fujion 60mm f4 lens. The camera however also recently died on me and had an electrical fault preventing the camera from finding focus and therefore letting me depress the shutter to take a picture. The Mamiya 645 Super is a slightly larger camera but smaller and lighter than the Hasselblad. Upsettingly I seem to have feel out with love with the M645 also as the results have not been good enough recently.
I have always been tempted by a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 camera so I think it was just a matter of time. I nearly bought a Mamiya 7ii when I bought the 35mm HasselbladXpan to take to New York in December and then resisted.
Mamiya 6 vs Mamiya 7 / 7ii
When considering this purchase I looked at both the Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 7. I am still not a big fan of 6×7 film format. To me it is almost a waste of film as the resolution is far higher than I need for online use. I shot the Fuji GF670 in 6×7 format a few weeks ago but found I still prefer 6×6. The Mamiya 6 was therefore the obvious choice, partly due to the film format but equally because the lenses retract into the camera body making the camera only slightly deeper than the Fuji GF670 folding camera. The Mamiya 7 lenses don’t retract and it has the 6×7 format. Some people prefer the Mamiya 7 / 7ii as it can accept a wider lens 43mm lens but for my model photography that is not something that interests me (at the moment). The Mamiya 6 and 7s are highly regarded to be well built with sharp optics so they hold a higher price tag compared to the Fuji 645 medium format camera range. I was tempted to get another small Fuji to try but decided to pay more and get a camera that will hopefully last me a bit longer.
Hasselblad 501C vs Mamiya 6
As written above, I do love the Hasselblad 501C especially when working within 1m distance of my models for tight crop head and shoulder (or closer) images. For photos at a distance greater than say 1m I prefer a rangefinder like my Leica M cameras to focus. Rangefinder cameras have the disadvantage that they cannot focus very close to a subject. The Mamiya 6 has the same issue and will only focus from 1m-infinity on the 75mm lens. As such, if I pair up the Hasselblad 501C and Mamiya 6 I get the best of both worlds and all the photos would it theory blend seamlessly with the same 6×6 format. If I was covering a wedding with medium format film cameras this will now be my go to setup I think. The Hasselblad and Mamiya 6 lenses are of a similar speed with f3.5/f4 being quite common. The Mamiya 6 has the advantage of being a rangefinder so can be used at a slower shutter speed handheld without the mirror slap vibration of the Hasselblad. If I get the 50mm lens for the Mamiya 6 I think I would use that setup for wider and the 120mm / 150mm lenses on the Hasselblad for telephoto. I have no interest in getting the 150mm lens for the Mamiya but others rate it highly.
Requirements list for my camera purchase
Leaf shutter lenses – to give me a fast max flash sync speed for strobist work. The Mamiya 6 like the Hasselblad will sync at 1/500 vs the Leica M6 of only 1/60. This is a deal breaker as to which camera I will use if using strobes in daylight.
Well built – hopefully reliable and fun to use. The Hasselblad 501c is a perfect example. Leica M cameras are great too as long as the rangefinder is correctly calibrated. The Fuji GF670 is not fun to use (for me). The Fuji 645 camera range are both not reliable enough and some are too automated for my taste (Fuji GA645).
Small and compact – (as possible) so I can take the camera overseas reasonably easily. I have flown with my Hasselblad 501C but a smaller medium format camera to fit in my Billianfham Hadley Digital camera bag is ideal. All the Fuji film cameras I own fit in the bag but the Mamiya 6 somehow looks made to measure and easily fits in the bag with a Leica M body and 2 Leica M mount lenses. I actually pack two Leica bodies and the Mamiya 6 camera but it is
Decent rangefinder – so I can focus accurately at wide apertures. I am used to Leica rangefinder cameras like the amazing big and bright Leica M3 so i then struggle to use a less capable rangefinder viewfinder such as the Olympus 35RC. The Fuji GF670 is a little small and not my favourite to use. The Mamiya 6 however feels big and bright and gives me confidence when focusing. As long as it is correctly calibrated I should hopefully get in focus images every time.
Time to test the Mamiya 6!
Resulting images coming soon. I shot a quick roll before my trip overseas and here is the photo I scanned in the earlier hours before the flight rather than sleeping than night!
After buying my little Olympus Pen F 35mm SLR camera in January it got me thinking about something similar but a rangefinder camera. I tend to prefer rangefinder cameras as I find them easiest to focus. I do love using the Pen-F SLR up close (when I am used to having to be 0.7m meters away from my subject with my Leica M cameras) but for subjects more than a meter away give me a rangefinder every time. I loved the small size and lightweight build of the Pen F so I looked for a similar sized Olympus rangefinder camera that had received good reviews and with decent quality example images on Flickr.
Olympus 35RC – Spec
I decided on the even smaller and even lighter 35mm Olympus 35RC rangefinder camera. Weighing only 415g the 35RC is now my lightest and smallest camera. Released in the 1970s in Japan the 35RC claimed to be the smallest 35mm rangefinder camera in production. The Olympus 35RC unlike my Leica M cameras (and the Olympus Pen F) is a fixed lens camera and comes with a Olympus E Zuiko 42mm f2.8 lens.
Olympus 35RC – First thoughts
The first thing I noticed about the Olympus 35RC was the tiny size and it’s weight. I loaded a roll of film into the camera and then next thing I realised was how tiny the rangefinder patch was in the viewfinder. I am spoilt by the 0.91x magnification of the Leica M3. The Olympus 35RC is only 0.6x magnification. The focus throw is so short verses the lenses I normally use it is very easy to find focus once you get used to the small RF patch. The next surprise was the sound when I pressed the shutter. The 35RC sounds weak and lifeless but at the same time is quite quiet so I can’t complain. The shutter sound certainly wouldn’t startle anyone!
Olympus 35RC – Flash sync speed
One amazing feature of the Olympus 35RC (if you like this sort of thing) is the 35RC can sync with a flash at and up to 1/500 shutter speed. Compared to the very slow flash max sync speed of 1/50 for most of my Leica M film cameras this feature is a great for me. It is worth noting that the Olympus Pen-F has the same 1/500 flash sync feature.
Olympus 35RC – Test shots
Here are a few test shots from me trying my Olympus 35RC camera in the studio with model Sophie:
I must admit I am very impressed with the images taken with the low cost Olympus 35RC camera. It is not as sharp as say my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens shot wide open (with the 35RC stopped down a little) but I think it will match many medium priced lenses. The 35RC is probably at least as sharp if not sharper than some of the vintage Leica glass and once stopped down a bit is produces some great images.
If I put some Olympus 35RC film scans next to similar photos shot with a Leica M film camera (and a similar quality lens) I doubt I or many other photographer could tell the difference. For me the Leica M cameras (and lenses) shine when shot wide open verses other cameras. When both cameras and lenses are stopped down a little the results are not so different.
Olympus 35RC vs. Olympus PEN-F
Both the Olympus 35RC and Olympus Pen F cameras have their uses. The 35RC is smaller and lighter but I much prefer the sleek look and solid build of the Olympus Pen F. The Pen F is great for detail shots where I can get in close and for happy snapping with 72 shots per roll. For subjects further away the 35RC is better for me. Different tools for different jobs but both very usable.
Olympus 35RC – Conclusion
The Olympus 35RC camera is definitely a keeper for me. The Leica M cameras are quite small but they are not super light. If I ever need to pack super super light (such as running up a mountain or along a beach on holiday) or squeezing in a backup film camera when on a model photography trip abroad the 35RC is the camera for the job.
To recap the Olympus PEN-F is a 1960s 35mm half frame SLR camera. I bought the Pen F last month and i’ve now had time to shoot a few rolls of film in it. I must say i’m more impressed with the resulting images than I thought I would be. Half frame is certainly not half as good. I enjoy the size of the Pen F, the stylish sleek look, the vertical framing, the close focusing of an SLR (verses say a Leica rangefinder) and the fact I can get 72 shots on a 36 exposure roll of 35mm film.
Olympus PEN F – Diptych
I found I enjoy shooting the Olympus Pen F by taking photos in pairs (diptych) the most. My Epson V800 scanner recognised each pair of photos as one photo and then I just process the negative scans together and share as one image. Here are a few examples:
Olympus PEN F – Triptych
I’ve also tried a few triptychs by taking a series of three photos together:
Olympus PEN F – Detail and Resolution
Despite taking most photos in pairs I am still very impressed at the resolution and detail captured in a single frame:
No not the 2016 new Olympus PEN-F digital camera. A modern retro-styled 20.3MP micro four thirds digital camera. I mean a proper camera! 🙂 The original 1960s Olympus PEN F film camera.
The Olympus PEN F released in 1963 was the world’s first 35mm half frame SLR camera. Made in Japan this new half frame SLR camera had a vertical 18x24mm format compared to the usual ‘full frame’ standard horizontal 35mm format (36×24). In simple terms the PEN-F allows for 72 photos to be taken on a standard roll of 35mm 36 exposure film. Similarly a 24 exposure roll of 35mm film gives 48 exposures.
The Olympus PEN F model I bought was made between 1963-1966 before it was replaced with the PEN-FT. The FT has a light meter built in but I was happy to have the earlier fully mechanical PEN F instead. The PEN is an SLR not a rangefinder. In an ideal world I would have bought a Leica rangefinder half frame camera but they seem as rare as hen’s teeth and would be crazy expensive I imagine. The camera I bought comes with the Olympus Zuiko Auto-S 38mm f1.8 lens. 38mm on a half frame body equates to 55mm in full frame terms so perfect for my portraits being a 50mm man. The PEN camera lenses appear to be well regarded online and from some of the PEN F images I have reviewed on Flickr you would never guess it was not full 35mm. Very sharp and seemingly high res film negative scans. Obviously the choice of film will have a big impact so I will probably favour finer grain film.
Why a PEN-F Camera?
Yes I already have more than enough film cameras but I was introduced to this previously unknown to me camera format when I was teaching in New York. We were discussing the Canon Demi. The Demi is another iconic 1960s half frame camera. From there the research began. As you may imagine I am not buying the PEN F because I want more resolution from a larger film negative as the negative size is smaller than the standard 35mm film used in my Leica film cameras (Leica M6 etc). I bought the PEN F partly because the price is low and I like to experiment with different film cameras but mostly to see if it makes me shoot differently.
Half frame PEN-F
Why will the PEN-F makes me take photos any differently to when I use say a Leica or a Hasselblad camera. 72 photos on a roll film does make the cost of taking each photo pretty much half price (in simple terms) so I may take photos faster and think less. Perhaps good for street photography where is it easy to get less good photos (“keepers”) when compared to staged and controlled model photography images. As I do mostly portrait photography this is not high up on my needs list. The small size of the PEN F? Yes that is a big plus as I can carry the camera with me even easier than say the Leica M6 with a small lens attached. Again though perhaps not a big enough size difference to forgo not carrying a Leica.
I bought the PEN F as I want to try shooting photos in pairs and threes and sharing them as taken scanned side by side on the uncut section of negative. It will make me approach subjects differently, models or otherwise and then if I enjoy the style I can transfer that over to my full frame film camera work whether 35mm or medium format.
I like to experiment and if I find I then don’t use the PEN F I can probably sell it on eBay and lose very little if any money.
Sample film images to follow.. depending how long it takes me to shoot through 72 film exposures!
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
I have owned my Mamiya RZ67 medium format film camera since summer 2013 but have only recently bought my Hasselblad 501C. Here is a post to compare the Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67 giving information on each camera system and then a few example images.
Mamiya RZ67 6×7 – Camera gear
Over the last two years I have done Mamiya RZ67 fashion photography, Mamiya RZ67 wedding photography and Mamiya RZ67 Polaroid photos. I have a selection of Mamiya Sekor lenses for the RZ; 65mm f4, 90mm f3.5, 110mm f2.8 (my favourite lens on the RZ) and the 180mm f4.5. I also bought different film backs for the Mamiya; RZ 645 film back, RZ 6×6 film back, standard 6×7 film backs and lastly a Polaroid film back. To focus the RZ67 I use the big and bright waist level viewfinder and until this experiment I have only shot the RZ handheld.
Hasselblad 501C 6×6 – Camera gear
If you have read my recent blog posts you will be aware of my Hasselblad v-system camera equipment but to recap I use the following Hasselblad lenses; Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF, Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF, Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF, Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF and I use two 6×6 Hasselblad A12 film back. To focus I use a Hasselblad 45 degree prism finder and try to use the Hasselblad on a monopod for the sharpest possible photos. I have a waist level viewfinder but found it very difficult to focus with the acute matte screen (without split prism). In the last few months since purchase I have already done a Hasselblad wedding and Hasselblad fashion photography. I absolutely love the Hasselblad portraits with the 6×6 crop factor and can honestly say that I think the Hasselblad has had more beneficial impact on my photography than any other camera.
Mamiya RZ67 6×7 – User experience
I have always loved the big bright RZ viewfinder and 6×7 rotating film back. The 110mm f2.8 lens give both sharpness and a shallow depth of field. The size and weight of the Mamiya RZ has not deterred me but that said I have not used it a huge amount and it has never been overseas on model photography trips. I have always been happy with image sharpness and camera handling. One of the features I like the most on the RZ is the bellows focusing system as I can get as close as I want to my subject without the need of additional extension tubes. Perhaps my only complaint is the fact that the Mamiya RZ requires a battery. I found I used the RZ more without a battery and at the 1/400 fixed shutter speed. The Mamiya RZ is great for 6×6 Polaroid photos and I like how the image is captured in the centre of the film rather than being offset. I have used the Mamiya RZ with Polaroid back for events and the Polaroid photos produced are great. I always used the RZ handheld and never really thought to do any different despite the weight.
Hasselblad 501C 6×6 – User experience
From my recent blog posts and the rave reviews you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of the Hasselblad camera. I really struggled to focus with the original waist level viewfinder but now I am happy using the 45 degree prism finder. My favourite lens is the super sharp Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens as it lets me focus closer than the 80mm Planar kit lens and is incredibly sharp. As such I have hardly used the 80mm kit lens that most people seem to keep on their Hasselblad 500 series cameras. The Hasselblad is smaller (lighter and more compact) than the Mamiya RZ and as such it has already been overseas with me to Poland for model photography location shoots. The Hasselblad is 100% mechanical so requires no batteries which I love and the build quality is on a par with my Leica M3 film cameras (I think). It is a very rewarding camera to use!
Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67 Shoot Out
As I own both cameras I was interested to compare the Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. Here are a few images from each camera from my shoot with Julie in the studio. All photos werer shot on expired 120 Ilford Delta 100 film and developed in Kodak Xtol developer. Film negatives were scanned with a Epson v800 scanner and finished in Photoshop. Both cameras were used on monopods to make it a fair test. I fitted the Mamiya RZ with a 6×6 film back so both cameras were 6×6 format. Click on any photo to see the lens used and additional information.
Mamiya RZ67 Portraits
Conclusion – Clear Winner?
Hasselblad vs Mamiya RZ67? Both camera systems are capable of producing very sharp images and I cannot call a clear winner here. As such I think it comes down to what camera I enjoy using more. The Hasselblad is smaller, lighter, arguably better built but also more expensive than the RZ. If you are on a tight budget I would say you can capture equally good photos with a Mamiya RZ but if you want a camera system for life I would get a Hasselblad everytime. The Hasselblad 501C will still be with me together with the Leica M3s for years to come where as I think the Mamiyas will come and go. That is my rose tinted 2 cents worth anyway.
Firstly sorry for the lack of new blog posts recently. There are a lot in the pipeline when I find time!
120 Fomapan 100 Film
Fomapan 100 Classic is a traditional panchromatically sensitized black and white negative film made in the Czech Republic. To my eyes it is as sharp as B&W films from Kodak such as T-Max but had a more classic grain structure more similar to Ilford FP4+ or perhaps Kodak Tri-X. Again from my experience, Fomapan 100 prroduces low contrast negatives in normal lighting conditions. Some of my Fomapan 100 photos are higher contrast due to developing or lighting used.
Fomapan 100 film is my current favourite / best value for money black and white film in 120 format. I enjoy using various B&W films from the likes of Kodak, Ilford and Fuji but Fomapan manage to price their film below the competition and the results are actually quite nice. I pay around £3 a roll for 120 Fomapan 100 film and the next cheapest would be I think £4 a roll for the likes of Kodak Tri-X 400, Kodak T-Max 100 & 400 and Fuji Acros 100 and then £5 for Ilford Delta 100 and 400. I try to find the lowest prices!
What I like a lot about Fomapan 100 is I can shoot it at ISO 50-400 and develop it at box speed. This may be true for other films but I have not noticed it. For medium format film photography shooting in available light ISO 400 is normally the go to film speed for me in the UK. In the studio I shoot ISO 100 films more. Fomapan gives me both. For ISO 800 exposures I would rather shoot Kodak Tri-X 400 or T-Max 400 films and push them
one stop in developing.
I constantly swing between the different film stocks trying to find a favourite but as yet there is no clear winner. Kodak Tri-X has some of the nicest tones and Kodak T-Max also. Ilford Delta 100 and Pan F 50 are amongst the sharpest films I have used and can look almost digital in 120 format. I would say I prefer Fuji Acros to T-Max 100 especially for portraits but both can create nice images. At this stage I prefer Kodak Tri-X to HP5 for the tones and overall look of the pictures.
Since getting my Hasselblad 501C I have been shooting much more medium format film and 35mm film is currently on hold! Here are some examples of me shooting 120 Fomapan 100 film.
Hasselblad Film Portraits
Firstly a sneak peek from Poland! Full post to follow.. 🙂
Next, more 120 Fomapan 100 film portraits shot in the UK
I am also using Fomapan 100 4×5 sheet film in my large format cameras so those results are to follow too!
Now that I have owned the Fuji GA645 Pro 645 medium format camera for a few months I thought it might be nice to share a few images.
All the following photos were taken with the Fujifilm GA645 Pro
Laura – 120 Ilford FP4+ film
Iris – 120 Kodak Ektar 100 film
Holly – 120 Kodak T-Max 100 film
Emily – Expired 120 Ilford Delta 100 film
Thoughts so far
The Fuji GA645 is I think my smallest lighter and noisiest medium format film camera. It is super sharp wide open at f4 and can create a pleasing soft OOF background. I enjoy the portrait orientation 645 frame (vs the horizontal 645 frame of the Mamiya 645). I tend to use the camera on manual mode with autofocus. The light meter seems pretty accurate but I tend to meter myself and dial in the settings. It is the perfect camera to pack to travel when you want medium format resolution yet can’t pack a more bulky Mamiya RZ67 or perhaps Hasselblad camera. The Mamiya 645 Super as actually quite small and light. The Fuji GF670 is slightly larger and heavier than the GA645 but it does offer 6×6 and 6×7 formats.
In my eyes it is not a ‘proper’ camera as such so there is no real emotional attachment for me. It doesn’t excit like the Hasselblad 501C, or Mamiya RZ67 / 645 Super or even the Leica M3s. The slow and noisy autofocus is not for every situation but it does focus accurately and get the subject in focus.
I think the Fuji GA645 is a keeper but more for when I cannot carry my other larger medium format cameras and where I want more resolution than 35mm film can capture