New Olympus PEN-F ..SLR!
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
My New Olympus PEN-F camera
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!
Leica M3 & Ukraine Girls 2015
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
I booked two model photography trips to Ukraine this year, in July and then again in September. Here are some of the film photography highlights shot with my 1950s Leica M3 rangefinder film camera and a Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens. For July I used a 1950s Leica Summicron DR lens and for September a more recent Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens. In July I lost a lot of photos as the Leica M3 needed recalibrating. For the September trip I had had the M3 rangefinder recalibrated but took less film photos. For both trips I shot with various film stocks and different models so please click any image for more details.
A big thanks to all the models featured here. Hope to see you again in 2016! 🙂
Kodachrome Film – Gutted I missed it! 😦
Matthew Osborne Photography / MrLeica.com
The more I learn about photography and specifically film photography, the more I am upset that I didn’t start my photography in the ‘good old days’ and before digital came along. I had disposable film cameras and remember having an APS film camera but it was only to take friends and family snaps. Our family used to send our film to TruPrint if I remember correctly and Dad had an Olympus Trip MD when we were kids (later years).
As I start to appreciate film photography and study both theory and images in my spare time I came across the discontinued film Kodachrome. Before a few weeks ago I can put my hand up and hang my head in shame and say I didn’t know quite how special Eastman Kodachrome film was. When I started to review the images and compare to the films we have now I am gutted I missed out on shooting with Kodachrome. The Kodachrome colours are just amazing and to my eyes nothing currently on the market in 2015 can match it?
Kodak Portra or Fuji Pro 400H
I shoot mostly black and white film as you may have seen but if am going to shoot colour I want the colour to add something to the image. Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro 400H give nice skin tones and all that but nothing really pops with these images. Velvia 50 can produce amazing colours for landscapes but I have seen very few usable portraits using Velvia film. Kodachrome film on the other hand captured the colours in portraits that just made the photo come alive. Vivid blues and reds that just makes me wish a joint venture could salvage the old machines and get it back into production. I guess similar to what the Impossible Project did with the Polaroid factory machines.
For those of you that used to shoot Kodachrome film (when it was still available and could be developed), can you tell me what film available today gives the nearest look and colours?
Agfa Vista or Ektar Film
Kodak Ektar is the only fine grain saturated film that can be used for portraits that springs to my mind? I shot some family portraits recently on Agfa Vista 200 Plus and I was extremely impressed with the results and rich colours. I would not hesitate to use Agfa Vista film again for none paying clients.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Ilford Pan F 50 Film
Matthew Osborne Photography
Ilford Pan F 50 film is super fine grain, slow speed, black and white film produced by Ilford. I bought a roll of 35mm Pan F 50 to take on my trip to Zurich for a model photography workshop. It was my first time using this film and I was interested to see the results. I often use ISO 100 speed black and white film such as Kodak T-Max 100 or Fuji Acros 100. I had not shot with slow speed film before but I was in luck as we had bright sunny weather for the shoot.
I shot the Pan F 50 film in my 35mm Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder camera on the first day of the workshop. (My Leica M3 was loaded with Kodak Portra 160 and my Leica M2 was loaded with 35mm CienStill 50D film). The first model we worked with was Joy, kindly supplied by Option Model Agency. The second model was a local dancer, Julia.
Here are some sample images shooting Ilford Pan F 50 at box speed in my Bessa R3A camera and developed in a soup of 1:3 diluted Xtol solution + 1:400 Rodinal. I realise other developers may give sharper and finer grain results but I wanted to use the developers I know best at this stage. Most photos were taken with a Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens.
Model – Joy
Model – Julia
I was really impressed with the amount of detail captured with the 35mm Pan F 50 film. The resolution was something closer to what is achieved with 120 medium format films. My next test will be to shoot 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film in my Fuji GF670 stopped down for my sharpest possible negatives.
Would I buy this film again?
Ilford Pan F 50 film is certainly not an everyday film as it requires 3x more light than say the popular Kodak Tri-X 400 film. I believe Pan F 50 is more suited to my 35mm film photography than my medium format cameras as 35mm lens are often much faster with the likes of the Leica M mount Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH and Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4. I am also interested to try this film with my latest purchase, a 35mm Nikon F4 SLR with perhaps the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens. Most of my medium format camera lenses start at f2.8 (x2 slower than f1.4) or smaller with the exception of my Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 C for the Mamiya 645 Super camera.
I plan to shoot Pan F 50 when I can during the brighter summer months of the UK and for some strobist work. Price wise Ilford Pan F 50 can be found for under £5.00 a roll in the UK making it cheaper than Fuji Acros 100 and a similar price to say Kodak T-Max. I invested in a 10 pack of 35mm Ilford Pan F 50 film to get a slightly cheaper price and to keep me going over the summer months.
Other Black and White Films