Nikon F4 – Ukraine Girls 2016
Matthew Osborne Photography / @MrLeicaCom
September 2017 (from July 2016)
Here are some of the film photography scans I took on my last trip to Ukraine last summer. I cancelled my return trip to Ukraine in July 2017 as wanted to concentrate on my Ironman triathlon training but managed to fit in another trip before the end of 2017 to catch up with my model friends. It feels like ages since I was last there!
When packing for Ukraine last time I planned to do strobist work so decided to take my Nikon F4 SLR instead of my usual Leica film cameras. The Nikon F4 has a flash sync speed of 1/125 instead of 1/50 so it is easier to balance ambient light and strobes. For the Nikon F4 I took the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 pancake lens as it is small and sharp and the Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro. All the film scans seem to be shot on black and white Kodak T-Max 100 so it looks like I was keeping it simple! All photos were home developed using Kodak Xtol and scanned with a flatbed Epson v800 scanner.
Nikon F4 and Kodak T-Max 100 Film Portraits
Nikon F4 vs. Leica Rangefinder – Any difference?
As I normally use Leica film cameras such as the Leica M3, M2, M4-P, M6, that are all rangefinder style film cameras I thought I would summarise how I find shooting with the more modern Nikon SLR that accepts auto-focus lenses.
I am short sighted and don’t wear glasses for photography so an SLR style camera is OK for me to use accurately if I use up close to a model (perhaps at =<1m distance) with a manual forcus lens such as the Voigtlander Ultron 40m f2. For longer distances I have to rely on auto-focus lenses to capture a subject in focus.
The Nikon F4 is quite chunky and heavy with the 4x AA batteries in the battery grip vs. a solid yet more compact Leica film camera. When I am packing small I would always pack a Leica as both the cameras and lenses are smaller.
Leica cameras such as my 1950s design Leica M3 are built to last and just keep going. That said they do need recalibrating now and again to be able to capture accurately focused images using fast lenses with a shallow depth of field. The Nikon F4 too is built like a tank. I dropped my F4 down a flight of concrete stairs on a workshop in Zurich and to my amazement both the camera and Nikkor 60mm Micro lens continued to work when I caught up with it! You couldn't do that with a modern camera (I think!).
For image quality with film cameras it is down to the lens and choice of film probably more than the camera body itself. If you select a good lens for the Nikon F4 I would say I probably could not tell the difference vs. a photo taken with a Leica film camera. I think I compose better with a rangefinder camera like a Leica and probably work faster with it but in terms of sharpness I think generally speaking the images would be quite similar in most cases with both cameras.
Lastly if I could pick only one film camera I would chose a Leica M3 as I prefer cameras that don't rely on batteries, that are as small as possible, it's simplicity and the magnified viewfinder for accurate focusing.
Full details of the trip
For full details of this trip to Ukraine please see my Ukraine Models (#2) linked below.
Leica – Hasselblad Wedding
(The Ultimate Partnership!)
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica.com
Yesterday I had a special wedding to photograph in London. Every wedding is special but for the camera geeks among us this was special on a different level. I was chosen by a fellow Leica M 240 photographer’s wife to cover their wedding as I use a camera they both know and trust. In the lead up to the wedding I was looking to buy a Hasselblad medium format film camera so asked them if they would be happy for me to use it on their wedding day. It turned out the Leica shooter was actually a previous Hasselblad nut and had all the best equipment, bodies, lenses, finders and even a digital back! Not only that but he was selling it all to concentrate on Leicas. To cut an even longer story short, we agreed that the wedding payment could made in a currency I know well… Cameras!!
My new Hasselblad camera kit
- Hasselblad 501C body (mint / boxed) + WLF + A12 film back + Hood
- Zeiss Planar 80mm f2.8 CF kit lens
- Zeiss Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens
- Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens
- Hasselblad PM 45 degree prism viewfinder
I knew the wedding venue was going to be a low light affair as I had visited in advance to meet the couple. ISO 800-3200 using available light. I was glad I had upgraded my Leica M body from the M9 to the M 240 with its higher usable ISO. That said I was worried that there would not be sufficient light to handhold the Hasselblad camera without motion blur. With that in mind I treated my new Hasselblad rig to a lightweight monopod and head. I already have an aluminium Manfrotto monopod but find it too heavy to lug around with ease so it tends not to get used. I read various monopod reviews and the clear winner to me was the Sirui. As such I bought –
- Sirui P-326 carbon monopod
- Manfrotto 234RC quick release tilt head
Wedding macro photos
Leica cameras are not ideal for macro photography so when I take more than one camera to a wedding I like to have the option to shoot close up with the second camera. As such before my Hasselblad arrived I bought a 21mm Hasselblad extension tube. Used on the 80mm Zeiss Planar it lets me get very close to my subject and on the 150mm Sonnar something inbetween the Planar with the macro extension tube and the lens without. I fitted the 21mm extension tube to the 80mm for a few wedding detail photos during the day so it was money well spent.
Cameras for the wedding
Camera bag. My kit could be split into 2. The Hasselblad camera kit bag and the Leica M camera kit bag.
Hasselblad camera kit
The Hasselblad kit consisted of the items listed above but with the addition of a loan lens for the day, the amazing Zeiss Distagon 40mm f4 lens for the wide angle shots. I used this instead of my new 50mm Distagon as I needed the extra width indoors.
Leica M camera kit
- Leica M240 digital body (mine)
- Leica M240 body (loan from groom as backup camera)
- Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 v2
- Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH
- Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8
- Zeiss Biogon 21mm f2.8 (not used)
- Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5
I knew I needed a film that I could push up to ISO 1600 and maybe even ISO 3200. My first plan was to buy Ilford Delta 3200 film but then I noticed on Flickr that people push Ilford HP5 400 film +2 stops to ISO 1600 with ease and even +3 stops up to ISO 3200. Delta 3200 film can be quite grainy even in 120 format and is more pricey than HP5. HP5 400 film loks like it can be pushed +2 stops to ISO 1600 and still get reasonably clean (low grain) negatives. As such I bought a supply a 120 Ilford HP5 film for the wedding. Luckily we had some sun outide so I was able to expose the HP5 at ISO 800. I used a shutter speed of 1/60 where possible and 1/30 where insufficient light. When there was even less light in the evening I added strobe light to boost light levels. I used all lenses at their widest apertures with the Hasselblad on the new monopod and with a shutter cable release. I also used the 45 degre PM prism for all photos as find it much easier to focus.
At times like this it really makes me appreciate my little Leica M3 rangefinder cameras. With a f1.4 lens I could have shot at the equivalent of ISO 200 (vs Zeiss Planar 80f2.8)(2 stops brighter) and handheld the camera for still photos at 1/15 (vs 1/60 with Hasselblad) giving me the equivalent of a useable ISO of 50 on the M3 vs ISO 800 on the Hasselblad.
- Digital Leica M 240 – provided the practical, quick response, portable, non-imposing camera setup for when the wedding was moving at a faster pace.
- Hasselblad 501C – brought the fun and excitement when the pace was slower and I had the time to carefully craft my images.
- Leica M3 film camera (or perhaps the Nikon F4 SLR) – offer the perfect middle ground being both fast and film. Win win (but not present on the day).
I’m looking forward to reviewing the digital images from the wedding but I absolutely can’t wait to develop the Hasselblad film negatives to see how I got on.
It is nice to think that the Hasselblad 501C camera that the groom had bought new over 19 years ago (and that the bride remembers him using while she waited!) was used to photograph part of their wedding day.
Kodak Tri-X Film
Matthew Osborne Photography
For anyone who has followed my work for a while will know, for black and white film photography I normally use Kodak T-Max 100, especially for 35mm film. I have tried various black and white films and will continue to experiment but I am finding I am now completely hooked on Kodak Tri-X 400 film. The modern T grain T-Max films have very little visible grain so can look a little too much like my Leica M9 black and white JPEGs which have a slight filmic look despite being digital. I was an easy convert to medium format 120 Tri-X as grain is less apparent with the larger negative size. For 35mm Tri-X I was a little worried the the classic grain structure might result in too much visible grain for my film wedding photography and portraiture. I shot a roll of 35mm Tri-X when I was out in Florida covering a wedding and was pleasantly surprised. Samples below.
What do I like about Tri-X and what is it that made me convert?
Broad lattitude – I can (and do) shoot Tri-X at anything from ISo 200 (-1 stop) to ISO 1600 (+2 stops). It can do it all and will even go to ISo 3200 and beyond (not yet tried this but others have with success). This means that for available light photography it is perfect for my needs.
Contrasty – Other than the grain structure, the biggest difference I notice when comparing Tri-X to T-Max is the beautifully contrasty mid tones. The deep shadows are rich blacks, the highlights retain their detail and the mid tones are what makes it for me.
Price – I am now starting to use quite a lot of film, both 35mm film in my Leica cameras (M3 and M2) and 120 Tri-X in my medium format Mamiya 645 Super, Rolleiflex SL66E and in my 6×7 Horseman 120 roll film back for my 4×5 large format cameras. I need a film that I enjoy using yet is also affordable. 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 5 packs can be bought in the UK for £20 a box if you shop around. £4 a roll is competitive at today’s film prices. Calumet are currently offering 120 Tri-X 400 for £20 a box and free postage so I stocked up!
Calumet UK, Film – http://www.calphoto.co.uk/category/film-darkroom/film/
Developing – I develop my own black and white film at home and favour the R09 Rodinal stand developing / semi-stand developing method. I am still fine tuning my times and temperatures to develop Tri-X at box speed but also pulled 1 stop to ISO 200 and pushed 1 stop or 2 stops to ISO 800 and ISO 1600. Depending on the lighting conditions I shot in I can then adjust my times accordingly.
Sample Images (various)
Kodak Tri-X 400@200 (135 & 120)
Kodak Tri-X 400@400 (120)
Kodak Tri-X 400@800 (120)
Kodak Tri-X 400@1600 (120)
Ilford FP4+ 125 film (35mm & 120)
Here are the first samples of me using medium format 120 Ilford FP4+ black and white film. Photos were shot on my Russian 6×6 ARAX-CM camera (Kiev 88)(aka “Hasselbladski” – Hasselblad clone) and a Russian Mir 3 65mm f3.5 lens. I shot the ISO 125 film at 250.
I develop my own black and white film using a Patterson tank. Here I used Rodinal stand development, 45mins 22 degree with 1 inversion (so semi-stand developing really). I used 1:150 rodinal to tap water. Once dried negatives were scanned with a Epson v600 scanner then cleaned up and contrast enhanced in Photoshop Elements 6. I found the negatives to be a little flat (with lens contrast) so next time I will develop for less time so the shadow stay black. I will also invert more than once to make the highlights brighter (as during stand developing highlights develop first then if left longer shadow detail next. I normally use Kodak T-Max 100 and 400 film. T-Max has a finer grain structure and can look more like digital if very sharp and contrasty. Ilford FP4+ film is more grainy with nice tonality give a more filmic look i think. I like it but i think for 35mm film FP4+ developed in Rodinal may be too grainy for my portraits (however fantastic for architecture).
Here are some more 120 Ilford FP4+ samples (2013)
As a comparison to the last photo shown, here is the same photo with the Leica M9 in colour. I have to say on this occasion for me the 35mm digital vs. medium format film battle is won by the 35mm digital.
Here are a few old photos from when I shot my very first roll of black and white film on my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1. it was also the first roll of film I developed – December 2012. I was both amazed and overjoyed when this seemingly old fashioned process of developing black and white film at home actually worked! 🙂 Even now they are some of my favourite film shots. They look like film and have a great retro feel, rather than all the later 35mm Kodak T-Max shots that looked more modern.
35mm Ilford FP4+ samples – home developed in Xtol (2012)
35mm Ilford FP4+ samples – developed by Ilford lab (2010)
Film vs. Digital Leica M9
I think when film can offer me something extra or different to digital then I get excited. During 2013 I shot almost all Kodak T-Max film. I then bought a digital 35mm Leica M9 rangefinder camera. The results from the M9 look filmic due to the Kodak CCD sensor. As a result my use of film temporarily stopped. Ilford FP4+ film gives a look that is more grainy that the images from the digital Leica and with a much greater dynamic range.
Voigtlander Bessa R3A
As I still have a Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera that uses my amazing Leica M mount lenses I am now excited at the prospect of shooting some 35mm Ilford FP4+ film. I have a roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 in the camera at the moment and but I will definitely order some 35mm FP4+ film to try next. I also want to try some ADOS film as I have a soft spot for high contrast black and white images.
Black and White Film Developing
Tonight I have just developed a roll of 35mm T-Max 100 that was shot on the Voigtlander Bessa R3A at ISO 400 at the start of the summer (before the Leica M9 arrived). Most of the photos were shot at the end of the day in low light conditions using the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 at f1.4. Taking this into consideration, I decided to use Rodinal stand development 1:150 ratio again for 45mins but this time with 3 inversions during the stand. The plan was to push the highlights (so brighter) and underexpose the shadows (to give black blacks) to give some punchy high contrast negatives. The negatives are currently drip drying over the bath but I think at first glance I will have contrasty negatives that may be a little dark (perhaps) but I can brighten the highlights when I scan tomorrow if I need to. I did the shoot while in Edinburgh on a work trip with local model Emma and that combination usually produces some very rewarding images. New Kodak T-Max images coming soon!
Yashica MG-1 (Contains the same example images)
Voigtlander Bessa R3A
Rodinal Stand Development
Leica M9 vs. 35mm B&W Film Comparison (with same lenses on both cameras).
Leica M9 + Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 T Lens. (Sharp!)
I think this model portrait of Yulya taken in Ukraine looks a similar to low contrast film such as Fomapan. I have not shot any black and white 35mm film since buying my Leica as I keep telling myself the B&W photos from the Leica M9 are almost indistinguishable from those I have taken with my Voigtlander Bessa R3A film camera.
So.. time to make a head to head comparison using the same lenses on both cameras (Voigtlander glass). I hope film can proof me wrong and come out the clear winner but I think the Bessa is up against strong competition.
I have 2 fashion shoots booked in London tomorrow with model friends so i’ll take both cameras and do a little side by side comparison experiment. Once the film is developed I will post some samples from both cameras. Will we be able to tell the difference!?
Results and full details coming soon! 🙂
MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica M9 Photographer
Medium format film photography model shoot with Nella and my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. For this shot I used the Mamiya Sekor 65mm f4 WA lens which is super sharp. No sharpening needed in PP.
Photo is a Epson V600 scan of the Kodak TMax 400 negative home developed in a brew of 3:1 Xtol and Rodinal at 20 degrees standing for 23 minutes without agitation.
The medium format Mamiya RZ67 film camera is currently my go to camera for any key shots whether wedding photography or model photography. My Nikon D800 gets the rest and light meters for the Mamiya.
Here more examples with Nella:
Some shots taken with Agnieszka:
I will add more to the blog as I edit the scanned negatives.