light [ ] squared

The journey in analogue [and sometimes digital]

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3 Camera Still Life Test on Flickr.This isn’t too scientific, and really, in the end, I could really care less about which is “the best”, but I thought it would be interesting to compare the new Sigma DP2 Quattro with its original sibling the Sigma DP2, and then my newish Sony NEX-6.
What I found is that they all are awesome in their own way, and all have great quality…then it all comes down to which tool is the best for the job…
So, which one is which?  Let me know what your guess is in the comments!

3 Camera Still Life Test on Flickr.

This isn’t too scientific, and really, in the end, I could really care less about which is “the best”, but I thought it would be interesting to compare the new Sigma DP2 Quattro with its original sibling the Sigma DP2, and then my newish Sony NEX-6.

What I found is that they all are awesome in their own way, and all have great quality…then it all comes down to which tool is the best for the job…

So, which one is which? Let me know what your guess is in the comments!

3 notes &

Rollei XF 35: The Unknown Gem

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THE ROLLEI XF 35- WHAT IT’S NOT

I’m sure a lot of the readers of this blog will know of the classic Rollei 35.  It was the smallest 35mm viewfinder camera upon its release, and it’s still a very popular camera with a much reputed lens.

So, when my Dad said that he was sending me a Rollei 35 kit that included a camera, bag, flash, strap, and manuals I was intrigued.  I’ve never actually wanted the 35, as it is a zone focus camera, but free is something that’s hard to turn down.

But the 35 isn’t what showed up.  This was an XF 35.  

WHAT IS THE XF 35?

The XF 35 is a very small, true rangefinder camera.  No, not as small as the 35, but it’s still pretty small!

Rollei 35S + XF 35

Thanks to Achim Pfennig for the awesome comparison shot!

It’s got a Sonnar 40mm f/2.3 lens and is a match needle automatic camera.  This means it has shutter speed synched to aperture, so at f/16 the shutter speed is 1/640 and the bigger the aperture the slower the shutter speed goes, all the way down to f/2.3.

Here’s the specs (thanks to camera-wiki):

-  40 mm f/2,3 Sonnar (5 components, 4 groups), made under licence by Carl Zeiss (Oberkochen).

-  Filter size : 46 x 0.75mm

-  Coupled rangefinder with bright spot.

-  Nearest focusing distance: 1 m.

-  Programmed exposure from 1/650 s at f/16 to 1/30 s at f/2,3.

-  Bulb mode for long exposures.

-  Aperture and Shutter speed chosen is indicated by a metering needle in the viewfinder.

-  Hot shoe for Rollei 100XL flash, syncing at 1/30 s. Flashmatic system for proper flash exposure.

-  CdS light metre; range from 20 to 16 000 cd/m² with ISO100 film.
Supports film speeds from 25 to 400 ISO.

-  Power: PX625 mercury battery.

-  Dimensions and weight: 112x71x32 mm, 355 g.

Here’s a shot of my XF 35.  Not as pristine as Achim’s but not bad:

Rollei XF 35 front view

When I got it, it still had it’s battery in it, an old mercury 1.3V PX625, and it had no power.  I went to my LCS and got a 1.5V equivalent knowing it might not expose properly, but it got the light meter working, so I wasn’t too worried.

Rollei XF 35 3/4 front view

The problem with my copy was that the shutter was a bit sticky.  I spent a couple of days with some lighter fluid and it helped, but the slow speeds were very bad and I kind of gave up on it for a bit.  I also noticed that the RF, a very strange design that you can look up on the web, was a bit sticky too.  I got frustrated, and well, I got a Rolleiflex TLR in the meantime, so I set it on a shelf.

A few weeks later I was moving stuff around in my camera cabinet and picked up this camera again.  I took off the cap and fired the shutter…and it quietly snapped like it was brand new!  I threw a roll of VERY expired non-refrigerated TMAX 400 that I got from a friend and decided to test it.

SHOOTING EXPERIENCE

I’m not a huge fan of cameras that don’t let you have aperture control, but every time I went to shoot with this camera, I just glanced at the match needle and just accepted the fact that it was choosing an aperture.  I actually started composing pictures slightly differently because I knew what aperture it was going to shoot at.  Kind of a new, cool method.

And let me tell you, this camera is such a fun camera to shoot.  I love the size, and since it’s a rangefinder, it’s super fast to shoot.  Just put it up to your eye, notice the aperture/speed and then, very quickly, decide accurate your focus has to be.  It really was fast and easy.

I shot indoors with the flash on bulb mode (more on that in a bit) and then bought a red filter and shot with that too.  It was a blast!  I got home, developed my film and hoped for the best.

THE SHOTS

When I pulled the film out of the soup, I was pleased.  It looked like it metered really well, and exposed about spot on.  The expired film was a little grainier than I expected, but nothing too bad.  But then I noticed the film strip change…uh oh.

Apparently after a flash shot I forgot to turn the camera from B back to A…see, like in this picture:

Rollei XF 35 bottom modes view

So, about 10 or so pictures were all shot with Bulb mode on. sigh.

But the other shots were pretty darn good, and this Sonnar lens looked great.  Here’s some of the better ones.

Under the Roof at Home Depot #1

Under the Roof at Home Depot #2

I'd Rather it Say Dessert.

I was surprised at how well it was doing exposure, especially with some of the roof shots.  And the sharpness of the lens was pretty awesome!  It’s great when a trip to Home Depot turns into a photo shoot!

Burro From Light To Dark

Succulents Emerge From the Dark

Caught Between Shadows

I took it inside as the light was hitting the sink and once again, the camera did a great job of choosing exposure, and the nice big rangefinder made it a snap to compose.

Tomato

And even in the subdued lighting at Home Depot, it was a snap to walk, compose, snap and be on my way.

Tres Baños

OH, BULB MODE

I actually wasn’t going to scan in ANY of the shots that had been shot on Bulb mode as I thought they were trash, but I decided to scan one, just because I remember walking behind these girls with their tiara’s on and I thought I had gotten a great shot, well, when Bulb mode wasn’t on…but I actually really like the result I got.  Shot with a red filter as well.

Princesses

CONCLUSIONS

I actually haven’t seen this camera show up on ebay very much since I’ve been aware of it, but if you can find one, they seem to be in the $40 range, which is a great deal.  I’ve been told they weren’t built that well, so you have to be very careful buying one, but as a Yashica Electro owner, I know what that’s all about.

All I know is that this is my new “throw a camera in a bag” camera.  When I don’t have a lot of space, I’m going to have this little guy loaded up with some HP5 + and just shoot.

Filed under rollei rollei xf35 rangefinder small camera film camera believeinfilm

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IMPOSSIBLE Adds “Best Before Date”…

IMPOSSIBLE added a great thing to their film…instead of a “Manufactured On” Date on the package, they now have switched to a “Best Before Date” to try to end confusion of “expired” film.  Here it is:

I think it’s great, but the problem is, unless you know the date of when they started the change, you have NO idea if you have the old date version or the new one.  I really wish they would have added one more thing:

That way there is NO confusion as to what you have…It would be a tricky layout for sure as I’m guessing the stamp thing can’t change placement very easily, but I think it could’ve been done.  Hopefully they will think about this in a later release so that no-one is confused in the future.

Filed under the impossible project best before date instant film

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Tonal Adjust Test 001-combine on Flickr.
IMPOSSIBLE Instant Lab Gen2 Color 600 Test film Original Shot: Sony NEX-6 w/ Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8 Adobe PS Express Here is a comparison of the new Tonal Adjust on the updated IMPOSSIBLE app and the tweaks I do to my files before going to the Instant Lab.  My tweaks on the left and the IMPOSSIBLE app on the right.  I turned off “Tonal Adjust” in my process, btw. CONCLUSION: The new tonal adjust does a good job of getting the color tones right for the film, which is what it’s intent was, but it still doesn’t solve the contrast, and overly dark images that come out of the Instant Lab without some tweaking.  I like that they are trying to improve the output of the Instant Lab for everyone, and this is a great improvement for the current generation of films, but I still would recommend tweaking your files in Snapseed or PS Express first…but you can let the app do the tonal adjust if you want.

Tonal Adjust Test 001-combine on Flickr.

IMPOSSIBLE Instant Lab
Gen2 Color 600 Test film
Original Shot: Sony NEX-6 w/ Olympus OM 50mm f/1.8
Adobe PS Express

Here is a comparison of the new Tonal Adjust on the updated IMPOSSIBLE app and the tweaks I do to my files before going to the Instant Lab.  My tweaks on the left and the IMPOSSIBLE app on the right.  I turned off “Tonal Adjust” in my process, btw.

CONCLUSION: The new tonal adjust does a good job of getting the color tones right for the film, which is what it’s intent was, but it still doesn’t solve the contrast, and overly dark images that come out of the Instant Lab without some tweaking.  I like that they are trying to improve the output of the Instant Lab for everyone, and this is a great improvement for the current generation of films, but I still would recommend tweaking your files in Snapseed or PS Express first…but you can let the app do the tonal adjust if you want.

Filed under the impossible project instant lab Polaroid

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Shed Door Open-Revisted on Flickr.Holga
Ilford XP2 400
The Holga was my first medium format camera, and the first film camera I started using when I got back into film photography.
I was used to my Olympus OM system in 35mm, so this was a whole new world to me…and to be very honest it frustrated the heck out of me.  I think I only shot 1 or 2 rolls of film in the Holga.  I wasn’t developing myself, so it was a 2 week wait after each roll.  So much has changed since then.
I know I’ve gotten better at scanning and cleaning up, so when I redid this one, I left the foam bits that turned into black specks on the negative.  I had no idea about the sponges falling off and getting on the film…

Shed Door Open-Revisted on Flickr.

Holga
Ilford XP2 400

The Holga was my first medium format camera, and the first film camera I started using when I got back into film photography.

I was used to my Olympus OM system in 35mm, so this was a whole new world to me…and to be very honest it frustrated the heck out of me. I think I only shot 1 or 2 rolls of film in the Holga. I wasn’t developing myself, so it was a 2 week wait after each roll. So much has changed since then.

I know I’ve gotten better at scanning and cleaning up, so when I redid this one, I left the foam bits that turned into black specks on the negative. I had no idea about the sponges falling off and getting on the film…

2 notes &

Tonal Control Added to the Instant Lab

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IMPOSSIBLE had an update to their Instant Lab App on iPhone yesterday, and one of the new features is something called “Tonal Correction”.

From their email:

"During this process, the color or tonal bias of our color films can shift. This is particularly noticeable when images are exposed on the Instant Lab.  

We have just updated The Impossible Project app to provide an automatic correction to improve the colors of instant photographs produced by the Instant Lab. This correction is ON as the default setting for the app’s Color 600 and Color for Impossible Film presets.”

I was intrigued by this and wanted to know what it was actually doing, so I opened up the app and played with it…and learned a few things on the way.

Is It Doing ANYTHING?

I loaded in my color picture and selected one of the color films, which turns on Tonal Correction automatically, but I didn’t notice any change to my picture.  For some reason I thought it would change the tonal range of my image so I could see it before going to the Instant Lab.

After a quick tweet-fest with IMPOSSIBLE-HQ (thanks to those guys for being VERY quick with a response).

image

So there is TIP #1…don’t be confused if you don’t see the change happening when you flip the switch, or turn it off, don’t worry as it doesn’t do anything to your file until you expose the image to the Instant Lab.

But What Does It DO!

I couldn’t just leave it there, I had to know what this control does to your image, so I tricked the app to display the exposure and got a screen-grab and compared it to the original image.  Here’s what it looks like:

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On the right is the original image from my Sony NEX-6 using my favorite Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens.  On the left is what the IMPOSSIBLE Instant Lab apps Tonal Correction does to your image.  As you can see, it looks like a couple of things going on.

  • Increased Saturation
  • Warm Tonal Shift

I played with my original file and got it close by increasing the vibrance and saturation as well as shifting up the reds and dropping the greens.

Should you Care?

Really, most people won’t care about what it actually does, and hopefully it just works.  I haven’t had a chance to test it yet to see how the final output is, so I’ll follow up when I do.

So, hopefully it’s just magic and works…but if you use older film, or if IMPOSSIBLE updates their film again, you might want to know what this Tonal Correction does to your image so that when IMPOSSIBLE updates the app for the next new generation of films, you can adjust the tone of your image for use with the older film.

Oh, And I’m Working on an eBook about INSTANT LAB!

Some of you may know that I’ve been working on an eBook with tips and tricks about how to use the Instant Lab.  Things are going great and hopefully I’ll have something soon…so, keep on the lookout and if you have questions or things you want to see in the book, let me know!

And, if you haven’t played with the Instant Lab, I highly recommend getting one and adding it to your Instant workflow.

Get the Instant Lab here

Filed under the impossible project Instant Film instant lab app update ios iphone iphonography

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Ben #2 on Flickr.Wanted to try doing some BW work with the new Gen2 Color 600 film. My first attempt I was thinking the film would be a little yellow, so I compensated with a little blue tint, but it came out too cool. This one is a neutral grey, and it’s JUST about right. When I do another one, I might just put a tiny bit of blue in it and see.

Ben #2 on Flickr.

Wanted to try doing some BW work with the new Gen2 Color 600 film. My first attempt I was thinking the film would be a little yellow, so I compensated with a little blue tint, but it came out too cool. This one is a neutral grey, and it’s JUST about right. When I do another one, I might just put a tiny bit of blue in it and see.

3 notes &

Rolleiflex Automat MX K4A on Flickr.Zeiss Opton Tessar f/3.5 
With eveready case and lens cap.
Oh, and he threw in a roll of TMAX just so he could show me how easy it was to load the camera. 
I walked into my Local Camera Shop, Bev-Ray Camera in Old Town Temecula, and saw this in the case as soon as I walked in.  Murray, the owner smiled and said: “I knew you’d like that one.”
He proceeded to tell me how good of shape it was in, then, as I was looking at it, he produced the Ever Ready case and the lens cap, both in pristine shape.  It’s rare to come across one in such great shape from my adventures, so I had to buy it.

Rolleiflex Automat MX K4A on Flickr.

Zeiss Opton Tessar f/3.5 
With eveready case and lens cap.
Oh, and he threw in a roll of TMAX just so he could show me how easy it was to load the camera.

I walked into my Local Camera Shop, Bev-Ray Camera in Old Town Temecula, and saw this in the case as soon as I walked in. Murray, the owner smiled and said: “I knew you’d like that one.”

He proceeded to tell me how good of shape it was in, then, as I was looking at it, he produced the Ever Ready case and the lens cap, both in pristine shape. It’s rare to come across one in such great shape from my adventures, so I had to buy it.

2 notes &

Ciro-Flex: The American TLR

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TLR:  German Dominance after WWII

Most of us weren’t around for the “TLR craze” right after WWII, but there were many budding photographers who were very intrigued by the quality of the Rolleiflex and Rolleicord’s that were coming out of Germany.  At that time, a Rollei would set you back $157 (around $1,570 today), so it wasn’t a small purchase.  And that left the door open for some American camera companies to step in and fill a gap.

The Ciro camera company was one such company.  They introduced the Ciro-Flex TLR and it was $89 (around $890 today).  

Ciro-Flex on Edge

It wasn’t as fancy or refined as the Rollei, but with a slightly longer coated 85mm lens over the German non-coated 75mm, and a triplet lens design similar to the Rolleicord (a Tessar-type lens would be introduced later on the f/3.2 Model F). It provided superior edge-to-edge performance at a lower cost than the Rollei.  The Ciro-Flex was a hit.  Things were going along great for American companies, until Japan started making TLR’s too, and they had brighter screens, more features and cheaper prices.  The Ciro-Flex company fell by the wayside.

And now, in 2014, the price difference is MUCH more.  A nice Rolleicord III goes from $250-450…and that’s why I first got my Ciro-Flex…for a whopping $20.

Comparing a Rolleicord III and the Ciro-Flex Model C

I recently fixed the infinity focus on my buddies Rolleicord III and got a chance to put a roll of Ilford XP2 through it.  

Let’s just get this out of the way.  

The Rolleicord is a much more refined piece of machinery, and I can see why people lust after them.  Smooth focus, small, light and robustly built.  The WLF is dim, but not as bad as I had heard.  Nowhere near the brightness of a Yashica 124, but you can upgrade the Rollei and the Ciro-Flex to a fresnel screen if you want.

But what I found interesting was the results from the Rolleicord III.  They were good, but 10 times as good?

Here’s a shot from the Rollei:

Neighbors Framed

It came out great!  The f/3.5 75mm lens is no slouch.  It has an advance lock mechanism, so you don’t have to look through the red window and hand advance the film, but I found the spacing to be inconsistent in the one that I was testing.

The Base

Great detail and contrast is abundant in it, but as I looked through the shots I took, I wasn’t as blown away as I thought I should be.  Of course this was no fabled Rolleiflex f/2.8 version, and I’ve seen some AMAZING stuff with it, but at my budget that camera is not happening any time soon.

A Still Life in Clean Dishes

Back to the Ciro-Flex Model C

After returning the Rollei to my friend, I decided to take out my Model C Ciro-Flex again.  I threw a roll of XP2 (just like I did with the Rollei) and tried to compare.  Yeah, it’s a little more clunky, but not by much.  It’s just not as “smooth” as the Rolleicord in every respect.  But I found that my finder on the Ciro-Flex was brighter than the Rollei and I really like the shutter cocking mechanism better on the Ciro.  And actually, I really found myself not missing the auto-lock advance of the Rollei.  Just open the red window, wind to the next number, close red window door, and off you go.  Maybe if the Rollei had the crank winder version it would feel better, but I liked the simplicity and perfect spacing I got with the Ciro.

The Ciro-Flex is bigger and bulkier than the Rolleicord…more brutish feeling in the hand, but it’s still easy to shoot and not horribly large or heavy.

So, with shooting being about the same, I was anxious to see the results.  And maybe it’s the magic of working with the Ciro again, but I actually think the results from the Ciro-Flex’s f/3.5 85mm lens are better, especially in the corners. 

Note:  Some of the shots have dark corners, but that’s my fault for not pushing the lens hood on far enough, and is not indicative of the camera.

Desert Shading

I found the Ciro has that unique vintage feel I have seen from some of the Rolleiflex f/2.8 with razor sharpness.  The three element lens really does a great job, and the shutter fired perfectly each time.

Radio Tower 177

Ciro-XP2-0614001

Ciro-XP2-0614009

Ciro-XP2-0614006

Looking for The American TLR

So, you’ve been intrigued by the American TLR, what do you do next?  Well, Ciro-Flex made a few versions of the camera, and I only recommend a few:

  • Model C: Rapax shutter, f/3.5 85mm lens
  • Model E: same as the C with Flash sync
  • Model F: f/3.2 four element Tessar-type lens

If you want to see the whole lineup, go here

At some point the Ciro-Flex company was bought out by Graflex and they renamed the cameras.  Look for:

  • Graflex Super 22 Model 400

It is the Model F in the Graflex line and is usually the newest and in the best shape…but can be a bit more expensive.

Sometimes the Ciro’s need some work, but are drop-dead simple to repair.  Rick Oleson’s site is AMAZING and you should look at it.

Some other examples of the amazing Ciro-Flex

From: David Wietstruk

From: patrick j. clarke

Red Address

From:  Marn Phumdokmai

Ciro-flex - KODAK T-MAX 100

From:  Andrew Magnum

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From: t crow

img585

From: patrick j. clarke

Operator on a Hill

From: patrick j. clarke

A Portland Chair

From: nik wafdi

img104

From: patrick j. clarke

A Portland Skyline and Tram [Explored]

From: patrick j. clarke

The Beauty in Blinds

So, if a TLR has intrigued you, but the price point of a Rollei has scared you off, be on the lookout for the Ciro-Flex.  They aren’t as cheap as they used to be, and sometimes it’s hard to find one in good shape, but if you get one that works, or that you can get working, the results can be amazing.