28. januar 2013

Rolling with Rolleiflex 2.8F ^^

While in Japan in late September 2012, I combed Tokyo for those small shops carrying the good old stuff.

There are still a good number of smaller shops in Tokyo, selling stuff like Leicas, Hasselblads, Mamiyas, Rolleiflexes and a number of other analog quality photograhy-brands, from 35mm to large format.

 They can be a bit hard to find though, so extensive use of the Internet, as well as google-earth was needed, as Tokyo can be a very confusing place to navigate.










I actually missed one of the shops (Alps), because it was "camouflaged" in Japanese letters, no western signs what-so-ever and no store front, I know I passed it twice without seeing it.
- and when I finally figured it out, it was closed for the day =)

This is what it looks like in the jungle:



Alps-Do main entrance in Shinjuku

Here is a nice three-part guide to the photo-stores in Tokyo, I was in all of the shops in Ginza and found a couple in the mayhem of Shinjuku, I didn't have time left to check out the stores in the Northern part of Tokyo, unfortunately.

Shinjuku camera-shop guide
Ginza camera-shop guide
Northern Tokyo camera-shop guide

I was actually looking for a Voigtländer Bessa II at the time, but didn't pull the plug on any, because I could not find a reasonably priced dual 6*4.5 / 6*9 version and I didn't know how to check it properly.

In Sankyo camera, while browsing, I saw two TLR cameras that I found interesting, a Yaschicaflex C and a Rolleiflex 3.5, both were old and pretty beaten up, but the pricetag was interesting.
- I'd noticed that (nice 2.8F) Rolleiflexes were very expensive in Japan, so I decided against buying anything while I was there and rather look on eBay for a sweet deal.

A TLR (Twin reflex camera) has two lenses stacked ontop each other, one is used for viewing and focusing (viewing lens) , while the other exposes the film. (taking lens)

Like this:  
Anyway, at Sankyo, I got a pretty good deal on the two cameras; I got the Rolleiflex Automat for $25, pretty beaten up and fungus infected, although the taking lens is pretty clean. (later I've found it to be a Rolleiflex MX-EVS)
I got the Yaschicaflex for about $50, it was actually pretty clean and nice cosmetically and I've tested it and it works nicely (a bit off on the slower speeds, but that is normal for old cameras). 

Both cameras are from the 50's or so.

My Yashicaflex C and my Rolleiflex Automat 3.5
Shot with my Hasselblad 503CW.
Tri-X in HC-110 B
After testing both cameras, and adjusting the focus on the Rolleiflex myself (wasn't worth sending it away for a CLA anyway), I was extremely impressed by  the performance of the Rolleiflex.
The photos were crisp and the taking lens was very VERY sharp, wow!

- I wonder how a Rolleiflex 2.8F is like, when this "consumer" version is THIS GOOD?

So I scouted out eBay for a few weeks and read some forums, so see what was what. (there are many models and versions and quite difficult to get a grip).

I landed on the decision to go for a well taken cared of Rolleiflex 2.8F, which came in 4 distinct versions, but seems to be the most "normal best" version out there.

So, long story short, I bought one from eBay from a reputable seller, who had lots of information on the camera, lots of photos and a serial number to check.
The camera also came with the ever-ready case (never ready case actually), a lens-shade and a yellow filter. (the diffuser for the light-meter was placed inside the holding compartment of the ever-ready case).

So it was complete, very few marks, no known errors and the glass had no known issues or marks on them either.

The serial-number, place the production-year for the camera around the mid 60's. I wasn't looking for a collectors item, but a camera I could use (the cameras from Japan will be display-items though, even though they both actually work).

Here's some Rolleiflex-porn for you to look at:

Rolleiflex 2.8F inside the ever ready case with the pouches for the lens-shade and the yellow filter.



Left side of the case, with the various control-knobs available


Right side of the case with the crank and the frame number available for use.
Notice the lock-lever on the top, this locks the case
to the camera, so that it doesn't fall out of the casing when the lid is off.

Removal of the case-lid completely, enables you to use the camera more freely during shooting.

My Rolleiflex 2.8F sitting ready in the case.


Viewfinder open for shooting

Bare-bone camera without the lid, huge lens elements compared to my Automat 3.5

Notice how the viewing lens gets bright when you pop the viewfinder open

Half profile shot, showing the film-roller knobs,
the light-meter, focusing knob and the exposure-compensation knob.

The Rolleiflex 2.8F (and others) do have
a "sports finder" (lower hole in the viewfinder).
This enables the photographer to hold the camera
up against the eye like a normal camera.

I wonder if my cameras will look this good in 50 years....

Crank-winder and the frame-counter.


The light-meter sensor, located just below "ROLLEIFLEX", is normally way off after this much time.
I think mine is about 1 stop off, but can be used as a incident meter with the diffuser in a pinch.

Shutter and aperture settings (controlled by the two front-wheels between the lenses)

Left side is the shutter (with lock-switch)
Rigth side is flash-sync port (lock is not active only X-sync, my Automat 3.5 can be set at X or M)

The knob to the left of the lens is the self-timer switch.
Self-timer is loaded every time you crank the winder.

This is the yellow-filter that came with the camera, I need to check eBay and find myself a blue, red and orange one as well
Maybe a green, maybe not (I rarely use the one I have for my Canon-lenses)

Focusing knob and the light meter.
The meter has a little edge scuff mark, but I don't care, it's not that bad really.

The lens-shade for the taking lens.

Camera mounted in the case with the lens-shade attached.
(Coincidently, all of the above photos, were shot with my new Canon 5D Mark III, my replacement for my excellent 1ds mark II, more on that in a later blog-entry.)
 
The camera was really in ship-shape, but the controllers were a bit tough (crank, adjustment for the aperture and shutter). The film-feeler mechanism, meant to trigger automatically when you load 120 film in the camera, didn't trigger properly with Acros or Tri-X, only Foma (which has quite thick backing paper). I knew (and more or less expected) that I had to send the camera off to a CLA (Cleaning, Lubrication and Adjustment).

Luckily, the Rolleiflex-community have nice lists of reputable service-men around the world, so finding one wasn't too hard.

The east and west coast US-based service-guru's (Harry Fleenor and Krikor Maralian ) comes up a lot in forums and they are probably the best of the bunch, but Fleenor had a 11 week(!) turn-around.
Mr. Maralian could take the camera with a shorter turn-around, but I was hesitant shipping the camera that far.

I ended up sending my Rolleiflex to Mr. Brian Mickleboro in London.
He was very fast, did a bang-up job and was reasonably priced as well.
We encountered a few snags concerning shipping the camera to the UK, but after a few angry phone calls from me to the Norwegian postal-office, UPS-Norway and UPS-UK, Mr. Mickelboro was finally able to perform a CLA on my camera.

If you need your Rolleiflex checked, I recommend him warmly.

If you live somewhere else, then here's a typical list of people that still do service on these cameras. don't send them to "anyone", use the immense experience these guys possess (many of them have decades experience working for and with Rolleiflex).

http://www.rolleigraphy.org/rolleiflex_service.htm

I have yet to shoot properly with my camera (only test shots so far), but I promise to come back with some shots (color, B&W) from this camera, as the winter and sub-zero temperatures go away. =)

The camera I got, was in generally a REALLY NICE condition, almost as though I am a bit afraid using it (hell it cost me a total of £1500 with CLA), so I will do my best to take care of it, while still use it as it was made for.

The engineering behind these machines is incredible, a real pre-computer, non-electrical item and the last in it's long line, a pedigree lasting for over 40 years. (not counting the current analog, but electronic GX and FX models).

My camera is 50 years old, but with the great CLA-job from Mr. Mickelboro, and sensible use from me, the camera should have decades of extended life and joy. ^^

15. januar 2013

Dogs and cats in Turkey

Temple of Appollo
Canon 1v, Fuji Neopan Acros 35mm EI100 in Rodinal 1:50
In August (2012 :P), I went for a two week holiday with the rest of the family to Turkey.
We rented a bungalow (with pool!) at the outskirts of the town of Side in Turkey.


For the trip, I decided to bring mostly film-based photographic equipment, namely my Canon 1v with a couple of lenses and my Hasselblad 503CW with the 80mm and the 160mm lenses.


This was "all in or all out" concerning the 'blad', because I had been struggling getting stuff in focus for a while, lacking the technique.
I'd noticed that I used it less because of this, preferring my easy-focusing Mamiya RZ67 II and we can't have any of that, so use it or loose it!

Luckily, I had a break-trough concerning the focusing technique with the 'blad', so in retrospect, it really helped a lot to bring it and use it on harder-to-hit targets, like cats and dogs.

My choice of films for the trip consisted of:

35mm: Fuji Provia 100 (expired), Fuji Neopan 400 and Fuji Neopan Acros 100.
120: Kodak Porta 160VC (expired), Kodak Tri-X 400 and Fuji Neopan Acros 100.

Kind of similar setup in the two formats, concerning look and feel. (funny that the two color films were both expired ^^ ).
Kodak Tri-X and Neopan 400 is quite similar, but if Neopan 400 120 wasn't canceled by stupid Fuji was available in 120, I would use it over Tri-X any day of the week.

Drinking cat
Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8, Fuji Acros 100 in Rodinal 1:50

I dig the tonality of Neopan 100 in Rodinal 1:50, this is shot at EI 100, the print looks beautiful.

The following cat and dog-shots were shot with my Canon 1v and Neopan 400 35mm, then later developed in HC-110 dilution B. The only thing I DON'T like with these is the enhanced grain apearance that my Nikon coolscan V tend to give, the darkoom prints don't have this apearance:


Tough-guy
Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8, Fuji Neopan 400 in HC-110 B

Pup
Canon 1v with Canon 50mm f1.4, Fuji Neopan 400 in HC-110 B

Roxy
Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8, Fuji Neopan 400 in HC-110 B

Play-fighting dogs
Canon 1v with Canon 50mm f1.4, Fuji Neopan 400 in HC-110 B

Sleep where ever
Canon 1v with Canon 85mm f1.8, Fuji Neopan 400 in HC-110 B

Now for the 120 shots I've selected, I opted to shoot stationary subjects for the most part, lots of cats at the pier in Side, so there were many opportunities and subjects to choose from.

I figured out that I could indeed use the matte-screen part of my focusing screen to obtain sharp focus, relying less on the split screen part of it.
This is both faster and easier than spending critical seconds tweaking the focus, to get the split-screen aligned correct on subjects without any good lines to line up. (besides, cats always move somewhat, so placing the split-scren over one eye and try to focus on it, was useless).

Notice the extremely shallow DOF's on these first two shot, done with Hasselblad 503CW the Carl Zeiss Tessar 4,8/160 CB and Fuji Acros at EI 100, later developed in HC-110 dilution B:

Also, I think that these show how much better tonal rendition you actually get with the larger 120 format film:

Pier boss
Hasselblad 503CW with Fuji Acros 100 in HC-110 B

Bandit cat
Hasselblad 503CW with Fuji Acros 100 in HC-110 B

My 400 ISO alternative in 120 (the only one I really like), is Kodak Tri-X, it is quite similar in tonality to Neopan 400, although the Neopan is was a little cleaner and have had a tad more resolution.
Thus, as the afternoon progressed and the light got softer and dimmer, I used Tri-X while walking the old-town, looking for cats and dogs in the narrow streets in Side.


Curious scaredy-kitten in a shoe-shop ^^
Hasselblad 503CW with Kodak Tri-x 400 in HC-110 B

King of the cigar-box
Hasselblad 503CW with Kodak Tri-x 400 in HC-110 B

City dog
Hasselblad 503CW with Kodak Tri-x 400 in HC-110 B

The Fuji Provia 100 shots, were of the family, so I won't put them up on the blog, they were as you would expect from Provia 100 though; Clean, natural colors, perfect saturation etc, basically really really nice.

The Kodak Porta 160VC films, came out very strange for some reason. They looked washed out and overexposed, although I shot the films at EI 160, using my iPhone light meter app to gauge exposure, as I'd done with the rest of my 120-shots.

I think that the lab either processed the films as 100ISO or 400ISO films or something went haywire on these. (nothing important on them though, as I brought the films mainly for testing purposes)

Kodak Porta 160VC, Hasselblad 503CW and Zeiss Planar T 80 mm f 2.8 CF


I was able to save the scans somewhat, by lowering the exposure by about 1 stop, pushing contrast to 100% and fiddle with the white balance and the color channels in Lightroom.
Still.....they don't look quite right. (I had 4 expired rolls from my Hasselblad purchase and decided to shoot up two rolls for the fun of it).

I will experiment more with color films in 120, as I've secured a fresh batch of color films in my freezer, both slides and negative films.
(15 rolls of Kodak Ektar 100, 15 rolls of Fuji Provia 100F, 15 rolls of Fuji Reala and also 5 rolls of Fuji color 400X)

I also brought my handy little digital Fujifilm Finepix F40d compact to Turkey, which I bought in Japan in 2007.
This was for those typical family snaps while out and about, it came in handy several times actually and the small on-board flash also managed to help some nice shots during high noon and sharp sun.  :)

Regards ^^

4. januar 2013

The apple trees of Hardanger


Early in June I went for a weekend in Hardanger to follow Rio Yamase, a classically schooled and very experienced violinist, with a large focus on the Norwegian Harding-fiddle.

Rio Yamase with the Hardingfele in Hardanger

  - She is the foremost person on that particular instrument in Japan and her school and her performances generate a lot of interest over there (and here as well).

The above photo was taken during shifting light conditions (fast moving clouds) and I used a Canon 580 EX II speedlight to balance the exposure between the landskape and Mrs. Yamase.

The group consisted of Japanese dancers, musicians and students of Hardanger seam, who were visiting Hardanger for cultural exchange and studying. The program is called Japan Hardanger club .

My task was to follow the group and Mrs. Yamase and document the event. My task was also to create some more formal portraits of her in the wonderful Hardanger Apple-farm fjord-scape, as seen above.

One of the main events, was a concert in the local church, where Mrs. Yamase and her students performed a variety of musical pieces on violin and also on the Hardanger-fiddle.


Mrs. Yamase in concert with students of the Hardanger-fiddle

Attending this event were most of the mayors from the local municipalities, as well as representatives from the business and tourist-trade. 

Mr. Knut Hamre and Mr. Frank Rolland performing

From left to right:
Mika Oga, Masumi Mizusama, Morten J Vatn, Frank Rolland, Knut Hamre, Rio Yamase, Yuka Shiraishi, Atsuko Kumazawa

The low-light conditions of the church was a real challenge, as the max usable ISO on my camera is 1600 (usable....the camera goes to 3200, but that isn't usable).
Though, coupled with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS, I was able to get good exposures and sharp photos.

- I really do need to upgrade soon to a camera that have nice/usable photos at 3200 or 6400. I see that the lowest light conditions I normally encounter, demands a minimum of ISO 1600 with a good 2.8-lens, it would be nice to not be on the limit in these situations.


- Flash is never an option for me in low light, even though I know how to balance things, using natural ambiance really creates a nicer atmosphere.

Anyway, later the same day, there was a nice tea ceremony, excellently preformed and explained to the guests (who got to taste as well) and later, Japanese dancers performed in front of Hotel Ullensvang, followed by traditional Norwegian folk-dance groups and fiddle-players.


Miss K. Kuramata performing a traditional tea ceremony for the guests.


From left to right:
Keiko Suzuki, Yoko Wada, Akiko Shirokisawa

Keiko Suzuki performing

Norwegian folk dancers performing
 The main-evening was rounded off with a formal dinner and speeches and a little mini-concert by Mrs. Yamase herself on violin, as a bonfire was lit in the bright, early summer evening.

Rio Yamase performing on violin

All of the outside shots, were shot using my Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS, it just sings in these conditions.

For me, it's always a lot of fun hanging out with Mrs. Yamase and her students and company. I don't speak or understand much Japanese, but it's fun none the less. =)


Here's a video of Mrs. Rio Yamase and her niece, Miss Kristina Yamase, performing on the Harding-fiddle.

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=212562485537859

And here is some background

Lovely memories it was anyway, fun all the way. =)