Shooting Slides

Xpan + Provia 100F
Slides, or positive film, is another type of film that has been favoured by most in the past for producing extremely sharp and detailed print with very little grain. Unlike ordinary colour film or black & white film which were negative film, when slides exposed and developed, you get to see the picture itself on the film in full colour. I can still recall the feeling of receiving my first roll of slides… it’s magical.

Xpan + Provia 100F
In the past, people prefer to mount the film onto holder, then project the film directly in order to share and view the picture. This is something that can only be done on positive film but not the usual negative film.

Zeiss Ikon + Velvia 50
I had shot a roll of Velvia 50 sides before this, and the result were horrid. From there I learned on how to work with slides and expose them properly, as they have very limited room to push and pull in post, and luckily my second roll of slides, which was Provia 100F, came out pretty well in terms of exposure.

Zeiss Ikon + Velvia 50
Slides certainly produced very good image quality, and it’s not hard to understand why there are photographers who are still swear by slides and using them, especially for large format shot. But the trouble of getting slides processed and the price of it do put me off to shoot more. Perhaps once I get a hang of it, I’ll work out some personal projects that shoot on slides. But for now, I’ll probably stick with negative film.

Portrait orientation with Hasselblad X-Pan

I think most of us are quite familiar in seeing Xpan being shoot in landscape orientation, but not often it was done in portrait orientation. For those who don’t know, Xpan is a camera that shoot panoramic frame with 35mm film, each frame is about the size of 2 frames of standard 35mm frame.

Composing this panoramic frame in landscape orientation is already challenging due to the abnormal width of the frame, but it’s still possible for one to think and frame it, you just need to switch your mind to think of cinematic frame all the time.

However, things get a little quirky when you flip your camera to the side and shoot in portrait orientation. Suddenly everything looks odd to you again and there isn’t much of similar framing in real world that can be used as reference. The closest I can think of is probably advertising banner, but those are rarely associated with photography.

When you look into it, the fundamental of shooting the Xpan remains the same, regardless of you shooting it in portrait or landscape orientation – try to fill up the frame with stuffs. It’s easier to do it in landscape orientation because we are used to seeing it this way, but when it comes to portrait orientation, we can feel kinda lost, especially when you are using wide angle lenses like the 45mm f4 (35mm equivalent of around 24mm).

I had tried to shoot my Xpan in portrait orientation, the results were a little of mix bag, some picture works while some doesn’t. Anyway, it’s a fun way to explore for new composition and idea. As much as I struggled, I do enjoy the process of searching. If you have an Xpan with you, how often do you shoot it in portrait orientation? Feel free to share your experience and pictures. Till then.

I’m a fan of Rangefinder, but not Leica

Yes, I’m not. Although I’m using Leica camera and lenses now as my main camera system, but honestly I don’t really like Leica as a brand. I like shooting with rangefinder, and it doesn’t necessarily be a Leica.

Source: Konost official website
Source: Konost official website
The reason I’m using a Leica camera is simply because they are arguably the only manufacturer who still produce digital rangefinder camera, which happens to be what I like to shoot with at the moment. I’m not saying the cameras produced by Leica is bad, they are pretty well made. But in actual fact, I simply do not have any other choice if I want a digital rangefinder. Konost is working hard in creating a digital rangefinder camera as an alternative option to the Leica M, and I do hope they will succeed and I’m really looking forward to it. If there are other viable options out there, I’m more than happy to make a switch if it suits me well.

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My lovely and trust worthy Zeiss Ikon
When you look into the film cameras I used, none of them are from Leica. Again, I’m not saying Leica film cameras are not good, but after evaluating all the available options out there, it’s hard for me to pay more for a “branded camera” while I can get something similar (or even better) at a much lower price.

Some may argue that Leica is charging premium for their service, craftsmanship, precision, “hand made in Germany” legacy and so on. Well, for me the service they provide is not up to the level and standard that’s worth the extra money they are charging. I do admire their craftsmanship and precision, which is why I’m still using their camera and lenses even though I don’t fancy their brand, and I purchased most of them used, or off from dealers that I enjoyed dealing with. I simply don’t feel like buying directly from the Leica retail store.

Well, to be fair I’m not someone who goes after branded stuff anyway. I’m a very practical person, if your product is good and I like it, I don’t really care whether you are branded or not. I’m more than willing to spend if I like the product and I enjoyed the service provided. But sadly, to date Leica has yet to forge that kind of relationship with me. Perhaps they need me to make a purchase first before they are willing to treat me well, but to me that’s not the right way to do business, especially for branded / luxury products.

Enough ranting from me. Ignore the brands, just focus on using your camera and making pictures. Till then.

Medium Format – Shooting with Fujifilm GW690III

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Recently everyone is raving about the launch of Fujifilm Medium Format camera… I can’t resist the temptation and hence wanted to get one for myself… but I don’t have the money to spare… so I bought something “equivalent” at about 20 times cheaper instead 😛 Enter to the world of medium format with Fujifilm GW690III… Okay, joke aside. Actually I bought this camera quite some time ago, just that I haven’t really spend much time using it, hence I didn’t share much about it. I have shot a couple of rolls of film with it and thought that perhaps I can share a little of initial impression for now.

I’m always curious about “medium format” and wonder what’s so special about it. It’s common for you to see remarks such as “the medium format look” or “the medium format bokeh” on the internet, but is that all medium format offers? I wonder. Hence, I decided to check it out by myself. Getting a digital medium format is not cheap, and I certainly wouldn’t spend that amount of money just to test out something. After much research, I decided to go with the compact medium format cameras such as the GA645, GF670 and GW690 series released by Fujifilm. I happened to come across a used set of GW690III in a bargain price and hence bought it over.

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GW690III is a 6X9 medium format rangefinder camera with a fixed 90mm f/3.5 lens. This lens translate to around 39mm in focal length (35mm equivalent), it has 1/500s leaf shutter that syncs with flash at all shutter speeds via a hotshoe or PC port, therefore making it a versatile to be used for different type of shots. All in all, it is a simple camera with no built-in light meter, no lens changing, no auto film advance and no removable film back. You just load your film, set your aperture and shutter speed, focus your lens and start snapping away. You only get 8 shots out of a roll of 120 film though, so every shot counts.

Operation wise, the viewfinder is fairly bright and clear, but the rangefinder patch is a little small and dim, hence it might be hard to focus at times. There are two shutter buttons on the camera (one on top and one in front) which are convenient as user get to decide which is more convenient to be used. It also features a shutter lock mechanism which prevents the shutter from firing accidentally when it’s in your bag. You will need to pull out the built in lens hood in order to access the shutter speed and aperture adjustment (both on the lens). All in all, the camera is fairly compact and reasonably light (or heavy) for what it offers.

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About that gigantic 6X9 negatives. I’m not too sure whether there’s any difference in terms of the tones and gradations between full frame and medium format negatives, but what immediately stands out is the amount of details it managed to capture. I can still recall my jaw dropped when I view the scanned negatives for the first time on my computer screen. The depth of field for medium format is certainly shallower when compared to full frame. Perhaps these are the reasons why professionals like to use medium format to capture their portraiture or fashion work. The bokeh of this lens is pleasing, though not remarkably magnificent.

There are of course some “down side” in shooting with such large negatives. When shooting full frame, I can easily achieve focus from foreground to background when I stopped the lens to around F11 or so. But with medium format, I’ll need to go much further to somewhere like F22 or more in order to get the maximum depth of field that I need when shooting landscape. However, this does mean that I’ll either need a higher ISO film (for shorter shutter speed) or to shoot with longer shutter speed on a tripod. Those are the things you’ll need to take into account and workaround. Yes, this is what the camera does best – to slow you down and make you think before you shoot.

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All in all, I do enjoy shooting with this camera very much. For hobbyist like me, this is perhaps the best-bang-for-the-buck option to get myself dipped into the world of medium format. Honestly, I don’t really see myself switching over to shoot medium format more often. However, it does gives me a good refreshing feeling when I picked it up and shoot a roll or two. There will certainly be occasions where it will become invaluably useful. I’ll try to shoot more with this camera in the days to come and we shall see what I can squeeze out of it. Till then, happy shooting!

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