Goodbye Zeiss Ikon ZM

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The last film camera that leaves my hand. That should say a lot about this camera I guess? I can still recall the time when I was deciding what film camera to get, probably over 2 years ago. To go the SLR route or rangefinder route? If rangefinder route, to go with the Hexar, a Leica, a Voigtlander or a Zeiss? In the end, I had chosen to go with the Zeiss for all its excellent attributes, and I had never regret for doing so.

I sold off my Fujifilm GW690 III and Hasselbld Xpan earlier on, and was contemplating whether I should keep this camera with me as my only film camera moving forward should I choose to continue to shoot film. The camera feels good, much better than a Leica in my opinion. No nonsense, practical and just a pure joy to use. It had never let me down, not even once. Hence, I’m reluctant to cut away this emotional tie that I have with this camera.

I pulled out my last roll of film from my drawer, loaded up this camera and went for a shoot the other day. I enjoyed the feeling of using this camera, I really do. As the frames tickling down, I kept pondering in my head about “What’s next? What will our future be? What will my future be?” I was trying to think logically and rationally, without being influenced by my emotional connection with it.

As the last frame was shot, film rewinded, I made up my mind to put a pause to my journey on film photography once again. I want to take a break out of it, and I think now is the time to move on to something else. I might come back again in the future, just like how I did in the past. But for now, is time to take a break. I sold off my Zeiss Ikon. I hope the new owner will take good care of it. Till then.

Bentong Getaway

Last year’s December, I spent some time back home in Malaysia during the Christmas and New Year holiday. While lying around at home with nothing to do for about 2 weeks time, I decided to head on a short road trip with my friends to Bentong. It’s about one hour drive from where my house, and we get to indulge ourselves in some greeneries and nature and just walk around and relax.

We visited the so called “hot spring”, it’s pretty rundown actually but still, its a place you need to visit when you are in Bentong. Then we went to Bentong town for a walk, had a lunch, and shop for some local produce. We then spent our night staying over at Waterway Villa, which is quite a nice place for short staycation.

The next day, we went to Bukit Tinggi and visited a few locations around such as the French Village and Japanese Village. We also got ourselves some durian and rambutan, though I’m not a fan of them. And the final morning, we went for a short stroll to the fruit farm nearby to where we stayed, wrapped it up with a trip to Genting Premium Outlet for final shopping before we head home.

It’s a nice outing with good old friends, where we get to talk to each other face to face, having fun, and most importantly, relaxing my mind, body and soul after a year of stress accumulation. For the whole trip, I shot 5 rolls of film (both colour and black & white) with my Hasselblad Xpan & 45mm lens, and Zeiss Ikon with the 50mm F/2 Planar. It’s been awhile since the last time I bring them out for some exercise, and I screwed up some settings on my first roll of film too, but luckily everything turned out fine.

All in all, glad that I had this lovely trip with my lovely friends. Hopefully we’ll get to do more of this in the future.

Between the Line of Film and Digital

Dakota Crescent. Shot with Sony A7R Mk II. RAW files edited in Lightroom.

Recently I had noticed something when I switch between shooting film and digital camera. When I shoot on film, usually I will end up with a roll or two rolls of films after each walk, and I will get them developed by a local lab and once done, I’ll scan the pictures, clean some dust spot, follow by minor adjustment on level and curve and that’s about it.

When I shoot digital, I’ll probably start by selecting good pictures from all I have shot, then edit them to taste. I’ll probably spend more time experimenting things like HDR, playing with colours and HSL, deciding whether to convert one to monochrome and so on.

Dakota Crescent. Shot on Fujifilm X-Pro1. Straight out of camera JPEG.

Based on the way I work on film and digital, there are a few notable differences that interest me:

  1. Obviously, I will end up with less picture and, in a way, more keeper when shooting film. Less picture means less to be processed.
  2. There will usually be a gap from the day I took the shot until the day I get the processed film back in my hand. Hence, I’ll have some time to “cool down” myself before processing them. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Usually I will process the digital files very soon.
  3. I’m more lenient when it comes to flaws on my film picture as compared to digital. I can accept some degree of out of focus, or some minor dust or scratches on them. But when shooting digital, I’ll try to strike for “perfection”.

Reflecting on both mediums, it seems that shooting digital is a more “tedious” and time consuming process for me, and it certainly defeats the purpose for those who wanted instant sharing of their works on social media.

Dakota Crescent. Shot with Zeiss Ikon and Ilford Pan 400. Scanned and slight adjustment in Lightroom.

I certainly enjoyed the process of shooting and editing my film pictures more. So does it mean I should shoot more on film instead of digital? The easy answer is yes, as instant sharing isn’t really something that I really need. But why don’t we look at it from another angle, can I simplify the digital process to be as close as the process I have while shooting film?

Perhaps it’s possible, and that’s something I’ll try out and see how things unfold eventually. Shoot with smaller capacity SD card maybe, be more critical on the shot I take, let my pictures sit for awhile before working on them, don’t be too fancy with post editing and so on. Sounds about right. Hopefully by simplifying my digital workflow I will get to focus more on shooting instead. Till then.

Two Years Shooting With Rangefinder Camera

Untitled (37)-37It’s been two years since I made a switch from my Fujifilm X-series mirrorless to Leica M rangefinder camera. Within the short two years of time, I started off by trying out on the Leica M9-P and subsequently decided to go for the Leica M-P Typ 240 as my main camera system. This is followed by the addition of Zeiss Ikon, Hasselblad Xpan and Fujifilm GW690III, where all of them are rangefinder cameras.

Any regrets? Well, there were of course moments of rant, but all in all I’m fairly happy with what I can achieve with these cameras and the shooting experience they provide. Using a rangefinder and manual focusing is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, just like not everyone can appreciate driving a vintage or manual car. Yes I do missed out some moments, I do screwed things up occasionally and ruin my shots, but that just proven to myself that my skills are still lacking and needs to be improved further. I have nothing but myself to blame if I get things wrong.

Throughout the two years, I really learned a lot, and I do saw the rooms for further improvement, though my growth process is somewhat slow. Well, it’s okay, I shouldn’t stress myself up, end of the day it’s my hobby and it should be enjoyable rather than stressful. I’ll try my best to stay focus and stick to what I have now. I want to spend more time improving my skills before I make the next change. What will my next change be? When will it happen? I wonder. For now, I’ll just indulge myself in using my rangefinder camera to shoot and create more pictures that I’ll be proud of. Till then.