Did my first real repair for the Leica, fixed a REALLY noisy motor drive problem. It’s now so quiet and silky smooth! May be worth a blog post about how I did it…#leica #shootfilm (Taken with Instagram)
Look what I found! Bellows extension factor ruler! #largeformat #shootfilm #rcc #4x5 (Taken with Instagram)
My Leica is finally back from repair…5 months later! So happy to have her back. (Taken with Instagram)
Really hoping to make this a reality. Rough sketch, but this is a DIY film processor (gaseous burst agitation) that I’ve been imagining for quite a while now. (Taken with Instagram)
A portrait of me, in my happy place.
It’s not often I post up a picture of myself, so here goes…
This is me. My happy place is at the beach. Specifically, the beaches of North Carolina. I love living in the south, and I love our beaches.
This particular beach is my favorite. Oak Island, NC. One of the few west-facing beaches on the east coast. Who says you need to be in California to see the sun set over the water?
I’m a simple guy. Stick me near the water, and I’m a happy clam.
Summer of 2012 at the beach - Oak Island, NC
Miles playing in the warm sand.
This is a recent favorite of mine from photos I’ve taken at the beach so far this year.
I really love the way the skin tones and color are rendered - these are scans from 6x6cm SLIDES. No editing whatsoever, besides resizing for the web - beautiful!
I’ve never seen color like that, and accurate tones, from a digital camera with zero editing. Film just wins, for me, every time.
My Zorki is finally back from Russia. New shutter curtains and a fresh overhaul. Such a great little camera. (Taken with instagram)
Some examples from the Yashica D camera I wrote about a few days ago.
Not long ago I wrote up a quick review of the Yashica D - a beautiful older TLR camera that I recently picked up. You can see the article here:
One thing I did not include was some example photos from the camera! So, without further delay…
The first image was from a recent engagement portrait session here in Greensboro. I shot the session on 35mm film, but took along the Yashica loaded with some Tri-X. I’m starting to do this more lately, I’ll take along an extra camera and shoot my own personal photos. Shots that I don’t intend on giving the client, where I just do whatever I feel like - no pressure. I’m starting to find that these images are often some of my favorites.
This is my partner, Jenny. Shot on some REALLY expired Ektachrome slide film. I asked the lab to “cross-process” the slide film, the results were pretty cool! Blown out highlights and super-saturation in the color.
And this is Miles, my son. Again here with the Tri-X, out on the front porch.
As you can see, this camera produces some pretty unique results. Mostly because of the older lens. You can really notice what sets it apart if you take a look at the first image…notice the background? See how it swirls? This is a pretty unique trait found in older lenses. I like it!
Mamiya 80mm f/1.9 VERSUS Mamiya 80mm f/2.8 : The Official Mamiya 80mm Lens Test/Comparison!
The Mamiya 645 system is probably one of the most popular medium format camera systems out there. The Mamiya 645 camera has been around for quite some time, in a number of different variations. There is the original Mamiya 645, the 645 1000s, the 645J, Super, Pro, Pro TL…and now the newer autofocus 645AF and 645AFD.
Not only are they common, but quite affordable. You can easily buy an older Mamiya 645 with a 80mm lens for $200 or so. It’s a great way to get into medium format photography!
Besides the cameras themselves, the Mamiya lenses are also quite nice. They are affordable, sharp, well built, and available in a wide range of focal lengths…all the way from super wide to telephoto.
So, lets talk about the “normal” lens for these cameras. A “normal” lens is typically 50mm for a 35mm camera, with a 645 medium format camera it works out to be about 80mm. This is the focal length that most accurately reflects the human eye’s angle of view (yes, we can see really wide…but subtract what is in your peripheral vision and you’ll end up with a “normal” angle of view).
There are a number of variations of the 80mm lens available for the Mamiya 645 system, I’m going to focus on the two that I think are most common - and most relevant:
Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/2.8
Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/1.9
The 80/2.8 can be had cheap and comes standard on a lot of Mamiya 645 cameras. It’s compact, light, and very well built. The particular lens I used for the test was one I found on eBay for about $20 used. Wait till you see what a $20 lens can get you…
The 80/1.9 is a VERY unique lens. This is the fastest medium format lens commonly available. I hesitate to call it the “fastest medium format lens” because I’m sure there are some uber-rare lenses out there that may beat it by a very tiny margin. The lens I used for the test is the “C” version, which from what I understand is an older model with non-fancy lens coatings…oh, and there was a pretty significant amount of mold growing on the inside. I paid about $200 for this lens, you’ll probably end up spending more but will certainly have one in better condition. This lens has quite a bit more heft than the 80/2.8 and the focus ring seems to be a bit more smooth. Of course that could have everything to do with the fact that both are used lenses (the focus ring stiffness).
Honestly though, a little mold never hurt anybody.
You’d be really surprised how nasty lenses can get - mold, dust, scratches - and still provide excellent results.
So, lets get to the test!
Important info: All test images were shot with a Mamiya 645 Super, light reading from a handheld meter, on Tri-X 400 film processed in Diafine. Exposures were: f/1.9 @ 1/1000th, f/2.8 @ 1/500th, f/4 @ 1/250th, f/5.6 @ 1/125th, f/8 @ 1/60th, f/11 @ 1/30th.
This is obviously not a scientific test, I’m a camera nerd (bigtime) but I strongly believe in “real world” testing over “sitting at home with lens charts” testing. MTF charts don’t mean jack to me really (see, I know nerdy terms). The scans you see here are rough scans, no adjustments at all. They are not spotted, there are some drying streaks, the camera was not on a tripod, etc etc… Also, I did not do a test at f/16 because I never shoot portraits at f/16. I conducted this test relevant to my own needs.
Since the 80/2.8 doesn’t open up to f/1.9, here is an example of the 80/1.9 shot “wide open”. Look at the bokeh. Man, this is probably the single biggest reason I like the 80/1.9 over the 80/2.8. Not only do you get that extra stop, but the bokeh is beautiful. I’d almost call it “painterly”. And, as you can tell, it’s no slouch in sharpness wide open as well. You can see some vignetting around the corners, but who cares - it looks great. Vignetting without Photoshop, who’da thunk it.
And now at f/2.8. Side by side you can tell here that the 80/1.9 is has slightly less contrast than the 80/2.8. You can also see that although the bokeh did tighten up a bit with the 80/1.9 it’s still quite soft and fluffy - not as “sharp” as the 80/2.8.
But, let’s think about this for a second - would I be happy with the 80/2.8? Heck yeah. Sharp where it counts, pleasing bokeh, even when shot wide open. Did I mention I paid $20 for it?
Really like both of these lenses at f/4. This is a more manageable aperture for daylight portraits. There is enough depth of field, sharp where it counts. Keep in mind, with most of the Mamiya cameras (and medium format cameras in general) you are limited to a top shutter speed of 1/500th-1/1000th of a second. Shooting at wide apertures sometimes just isn’t an option during the day… unless you : shoot slower film, pull your film, use a ND filter.
The 80/1.9 seems to be picking up some contrast right around f/5.6. And, take a look at the bokeh again - I actually prefer the 80/2.8 in this comparison.
Almost the same shot by f/8 -f/11 huh?
And…of course, I had to show you a cropped detail. It’s hard to really judge the photos without seeing a smaller portion, where softness/sharpness becomes more obvious.
These are all about the same crop on her left (our right) eye. Keep in mind, it’s not perfect. I’m sure I could have done a better job scanning, and I think I see some motion blur in there (although it does look like f/8 wasn’t all that great on either lens…maybe it’s not motion blur). Remember, I did not use a tripod (mostly out of convenience, but also because I never use a tripod for portraits anyway).
So, there you have it! There is no real “conclusion” here, mostly because I didn’t go at this thinking “which lens is better”, I really just wanted to show what they could do. You can see pretty clearly that the 80/2.8 is a real bargain no matter how you look at it - and there are even newer versions that are reportedly even nicer with very little cost difference. No, it’s not a Hasselblad 80mm, but it’s certainly no slouch either.
The 80/1.9 is a no-brainer if you have the cash for it. If you are just getting started with medium format, or considering buying a Mamiya - I would recommend you start with the 80/2.8 and then upgrade to the 80/1.9 down the road (unless budget is not an issue). Is it worth the $250-400? YES! The 80/1.9 is, to me, a killer portrait and available light lens. It’s fast as hell for a medium format lens, and performs very well. Yes, it’s a little lower contrast and slightly soft wide open, but who cares. This lens is awesome.
I hope this was useful for everyone - please feel free to comment/ask if you have any questions or anything to share!
Also, if you are looking for used gear - eBay can be great, but I HIGHLY recommend KEH.com. They have an incredible inventory, outstanding prices, and the best customer service. I don’t get paid to say that - I mean it.
Greensboro Newborn Photography Session - More (color) photos of baby Iris!
Here are my picks from Iris’ recent photo session. I recently posted up a personal favorite HERE, but now I want to show you a few that I think also really stand out.
The photos were taken at the same location. I met Iris and her Mom at their house here in Greensboro, NC - with portraits of little ones like Iris it’s really important that you choose a location that is comfortable. What better place than home!
The light inside the house was just right, and Iris was in a great mood - I hope you enjoy!
Yashica D TLR Review - The BEST Budget Medium Format Camera Ever Made!
As with many photographers, I myself am a
bit of a HUGE photography equipment nerd. It’s hard not to be honestly. There are so many incredibly cool cameras, think about some of the factors that contribute to the diversity for a second:
- 150 years or so of research and development
- Varying film formats (a variety of small, medium, and large formats)
- Consumer taste
- Manufacturing and materials trends and developments
With all that said, I have owned/use a LARGE variety of cameras. Whether it be 16mm, 35mm, Medium Format, or Large Format - I’m on a perpetual search for the “perfect camera”.
Why do I love it, and why should you go buy one RIGHT NOW?
- The fit is near perfect. The layout of the winding knob, focus knob, shutter speed and aperture dials, shutter cocking lever, and shutter release button are all in just the right spot to be used without confusion and, after getting used to it, without even looking. This, to me, is HUGELY important.
- Sharp optics. Apparently there are two different versions of the 80mm f/3.5 lens that comes with this camera. Yashikor and Yashinon (I think?). If you care about the “expert” reviews on the internet about these two lenses, you’d probably be convinced that the Yashikor is worthless and not sharp. And, you would be wrong. If I can say one thing about reading camera reviews online it’s that they are mostly based on rumor and not actual experience. Take everything you read with a grain of salt.
- The “feel”. This camera just feels right. When you are holding it, its hard to ignore the voice in your head that tells you to grab a handful of film and get to shooting. Seriously.
- Ease of use. There is no bulky and unreliable meter built into this camera. All you need is a handheld meter or the good ol’ Sunny 16 rule. This camera is just plain simple. Everything about it just WORKS.
- Design. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? And, man, this thing is SOLID. Compared to the Yashica Mat 124G (of which I’ve owned a few), even though it’s essentially the same camera, it just feels much more solid and well thought out. Also, the lens is fixed and not interchangeable - to some this is a negative attribute, to me, this is more of a reason to buy one. Keep it simple.
- The price. Under $100 for a killer medium format camera. Yes. Please.
If you are looking for more technical resources regarding this camera, please take a moment to check these links out:
…and I couldn’t be more excited!
Everyone, meet Iris!
This is a personal favorite from my latest newborn session. Not typical of what you might see from a newborn portrait session (don’t worry, those are coming), but it stands out to me as more typical the kind of photo I shoot when I’m doing personal work.
I met Iris and her mother at their home in Greensboro, NC. It was a cloudy morning, but the diffused light spilling from the windows really set the mood perfectly. Iris was in a great mood and opening her eyes a lot, she was very curious about my camera I think.
During my time with these ladies I shot a couple rolls of film, mostly portraits of course - but this shot was more of something that just happened at the right time. Iris’ expression, waiting on the changing table for mom - and mom, walking right into the frame to tend to Iris…something about it really captures that moment for me. Moments like this, I feel, are the moments that you can look back on as a parent and genuinely treasure.
Meeting new babies is pretty awesome and being trusted to photograph them is an honor. I think the joy for photographing babies began for me when my son, Miles, was born. At the time I was in school working on my Photography degree and had access to pretty much anything darkroom-related you could imagine (man I miss those days!). I had fallen in love with my son, and fallen in love with film.
I took on a project for his first year of life, shooting one roll worth of photographs of him every day.
The project itself was really a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work. I was surprised at how much I learned about shooting little people under mostly challenging lighting conditions. But more surprising was how much these photos came to mean to me.
Having the first moments/days/weeks/months of your children’s lives on film is just invaluable. When you are home with your little one every day, changes can go un-noticed. One day just sort of gradually works it’s way into the next and, before you know it, your “baby” isn’t a baby anymore.
Shot with a Nikon F100 and 50mm f/1.4 lens on Fuji Neopan 400 film developed at TheDarkroom.