Tuesday, October 25, 2011

35mm at Langdale Park

I blogged a couple days ago about Langdale Park and posted a couple 4x5 images. While there I also shot a roll of 35mm film and have just finished scanning the images.

Shooting 35mm for me is an exercise in the joy of film photography. The process is not as arduous as 4x5 and the ability to shoot 36 shots per roll (I never shoot 24 exposure rolls) gives me the ability to experiment and try different things. Furthermore, the speed and versatility of 35mm allows me to take a camera and a few lenses in just my pockets and do almost anything.

My first real 35mm camera was a Nikon F5, probably still the king of 35mm cameras. It was a wonderful camera, but not portable - I would rather shoot digital most days. Sadly, it died in an unfortunate boating accident. This is actually what prompted my switch to medium format. After forgoing 35mm for quite a while I have recently starting shooting it again with vigor.

My camera of choice these days is the Nikon SP, a rangefinder from the 1960's. While many people today are familiar with SLR cameras, the rangefinder was the standard camera back in the mid-20th century. The most famous RF camera was and still is the Leica M-series. I was casually shopping for a Leica when I discovered the Nikon S-series, and since I am already a big fan of Nikon gear I splurged on an S2 and then an SP. The S-series was made famous in the Korean War as a cheaper alternative to the Leica with superb optics.

The Nikon SP is small enough with a lens to fit in a side pocket of my pants. Carrying it, I can fit two lenses in my pockets along with a light meter and am set for most anything. I usually prefer a 50mm along with a 28mm and 85mm. The main benefit to the SP is built-in frame lines for lenses from 28mm-135mm, but on other S-models you might need viewfinders for the other lenses.

I shoot a variety of film with the SP. I prefer b&w film but I will occasionally shoot color. These images were shot on Fuji Superia 100. I got this color negative film very cheaply and it is mostly for fun, as the technical image quality isn't as high as slide film or b&w. The film is past expiration and has a significant orange cast on some shots. If it's particularly egregious I usually just convert the image to b&w (converting to b&w also allows control over colors as if you were using various colored filters, which can be very helpful in some situations).

These first two images showcase the wonderful "pastel" quality that the older Nikon glass gives to color images. I really like the way the Nikon S lenses render colors.

This next image was converted to b&w and is a similar exposure to the one I posted before that I took on 4x5, but with a slightly longer lens (equivalent). While internet-sized images do not show nearly enough detail to make accurate judgement on most things, I think it is pretty clear how superior the 4x5 version is:

Here are a two more images from the park shot on the Nikon SP and converted to b&w:

And finally, here is another 4x5 image shot this morning from Langdale Park. I wanted to go early in the morning to see the light at a different time of day. This image was shot on the Nikon 360mm f/8 telephoto at f/32 for 8 seconds shortly after sunrise. The film is T-Max 100 and was developed normally with T-Max RS.

I think the increase in resolution with 4x5 is apparent! But not every shot needs or can be shot on a large negative.


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