We’ve all read the admonitions on the film boxes, the data sheets, and the manuals for our medium format cameras (you did read that, right?): load and unload in subdued light. So you do. And then you get a roll of film back from the lab, or you start to unspool a wet strip from your Paterson tank, and there it is… The dreaded edge fog, smoky little mountains emerging from the very edges of the film and extending well into the rebate, or perhaps even into your image area. In my case, I mutter a few choice words, and start to wonder if it’s just me.
Film exposure latitude is a well-understood concept among film nerds. The problem is that there are really two closely related but different concepts involved in the discussion, and sometimes they’re mixed in a single breath.
I recently acquired (yet) another medium format camera: a Mamiya C220 TLR. It was offered on eBay (a place I normally avoid like the plague), but the fact it was fully complete — including boxes, manuals, all body and lens caps, etc. — and in great condition made it sort of a no-brainer to take the risk. I’m glad I did, because what arrived was every bit as good (or better) than the eBay listing photos. Full-form reviews on this camera are virtually non-existent, so it also seemed like a no-brainer to take a deep dive and explore its allure in detail.
On a recent trip to New Jersey, I picked-up a Hasselblad 503CW (a story all of its own, which I’ll highlight in its own post soon). Because I didn’t have any film with me, the camera shop kindly threw-in a few rolls of 120 so I could immediately start shooting. Since they also let me choose what I wanted from their film fridge, I opted for three Kodak rolls: Portra 160, Portra 400, and Tri-X. It was a beautiful day, lots of sunlight, so the Portra 160 went into the magazine as my first-ever roll of film in the new Hassy. When I got home, I took it for processing as usual to Englewood Camera. But the results were nothing I was expecting.
When I was first getting back into film photography, it was difficult to figure out where to find gear and where to get repairs done when needed. With brick-and-mortar retailing under threat from e-commerce for years, and repairing complex mechanical gear like film cameras seeming to become a lost art, it can be tough (even with Google at-hand) to track down what you need. That was the inspiration for the list that follows.
After searching high and low, I couldn’t find a digital manual for my new-to-me Hasseblad extension tubes. I was fortunate enough to get a printed version with the tubes, so I’m pleased to offer one to the Hasselblad community, along with some insights about the tubes that were not really clear in the beginning.
Let’s say that 45 days ago you asked me the question, “What’s an extension tube, and what’s it used for?” I would have been forced to reply, “I have absolutely no idea.” Truth; but no longer. Let’s just say I know the answers to those questions — and I’m now an enthusiastic convert to something I wish I’d known about years ago.
There are already multiple reviews, history lessons, opinions, and so forth regarding the Pentax 645 medium format film camera (my favorite being Todd Reed’s on Emulsive), and as I begin this piece, I’m not sure I’m necessarily going to be bringing deep, new insights to the table. But after shooting with this camera through over a dozen rolls of 120 film, I feel I’ve experienced its capabilities pretty well at this point, know some of its foibles, and have a basis to pull together some cogent thoughts. If you’re considering adding one of these cameras to your collection, read on.
The camera purchase I made in July 2019 was one I didn’t see coming: A lovely Yashica-A twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera. But when I saw it in the display case at Englewood Camera with a $125 price tag on it, it got my attention. Then when I looked closer, I just couldn’t not take it home with me.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I went to sleep last night thinking about the 120mm lens that’s coming on Monday for my Pentax 645, and apparently, my brain decided to latch onto the notion of film photography while I slumbered. I woke-up this morning in the midst of a dream where I was interviewed for a podcast about why I like film photography. Weird, I know, but it did get me thinking about the subject in a fully conscious state, and since I’d come-up with something interesting during the dream, it seemed to be something I should write down.