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Monday, 22 June 2015


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Speaking of the "times a changing" I've been watching a series on CNN "The Sixties" Not only do you get to see footage of Keith Richards alive he has a smile on his face! And we get a great reminder ( for those of us who lived those years) of just how exciting and original those times were! Plus you get to see news photogs using MR's NEW camera with a Strobonar flash!

Art is not about the media except for the jaded or lacking in talent. Craftmanship is not art but it might be present in Art.

I guess this whole fixation with kit will never end. Ultimately call it what it is a distraction from the Art. Comments about cameras and lenses often outweigh those on actual photography.
Photographers keep going through phases about processes/lens types/films/Size/ shape etc. ad nauseum. These are ways to try to be different but not necessarily ways to be better.
All that glitters is not Gold, the same applies to Silver (halides).
Return to film and print on handmade paper using whatever process you wish but please think more about the image. Its the image - the photograph that counts.

That backs up the story I heard earlier today, that Jim Morrison is alive and playing small clubs in the Midwest.

LOL if I may. However he seems to be reversing over his whole idea that digital is too perfect (which I entirely agree with) with this, "As for 35mm, as far as I’m concerned 135 film is simply not competitive at all against any digital camera. If you like it, fine, but history has moved on."
The whole point is that it isn't competitive. Because it doesn't have to. He needs a pinhole.

I thought you admitting you're pining for a zoom lens was just as remarkable...

One of the things I learned in my early "digital" days was to not listen to anything that MR says or writes...
Frankly, someone who claims film images are "dirty" while digital ones are "clean" should by all rights find a job as a peddler of powder detergents!
And his notions of what "grain" is in digitized film images are so wrong only an ignorant could accept them....

A ha ha ha ha ha ha... that's funny. Mr. Reichmann has been an insufferable gearhead practically for as long as there has been an internet.

I find it deeply ironic that he's gone back to film, although...

...rather than just grab a user 2.8F or 3.5F off of ebay, he went and chased down a brand new super-expensive last-of-the-line model....

...like the true gearhead he is (and probably always will be, even when using film).

"If I were forced to sell all my cameras except one, the one camera I would keep is my Rollei TLR"

Exactly the same here. Of my 70+ cameras, I would keep my Rolleicord V. I have a Rolleiflex but prefer the 'cord.

Whenever I print a negative from it I wonder at how it can have such a great sharp lens and wonder why I have any other cameras.

And if you want to know what you can do with a simple box with a fixed lens (or two) have a look at the work of John Gay.

For a few years in the mid-'90's I shot a lot of my personal work with a Rollei 2.8 GX, and also had a 3.5 F because I got the latter for a song.

The Rollei TLRs are about the closest thing to "compact" rollfilm cameras as you'll find, especially compared to the Hasselblads I was using for a lot of my assigned work. Also, that subtle "snick" of the leaf shutters was pretty sweet.

Both of those cameras went away to help bankroll the Nikon D1 I bought in 2000, when I got serious about digital.

A few weeks ago I spent a couple of hours at A Gallery For Fine Photography (www.agallery.com) in New Orleans, where there is a Sebastiao Salgado show hanging currently, in addition to a lot of other magnificent original silver prints by photographers with household names.

That experience served as a jaw dropping reminder to me that there's just nothing like a beautiful old school "shot on film and printed by a craftsman" b&w print.

When the company I was working for went kaput 4 years ago, I found myself packing for a new job on the other side of the world. literally.
Back home I had, and still have, a fully functional darkroom, ready to use as soon as fresh chemicals were mixed. of all the things I miss, this is the one I miss the most. I packed with me 3 of my old film cameras. An M3 and two M6. Back home i have a couple of Rolleis. A 6x6 and a 4x4 Baby Rollei.
Anyway, Now I have a Fuji X camera, which makes me kind of happy, but not quite. I have not been able to dedicate the needed time to learn to use a raw converter, and in 4 years I have only printed ONE photo. It was't even me, i had to drive to the next city and have someone work on my file to get a proof.
That being said, I wish I could go back to printing my own pictures again. I know I can shoot film and develop it mysef here and then maybe scan the negatives and heve them digitally printed, but the real fun part was always printing them on a wet darkroom, then drying them, mating and framing them at home.

Like Bill Mitchell, I have always enjoyed MR's photography too. That speaks for him louder than his choice of gear.

For many, it seems the choice to move back to film is a bit of a protest/reaction to the focus on gear since digital began. It made sense in the beginning when digital camera's were still behind film or had other problems that overcame artistic talent in the photographer. now it is more likely the other way around---lack of artistic talent overcoming the potential of the camera. It's a way of dropping out of the rat race. (The recently deceased Mary Ellen Mark mentioned the focus on gear as one reason she stayed with film.)

It took a while for me to figure that out---I had used film for years before digital photography and never thought of it as magic nor did I romanticize it. But I can see why folks do so now. Were it not for the recent HUGE price increase in film in Tokyo (over double, near triple for some) I would do more.

For most it is much, much easier to go from digital to film---the advantage of a much quicker, cheaper learning curve---than it was to start out with no choice but film.

Hopefully the increasing price of film will not make it once again a rich man's game.

What I found to be the most compelling outcome of the MR article was that many black & white photographs were included in the Rollei TLR piece. Then at the end MR states that none were taken with the Rollei and that none of the images captured were worthy of inclusion. I seem to remember reading that there was "never going back to film" according to MR just a short time ago, what has happened to change his mind?

It's interesting that he found a lowly Epson scanner sufficient, albeit with the tedious glass mounting procedure.

As for the Rolleis I love them and used them until my middle-aged nearsightedness kicked in, making focusing problematic. There are options – a German cottage industry adapter that allows mounting Hasselblad chimney finders with diopter correction looks to be the nicest solution – but you sacrifice the compactness that makes the camera so attractive.

I've had many of the C through Fs, highly recommend the E models without the fragile metering knob and with a Maxwell screen correctly installed. The later Rolleicords are a bargain and quite a bit lighter (and simpler but still with high build quality). Having played with the newer versions I find them lacking except I guess Michael must have needed a meter ;-p

Meh... been there, done that.
It won't be a proper apocalypse until a certain Michael C. Johnston converts to film photography.
Now that would be the end of the world as we know it (and I'd feel fine).

I've been on the "one lens / twin lens" band wagon for years...I have a great Minolta Autocord, and I am currently fingering the edges of my wallet because the local pro shop has a "used" final gen Yashica 124 that doesn't look used at all. You can spend the rest of your life shooting with just one of those...many of Avedon's 50's/60's portraits were shot with a Rollei, and even tho many of those are close-ups of character faces, no one seems to mind the odd visual rendering of the normal lens, used that close on people...

The "too perfect" idea is interesting. Maybe that's why I shoot 4/3....

I find vinyl a little too imperfect without an expensive cartridge and turntable. I'm getting back into cd's, taking advantage of the glut before they too become retro. Modern jazz recording though, mix the perfect playing with the perfect recording and you have a great recipe for saccharine music.

You know, TLRs are the analog precursors of smartphones . . . People walking around with their heads down looking at little screens. :-)

Good for Michael! This is indeed shocking news, as he's made a fair number of "film is so yesterday" comments over the past decade or more.

One can't help but notice that MR's "Rediscovering Craft" essay is illustrated with photos made using digital cameras, but that can be forgiven: it's simply a lot harder to get striking photos with film than with digital. (Anytime a photographer laments, "Everything has been already photographed," I think, "Not on film it hasn't!")

Considering how long it takes to build up an impressive body of new film work, there's a decent chance that Reichmann won't ever post that many film images or even stick with film for very long; he has to constantly supply estimable photos for his website.

But that's fine. In an age when excellent photographs can be captured with the phone in one's pocket(!) or largely constructed in Photoshop, photography need not be solely about the final image. As MR surely knows, the quality of the experience of photographing can matter hugely, especially to someone who has already made as many thousands of strong digital photographs as he has. If film is interesting and challenging, why not shoot some?

Well, quibbles with Mr. Reichmann aside, his essay resonated with me because I recently converted a Polaroid camera to 4x5, and have been having a lot of fun using Fuji pack film in it. Having a print is really nice. I've been shooting digital for over a decade and I have rarely printed. I also agree with him on the scarcity (or cost) of film leading to a more considered approach. It's not either/or...but analogue has attributes.

"formerly rotund blogger" - if self-referential, good for you!

Darkroom gone long ago. Still own my first 35mm from ca. 1962, a (sheepishly admitted) rangefinder type by Argus (the "brick"). And a Canon AE-1. And a Yashica TLR. And a Crown Graphic 4x5. And maybe someday, a Wanderlust Travelwide 4x5. And an Ansco developing tank. Rolls and boxes of expired film in the fridge. Every so often, it's fun to shoot some film, then scan it into the digital workflow.

Love digital. Fond of film. No interest in 19th century methods.

Oh, and .... hundreds of LP's and a turntable. One of these days, I'll sit down long enough to listen. At 73 and still working, I have lots to do, and the days are way too short.

Well, it's a start. Next, Mr. R ought recognize that his apparent need for greater image quality means a larger negative than 6x6 and, if roll film, a camera that doesn't reverse-curl the film. After which he should further embrace the darkroom and make wet prints. On fiber paper. :-)

I doubt he'll go very far in this direction, but am glad he's at least written about it. Perhaps a significant number of his readers will be inspired to try silver halide, thus keeping HARMAN on its increasing Ilford film and paper sales trajectory. Unlike vinyl records, should analog photography material die out, resuming production in the future would *not* be trivial, if doable at all. The art and skill such manufacturing require can only be obtained through long on-the-job training. When it's gone, it's gone.

Well I understand Michael Reichmann's affinity for that Rolleiflex. I have, I believe, the same late-model f2.8 FX.

It's truly a thing of mechanical perfection and beauty, the 6x6 analog of Leica's late MP. I lament that I so rarely inconvenience myself to use it, or any of my other film cameras. But, alas, inconvenience is the big word in that sentence.

Nevertheless, as much as I truly enjoy using a variety of cameras I've come to know one immutable truth about photography: wherever you go, there you are. We take basically the same pictures regardless of the device and the medium. We change when our mind's eye changes, not when our cameras or lenses change.

That said, this is a good moment for me to acknowledge that Michael Reichmann's photography has noticeably improved during the past several years! Lately he's been showing images with more sophistication and complexity, images that transcend the monotonous decorative prettiness so characteristic of amateur landscape photos. Images that look more like he's been more closely studying the work of Alex Webb than that of Eliot Porter.

So whatever cameras Mr. Reichmann chooses to use I salute him! May he continue to find emotional satisfaction and enlightenment through his photography! I fear not the reverse-flying birds!

100 speed film for MR? Ha! Go with 400 speed. A little bit of grain shows the photo is from film, something to brag about.

Ummm, Jim...Keef is still alive. He may look like he's at death's door these days, but he managed to outlive Jim Fixx.

Having scanned thousands of my old film images and printed a lot of them, and shot tens of thousands of digital images, starting with a DSLR in 2003 -- yeah, "dirty" and "clean" are very good characterizations.

The limit on aesthetically satisfactory enlargements of film images has always, for me, been all the crap that's in/on them and which grows as the image grows. Digital was hugely freeing in that regard. (This is nearly entirely limited to 35mm film; I've shot medium-format and 4x5, and scanned both, but not really enough to set my opinions solidly in reality.)

I've had a Zeiss Super Ikonta B camera in lieu of a Rollei as I could never get used to a reflex camera. Mr. Reichman made his Havana series in black and white with the Rolleiflex. I made mine with the Fuji 6x7 folding camera.

I don't believe in magical cameras. I want a camera that is as close to invisible as possible. I used film for many years, and I am almost completely uninterested in doing so again. In many ways, the romance of a piece of gear, a format, a medium... is a distraction from photographs.

My two cents.

You are welcome. ;-)

MR loves his gear like many photographers do, and as he gets access to a lot of gear for review, he goes through a series of "infatuations". He'll move on to another infatuation in due course.

This is one of the pitfalls of reviewing: not using a camera for a long enough period to really master it. Mastery allows one to swing that stick, however big it is, a lot harder.

Always use the right tool for the job. Simple as that.

Sometime the right tool is a film 4x5, other times it's a digital M4/3.

I'm restoring a small/light 1935 Leica IIIa, and a 1934 5cm f/2 SUMMAR uncoated lens. I'm also switching from APS-C to small/light M4/3, for paid work. When New55 film (Type 55 positive/negative replacement) starts shipping, I'll be using my 4x5 monorail more often 8-)

Although many people love him, I've never been a fan of MR's persnickety pontificating.

I have a Minolta Autocord and a Mamiya C330F but rarely use either. If you have to scan the negs and go back to digital it just seems pointless to me. You have to use an enlarger to get the full effect. I used to make 12x16 inch prints (sometimes 20x16) from 35mm but it amuses me how people get upset when they find a couple of spots on their sensor. It sometimes took hours to spot those prints with dye and brush.

I don't know which Salgado prints that you saw Kurt but he went digital in 2008. I have heard that he used a Pentax 645D for the latter years of Genesis and definitely now uses a Canon EOS 1D Mk3. As for Genesis, I saw the exhibition and was completely 'gobsmacked' as we say here. Breathtaking.

Oh, I should have mentioned that Sebastiao Salgado has a film negative made from his digital file and then this is printed onto real silver paper. So he goes from digital back to silver halide.

I remember that article about D30 vs film by MR. There was no reason not to believe him. So I bought the 10D in 2003 and I´ve liked digital since then. But 2009 I read about Leica as teacher by a certain MJ. So I bought a Leica M6. I did not really need a teacher after 40 years of photography. But I liked the approach. And you only live once, so what the heck. Now I have a M9 too. Not better pictures but more fun. Like driving a HD to work.

Like several other commenters, I have a hard time separating the merits-of-film argument from the gear-fetishism in this case -- especially in light of the writer's history as a digital evangelist, and his choice of an expensive "new-old-stock" Rolleiflex in place of far more affordable options that are very plentiful and much cheaper on the used market.

Chuck, I'm pretty sure he died back when he fell out of that coconut tree in Fiji but nobody ever told him:)

One has only to look at the rising prices of used medium format [film] cameras to see that 120 film must be alive and well.

A Rolleiflex E that I bought about 10 years ago has almost tripled in value. I have since added 2 more Rolleis -I do use them regularly - and just today bought a Yashica-D for no good reason but for the hell of trying something different.

Selling all my DSLR gear to go back to film has been a pleasurable experience. I still have a digital P&S but rarely touch it.

I wonder how much of the renewed interest in Rollei TLRs is attributable to Vivian Maier. In any event, I predict that digital is not going to be a passing fad.

You immerse yourself in a craft to be fulfilled by it and an outside opinion of your choice is irrelevant except for academic or emotive discussion. For the practitioner to seem to want to justify the choice can sound either pontificating, or intended to stimulate a discussion that at best is healthy.I guess good blogging in a simplified analysis is a mixture of self promotion (nothing wrong with that if you want to get on), the dissemination of interesting knowledge or views and the desire to be involved in a discussion (where your temper can be held in check). However, sometimes the mix sounds a little 'off' and a slight tone of condescension appears, or something like it. At the end of the day if you are scanning negs you are effectively shooting digital, just with a different camera for the pleasure and effect. Film prices aren't too bad, but wet paper prices have increased because hybrid film/digital is the easiest route. To me, having an optical 'train' for capture to print is most satisfying and, I kid you not, simpler than the conversion of film to digital where the characteristics can be endlessly skewed by algorithms. Most film users just don't want to hang around in the dark any more. If the converts and dabblers increase as they are - although fads come and go - then I'm happy because my craft is being kept viable. More, please.

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