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Wednesday, 08 December 2021


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Reading this, I couldn't help thinking about Vivian Maier doing street photography with her Rolleiflex. Perhaps she also received the glares, and may have also felt some apprehension? But, a Rolleiflex would seems to invite attention. Or maybe it is simply a matter of the photographer's personality?

Worst camera review ever! Sorry, couldn’t help it...

Generally, I find the sooner I get my eye to the viewfinder, the quicker the anxiety dissipates- as if I’m watching a movie.


It's as if that Fuji were the Hope Diamond with all the problems it caused. (Most of the accounts of the curses appear to be exaggerated, according to wikipedia.)

It's a good thing the camera wasn't any smaller. The model name wouldn't have fit.

Catching the eye of the construction worker hundreds of feet away? That lens had to be the most reflective surface ever built at the time! A good, entertaining story.

I wonder it it's any bigger and/or more alarming than the Rolleiflex that Vivian Maier et al used to walk around with and point at folks.

I had both the wide and 'normal' version of the Fuji cameras. Lots of fun to shoot with and produced a big negative/transparency. I only used them for nature/landscape, though.

I wonder how the pervasiveness of cell phone cameras and the ease with which photos and videos can be shared on social media has changed people's responses to photographers? On the one hand, you'd think people would get used to it since imaging devices are everywhere now. On the other hand, that may be exactly why people seem more concerned about strangers taking their pictures (at least, that's my impression). I know I wouldn't like strangers photo/videoing me in a public place simply because it's so easy for them to upload that photo or video of me and it be available worldwide. I don't recall if it bothered me pre-camera cell phones and social media. I can't remember that world of so long ago.

I had a Fuji 645s pro, you know the one with the crash bar around the lens? It was purchased used years ago and when it arrived I was shocked what a plastic fantastic wonder it was. Even the crash bar! The shutter sounded like it was designed in a partnership with Cracker Jacks. But that 60mm lens was quite good. The memory of a moody photo of an old graveyard I took with that camera stays in my mind. I have been tempted to repurchase this camera based on the memory but thoughts of hard plastic combined with insane asking prices of $500+ will keep those memories as just that.

[By coincidence, the picture of mine that I particularly remember that I took with the GS645s Pro was also of a moody graveyard. --Mike]

I never owned a Texas Leica, but always liked the idea of it. For me, it was too expensive for a camera with a fixed lens, and the GSW model with the 65mm lens was barely wide enough for the stuff I'd have used that camera to photograph.

And, it must be said, while the idea of a rangefinder camera always seemed attractive, every time I actually used one I found myself happy to go back to an image projected onto ground glass. (That's what keeps me from being tempted away from my Pentax 645z by the Fugi GFX cameras, despite that they do offer some advantages, and despite that the Fuji would still be showing me a projected image. Ground glass is just better for me.)

So I never got one, either.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't photograph people candidly and get it right. Either I have to move too fast for them to react, in which case my photographs lack anything of careful composition (ala Friedlander) or decisive moment (ala Cartier-Bresson), or the photo I get includes them offering a visual opinion of the exercise ranging from an annoyed expression to an upraised stiff middle finger. I'll stick with my pretty rocks.

I am so bad at candid people photography! As I read your post, every memory of every time I've tried came rushing back. These are not good memories. One time the busker I was photographing actually stopped what he was doing and glared at me. A busker! Apparently I violated the "Code of Photographing Buskers".

I enjoyed my brief time with a Texas Leica. The lens is exceptionally good. One thing that fools people is the roll counter. They buy a used one that says 107 and think they scored a low use camera. Little do they know it resets to zero when you load the next roll after 999. Most of the ones you can buy have reset to zero any number of times after years of service taking pictures of tourists hopping off the bus at Mount Fuji.

[We should get together to trade tales of woe. Bike messengers in DC used to congregate at DuPont Circle after the day shift was over, and I got hassled trying to take pictures of them once. One very aggressive young woman with a volatile temperament who the others thought was entertaining. She even threatened me physically! So apparently there is also a "Code of Photographing Bike Messengers." --Mike]

I find that having a big, obvious camera helps to disarm people these days. But then I'm a warm, friendly, average guy.

My history with the Texas Leica is using one to shoot professional boxing for a few days. I'm too modest to post a link but it's on my site and a few other places. It was probably like trying to paint with a baseball bat, but the results came out pretty decent.

OK, I'm not that shy,
http://akochanowski.net/ringside is mostly shot with the Texas Leica.

Maybe you should’ve used a real Leica instead....😁

I’ve thought about this, since I will be acquiring a GL690. I think it might have to do with not only the absolute size of the camera, but also that it obstructs so much more of the photographer’s face. It’s as if you’re hiding for some nefarious purpose.

What I have learned about “street”/people photography is that it most often is about engagement with the subject. Looking at Peter Turnley’s work in Paris and New York has taught me a lot. He almost always has a story of the encounter, including the name(s) of the subject(s). It’s one reason I like the Rolleiflex - it elicits smiles and often a pleasant conversation.

How had he noticed me? It's almost uncanny, as if I radiate some telepathic signal or something.

Perhaps you were concentrating so hard on the subject that you didn't notice his buddy standing a few feet away saying, "Why is that guy across the way taking your picture?"

Owned both the Fuji GS645s, and the Fuji GW670. Both outstanding cameras with sharp lenses. Both sold because I never could cozy up to them. The 645 had a meter, which was a drag to set through the tiny rangefinder, and the rangefinder was hard to focus because of the barely see-able dot. The GW670, was a drag to use because you had to use a secondary meter, which defeated the purpose of shooting larger format film "on-the-fly".

The bigger camera got a lot of response from everyone! You say "Texas Leica", I heard repeatedly "Playskool" and "My First Camera".

By the time the camera I really wanted, the GF670 came out, with aperture priority auto exposure, paying close to 3K for a one lens film camera in semi-retirement seemed silly. (BTW, I've seen pristine used copies for way over 3K used).

I've had a related experience shooting with a big, boxy Mamiya C3, but managed at times to play it to my advantage. Even back in prehistoric (i.e., "film") days, it was a whale-like oddity of a camera in public. What I liked was it drew people in. "Is that an antique?" "How does that camera work?" "That's really a camera?" All that curiosity broke the ice and made for some nice portraits.

So I guess these are out of the question for you.

Koni-Omega Rapid
Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5

The designers at Fuji must have hated smooth surfaces, as the camera seems to have a change in elevation between every component, whether it makes sense or not; it's crammed with wrinkles and ridges. Maybe that's why it attracted attention. It looks like a weathered old man. But really, this camera was not intended for street photography, was it?

I have fond memories of my GSW690 III: In my hands, it seemed to amuse bystanders, as if I were playing with an oversized movie prop or toy! Maybe yours could have benefited from a strategically placed Hello Kitty sticker.

Sold mine.
The sound of the shutter put me off.
Good results though.

Your biker is riding an expensive custom bike that is anything but subtle. I can’t believe he’s never had a camera pointed at him. The bike screams look at me! It appears to me that he’s just checking out the cager who’s shooting blind and hoping for the best which is not an everyday occurrence. In this case I think it’s all in your head.

Andrew, this series is amazing! Glad you weren't shy. http://akochanowski.net/ringside/w8y3luwl24mm2x3fysynckogoqlwpq

Nice boxing essay, Andrew!

I like the idea of having one. Especially the 6x9 model. If I ever can get a great deal on one, I will get it. I even have a box of roll film in the fridge waiting for the last 2 years. I’ve never held one. So we will see how I feel once it’s in my hands.

With my Fuji 6x9 and 6x7 cameras

I used a Mamiya 6 for a while back in the day. It was great. But kept breaking.

This is one of my favorite pictures though... shot on a cold night with the 6.


That sounds like how I feel when I attempt any kind of street photography. That's why I mostly wander the woods with my camera. Well told!

If the various Fuji incarnations are "Texas Leicas", does that make 4x5 converted Polaroid 900/110A/110B cameras "Alaska Leicas?"

One of my great regrets in life was foregoing an opportunity to get on the waiting list for a Razzle, a particularly nice 4x5 conversion of a Polaroid by the late Dean Jones. By the time I had rethought that mistake, Dean had passed on and none of the other 4x5 Polaroid conversions have ever stirred my imagination the same way.

I had a gw690iii, loved it. Fell off a tripod head twice. Cheap Bogen head, I should have known better, especially before the second time. Fixed once, now deceased. Went back to my Mamiya TLR. Bought a 'ii' a few years later. The lens is great, the body is OK. Durable enough, but not bulletproof. I "see" more like a 75-90 (35mm equiv) lens, but when the "not very wide" will work I'm happy with the Fuji. I call it my "clown camera".

Hmmm....lot of reminiscing on TOP lately, what with this post, the article on Fotomat, the film photography and film cameara posts, etc.

Swinging back to the 2nd decade of the 21st Century, and looking forward just to change things up a bit, it appears Fujifilm will be releasing not one, but two X-H2s, one 40mpixels and one 26 megapixels.

My X-H1 is still my pro workhorse, now almost 4 years on, and still one of the three best cameras I've ever used, so it will be interesting to see what the X-H2 will bring from a real-world, "practically significant" perspective.

Happy Anniversary.

[By coincidence, I went to FujiRumors to see what you're talking about, and the top post at the time was about the new Fuji Neopan 100 Acros II film. :-)

Anyhow, I'm sure you can find exceptions, but *generally* I don't like to post about rumors. The most recent time I got my ass bit doing so was with the supposedly upcoming A6600 replacement. Oops. Although I seem to keep to have to keep learning it over and over again, it's a lesson I first learned posting about the then-rumored N8008 replacement. I did it again with the Leica digital M way back when. Which did indeed eventually arrive, even though it seemed to take, let's just say, a long time. The "X-H2" has been rumored for at least three years now. We'll no doubt talk about it if and when it gets here, though. In fact, you could even review it if you want to Stephen.... --Mike]

Yeah, I dunno about your "glare" theory.
Pretty sure that's how I look on the bike whenever I see something unusual, or moving, or interesting, or shiny, or just present.
A biker who doesn't look at things carefully has a fairly short life expectancy.

I used to shoot on the street with a Hasselblad 2003FCW, with and without the winder. Mostly with either a 50, 80 or 110 lens. My friend Matt Weber used to call it the Scandinavian Howitzer because the sound of the shutter was pretty loud. Even on the streets of NYC you could hear the thing. That said, I was able to get pretty close to people and still make candid photos. https://www.mikepeters-photography.com/Category/The-Dream

[Yes, but you, Sir, have a totally unfair advantage. You are a better photographer than I. --Mike]

What a bizarre choice of test subjects for that kind of camera, though!

I think I've mentioned my bad experience with the GS645, where every roll I ran through it had many shots ruined by bellows pinholes, even after I taped over the first batch. (I think the bellows got compressed too much in the storage position, so the corners tended to fail.) I loved the idea, but the reality is that it ruined a lot of opportunities.

Fuji GW690III, HP5+ and Sekonic light meter set to incident reading. If someone can't make a decent photo with that what hope is there?

I guess I am a slave to interchangeable lenses. I bought the earlier series with three lenses.

It seemed like a great idea, but it was so heavy I never really used it.

So I got a Mamiya 6, but never used that much either. I guess there wasn't much between 35mm and 10" film that I figured out how to use until I got a couple of RoundShots and a Wideux 1500.

Most construction workers worry that a photographer is from the City or State Inspections. So I used to shoot with super telephotos and you experienced, they still see you. Then I went shooting on a construction site with a female National Geographic photographer who talked to them and encouraged them to show off and mug for the camera with a big smile. “Say Cheese” is what the photographer should tell themselves. Most photographer can’t crack a smile.

One thing I learned during my brief 6x9 format time is that as a format, it varies in actual dimensions. I seem to recall some were only ~84mm on the wide end. I briefly owned a Brooks Veriwide camera, whose image area was 56x90. The camera had a Schneider Super Angulon 47mm lens, making the FoV something like over 100 degrees. That's when I learned that 24mm on 35 is about as wide as I can work well with. I think it worked out to 18mm equivalent in 35 format.


Speaking of cameras that call attention to themselves I give you the
3D World TL 120-1 medium format stereo camera. Big and bulky, this
made in China camera was the very antithesis of stealthy but oh how
wonderful the two 6x6 transparencies were! And when they were
paired up with the enclosed stereo viewer one was transported to
an amazing, magical world!

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