Category Archives: Camera

SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens

During my last trip to Japan I brought my trusty Pentax 645NII medium format camera but also my Pentax MZ-S SLR camera with just one lens and in a pouch so that I could easily carry the camera around in my coat pocket and have always something available even when bringing along the rucksack with the Pentax 645NII was too tiring. I had only brought Kodak TRI-X on 35mm and had started to shoot it at EI 800 to give me possibilities at night and for street photography.


SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens
SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7

As I said, I had only brought one lens for this camera and in that case I prefer to take a 50mm prime lens. I have a pretty good Sigma 50mm f/2.8 autofocus lens but this time I decided to take the SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens that I had bought together with my Pentax ME camera back in the 1970s. The SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 was really an amazing lens at the time and it still is awesome with great sharpness and contrast, and performing still acceptably well at f/1.7. See Ken Rockwell’s site for a review of this lens. The great thing with Pentax cameras is that even a modern SLR as the Pentax MZ-S will work perfectly fine with any old lens with a Pentax bayonet mount, no matter how ancient.

At first I was a bit afraid that a manual focus lens was going to be troublesome or too slow, but it was very easy to use and the focus indicator of the camera was a great guide to know when the focus was correct. I’m not really quickly sneaking photos of people, I prefer to engage them and then take their photo so it was not an issue at all. All in all, I think I made the right choice, the f/1.7 aperture was very welcome and the resulting shallow depth of field was really helpful making these photos work.

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S-M-C Takumar 6X7 105mm f/2.4 lens

Foma Fomapan 400 at EI 400, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 10:30 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds Foma Fomapan 400 at EI 400, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 10:30 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds

The S-M-C Takumar 6X7 105mm f/2.4 lens in its three different yet optically identical incarnations is probably the most recommended lens for both the Pentax 6×7 and the Pentax 645 series of medium format cameras. I never really understood this, the SMC Pentax 67 90mm f/2.8 lens that I already owned is on paper not that different if you only consider the aperture and focal length.  Yet the 105mm at open aperture has an amazing and quite a unique bokeh which makes it great for portrait photography out in the field.

I’ve only tried out the lens on my Pentax 67II so far and I’m keen to use this lens on my Pentax 645NII via the affordable Fotodiox adapter I picked up earlier. I love all my other Takumar lenses, if it works out as well on my Pentax 645NII, this lens will be a keeper!

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Water towers of Luxembourg

Sort of a new project for me, the different water tower designs here in Luxembourg. Shot on my Cambo SC2 4×5 Monorail Large Format camera with Rodenstock 150mm f5.6 Sironar N lens, a combination I really start to like.

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The water tower on the left is on my way to work and I have had now several weeks to see what light would work best. A sunny early morning seemed the best and that is what I went for: the light would not be too contrasty yet and the sun would still touch the tower horizontally without throwing a shadow downward. The light-play makes these photos interesting.
I spotted the water tower on the right on Google maps and will try this one again after the corn has been harvested so I can get a little further into the field to avoid the narrow crop.

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Cambo SC2 4×5 camera

I bought a second-hand Cambo SC2 4×5 large format camera, see here for an image of one just like it, and a Rodenstock Sironar APO N 150mm lens, see here. The 150mm lens is on the 4” x 5” negative format similar to a 50mm lens on an 35mm SLR.

This is my first photo taken with this camera and lens combination:
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Not an overly interesting scene but important to me in any case as everything worked out. Large Format photography is quite different from using an SLR or a medium format camera: so many things can be adjusted. In this shot the camera is facing down a bit and I tilted the lens even more forward to increase the DOF. The back of the camera is kept vertically so the vertical lines wouldn’t fall ‘backwards.’
The image is composed on the ground glass with the aperture open using the dark cloth to actually be able to make out the details. When you’re happy, you close the aperture, meter the scene and set the exposure on the lens, insert the film holder, cock the shutter, remove the dark slide, release the shutter, reinsert the dark slide, preferably with the black side in front to signal that this side has been exposed and remove the film holder. That’s one photo done!

I posted it on Facebook and a bloke immediately jumped to the conclusion that the white reflections on the water was dust and treated me like a film newbie. So cute when that happens. 🙂

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Fernweh

Watching the video diaries of Ben Horne always gives me a dose of ‘fernweh,’ the longing for far away places. I do like Ben’s photos, his landscapes on large format Velvia 50 are gorgeous, but his video diaries give even more: The insight in how the photos are taken, slowly, maybe one exposure in a few days, is illuminating. It resonates with my own experience when I went back to film, slowing down really improves the results. But the most important quality of the video diaries is the feeling that you’re there in these beautiful locations.

I would love to visit these locations myself and see what I can make of them on my Pentax 67II. Which makes me think of other places that I would like to photograph. I would like to visit Iceland again, everybody has been visiting Iceland but that wouldn’t stop me.  Only by visiting the same location many times will you be able to capture it at its best and unexpected. The reason for the urge to go again is that I have learned so much since 2006 and would make so much more of the place now.
As a new place, relatively close by yet very isolated, I would love to visit the Faroe Islands. It is gaining popularity and feels still a bit of an adventure.

The more remote locations that I’m dreaming of include Torres del Paine national park in the south of Chile or a city break in Havana, Cuba. These will be trips of a lifetime. But I guess that for the moment I need to satisfy myself with my biennial trips to Japan, still so much to see and uncover there even after all these years!

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In my bag Pentax 645NII

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Pentax 645NII
– Pentax 645 FA 45mm f/2.8 (on camera)
– Pentax 645 FA 75mm F/2.8
– Pentax 645 A 150mm f/3.5
– Pentax 645 A 200mm f/4
– Pentax Rear Converter-A 645 2X (not shown)
– Fotodiox Pro PT67-PT645 adapter (Pentax 67 to Pentax 645)
– Pentax 645 extension tubes
– Extra 120 film insert
– AF-360FGZ flash
– F&V K480 video light
– Lowepro Mini Trekker bag that I have had for years

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Infrared: Efke IR820 film

After having used infrared film in 2012 and earlier, I have been struggling a bit with fogging. I’m pretty sure the problem was due to the fact that it takes a while to load my Pentax 67II; my Pentax 645NII is much easier to load in a darkened room so I went back to this camera even though it meant that I had to remember to switch off the exposure data recording on the side of the negative as this also fogs the Efke IR820 film.

Efke IR820 at EI 100, developed in APH 09 1:40 for 11 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds

This summer I wanted to try again, I followed the notes that I had taken for this film and used F/11 and 0.5 seconds as exposure on that fine and sunny day.

Efke IR820 at EI 100, developed in APH 09 1:40 for 11 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds Efke IR820 at EI 100, developed in APH 09 1:40 for 11 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds

As I was only experimenting, trying to see if I could successfully expose and develop a roll of Efke IR820 film, I only exposed a handful of negatives. Of course, then the weather changed and the clear skies and burning sun were gone.

Efke IR820 at EI 100, developed in APH 09 1:40 for 11 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds Efke IR820 at EI 100, developed in APH 09 1:40 for 11 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds

I didn’t want to wait too long before developing the film, so in the end I decided to expose the last frames as a normal ISO 100 film without using the Hoya R72 filter. What do you know, the results are a bit grainy for an ISO 100 film, but overall it isn’t a bad film.

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Pentacon-F

While back home, my father gave me his Pentacon-F, the camera with which I used to shoot my first photos before I bought my PENTAX-ME.

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Made in Dresden, Germany, by VEB Zeiss-Ikon between 1956-1961, it is a completely manual camera with exposure times between 1/1000 and 1 second, and a bulb setting. The lens is a 50mm f/3.5 Meyer-Optik Primotar E.

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I’ll clean it a bit and then shoot a film to see if it hasn’t developed any light-leaks or other problems. It will be good to go back to shooting completely manually.

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FilmTrackr

Just a quick post to make you aware of a very useful tool that has become available on the ‘Net recently: FilmTrackr.com allows you to track your films, make it easy to catalogue them and download all information in CSV format which then can be used in Excel or other spreadsheet programs. In addition to this, it allows to create several reports to visualize all kinds of statistics of film and cameras used.

Best of all, the service is free. 🙂

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I dare you not to chimp

Here is a challenge for you: Next time you go on a photo walk, cover up the screen of your DSLR and don’t use it to inspect any of your shots during the walk until it is time to upload them into Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.

Crazy? Stupid? Pointless? You tell me afterwards.

Well, the following is of course completely based on my own experience and might not translate into your experience, but I think it does contain a more generic truth about the state of photography today. Stay with me:
I assume that you are familiar with the principles of exposure and composition, heard about the ‘decisive moment’, and are very familiar with your camera. My theory is that the impulse to inspect each shot almost immediately after having taken it, the so called “chimping,” is preventing you from taking that great shot. It invites you to forget about the theory of photography and invites you to take the same shot over and over again without the instant feedback really telling you how to improve the shot or, worse, with the instant feedback suggesting that this is the best shot possible and by doing so encouraging mediocrity. I tell you, nothing has really changed in photography with the Digital revolution, the principles of exposure and composition still stand. I invite you to take your time to set up the shot, think it over and think it over again before releasing that shutter. There is no point in taking the same shot over and over again while changing a few parameters when you don’t really know what you are changing and how it will affect your shot. Shoot fewer photos and as a result better photos; you don’t want to be caught out chimping when the decisive moment arrives!

I’m looking forward hearing your thoughts about this.

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