Olympus Pen EE

The other day I spotted a camera on a flea market that appeared to have been cared for more than the usual heap of cheap and dusty cameras you find at these places. I had a look, ‘Olympus Pen’ did ring a bell, and with a little Google magic from my mobile, I was reminded that this was one of these half-frame cameras I had seen photos of before. For €5 I didn’t care if it worked or not and picked it up.

I have now put a roll of Fomapan 100 through it and it was a week of hard work before the film was finished: I managed to get 81 frames on that roll! The camera works perfectly fine; the selenium meter around the lens, which gives the camera that retro look, still worked fine and seems to have been as accurate as can be expected setting the aperture resulting in most negatives getting exposed evenly: Just in very bright conditions, the negative looks a bit over-exposed. At several times I had the ‘red flare’ shown in the viewfinder indicating under-exposure or over-exposure, so in perfect working order for a camera dating back to 1961.

My Nikon Coolscan V ED scanner doesn’t know about half-frame negatives and scans them as regular 135 format negatives and which gives the opportunity to easily combine two photos into a single image, creating some unplanned surprises where the combination of two photos changes the meaning of the individual shots.

The inside of the camera has a sticker from the shop where the camera was bought: R de Ruyck, Grand Place 30; 7500 Tournai, Belgium, which unfortunately closed its doors earlier this year after having been run by 3 generations of the same family.

Medium format: 135 format panoramas

A colleague printed the 3D plugs I had found online and I used them in my Pentax 67II medium format camera without a hitch. You have to set the camera to 220 format mode to allow the whole roll of 135 film to be used.

I got 17 negatives (6×7 format) out of the 36 negatives roll and could have easily got one or maybe two more if I had shot the frames before the counter reached 1 on the camera.
I used a change back to grab the film once it was finished and rolled it back into the capsule manually.

Pentax 67 Lens to Pentax K (PK) Mount adapter

Last month I picked up a K&F Concept adapter for Pentax 6×7 lenses to the Pentax K mount and tested it on my Pentax ME Super and on my Pentax MZ-S cameras. It is a quality adapter and, most importantly, on all my Pentax K mount cameras, DSLRs and SLRs alike, the fit is perfect and the focus to infinity is as promised.

The lens I have been looking forward to using on my Pentax SLRs the most is the S-M-C Takumar 6X7 105mm f/2.4. This is a great lens that recently has been declared the holy grail of lenses and the prices are getting out of hand. Still, it is a great lens, especially at f/2.4 aperture where the bokeh really gets unique.
I was wondering if that bokeh would also translate to the Pentax K mount cameras as well as it does on the Pentax 6×7 and the Pentax 645 cameras and wasn’t disappointed.

I carried the camera around for three hikes, the usually very light and small Pentax SLRs do turn a bit into a beast with a Pentax 6×7 lens attached and it might draw a bit of attention of people wondering what that big bulk of a lens is about on such a tiny camera.
The focussing of Pentax 6×7 lenses is of course fully manual but when you use the adapter, the aperture needs to be operated manually as well. Luckily this is very easy with the Pentax 6×7 lenses that always have a big switch on the side that allows you to stop down the lens to the desired aperture and get the exposure reading if you’re using a TTL camera.

Cambo SC2 4×5 Monorail

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to use my Cambo SC2 4×5 Monorail large format camera more even though it is a pain to transport being a monorail camera and requiring the heaviest of tripods. The photos above were shot on New Year’s Day and I’m enjoying the process of Large Format.

Pinhole for the Pentax 6×7

A few weeks ago, just after Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, I picked up a Skink Pinhole Pancake Retro Pro Pentax 67 for my Pentax 67II camera. It has the standard mount so it will fit on the Pentax 6×7, 67 and 67II cameras no doubt and with the proper adapter, I expect that it can be used on a whole host of other cameras; I intend to try it out on my Pentax 645NII later this year.

Skink Pinhole Pancake Retro Pro Pentax 67

Over a few weekends I have had the chance to experiment with it. I’m happy with the results, of course the images are soft but attractive in their softness. Before I started I was expecting a bit of vignetting but there was no sign of it.

Foma Fomapan 100 film @ EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 10 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.
Foma Fomapan 100 film @ EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 10 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Foma Fomapan 100 film @ EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 10 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.
Foma Fomapan 100 film @ EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 10 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Foma Fomapan 100 film @ EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 10 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.
Foma Fomapan 100 film @ EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution H for 10 minutes, agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Travel tripod

There was a time that I thought that I would never need a tripod but when I bought my medium format cameras and wanted to explore long exposure and still-life photography, I bought a very sturdy Manfrotto 055XPROB that could handle my Pentax 67II and even my 4×5 Cambo SC2 large format camera. I think it is something each beginning photographer goes through: “I don’t need a flash or understand lighting techniques, I shoot everything with available light.” or “I don’t need a tripod, I shoot everything handheld.” Until you finally realize that these things actually can help to get better results when used correctly and that you’ve been holding yourself back for no reason.
I’m very happy with this tripod yet it was not something that I could take easily along on my travels because of its weight and size. I felt the need for a lighter tripod, yet a tripod that could support my Pentax 645NII medium format camera which is my camera of choice when travelling. So before my trip to Japan, I decided to buy a Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH Befree as it had good reviews.

Exposure 7 seconds, f/16. Shot on Fujichrome Provia 100F
Exposure 7 seconds, f/16. Shot on Fujichrome Provia 100F

I had wanted to test the camera on the tripod but ran out of time. The new tripod certainly felt less sturdy than my main tripod and I felt a bit nervous as I started doing quite a few long exposures both in Tokyo and Hokkaido. To my relief the results were fine, the images sharp even with the longer lenses. I guess the moral of this post is: Test your equipment before setting off on an important trip as you need to know whether you can rely on it or not and not just hope for the best. 🙂

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.

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!

Scanning Large Format

I really need a better scanner that can handle the large format 4×5 inch negatives that I’m working with now, but at the moment I have no choice but to use my Epson V500 PHOTO.

For the moment I found the following solution: I scan the negative in parts and use the Photomerge feature in an old version of Adobe Photoshop Elements to stitch the parts back together.  Not a great way, probably not recommended, but so far it has done the trick. 🙂

Update: I’ve now obtained an Epson V800 PHOTO scanner and get much better results.

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:

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. 🙂