Discussion in 'Other Cameras' started by beakhammer, Nov 25, 2015.
thanks for the info. I can tell this camera is going to seriously challenge me
The idea that this camera will be challenging is an illusion. I maintain that this camera will set you free. It will show you that all there is to taking a photograph is setting the shutter speed (or using "auto" on your camera!), choosing an aperture. Focus, compose, shoot. That's all there is with any camera actually, but we have become used to exorbitantly complex machinery to accomplish this very simple process. The space inside a modern camera's viewfinder is so cluttered with gadgets and readouts that we can barely see the world we are supposed to be photographing. For most photographs a modern camera is the technological equivalent of flying the space shuttle down to the corner store for a quart of milk.
One other thing. Film isn't free, and you only get either ten or twelve shots per roll, so you will start paying a lot of attention to what you are shooting. This is a good thing. After a while you may find that you get several excellent shots, and maybe one really exceptional one, on every roll. The camera you have has the added benefit of being easy to use, as medium format cameras go, so although I recommend shooting with much more care and intentionality when you shoot film, you should also be able to shoot freely and spontaneously with this camera. When you pre-set the exposure and the focus all you have left to think about is framing and timing the shot. With that huge negative you can afford to step back and frame generously, so this narrows down your only real concern to timing the shot. Patience, timing, and concentrated attentiveness is the real secret to great photos. With a little practice I find that I take better photos, with less struggle, using this kind of simple medium format camera. I am using even simpler, older versions, without the benefit of a built in meter, or exposure compensation knob, and I find the freedom of a simple camera to be tremendously empowering.
I used a similar medium format rangefinder that a friend loaned me for a year and I found it to be a great camera once I got over how different it seemed. Print film is extremely forgiving too, so don't sweat the details too much.
Some tips: set the focus to infinity and remove any filters before folding up the camera!
6x7 is wonderful, but so is 6x6. Use both.
Followers of this excellent thread may be interested in Mastin Labs competition to win one of 3 Pentax 645s with a bunch of Fuji film: Please login or register to view links
Brief brief summary of my Portra 400 adventures. It's awesome, even in the hands of a rank amateur, but gets a tiny bit flustered (i.e. yellow) outdoors in really bright overhead light (presumably because there's not enough blue coming through). Absolutely loving using an optical viewfinder with focus screen.
OM 2n, 50 1.4, scanned with an imacon 949 @ 6300dpi. Very minor corrections to red and green curves.
Well I've got a roll of HP5 in hand and an Olympus OM-2sp (my dream camera back in the day) en route. Apropos of which I tried this evening to explain to my 8 year old son about the process of shooting photographs on film and then developing them. He was completely unable to conceptualise the whole thing. How quickly things change. In short order I'll be setting myself up with a tank, squeegees and chemistry and then, hopefully, I'll be able to take him through it and he'll understand!
I just lost my marbles and purchased a Canon Canonet QL17 GIII, and I just HAD to tell someone!! I figured this thread was the best place to spill the news!
I started out thinking a Yashica Electro 35 GSN would be the ticket, but then I stumbled upon the Canon. The Canonet is quite a bit smaller, lighter, and better looking than the GSN! To be fair, the GSN is more "interesting" and retro looking, and I actually like the look, but the size/weight difference swayed me. Someday I might check out an Electro GX (which is smaller) if this 35mm film adventure has any legs. I also would have preferred the 45mm/1.7 lens on the GSN, but I decided the 40mm/1.7 on the Canonet was close enough, and it is reported to be very sharp with nice bokeh. Some reviewers said it's "Leica-like". Fingers crossed!
Anyway, after some research, and reminding myself about the issues @denis.lincoln had with his Canonet focusing correctly, I bought one from a reputable restoration guy on eBay, so it's fully CLA'ed and guaranteed to be working with an accurate, calibrated RF. Even comes with a new battery.
Now on to film: I'm going to start with Portra 160. I like the look, it's an "easy" film to meter, and it can be processed near where I live. I know most go for Portra 400, but since I mostly shoot outdoors, and the Canonet only goes to 1/500, I figure lower ISO film will be best. I might even need an ND to tame the sun (I always shoot wide open), so I ordered a 48mm - 49mm step-up ring so I can use my 49mm ND and CPL filters from the RX1R II. Down the road I may try some even slower films, like Ektar 100 or maybe the CineStill 50 daylight (movie) film but, for now, I'm just going to get my feet wet with the P160.
Then I need to think about scanning... ugh. What have I done! haha
I feel your pain. The camera hasn't even arrived but my experiments with using my X-T2 + extenders to 'scan' have been less than successful, hence my ordering of an Epson Perfection 550. This was supposed to be a cheap bit of fun!
Ha! If you go back 50 pages or so in this thread, there's quite a bit of info on scanning via your camera. I had played around with Medium Format film about a year ago, and I "scanned" my 120 negatives using a neat little device called the "DigitaLiza" from Lomography. (B&H and Amazon also carry them). If you have a lightbox and a macro lens, it's pretty easy to get everything set up to scan via a digital camera (I used a vintage Tamron 90mm Macro on a Sony A7ii). Results are supposedly better because you can focus on the film "grain" for a sharper scan.
I actually just snagged one of the last 35mm DigitaLiza's from Amazon. It also supposedly works as a 35mm "mask" for (most) flatbed scanners that have a backlight, with the advantage that it doesn't mask the sprocket holes or gaps between frames. This way you can scan pano's and keep those cool sprocket holes and edge numbers.
Yeah - unfortunately I don't have a macro lens and that's more than I'm prepared to spend right now - maybe in the future. I'll be keeping the packaging for the scanner in pristine condition while I run some tests, mind you!
My best scanning lens is a cheap Minolta Celtic 50mm/3.5 macro that I use with an adapter (and you would need an extension ring to shoot 35mm), but for 35mm you are better off with a scanner. I have a reasonably priced PrimeFilm XE 135 format film scanner that is great (especially if you are certain that you won't be drawn into medium format, where a flatbed scanner is the affordable option). For now though, the place that does your processing can probably do the scanning for you. If it is anything like the place I go then the Noritsu scanner will do an excellent job, especially if you pay extra for high res scans. Mail-order processing at places like "The Darkroom.com" do excellent scans as well.
Portra 160 is one of my very favorite films. I like it better than Portra 400, though I do use both. The canon RF camera is a great choice, and a 40mm lens can be great too, just push yourself in closer, or step back for a wide-angle feel.
Scanning with a camera can work great, but there are a lot of steps that need to be figured out, especially in the software stages. A scanner gets you going a lot faster, is easier to keep consistent, and saves time and trouble.
Here is some 120 Portra 400 that I "scanned" with a Pentax K5iis DSLR. I haven't gotten the hang of WB for film scanning with this camera yet, so this image has a bit of an odd color-cast, but I like that. The next scan I get of this film will be better. Part of the fun of experimental hybrid workflows is that you get surprised a lot. The image was shot with my 3-D printed 4x5 format Mercury camera with a Schneider Angulon 90mm lens and a 6x7 roll-film back. I currently have the Mercury modular camera set up as an un-coupled rangefinder camera.
Thanks for the advice all - the scanner arrives today (as does the OM-2S) so I'll be trying to find time to have a play with some old negs and transparencies I have skulling around. I'm really hoping it will do the job as with three young children the two things I lack are time and space!
UPDATE: I mentioned in my post (#1566) that I might get a Yashica Electro GX at some point. It's the same size as the Canonet, with a 40mm f/1.7 lens, like the Canon. They look very similar as well. The ONE thing I completely missed in all this is that the Canonet is a "Shutter Priority" camera, whereas the Yashica RF's are "Aperture Priority" cameras. (The Canon can be used full manual and will work without a battery. The Yashica GX can not be used manually, only in A mode, and it needs battery to work.)
Anyway, there was a very clean Yashica GX on eBay for $30. I was "watching" it just for fun. 5 minutes before end of bidding, and it was only up to $36. Hmmmm. So, just for kicks and giggles, 15 seconds before close I put a bid in for $50, figuring auto-bidding would jump higher and I wouldn't win. Well. It only jumped to $38, and I won the dang camera!! haha! So I guess I'll be doing some "comparos" of the Canonet and GX. ;-)
I have fallen down the rabbit hole.
A bit farther down take the left fork and descend a musty tunnel to where the larger formats can be found.
I end up using manual mode on virtually all of my film cameras. Very few have an Auto function, though a few do have light meters. One exception is my ME Super, which is almost always in Aperture Priority mode, in part because the odd push-button manual shutter controls on the camera are not all that appealing to use. It is handy to have an Auto-exposure camera at times, but I actually think that it sometimes encourages me to shoot in haste and take crappier pictures whenever conditions are less than ideal. I also occasionally use a Minolta X-370, which also has an Auto mode, but never use the Auto mode. I never use the Auto mode on my Konica Auto S2 rangefinder either, though I ought to try it one day, and I believe it is shutter priority (as many of the early Auto modes were, since these cameras had mechanical shutters, but aperture stop-down mechanisms were already in place to provide a relatively straightforward linkage that could be developed to let the meter control the aperture).
Usually, instead of using Auto-exposure modes, I simply read the light meter readout in the viewfinder and adjust either the shutter or the aperture as I see fit. This has the tremendous advantage of making me consciously choose the better alternative when I encounter an altered lighting situation, and exposure compensation is a conscious choice, instead of a separate dial that I may or may not remember to adjust. Using manual exposure modes encourages the photographer to anticipate the lighting and pre-set the exposure, which often means you are ready to concentrate on framing and timing the shot, instead of waiting until you have framed a shot to start thinking about whether or not to over-ride the Auto exposure choice.
I am becoming more and more adjusted to using a hand-held light meter (or sometimes even a hand-held spot meter) because a number of my cameras don't have a built in meter. The more I use the hand-held meter the more I recognize the limitations of most built-in meters. With the hand held meter I always look at the scene and pick out where neutral gray ought to be, and meter off that. TTL metering doesn't push me to make that analysis to the same degree. Auto functions make me lazy, and I can see a higher percentage of good exposures on the film that comes from the simpler manual cameras.
Auto modes have value at times of course. The ME Super comes through for me at times, and a Bronica RF 645 that I used for a while had a very effective aperture priority auto mode, as well as manual controls.
I have seen the musty tunnel that leads to the larger formats, and I'm staying away from that area!! Too many booby traps. (See also: my foray into MF with the Kowa Six last summer.)
My "plan" is to use the built in meter of the Canonet to get a reading in A mode, then set the f-stop and speed manually. Should be fine in anything but fast changing light. The Yashica GX can only be used in auto, A mode. There's no manual way to change the shutter speed. Interestingly (and uniquely?), the shutter speed is "step-less". It will use the exact shutter speed necessary for the f-stop/ISO/light, even if it's 1/347 sec.
One other neat feature of the Canonet is that a 1/2 press of the shutter acts as an "AE Lock", so you can lock exposure and re-compose.
One more thing to consider, with an old camera that may have a sluggish or otherwise inaccurate shutter it is a simple matter to measure the actual shutter speeds, and as long as they are consistent you can work from a cheat sheet and use manual mode to get perfect exposures. When a camera has a funky shutter the Auto modes can produce automatically bad exposures. If all of the shutter speeds are off by the same EV value you can simply use your ISO setting, or an exposure compensation dial, to compensate for this. However in most cases the shutter speeds are NOT off by a consistent value. Usually either the slow speeds, the fastest speeds, or both are farther off-base than the mid-range speeds, so there is no consistent way to set the camera for accurate Auto-focus performance.
My recommendation, when your courage returns and you want to try medium format again, is to stay away from medium format SLRs. Get something older and simpler, like a folding camera, or at most a TLR, that will be smaller, lighter and simpler to use. Something with a leaf shutter instead of a gigantic mirror and focal plane shutter.
Stepless shutters are great, if the shutter is accurate. My current Minolta X-370 has a stepless shutter, but the shutter speeds are way off. All the faster shutter speeds are double what they should be. My previous X-370 was pretty accurate, until it stopped working. The Bronica RF 645 had a very accurate stepless shutter, so it's Auto function worked fine. I have had repairmen tell me that sometimes an electronic stepless shutter can be more accurate in one mode than another, for some reason. They can be repaired and adjusted, in many cases.
If you have exposure trouble try using a manual meter, and get someone to measure the actual speeds of your shutter. What I do is write a little cheat sheet on white tape, with the actual speeds opposite the nominal speeds, and stick it to the camera.
OK. Thanks for all the helpful information! I'm pretty sure the Canonet will be working as it should, because it was just CLA'ed by the seller (who is a professional repair man). The GX will be more of a crap-shoot as it ws probably from an Estate sale.
I will definitely check the metering on both bodies via my iPhone Light Meter app to see how accurate they are. With these old RF cameras, the original Mercury batteries are not available in the US, and the Alkaline or Zinc replacements have slightly different voltages, so there may be some adjusting to do because of that. e.g.: The guy who sold me the Canonet said the new alkaline battery provided with the camera is a slightly higher voltage, so I will need to set the ISO at 1/2 of the film rating to compensate.
Also, I'm sure you know that there is a way of testing shutter speeds by recording the shutter sound, then bringing the digital file into an audio editing program where you can measure the time between open and closed sounds. Unfortunately, both the Canon and Yashica have leaf shutters, so not much sound!
The Canonet is great! I have a few laying around. As well as a few other fixed lens RFs.
For those cameras that are shutter priority, which is common with the fixed lens rangefinders, I don't find that to be much of a problem.
I'm an aperture priority shooter in almost every situation, but with a shutter priority camera I just adjust the shutter speed (ring or dial) until I have the aperture I want.
Pretty easy to do with the meter needle and aperture visible in the viewfinder.
As far as batteries, I'd suggest a 1.5v silver oxide, and just set the ISO wherever you would normally prefer to set it. If you are shooting color negative film it's not going to matter. The silver oxide cells will have a flat voltage curve until they die, unlike the alkalines.
With the Canonet, use a rubber o-ring and an Eveready 357/303.