I am waiting with bated breath... My first rolls of 120 B&W film have been developed and the contact sheets are enroute to me. I hope to start scanning them tomorrow night. I have several more rolls of 120 (2 1/4" film) ready to send off to my B&W lab and my slide (E6) lab. I can't wait to see how they look. I am excited by this venture back into film. It has been too long. I am truly curious to see how my digital camera stacks up against film on giant 6x9 cm negatives and high res scans. I am romantic about film and this experiment will either force me to put away film forever or combine it with my digital workflow. I was truly brave today. I shot only on film with 2 cameras and no digital to fall back on. Only the latent image hidden in the film waiting to be coaxed out by the developing process will tell the whole story.
For those who do not know the hole story.. At the end of the summer I was on the verge of selling off all of my old film gear. I have hung onto it for a good long while and have always thought I might used it again. When I saw how little money i could get for these precious items on EBay. I decided to take them out band see if I could put them to use in either B&W or in large sized custom landscape pieces. My first rolls are on their way back and I can't wait to see them. First I had to get my analog legs back underneath me. As most of my film stuff was second hand and i bought as cheaply as I could all but one of my medium format cameras have no meter. I used to be pretty good at guessing what the light meter would tell me and compensating for the scene. After a few rolls of clumsily shooting I feel like I have gotten that muscle back. Next it was dealing with the fact that 6x9 120 film gets 8 shots to the roll so I had to be stingy and make sure I am taking the shot I want. This is very different from the fire at every angle approach that I have grown used to in digital. It is my hope that this project will be a whole new (old) creative outlet for me and make me an even better photographer.
Here is a list of my old 120 film gear that I am experimenting with and deciding what to keep and what to retire or perhaps pass along to an aspiring photographer...
Rangefinder Camers: Great for quick and on the move work. Probably will be come the tools of some of the city life scenes I want to start shooting. All of these have great lenses. I did not use them much when I was shooting film I was a bit of a snob about the camera having to be a single lens reflex camera. I have these in three film sizes. The 2 fuji cameras look to be the ones i will use most.
Fuji - 6x9 cm with 100mm lens - Looks like a big clown camera, but the lens is super sharp and contrasty and the giant negatives should be great fun to shoot with. I hope to use for Landscape and city life.
Fuji - 6x4.5 cm with 60mm lens - this is more compact like a 35mm and gets 15 shots to the roll. I am looking for this to be my cityscape go to camera. It take vertical format photographs which should also work for mostly city based stuff.
Koni-Omega Rapid 6x7 cm with 90mm lens - This was the goto press camera and wedding camera in the 1960s. Big 6x7 negatives, but it is the biggest of the three rangefinder camera and I think will see limited duty. Tests will see if it has a place in my arsenal or not.
SLR Medium Format Cameras: I have two of these and they cost me a king's ransom back in the day. 120 film SLRs with no meter and great interchangeable lenses and backs. These were my go to camera back in the day. I am looking to both of these to be landscape cameras and also for portraits when the situation arises.
Bronica ETRSI 6x4.5 camera with 75mm lens. For a medium format SLR this is light and great all around camera. This may get some work in the city, but I am hoping it will find a spot in the landscapes as well. It will come into play when I am willing to trade weight for negative size. This will be on long hikes I think. Easy to carry around all day and while the negatives are 3 times bigger than 35mm they are much smaller than the negatives produced in the other SLR. This was a favorite when I was shooting weddings.
Mamiya RB67 6x7cm camera with 90mm lens (I also have a 65mm wide angle for this). This was and is the work horse for commercial shooters in the 1980s and beyond. It is a beast at nearly 3 pounds before you put a lens on it. Generally used for studio and portrait work. It is an exceptional landscape camera with the wide angle lens if you are fit enough to hike around with the weight or rich enough to have an assistant. Besides the giant negatives and great lenses it also has a revolving back so you can shoot horizontal and vertical with out changing the cameras position. I really need a bigger tripod for this, but am going to try it in the field with my regular tripod and see how it goes.
So far I have tested with the two fuji rangefinders and the Bronica 6x4.5. The RB will be doing some tests in the next couple of weeks. I may narrow this down to 2 or three cameras for convenience, but each brings something different to the table. So I will just have to see. Image Quality and a certain look are what will drive me to choose. I would like to bring film into my work and make that a bit of a specialty of mine going forward, but it will take a lot to knock my digital cameras out of their top spot. the work flow, control and quick turn around are going to be hard to beat. I will start posting scans from the first tests this week. The next batch of film is heading to the lab tomorrow.
As a prize for you if you have read this far... Here are a couple of Shots I took of the Ponce Inlet Light I grabbed this week while I was in Florida with my parents...
Keep Makin' Art!