25 June 2015

To Munich-Prague-Salzburg on a 1-Camera-1-Lens Combination

One work trip to Munich, followed by my wife's arrival for a short trip to Prague-Salzburg-Munich. As usual, for any overseas trip, I always have the dilemma of what camera, what lens and what film to bring. Mamiya 6, Bessa R4M or Leica M6? Or should I travel light with my Ricoh Gr1s, Olympus XA, or Ricoh Autohalf SL? 35mm or 120? So after some pondering, the Mamiya 6 won the race! I checked my stock of 120 films and found that I have quite a number of ISO100 films in the fridge. Hoping for good weather, I brought my Provia 100, Velvia 100 slides together with several Portra 160 and 400, Ektar 100 and 2 rolls of Neopan Acros 100. No digital camera except for my SJCAM WIFI action video camera with me for the wide angle shots and videos.

Mamiya 6 + 75mm f/3.5 lens
I was worried that the 75mm lens might be too tight for some situations, but I think I managed alright. I do wished I had the 50mm for church interior shots as the churches were too spectacular and huge!

The Provia 100 turns out a winner in all my rolls of 120 films, with rich colors and slightly better dynamics than the Velvia 100. The Velvia is not so forgiving if your meter is slightly off, but the Provia can be pushed a little to reveal more details.

One surprise was the Rollei CR200 slide films. I ask Yiu Yiu to help me secure 2 rolls from Dot-well in Hong Kong, not knowing the characteristics of the film. After development and scanning, I realized the Rollei CR200 films gave a very warm, vintage look, which made the old buildings and monuments even older. The film dynamics is also pretty good, revealing more details than the Velvia 100. Do take a look for yourself and see if you like this film for vintage/old stuff to photograph. Do note that all images are straight scans from the scanner with no PP done, except for spotting. Colors are retained as per how the scanner scans it.

Rollei CR200 Slides

The Velvia 100 is not too forgiving. If you underexpose a little, it may be hard to push the details out in PP afterwards. Probably would be stocking up on Velvia 100 anymore after my last roll. 

Velvia 100

As usual, the Portra never fail to be versatile. The colors rendered are perfect and comfortable to my eyes. Even if I tried to push a little in PP, details are still there to be revealed. I have both the ISO 160 and 400 during the trip, so I am never short of options for indoor or cloudy situations. 

Portra 400

Portra 160

I only recently got into Ektar 100 films after seeing the film coming back into prominence. The film grains are very fine and I can blow these images to humongous sizes for prints if I want to. The colors, at least for me, seem very close to the Portra. Hence, I may stock these up if Portra reaches insane prices. Portra prices in Singapore have been creeping upwards and also getting harder to get. So Ektar may be my next best option. 

Ektar 100

So in conclusion, I managed to survive on a 1-camera-1-lens combination for trips. I may stick to this format of travel photography as I do not have to grapple between 35mm and 120 film formats or switching cameras for difference focal lengths. I can enjoy more of the trip and scenery and loved one with only 1 camera in hand. 

Perhaps you can also try the 1-camera-1-lens combination for your next trip and let me know what you think of it. 

28 December 2014

Mamiya 6 | Film Camera Review

Lately, I have been doing interviews and camera reviews for the Film Shooters Collective, so that explains my absence from my blog for some time.

I realized I enjoy writing and giving my opinions and comments. Yes, people may disagree with some of my points, but this is the way life goes. There are bound to be agreements and disagreements. Nothing is perfect. As long as I stand by my point and open to discussions, I feel we can have a fruitful continuation.

My latest review is one of my favorite cameras, the Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera with 75mm f/3.5 lens. How does it perform and handle? Do check out my review on the Mamiya 6 here and let me know what you think.

If you are a film or analog camera lover, feel free to drop by our website or FaceBook.

16 February 2014

Leica M6 TTL or Voigtlander Bessa R4M?

Have you been in a dilemma where you are considering a Leica or Voigtlander rangefinder? I found myself at this cross junction when I first got into rangefinder cameras. I bought my first rangefinder, a Voigtlander Bessa R4M with Color Skopar 21mm f/4 4 years ago and have been enjoying it. However, if you are into rangefinder, you would have heard of the ultimo brand called Leica. So last year, I decided to see what is so attractive about Leica rangefinder. I went online to search for a comparison for the Voigtlander and Leica systems. However, I managed to find only 1 review doing mainly technical specification comparison. For me, I wanted a more user-experience type of comparison, not the technical spec which I can find readily online.

To put everything short, I managed to score myself a black paint Leica M6 TTL 0.85 ICS version from Hong Kong to see for myself the differences. After using both cameras extensively, I decided to come up with a review to compare the experience of using both cameras. The review I did was posted on Film Shooters Collective so that my fellow film enthusiasts can share. Do help to share this review so that others like me who are deciding between the 2 systems can make an informed choice. So here is the review! You can also click on the image below to enter the site.


24 January 2014

Why I Love Film

With the popularity and convenience of digital cameras, it is no wonder why I am often asked why I am still using film. No, this is not to start a war of Film vs Digital, which is already aplenty on the Internet. I am just sharing my love for film.

#1. Film slows me down.
Using a film camera, I learn to treasure every shot because each roll of film only gives you 24 or 36 exposures. Every shot counts (and costs as well!!!), so I only take photos that I have a feel for. Learning to compose the shot, set your aperture for that depth of field, adjust the shutter speed just makes me love the process of making an image through my own work.
Standing birds

#2. Film looks different.
Film looks different. You will hear this over and over again from any film lover. To me, a film image just has this "organic", "raw" feel to it. Yes, call me old school. That is what I am. I love old stuff because they mean so much to me. I was looking through my old photos (I'm not old!) when I was searching for photos for my wedding montage, I realized I love those faded photos. Brings back memories. Tons of them. I can still remember 75% of the scene at the time when the photos were taken. Moreover, each different film has their own characteristic. For example, Portra 400 (one of my favorites!), is a very well-balanced film for portraits with extremely fine grains. The colors are very neutral and pleasing to the eyes. Agfa films tend to have higher contrast, so I love them with Lomo cameras!
Running man

#3. White balance? What's that?
Do I have to worry about white balance? I don't, with film. I just pop my film into the camera, wind it, adjust the ISO dial (sometimes I don't even have to do that, like my GR1s) and off I go shooting. No need to change white balance every time I go somewhere with a different lighting.
Tough life

#4. Film keeps me focused.
I don't have to check the back of my LCD screen for every shot I take. I simply compose, adjust my shutter speed, press the shutter release and off I go. Even if the first shot wasn't ideal, my vision is still with the scene that I took earlier. So if I see a better opportunity for a better shot, I can rewind my film advance lever and shoot again in the next second. No time or opportunity wasted looking at LCD screen.
I keep you sheltered

#5. What's that smell?
Yes, film smells. But to me, it smells good. Like coffee. I immediately know the smell of film when I smell one (no, I don't go around smelling film). The smell of film is attributed to the silver halide emulsion. The emulsion is a mixture of silver and halogen (bromide, iodine or chlorine) held together by electrical attraction. Alright, enough of the technical stuff. In short, I just love the smell of films!

#6. I love film cameras!
I cannot deny the fact that I love film cameras. These cameras are built to last. Go to any flea market and you will still be able to find a couple of film cameras that still work, albeit the poor storage/maintenance condition. But they can still shoot! For example, I managed to score a rare black Canonet QL17 GIII for AUD$80! It wasn't in the best of condition and I had to send it for repair and some makeup to get it up and running. Once it recovered, it took some of the best black and white shots! I managed to save up for a limited edition Leica M6 TTL ICS, 0.85x body for a good price from Fotopia Gallery & Camera Equipment from Hong Kong in December 2013! Having owned a Voigtlander Bessa R4M, I finally realized what people meant by the "buttery-smooth" operation of a Leica. Not that the R4M is no good. Both cameras just feel different. Nonetheless, both bodies are to stay since the R4M offers a viewfinder meant for wide angle lenses.
Marina Bay Sands

#7. I love film community!
As some of you may know, I am a member of the Film Shooters Collective, a collection of film shooters from all over the globe. We have very active interactions on our FaceBook page, with tips and tricks and also advise and questions for sharing purpose. Last year, we tinkered on the idea of a photobook and together with some awesome film lovers, our book NSEW is finally launched! Do head over to the link to my blog post on this or HERE to order your copy to show your support! I have had my fair share of being helped and also helping others in this film community which I really appreciate. I have tried my hands in the digital community but have not received such warm reception. In my opinion (you can have yours but I stand by mine), film shooters are more willing to share and care.

There you have it! My several reasons why I love films! More to come if I can think of more... 

03 January 2014

Hong Kong 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Welcome to 2014! 2013 has been a roller coaster ride for me. I hope this year will be a better year for me in terms of having more time to shoot film, which is something that I really enjoy. I will probably put up a post soon on why I love film, inspired by what Ray Toei has been putting up on his Facebook. 

I was in Hong Kong in December 2013 to attend my uncle's wedding. Had the chance to shoot this vibrant city on film and also went to a famed film store in Tsim Sha Tsui to stock up on film. There is this tiny store called Dot-Well Photo Workshop that has some interesting films as well as 2nd hand cameras. Bought some Cinestill films that are receiving very good reviews, as well as some rolled Ektarchrome slides, Maco Eagle 400 Surveillance films, Adox Color Implosion 100 films and Fujifilm Natura 1600 films. The highlight of the trip, I scored myself a Leica M6 TTL Black Paint ICS, 0.85x body! Thanks to Gilbert from Fotopia Gallery & Camera Equipment

Film stash from Dot-well

Leica M6 TTL Black Paint ICS, 0.85x

Limited edition of 200 only!

Love the metal film advance lever and black frame dial!