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  #1  
Old April 10th, 2011, 04:20 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Default 50/3.5 : A Personal Endurance Project

As a bit of a "side project" I have been limiting myself to a single focal length and aperture for about six months now quite regularly. This is possibly the most boring combination imaginable: 50mm and f/3.5.

"Limiting myself", in that the lens goes no faster than this, I almost never stop it down, and I ain't getting another lens for my Leica M3. "Personal Endurance", as in, how far can I really go with this combination?

All output is printed in the darkroom, so naturally the volumes are low, but it's extremely interesting to note how versatile this combination really is. It may even be the most versatile fixed focal length and aperture possible: Based purely on Camera-->Subject-->Background distance, one can either get very decent subject isolation, or very deep depth of field. Take for example these images, which I remind the viewer, have all been shot at 50mm f/3.5:


Roderick


Mousse Beam


Cowboy Passenger


Streaks in the bottom level


Few are particularly impressive resolution-wise (have to use slow hand-held shutter speeds indoors with this combination) but, if any of you are feeling in a rut, I challenge you to find your slowest 50mm lens, and shoot with it exclusively, also perhaps with one film speed, for a couple of months. Think about it, for hand-held use (with a Leica M body, you can go pretty slow), it means you can only photograph in light that suit shutter speeds between 1/15s or so to 1/1000s. Still, that's around seven stops - it covers most situations you'll encounter, and B&W film's insane dynamic range will have to cover the rest.

For most of this "personal challenge", I have been using Kodak TMY2-400 (amazing stuff). For the last roll, I switched to Ilford Pan F+, but with this particular combination will not be repeating it once the roll is done. ISO50 is just too slow for f/3.5 - it's much better in my Olympus OM gear where I have f/2.0 from 21mm through 250mm. ISO400 is much more workable, and on a 12x16in print, TMY2-400 appears just as grainless as Pan F (what an achievement!) - even though few films have the exquisite tone/contrast curve of Pan F.

I know many rangefinder aficionados (of which I am not one) will rather recommend a 35mm f/2.0 or something, but a 50/3.5 suits my needs and vision (and camera!) better.

P.S. How many lenses do you have that takes 27mm filters? This is an extremely compact (collapsible) lens, jewel-like, but with terrible ergonomics: http://cschu.redirectme.net:443/mirr...g6/VC10153.jpg
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  #2  
Old April 10th, 2011, 08:56 AM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Hi Dawid

A nice little (side) project. One of the things that shooting rf's with film taught me was that you can go much further with less than the internet believes possible. Perhaps necessity is the mother of invention, but not being able to focus on technical perfection (or adequacy?) forces concentration on what the picture's for?

As for focal length, I use 35 and 50, but if forced to one I suspect it would be the 50. It works for me more of the time. The pictures you've posted are all interesting, but I really like thelast. That they're scans of prints is even better.

Mike
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  #3  
Old April 10th, 2011, 10:56 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
All output is printed in the darkroom, so naturally the volumes are low, but it's extremely interesting to note how versatile this combination really is. It may even be the most versatile fixed focal length and aperture possible: Based purely on Camera-->Subject-->Background distance, one can either get very decent subject isolation, or very deep depth of field. Take for example these images, which I remind the viewer, have all been shot at 50mm f/3.5:


Cowboy Passenger



This, Dawid, is my favorite! The hats are so dramatic with the bold diagonal bar of bright light and give the image a great flair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
For most of this "personal challenge", I have been using Kodak TMY2-400 (amazing stuff)......... ISO400 is much more workable, and on a 12x16in print, TMY2-400 appears just as grainless as Pan F (what an achievement!) - even though few films have the exquisite tone/contrast curve of Pan F.
How long will they make TMY2 400 and how do you develop it?

Asher
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  #4  
Old April 10th, 2011, 11:31 AM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post


Cowboy Passenger



This, Dawid, is my favorite! The hats are so dramatic with the bold diagonal bar of bright light and give the image a great flair.



How long will they make TMY2 400 and how do you develop it?

Asher

Asher

Kodak TMY-2 is a fairly recent introduction. Kodak has introduced several new films (albeit also consolidating ranges) recently, including TMY2 a couple of years ago, Ektar 100 and Portra 400. It's possible/likely that Portra 160NC and VC will be replaced by a single 160 in due course. These are all great films for those who still want to engage in chemical based photography.

Mike
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  #5  
Old April 10th, 2011, 08:09 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Shimwell View Post
Asher

Kodak TMY-2 is a fairly recent introduction. Kodak has introduced several new films (albeit also consolidating ranges) recently, including TMY2 a couple of years ago, Ektar 100 and Portra 400. It's possible/likely that Portra 160NC and VC will be replaced by a single 160 in due course. These are all great films for those who still want to engage in chemical based photography.

Mike
A little off topic, should one be hoarding them just in case? I'd hate to be orphaned with Portra color film and no process chemicals!

Asher
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  #6  
Old April 11th, 2011, 01:25 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Hi Asher,

TMY2-400 was only introduced in 2007, so I suspect it will be around for a long time. If not, no bother - Ilford will be making B&W film for a long time I am sure (they will probably outlast Kodak as a film producer), and their Delta 400 is 80% as good in my opinion. I am not sure we should be hoarding the stuff just yet. I only hoard them in small-enough quantities so as not to cause household molest by taking up too much space in the refrigerator - half a shelf.

I develop 35mm and Medium Format in small (Nikor) metal tanks and spiral reels using a locally-produced D-76/ID-11 equivalent developer that I get in powder form. I always develop diluted 1+1.

I can say quite assertively that B&W film will basically be practicable forever, even it it becomes extremely niche. Somebody will always be producing film (though the quality might not always be at the same high standards Kodak and Ilford has set) because there will always be a small demand - just like for oil paint or drawing charcoal. We might have to resort to mixing our own chemistry from the elements, but it's not complex stuff, and the formulae and processes are well-known.

The digital world will never know camera systems like a Leica M3 or a Linhof Technika. The digital equivalents are extremely different, with different needs, and the character of the output will remain vastly different. I love the diversity of it all :-)
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Old April 13th, 2011, 10:47 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I have 2 boxes of Efke 25 ISO B&W 8x10 film that I plan to shoot this May! The prices are awful! I was thinking of getting more. It's about $3 per sheet 8x10!!

I think I'm going to be using my 4x5 reducer and film is $30-70$ for 50!

Asher
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  #8  
Old April 13th, 2011, 11:19 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Back to the one lens and open aperture, I think its a great idea to bring one back to basics!

Asher
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  #9  
Old May 15th, 2011, 11:08 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Well, I am still sticking to my principles with this project, and recently printed these two:

ANonymous AMbition

(Kodak TMY2-400, 50mm @f/3.5, scanned analogue print)

Annica's Private Lounge

(Kodak TMY2-400, 50mm @f/3.5, scanned analogue print)


Both are quite "quiet" images... Still loving the Heliar lens, Still not missing a light meter :-)
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  #10  
Old May 15th, 2011, 01:26 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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You haven't, as yet, IMHO, bettered the Cowboy Hat image at the top of the thread.


B][Cowboy Passenger[/B]


Still Annica's Private Lounge get's close as there is good application once more of the limited depth of focus giving a generously sharp foreground presence in the present, and a dreamy past behind it in the b.g.


Annica's Private Lounge

(Kodak TMY2-400, 50mm @f/3.5, scanned analogue print)


This discipline of yours is going to continue to pay off well. Keep it up, this is enjoyable!

Asher
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  #11  
Old October 19th, 2011, 01:03 PM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Though 35mm film is not my current focus at this time, I do carry the little M3 and 50/3.5 with me almost everywhere, and every now and then I process some of my shots. I wanted to add these images to my project thread - all are rather spontaneous images from a party that I attended:


(Leica M3, Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5, Kodak TMAX 400)


(Leica M3, Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5, Kodak TMAX 400)


(Leica M3, Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5, Kodak TMAX 400)


(Leica M3, Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5, Kodak TMAX 400)

The weird dude in the hat is Arno Carstens, South African rock star (from the band Springbok Nude Girls), in case anybody wondered. The thing that I love most about the 50mm f/3.5 on the Leica M3 is that focus is always absolutely perfectly spot-on, no matter how quick and spontaneous the shot. Its doubtful that any autofocus could do better, especially since you can't pre-focus autofocus :)

These images look rather flat in comparison to my earlier ones, as they are direct scans of the film (I haven't had much darkroom time lately)... But who does, these days?
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Old December 10th, 2011, 06:36 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Two recent negatives:


(50mm heliar at f/3.5, Kodak TMY2-400, Leica M3)


(50mm heliar at f/3.5, Kodak TMY2-400, Leica M3)

For interest's sake, I have discovered a 50mm lens / camera combination which, for me, seems to yield higher-quality output on film than the M3/Heliar (the subject of this topic). It's a very unlikely competitor: A Nikon F (1959) with period Nikkor-H.C 50mm f/2.0 lens. The results on film are just extraordinarily good! But that's the topic of a separate thread...
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Old December 10th, 2011, 08:19 AM
Mark Hampton Mark Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
Two recent negatives:


(50mm heliar at f/3.5, Kodak TMY2-400, Leica M3)


(50mm heliar at f/3.5, Kodak TMY2-400, Leica M3)

For interest's sake, I have discovered a 50mm lens / camera combination which, for me, seems to yield higher-quality output on film than the M3/Heliar (the subject of this topic). It's a very unlikely competitor: A Nikon F (1959) with period Nikkor-H.C 50mm f/2.0 lens. The results on film are just extraordinarily good! But that's the topic of a separate thread...
David,

both of these works have a great feel - the 1st one has a balance that the walker would be proud of.

the second has so much information it makes me ill-looking at it. which i like !

cheers
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  #14  
Old December 22nd, 2011, 12:06 PM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Hampton View Post
David,

both of these works have a great feel - the 1st one has a balance that the walker would be proud of.

the second has so much information it makes me ill-looking at it. which i like !

cheers
Thank you, Mark! I have hundreds of negatives to add to this project, hope I can get to printing them soon... working my way through my file...
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  #15  
Old May 26th, 2013, 09:32 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Three recent images falling within the parameters of this little challenge - Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5 @ f/3.5 on the Leica M3. My favourite always-by-my-side camera.

Making juice


Opulent lighting


Grand central
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