Friday, April 19, 2024

Konica Hexar Silver

One of my favorite cameras is a recently purchased Konica Hexar Silver. The Hexar has a classic rangefinder design that can be used as an auto-focusing point & shoot or fully manual camera. It's very easy to use in all modes and has the following features:

Basic Features:
  • Classic rangefinder size (think Leica M6), solid & nice ergonomics.
  • Extremely sharp Konica Hexar 35mm f/2.0 lens with built in lens hood.
  • Aperture range from f/2.0 to f/22.
  • Program, Aperture priority & manual mode (I've used it in Program mode primarily).
  • Autofocus is fast and true.
  • Hotshoe.
  • ISO set through DX coding or manually from 6-6400.
  • Very quiet shutter which makes it great for street photography or when you need stealth.
Negatives:
  • Manual focus is done through the up / down buttons on the top of the camera and honestly is not useful in most situations (possibly when on a tripod with a self timer).
  • Top shutter speed of 1/250.
  • Lens cap doesn't fit securely when the lens is fitted with a filter.
  • Exposure meter is on the outside of the lens (non TTL) close to the lens, so you need to be careful to keep your finger off of it while shooting. Also, therefore, when using a filter you need to adjust the ISO manually.
The top deck is very clean with an information LCD screen, shutter release with surrounding aperture dial, self timer button & easy to use mode switch. No clutter.


The only downside in my experience is that the maximum shutter speed means you need to be mindful of the film speed based on the lighting you will experience. A very day means you need slower speed film. Other than that it's a very nice camera that I've used primarily as a high end point & shoot.

I've shot my Konica Hexar regularly with different film types. Here are a few examples:

Chicago - CineStill 800T

Chicago - CineStill 800T

Chicago - CineStill 800T

Kansas - Fujicolor 200

Colorado Springs - Fujicolor 200

Chicago - Eastman Double-X

Chicago - Eastman Double-X

Chicago - Eastman Double-X

Colorado - Fujicolor 200

Colorado - Fujicolor 200

Colorado - Fujicolor 200

Indianapolis - Tri-X 400

Indianapolis - Tri-X 400

Indianapolis - Tri-X 400


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Vision3 Remjet Removal

 


I want to discuss my current process to remove remjet on Vision3 film during home development.

Kodak Vision3 is a good 35mm color film option. Vision3 is a motion picture film sold in bulk rolls and cartridges by Kodak, online sellers, repackagers & distributors. The KEY with Vision3 film is REMJET.

Remjet is a black, carbon-based anti-halation, anti-static lubricant layer on the non-emulsion side (back) of the film. It DOES NOT affect exposing film in your camera. However, the remjet layer MUST be removed before the negatives are scanned as remjet is completely opaque. Remjet is removed when the film is developed using C-41 or ECN-2 chemistry.

Removing remjet is EASY, BUT must be done completely. Any remaining remjet on a negative will show up on scans as subtle or significant spots or area difficult to edit out.

There are 2 ways to remove remjet during home C-41 or ECN-2 development. They are:

  • Rubbing the remjet off after the negative is developed but before dried.
  • During developing using a remjet removal prebath solution.

The easiest way to remove the remjet layer is to “rub” it off AFTER the film is developed before the final wash. This can be done with a microfiber cloth or your hand. Note, if you remove remjet manually then latex gloves are important as remjet is sticky and a mess to clean up. Personally, I’ve found this process a mess and I never seem to get all the remjet off.

The process I have tested and is now my preferred method is to use a remjet removal prebath I mix with “off the shelf” chemicals. Note, there are several DIY prebaths formulas online available but this method / formula has worked well for me.

First the workflow and then the formula.

My remjet removal and film developing workflow is:

  1. Measure and mix the remjet prebath chemicals & tap water sufficient to make 1 liter (leftovers can be stored).
  2. Bring the prebath solution and additional rinse water sufficient to fill the tank twice to 102 F.
  3. Add the 102F remjet prebath to the daylight developing tank. Agitate gently for about 15 seconds and let sit for 1 minute.
  4. Pour prebath mixture out.
  5. Immediately fill the developing tank with 102F water. Agitate continuously for 1 minute.
  6. Pour water out. The remjet will come out during this step. 
  7. Add 102F water in tank again agitating gently for about 15 seconds, pour out.
  8. Develop as desired with C-41 or ECN-2.
  9. Rinse film as recommended with developing chemicals.
  10. Prior to hanging the negatives to dry wipe gently with a microfiber cloth. I’ve found once is sufficient. This is simply an extra step to remove any remaining remjet.
  11. Hang film to dry.

What it looks like pouring out the prebath solution:

The wash after prebath. This step is when the remjet comes off:


Formula for the remjet removal prebath is based on the Kodak’s 1999 document “Processing Kodak Motion Picture Films, Module 2 Equipment & Procedures” page 27. The formula is:

  • Water at 80-100F: 800ml
  • Borax: 20.0g
  • Sodium Sulfate (Anhydrous): 100g 
  • Sodium Hydroxide: 1g
  • Water to make: 1L

I simply weigh each chemical with a digital kitchen scale, mix it into 800ml water in a measuring cup one chemical at a time and then add water to bring the solution up to 1L. I bring the prebath up to temperature in a sous vide. 

I purchase Borax at a grocery store and the other 2 chemicals on Amazon. 

Bottomline, I’ve shot Vision3 film with a remjet layer regularly over the past few years and have found this workflow has produced the best results for me.


Sunday, March 31, 2024

Nikon F4

 

I purchased a Nikon F4 from Midwest Photo in Columbus, OH. The camera is in good mechanical condition but obviously well used. Because of the fairly below average cosmetic condition it was offered at a very reasonable price (~$450). 

The F4 is a massive SLR with basically all the features you would find in a contemporary DSLR. It weighs in at 3.8 lbs with a 50mm f/1.8 lens. A few of my favorite features:
  • Wide ISO range from DX, 6-6400
  • Shutter speed from T/B-1/8000
  • Built in vertical grip with shutter release on the grip perfect for studio / portrait work
  • Film advance mode flexibility: Lock, Single, Continuous (High, Low, Slow), Timer
  • Exposure mode: Ph, P, S, A, M
  • Metering swich: Spot, Average, Matrix
  • Almost all selection dials have a lock



I've put about a dozen rolls through the camera during several street photography photoshoots. I really enjoy the camera even with the weight and lack of stealthiness. It's currently my favorite SLR. 

Here are several images:

Chicago - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Chicago - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Chicago - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Chicago - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Louisville - Flic Film Elektra 100

Louisville - Flic Film Elektra 100

Indianapolis Grafitti - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Indianapolis Grafitti - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Indianapolis Grafitti - Harman Phoenix 200 at 160

Fountain Square - SHD100

Fountain Square - SHD100

Fountain Square - SHD100

Chicago with a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens - SHD100


Saturday, July 8, 2023

Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic


One of my favorite point & shoot 35mm film cameras is the Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic. It's compact, responsive, has a really sharp 35mm f/2.8 lens, is classified as "all weather" and it has a lens cover slide that also acts as the on / off switch. I've had this camera for as long as I can remember.

The problem is that over time and probably due to multiple bumps and bruises the back film door does not fully close. It latches but not securely. It's been that way for some time. 


As a result I get light leaks. In the past I've simply used black electrical tape to seal the back film door. However, as a test I wanted to see how bad the light leaks really were. If they were minimal then I would use the camera more often. 

I tested a roll of expired, bulk rolled Ilford Delta 400 and a roll of Fujifilm Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400. 

Unfortunately, as you can see by the Delta 400 photos that I took during a recent long bike ride it has major light leaks. These cameras are somewhat "hot" now so the prices are a bit more than I want to pay for a replacement....so, it's back to the electrical tape. 











Saturday, March 4, 2023

Film Negatives - Flat or Curl

Flat Negatives Are Your Friends

Photographic film negative curling is an issue if you develop film yourself. During the digitizing or printing workflow your negatives will need to be scanned, photographed or used in a darkroom enlarger. Having film negatives "flat" is important. Even the slightest curling / cupping of the negative can make the film difficult to put into a scanner holder, keep flat on the scanner glass or keeping the entire photo in focus. You WANT your negatives to be as flat as possible for good results.

Different film stocks "curl" / "cup" to various amounts or remain flat while drying. How you dry your negatives (i.e., hanging with a weighted clip on the bottom) or your drying conditions (i.e., humidity level) will also impact how much a negative does or does not dry flat.

Here are a couple examples of flat and slightly curled negatives. Your results may be similar or much more cupping / curling.

Fomapan 400 dries flat

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400 has a moderate curl. This negative has been back-rolled

There are DIY ways to flatten curled negatives. You can cut your negatives, sleeve them and put them under a weight (like a book). You can back-roll the negative before cutting and keep it back-rolled for a few hours until flat, etc.

Again, what ever process you use, the simplest is to use film (WHEN POSSIBLE) that dries flat.

To help you decide, here is a list of films I've (or others) have used and how they "typically" end up when dried.  Please note, this list covers just 35mm film. 120 film curls more or less the same but if it curls it tends to curl more than 35mm. AGAIN AS A CAVEAT, your experience may vary.

  • ADOX HR50 - flat
  • Agfa APX 100 - flat
  • Agfa APX 400 - slight curl
  • Arista 100 / 200 / 400 - flat
  • Berger Pancro 400 - slight curl
  • Camera Film Photo (CFP) 500T The Film - flat
  • CFP Kiki Pan 320 - flat
  • CineStill BWXX - slight curl
  • Dubblefilm Jelly - flat
  • Eastman Double-X (5222) - flat
  • EFKE 100 - curls
  • Fomapan 100 - flat
  • Fomapan 200 - flat
  • Fomapan 400 - flat
  • FPP Mummy - flat
  • FPP RetroChrome 320 - curls
  • Fujicolor Pro400H - light curl
  • Fujifilm Provia 100 - curls
  • Fujifilm 200 - slight curl
  • Fujifilm Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400 - curls
  • Fujifilm Fujicolor Superia 800 - flat
  • Holga 400 - flat
  • Ilford Delta 100 - flat
  • Ilford Delta 400 - flat
  • Ilford FP4 - flat
  • Ilford HP5 - flat
  • Ilford Ortho 80 - flat
  • Ilford PAN 400 - flat
  • Ilford SPX 200 - flat
  • Ilford XP2 400 - flat
  • JCH Streetpan 400 - flat
  • Kentmere 400 - flat
  • Kodak Ektar 100 - flat
  • Kodak EliteChrome 100 - curls
  • Kodak EliteChrome 200 - curls
  • Kodak Gold 200 120 - curls
  • Kodak Kodalith 6556 - flat
  • Kodak MAX 400 - curls
  • Kodak Plus X 125 - slight curl
  • Kodak Portra 160/400 - flat
  • Kodak Portra 800 - flat
  • Kodak T-Max - flat / slight curl
  • Kodak T-Max 3200 - flat / slight curl
  • Kodak Tri-X - curls
  • Kodak Ultramax 400 - flat
  • Kodak Vision3 250D - flat
  • Kodak Vision3 500T - flat
  • Kodak X-Pan 125 - slight curl / flat
  • Kono Moonstruck - flat
  • Kosmo Foto Agent Shadow - slight curl
  • LuckyPan 400 = flat
  • ORWO UN54 - flat
  • Rollei Retro 80s - flat
  • Rollei Retro 400s - flat 
  • Rollei RPX25 - flat
  • SHD100 Pro = flat
  • Shanghai GP3 - curls
  • Street Candy 400 - slight curl
  • Silberra Ultima - flat
  • Ultrafine 100 - flat

I'll update this list as I get feedback from others or have personal experience with other films.




Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Leica M6

 



I purchased a Leica M6 Classic 35mm film camera approximately a year ago. It's the camera I've lusted for years, but finally had the opportunity to buy one. It is my current favorite film camera even though it's not the most advance, it's almost completely manual, and honestly it doesn't take the best photos if compared to my more advanced SLR's.

However, the M6 fits my film photography style perfectly. 

There are many blogs posts, articles and write-ups that discuss the specs so I won't go into technical details. If you want a deep dive I'd recommend the following article by Emulsive

My Leica is an M6 Schwarz Classic. It was "crafted" in 1991. It's all black sporting the classic Leica red dot logo. I purchased it with a Summicron-M f/1.2 35mm lens. The lens was made in 2000. This is a perfect film street photography kit IMHO. This is what I primarily use it for, although it's also a perfect setup for landscape photography. I also recently purchased a Canon Serenar f/1.8 LTM 50mm (with an adapter) as my 50mm option.

I first saw the camera about 1 1/2 years ago at a camera swap / meetup hosted by a local fashion magazine / studio. I had a table selling some excess studio equipment. A gentleman (who was not a photographer) had a table across from me selling about 6 camera travel cases full of high end camera equipment. He was entrusted to sell the equipment on behalf of his uncle's estate. Amongst the equipment was the Leica. 

He was selling the M6 with the Summicron lens and asking between $5,000-6,000. He had done his homework on prices, but not on the working condition or marketability of the equipment he brought. I could tell the Leica had good bones, had been well used but not abused. However, it clearly hadn't been used in some time. It looked rough.

The camera when I first saw it. The photo actually makes it look better than it actually was in person

The gentleman let me look it over and test it out. I could tell the shutter speeds were off, the leather was coming loose in several places, the viewfinder was fogged and the film advance action was very stiff. I told him thanks, but it was out of my budget. 

Throughout the meetup I thought a few times I should buy it. However, I was serious about my budget so I just went about my business. There were several people who ogled, handled and negotiated for it, but no serious buyers. By the end of the meetup the Leica M6 hadn't sold so he came over and asked about my budget. I said $3,500. I thought he would just laugh, but he didn't. He said he would think about the price, try to shop it around, take it to a few camera stores. If it didn't sell he would get back with me. I gave him my contact information, but didn't expect a followup.

About 3 months went by and I didn't hear anything. I forgot about it. Then to my surprise he contacted me. He had taken it in to a local camera store for grading and gauge their interest. The store recommended sending it to Leica for repairs and a CLA. They offered what I suspected was a somewhat low price (market less their risk adjusted sales / inventory commission). He told me if I would split the cost of repairs he would sell it to me for my $3,500 offer (body plus Summicron lens). 

I told him he had a deal and we shook on it. It came back from Leica about 2 1/2 months later and my share of the repairs was $350. Leica replaced the leather, adjusted and cleaned the viewfinder, replace the light seals, adjusted the light meter, adjusted the shutter speeds, adjusted the speed dial, and CLA'd it. Wow!

I had my M6 for $3,850!! I think this is was a very fair deal and he said he was super happy it was in the hands of someone who would use it versus simply resell it.

I've put approximately 20-25 rolls of assorted film through the M6 so far. I've used it for street photography trips to NYC, Cincinnati, Chicago, and my home town of Indianapolis. I also took it with me this past October during a hiking vacation in the Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park. It's almost always in my camera bag. It's been superb. Easy to use, reliable and consistent quality.

As mentioned I'm not going into spec details, but it does have 1) an easy to use TTL arrow based light meter easily visible through the viewfinder, 2) ISO range from 6 - 6400, 3) shutter speeds from B - 1/1000, 4) works without batteries (simply use sunny 16 or external light meter, & 5) a hotshoe.

As a side note, the Leica M6 has a loyal following and a large demand so Leica recently re-released the M6 with only moderate upgrades. The M6 is available again! The new Leica M6 is essentially the same camera as mine which as of this writing is 32 years old. 

Here are some photos with different film stocks / lighting conditions / locations:

Fomapan 400 - Indianapolis

Fomapan 400 - Indianapolis

Fomapan 400 - Central Indiana Farmland

Fomapan 400 - Central Indiana Farmland

Fujicolor 200 - Rocky Mountain National Park

Fujicolor 200 - Rocky Mountain National Park

KiKi Pan 320 - Indianapolis

KiKi Pan 320 - Indianapolis

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Fomapan 400 - New York City

Kodak Vision3 250D - Broad Ripple

Kodak Vision3 250D - Broad Ripple

Kodak Vision3 250D - Indianapolis

Bottomline, the Leica is a VERY well build, high end film camera well suited for street photography, general snapshots and landscape photography IMHO. The price (both used and the new version) puts it out of reach of most photographers so it's still a niche camera. However, I'm VERY happy I was able to get one!