Film, vintages and the constant need to simplify


Sitting in a cafe now, reflecting on my recent foray into vintage camera and film photography, some thoughts that i noted down.

The original intention of acquiring the Kodak Retina type 011 was because the slower siblings, Kodak Signet 35’s lens, is a total winner in sharpness, rendition and contrast. Well, at least around the usable centre and 2/3 of the frame. The thought of using just 1 (one) lens for most of my shoot, is too alluring to ignore.

The kodak Retina 011, comes with a very unique lens in the kodak lineup, the Ektar 47 f2.0. Its made in germany and closely resemble the Kodak Kardon camera with the same lens.

When the camera reached my house two days ago, instead of digging out the lens and adapt it to the Sony A7r, i decided to just try using it once as it is on film.

There, that magic word, “film”. Personally i never imagine i would even consider trying film and the hassle that goes with it. I was never convinced and still not, about the advantages of it ever being worth looking at.

In a series of repeated behavioral pattern that i found myself doing, often there is a need to simplify things. Tragically, when the process of simplification arrived, the next observable trait was to “master” that subject, whatever it may be. These patterns cost me much loss of funds.

Example would be the Leica M9. The same thought of having just 1 simple camera ends up pushing me all the way to master the rangefinder focusing and at the end of it, concluded that it was an archaic way of focusing and complicate the shooting models process.

The M9 had to go, in came the Nikon D4. One camera right? It has to be the best then, covers all those things i missed out in the M9. Added SB900’s flashes, wireless triggers and tons of model albums. Did night photography with available light using 24 mm 1.4, love it. Commercial types of clean and clear photos? been there, done that.

Examples :
Night Photography, Elaine: Crimson Jewel
Commercial Aesthestics, Kim SKII

Simplify…Marcus…In came the Olympus EP5. Let’s just use this camera for tours and leave that huge D4 behind except for model shoot. Good reason, buy it. Master it …Marcus. Adapters, low light shoot and more albums came with the EP5, almost replacing the D4. After much “mastering” was done on the EP5, the conclusion was that it was way too much hassle to get the same shallow dof that was needed for my models shoot. For smaller sensors, shallow DOF is a very costly affair.

EP5 Model shoot, the ONE lens dream

The D4 and EP5 subsequently went out, in favour of the Leica Xvario for travel and Sony A7R for models shoot. Mastering these cams, needless to say, moved me into all kinds of albums.
Example of using Xvario to do my model shoot, forgoing the shallow DOF look : Victoria of Singapore

The great news is i have finally managed to give these invisible forces their names and deal with it. Simplification is one, Mastering is the other. Although they have brought me great advantages in my career and experiences, recognizing the need to control them are needed in gears.

As of these writing, the Mamiya 645E is on the way with the 110 2.8 lens and 80 2.8 lens, a medium format system for Film. In my hands right now is the Kodak Retina ][ loaded with Kodak Gold 100, film.

And here it ends, no more gears stories and lens venture. Mastering is taking over. As my friend Peter would say, selling dreams is a very successful factor. I sold myself way too many dreams. Its time to live some.

your thoughts?

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