Medium format fun with RZ67 {portraiture|film}

When the world first herald the end of film, film gears prices went downhill very quickly. Today, we no longer talk about “film is not dead” as a topic but rather whether one chooses “film” or digital as a choice of medium. The recent Rollei “Vario-chrome” was sold out all most as fast as it reaches the shelves, even if those are virtual shelves sold online.

If you wanted to try film, you should go ahead and try Medium format as those gears are just a fraction of its original cost and being medium format, you get huge “sensors” hahaha. These huge negative size produces really amazing and beautiful results even when scanned by the same scanner that scans the normal 135 film.

For medium format portraiture, i would recommend the Mamiya RZ67 and its legendary 110mm f2.8. So as per the style of my blogging, lets see some of the images i done for the last 2 months using the Mamiya RZ67 and films like pro160NS or kodak porta400.

 

This image barely got any editing, the model is a stranger i bumped into an offered her a makeup with an album. Her name is Kiwami and she is a local chinese in malaysia. Look at those faithful rendering of her hair and the skin tones on her, see how those highlight behind just falls in beautifully into the bokeh.

This is Amanda, a popular makeup artist in Malaysia, aka Mak3upQueen. This scene was shot at a rooftop around 630 pm and some of the sunset light are coming in. Just love those tones!

Notice that in the portraits above, Amanda wore red, a color that is often problematic to digital sensors even today. For film, its just a walk in the park. I must say, i wished the sunset golden light was better.

Blue are gorgeous on film too, even though its indoor. You can find out more about Mamiya RZ67 pro cameras from google and checkout its pricing in ebay/etsy or other online used marketplace. I personally went for the version 1, instead of the more expensive RZ67 proII. Hope you enjoyed the medium format portraiture samples that i took.

 

Elaine + Eilein {Portraiture|Fujichrome}

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Elaine. 16mm f1.4. Fujichrome.

I gave in to the alluring temptation of trying out the FujiChrome film simulation. How did this happened? Ever since i sold off all my full frame digital cameras like the leica ME and Nikon D610, i had only the d3000 nikon, F100 nikon film camera, a FZ1000 bridging digital 1″ sensor and two M7’s, a Bessa R3m and a Hexar for my M mount lenses. So you can see its 90% film cameras.

Shooting film been great and i truly enjoy photography and slowing down so much. However there are some films that are no longer in production and as i scoured through the internet looking at the tones and feel of some of these bygones film, i came across discussions about Fujifilm’s simulation of FujiChrome.

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16mm f1.4

Fujichrome only exist in digital today, to be exact, it exist only as a jpg output on a digital Fuji camera. I resisted the idea of buying another camera since the whole exercise been done with and i could finally have “peace” 😉 but days of looking at the FujiChrome samples got the better of me. I went out and acquire a Fuji X-A2, the entry level Fuji, a M to Fuji adapter to use my M mount lenses and a 16mm f1.4.

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16mm f1.4. Shot at around less than 1 meter away. FujiChrome

It happened that two of my friends are coming down to Kuala Lumpur, two very attractive friends that is. So i took the opportunity to use the FujiChrome simulation and 3 lenses to produce some new albums. The lenses are 40mm 1.4 Voigtlander M(60mm on fuji), 28mm F2 Ultron (42mm on fuji) and 16mm f1.4 Fuji native lens.

The 16 f1.4 is an amazing lens. It could focus as close as 5 cm away and have shallow DOF for full body portraiture at a close distance.

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28mm f2.0 (42mm) Astia film simulation. Eilein.

I switched to Astia film simulation while using the manual 28 mm f2 (42mm) to see if it gets me what i want. I would say the results are good but i still prefer the FujiChrome tones. On the Fujifilm X-A2, i am unable to have the other film simulation like Acros but since the X-A2 is using a conventional CMOS sensor instead of the Xtrans II, i didnt need to waste time on my LightRoom, almost all the pictures you see here are cleaned up from its JPG instead of raw.

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28mm f2 (42mm) Astia film simulation

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

Just look at those beautiful FujiChrome tones. I can only wonder what if the film still exist today, how much more different can it be apart from actual film grains. Using 40mm f1.4 mostly for the rest of the images here, I realized that focusing on Fuji is easy and you can magnify a moveable focus point to aid in the focusing.

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

Eilein have a beautiful visage and a taller than normal asian nose bridge. Shooting her portrait from the side angle highlights her features while the interesting light at 8 am brings in some drama to the image.

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

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40 mm f1.4 (60mm) FujiChrome

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28 mm f2 (42mm Fuji) Astia film simulation

I hope you enjoyed this series of mine. Overall i feel that Fuji did a very good job bringing FujiChrome film simulation to the public though i believe it still looks very digital in comparison to my other actual film albums.

The others {portraiture | film}

medium format in your face

medium format in your face

Here are some photos, mostly taken with lc-a using just distance focusing. Shooting without focusing is pretty much like a habit once you been thru 2-3 rolls on the lomo lc-a. I must say the images are rather…unconventional. Enjoy.

waiting

waiting (m7)

 

laugh and this ends up published

laugh and this ends up published (lc-a)

 

a delicacy made of glutinous rice

a delicacy made of glutinous rice

This is a delicacy you should try if you come to Penang. Unfortunately i distance my focus to be at the person rather than those delicious candies. Its basically glutinous rice cakes that are wrapped with peanuts and sugar. Yummy.

 

hahaha my failed multi exposure

hahaha my failed multi exposure

I was attempting to a picture of both of them facing each other. Multi-exposure is fun but takes some experimenting to get it right.

 

1.5 meter and shoot

1.5 meter and shoot (lc-a 35mm)

kim {film | portraiture | LC-A 120 | Leica M7}

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lc-a 120

I had a fantastic weekend unwinding by doing a set of portraiture using the LC-A 120 medium format film camera and my trusty Leica M7.

One of the challenge that i faced is that LC-A and the bigger LC-A 120 have exposure control. This means that if you shoot backlighting photos, you will just end up with silhouette images. But as you can see in the images here, i managed to come up with a technique to fool the camera without using any filters or add ons.

Lomo cameras should be used with a lot of common sense and thoughts to get good images. If there is one thing you should forget, is to forget the 10 rules of lomography. There is no shortcut for good images and visualization.

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lc-a 120

All these photos are shot on a Fuji 400H pro for both the LC-A 120 and the Leica M7.  You can easily differentiates the pictures of the LC-A 120 by its square format and the Leica being rectangle. These are taken at the beach and hotel called “LonePine” in Penang, an island on the northern state of Malaysia.

 

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lc-a 120

Miss Kim here is a top 10 Miss Malaysia in 2013. Though it has been years since she got involved in any beauty contest, you can see that she doesn’t require much effort to be photogenic. On the LC-A 120 camera, i took these images by standing just 1 meter apart. In lomography sites, you often see that almost all the images shown are taken on a centre subject and with light facing it else its dark, my examples here are unique because for once you get to see images taken using the LC-A 120 backlighting and yet decently exposed on the subject. 

 

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lc-a 120

The technique is very simple. PM me if you want to find out 😛

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

Now i did a complete album using the M7 and fuji 400h pro film. It’s an emotional theme that portrays the relationship between a girl, a vintage camera at a lonely room. Do enjoy the images here, the complete set could be found at my facebook, fb:marcuslowphoto.

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

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leica m7, 35mm biogon

Next, i be sharing some of the  candid photos i took on the LC-A 120 as well as street photos. Till then, adios.

 

Charlotte {portraiture}

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There is this aspiring makeup artist, Megan khor that wanted to do a sexy swimwear album for a model chosen by her.
Ironically i was chosen for the task despite having the reputation as “the guy that avoids doing lingerie and overly sexy themes”.
After discussing about the shoot, i decided to do it. Personally i have always felt and still believe that doing lingerie shoot/nudes are just low skilled themes and often the subjects are portrayed in inferior porn like poses. i am pretty sure the world don’t need more of those.

This swimwear idea is different and since its outdoor i get to use my skills. Objective would be an album that shows class, highlight sexiness and elegant poses of the model and effective use of outdoor photography. The strongest reason that i accepted this however, is because I have known Megan for sometime and when she proposed to sponsor the swimwear and makeover, i knew she has her heart in it and i would put in mine to match. After all, when is the last time u met a make up artist that would sponsor the clothes.

Hidden in this whole album however is as truth, a message. I purposely used a 10 year old APSC nikon camera with 10 megapixel (yeah less than most phones nowadays) to create this album. Lets just say its my way of saying “No” to the new Nikon D5 announcement and the lure of constant upgrades.

So jump in to my facebook link below to see the rest and follow my page to see the next 2 albums done on the same genre.
Drop me some comments and feedback.

Gallery.

Red + White models in Malaysia {portraiture | Leica}

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Models instagram : x.x.angela, eil3in

The 40mm 1.4 voigthlander is one of those lens that i sold and bought over again. Its not too normal as what 35 would render and its not as boring as 50 mm which everyone have in their arsenal. I allows just that extra bit of space to make the difference.

Here are some images of Pang yi ling (facebook) and Angela Lieche (facebook), both friends and freelance models in Malaysia that i recently collaborated with for a series of “Cheongsam”. Cheongsam is the chinese pronounciation for the traditional costume that chinese wore for festive seasons like Chinese New Year.

One of the mistakes that new photogs often make is placing a red costume on red background, usually the temples are chosen as the background for such shoot. In my series, i put Red (eilein) on an outdoor background with blue rails and some random spots, for White (angela) since she is wearing red, the temple at Petaling Street was chosen.

Do enjoy the images below and drop me some comments of your thoughts. Cheers.
* All images shot on Leica ME, Voigthlander 40mm 1.4, edited in LR, PS, VSCO filters.

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Ur christmas eye candy {portraiture, feat : Eil3in}

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So its christmas here already. For reading my blog, here are three(3) images from my recent-yet-to-be-uploaded albums for your viewing pleasure.
Have a wonderful weekend and do remember Christmas is about giving and not taking just as God freely gave His Son to us undeserving mortals.

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Rachel with gladiators {portraiture}

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caravan

I spent sometime reflecting upgrading my mental faculty to add poses to my workflow. Yup, poses. I think its working, i can now easily pose any outdoor model in decent poses regardless of the props available. Its not that hard once you have spent 30 minutes a day studying poses after your long day of work in a completely different field (app developement in startup). In this set of portraiture, i used a Voigthlander 40 1.4 that costs less than USD 500 with the Leica ME (ccd sensor).

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sexy

Sexy. I find myself often struggling with this theme. The asian traditional values of grace, beautiful poses and my inherent preference of not doing anything on nude/lingerie which downgrade any beautiful model into soft porn is often at odds against each other when i study western art. Truth be told, i find recent works of China’s chinese photographers posing nude ladies outdoor tasteless, gimmicky and downright a hit at women’s honor.
On the other hand, as a women, sexy and curves are advantages of her body design, it should be highlighted in poses if its done correctly, with decent clothing that invokes that primitive visual response of viewers at a basic level.

passenger

passenger

A prop is essentially any item, object that the model can use to add interest to the visual image. In this picture, highlighting Rachel’s gladiator using the rear passenger seat and door adds interest to an otherwise weak image.

dusk

dusk

Simple poses with good natural lighting can never go wrong.
Thanks for viewing my latest portrait session, i have a lot more beautiful photographs from this session and will be sharing them on my next blog.
I know i been churning out a lot of crap reasons and morality lectures that nobody wants to hear, but hey…its how i feel in all honesty.

distance

distance

* featured image, taken using F2.0 at 1/3000, 40mm 1.4 voigthlander, Leica ME.

Eilein of Penang {portraiture}

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i took out the leica ME and my favourite voigthlander 28mm ultron. Left the noctilux in the dry box. Took a trip to penang.
Took these photos of Eilein.

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5 real reasons why i shoot film in 2015 {portraiture}

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fuji superia 200, noctilux f1.

* All images here are unedited and taken using film on fuji Superia200 and kodak Porta160.

Often its the old school guys that pushes for shooting films. Folks that are caught in the past and never got the balls to seriously try digital. As a result of that we end up having all kinds of articles in the internet that is both misleading and silly. Sifting through the internet for gems and valid points from experience people who have done both and yet decided on film is like mining for gold in a ghost town.

I believe that before you can judge something, you need to either have divine knowledge in it or you have spent enough time to provide some authoritative opinion on it. Being ignorant or reactively being defensive is a fool’s mentality.

i am a firm believer in digital. I have subscriptions to LR and Adobe CC and i have spend countless hours perfecting my outdoor portraiture works both in editing and photographing. I could shoot manual 100% easily in almost any lighting. I have owned and used Sony a7r, Nikon D4, Sigma SD15 and various other cams during my course of photography. Ownership of premium gears is of course not a credible factor except for being a gear head. My last set of gears that i still own are the Leica ME/M9, Ricoh GR and the Panasonic FZ1000 travel cam.

And so i tried film…gave up few months ago…and i am back.

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fuji superia200, noctilux f1.

Here are 5 reasons why i have no plans to do digital anytime soon. I have one caveat to list here, that is, i am a hobbyist, i don’t shoot studio commercials, my commercials are outdoor portraiture.

1. film are for pros.

Pros as in using a camera and knowing what to set. I am not in the learning stage nor amateurish level where topics like iso, aperture and whitebalance are being learned. If you are starting out, i highly recommend digital. If you can’t take up any camera and shoot successfully in manual, i recommend sticking and using digital. I use 0 exposure compensation for all my images shot since 2013, if you don’t understand how is that possible, stick to digital.

If you have done all that. Welcome to film.

I am using a bessa R3m, which is a rangefinder, similar to my M9 except its 7 times cheaper.
Because it has a magnification of 1:1 i could open both eyes and just decides when to press the shutter.
I have like 500% less things to fiddle on the film camera. Just the shutter speed.
Films is less fiddling because you know what you want.

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fuji superia 200, noctilux f1

2. film sticks to the moment

There is no chance for chimping. You keep ur eyes open, you raise your alertness to the model’s or subject’s ever changing situation. You take the shot, wind the film, next. All the while, you are in the moment, u never left the scene.
When you are using film, you surrender the luxury of digital capabilities like replaying the shot and retaking, 5-100 fps (use a 4kvideo plz) and every click cost money.
Suddenly, your mind is more alert, sober and serious when taking the next shot. This only works on film.
When you have digital and even if you cover up the LCD or if you attempt to limit your shooting process, your mind is not stupid, it knows and you will shoot it like a machine gun.

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kodak porta 200. noctilux f1.

3. film saves you time

This might sound really silly but its true. A typical workflow in digital goes this way.
– 300-1200 shots on a 2 hours shoot
– 1-2 hours just identifying which photo to use, simple tweaks
– 1-3 hours per retouching on each photo

A film workflow is :
– drive and pass to the lab (30 minutes?)
– goto nearest cafe and enjoy your coffee or go home

Today’s modern labs will scan and automatically upload to your google drive, you can collect the film negatives only when you need it. I do pay for the development and scanning, but it comes down to around USD 0.50 per shot. Time is always more expensive and precious.

The tones are so beautiful and i don’t even need to edit to tweak the image vigorously. (See 4 : film tones are awesome)

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kodak porta 200, noctilux f1.

4. film tones are awesome

VSCO dominates most of the picture editing apps today. In instagram VSCO is used more than any other apps added up.
VSCO attempts to deliver film-feel to digital and people just realized they love it.
When you shoot film, you get these awesome tones out of the box. In fact, i could not use any VSCO on any of my film images because the original is just so much better.

None of the images shared here were edited.

kodak porta160. noctilux f1.

kodak porta160. noctilux f1.

5. shooting film slows you down

Each click cost your something. Your “system” is aware of that and you will compose much more before you take that shot.
You will see more and get yourself out of the digital upgrade hell hole and insufficiency complex that the industry is selling you.
At this point of writing i am in Tokyo. I took 5 days off my full time job, to Japan. I came with one film camera and 12 rolls of film.

Don’t get me wrong here. Film is in no way superior to digital when it comes to output and clinical sharpness. It is however, a fantastic process and experience to get into.

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