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.

 

Vintage streets of Penang {portraiture}

On the last week of 2016, I visited penang, a northern state and island in Malaysia. Penang have a heritage site recognised by UNESCO for maintaining its vintage streets and architectural aesthetics.

My first stop was Lebuh melayu where I rented a room via airbnb. Two of my model friends visited me and I took the opportunity to do some albums.

Eilein @ Sekeping Pinang – fuji400pro, olympus 35uc

The street outside here looks like it’s stuck in the 1940s. Some shops have been converted to lodging and  cafes while the corner shops are hosting hawkers like stalls. These hawker like stalls are infamous for its local dishes.

Old stool – canon 35 1.4 L

Canon 35 1.4 L


If you travel to Malaysia, you have to visit Penang.  Rooms here cost a mere usd $50 per night , complete with breakfast. I wouldn’t mind the breakfast though, the food at the streets and cafe are so much better.

Elaine – canon 35 1.4 L


Just another 12 km away from the city you will reach Batu feringgi, a stretch of beaches for those beach lovers . I visited that part for some shots but in this piece I will just share images done at the street .

I took both a film camera and my canon digital with me . My pretty friends actually prefers digital since the results would be fast but nowadays film development in Malaysia won’t take more than 2 days.

Vintage streets – canon 35 1.4 L

Poses as a tourist – canon 35 1.4 L


There are plenty of specialise cafes as well, from ice cream centric ones to those offering own cakes. 

So walking in the humid and hot tropical streets here I have to occasionally stop by a cafe or two just to escape the heat and chat with my friends . 

Eilein – fuji400pro olympus 35uc

Eilein – fuji400pro olympus 35uc


I hope you enjoyed these images and visit Penang one of these days. 

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.

 

Photography Reset : One single truth that you can’t afford to miss out

Photokina 2014 is here and over. New gears, new lust, new features, new comparisons.
While the world goes on its normal course and manufacturers praying to increase its fair share of the market, i was totally oblivious to it. I was on a course of self discovery. Discovering the things that really do matters to me and why. In short i pressed the reset button.

Since this blog is about photography, i will just focus on the “reset” effect on my photography side of the story and the one(1) truth that makes all the difference.
Last few weeks it was all about using film. I had my hands on a vintage kodak, the Leica M6, Mamiya 645 and the GW690ii.
Kodak and M6 is now in my cabinet, in their respective coffins so to speak, service no longer needed. Mamiya was returned due to shutter fault and GW690ii did four(4) rolls of film.

Once you used film, you be very grateful when you looked at your current digital cameras. So much so that i took two(2) steps back and took a look at my journey so far. My love for Sigma Foveon and how its SPP software continues to disappoint me when i even volunteered to fix up the code for free and wrote to the CEO. Enough then, Sigma and two(2) lenses sold and shipped out to a Russian buyer.

Took out the Xvario and did some shots. This is the camera that was way overpriced in Malaysia, selling at more than USD 3k. I chucked it into the cabinet previously because it does not have enough shallow dof. I tried using it and trained myself on composing and doing portraiture without shallow dof, did that, done that and my verdict was that its just not suitable, or is it?

Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.

Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.

Xvario. Gaussian blur added  to bg.

Xvario. Gaussian blur added to bg.

Took these two(2) shots outside a photo exhibition and the colors are just beautiful. Clear, sharp and some tweaks in PS and i have some satisfactory images. The Xvario has always produce beautiful skin tones and colors, right out of the camera. Nevermind that its optics results actually involves some cheats of software correction in raw, the results are beautiful.
So why stop here i asked myself, lets dig out other “useless” cameras from the cabinet and see what i can do with it. I went thru my list of cameras in my cabinet and took out the very first DSLR that i bought in early 2005, the Nikon D50.

The Nikon D50 uses a CCD sensor, type of sensor that “snapsort website” labels as “low” sensor, inferior to CMOS. I took it out, put in the old SDCard 2GB and took it to the exhibition hall to shoot with a 50mm 1.8d lens (another old lens that uses screw to focus). I took this featured image, using built in flash, you know, that ugly pop up flash.

Nikon D50. 50mm 1.8d. Flash 1/16, built in.

Nikon D50. 50mm 1.8d.
Flash 1/16, built in.

I was surprised at the results i got when i load it up and did the same post processing as i would with any other camera. Hence the realization of the one(1) truth that hobbyist photographers should know.

#1. Your Gears are more than sufficient even BACK THEN.

D50 didn’t change while it was in the cabinet. I did. Most of the features and knowledge on using cameras back then wasn’t available to me because i am not who i am yet, the same camera did wonders now. There is a reason why film died or rather got frozen in the ICU state, its because our gears entered digital and like any other digital stuffs, it went on hyperdrive every six(6) months and declared obsolete any previous versions and everyone voted yay.

Truth is, at some point in time, Digital Photography jumped over the acceptable limit. Do we really need to pay for PS and LR every month because our new cameras and raw files needs them? Do you really need those 20 sharpen features if you got your image sharp in the first place? Was CCD obsolete because CMOS is really better, was that a quality choice or a choice made because of manufacturing cost and that we want to see images taken in crazy ISO that our eyes can’t see.

Looking at my Sony A7R in the Lowepro Runner bag and looking at the D50 in this small crumpler bag, i honestly don’t know if the Sony would produce any better images than the D50, in my hands. It never did. The wifi function? nice to have, but transferring 6 mp images on the D50 was even faster. One hundred an seventeen focus points(117) vs five(5) focus points on the D50, gee, i only used the middle one as an electronic rangefinder, selecting other focus points was just pointless and slower to operate. 5 fps, 10 fps? Use a video if you need more.

If there is any features on any new cameras that anyone might really need that wasn’t already available few years ago, it must be a very niche type of photography which one could already live by without or without it. Today there are still die hards using films to shoot wedding photography commercially, think about it, that whatever entry level digital SLR or mirroless camera you have, most probably blows it out of water. It didn’t stop them from making beautiful images in film and happy customers paying for it. I am pretty sure clients don’t do pixel peeping unless he/she is a photographer too.

There are enough pixels on your monitor today to form smooth beautiful fonts, definitely enough to display images that you eyes can discern and unable to discern even if it goes higher. So how much resolution do you really need. I personally can’t see any differences on 6mp images vs 36 mp images without zooming in 100%. I bet you have an APSC that is already doing 16 mp.

#stilwithyourgears #morethansufficient

Camera Jedi i became

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So how does it feels like using a camera without :-
– autofocus
– metering
– large OVF
– LCD/EVF
– batteries!

*blindfold guy image from http://brandleadership.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/feeling-the-future-the-emotional-oracle-effect

No joke. I loaded in a Fuji Superia 200 and it requires that i use everything i knew about photography on this beautiful vintage camera.

Its kinda mind boggling when i first loaded up the films into it. I was like a child playing with a new toy, exploring the nooks and finishes of the camera.
Some big questions like, does the rangefinder still works or out of alignment? Its after all a 1946 camera……thats like..wow…68 years old.

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For a moment in time, blogs like Steve Huffs and other gear centric lost its appeal. Here i am using a camera without batteries, evf, or even decently bright OVF. But i can tell u, the built quality and weight of the camera…it makes the M9 build looks like a downgrade. Credit to M9 though, for almost everything that i managed to use on this camera came from my experience in using the M9, that low iso 160 and other related attributes.

Film loaded. Shutter cocked by locking a lever, much like a gun. Aperture set. Thats it, focus using the miniature rangefinder window and..frankly, i felt like a jedi.

I got the photos both developed in a 4R print and in scanned jpgs. I am surprised that the 4R print was much better than the jpgs, whether scanned quality could be improved further by trying other processing shops or not, remains to be seen.

Here are some images taken, added watermark and untouched.

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Kim Goh, Abandoned (Portraiture)

malaysia best photographer

Lets try viewing this in icloud Web Journal album, do let me know if you like it better in this blog or the Icloud journal.

The Abandoned, A beautiful mostly B&W portraits taken in an abandoned bus station in Penang, Malaysia.

Ipoh, the mining state

 

 

Ipoh have many sites where nostalgic looking buildings are still around. Some are even in operation for business. One particular site is the old town ipoh, where you will find many cafes maintaining the existing vintage feel of the building but offering hipsters food and menu.

My work here is simple entitled : Thin line.
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