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Thread: A useless project, but... opinions?

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    A useless project, but... opinions?

    Since I, very reluctantly, converted to digital five years ago, I've been complaining and whining about the same old things: too many gadgets on modern cameras, too many menus, too small viewfinders, too much plastic... very little that caters for slow photographers, photographers who take their time and who want to focus manually now and then.

    Don't misunderstand me. I love the gadgets too, and at the moment, I'm having a great time with the GH1, particularly when it's firmly placed on a tripod for product photography or video. But now and then, I need to get back to the roots, but first I have to find them. They are not necessarily the OM-system that still floats around in my drawers, although they might be.

    So here's a bit of thinking aloud. The target is to find a camera/system for manual focusing, mostly portraits and probably mostly b&w. It must have a good to great viewfinder, spot metering and there must be at least one great portrait lens available for the system. I don't care for vertical grips for portraits, since i tend to tilt the camera in the opposite direction (even when the grip is there ).

    The obvious solution would be to buy an OM 85mm or 100mm f/2.0 (The 100mm f/2.8 doesn't cut it and although the 90mm f/2.0 macro is a great lens, the focusing scale is optimised for macro) for my OM-3 and OM-2S. Cost: $500-1,000.

    Another film solution would be to buy a Contax RX. I have the Zeiss CY 85mm f/1.4, and the RX is available for less than $300 in very good shape. The Aria is nice to, but diopter adjustment relies on changing eyepieces which can be difficult to find. The RTS is too heavy.

    Or I could buy a Nikon FMsomething and use the 105mm f/1.8 that I also have. Unless it's an FM3A, they are mostly dirt cheap, and somewhere between 2 and 300 dollars should do the job nicely.

    Another Nikon alternative would be the F6, but it's $1,500 second hand. The advantage is that it will work flawlessly with all of my other Nikon gear. Or an F3?

    Then there's the Kodak SLR/n, which absolutely qualifies for slow photography. Very slow, from what I've heard. Available for between 500 and 1,000.

    At last, the two totally non-exotic alternatives, the D700 ($1,500 to 2,000 used around here) and the ur-5D for 1,000 plus adapters. But the D700 is just another Nikon, and as good as it is, it may have too few limitations for this project. It's simply a D300 with a bigger sensor. And only Nikon lenses may apply. The 5D is a more obvious choice, since it can use almost any lens created on earth, but it's ugly, I don't care too much for the files that come out of it and the ergonomics are beyond hopeless. A bit in the opposite direction of where i want to go.

    So where should I go. Is this only blabber from a grumpy old photographer who's tired of plastic-fantastic this Monday morning, or will any of these alternatives lead me towards a new, shining truth?

    PS. Yeah, yeah, I know... medium format. But not this time around... I think

    Edit: My current gear? Nikon and Fuji F-mount bodies, a GH1 and OM film gear.

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Leica DMR with 80 lux?

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    Senior Member bensonga's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    An F3HP with your 105/1.8 should do the trick. The F3HP does it for me.....that and a Leica R8. Nothing plasticky about either one of those cameras.

    Lots of excellent choices.....good luck finding the right one for you!

    Gary

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Leica DMR with 80 lux?
    I like the R8/9, but they are rather large, aren't they, and expensive for film cameras. The DMR makes them neither smaller nor cheaper. Any idea what a DMR goes for these days?

    Then there's of course the older R bodies, but I know as much about them as I know about the offshore oil industry in Nepal. On the other hand, if they work and can mount Leica lenses, they can't be bad, can they?

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Sony NEX-5/3 and a fast lens (one such of my combo cost <$1,000, everything inclusive. It could be cheaper now with the lower NEX prices)

    It does not have a viewfinder. It is an ergonomic nightmare and as a result, it is guaranteed to slow you down in more ways than you can imagine compared to any of the other cameras you list.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Vivek, you're a genius. Why didn't I think of that

    Isn't it a paradox that after five minutes of instructions, any child can learn how to operate a fifty year old Leica or Rolleiflex. After spending half an hour with the NEX-5 a couple of months ago, I was more or less as informed as when I started. And don't mention my GH1. I know how to switch it on and off, how to format the card and how to adjust the most used parameters (WB, ISO and metering). What the seven zillion other menus are for is beyond me. Can't be anything related to photography. I do manage to take photos without using any of them

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Ah, Jorgen, with the NEX-5 (metal body, btw), you have one less thing to worry.

    It may have zillion functions in it but they are not easy to access.

    The easiest thing that works is the video. Just one button.

    BTW, my 10 year old (on his own) figured out how to do panorama with the NEX-5 within 5 minutes (he had seen me use it incorrectly- the wrong way- on moving trams ).

    In terms of ancient stuff, this is what I have:

    Leica SL2 plus old (3 cam) Summicron 50/2. No spot metering but still does a fabulous job. The Portugal made R3 has a spot meter but isn't as classic as the SL2.

    The SL2 has one of the best finders ever made.

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Jorgen, you're obviously tempted by the noisy, slightly blurred portrait side of the force. And with a metal body.

    Let's get serious and cut the cr*p: you need a Leica.
    And you know it.






    ...

    Kodak SLR/n is definitely a possibility, and F-mount so you can use many familiar lenses. Colors are great. In fact i was eyeing the current offers myself two days ago. Always loved the look of the SLR/n photos (and the 14 before that). And... wasn't it considered as Medium Format?

    So not only would it fit most of your requirements but even though a step back in time, it could be regarded as an upgrade to MF, including pixel wise.

    If you find them cheap enough, you can even get a "n" and a "c", so you can play with ALL your lenses seamlessly as far as camera operation is concerned.

    How's that for a teaser?

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    I'm with Corlan
    Get an SLR/n - lovely camera, slow, but not too slow, simple, but not too simple.
    But the real point is the lovely files it made - I would definitely be up for one if I was still using Nikon lenses.

    Just this guy you know

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    From one grumpy old photographer to another:
    If you like nikon, go direct and find an f3hp, It remains my favorite amongst all film slrs,
    If you can manage rangefinder focusing, and sadly I no longer can, then go for a Leica rangefinder. There is nothing more pure unless you are a view camera type. I liked the MP very much. Of course an M3 is an alternative or if you are really feeling nostalgic, a IIIg.
    -bob

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Things never go as planned, do they? Stupid me went to the camera pushers shack downtown, and guess what? They had a mint Contax RX with an equally mint 50mm f/1.4 for around $400. I lifted it up, looked through the viewfinder, which was plenty bright even inside the very dimly lit shop, focused and pushed the little button on the top that makes the camera go click. Not CLICK CLACK, but click... buttery smooth. Makes my D300 sound like a cargo train. Even the GH1 is much noisier, even though the RX has mirror, shutter and motorised film advance.

    And I ask myself: With the combined experience of all camera makers, and great, older cameras like the RX around, what on earth is it that prevents them from making cameras today that have that special feel of a Contax? My favourite until now has been the E-1, but even Olympus couldn't make a follow up that was as good as that. And from the best of the current DSLRs up to this Contax, there are miles of empty space; polluted air filled with nothingness. And then the lenses, with that buttery smooth feeling until you see it snap into focus on a focusing screen that is really a focusing screen and not some kind of gray substance that exists on the inside of your camera.

    Ok, I'm exaggerating. But I must say that this was a real eye-opener. Better than "you know what", if you ask me. Oh, and they had two bodies. The other one still had the protective foil on the LCD. Looked unused to me. So I'm buying that one as well for another $300 (for another film type, backup and ultimately spare parts) . The question is: I now have two bodies, 50mm and 85mm, both f/1.4. I'll probably buy a 135mm f/2.8 as well, but I need a wide-angle. The 35mm f/1.4 is insanely expensive, and so is the 21mm f/2.8, but both are supposedly as good as it gets. The price of the 18mm f/4 is more reasonable. Does anybody have experience with these lenses? What to buy?

    They also had a Contax 645 btw., with 80mm and vertical grip. Kind of tempting, but probably risky, or...? It's over $2,000, so not exactly cheap, and it's biiiig.

    Thanks for listening.

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    I share your views on the CLACK's of the plastic stuff, Jorgen.

    To be fair, I have a Canon 7z and that TWING, even when I think about it, still rings in my ears.

    A Leica M would have made you even happier, I would think.

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    I would undoubtedly be very happy with a Leica M, but for what I've invested so far in this, I wouldn't even get a lens. In addition, I've lived all my life with SLR cameras. I feel so much at home in that viewfinder, and much more so with a manual focus camera than a modern DSLR.

    I must admit though that I cheat a little bit. The RX has focus confirmation with front and back focus indicators in addition to motor drive. But hey, these are modern times, and I'm getting old and weak, so a little help doesn't hurt.

    It also has a few other switches and knobs, but compared to most other cameras, also of the nineties when it was manufactured, it's rather simplistic. What made me make up my mind instantly, apart from looking through the viewfinder, was the fact that it fitted my hand like a glove. I'm looking forward to some fun

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Sounds like a lot of fun. Lenses are simply terrific (135mm 's awesome), and that doesn't hurt either.
    Of course it means getting back to film, so it has to be more for fun than for work.


    BTW the C645 is another league by itself, but it's big, and cost more. But the second you look into the waist level VF with a -quite affordable- 45mm on it, you fall in love. As huge and clear as it gets -maybe even more. It's like "true photography" from the good ol'days.

    (plus, you can opt to go digital down the road)

    Don't try that at home.

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    A great decision
    if I didn't know that I don't use film cameras even if they're lovely and I've got them I'd be jealous!

    I once had an RX - what a lovely thing it was too.

    Just this guy you know

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corlan F. View Post
    BTW the C645 is another league by itself, but it's big, and cost more. But the second you look into the waist level VF with a -quite affordable- 45mm on it, you fall in love. As huge and clear as it gets -maybe even more. It's like "true photography" from the good ol'days.

    (plus, you can opt to go digital down the road)

    Don't try that at home.
    I haven't written off the idea of the 645 completely yet. I tried it, and it was a lovely experience. But it's a much bigger investment, and I'm worried about spare parts an service should it break down. On the plus side, the digital potential is an important point. I'll have a look at the economy and see what is possible, but when a 45 plus a portrait lens (140/2.8?) has been added, I will be somewhere around $4,000.

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    Subscriber Member Corlan F.'s Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Though they are workhorses, service can be a concern.
    The 120 is big, and more expensive, but it's probably one of the best lenses ever made, period. Portraits are really great.

    A kit with body + back + 80 + 45 + 120 should be found around $4000, yes. (with some luck with the most conveted waistlevel VF). 140's cheaper.

    RX is undoubtedly a more affordable route, especially if it "fits your hand like a glove" and designed for having some analog fun.

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    (...) And I ask myself: With the combined experience of all camera makers, and great, older cameras like the RX around, what on earth is it that prevents them from making cameras today that have that special feel of a Contax? My favourite until now has been the E-1, but even Olympus couldn't make a follow up that was as good as that. And from the best of the current DSLRs up to this Contax, there are miles of empty space; polluted air filled with nothingness. And then the lenses, with that buttery smooth feeling until you see it snap into focus on a focusing screen that is really a focusing screen and not some kind of gray substance that exists on the inside of your camera. (...)
    I know what you mean, Jorgen. Really.

    Still, if you haven't bought it yet, my recommendation would be to shoot a couple of rolls with your existing Olympus rig, just to see if you actually enjoy the entire proces connected with going back to film.

    Do you have a darkroom and all the equipment, or can you find a film laboratory with an acceptable and consistent quality and acceptable prices ?

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steen View Post
    I know what you mean, Jorgen. Really.

    Still, if you haven't bought it yet, my recommendation would be to shoot a couple of rolls with your existing Olympus rig, just to see if you actually enjoy the entire proces connected with going back to film.

    Do you have a darkroom and all the equipment, or can you find a film laboratory with an acceptable and consistent quality and acceptable prices ?
    Steen,
    The problem with the Olympus is that their best portrait lens, the 100mm f/2.0, is selling for around $1,000 at the moment, much more than I paid for the two Contax bodies and the 50mm f/1.4 (I bought the 85mm f/1.4 six months ago for the GH1). Add to that the fact that my OM-3 is rather tired. It's ok for a little use, and it will come along too, with the 21mm f/3.5 more or less permanently mounted. I must admit also, that even a biiiig Olympus fan like myself is very, very impressed with the Contax. I was actually about to change to Contax 5 years ago (N1) and had ordered all the gear, when it became clear that Contax was no more. So I went digital with Fuji and Olympus instead.

    Luckily, there are lots of film shooters in Bangkok, and an excellent lab, IQ Lab, who charges less than $3 for colour negatives, $3.50 for colour positive and $4 for b&w. Contact proof is $4 extra. I believe I can live with those prices.

    There's another important side to this; I don't only do it because I want to, but also because I need to. To take better photos, I need to slow down, do things more elaborate, "think before I click". And again, the bulk of my photography will still be digital. Commercial work on film isn't feasible anymore.

    If this is a success, whatever that means, I'll look into medium format later, but probably a system that is still in production. Pentax and Mamiya are the most likely, or Hasselblad V-system. But that will be later, later, later...

    A scanner is high on the wish list though. The lack of a good scanner was one of the most important reasons why I started using less film. I'm primarily looking for a used Coolscan 8000, but they are still expensive.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    (...) I don't only do it because I want to, but also because I need to. (...)
    That's the spirit good to hear there are still some people who know the meaning of obligations and responsibility

    Just kidding, I certainly do get your point. About four years ago I myself was very close to buy a used F3HP, even bidding on several copies on eBay but without getting any of them.
    Besides the only satisfying solutions on post processing I could find in my corner of the world were surprisingly expensive.
    Alternatively I could buy my own scanner but that was rather expensive too at the time.
    So finally I just gave it up and went back to patiently await the R10

    Now, please show us some beautiful portraits (digital is ok) of your new Contaxes

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steen View Post
    Now, please show us some beautiful portraits (digital is ok) of your new Contaxes
    Exactly Steen: Jorgen - let's have have some cameraporn!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Exactly Steen: Jorgen - let's have have some cameraporn!
    Next week, guys. I'm out and about until Monday. Picking the cameras up then

    Steen, F3 prices are really, really low now. Just mentioning

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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    (...) Steen, F3 prices are really, really low now. Just mentioning

    Yes, I do have noticed it, and I really am still tempted now and then, mostly for the fabulous viewfinders in combination with the nice AI-S lenses, but at this point I find myself buying into the new line of autofocus AF-S G primes, and the convenience of digital is so addictive.
    I just cannot see myself going back to the film based proces despite I like the associated optical tools so much.

    So how are your new Contaxes doing, do you enjoy composing through a proper viewfinder again ...

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: A useless project, but... opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steen View Post

    So how are your new Contaxes doing, do you enjoy composing through a proper viewfinder again ...
    Steen,
    I'm enjoying it a lot. Not only the proper viewfinder, but the focusing screen with split screen and microprism. But the biggest surprise is that enjoy using film so much, the fact that I can buy a different sensor for $3-5, the challenge of being limited to 36 exposures per roll, the suspense, waiting for a couple of days for the results, and the joy of watching my small selection of films in the fridge.

    Did I forget to post the camera porn? I believe I must have posted it at another thread then, but here it is:



    and one of the results:

    Contax RX with Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 and Fuji Neopan 400



    Now, I also consider replacing my OM-3 with a less used one, since I have lots of OM lenses. Having the current one properly serviced might be an option too, but I will probably have to send it out of the country to do that.

    I have also found a "new in box" F6 for $1,700. That's a lot of money for "ancient" technology, but I consider it seriously for those occasions when I would like to shoot film using AF. Yes I know, I can have an F100 for a fraction of that, but new is new, and the F6 is the best camera I've tried ever. And it's such a beauuuuutiful camera

    Oh, and a Coolpix 5000 will appear here in a month or so, to replace the ancient Epson 3200 that I use for scanning nowadays

    Oh, and the Kodak.... I would like to buy one, but I'm afraid of service and part problems in this country, so I'm afraid that's out fpr the time being,

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