After a weekend of crappy weather, Monday was a complete opposite. Kirk Lau and I couldn’t resist on the amazing weather and took our Grapflex Speed Graphics to the Shanghai Bund for some night photography. Knowing how bad the reciprocity of the Shanghai 4×5 film, we decided to give it a go away. I was armed with only two lenses, the Fujinon 65mm f5.6 SWD and a Leica Dimaron 150mm f2.8. I only took 4 slides of Shanghai 100iso 4×5 film in two film holders. Here is a shot taken with my RX100 II on my shot.
Let’s see how the photo will do. I am stand developing them with Kodak HC110.
In the early morning, I arrived at the TaiO dock. The tranquility was a good change from the busy norm. Taken with Graflex Speed Graphic + Fujinon 65mm f5.6 SWD lens + Kodak TXP. Developed in Rodinal 1:100 stand. Scanned with Epson Perfection V700.
One day I saw an old beaten up Leitz medium format projector on sale on ebay. On closer look, I see that it has a Dimaron 150mm f2.8 lens on it. I contacted the seller about buying the lens on its own and to my surprise, they agreed and all for $25USD! The lens came and considered how beaten up the original projector was, the lens was in pristine condition. It even came with the original cap!
Using just a simple cardboard gift box that i saw lying around, I cut up a small square. I put the lens on the paper, drew a circle and cut a small hole that will fit the lens. Then I mounted it on my Speed Graphic and see how it looked in the focusing screen.
Somehow, there was no light leak and the lens is able to fit 4×5 without vignetting! I didn’t try tilt shift but I doubt it can cover that. I was really happy that it can even cover 4×5, consider it was from a medium format projector.
I quickly setup a scene to test the lens with FP3000b. Here is the first shot.
Amazing sharpness, solid contrast and dreamy bokeh.
I was blown away with this lens, even though this is only a piece of glass and doesn’t have an aperture. I am basically stuck with f2.8. For individual portrait, I think it’s perfect, but for group shots, I don’t think this will be too functional. Nevertheless, I am super happy with the result and it’s only $25USD! What a lucky find!
Two weeks ago, I took the Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic for a spin in the Gold Coast. It was a bright sunny day and I thought would be perfect to try out the machine with some el cheapo Shanghai film. Pointing towards the hotel as shown below, I was shooting at f11, 1/50. From my experience with the Polaroid 800, these Shanghai 4×5 film is light hungry. Even though it’s rated at iso 100, you have to compensate this by at least one click (shoot this at iso 50). Most cases, I even have to shoot at iso 25 for low light conditions. I got the most success when I compensate this by 1.5 clicks.
This unit is from 1955 and the ground glass is full of dirt. Right in the middle of the glass, the fresnel is coming off. I need to take the ground glass out and have a good cleaning of it and maybe replacing this. I didn’t have a focusing cloth and I just used my dark bag which worked ok. It was tough to focus in the 35C weather and the sun shining right at you. On top of that, you have to bandage your head with the focusing cloth. I should look at an angled viewfinder! The Graflok worked perfectly and so did the Grafmatic film holder.
After the shoot, I quickly developed the film at home with my Paterson system 4 tank which came with my Paterson Colourtherm machine. It was a really hot day and the water was at 28C. I developed the Shanghai film with Kodak HC110 dilution H in 14mins and Kodak Rapid Fix for another 4mins. I scanned the photo with my Epson V700.
When I looked at the negatives, it was fine. When I scanned it, I looked at the top part and I was like, it looks a lot more cloudy than it should? It was a bright sunny day. Looking closely I can see water bubbles! This was the first time I developed 4×5 with the taco method in the Paterson tank. The Paterson tank top is slanted, which allowed some movement of the 4×5 while developing. The AP tank that I used before, the top part was relatively flat and it was fine. Next time if I am using the Paterson tank, I have to use 900mL of solution rather than 650mL. It’s these unexpected “boo-boo”s that makes analog film interesting. The photo really has a vintage feel to it. I look forward to another shoot soon!
After some practice with the Polaroid Land 800, I was at a point of no return. I finally drown myself in the Large Format world. After seeing some photos from the Kodak Aero Ektar lens, I have decided to get a Graflex Speed Graphic. A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to acquire a 1955 Graflex Speed Graphic from the US. In the original box of goodies, from the expired pack film inside, it seems like the machine had not been used since 1967.
The machine was in mint condition and was definitely taken care of. From the warranty card inside, I traced back to the original owner named Charles H Marshall, whom purchased this from McCurry Foto Co in Sacramento, CA.
Prior of receiving this brick, I purchased a Polaroid back which was proven to be super handy for testing out this beast. When I was back in Toronto early this year, I attended the yearly auction from the Photographic Historical Society of Canada. There, I picked up three Grafmatic sheet film holder for a great bargain!
When the camera arrived, I was faced with another issue, a super solid tripod for focus and film pack insertion. The Speed Graphic, I weighted it on the scale to be 3kg. The film back adding another 0.5kg. The Kodak Aero Ektar lens (which will arrive soon!) coming in at 1.5kg. This totals to 5kg. My old Manfrotto tripod can only support 2.5kg and a new tripod has to be purchased before I can go out and shoot! After some research, Gitzo is out since what I needed cost around $7k HKD. My beloved Manfrotto was also out since it will cost around $5k HKD. I am not too kind to my tripods and I can’t justify spending so much on it. Finally I settled on the Benro C-2570T + B-2 head. The tripod itself only has three sections and can support up to 12kg. The B-2 head supports 20kg. This combination is rock solid and the carbon fiber tripod only weight in at roughly 2kg.
I need a cloth for focusing badly in bright outdoors. I substituted that with my film dark bag for the time being.