Early this year I was in Tasmania, Australia. Every time a long vacation comes headache as what photography equipment to bring. The digital department is quite set, usually the trusty Canon 5D3 + 24-105mm + 40mm pancake + one prime (usually 50mm f1.8, this time I brought a super wide 17mm) and the tiny Sony RX100 II. The film department is where the headache comes in. 35mm usually is out of the question as a full frame digital can cover this. It comes to either medium or large. The SG is manageable but not too good with a family trip, since you don’t want them to wait for you for too long setting everything up. At the end, I brought my Mamiya Universal, sort of somewhere in between. Next is film. I know there will be some large nature shots, but unsure what to use. At the end, I brought a handful of Fuji Reala and Fuji Velvia 50 films.
The photos are developed and here are the result. Photo taken with Mamiya Universal + 50mm f6.3 lens + 6×9 back. I had the luxury of several backs and I took the photo from the same location to compare. Which one will you prefer? The positive (Fuji Velvia 50) or the negative (Fuji Reala 100). Both look quite good, what’s better is for you to decide.
For a while, my travel photo gears includes: Canon Powershot S90, Canon QL17 GIII + Canolite D flash and Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B 532/16. The S90 serves as the all purpose camera, QL17 mainly for street photography and the Zeiss Ikon for portraits. For 135, I mainly use Kodak TriX 400, Fuji Xtra 400 and Agfa Vista 400. For 120, I use mainly Fuji Reala 100 which are excellent for portraits. All of these fits nicely in a small Crumpler camera bag.
Recently I went to Japan for a week and I was debating what to bring. I have upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark III recently and really wanted to try this out during this trip, but the sheer size of it gave me second thoughts. Since I am going for a week, the Zeiss Ikon also didn’t seem feasible. This medium format beauty can only produce 11 shots per roll, this means I will need to bring a dozen of 120s. Weight is not an issue, I am more worried about how the Fuji Reala will perform under hot temperature (30C+).
The final verdict, I took the dive and brought the 5D, along with the stock 24-105mm F4 L lens, 40mm F2.8 pancake lens and a Yongnuo YN-568EX flash. I decided to drop the Zeiss Ikon and brought the QL17 and S90.
I didn’t realize until I took the photo above that I have a complete Canon lineup. I swear that it wasn’t intentional, just happened that way. The S90 continued to perform well, especially for food closeup shots. I shot six rolls of Kodak Tri-X with the QL17 (awaiting for development). For the QL17, during the day, I often use a Kenko ND4 filter so I can use ISO 400 during the day. Nothing can beat the QL17 for street photography in my lineup, it’s small, non-intrusive, quiet and fast focusing. The 40mm F1.7 lens is perfect for that.
How did I find the 5D for traveling? It’s heavy but worth it. With the 40mm pancake lens, this is basically the same setup as my QL17 but with one huge advantage. That’s high ISO. I can shoot at up to ISO3200 without a lot of noise which makes this camera a winner for taking photos indoors and at night. The stock 24-105mm F4 L lens with IS gave a good working range for most travel shots, from architecture to far away objects. It is also quite a bit lighter than the 24-70mm F2.8 lens which makes this a bit more desirable for traveling. Did I need the flash? Yes! I actually used it often as a fill flash especially during late afternoon around sunset time.
All the equipment fitted in my Kata backpack. The new selection of travel gear added another few kilos compared to before but the 5D took beautiful photos and was worth it at the end.
For color film, I generally will save up at least six rolls before I develop them. This is because I need to setup the water bath in my Peterson Auto Colortherm machine and it’s always a good idea to exhaust the color chemicals in one go rather than several (due to oxidation).
This weekend’s lineup, two rolls of medium format Fuji Reala 100, four rolls of 135 Fuji Xtra 400 (one roll inside the film case because it was removed from a 126 cartridge), one roll of Agfa Vista 400, one roll of Kodak TriX 400 as well as a roll of Lucky SHD 100.
The color film are developed with the Tetenal kit. Chemical and water temperature are preheated at 38C. First wet the film with water for 5 minutes, developer for 3:15 minutes, blix for 4 minutes, rince with 38C water for 3 minutes and stabilizer for 1 minute. Both developer and blix agitation for first 30 seconds, then one inversion every 30 seconds.
Hong Kong is hot these days and water temperature sits at 28C. This is difficult for BW development. For Kodak TriX 400, first wet the film with water for 2 minutes. Kodak HC110 (dilution H) for 5 minutes, water stop for 2 minutes, Kodak Rapid Fix for 4 minutes, wash with water for 2 minutes and finish with Kodak Photoflo. Agitation for developer and fixer is the same. Agitation by inversion for the first 30 seconds, followed by two inversions every 30 seconds.
For developing Lucky SHD 100 film, first wet the film with water for 2 minutes. Kodak HC110 (dilution H) for 14 minutes, water stop for 2 minutes, Kodak Rapid Fix for 4 minutes, wash with water for 2 minutes and finish with Kodak Photoflo. Agitation for developer and fixer is the same. Agitation by inversion for the first 30 seconds, followed by two inversions every 30 seconds.
Nine rolls of film drying in my washroom, what a scene!
Breaking free from the many issues I had with photo development places in Hong Kong and Shanghai, I started to develop my own film again recently. I have done a lot of BW development in the past. Color, however, I have never done before and had always been at the back of my mind. A temperature controlled water bath (at 38C) for the chemicals is a must for color. When I was back in Toronto, I was lucky enough to find an unused Paterson Auto Colortherm machine from a really nice lady named Linda Power. It was sitting in her basement for years and she was willing to let it go. I was ecstatic about the find and it just barely fitted in my suitcase back to Hong Kong.
It was rather difficult to get home color development chemicals in Hong Kong, so I picked up a C41 Tetenal kit from Shanghai. It was not cheap but nevertheless a good practice kit for the first run at this. My Paterson tank can develop up to two 135 rolls or one 120 roll with about 600mL of chemicals. I prepared the developer, blix and stabilizer all at 600mL volume. With this, I can either develop 4 to 5 rolls of 120 or 8 rolls of 135. With the 5L kit I got, I basically can develop about 64 rolls of 135.
I turned on the Paterson Auto Colortherm and set the water bath to the correct 38C temperature. You need to wait about an hour until all the chemicals are at the stable temperature. I started with a 5 minutes water bath, then developed for 3 minutes 15 seconds, blix for 6 minutes, water rinse for 3 minutes and ended it with stabilizer for 1 minute. Viola, the negatives showed up nicely and I waited for them to dry.
I scanned them with my Epson V700 and they turned out great. However, dust is never my friend when it comes to development and scanning and a lot of care has to be taken.
Here are a couple of shots from the development.
Overall, the first run at C41 development was a success and am looking forward to develop more rolls.