Category Archives: Medium Format

Hasselblad 501CM (1997)

Over Memorial Day weekend last month, I rented a Hasselblad 501CM kit from Acme Camera in Sugarhouse, Utah. The camera itself is a medium format SLR and came with an 80mm Planar CFE 2.8 T* lens. The 4lb camera shoots 6×6 images on 120 film and features a leaf shutter with speeds from 1 – 1/500th of a second and bulb mode. The Gliding Mirror System in the body provides you with a full view of your image in the waist level viewfinder, and it’s incredible! It’s bright and clear from edge-to-edge. All of these images were shot on Ultrafine Xtreme 400, a film from Photo Warehouse. I used my Gossen Luna Pro S to meter the light. If I ever decide to buy a Hasselblad, I would want a pentaprism viewfinder with built-in meter. The slap of the mirror when firing the shutter is an incredible sound on this camera. And because this camera is a single-piece, cast aluminum body, it simply feels like a piece of professional gear in your hands. Overall, this camera was enjoyable to use. I’m still undecided on the Ultrafine Xtreme 120 film. It seems a bit grainy compared to other medium format ISO 400 black and white films. Even when trying to darken or lighten the images in Photoshop, I’m not really satisfied.

Some of these photos were part of a family day trip to two ghost towns in Utah. The trip was inspired by Jennifer Jones at The Dead History. The first ghost town we visited was Thistle, Utah, where a large landslide in 1983 blocked the Spanish Fork River. This caused water to engulf the town within 2 days. People moved away and the town was deserted. The next ghost town we visited was Spring Canyon, outside of Helper, Utah, where a town was established in 1912. The main purpose was to mine coal, and they were successful from 1924 – 1942. In 1969, the town was abandoned. Many of the homes and buildings have been torn down, with the exception of the main mining building, where coal still sits in a large bin.

Camera: Hasselblad 501CM
Film: Ultrafine Xtreme 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 14:00 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

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Agfa Isolette I

Agfa’s production of the Isolette series spans several decades. Multiple models were made from pre-WWII 1936 up to 1958. The Isolette I is a simple German-made 120 folder that was sold from 1952 to 1960. The camera features an 85mm coated f/4.5 – 32 Agnar lens and a synchronized Vario leaf shutter. Focus is scale-focusing, measured on the lens from 3 feet to infinity.

Agfa Isolette

I purchased the Isolette I for $20 after listening to Episode 143 of the Film Photography Project Podcast. Host Mark O’Brien details many of the features. He also describes the common issues with sticky, or dried lubricant. When I received the Isolette, sure enough, the lens would not focus because the original lubricant had cemented the focus in place. Utah Film Photography friend, Maurice Greeson, put the camera on his workbench, cleaned, lubricated and freed the focus.

My experience with the Isolette was just so-so. I like having a 120 folder that has such a small footprint. However, I found that ultimately I wanted better control over the focus. My ideal 120 folder would have a rangefinder focus. The Isolette I doesn’t have a light meter. For some photographers that might be a deal breaker, but for me it wasn’t an issue. Now that I’ve said that, the majority of my shots were under or over-exposed. I don’t believe this was my fault or the cameras. I think it was the expired Kodak T-Max 100 I was using. I’m not sure how it was stored before it was donated. Will I shoot with the Isolette again? Sure, but with some fresh Kodak Tri-X or Illford HP5.


Landscape Photography with the Mamiya m645 Super

It’s been a snowy and cold start to the new year and I’m already behind updating UTFP. Searching back through my catalog of film images, I decided to share these from June 2015. The Mamiya m645 Super with the 80mm f/2.8 lens is not ideal for landscape photography. Stopping down the lens, like you would expect to do when creating a landscape image, closes out much of the light in the viewfinder. As I stated in my early review on the Mamiya m645 Super, I found the best solution was to focus, stop down (f/16 or f/22), check the meter, set the shutter speed, and then take the shot. Even outdoors in bright sunlight, f/22 is very dark through the viewfinder. These images were shot on Lomography Color 100, processed by TheDarkroom.com, and scanned on my Epson Perfection V600 Photo.

Chesterfield is located between Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs, Idaho. The town was settled in 1880 by Chester Call and his family along the Oregon Trail. Some of the homes and buildings have been restored, some are in the process of being restored, and others have been abandoned.


Mamiya m645 Super

My real interest in medium format began during my visit to San Clemente, California, in March for the Film Photography Project Walking Workshop 2015. On the second day of the workshop, Mat Marrash covered medium and large format film and cameras. Up to this point, my experience with medium format, 120 film, was with my Holga, Debonair, and Yashica-A. After seeing some of the medium format cameras at the workshop, I added a few to my wish list, like the Pentax 645, Mamiya 645, and of course a Hasselblad. My heart wanted the Pentax, my eyes wanted the Hasselblad, but my wallet led me to the Mamiya.

Mamiya m645 Super
The Mamiya m645 Super is a medium format SLR camera made in 1985 by Mamiya in Tokyo, Japan. It features a Mamiya-Sekor 80mm f/2.8 lens, and shutter speeds are bulb, 4 through 1/1000 second. Like other medium format cameras, it’s a modular system, meaning you can add different components like a waist-level viewfinder, prism viewfinder, manual winding crank, powered winding grip, 120, 220, or Polaroid film back. One of the great features about using a medium format camera like the Mamiya is the ability to change the film back at any time using a metal dark slide to block the light from exposing the film.

These are some photos I captured on Kodak Tri-X 400 Black & White 120 Film, developed at home with New55 R3 Monobath, and scanned the negatives with an Epson Perfection V600 Photo scanner. The photos were taken at the Ogden Union Station Restoration Shop in Ogden, Utah. For more information about the shop and the restoration of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway locomotive No. 223, read my guest post at IndieOgden.com.

I really enjoy shooting with the m645 Super. The camera and grip feel good, solid in my hands. What don’t I like about it? The shutter on this camera is loud. The mirror slap and powered film advance make a sound loud enough to set off car alarms and register on a seismograph at Utah State. Yes, I’m exaggerating, a little, but this camera is loud. And while the lens is sharp, stopping down makes it very dark in the viewfinder. On a roll of color film where I was shooting outdoors (100 ISO), I found the best solution was to focus, stop down (f/16 or f/22), check the meter, set the shutter speed, and then take the shot. Even outdoors in bright sunlight, f/22 is very dark through the viewfinder. Most of my images at the restoration shop were done at f/2.8. The 80mm lens is a great choice for portraits, which was my intent for this purchase.

There’s something very satisfying about shooting medium format film in an SLR. To me, I like knowing that my image is going to yield a large negative. I actually surprised myself, being new to souping my own film at home, the larger negative was easier for me to position and feed on to a Paterson spool than 35mm film. I’ll be sharing some additional photos from this camera in the near future.