Thursday, 21 September 2017

Voigtlander Bessa 1 and Kodak Portra 160

I love using this Voigtlander Bessa 1 folding camera.  So much more of a challenge than anything in digital!

I only get 8 exposures in 6 x 9 format from a 120mm roll of film (although if I used the 6 x 4.5 mask, I would get 16 exposures, I guess I should try that at some stage!).  So, because it is more expensive to develop and scan medium format film at my local lab, I have to factor in the cost of using it as opposed to a 35mm film.  I can't just leave it sit on the shelf as an ornament though!

The focal length when folded out is 105mm on a Voigtlander Color Skopar f3.5 lens.  As you can see, it is still really sharp for its age with no scratches or dust.  I can't open it out wide at f3.5 though because the fastest shutter speed on the camera is only 1/250.  It doesn't have the shutter speed to match the larger aperture which is a shame because I would love to use it for portraits and get that shallow depth of field going.  

There are a couple of solutions to that though.  One would be to use a lower ISO film.  There are still a few ISO50 films around but I would like to try an ISO25.  Problem being that most 120mm ISO25 films would be long expired and that introduces little idiosyncrasies into the shooting and development of the older films that may deliver an unwanted surprise package in the finished product!

The second solution I am thinking, would be to use an ND filter to block out some of the light which would allow the use of larger aperture and not require a speed faster than 1/250.  This requires me to do some maths to get the correct settings (maths has never been a strong subject with me!)  Also, I would have to adapt any filter to fit on the front of the camera over the lens somehow.  It's a job for when I have more time to experiment I think!

This is only the second roll of colour film I have put through this camera (which was the point of the exercise; I wanted to use colour!)  I shot the Kodak Portra 160 at 100 ISO and only adjusted the contrast slightly in Lightroom.  Both exposure and colour have turned out great!

In this first photo above, you can see that most of the scene on the left and in the middle is fairly sharp but, toward the right hand side it gradually loses the focus.  As the Voigtlander is opened and folds out, there are two locking points on either side.  The locking point on the right hand side has a nasty habit of popping out of lock.  Usually I am aware when this has happened but for some reason I totally missed it this time.  As you can see it ruins the sharpness on the right hand side of the photo.

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