Yesterday I offered up a small mystery. I revealed that I was doing or using something different in my most recent candid street photography images, namely Bus Stop No. 61, Bus Stop No. 62, and yesterday’s Crosswalk No. 63. I had found it interesting that a pair of comments on Bus Stop 61 stated that there was something they couldn’t identify that made it special, even before I announced it, and yesterday I asked people to guess. A few did, and sort of came near the mark, but did not hit it directly.
The big reveal? Film. All four of these latest images, including the one today, were shot with film. And Jason Martini was right, there was a new camera body involved, because of course my digital cameras do not shoot film. Here is the kit:
Camera – Minolta CLE
Lens – Minolta Rokkor 40mm f/2
Film – Kodak Portra 400VC
I had the images processed at B&H, and received a CD with 17mb tiff files. I converted to black and white in Aperture, and in most of them I added contrast using the basic S-curve adjustment.
I have been wanting to play with film for several months, and finally started a few weeks ago. I bought the plastic Diana F+ camera, which uses 120 medium format film. Then about 2 weeks ago I bought 3 rolls each of the Kodak Portra 400VC 35mm color film and Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO 35mm black and white film. I just finished a roll of the Ilford in the Minolta that is being processed now, and I have a roll of the color in an old Nikon 6006 film camera I bought around 1992.
For those who noted that the shots were in daytime, with less bokeh, etc, you were correct (although I have had some shots with those features previously). It’s hard to shoot at night with ISO 400 film, and I used a small aperture to simplify focusing. I will have more to say about the Minolta and my experience using it in future posts. I learned something about focusing, basic stuff really, that I will write about soon. For now I will just mention that it is a pseudo- Leica. It takes at least some standard Leica M mount lenses and was built under a Leica license, CLE stands for Compact Leica Electronic. The Ken Rockwell article linked above gives a pretty thorough history of the camera and its capabilities. It is by far the cheapest route to using Leica lenses in a fairly modern camera. As Rockwell notes, it is roughly comparable to the Leica M7, Leica’s most current film camera, and it costs, used of course, about 1/7 the price of an M7, or less. Plus, as long as it does not break down, I could probably sell it, if I ever get bored with it, for at least as much as I paid. I did not use a Leica lens, but a Minolta Rokkor. If you search the web for information about the lens, you will find a lack of hard info. It is old enough that all the original reviews and data are gone, and it is not important/beloved/collectible enough for people to have saved them or committed the information to memory, the way they would have, for example, with a true Leica. Some people seem to think the lens was manufactured by Leica for Minolta under the Minolta brand, others note that there are 2 versions of the lens (I have the more modern edition) and think that maybe one was made by Leica but not the other. Others claim that at least one version, although made by Minolta, is as good as a Leica, which of course causes some Leica fans to scoff.
I have no opinion on that. I have never been able to identify “that certain something” about Leica images. I own this camera because it does a lot of thing I wanted to do. But it is funny that some people did note in the first image I posted with it had “something” about it. For all I know it had nothing to do with the camera, and hey were reacting to the energy of the people, or the composition, or maybe it was just – film, that they discerned.
In any event, I’m enjoying the new/old process. I’m just about used to the lack of instant feedback, and enjoying the delight of looking at images for the first time days or even a week or two after I take them. I’m certainly not switching, but I will keep mixing in film occasionally in the future.