Film Photography Podcast – Episode 195 - September 1, 2018
Special guest Phil Steblay from TheDarkroom.com. Topics include Photo Lab Troubleshooting, the Hasselblad Flex Body, Pancake Lenses, and much more!
We’re back from our summer break and ready for a new season of FPP! On today’s show is Michael Raso, Mat Marrash, Leslie Lazenby, Mark O’Brien, and special guest (and no stranger to the podcast), Phil Steblay from TheDarkroom.com! Not to mention the wonderful studio audience (show recorded in Findlay Ohio’s Jones Mansion during the FPP Walking Workshop!)
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If you’re new to the FPP, then you may not have heard of TheDarkroom.com. The company, located in San Clemente, California is a film processing and printing lab that is a good friend of the FPP. They offer a wide range of film processing options using traditional dip-and-dunk processing for B&W, C-41, and E-6. They can even process the FPP Infrachrome Colour IR film properly! Not to mention they can process 110, APS, 35mm, 120, 4x5 and 8x10! And the best part is that their rates are awesome with a quick turnaround time for their mail in processing.
The Doctor Is In – The Film, the Lab, and the Photographer
As you know, Leslie has been troubleshooting all your camera and film troubles, and today we have an infamous “Bad Film” scenario. A recent customer (patient) wrote in about the FPP Retrochrome (expired Kodak Ektachrome that was once used by the US Government at a nuclear test site). The patient complained that the film had massive light splotches, and generally poor quality, and complained that it could be an issue with how the film was loaded (we bulk load it) or it could be a lab issue. Of course, the next questions were all about how the film was handled before and after the film had been loaded and shot, and of course the camera itself. But most of the time, the problem doesn’t lay with the loader or the lab, but with the photographer itself, cameras are supposed to be light tight, but sometimes those seals go, lenses stop working, and many other errors that could happen! The fact is that many labs out there make their business in processing film and many have a long history in doing so and employ professionals who love what they do and rarely would something screw up, and it’s the same with the FPP. In the end it is rarely the film or the lab but your own mishandling of the film.
Flex On – Hasselblad Flexbody
Mat has a great job at Midwest Photo Exchange and gets to see all sorts of strange cameras pop through the used camera department. And today he has a strange little variant of the Hasselblad SWC series, the Flexbody. So in terms of age, it’s a fairly new offering from Hasselblad and you can probably still buy some new-in-box. It’s a blend of a Technical View Camera and a Hasselblad. You can use all the V-Mount lenses and Backs, but there’s a bellows that allows for movements. The Flexbody can do a 14mm rise and fall, and a 28° left/right tilt on the film back. Mat really wants to love this camera, and figures it just needs more use. Now, this isn’t your average Hasselblad, there are a few more steps to shooting than your regular 500 series camera. First up, the body is basically the bellows and the mounts for the lens and film back. You compose through a ground-glass-like a view camera, which you can add on any number of finders from the 500-series or just use a tea towel and focus through the glass. Then use a half-press to stop down the lens, take off the ground glass, put on the film back, pull the slide, and fully depress the shutter to take the shot. Mark comments if the Flexbody was a gun, it would be a musket (which in 1804 took eight steps to load). And then to get the next shot, you have to put in the slide, pull the back, put on the glass. You’re basically taking view camera lengths for medium format shots. The camera itself was designed for architecture. But you don’t just have to use roll film backs, Hasselblad produced specific film holders and guides to cut down 4x5 sheets to 6x6 squares, or you could adapt a holder to shoot plates!
Get out the Maple Syrup – Pancake Lenses
Pancakes lenses are nothing new in the FPP universe, Michael has been shooting with the EF Canon 40mm f/2.8 lens on his EOS bodies for several years, but this modern AF lens comes from a long line of Pancake lenses and to take us through the style is Mark O’Brien! So what makes a lens a Pancake lens? Well, it all comes down to barrel size, these lenses often sit close to the body with a shorter barrel and run between 35 to 50mm in focal length, most clocking in at 40-45mm. Aperture wise, you’re looking at f/2 on average, Konica has a 40mm f/1.8 in their AR mount. So why use such a lens? Mark continues that it does make the camera a lot lighter and a smaller profile. But what are some other Pancake lenses out there? Well first up there’s the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 which is a great lens for all your manual focus Minolta Cameras. Nikon also produced a pancake lens in the form of the GN Auto Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 a non-AI lens with a specific linkage to use the lens with a Guide Number flash. The other Nikon Pancake is the AI-S Nikkor 45mm f/2.8P, the P meaning it has contacts for electronic cameras for Auto Exposure control, but it does carry a hefty price tag. But for Mark, the best bargain Pancake lens for Nikon is the Nikon Series E 50mm f/1.8 but if the Series E tag scares you, the Japanese version is less plastic and just has the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 on the lens. For Rangefinder cameras, there’s the Voigtländer Ultron 40mm f/2, it does have a chip so it works well in modern film and digital cameras, and is one of the sharpest lenses out there wide open. But that’s not the only pancake lens from Voigtländer, the Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5 an affordable M-Mount (Leica) pancake lens. For Pentax, there’s the SMC Pentax-M 40mm f/2.8 a very thin (almost crepe-like) and pairs well with a Pentax ME and you have a street warrior, but they are coming up in price. Now there’s one lens that is a bit of an oddball, the Russian made Industar 50-2 is a pancake lens for your m42 (screw) mount cameras, a 50mm f/3.5 is a slower lens, and a copy of the Leitz Elmar. And these lenses are dirt cheap.
That’s it for this show, special thanks again to Phil Steblay for joining in on today’s show! But we’ll be back in a short two weeks, and don’t forget to join us all in our social circles, Instagram, FPP Facebook page, and FPP Flickr Group! You can also write us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by the Post Film Photography Podcast PO Box 264, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410. End cue features two brand-new, never heard, songs from Darren Riley, first up is Bee and then Computer!
Show Notes by Alex Luyckx
Alex is an IT Professional at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. He loves shooting both film and muskets as well as reading and reenacting history. He has a particular love of Military History from the French-Indian War up to the end of the Cold War. You can follow along with his adventures at www.alexluyckx.com/blog.