Thursday, June 07, 2007

Attention Googlers!!

I have noticed in my site stats that quite a few people are looking for info after being sent here by Google.
These people tend to stay for a couple of seconds, as unknown to them this site has over 40 pages, and if its not the first or second item their time is up (and they're off).
I have two things to help:
Firstly, in the sidebar is a search box entitled 'Search this blog' Hopefully this will allow you to find what you came here for.
Secondly, a common reason for people hitting this site via google is when searching for a film development time, I have placed a link to help in the sidebar called 'Film Dev Times'.
This will send you though to the "Digital Truth" Massive Dev chart, where you just select your film and developer combination.
Hope this helps–
Mark Antony
Canon 35mm F1.8

About a year ago I was given a Leica M4-P, as it had no lens I had to make a decision on which lens would suit best.
I had been using a IIIc with 50mm F3.5 Elmar so obviously a similar lens seemed to be the ideal choice and I ended up with a 50mm F2.8 Elmar.
Fast forward a few months.
Although I enjoyed using my M4-P and it has become my 'take everywhere' camera and I enjoy using it immensely, I slowly began to find the 50mm (46°) angle of view a bit restrictive. I'm not sure why, possibly its because of the frame-lines that make you aware of the quite narrow angle, or possibly I found a lot of situations where the need to step back increasingly occurred.
So the hunt was on for a better 'standard' and like a lot of Leica M users, I decided on 35mm.
I honestly tried out quite a few, both Leica lenses F1.4 ASPH and F2 non ASPH, CV Skopar and two Canons- the 35mm F2 and the 35mm F1.8
Of course I rated the two Leica lenses and the 35 1.4 in particular is a very well corrected lens and amazingly sharp even at the edges wide open.
I did find that the Leica lenses were prone to flare in very bright light so a hood is almost essential for most conditions.
The CV Skopar is an excellent lens especially when you consider the price compared to the Leica lenses and is a very compact lens although a little slower at F2.5.But in my opinion it's size advantage is somewhat negated as it too seems to suffer from flare, so will need a hood.
The Canon 35mm F2 is also a great lens, probably marginally better than the Skopar (which is a copy of the Canon) and very similar in performance to the Pre-ASPH Summicrons of similar vintage.
I kick myself a little here, as I tested this lens, saw the results were good but when I returned to the shop it was gone!
Because these lenses are secondhand, I'd have to wait for another 35mm F2 or go for my next option.
The Canon 35mm F1.8, predated the F2 version is slightly larger and black and chrome finished rather than black and has an infinity lock.
Performance wise, it lacks wide open compared to the rest here being slightly soft and lower in contrast, but has a couple of advantages over the others.
Price! It is the cheapest lens of the bunch, the price I paid was less than the Skopar. It also seems to be less prone to flare, possibly due to the front element being recessed, acting as a sunshade.

(please excuse image quality)
My opinion of the Canon 35mm F1.8 is that it's a very good lens, cheap, of very good optical performance when stopped down a couple of stops, softish wide open (which can be good for 'retro look' shots).
So far I've found it's the lens that I keep on the camera most of the time and the extra speed over my standard Elmar means I use it for most low light work also.
Below is an example of its wide open performance, using Kodachrome 200 which is often very high in contrast is slightly softened.

1/15 sec at F1.8 Kodachrome 200

All in all a respectable performer especially when you take the cost in consideration, which for me is was less than half of the cost of a secondhand Summicron 35mmF2 of a similar vintage.

All Images and text © Mark Antony Smith

Monday, June 04, 2007

Fomapan 200 'Creative'

This film, acording to Foma is an advanced negative film using 'T' grain technology similar to that of Kodak T-Max and Ilford Delta emulsions. It is a full stop faster than the 'Classic' Fomapan tested here

The above image was taken in very bright sunlight at around mid-day metering for the shadow area and closing down 2 stops. The negative shows good shadow detail and highlight separation with fractionally more contrast than the Fomapan 100 Classic when processed at the recomended times. I think this film would be excellent in winter or in dull flat light. I found that Foma 200 was pretty much 'box speed' at the first testing, although recently I have been downrating it to EI 160 which in my seems to give slightly better images. I processed the film in Agfa Rodinal at 1:50 for 8 mins with 2 inversions per min.

And the 100% crop
Looking at the crops I would say that the grain of this film is very fine certainly similar to FP4 which is around a stop slower, accutance is also pretty good if this is a T grain type film

The light and shade in the following shot show how well the film handles a scene with wide range, there is detail present in both the shadow and highlight on the print

The following shot of a door was taken in shadow, and on my monitor looks to have a lovely rich tone

I like the 'Creative 200' its a full stop faster than the Fomapan Classic and is a higher contrast emulsion with similar grain, possibly slightly more compressed tonanally than the Classic.
One thing I'd like to add, I'm not sure about the manufacterers claims that this is a T grain film, it behaves more like conventional emulsions (which is good) but doesn't quite have the smooth fine grain structure of say T-Max 100.
Makes me wonder is this film a T emulsion mixed with cubic grains? or is the grain less tabular than the Kodak?
Edit 2012:
Foma had problems with this emulsion with some users experiencing pin hole emulsion defects. Their response was to stop production and my sources tell me the emulsion and the machinery has been changed in an effort to cure the problem.

Recently the film was re-introduced, and seems to be on a different base, and the actual sensitivity seems slightly lower. The film was out of production for several years, any film in stock currently will certainly be from the new improved emulsion.
On a separate note the make up of the film is certainly a combination of traditional cubic grains (slow record layer) with an over layer of tabular type grains (faster record) which seem to be similar to the Ilford and Fuji Epitaxial type.

All text and images © Mark Antony Smith 2007 & 2012