zaterdag 19 juni 2021

Experimenting with expired film

Recently I've been given a bag full of expired 35mm color negative film. It contains film from a myriad of brands with different ISO values. As I have no knowledge on how these films were stored I really have no way what to expect. 


I decided to do a little experiment with some of the film stock. As the colors would be unpredictable I decided to shoot one of these film brands and develop it with black and white developer. I selected two rolls of Etos Kleurenfilm 100/24 that expired in 05/2003 and loaded a roll into my Pentax LX. I grabbed an SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 lens as the day was rather overcast. 


Etos Kleurenfilm 100/24 color negative film is a film branded for the Etos line of shops and has a DX code of 013613. When running this number through the Big Film Database I found that it was actually rebranded Ferrania Imation Color HP100 film. This film is now discontinued and I can't recall shooting with it before. Certainly not as Ferrania, possibly as a rebranded film early in my photography years.

The shoot

With my trusty Pentax LX loaded off I went to the Fortress City of Naarden. Pentax 50mm f/1.4 lenses have always been a joy to use and I had not used my copy for a while so I decided that I would try to get some wide open shots from this lens. I shot at box speed and finished both rolls.

The results

After reading up online I decided to use Adonal developer diluted 1:50 for 10:30 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius. Straight out of the tank the negatives looked very dark, however that might have to do with the orange tint to the base where my usual black and white film has a clear base.

After scanning sepia-like images appeared. Nice dreamy shots thanks to that 50mm f/1.4 wide open but oh boy, these shots are grainy! I'd love to hear from you if you've done this as well, have tips/tricks etc. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

zondag 30 mei 2021

Shooting the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f/2.8 wide open

According to photographers such as Martin Henson and Zach Horton the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f/2.8 is a joy to shoot wide open. Sharp where it counts and a dreamy bokeh. The 180mm f/2.8 was one of the first Carl Zeiss Jena lenses I bought to complement my Pentax 645 set. As my example of this lens had slow moving aperture blades (when they were inclined to move at all...) it didn't get as much use as some of my other Carl Zeiss Jena lenses. But seeing the results of this lens wide open at f/2.8 I decided to take the 645Z - 180mm combo out for a spin.

The Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180mm f/2.8

My version predates the 'zebra' design and is one of the older models of this lens. It was produced from 1961 to 1963 and is single coated. The 180mm is somewhat on the heavy side but little wonder as this lens is built like a tank. I found that, when coupled to my Pentax 645 camera's, it is fine to shoot hand-held but I might be biased as I am used to shooting long telephoto lenses hand-held - one of the perks of aviation photography. To fit this lens - or any lens with the Pentacon Six mount - on my Pentaxes I use a P6-645 adapter. There are plenty of these on eBay where they sell for about € 30.

In the field

In the field, or rather, in the quiet serenity of the Naarden Old Cemetery I set out to see what this lens could do. I am quite pleased with the results. Good separation at f/2.8, the bokeh is pleasing and not distracting and the lens has that dreamy look you can't seem to get with modern optimized-for-digital lenses. The fact that this lens has only single coating is no doubt responsible for that. There is surprisingly little CA on the images this lens produces which surprised me. I found it difficult to focus at times without the aid of a split-screen focusing screen though but that is more the result of fitting this lens to my digital Pentax (which lacks a split screen focusing screen) than anything else. 

I'll leave you with a few shots from today's outing.

zondag 18 april 2021

Pentax Auto 110, the smallest camera I ever used

The smallest camera I ever used must have been the Pentax Auto 110. I would guess that the Pentax Auto 110 is the only SLR with detachable lenses built for 110 film, thereby being the smallest SLR system ever built. The system was manufactured between 1978 and 1985. The Pentax Auto 110 was introduced with three lenses, a 18mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens, a 24mm f/2.8 standard lens and a 50mm f/2.8 telephoto lens. These would be comparable to 35mm, 50mm and 100mm lenses for the 135 film format. A 110 winder was also produced. The Auto 110 was succeeded by the Auto 110 Super camera released in 1982 that came with a the newly designed 110 Winder II. An additional three lenses were released in 1981 consisting of a compact 'pan focus' 18mm, a 70mm f/2.8 and a 20-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens.


For years this has always been sort of a gimmick for me. Yes, it is fun, quirky and most certainly different from what I had been shooting but when I started with the Pentax Project (shoot images with as many different Pentax camera models as I can) I took a serious look at the 110 system for the first time. With Lomography picking up 110 film production where Kodak and Fuji left off the availability of 110 film was no longer a major issue.

I managed to obtain a set with the original body, winder and the original three lenses in 2017, bought some Lomography Orca black and white 110 film and shot a few rolls with my Pentax Auto 110. And then, well, really nothing... As it turned out getting 110 film developed is no easy task. My usual lab no longer accepted 110 film and the Lomography store in Amsterdam where I bought the film had closed. Lomography offered a mail order developing, printing and scanning service but that wasn't cheap. So I went out looking for alternatives, couldn't find any and forgot about it - until I rediscovered the rolls a few weeks ago. I decided to take the plunge and send them to Lomography for developing, printing and scanning.

The results

Fellow photographer Joeri van Veen and aircraft at Flughafen Memmingen-Allgäu.

Earlier this week I received word from Lomography: I could download the scans and the negatives and prints were on my way. I happily downloaded the scans and I must say that the scans don't disappoint. The shots seem sharp and correctly exposed. I am not sure if the scans are the maximum achievable when scanning the negatives but then again the negatives are small themselves.

I would still like to know if there are any alternatives to Lomography for developing 110 film, if you know any please drop me a line.

zaterdag 17 april 2021

Comparing film and digital images

I was chatting with friend and fellow photographer Marc Portengen the other day. I had sent him some scans of 6 by 6 slides and he asked me how they compared to the photo's my high-end digital cameras produce. That got me thinking.

Some of the scans were of this F-86F Sabre at the National Military Museum on the grounds of the former Soesterberg Air Base. As it happened I had shot this Sabre with both my ARAX CM-MLU and Canon EOS 5DsR. Both were fitted with 80mm f/2.8 manual focus lenses.


As I really never compared the results between these cameras in depth I thought it would be fun to do a comparison. Now, this is not a scientific comparison in a lab under controlled circumstances but rather comparing the actual results of a shoot 'in the field'. If I would have wanted to make a proper comparison at the time I would have used a tripod, the same manual focus lens (which I can use on my Canon with an adapter) with the same aperture settings, the same ISO settings and the same shutter speed. 

We will have to make do with the fact that I didn't. I shot 100 ASA Provia 100F film with the ARAX and used 200 ISO on my Canon. The scenes are comparable enough though and I used similar manual focus lenses on both cameras. The ARAX was set at f/16 with a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second, the shutter speed on the EOS was 1/200th of a second but I made no note of the aperture I used.

The image sizes are comparable. The EOS produces a 8,688 by 5,792 RAW image. I scanned the 6 by 6 positive with a Nikon LS-8000ED Super Coolscan at the highest resolution, that produced a 8,892 by 8,892 TIFF image. I converted both to JPEGs using Photoshop.


Here are both shots, first the entire picture and then a crop. 

The first shot is the Canon, the second the ARAX.

Again, the Canon first and the ARAX second. Here I changed the ARAX from square to two by three to have a similar format of both crops.

My thoughts

The differences in color are visible right away, as well as the fact that the film shot suffered more from the glare of the sun on the fuselage. But looking at the sky I expected more of a difference than there actually is. The digital image seems slightly sharper when fully cropped. 

All in all the digital image looks cleaner, shows less noise in the sky and seems a bit sharper. I don't mind the difference in color, that is the charm of using film as each film produces different images. And while we're on the subject of film, what if I had used a film with a lower RMS rating? Provia 100F is considered a very fine-grain film though with an RMS value of 8. Hard to beat. 

I would say that digital wins this round. Mind you, we're talking RMS 8 fine grain film versus a 50 megapixel sensor without anti-alias filter. There are not many affordable 50 MP cameras around in 2021. Provia 100F 120 film when scanned by a Coolscan scanner is certainly giving the digital high-end sensors a run for their money and I wonder how it would compare against a middle-of-the-road digital camera with a smaller sensor/MP count and an anti-alias filter.

As such I am actually quite impressed how film is holding up. A medium format camera with a film like Provia 100F is capable of making high quality images that can easily be used as an alternative to digital photography in my view. Certainly you can pick up a set cheaper, although there are additional costs with film purchases, developing and scanning involved.

Luckily I enjoy shooting both!

zaterdag 10 april 2021

Light leaks

Inevitably it happens once in a while. When testing a new purchase you find that it is not all it is supposed to be. In my case, it happened with my 'new' Pentax 645N. I recently shot a roll in Naarden, had the film developed and had it returned yesterday. Whilst the light metering - my biggest worry actually - was spot-on I also noticed at once that most of the shots were affected by light leaks. Most, not all. Out of a roll of 16, three shots were not affected and two only very slightly. 

The other eleven shots all suffered from the same light leak as shown above. Now this puzzles me. I would have thought that all shots would have been affected. I used the 645N with the film magazine that was supplied with it. The lens I used was one I've had for years without problems. I used different aperture and shutter speed settings during the shoot. I am wondering what causes this. Is it the camera itself? The film back? If you've got an idea please drop me a line!

vrijdag 9 april 2021

A Portuguese Casa 295 at Schiphol

Casa 295M 16701 of Esquadra 502 'Elefantes' of the Portuguese Air Force made a tank stop at Schiphol Airport earlier today. 

16701 was on a mission to the Baltic States and used Schiphol as a stopover on the way from and to Portugal. The Portuguese Air Force has 12 Casa 295's, 7 in the transport role and 5 in the maritime patrol role. 16701 is the first of the C-295M's delivered to Portugal and is one of the transport aircraft. An unusual feature in the Portuguese C-295M's is their nose-mounted radar. This is usually not found on the transport version. 

It was not the best light this afternoon but I'm happy with the results.

zaterdag 3 april 2021

Medium format slides


Since I started shooting medium format film I've always had a preference for transparency or slide film. This was mainly because in the 35mm world I used slide film 99% of the time and my work flow was centered around slides. Slides scan beautifully and it is a joy to see them projected. 

Unlike 35mm, when shooting medium format there are different sizes with regards to slide formats. I have camera's that shoot 6x4.5, 6x6 and 6x7 format slides. For scanning purposes no big issue but if you want to project these slides there is no 'one fits all' slide projector. 6x4.5 and 6x6 have the same size of slide mount so can both be used on a 6x6 slide projector. 6x7 alas is too big for that. 


Nowadays it is uncommon to see a medium format slide projector. I was lucky to obtain one, a 6x6 projector. This means that my 6x4.5 and 6x6 camera's are loaded with 120 slide film most of the time. I tend to use my 6x7's for black and white and colour negatives mostly these days.

Ok, now I owned a projector. Next on my list was obtaining the necessary slide mounts. Although I was able to buy some 6x4.5 mounts new I usually have to depend on the second-hand market. I have been lucky to get my hands on a mixed supply of 6x4.5 and 6x6 glass mounts but these need to be cleaned before use. I do so by washing them in warm soapy water. I've also heard other stories on how to clean these mounts, how do YOU do it? Please drop me a line in the comments section below describing how you clean your medium format glass slide mounts.


My work flow now is to scan the slide first, then mount it. These are huge transparencies to scan so this takes a while. I use an LS-8000ED Coolscan and scan at maximum capacity. Scanning a 6x6 slide gets me a whopping 80.5 megapixel 500 MB file.

The results

Last February I shot a roll of Provia 100F with my ARAX CM-MLU. This is basically an improved Kiev 88CM, when using these you definitely get those old-school vibes. I scanned these earlier today, below you'll find a small selection of winter landscapes.

  • Location Naarden
  • Camera: ARAX CM-MLU
  • Lens: ARAX MC 80mm f/2.8
  • Film: Fujichrome Professional Velvia 100F 
  • Scanner: Nikon LS-8000ED

maandag 29 maart 2021

The guns of Naarden

Recently I've acquired a Pentax 645N that I yet had to test. Today I decided to do just that and take the 645N for a walk in the fortress city of Naarden, Naarden Vesting. I grabbed my SMC Pentax-FA 645 Zoom 45-85mm f/4.5 lens and some 120 medium format film, joined up with fellow photographer Joeri van Veen and off we went.

Photo: Joeri van Veen

Naarden has a long military history and has been a fortified city for centuries. Parts of the 17th century fortifications survive to this day and have been added to ever since. Part of both the Old and New Dutch Water Lines, Naarden remained garrisoned in one way or another until the end of World War Two. The last MoD buildings were turned over to the city for civilian use in 1986.

The guns of Naarden

Dotted around the cityscape of Naarden are several artillery pieces. I've shot some of them before but pretty much took them for granted. These would be my photo-theme for today. When you enter the city from the north you'll find the first gun on your left.

This is a 30-pounder gun cast in the province of Luik in 1855. The serial number on the barrel is hard to read but has three digits and ends with a 6. As with all the guns currently displayed in Naarden the barrel is on loan from the excellent Vestingmuseum. The gun carriage was new-built in 2018.

When you head east you'll find gun number two in front of the Arsenaal building. This was the last building that the MoD transferred to the city in 1986. There had been guns mounted in front of the Arsenal before as sort of a gate-guard but these had been removed quite some time ago.

Now a 30-pounder with serial number 75, cast in 1831 once again guards the Arsenaal. This artillery piece was ceremonially unveiled in 2020. 

When you continue south you'll pass the quarters of the Foundation Fortress City Naarden. They are the ones responsible for restoring the gun barrels and building the gun carriages. I was pleasantly surprised to find two unused barrels stored in front of their quarters.

The barrel on the left is 30-pounder number 3. On the right is 12-pounder 23, cast in Luik in 1818.

When you follow the city walls towards the west you'll get to the Utrecht Gate. Guarding this gate is a 20-pounder gun.

This is 20-pounder gun 56, cast in 1839. The gun carriage was built new in 1988 and restored in 2018.

If you continue on a westerly heading you'll get to the Vesting museum. This museum, which covers the history of the fortress of Naarden, is currently closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions. However, when passing the gate you'll get a glimpse of what the museum has to offer.

Heading north from here takes you to the former entrance of the Vesting Museum. Two guns guard the gate here.

On the left is serial number 171, cast in 1811. 

On the right is serial number 186, again cast in 1811. 

Inspecting number 186. Photo: Joeri van Veen.

I managed to shoot one and a half roll of 120 film on my Pentax 645N. Once I finish the second roll of film I'll be sending these away for development. For now these digital photo's will have to do :-).

Location: Naarden
Camera: Pentax 645Z
Lens: SMC Pentax-DFA 645 55mm f/2.8 AL [IF] SDM AW

zaterdag 20 maart 2021

More choppers and jets

Eindhoven Air Base

Earlier this week I travelled to Eindhoven Air Base and Low Flying Area nr. V for some aviation shots. Eindhoven is a combined civil/military airfield and usually the busiest of the Dutch regional airfields. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has based its tankers and transport aircraft at Eindhoven and as such it attracts a fair number of visiting foreign transport aircraft. Civil operations are currently rather slow with COVID-19 restrictions still in place and Dutch airline Transavia has stored some of its Boeing 737 fleet at Eindhoven.

I was lucky to get some good shots of the last RNLAF KDC-10 air refueling aircraft. T-235 is the sole survivor with T-264 being sold to a company in the USA. The KDC-10's are being replaced with KC-30M tankers. These new aircraft will operate in a multinational fleet with the Netherlands as lead nation. So far three KC-30M's have been delivered, however none flew this day. 

Visiting was German Air Force Global Express 14+04 before departing to Getafe airfield near Madrid.

Low Flying Area Nr. V

As flying was slow at Eindhoven and Low Flying Area nr. V is close by I decided to try my luck there. I was lucky, 1st Platoon 'Johnny Bravo' of the 11th Supply Company, 11th Air Assault Brigade was exercising with 298 Squadron Chinooks and 300 Squadron Cougars.

Experimenting with expired film

Recently I've been given a bag full of expired 35mm color negative film. It contains film from a myriad of brands with different ISO val...