Hello Texas Leica!!!

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by the.ronin, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. the.ronin

    the.ronin Member

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    I finally won an auction for a medium format film camera - a Fuji GSW 690II SW for $445. I am particularly excited because I had honed in on the Fuji line of MF cameras but was always outbid. This was a little more than I was willing to pay (wanted to keep it sub $400) but my sense is, assuming this camera is in good condition, this is a decent price.

    I've used strictly DSLR (Nikon D40 and now a D90) as a hobbyist but my wife started getting into film as part of formal photography classes. I researched a bit into film and was blown away by the quality larger format cameras are capable of capturing. In general, the Fuji line seemed to be the most compact and accessible and, not the least of which, far more affordable.

    Unfortunately, the shipper is doing what I think is parcel post so it may take upwards of a month to get here LOL. In the meantime I wanted to do as much research as I could.

    Some questions I had if anybody could provide some guidance:

    1) Light metering
    I understand this line of cameras has no light meter. I know I could use the meter in my DSLR set to manual but I foresee my using the MF in times when I might not even carry around the DSLR. Any recommendations on an affordable / entry level light meter?

    2) Film
    Any recommendations on color and BW film for the Fuji GSW 690II SW? I will likely use 120s equally for the price and the forced discipline of fewer exposures per roll. (Wow this is going to be such a change from my DSLR!!)

    3) Developing
    If possible I would like to minimize the cost of developing film. I would anticipate having colored film developed at a lab given how involved it is. However, I would consider developing BW at home. Any issues I should consider?

    4) Scanning
    I definitely would consider scanning negatives at home and saving them as TIFF (which I understand preserves the greatest amount of range in the shot). For this, I've been eyeing the CanoScan 9000F. I've read that the Nikon Coolscan scanners are of particularly great quality but just way outside of my price range. From the TIFFs, I plan to export to JPG for online publishing or print to photo paper using an Epson Artisan 710. Again, any recommendations on this setup would be appreciated.

    5) Bag
    How do you folks carry this brick? LOL
     
  2. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi the.ronin,

    Welcome to APUG. I am sure you will get plenty good advice.

    Meters either measure reflected light (some measure small spot) or light falling on the scene (incident). It is easier to get a correct light meter reading with incident meters. But spotmeters give you more information to study (and possibly mis-interpret). I generally do not feel confident when metering with an averaging reflected light meter.

    Yes, use black and white or color film. Here the choice is all yours.

    Developing, I'd recommend stainless steel tank that can hold two reels. Everyone raves about "Hewes" reels, so look for a pair of those. Black and white developing seems easy to me. I find color complicated, but have heard it is very easy these days.

    Scanning, While I don't pass judgment on people who choose to scan (aside from going "ick"), talking about it here is expressly discouraged. APUG is special because it remains a place where discussions are geared towards using Analog processes all the way to print. You will find this part of your discussions are encouraged at sister site DPUG, just a click away from APUG.

    Bag, I just carry large cameras in a backpack, or when shooting - in the crook of my elbow.
     
  3. one90guy

    one90guy Subscriber

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    Hello and welcome the.ronin, I will recommend the Sekonic L-208 meter, got mine for Christmas. I have had a Sekonic L-428 for years, and wanted something smaller and lighter. The 208 is plastic but with that in mind it should be as durable as the metal L-428.

    For developing Im happy with my plastic Paterson tank and reels for 35 and 120 film.
     
  4. Too old to care

    Too old to care Subscriber

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    Welcome to the film world. Most of us here began in film, many never ventured to digital. I shoot both, but 90% of my stuff is B&W film.

    1. Light meters can be found for a song on Ebay. I recently replaced an old meter with a still old, but younger Gossen Luna Pro (converted to newer batteries) for about $80. This is just one of the many great meters that can be found for little money. It is not digital (analog meter), but does the job well and you can get accessories for very little money too.

    2. Film, my favorite films were discontinued awhile back, Kodak Plus X and Panatomic X, so I moved over to Tri X, which I have also year (decades) of experience shooting. But, do not limit yourself, play with different films to see what you like. Small grain, large grain, low contrast, high contrast, etc. A great place to look for film and darkroom supplies is Freestyle. They carry the best selection of film I have seen. http://www.freestylephoto.biz/c40-Black-and-White-Film I do not shoot much color film (that is what digital is for), because processing is so-so unless you get lucky. Others here will correctly point out that color negatives can be processed at home and scanned, but I am one of those that believes scanning should only be done to post something on the internet. My photos in my house are all wet processed. That is why I only shoot B&W film, I cannot process color prints at home.

    3. As said, developing is a snap for B&W negatives, and not hard for color negatives either. Printing B&W at home is also a snap, and a few hundred dollars (again Ebay is your friend) can get you a nice starter darkroom setup. Mine is nothing special, it is in the basement under the stairs. I do not have running water there (would be nice), so I have to drop my prints in a bucket and carry them upstairs for washing. My carpets are proof of this, you can see the stains on them, but I tell my wife the dog did it.

    4. Scanning, well I have a scanner, actually two. A Canon 8800f and a Plustek. The Plustek does a good job with B&W, so-so with color. The Canon does so-so with both, but does not have the resolution of the Plustek. That said, I feel if I scan an image I may as well have shot it with digital as well. That is why neither scanners get much use.

    5. Carrying any camera is a hassle if it is big. I have a Hasselblad 501 and Mamiya C330F, plus a Leica M6 that I keep with me in the car most of the time. They are in a single camera bag, along with film and meter. If I am going to shoot something I take the camera out that I want to use and carry it in a much smaller camera bag. I hate dragging all that stuff around unless I need it.

    Again, welcome, and lets see some photos from your work.

    Wayne
     
  5. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I think that was one of the auctions I was watching... Congratulations. The GSW's go for a bit more than the GW's, so I think you got a good deal (assuming it's in good shape). I just won a GW, a few days ago. Coming from Japan so it will be awhile...
    One of the things you'll have to get used to is using a rangefinder. It's a bit different than the DSLR you're used to, but shouldn't take long to figure out. As TOTC said, meters can be had for a song. Sunny 16 will also get you started.
     
  6. the.ronin

    the.ronin Member

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    Thank you everyone for your very insightful feedback!

    Bill, yes, of what I've researched, I plan to stick to BW because of what some claim is a more involved, bigger error margin process to develop color. Also, I apologize, I should've known better than to bring up scanning in an analog forum. Thank you for the heads up on the tank - I had a single reel tank on my checklist.

    one90guy, this is not the first that the Sekonic was recommended. Specifically the 608 and 208 as you also recommended. Thank you for your confirmation on this.

    Too old, you may be the first I've come across to say that color developing is not too hard in comparison to BW. I've actually not done much more research into color developing once I came across what I had thought until now was a unanimous claim that color was too involved. I will be looking into this for sure. Thanks for responding to the scanner question as well. Your statement about shooting digital rather than scanning is something I've struggled with in this decision to jump into film. I am going ahead with a scanner (partly due to affordability and equally due to my impatience in waiting for the photo lab). It could very well be that I end up in the same place as you.

    eddie, I'm sorry about the auction. I say that because I was in your shoes for at least 3 prior auctions on similar MF film cameras. For what it's worth, and if you were the one I got into a bidding war with during the last seconds, you drove me well past my (read: wife's) budget LOL! Although I will likely go with a meter, I definitely need to read up on the Sunny 16 rule.

    Thanks again everyone and apologies for introducing digital post development into my first post. And along the same vein, I'd love to share my photos but they are all digital. I will most definitely share my MF photos once I am comfortable ... just ignore the likelihood that it was digitally scanned please. :D


    P.S. Just got confirmation from the seller that he had shipped the GSW690II and I should get it in less than 10 days rather than a month. So stoked. :D
     
  7. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I didn't bid against you, on that one...
     
  8. Argenticien

    Argenticien Member

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    +1 on the L208 meter. Nice entry-level one that can be had new. The battery lasts forever. An off-the-wall alternative idea is, watch auctions on goodwill.com or even eBay for random photographic things, such as old film SLRs. You'll sometimes see pretty good vintage meters (Weston Master, etc.) thrown in with them. I have received 2 or 3 1950s/1960s meters this way accidentally with cameras. You could instead view it the other way round, as getting a meter for less than the new price of the L208 (about USD 100), with a film camera accidentally obtained in the process. :smile:
    --Dave
     
  9. whowantstoast

    whowantstoast Member

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    Getting into film happens in steps, and none of it is hard. You can develop without a darkroom, and I find that color is just as easy as B&W. Water temperature (and chemical temp) is everything, remember that. And because this happens in steps, scanning at first is easier than setting up a darkroom, so I'll pipe in on that one. I have a Canon 9000f and love it. But you should also get better scanning software, like VueScan or Silverlight. It makes a great deal of difference. And then when you have the funds, time and space, build a darkroom and find out why everyone here prefers prints made this way, it'll blow your mind.
     
  10. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    I shoot a GL690 and it is awesome. Occasionally I put a roll of black and white through it but I bought for slide film and that is what I use 90% of the time. Its a bit expensive but GOODNESS, they are GORGEOUS. I toss em up on my light table and drool all over them. If you are going to shoot this camera you just gotta try some Fuji Velvia! Your eyes will never recover.
     
  11. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    Metering:
    I use a Minolta in incident mode from old process when I shot color transparency. I used incident for B&W also.
    But I am thinking of getting a spot meter, now that I'm getting ready to use my 4x5 for B&W.
    Each has its pros and cons.
    Look up "sunny 16." It is a basic daylight exposure chart, and it works just fine for B&W and color negative film.

    Film:
    MF is avail in both 120 and 220, but I think there is only 1 emulsion avail in 220. I think the 220 emulsion is a Kodak color negative film. Unfortunately no B&W is available in 220.
    Personally I prefer to use a medium speed film. This gives me exposure control even during bright daylight. During daylight, with 400 speed film I would be maxed out on the camera f16 @ 1/500 sec. I use Ilford Delta 100, because that is what the college class used when I got restarted shooting film. And it does the job for me. My old B&W films are gone; Panatomic-X and Plus-X.

    Developing:
    Plastic or stainless steel (SS) reels. Your choice based on what you are comfortable with.
    I use SS reels only because that is what I learned on, and can load SS reels easier than plastic.

    Scanning:
    I don't know if the Nikon will handle 6x9 format.
    WARNING. TIF files can be HUGE. I scanned a 35mm slide at 4000dpi, and the TIF file was 120 MEGA bytes large !!! I can only image how large a scan from a 6x9 would be.

    You might look into wet printing. Although to do 6x9 you will need to get a 4x5 enlarger. You can find 4x5 enlargers at very affordable to almost give-away prices. Like your camera, you may have to look for a while. It took me almost a year to find my 4x5 enlarger. Some sellers still can't get over how bad the market for enlarger has fallen, you just skip their ads.

    N-Joy your new toy :smile:

    That camera is on my camera shopping list.
     
  12. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Nice score on the camera, I have the exact same model. I got mine from nobbysparrow in the past and he is a fast shipper and packs the items well for the trip from japan. There seems to be tons of these cameras these last few months popping up, I remember a little while ago the GSW cameras were much rarer and did not go for under $600, now ive seen them plummet as the market is flooded with them. Maybe its an increase because of the demand for them, as popularity for them has spiked.

    First things first, get the manual for the camera, its a short read. Learn the camera functions when you get it. Learn how to load film correctly in this camera, and you have to remember to tension it when first advancing or you will end up with a loose roll and have light leaks on the edges of the film. Get a good book on the basics of Black and white, I recommend Horenstien's basic black and white photography. Relearn the concepts of DOF with this camera as with the format size increase to 6x9 the dof is different than with the two crop digitals you are used to. Shoot lots. Have fun.
     
  13. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    If you carry a smartphone (iOS or Android), there are (reflected-light) metering apps you can buy for a couple $ that use the phone's camera to meter the scene. Learn the Sunny-16 rules (google for Ultimate Exposure Calculator). If you get into flash photography, you can either use your DSLR to preview or buy an incident flash meter. Using the DSLR to preview anything shot on chrome is an extremely good idea.

    "Which Film" is the classic question with more answers than people to answer it. If you're just starting out on processing, I would suggest either Tri-X or HP5 as they are extremely forgiving of both exposure and development errors. Once you become more proficient, have a look at Tmax films and Acros (better resolution, less grain, less forgiving). For colour, try some Portra and Ektar (both negative) and run at least one roll of Velvia 50 (slides) through it. You won't be able to easily project 6x9 slides but they are a thing of wonder to look at on a light table, can be scanned to produce epic prints and are terribly addictive to some people. You need to be exact with the slide exposure though because the contrast is very high and you get NO latitude for error.

    See my FAQ (link in signature). B&W is trivial to do and requires a $50-$100 capital investment, after which it's under $1/roll plus your labour. Colour is very doable but more involved. Absolutely you should process your own B&W.

    Hybrid stuff is formally off-topic at APUG, sorry. There's a C41-scan howto in my FAQ though that you might find of value. Do remember that a flatbed will never give you the same quality as a dedicated film scanner; expect about 1200dpi at most a consumer flatbed and you won't be disappointed.

    While it's (much) more labour-intensive, requires darkness and won't share anything for you on the internet, consider getting an enlarger and doing wet-printing. The print quality is far away better than what you can get from most hybrid processes. You can't print slides optically any more (Cibachrome is discontinued) but B&W is easy to print and colour-neg is not much harder. Maybe try it out in a hire-darkroom with someone to show you for an afternoon to see if you like the process and results.

    Bah, that's a little camera. Ask again when you have an RZ67, 4 lenses, 3 backs, prism, light meter and film to carry... and your 4x5 gear in the other bag.

    (I use a Kata 3N1-30 and Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home).
     
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  15. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

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    Congratulations on your recent winning auction bid. I purchased one (GW690 I) and it arrived the day before Christmas! For light meter suggestions, you might also want to consider a Sekonic L398. I bought one of these on the bay about 3 years ago for about $75. Although it's primarily incident, it does have accessories for reflected measurement. The beauty of this is that no batteries are required--works on sunlight hitting the photocell. It's not very good for low light levels, but if your shooting primarily in daylight or room light, it will do pretty well and give you an education in metering. Regarding film, suggest you stick to one brand --Trix X, TMX, or HP5 are all excellent. Since I shoot primarily medium format for it's quality and tonality, I stick with ISO 100 films. Stick to 1 developer for the time being. I use Kodak HC-110 diluted 1:31. Lasts forever, inexpensive, one shot (no replenishment or worry about contamination) and works well with most films I've tried. I'm probably in the minority on this, judging from previous posts, but I've standardized on stainless steel tanks and reels. The learning curve on loading your film onto the reels is a bit rough but after you master it, it becomes second nature. Plus the tanks and reels will probably outlast you (mine have been around for over 40 years). Scanning--go on to dpug.org. As mentioned previously Apug's focus is on analog processes, although I have converted to scanning for my work due to time and space considerations. Finally, how to carry this equipment? Bring the camera with you and just go to different places in your area and see what fits--kind of like trying on a pair of shoes. Eventually you'll find one that fits. Best of luck with your new toy.
     
  16. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Digital... the bullets are free. Film not so much.
    Time is eaten and perhaps wasted more in the digital workflow. If I were in my darkroom NOW... I wouldn't be killing time on APUG.. I'd be listening to Jazz or NPR.
    Bye and
    .... cheers.
     
  17. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello and welcome to APUG.
     
  18. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Congratulations on your Texas Leica! Here is how I use mine.

    Light metering –
    1. Sunny 16 guideline
    2. Gossen Luna Pro
    3. Compact digital

    Film –
    1. Kodak and Fuji 120 or 220 color print portrait film for weddings and portraits (ISO 160 for individual portraits and ISO 400 for group portraits)
    2. ISO 100 or 200 black & white film (whatever I can find)
    3. Fuji and Kodak 120 color slide film around ISO 100 (such as Fuji Astia or whatever is left in my freezer)

    Developing—
    I develop all my black & white film (35mm, 120, 4x5, and 8x10).
    I have a professional lab develop all my color print film (35mm, 120, and 220)
    I develop all my E-6 color slide film (35mm and 120).

    Scanning—
    I use a Canon flatbed scanner that can handle 35mm, 120, and 4x5 film (color negatives, black and white negatives, and mounted or unmounted color slides).

    Bag—
    I use a 9x16x13.5 inch hard case to carry:
    1. Two “Texas Leicas” (6x7cm with normal lens and 6x9cm with wide-angle lens)
    2. An L-bracket to mount my camera on a tripod in a horizontal or vertical position
    3. Filters (polarizing and graduated neutral density)
    4. Cable release
    5. Light meter and/or compact digital camera
    6. Right angle viewfinder attachment
    7. Roll of string to tie branches out of my way


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/6251222829/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/5266483453/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/5227596464/
     

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  19. tnabbott

    tnabbott Member

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    I have the Gossen Luna-Pro F and can recommend it. I use it for all occasions from landscape work to studio flash.

    I advocate for home developing of both B&W and color film. Since using a stop bath in my C41 process, I have found that results can be very consistent and have enjoyed the process a lot.

    Good luck on your new camera and tell us of your adventures!
     
  20. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG!

    You've gotten plenty of excellent answers already. For the light meter, also consider Seconic L-208. It is a baby meter that you can mount on the hot shoe. This way it's always attached to the camera and you will have no need to look around for it when grabbing the camera.

    It's Texas Leica! You put it on a back seat of a pickup truck, right next to the shotgun, of course. Just make sure to grab the right tool when you are ready for that rare shot :smile:.

    Eugene.
     
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  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    the.ronin, Welcome to APUG.

    I strongly recommend Hewes reels.
     
  22. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Member

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    Here are some film suggestions.

    I have recently started shooting medium format film, although in 6 x 4.5 cm size. I am totally amazed at the color slide film I get. Just incredible colors! I would die to see this in the larger formats. So I suggest you shoot some Provia 400X. It is an amazing film and you will just revel in the amazing slides.

    Second, if you have good light, Neopan Acros 100 film is just incredible too. I never shot this film back in the film era. I am not even sure it existed back then. But now that I have seen it, it is my GO TO film for good light. A shame that it is not available in 400 speed so in those cases I fall back to Ilford film.

    Good luck!
     
  23. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Enjoy it. It won't take long to get hooked on those big negatives and the next thing you know you will be asking how to use and carry a Crown Graphic. :smile:
     
  24. jmccl@yahoo.com

    jmccl@yahoo.com Member

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  25. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    @Pioneer
    I did that
    35mm for MANY MANY years
    then 6x6. The price dropped so I could afford a Hasselblad, and it was cheaper than my D70.
    then 4x5. Although I have not shot yet, still gathering parts
     
  26. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Mine arrived yesterday. I wasn't home, so I picked it up at the PO this morning. (Auction ended Sunday. In Virginia on Thursday- not bad...)
    It's huge! I'm going to try to run some film through it this weekend, but the basic functions all seem to work. Still, can't be sure until a roll goes through it. Here it is next to an Olympus for sense of scale:
    fujioly.jpg