Dan, allow me to disagree. Some lenses do have different characters, although most are made to be sharp and neutral, and most of the rest just fail to achieve that. just take a look at the few samples in my gallery...
But I agree on Kodachrome: If it's pastel, there's something wrong.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I'd suggest a Summarit 50mm f1.5, a Summar 50mm f2, an Elmar 50mm f3.5, an Elmar 35mm f3.5, or a Summaron 35mm f3.5 as lenses that have interesting (not straight-forward) rendering. These are all older Leitz lenses and may or may not be coated. Look for uncoated ones, and since you are looking for artistic character, cleaning marks on the lens elements would be acceptable. These lenses are available from $100 to $250 in this condition. Find a screw mount RF body (canon, leica, CV) to screw it on. Bodies are available from $175 to $300 used. Or get an M-mount body from Leica or CV for more money but better viewfinders, and you can use these lenses with an adaptor. Good luck and have fun!
Ben, having just visited your site, I'd say you understand "camera as tool" better than most. For any who haven't done so , it is worth a visit. http://www.benmostyn.com/
So back to my original post . . . yes, Olympus OM is my poison of choice. The metering on the OM 3 & OM 4 is pretty special, as it is with the OM 2S, for those who understand light. Zuiko glass will match or better most available. Their macro stuff, which is territory you seem to have little interest in doing, is unsurpassed. What reside on the OM 2S which I currently have loaded with Ilford HP 5 is a Zuiko 85mm f2, however it migh just a s easily be one of the wides (21mm f2 or perhaps 24mm f2.8.) With your talent with composition and effective use of depth of field the camera and or lens should make no difference.
I do like to get outside the box sometimes and when I do so with my 35mm, it may be with something on front of a Zuiko that has been altered (the attachment rather than the lens) or I might use soemthing like the superb Tamron 70-150 soft focus lens, a Sima 90mm soft focus or other specialty lenses. Lens Baby comes to mind. Nylon stockings, vaseline, sandpaper,tape, chunks of black paper and other bits and pieces find their way into my kit from time to time.
Whatever your choice of tools, I'm sure you will make the best of it. Bill Barber
I appreciate that Bill- it's good of you to say. Thanks for checking out the site. I will definitely look into those suggestions. I'm only just starting out as a pro (I'm 23 years old and not as experienced as some of my older peers), but I figure it's necessary to always be looking to keep things fresh, otherwise it's easy to get lost in the masses.. reverting back to film seems to be one way to shake things up a bit. I kind of think something's been lost with all the digital technology, despite its uses, so while film is still around (which I hope will be for a long time) we should probably make the most of it!
Thanks again to everyone who has posted a suggestion.. Cheers~ Ben
As a pro you want a system that is reliable, repairable, and rentable. If you will be shooting both film and digital you also want some cross compatabiity, a common lens mount. Some of the charatisitic your are looking for in the final product comes from both the lens and the choice of film. I would look at both Nikon and Pentax. With a lens adaptor you can shoot 42mm and K mount on both film and digital bodies with Pentax.
Originally Posted by bn22my
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Ben, although I will have to put on my flame proof suit, I confess to buying two new pieces of equipment this past week. The one that will raise the heat is an Olympus e-3 which is the logical progression for my e-1 gear. The second is a 6X17 back for my Toyo 45AX. It has just arrived and I can hardly wait to get it out and give it a run. For those who are filling their flame throwers, I might point out that for the second year in a row I'll have an image included in the Krappy Kamera Exhibit. This year's image is a platinum/palladium print on vellum. Oh, and I am building a wet darkroom in my new home. My plan is to continue to use film as long as I am upright and sucking air. I also plan to continue enjoying creating images that speak to me some of which may come from the dark side. Bill Barber
Just looked at your site (nice) and I think there is a definite style to your images. Do you want to keep working in this style or are you looking to change somewhat? Was your original question a bit "open ended" to get a wide variety of answers? If you want to narrow it down a little, perhaps a few more questions may help.
Are most of the images on your website film? The majority are colour and can we assume you will mostly use colour (transparency or neg?) or will you also shoot B&W film too? (colour probably means some kind of digi workflow whereas B&W likely means you process/print your own where some of the character you are looking for could be achieved. Printing your own colour I find is a big jump in complexity over B&W)
What kind of film equipment did you use in the past and what did you like/dislike about it? Have you used a rangefinder before or do you prefer SLR? Rangefinders and street photography are classic but if you don't get along with them can be frustrating. From your website it looks like you prefer to work handheld?
If you keep your digi body, will you want to use the film lens on it too via adapters or are you looking for film use only? Canon EOS bodies are so thin that practically most 35mm lens mounts have adapters (except, ironically, Canon FD!)
You mention vignetting and character - are you looking to avoid technically perfect images? As others have mentioned, most modern (i.e. 1960 onward) 35mm slr lenses are very good and yield sharp images especially if used within their sweet spot. You have to work at it to get imperfect images! (well, I manage to but that is operator error though lack of compositional skills) Even disposable cameras with plastic lenses yield surprisingly sharp, evenly lit exposures.
Do you prefer to work with autofocus or manual? Autofocus are all modern (sharp) unless purpose built like the Nikon defocus lens. The cheap non-OEM AF lenses may be less sharp but I find ugly instead of character although there may be exceptions. If you prefer AF, then some kind of filter in front of the lens may be your only choice.
Older lenses (pre 1960) generally mean non-slr bodies. Reliability of those bodies starts to become an issue unless you find a good one or can mount the lens to a more modern body.
If you go the route of an add on lens to a 35mm slr (a plastic lens, a pinhole, a jury rigged lens using a flexible mount) then a mechanical slr by Nikon, Pentax or Olympus would get you a reliable body. The features you want (metering, mirror lockup, ...) would then guide choice.
Is 35 mm film your requirement (availability of processing, workflow) or is medium format (120) a possibility? Medium format opens up the Holga/Diana world, as well as a boat load of old folders from the 40's and 50's and box cameras of various sorts. Stick with the 120 format if you can since there were a number of other medium formats that are a pain to find film and, get commercial processing for.
Your thoughts on these questions may be useful feedback and help us narrow down the suggestions.
If you want a an slr that has an eclectic choice of lenses from which the results range from as good as it gets, to a quirky style crap-shoot, try an old Exa or Exakta.
In response to MartinB..
Martin, thanks for checking out the site and taking an interest. To reply to your questions, I guess it was a pretty open-ended question because I thought what I was looking for might be impossible to find! Most of the images on my site are digital, some are film, but when I started working in photography it was all about budget and quick production, so digital reigned.
When I was at art college I used a Nikon F5, but it's in England (I've just moved to New York) and would probs cost less just to buy a new camera compared to shipping it. I currently work with a Canon 5D, I have a battered old lomo lc-a (which I just use for snaps of friends etc rather than work), and a Holga which has produced images that have sold, surprisingly enough. I'm mainly looking to use 35mm though, again cost comes down to it, although my agent said he'd like to see me produce more work on 120..
I pretty much shoot from the hip, using only available light and no bells or whistles or anything- I've kind of gone down the opposing route to the photographic perfection thing, to me imperfection = character, so I've never wanted to shoot a 'flawless' image. They need to be technically sound (in focus, good exposure etc), but apart from that it's all about being creative, like everyone else I guess.
Any interesting results that come from the camera itself are usually the result of the lens that's used, so that's really what I was trying to find out about- and hopefully there's a 35mm body that will follow closely behind. I'm tempted to go for some kind of Pentax (or any camera) that will take the Super Takumar 50mm 1.4 lens, I've heard it has a nice quality to it. So anyways- the search continues..
Ole, by all means disagree. We both know that neither of us is always right.
Originally Posted by Ole
My lenses are in a way a subset of yours -- all of mine are anastigmats, you have and happily use anastigmats and older lenses that aren't. This may be in part the source of our disagreement, especially since you sometimes use your old marvels on formats too large for them.
That said, I have a few lenses that are absolute dogs -- soft or flary, mainly -- and I can certainly tell shots taken with them from ones taken with my other, better, lenses. You can't imagine how bad my ex-Air Ministry 5"/4 WA Xpres is. But I have a very hard time matching lens to shot when only my better lenses are involved. Emmanuel Bigler has a couple of rolls of 120 E6 I shot that illustrate the point, you might ask his opinion. Charlie Barringer saw them before I sent 'em to Emmanuel, expressed irritation at the silliness of my request to guess the lens.