Most of the pictures I've studied across most makes, models and films are rich in grain and, with rare exception, print natural light flat.
These qualities have more to do with format, lighting, exposure, film choice, and printing, than a particular camera or lens.
I am lost, and dumbfounded by your post. It seems to me that you are technically obsessing over extremely basic concepts, and putting the burden on your equipment and supplies, when it needs to be put on yourself – your own understanding of basic concepts of photography.
You need to just learn light. That is all photography is. All the other stuffs (cameras, films, etc.) are secondary. If you cannot learn light, you are not going to get what you want, period, with any camera.
I suggest enrolling at a community college and taking a basic photography class...and holding onto your money until you learn how to work with light and control your negatives and prints. And for God's sake, quit making general statements about things such as natural light and rangefinders! The "signatures" and characteristics you are generally and aphoristically attributing to natural light and to rangefinders are very far off the mark.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
IMO I disagree, (not not about the quality of rangefinder lenses or that there are very subtle differences between lenses from certain manufacturers) But I'd bet you a print that I can match the "look" on a print as far as a rangefinder beyond minor signatures that few would notice, using my Canon or Exacta SLR. The "look" the OP describes is in my opinion mostly film, focal length, aperture, and circumstance. Of course lens construction and coatings contribute qualities, but the idea that someone could look at a print and say categorically that it came from rangefinder is hooey.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
That's just my opinion. The only thing I think that is really off the mark here is saying everyone else is wrong. It generally isn't smart to speak in absolutes when discussing qualities that carry as much subjectivity as a "look".
There are great reasons to use a rangefinder and it sounds like the OP has discovered them, but ascribing skin tones to a particular kind of camera isn't something that I personally consider valid beyond the most nuanced of nuance.
Last edited by JBrunner; 10-18-2010 at 04:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Here are a few from my ca 1962 Yashica Lynx 1000 (Yashinon 45/1.8) that are not particularly grainy, have good contrast, and are sharp enough for a cheap camera (less than $100 new)...
All using Rollei Retro 100 rated at EI 160 and souped in Edwal FG-7 1:15 w/o sulphite.
As noted above, much depends on technique, film, processing, quality of light, and yes, the lens used. All-in-all, I got the image I was after without a heavy outlay for equipment. Yes, medium format might have yielded less apparent grain and better tonality, but that is the trade-off for the convenience of a smaller and lighter camera. So, the answer might be (as suggested above) a medium format folder or rangefinder kit. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, a Bessa II might be just your cup of tea.
BTW...the apparent grain on these scans is artifact of the scanning process. The negatives have very fine grain when examined directly.
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My opinion...forget about the gear. I shoot street with my Leica M3 and I have a full arsenal of lenses BUT, I can do just the same with a Contax T2 or a Rollei 35T...and very few notice. Get yourself a beat up but working camera (yes, you can find a good, clean, old Leica with lens for $800 if that's your choice), load it with Tri-X, forget the meter, sunny 16 all the way and learn the light and how to compose. Pick a developer or two and fine tune your style. Some people say that there is a Leica/rangefinder look and I say it's all about the photographer. Rangefinders do bring one to shoot a little differently and, while certain lenses do have a unique signature, most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
J is totally on the money here. While I do agree with Ian that Leica glass is special, it won't make or break said "look" here. It'll add to it, but it's only a 5% thing.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
The majority of it is Tri-X, light, and moment.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
Pretty much all lenses have light fall-off problems wide open. It increases the price of a lens to over-size the elements so there is no fall off, and with a lens that is already as huge and expensive as a Noctilux the cost of mitigating fall off is likely prohibitive.
Originally Posted by clayne
But, hey, people buy Dianas for the funky fall off -- why shouldn't a $12,000 Noct share the same great look?
...the Noctilux..the most misunderstood Leica lens. I don't have a .95 since I need a new car instead but I do have a f1. It's hard to justify a lens that is basically the same as a Summicron passed f1.4 but let me tell you, it's not called the NOCTIlux for nothing. All I see is people shoot that lens wide open at every chance they get just because it's cool, when in effect, the widest aperture with low light/no light is what the lens was born to do. I load my camera with TMZ or Delta 3200 and @ f1...let there be light!! Most people don't realize how powerful f1 is and for it's intended use, light fall off or vignetting is a total non-issue.
Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan
I think of the Noctilux as a specialty lens, although it certain can be used as the "normal" everyday lens. I think the price puts it into the specialty category.
Other specialty lenses include some of the superwide optics, as well as fisheye lenses,
But hey, we're not the Taliban, so you're free to combo any lens with any matching body. Whatever works for you.