The month of December has brought both a new camera as well as two rolls of film.
For about a year I have been looking for my first medium format film camera. In many ways a Hasselblad 500-series would be perfect. I like to be able to the exact composition I shoot and I would like for the camera to be relatively light weight. The problem with Hasselblad, is of course the price. If I am not certain that medium format is for me, then spending a lot to get a Hasselblad is not the right test-bed.
Secondly I have always liked the look of TLR cameras. Yes, they by no means shoot what you see through the finder, but I really like the look of them and if nothing else, then they make a perfect mantle piece.
Searching online I had narrowed my search to the Minolta Autocord and was a few hours short of buying one this spring, but was beaten to it be someone else. Since then I have had an alarm set for a local marketplace and a few weeks ago I was finally notified about a Minolta Autocord being put up for sale.
As it looked in good condition I contacted the seller and bought it. It was even 800 DKK cheaper than the one I missed 8 months ago.
Having received it, I was very impressed by the condition. Everything felt smooth and seemed to work just as intended.
Looking down through the focusing screen I found that my head really needed time to adjust to everything working “opposite”. It really takes some getting used to before you can frame images just as you want it. But I am sure it is good for the mind to be challenged like this.
Since lighting is quite scarce in winter months here in Denmark I went for Ilford Delta 3200 as the first roll to put through my new camera.
Minolta Autocord Delta 3200
Below are some of the shots from that first roll. As a first roll I must say that I am very impressed. The lens is incredibly sharp across the entire frame. And I quite enjoy both the shooting experience and challenge of framing for square photos.
As the Minolta Autocord and medium format in general, seen from a cost perspective, is more of a slow, distinct framing and shooting experience, I also had more time with my Olympus-35 SP, as I brought it along together with the Minolta.
Olympus-35 SP Rollei Retro 400s
I have to admit that I have been quite close to selling the Olympus-35 SP. My primary gripe with it is the shutter sound. It is just annoyingly loud. Almost as loud as my Nikon FE SLR. Another issue with it is that in auto-mode it seems to prefer slow shutter speeds so I always have to think extra hard about stabilizing or switching to manual mode. If the light is low, then it won’t shoot in auto-mode at all, which is also annoying. My Minolta Hi-Matic 7s will shoot in auto with less available light.
But as I have an issue with the last camera of my collection – the predecessor to the SP, being the Olympus-35 LC, where the focusing seems to have gone out of sync – then I had loaded the Olympus-35 SP with Rollei Retro 400s.
And I have to say. This is one of the best full rolls of film I have ever gotten back from the lab. Almost every shot is exposed just right to highlight the character of the Rollei Retro 400s and all of them are tack sharp. On an individual image-by-image level I think I can find a few shoots on Tri-X with the Olympus-35 LC, that comes close, but seen in its entirety this roll of film is just gorgeous. It came out with the exact look I want from black & white film.
Below are some samples:
I must say that the Olympus-35 SP really made a case for itself here. Now I think I will keep it. Hopefully once the LC has been serviced, then it can compete. But the LC is larger and won’t fit in the pocket of my jacket as the SP will.
Comparing medium format and 35mm
Another interesting effect of carrying the Minolta Autocord together with the Olympus-35 SP is the ability to compare the formats.
Of course this by no means is any good comparison as the film stocks are vastly different. One is Delta 3200 (medium format) and the other is Rollei Retro 400s (35mm).
But it is still an interesting comparison. My personal favorite is the 35mm in the shots below. Although I think that is more to do with the film-stock than the format.
Going forward I can make some more 1:1 comparisons as I ave bought Rollei Retro 400s in medium format and then it will be a more apples to apples comparison.
Finally, some images from a hunt together with my dad and my parents dog. There is something really fascinating about going hunting with a dog. The connection between oneself and the dog, using all of its instincts. It is easy to see why dogs became mans best friend. Their really is a symbiotic relationship.
Again I am amazed by the results coming out of the Olympus-35 SP. They just have exactly the look I am after in black & white. I will surely return to this roll over and over again.
Especially the very last one where the dog rests after a long day is one of my favorites. The tones are just perfect for my taste!
This concludes the year 2022. I am writing and publishing it on the last day of the year. Hopefully 2023 will be a good year and present itself with great photography opportunities. 2022 brought me closer to finding my style and look. Then hopefully I will find lots of great compositions and subjects in 2023.
Happy New Year!