I have been a fan of Black & White Motion Picture film since I started and enjoying ORWO UN54. You know when a film just works!
Recently I shot, not for the first time, Kodak Double-X. A motion Picture Film favoured by Hollywood for Black & White scenes. Films such as Schindlers List, Raging Bull, Casino Royale to name a few. The list goes on.
The film is available from Kodak USA and Canada in 400ft reels but lucky for us film photography nuts there are a few companies spooling this in 35mm cassettes and also 120.
Here is my recent video on the film.
In this video I shot Film Photography Projects X2 and also Cinestill BWXX in 120.
Kodak suggest D96 for development but I don’t have any so I used XTOL for my films.
I shot a roll of 35mm in the Leica MP around town and developed the film in XTOL Stock for 7 minutes. It was a bright sunny day so I was anticipating a contrasty negative. Thats down to me to control if I wanted to by dropping a minute or two off the development but I decided to develop for 7 minutes.
Here are the photographs scanned. I definitely should have knocked a minute or so off the development time! Or gone for a weaker dilution of say 1:1 or 1:2.
I then used the Yashica Mat124G medium format camera for a few portraits using Cinestill BWXX.
For the lighting I used natural window light and had my Wife holding a reflector to bounce some light back into the girls.
I was amazed at the sharpness and detail of this film. Even the dynamic range in the 35mm photographs.
I wonder how this film compares to my fav ORWO UN54! Maybe I will have to put the two head to head!
Here are some links to where you can buy this film.
I did make a video on my experience with Fonapan 200 and Rodinal and here it is if you want to see how I got on. Go To Video
I am so pleased Gary Geezer sent me this Fonapan 200 in 35mm to play or I don’t think I would have ever tried it as much as I did with this experiment. I wanted to see how Fomapan 200 and Rodial would suit my kind of photography without going through all the tests to find the perfect speed with my development process. Thats boring to me. Just go and shoot it and find out.
So I decided to shoot a roll at a time and develop in Rodinal 1:25 at various times and also do a stand development. From there I can serif this film and a particular time in Rodinal would suit me.
From doing this test I found that 1:25 Rodinal for 4 minutes with 5 inversions every minute suited me best in various outside lighting conditions.
As I mentioned in the video my first two rolls I stupidly used 25ml of Rodinal! Should have been 16ml and 384ml of water making 400 (1:25). I’m not sure why I did this but in a way I am glad I did! I learned that a bit of misjudgement with Rodinal doesn’t make that much of a difference.
These images were scanned using my DSLR and I let Photoshop Auto Correct the levels.
Roll 1. 1:16 for 5 minutes. Leica MP, 50mm Voigtlander APO lens.
Roll 2. 1:16 for 4 minutes. Leica MP, 50mm Voigtlander APO lens.
Roll 4. 1:25 for 5 minutes. Leica MP, 50mm Voigtlander APO lens. (as per MDC)
Roll 5. 1:25 for 4 minutes. Leica MP, 50mm Voigtlander APO lens. (my best time)
Roll 6. 1:16 for 3.5 minutes. Nikon F5, 28mm lens (just wanted to see)
Roll 7. 1:25 for 3 minutes. Nikon F5
So these were all scanned images and as I said I let Photoshop auto correct the levels.
I took the negatives into the darkroom and made a print from each set using just a 2.5 grade filter and Ilford Multigrade Paper (resin).
The stand develop negatives printed well but I preferred the 1:25 at 4 minutes. That seemed to give me good detail on the paper so that is what I will stick to in future with this combination.
Of course, always try your own combo. What works for me may not work for you.
I recently helped Emma take photographs in her Coffee Shop. Emma is a film shooter and shoots mostly colour film. Emma asked me to help her shoot Medium Format for the first time. Here is the video on the SFLaB Chanel and also the photographs we took.
Mamiya RZ67 (with a 645 back) and Portra 400. Thanks to James Lane of Zone Imaging for developing and scanning the film.
Images from behind the scenes, Nikon F6, Orwo UN54 pushed to 400 in 510 Pyro.
Too much choice?
Up until recently I have always said I love shooting all my cameras and they all have their own place in my photography. But is it too much? I am literally spoilt for choice.
It goes without saying that there are a lot of used film cameras out there up for grabs and most of us get excited at the opportunity of owning a new camera. Especially if it’s one you have always longed for and the day has finally come. Or a camera that you’ve seen on ebay that is selling for next to nothing and you’ve always wondered about it. Easy pickings are those cameras. Don’t cost much and you may have found a diamond!
If you are a film nut like me and have been for many years the word gets around your local area that your a film nut and cameras just seem to get offered to you for free. “Old Tom passed away and his Sister knows you’re a film nut and passes over his much loved camera onto you as she knows it will get put to good use”. I have many of those. And I use them!
So many cameras and so many different films and developers to play with. It can actually get in the way of your photography. I for one know this.
If I go back, way back, before I had the YouTube Channel I had three cameras. A Nikon F90X with a Sigma 28-135 Lens. A Pentax Spotmatic F and A Braun Paxette. All 35mm Cameras.
Just three cameras and of those three I would mainly use the Pentax Spotmatic. I just liked shooting it. It was not as heavy as the Nikon F90X and it was fully manual with a great classic needle light meter. Just one lens on it which was a 50mm Takumar Lens.
The Braun Paxette was given to me by an old friend and it works fine but is more of a nostalgic peice. And the F90X I would use occasionally, generally if I wanted to play with the Sigma 28-135mm.
I had brick after brick of Ilford Fp4 and Hp5 and what seemed like an endless supply of Rodinal. Yup, Rodinal and HP5! Perfect match for guaranteed grain! A bit less with the FP4. But hey, who doesn’t mind a bit of grain eh? And I guess you don’t have much choice if thats the combo you shoot.
Jess, our Daughter. Pentax Spotmatic F and FP4. Not tac sharp but who cares. A moment in time recorded on silver.
So in the early days my combo for nearly all my photography was a Pentax Spotmatic F, a 50mm lens with FP4 or HP5 and Rodinal. Rodinal because I could get many rolls for my money, it lasted ages on the shelf and very economical when stand developed.
I didn’t have any other choice. Which was perfect really. When I wanted to go out and take photos the only choice I had to make was FP4 or HP5 and where to go. I knew exactly what that combo could deliver for me with regard to sharpness, tonal ranges, exposures and development.
Ford Cortina, Pentax Spotmatic F and FP4
I now have many cameras that I have purchased and have kindly been gifted over the years and I literally am spoilt for choice when I want to go on a shoot. Woodland for example. I can take any one of those cameras into a woods and take photographs. Don’t get me wrong. I love using all of my cameras and it is essential for the channel to show various cameras. It breaks it up and keeps it interesting for you and for me. But when I plan a shoot now off the channel I have to make a choice.
What camera. What lens. What Film. What Developer.
It never used to be this complicated to just to go into the woods and take some photographs. It was a no brainer. Pentax Spotmatic F, 50mm Lens, Ilford Fp4 and a bit of Rodinal when I got back. Happy Days! Unless I fixed the film first which I have done a few times in the past! (Label your jugs and take your time).
Today before I even get in the car I’d have spent much thought on what camera, 35mm, Medium Format, Large Format. And then what film and thinking of what developer and how to develop when I get back.
It’s not healthy for your photography to have so much choice before you’ve even taken a single photograph. Instead I should be looking at the light available and knowing what my faithful combo can acheive when I get on location.
Some photographs I took back in the day…
There have been many times I have got on location and made silly mistakes because I haven’t used that chosen camera for a while. It’s soon realised after the first frame but a thought process runs on the camera before I’ve pressed the shutter. I’m talking of framing with a rangefinder and TLR and the camera that has inaccurate shutter speeds that I forgot about. The same would apply to the chosen film and developer. More so the film and developer though.
A film I have really started to enjoy of late is ORWO UN54. It is a brilliant motion picture film made in Germany. I buy it in 100ft tins and roll my own cassettes. You don’t see me show it much on the channel and instead see me shooting other films. I do this to break the content up. As I said earlier I would rather show many cameras and many films and developers on the channel as it is not much fun banging the same drum every week. For example, the other week I sent an image of a photograph that I took and he replied “ORWO Again?”. I found that amusing yet interesting. I realised I had been using ORWO off the channel extensively and maybe it was predictable. It was in fact FP4 but you see the point.
Unfortunately my Pentax Spotmatic F light meter no longer works so when I take that out for a play I have to take a light meter with me. Not so much fun when you have 36 exposures.
So I have decided to (off the channel) get back to my old routine of one camera, one lens, one film and one developer and see where it takes me. I have chosen the Nikon F6 with a 50mm lens as my faithful shooter. (“Wait, What… You have a Leica MP and you choose the F6?” Yes, A good friend gifted me one). The F6 is a robust all weather camera. Feels good to grip and less likely to get mugged on the streets. I just don’t wanna wear the MP out. Although the F6 eats batteries faster than I eat my Easter eggs!
Orwo UN54 as the film. And 510 Pyro as the developer. ORWO UN54 is a 100 speed film but I can push it nicely to 400 in 510 Pyro. I chose the Nikon F6 because it is not too heavy, has an amazing light meter inside and works a treat on the shutter. And I should be able to nail this combo for most lighting situations I am up against and really get to know this films strengths and weaknesses with that developer.
Of course, now and again I will bring this combo onto the channel but behind the scenes this is where I will mostly be for my photo walks, scapes and woodland photography.
No more wondering what gear to take out, unless I really do fancy shooting Medium Format or Large Format or any of my other lovely 35mm cameras for a change. Forget Pinhole Photography and the Holga. I have other projects for those.
It is still nice to have that choice and I feel fortunate for that. But sometimes I am thinking too much about choice of camera and film and developer and it does get in the way of my photography.
If you only have one or few cameras then you’re where I was years ago. It’s good to try different films and developers but always try and master for yourself one film and developer combo. If you have many cameras and are getting a bit lost for inspiration go back to the beginning with one camera, one lens, one film and developer combo.
I shall blog my recent developments (pardon the pun) on the SFLaB website as well as the channel.
It’s a Saturday morning and it’s raining outside. I like photography but I really couldn’t be bothered to go out in the rain. trust me, I thought about it and even started wondering what camera to take, but then I thought… It’s Saturday morning. I’ll watch some TV… Nope, I’ll take some photos indoors…, nope, I’ll watch some TV.
So I did. I sat in my TV chair which is next to a large patio door and down near my feet are a stack of packaging boxes that my Daughter uses for mailing out her Wax Scents. The light coming in from the window onto the packaging boxes looked beautiful and I stared for a while and then I took a photograph on my phone.
I noticed the light wrapping around the boxes looked really nice and I wondered what I could do on Film. This is one thing I love about Large Format. I can set up and take just a couple of sheets. Thats what I did. It just takes a while to set up and compose, which I don’t mind. It’s Photography on a super slow scale!
I grabbed my Intrepid 4×5 Camera, a Schneider Kreuznach 90mm lens, a cable release, light meter, grey card, Film holder and Ilford Fp4 sheets.
It took me a while to get the movements and composure for the photograph. I set the lens aperture to f/45 and proceeded to find my shutter speed for the scene using the Sekonic Light Meter in Spot Mode.
I placed the grey card just on the corner of the boxes and toward the camera. I wanted to get detail on the shaded part of the boxes for which, you can’t see, but I had a white reflector bouncing some light back in.
The meter gave me a reading of 15 Seconds at f/45. I am now into reciprocity failure territory! But, before I calculate that I have to measure my bellows factor. That came in at 160mm from the lens board to the back of the film plane. My lens is only 90mm so I know I need to allow for the bellows or my photograph will be under exposed.
You can see I had to allow for almost 2 stops extra!
15 Seconds plus 2 stops is 60 Seconds. But I chose 45 Seconds.
Reciprocity Failure for that FP4 Film I worked out to take me to 121 Seconds. That was my exposure time for which I then proceeded to take my photograph.
I then took another photograph changing composition which gave me slightly shorter bellows so I compensated accordingly. I also metered with the Gray card pointing toward the window and not the camera.
I developed the two sheets in Rodinal at 1:50 in my Stearman Press Tank which holds 475ml of working developer. I put 9ml of Rodinal into a 500ml of water and proceeded to develop the sheets for 14 minutes with 5 inversions to start and then 5 inversions on the minute every minute. Stopped with just water and then fixed with Ilfords Rapid Fixer.
I was pleased with the way the negatives looked (although they may look dense in this photo hanging). I was hoping for more than usual grain and a contrasty negative.
This is the first Photograph.
I think by metering on the grey card toward the camera was a mistake. I should have metered it looking back toward the window as I was clearly over exposed.
This photograph was much more where I wanted to be.
It’s difficult to know if my over exposure was due to the times I chose or if my development was too long. I feel as if I developed these at a few minutes less I would have had a flatter, more pleasing negative.
Whichever I now have this on record for another time to reflect back on.
We all go through a mental block and I get messages from people asking where I get my inspiration from as they are having a blip in their own photo journey.
Here is a photograph from a roll where I felt uninspired a while back.
Sitting indoors staring out of the window I had a few hours to spare and wanted to take some photos on my Leica 3F loaded with a roll of ORWO UN54. But nothing was coming to mind.
I was literally overthinking and had ideas and visions literally flashing in my mind but nothing was sticking.
I was putting obsticals in every idea I had.
The films not fast enough for this, the sun is too bright for that, that’s too far to drive, I’ve shot that before and it went on and on.
Its not good to ponder like that sitting indoors. So I decided to get out in the car and drive.
With the Leica and Light Meter sitting next to me in the car I drove away from home and literally headed off without a clue what I wanted to shoot. But, at least I was out. And something may catch my eye. Even if nothing happens in the car I know I can park up and walk.
Well, as it happens I was driving along a road where there is a school and opposite the school is a large green area with a few trees.
I decided to park in the school car park and walk for a bit. At this point I was still feeling uninspired and nearly drove back home to save the film for another day.
I then saw this man sitting on a wall by the roadside smoking a cigarette. His feet were placed on the road where the double yellow parking lines were and around his feet were the autumn leaves.
A vision flashed in my mind at that moment to get on my belly and take a photograph of the double yellow parking lines coming right into the lens and in the background this guy’s feet.
Too late. The guy flicked his cigarette away and walked off. Probably a good job for me too as I would have looked like a right odd ball taking a photo of his feet from the floor on my belly.
So I kept the idea and took position.
I decided to keep a wide open aperture and this was the scene I had in mind, except without the guy’s feet
From there I found an interest in the leaves. So I decided to take more photographs of the same style concentrating at what I saw at belly level!
It was late in the afternoon and the sun was relatively bright but I chose compositions more in the shady areas. Which wasn’t hard as the sun was low.
You’re probably thinking I’ve lost the plot but I suddenly found this inspirational challenge. And above all I was enjoying taking the pictures.
And these scenes were all around me so I hardly walked but a few yards from where my car was parked. And I took my time also.
So from one moment sitting indoors pondering over my thoughts to getting out in my car, parking up and seeing a guy sitting on a wall lead to these photographs. Are they great?… Not really. But they’re not bad either for breaking what was a blank void in my head an hour or so beforehand.
My photography doesn’t always have to end up in a frame. I like the idea of that but if I haven’t got a picture I feel is worth framing then at least I have had fun doing what I enjoy and some more negatives to add to my folder. You never know when you’ll need one of those images.
So when people ask me how I find inspiration I just have to get up and get out with an open mind and see what comes of it. I nearly went back with a full roll of ORWO, well, actually, I went back with a few frames which I used on George. But I’d have done nothing pondering my thoughts indoors.
Other times I will set myself a challenge. I’ll give myself a subject and then go where I can get pics.
Today I’m going to shoot…
- Stressed items (rust, rotten wood etc)
- Shoes (yes I sat on the floor in Oxford Street, London photographing peoples shoes as they walked past)
There are so many subjects you can challenge yourself with.
Other times I’ve opened a book, closed my eyes and pointed to a word on a page and used that as a subject! Unless it’s ‘And’ or ‘The’… But you get the idea.
And of course there is always challenges indoors if you don’t feel like getting out. My usual favourite is available light or window light. Or sometimes set up some lights just for a composition on a subject.
Using a light panel for a Large Format photo of the Buddha
A lamp I used to light a pumpkin and I kept the lamp in also.
I hope this little post has helped anyone that is struggling a bit for inspiration and ideas. It happens to us all from time to time and if you’re like me and love taking pictures then try a few if these ideas. If you’re really struggling just take a break for a short while and let your mind recharge it’s creativity.
Here we go! I have longed for this journey for years and I am finally on my way.
Before I flirted with film I actually wanted to get into wet plate collodion photography but a used Nikon F90X and a roll of FP4 was a lot cheaper. So I kicked my wet-late obsession to one side and started shooting 35mm. Scanning negs never interested me. If I was going to shoot film it had to be the whole process. Shoot, develop, and print in my bathroom. As soon as I started I was totally hooked! The Zeiss Ikon Nettar was my first upgrade to get into Medium Format and with that came a new enlarger that could print negs up to 6×6. The Durst M605.
I’d always wanted to try Large Format but first I felt I needed to start with 35mm and learn as much as I could about shooting film and processing and printing.
Why Large Format?
I can get bored easily! And film photography is no exception. Yes. I get bored with it! Well, bored with having 36 or 24 frames on a roll to shoot when I only came out for particular scene! Once I have got on location and got the photographs I came to get I would often get back and cut the film out of the camera and save the rest for another shoot. Thats easy with 35mm but not so easy with 120 film. With 120 I’d get my shots and then have another ten to waste on stuff I didn’t really want. And don’t think I am going to keep the film in the camera for days or weeks at a time. I like to get out, come back, develop and print.
This is why I am going to enjoy Large Format. I can load a few sheets and get creative and take my time on just one or two scenes.
Another reason is the print. I have always liked the idea of contact printing and framing it. Simple. And also making larger prints.
And finally the creative possibilities with using the cameras functions to change the perspective of my scene.
Getting Started and First Shoot
The opportunity came for me to start Large Format recently and has opened another avenue in my film photography obsession. I have myself the Intrepid 5×4 Camera and a few necessary accessories. That being Two Nikon lenses, 105mm and 210mm. Two Film holders and a dark cloth.
As soon as the kit arrived I could not wait to take a photograph. I had a scene already in my mind which was a Pumpkin nest to a lamp indoors. From the moment the camera arrived to the moment I developed my first negative was about 3 hours!
I set the camera up on a tripod and attached the 105mm lens and got my composition and focus. It took me a while to do but once it was set I then practiced without film in the back at cocking and firing the shutter. I think we all do that with a new camera! For this I had to open the lens aperture but also make sure I remembered to close the aperture for when I load the film!
Now I had to load a sheet of film, Ilford Delta 100, into the film holder! That was a mission! I went into my darkroom. I had never touched sheet film before. I opened the box only to be presented with another box! And then a bag. And then a folder which inside had all the 25 sheets of film. Pretty alien when you are doing all this in pitch black darkness. I now have a piece of film in my hand ready to go into the holder. Feeling the notches on the edge of the film I was sure I had the film emulsion facing the right way but then I wasn’t so sure! I closed the film box and turned the lights on and exposed the film that was in my hands. That was going to be my test sheet!
After a bit of practice I was ready to load my film, which was pretty easy to do after I had practised.
I now have two sheets loaded into the film holder and I returned to the camera and my scene. I checked one more time for my composition and focus and proceeded to slide the holder into the back of the camera. I closed the lens aperture and with the dark slide in fired the shutter one more time to double check the aperture was opening and closing. It was.
I removed the dark slide, took my photograph and then put the dark slide back in. I removed the film holder and put it to one side whilst I changed my composition for shot 2. This is where I made my first mistake! I now don’t know which side of the holder was the exposed sheet! I didn’t take note. I decided to take a gamble. The least would happen would be a double exposure and a blank film sheet. I took my second photograph and now it was time to develop the film.
I am using the Stearman Press SP-445 as my developing tank. A simple design with two trays inside that hold 2 sheets of film each. So I can develop 4 sheets in one hit.
I used my test sheet to practice loading the film into the tank. Again, this was pretty easy to do all be it a bit fiddly in the dark for the first time! But after a bit of fumbling I got the sheets into the tank and came out of the darkroom to develop the film in the kitchen.
I developed the film in Rodinal 1:50 for 14 minutes and inverted the normal way I would with any other film.
You can imagine how excited I was to learn that, just by the flip of a coin, I had guessed the 2nd sheet in the film holder! Lucky bugger!
I was amazed at the size of the negatives and the detail they contained. And also at the thickness of the film itself which sat flat on my light box for me to take a picture of with my DSLR and invert in photoshop.
So, I had to do a bit of research and the penny dropped. Once I take the slide out and take my shot I just reverse the slide when I put it back in. One side is grey and the other black. So for me Grey means unexposed, black means exposed.
So happy I was with my results the next day I took two more of the same composition but instead used Pine Cones.
No I am a bit more confident I thought I would go to the Downs and take 4 sheets with me to photograph the wind swept trees. I made a video on this which is on the channel.
And since writing this my fourth attempt was a portrait of my Sister and her Partner using natural window light. This was taken at f5.6 and a Shutter of 1/8th.
I do have the Intrepid Enlarger kit for this camera so I can print 5×4 Negatives but before I use that I want to make contact prints, which is relatively easy!
So with all that documented of my journey so far into Large Format I think I am really going to enjoy this new venture. Still film photography but just a bit bigger. But most of all a new challenge and lots and lots of practice and learning to come.
Thanks to all that follow my channel and support my work.
Recently a kind subscriber sent me a few rolls of JCH Street Pan Black & White 400 speed film to enjoy.
I have shot this film before but some years ago now so with this batch I decided to vlog my experience shooting the film and also share on this page the photographs I took and also my thoughts.
The film was released back in 2016 by photographer Bellamy Hunt and you can read more of the story on the JCH website.
Looking at the Big Film Database it suspects the film is Discontinued Agfa Surveillance film. These films were designed mostly for traffic surveillance. They are high speed, very fine grain films that are available in 35mm long rolls with high quality images. I’m guessing speed cameras. Whatever it is the film base has ‘JCH Pan 400’ etched all along so you know it’s fresh stock.
I found this in the JCH Website – “The spectral sensitivity is extended in the near infrared range of the energy spectrum, colour sensitivity: panchromatic up to 750 nm. As a result, the film offers excellent penetration through haze, fog and other atmospheric conditions liable to affect the image quality. Due to the reduced scattering by the atmosphere, images are sharp and well edged.
The near IR sensitivity and the strong response to red light allow for nocturne red flash photography as well as daylight photography”.
So for my experience.
For these photographs I used a Nikon F5 in aperture priority and shot these on a light overcast day for a more even light. I developed the film in ADOX XT3 Developer and followed the MDC times of 1:1 for 17 minutes. Same as XTOL.
Wow! Deep Deep blacks and bright highlights. Yep. This film is packed with contrast and packs a punch too! Sharp and hardly any grain. Even in the darkroom under the focus finder I could see how fine the grain was on the negative.
Knowing of this films characteristics I purposely shot scenes that had dark and bright tones. I wanted my photographs to pop.
Some scenes where I purposely framed the sky and used an average metering within the F5 I soon saw for myself that this film is not great for shadows, unless you are exposing for them. You can see on this photograph.
But in the right light the film reveals beautiful “inky” tones.
So I continued to shoot the whole roll of 36 frames around Sandown Pier and a few on the streets nearby just for my own experience going forward. Here are a few more images.
This is definitely a film you would not want to under expose! If anything over expose! And although the metering system in the Nikon F5 works incredibly well (Center weighted here), I don’t think it’s great for this film. In future I would be more inclined to use my handheld spot meter and meter for the shadows and experiment from there.
I think the XT3/XTOL developer worked very well for this film. I was going to use Rodinal but was worried I’d get even more crushed tones and more grain. I may try the film with Ilford ID11 and see how that looks with a combination of pulling the film to 200 just to see how it looks.
But above all this is a great film for an alternative look for many areas of photography. Personally I think this will suit my back street work more than any scapes. As for portraits, I imagine it could look nice with a similar feel as Ferrania P30 or Double X.
I use Zone Focusing a lot and get asked many questions about how to use it so hopefully I can explain what I know on this post. I shall try and keep it simple!
Have a look at your lens. If it has aperture markings similar to the above image you can use Zone Focusing.
Notice my aperture is set to f/16. We all know it’s a small aperture allowing a great depth of field. In the left green zone you can see an Infinity symbol. Infinity means endless, think of Buzz Lightyear! “To infinity and beyond”.
So I can set my lens to infinity and get good focus from a particular near point of distance to infinity.
In the example above I am shooting at f/16 and so I turn the focus ring until the infinity symbol is at f/16. I then read what the opposite side reads at f/16 which in feet (in yellow) is appx 8 Feet. And in Meters (White) appx nearly 3 Meters.
So when I take my photographs I know that anything in my scene that is just under 3 Meters or 8 feet is my closest focusing distance and everything will be in focus from that distance to infinity. Anything in my scene that is closer than 8 Feet or 3 Meters will be out of focus.
It’s that simple. I think this is called “Hyper Focal” when you use the infinity symbol. But I just say “Zone Focusing” to keep it easy.
Let’s take another example.
I want to go out and shoot some street photography. I don’t want to be having the camera to my eye and trying to focus each shot. That will take time which I won’t have especially to capture the action. So I will preset my focus.
I want to shoot at f/11. I want to capture people close to me at a distance of about 3 feet. Thats relatively close! So all I need to do is set my “Zone Focusing” so that 3 feet matches the aperture I am shooting and the lens will tell me my furthest distance that I can expect to be in focus.
In this case you can see I have set the Zone Scale to 3 Feet at F/11 and anything between 3 Feet and just under 15 Feet (more like 12 I’d say) will be in focus. In this case anything in the middle of that distance (between 4 feet and 10 feet will definitely be in focus so I would try and keep my subjects between 4 feet and 7 feet to be on the safe side. No problem for street photography. Except anything closer than 3 feet and anything further than 15 feet will be slightly out of focus. That may not be the look you want for street photography. You may want everything in focus in which case you would need to shoot at f/16 or f/22 so you can have a larger depth of field.
In that case I would set the scale so that the infinite symbol is aligned with F/11 which would give me my closest distance at around 4 feet. (Excuse the pen on my thumb tip).
You can see from the scale that the smaller the aperture say f/22 the larger the depth of field or focus. And The wider the aperture, say F/5.6, the narrower the depth of field.
So that is all there is to Zone Focusing. Except I think if you set using the infinite symbol that is Hyper Focal. But to me it’s all the same.
So why would you use this system?
Most modern cameras have automatic focus and don’t show the scale on their lenses. More classic cameras do.
Zone focusing is handy when I am using my old view finder cameras that don’t have a rangefinder.
I also use zone focusing when I am shooting landscapes low to make sure I know where my closest focus area or range is. Imagine a small stone on wet sand. I want to make sure the stone is in focus as well as the scape behind it. My zone focusing will tell me where to place the stone if I set my infinite symbol to my aperture.
I can also use it for when I am doing low down shots and can’t bend down far enough to look through the view finder to focus.
Zone focusing is also great for street photographers as I mentioned so they don’t have to keep trying to focus. They know their zone and keep within it.
When would I not use the system?
Portraits and other close objects. With these subjects my focusing needs to be more precise such as the models Eye or the Flowers Petal.
I hope this helps anyone that is confused. It’s really easy and handy to use once you get used to it.
I first came across ORWO when I purchased a few rolls of Silberra 54UN from Russia. I liked the film that much and knew Silberra wasn’t the manufacturing the film so it didn’t take me long to find out I had been shooting ORWO UN54.
The only place I could find that supplied the film was Nik & Trick in Folkestone.
ORWO UN54 is a motion picture film manufactured by OWRO in Germany and the company has a long history of making emulsions for various uses in the motion picture industry. So needless to say the film comes in feet reels encased in a tin. That was no good to me as I, at the time, did not have a bulk loader or the confidence to do so! And ORWO do not sell individual rolled cassettes. Nik & Trick were rolling these for sale and I purchased some more.
I use a lot of different films especially for a mix of variety on the channel. One particular film I started to like was Lomo’s Potsdam 100. No wonder I liked it. It is ORWO UN54!
Recently Luca on Instagram sent me a various mix of ORWO Films to try, one being the UN54. Luca sent me a 35mm and also a 120. I was surprised at seeing the 120, however, turns out ORWO release a 120 reel now and again and folk like Luca snap it up and load it onto 120 reels for medium format work.
So recently I took the 35mm roll to an airfield and used a 1950s WERA Camera.
It was a bright sunny day and with this camera there is no internal light meter or rangefinder or through the lens focusing. So I used the Sunny 16 shooting 1/250th and F/11 and used Zone Focusing for simplicity.
I developed the ORWO UN54 in XTOL at 1:1 at 25° for 5 minutes. Why 25°? It’s a heatwave here and my tap water was not as cold as it usually is and even though the XTOL was sitting in a cupboard, that too was not as cool. I could have chilled it down to 20° but I’m always up for a challenge.
The negatives came out really nice as expected. I made a few prints and under the focus finder the grain was very fine and even printing 14×9 inch the prints came out with a pleasing fine grain and sharp too.
Some of the planes were tricky to shoot in the sun as they were white, however, one plane was Yellow and from that I could see the tonality of the ORWO UN54 Film.
So here are some of the negatives I scanned using my DSLR. You can see on the Yellow plane there is loads of tonality with nice deep rich blacks. Even some of the highlights on the planes engine where the sun was bright seemed to handle very well. Relatively sharp too baring in mind I was using Zone Focusing.
When you look at the spectrum scale of this film, as seen on the data sheet, it has a sharp dip in the blue area. The scale starts high in the purples showing that purples render lighter on the film.
When we look at the 2nd plane, which had a blue tail and body you can see how the film rendered the blue quite dark. I like that!
I am starting to like this film, a lot and shall soon be bulk loading my own cassettes for more tests with scenes and developers and videos for the channel.
Here is the video from this shoot.