MS Optics Develops New Lightweight Sonnetar 73mm Portrait Lens for Leica M-Mount

Attention, Leica photographers! MS Optics has made a new lightweight Sonnetar 73mm lens for your portrait shooting needs.

If you’ve been a fan of the creations of one-man optics company MS Optics (also known MS Optical), you’ll surely be delighted to know that Sadoyasu Miyazaki has a new release for the Leica M-mount. DP Review has recently given a heads up on the new Sonnetar 73mm f1.5 FMC; a lightweight lens with a unique aesthetic especially developed for portraits.

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Here Are Some of the Biggest Newsmakers of Photokina 2018

Here’s a round up of some of the biggest Photokina 2018 announcements and product launches if you’re late to the party.

We collected our thoughts and expectations shortly before Photokina 2018 started, but some of the event’s biggest newsmakers still managed to surprise us. If you’re late to the party or haven’t been able to keep tabs with the flurry of announcements and product launches in the past few days, we’ve put together this round up for you.

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TogTees and Japan Camera Hunter Collaborate; New Cool Shirts Ensue

TogTees and Japan Camera Hunter in one sentence can only mean one thing, and it’s nothing short of cool

Philadelphia-based TogTees is back with more wearable cool, this time in collaboration with the famous purveyor of vintage camera geekery, Japan Camera Hunter (or Bellamy Hunt, as some of you may know). The two have joined forces with a new shirt design which will both show your love for JCH and nurture your inner Japanophile (and/or camera-hunting tendencies, of course).

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO Black and White Film (Premium)

The lead image of this blog post is perhaps the only image that I’ve loved and that I shot with Ilford HP5 Plus 400. For years, I remember it being marketed to me as a beautiful film for street photography when I was falling into love again with Rangefinder cameras. So when loaded up into my old Voigtlander Bessa R with a 50mm f1.5 lens, it yielded me some pretty nice images indeed and for a little while, ignorance was bliss. I tried Kodak Tri-X 400, then Ilford Delta 400, then Lomography’s Earl Grey 100 when pushed to ISO 400, then Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400, and then finally Kodak TMax 400. The reason though why this one image is my favorite that I’ve shot with Ilford HP5 Plus 400 doesn’t really have to do with the film, but instead with the moment simply being a beautiful, candid one during a party in Bushwick. Now of course, I understand that the image is still the image is still the image. There is no denying that. But beyond just capturing or creating a moment on film, there is something to be said about personal aesthetics which then create a feeling and a mood based on a photographer’s personality and a viewer’s interpretation.

Why someone told me that it’s a great film for street photography is honestly a bit beyond my comprehension. But I don’t think that it is. I’d like to think of Ilford HP5 to be the black and quite equivalent of Kodak Portra 400–yet another film that I tend to have a love/hate relationship with. Ilford HP5 has a great look and beautiful skin tones to it. But some photographers, like Portra, tend to just use it for everything. Personally, I’m of the belief that Superia is a superior (pun intended) color film for Street Photography while Portra 400 works better for portraits. At the same time, I’m more partial to Delta 400 or Kodak Tri-X 400 for street photography. Ilford HP5 Plus 400 is right up there with Kodak TMax 400 to me when it comes to portraiture.

 

This not only has to do with the subject matter involved but how you tend to approach your subject matter and photographing them. With portraits, there is a very careful setup when it comes to lighting, posing, choosing locations, etc. Like Kodak TMax 400, it believe it to be more of a creator’s film. But Delta 400 and Tri-X are more aligned to being a film that could be for the person that prefers to capture moments rather than trying to create them. For the most part, I feel like this about many films. You wouldn’t try to shoot a wedding with Velvia 50 and you wouldn’t typically shoot a brightly lit festival during the day with a film like Delta 3200.

In the darkroom, different things can be done with the film to make it look one way or another. Want more grain? Try Rodinal. Otherwise Ilford makes some very good developers.

As we all know, film looks better in larger formats. 35mm is alright, but it won’t compare to 120 and that won’t compare to large format. But unfortunately, what seems to sell the most is 35mm format simply because of its ease of use and the prevalence of how many cameras there are on the market. Our parents shot 35mm film. I didn’t know about or even shoot with 120 film until I was entering my mid-20s. So with this understanding, why then do I not like Ilford HP5 Plus film?

Well, let’s take a look.

 

JCH Street Pan

The image above is from Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 and shot on 35mm film. How it differs from HP5 is that this film is slightly infrared and somehow or another has some very deep, inky blacks. It’s beautiful. It’s sharp. It’s contrasty. And it gives me a look that I feel reflects my creative vision of a scene better.

Kodak TMax

Now here’s Kodak TMax. TMax I wouldn’t say is the highest contrast film all the time. But it can be in the right lighting situations. TMax is ultimately sharper than HP5.

Here’s another TMax 400 image. See how sharp that is? It’s nuts.

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 has been often compared to Ilford HP5 Plus. But I seriously think that they’re much different films. Where Tri-X I think is designed to have a grittier, grainier look, Ilford HP5 Plus is cleaner and more refined with less contrast. For street work, I seriously prefer Tri-X.

Delta 400

Lastly, let’s compare this film to Delta 400. Ilford Delta 400 I believe to be perhaps the most perfect film for street photography and casual captures. It is gritty, grainy, and contrasty while not going overboard with any of that.

The opinions, I may remind you, are my own. Do I think that some photographers can create beautiful work with Ilford HP5? Sure. But I’m unfortunately not one of them.

Contax T2: The World’s Trendiest Compact Camera?

One of the most popular picks in the compact film camera scene, the Contax T2, has retained its allure almost three decades after being introduced. It was created with the professional market in mind, at a time when the “luxury compact” was in vogue in the 90’s. Its titanium body (for which the “T” stands for), sleek design, handy size, and excellent optics (an f2.8/38mm multi-coated Carl Zeiss T* Sonnar lens) cemented this superstar’s status in the photography world.

In fact, the last ten years or so still saw the Contax T2 being name dropped by international celebrities and celebrity photographers as their compact camera of choice. The latest of them is Kendall Jenner, who whipped out a rare platinum black Contax T2 on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon (photo blogs and groups were quick to slam her for doing photography now but that’s for another story).

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Tap and Dye Releases the LEGACY Shooters Film Pouch for the Analog Photographer

The folks over at TAP and DYE have released something really special for the film photographer out there. They’re called the Tap and Dye LEGACY Shooters Film pouch and it’s a special case designed to specifically hold your rolls of film. The pouch adheres to many of the standards and overall identity of TAP and DYE; and with that said it sports Martexin waxed canvas and oil dyed leather accents. Five rolls of 120 film or 35mm film can be crammed into here.

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Compact Cameras, The Future: A Call to the Camera Manufacturers

Since I have been running this site and doing this job I have watched as the prices for compact cameras have steadily increased into the sort of price ranges usually reserved for collectible cameras. I do feel partly responsible for this as the site helped to popularise these cameras and bring them to new audiences.

But this was also inevitable. These cameras are getting expensive not just because they are more popular, but also because there are fewer and fewer or them available now. Even the younger compact cameras (apart from the Fuji Klasse) are over 10 years old now and they are reaching their performance limits. Basically the cameras are dying and there is nobody that can rescue them.

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Review: Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 Film (Premium)

Before I begin this review of Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film, you should note that this is an addendum to my review on the Phoblographer. That initial review is free for everyone, but this one goes more in-depth and explores my relationship with the film over a period of nearly half a year. I’ve known about the film for a while now and Bellamy has been in constant contact with me about my results. The first time around that I had the development done, the scans weren’t so perfect. Bellamy recommends using Rodinal in its development process.

For that reason, this review is available only to subscribers of this website and can be had for as little as $15/year.

Now onto the review!

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film is an exciting entry into the film photography world. It’s designed for street photography and is also designed to be nice and sharp. For the most part, it really is a sharp film. All of my testing has been with the Hexar AF–perhaps one of my favorite 35mm cameras of all time and perfect for capturing candid moments. So if you’re a street photographer looking to work with something different, then this is probably the film to get.

Street photographers will thoroughly enjoy this film in many situations though if you’re going to work with it, I recommend either:

  • Shooting it then pushing and pulling prints in the darkroom
  • Shooting it in manual mode and exposing your scene accordingly to the Sunny 16 laws of photography.

The big reason for this has to do with scanning. Higher end scanners can basically do what cameras did years ago to create an HDR photo: shoot a perfectly exposed photo, +1, -1, -2, +2 etc. Then it combines the image into a giant TIFF file for you to work with on a computer. but then in that case, you may as well be shooting digital in my personal opinion especially since these scanners use a small sensor typically.

But if you’re shooting Sunny 16 style, then you’re going to work to get it right in the camera in the first place which will result in scans that need little to no work at all.

This goes hand in hand with a few issues that I encountered with the film and using it. I shot a few rolls rated at ISO 400 like the film says. Then I shot one at ISO 800, one at ISO 1600, and one at ISO 200. If you know anything about films like Kodak Tri-X and T-Max, then you know that you can push it and pull it for forever because the film emulsion is just so incredibly forgiving when you work with it. In fact, many photographers that shoot black and white film tend to connote that with all black and white film to begin with. And they’re not wrong–but the best results still come in the darkroom with a solid print involving dodging and burning to get the results that you want.

In my tests, I’ve found that this film likes light–lots of it. In fact, if and when I reload it into my camera again I’m not going to rate it at ISO 400. I’m going to rate it at ISO 200 and perhaps develop for ISO 320. Part of this could be due to the fact that the Hexar AF’s metering system tends to take the highlights in mind knowing that you’ll be able to push the shadows.

As any street photographer knows though, lighting situations can change at a moment’s notice. So you can be shooting at ISO 200, 1/250th and f16 one second then when you walk into the shadow of a building you’ll need to greatly open up that aperture to probably around f4 or f2.8 depending on a number of variables in your scene and when trying to expose for your subject. This is honestly the best way that I’ve found one should use the film.

In all truthfulness, I don’t see this film as competition to Kodak Tri-X, Kodak T-Max, Fujifilm Acros, Fomapan 320, Delta 400, HP5, APX 400, etc. Instead, I see it as a film that can deliver a different look from all of them. Even down to the grain structure, this film looks different. Kodak Tri-X and HP5 tend to have the most pleasing film grain in my opinion but this film here embraces an even more raw and gritty look that a lot of street photographers tend to value. They find it romantic in a way.

There are other variables involved such as who is developing your film. It’s fairly common knowledge that labs tend to put their own subtle twist on how to develop film so that they can keep customers and find a way to stand out from all the rest of the film labs out there. Here in NYC I’ve used Lomography, Color Resource Center, Walgreens and Kubu’s Film Lab most notably and for black and white I tend to want to go to Kubu’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But for Color, I tend to go to Lomography.

When you find a lab that you like, I recommend sticking with it.

Overall though, Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 is a very nice film emulsion. Street photographers are surely going to love it if they enjoy the deep black and white look. For me personally though, I want even more contrast that I believe only chromogenic film can give me. Inky blacks are what I love and they also force me to get my exposures spot on–and that whole thought process is part of what makes shooting film a million times more enjoyable.

If you’re going to use the film, I strongly recommend rating it at ISO 200 and developing for ISO 320–which is a common method used when working with Kodak Portra 400. This film likes a lot of light. So with that said, I really don’t recommend using it for something like concert photography. However, street photography, landscape photography, portraiture, etc are more adequate because the lighting situations are much more predictable and the film is less forgiving than others out there. Ilford Delta 3200 may be what you’re looking for instead when shooting concerts.

Very personally speaking, I’d personally probably reach for this film when shooting street photography though I’m sure that I’d be happier with something like Ilford HP5.

Those are just my findings though.

Review: JCH StreetPan 400 Film (35mm and 120 Film)

Editor’s Note: 11/18/2017: We’ve updated this review to reflect Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 in 120 and 35mm both

It’s rare when a new film hits the market–but it would make a whole lot of sense that someone like Bellamy Hunt decides to create one. Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film is an emulsion available in 35mm and was developed to really be shot in low light situations. In fact, he states that it works best in red lighting. For the casual street photographer, that means sundown as you head out on your commute to go back home at the end of the workday. Beyond this, ensure that the film lab working to develop the film knows what they’re doing.

Born out of a discontinued surveillance film made from Agfa, StreetPan 400 isn’t a respooled film, but one that’s reborn according to Bellamy.

Editor’s Note: My review goes far more in depth in its continued form over at our premium publication La Noir Image. Click here to see it. Please subscribe for as little as $15/year to gain access.

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Japan Camera Hunter Announces JCH Street Pan 400 Black and White Film

JCH-400-3Dbox

Considering that many films are starting to die off these days, Bellamy Hunt wanted to find a way to keep it alive; so he decided to make his own film. In a blog post today, Bellamy announced a new 400 black and white 35mm film. It’s a beautiful film that has a fair amount of contrast and in some ways looks like Kodak Tri-X and Ilford Delta. However, it has a very fine grain to it.

The film is available for pre-order right now; and that’s how he’s trying to raise funds for it vs Kickstarter.

Characteristics are listed after the jump.

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Manufacturers Talk about the State of the Film Photography Industry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Film–the mention of it either makes photographers gawk at it due to antiquation or makes them become stirred with butterflies in the stomach. The use of film has declined steadily as the digital age has progressed, and with that many films have been discontinued due to a decrease in sales. Instead, many tend to look to Instagram and other programs for filters that give digital images the look of film.

With the world moving deeper and deeper into the digital realm, we asked film manufacturers how the industry has changed in the past five years.

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This Diagram of the Nikon F3 Shows its Intricacies

JPH Nikon F3 Diagram

Image by Bellamy Hunt. Used with permission.

Bellamy Hunt, the Japan Camera Hunter, recently published a diagram showing all the parts of the iconic Nikon F3 SLR from way back in the day. The diagram shows just how many parts and pieces went into its design and also show just how intensive it was to design and construct. You can see everything from the shutter unit, how the shutter wheel worked, the pentaprism, tne advance on the film, etc.

Mr. Hunt used the opportunity to tell the story of how he became the Japan Camera Hunter. He notes that it started with the Nikon F3 and falling in love with it. It inspired him so much that he wanted to find these awesome cameras and then re-sell them on the market–which is the bread and butter of his current business. Bellamy does a solid job, and has found things like rare Leica cameras with Nazi insignia.

Head on over to his site to see more of the Nikon F3 Diagram.


Fujifilm to Discontinue Production of FP-100C 4×5 Peel-Apart Film

Fujifilm-FP100C-45-10 Here’s another letdown to film users everywhere. Fujifilm maybe doing the world a lot of good with their X-Series cameras that continue to amaze the photographic community but it seems they’re unwilling to do the film community any favors. They have already announced the discontinuation of production of the beloved FP-3000B 3×4 peel apart films in November and it seems they’re not changing their minds anytime soon, despite protests and a worldwide petition from users and fans. Now, they’ve also just made official the discontinuation of the FP-100C 4×5 film. According to a notice they left tucked away in their Japan site dated February 12, 2014, the “instant color film FP-100C 45 will be discontinued as soon as our inventory is gone.” To defend their decision, they claimed:

Fujifilm has continued to corporate efforts so far in order to continue to provide instant peel-apart type of (peeling method) film, but the demand of the film has been declining every year dramatically, and production in the sales volume of current able to continue is becoming difficult. For this reason, we will terminate the sale as follows of necessity.

What’s worse is Fujifilm is apparently refusing to answer any inquiries on possibly selling the machinery they use to produce the cult favorites. According to Japan Camera Hunter, there have been serious interests from several groups to buy but claims that the company has been hard to reach on the matter. The one good news is the regular FP-100C is not being discontinued, as confirmed in the notice. Well, at least, not just yet.

Via Japan Camera Hunter

Japan Camera Hunter Announces New Soft Shutter Release

DSF2227Rreg

Japan Camera Hunter has released soft release buttons for camera shutters. They come in two colors: black and red, simple and clean. Each release is hand milled and hand painted and for now only made in small batches. These soft releases are made from brass, and over time the paint will wear off revealing a beautiful patina and brassing. The releases will fit into any release screw on any camera that has one (which means loads and loads of cameras).

The first batch sold out immediately. Now releases are pre-order only with 2-3 weeks production time.

Essentials: The Medium Format Beginner

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials Medium Format Beginner (6 of 6)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 4.0

Essentials is a brand new series where we round up specially curated kits for different photographers in different situations. Other items could surely be substituted, but these are what we personally recommend.

Medium Format photography is what many shooters yearn to do. While the digital counterpart is extremely expensive, its film predecessor is probably more affordable than most digital setups overall. An excellent kit can be had fairly cheaply and you’ll be rewarded with images that aren’t totally possible with most digital cameras.

So why make the move to medium format? Besides the obvious benefits of a significantly larger negative area, medium format film blows its 35mm brethren away in terms of not only overall sharpness but also in color depth, tonality, and more. And with the right lighting, it will beat anything that your DSLR might be able to produce.

Ready to take the plunge? Here’s our essential kit for the person ready to step up.

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Japan Camera Hunter Film Case is Now Available in Black, You Can Now Sing Ebony and Ivory

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Not too long ago we reviewed the Japan Camera Hunter film case. Recently there has been an update to the case. After a decent wait the Black Japan Camera Hunter branded film cases are finally in stock. These cases are the same quality as their predecessors. The case still holds about ten rolls of film, which is a better alternative than having ten loose rolls all over your bag. The Japan Camera Hunter film cases are simple and very handy on long days of shooting film. The case fits nicely into camera bags. The film canisters fits in snugly. The case fits well in one hand–making it easy to maneuver in and out of your bag when needed.

The regular film cases are available in the Japan Camera Hunter shop in black and white. You can get there by clicking here. The Bikkuri cases are going to be available soon. You can get them by clicking here. Bikkuri means surprise in Japanese, and each one of these cases is a surprise, you don’t quite know what you are going to get.


Review: Japan Camera Hunter Film Case

We, here at the Phoblographer love film photography. Many of us can be found with SLRs or Rangefinders in our bags along with our digital cameras. This is one of the reasons a few of us know and like Japan Camera Hunter. A great deal of people think Japan Camera Hunter is just about used cameras, but it is about so much more. Bellamy Hunt, AKA Japan Camera Hunter, actually sources, through his connections, cameras and other photographic equipment from Japan to customers around the world. He is also one of the biggest advocates of buying film, not megapixels. When I learned about the Japan Camera Hunter Film cases, my first thought was, “That is brilliant”.

 

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