My Image Stolen By Old Bishop’s Quarters

Governor of Tasmania vice regal residence

Goverment House, Hobart. Rolleiflex 2.8C TLR; Schneider 80mm f/2.8 Xenotar taking lens. Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 black and white negative, in ILFORD ID-11 developer 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C.

I’ve sat on this matter for a couple of years, because Pixsy had been pursuing it on my behalf. But that has ultimately come to nought. So I thought it was time to publicly share the theft of a medium format black & white image I created back in 2012. Instead of involving persons overseas, disappointingly on this occasion, one of my photos was copied and published by a business right here in Hobart: Old Bishop’s Quarters of Sandy Bay. 

The photograph in question, (you can see it, above) is one I was quite pleased with when I took it. It was made at Government House, Tasmania, still the official vice-regal residence, during the Governor’s public open day in 2012.

This photograph was made at the end of the day—after the end of the day, actually, because I was, in fact, the last visitor to depart. I stayed until almost 5pm, patiently waiting until the grounds around the building were finally free of people and vehicles, because I wanted to photograph Government House on black and white film, to try and reproduce what it might once have looked like, 100-plus years ago. I’d like to hear your own thoughts on that, but, personally, I reckon I did pretty well—the fluttering of the state flags of Tasmania in the breeze was the perfect finishing touch, I thought.

I recorded this image on a roll of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 black & white negative film with my 2.8C Rolleiflex twin lens. Being recorded on such a fine grained, high resolution film in medium format, through the superlative Schneider 80mm Xenotar lens of my Rollei, carefully hand-processed in ID-11 developer: it is also an image of considerable technical, as well as aesthetic, quality. The detail visible in high resolution scans of the original negative is phenomenal. 

As you may have gathered, this particular photograph is one that I went to considerable effort to record, and to get exactly right. It’s a photo I remain quite proud of to this day. I’m also indebted to the then-Governor, His Excellency Peter Underwood (sadly, since deceased) and his staff, because without their indulgence I’d have been unable to tarry far later than the official closing time of the event, to get the shot. 

You’ll perhaps appreciate, then, that I was none too pleased a couple of years ago, to discover that the same photo had been appropriated without my knowledge, or consent, by Old Bishop’s Quarters? It had been used on three pages of their website, at different sizes—complete with my original watermarks visible top and bottom, exactly as I’ve shown it, above. You’ll see, below, several screen dumps of the pages of Old Bishop’s Quarters own website, where my photograph was published by them. 

First, however, I’ll make the point (for the benefit of any smart-arse readers who might otherwise be tempted to take me to task for reproducing portions of Old Bishop’s Quarters web pages below), that provisions exist under both Australian law—to wit, the Copyright Act 1968—and international treaties protecting intellectual property, which permit some restricted usage of third party content for certain limited purposes, one of which, is “criticism”. A term that covers this particular post, rather nicely.

Here’s my photograph as downloaded and saved by Old Bishop’s Quarters (it was not hot-linked) to their squarespace server:

Squarespace Server Image File

And here it is on one of the pages of Old Bishop’s Quarters’ site (a page about the “Nil Desperandum Society“, whatever that is):

Nil Desperandum_Resize

Note my watermark: Copyright Brett Rogers 2012 All Rights Reserved. Doesn’t get much more straightforward, does it?

Here it is again on a page they called “Characters”:

characters_Resize

And once more (at the bottom of the page), in thumbnail form:

Historic_Resize

Despite being contacted on my behalf on several occasions by Pixsy, Old Bishop’s Quarters rebuffed all attempts to negotiate payment for the unauthorised use of my photograph. There has been no apology forthcoming from them. Overall, I am very unimpressed that a local Hobart business would breach the copyright of a Tasmanian photographer without even trying to seek their permission to use their photo (which I probably would have given—if they’d actually asked!).

I’m pretty reasonable to deal with, and in the past I have happily permitted my work to be used for various purposes—often, if the organisation involved is a non-profit, for free. Where, however, a person wishes to use my images on a site used for profit-making activities, I expect—and I think most people would agree, that it’s a reasonable expectation—the image user should pay for such usage.

On being contacted by Pixsy, Old Bishop’s Quarters removed my image from their site. Which is not an uncommon scenario. Whether it’s an attempt to cover tracks, or a misguided belief that removing the content expunges a breach of copyright (it does not), infringers tend to often do this. It does not alter potential liability for damages, if usage occurred without the copyright holder’s consent. 

Should you contemplate a visit to Hobart at some point—and I hope you do, it’s a picturesque city with fascinating history—then: if you think that the Arts are a worth supporting; that they enrich society; and that artists, working in various disciplines, deserve fair payment for the value inherent in the art they create; perhaps you’ll be mindful of this post by me, when you’re considering where to stay in Hobart?

Photographing On 70mm Film in 2020

Hasselblad & NASA

I have long held an interest in those NASA space flights that culminated in the Apollo 17 landing in 1972. I never tire of reading and learning about the Mercury, Gemini, and, especially, Apollo programs.

Key to documenting NASA flights were the famous Swedish-made Hasselblad medium format single lens reflexes that accompanied every NASA astronaut into space, beginning with Walter Schirra and Mercury-Atlas 8. In 1962, Schirra took his privately purchased 500C into orbit with him aboard Sigma 7. It was the start of a partnership between NASA and Hasselblad that would endure for decades, and which resulted in some immortal photographs, such as Earthrise, recorded by Bill Anders during Apollo 8, and Neil Armstrong’s first footprint on the lunar surface.

NASA’s space images were not made using Hasselblads loaded with the 120 or 220 roll film today’s medium format photographers are familiar with. Instead, they were recorded on Kodak long roll 70mm film in custom-made magazines, which neatly avoided the complications entailed by astronauts wearing space suits trying to change magazines or reload films every dozen or so frames. By the time Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Sea of Tranquillity in July 1969, their cameras were accompanied by Hasselblad-made 70mm magazines, with rolls coated onto specially-made ultra thin film base for even more images per mag. Earlier this year, I also made my first images on 70mm film using a Hasselblad.

The first 70 millimetre magazines used by NASA during projects Mercury and Gemini were not made by Hasselblad themselves. Rather, they were produced to NASA’s requirements by a Los Angeles-based firm—Cine-Mechanics. If you’re wondering what these earliest 70mm mags might have looked like: they were of substantially shorter length than the later Hasselblad-produced 70mm backs. You can see images of a Cine-Mechanics back that flew on Gemini 7 courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC.

These Cine-Mechanics 70mm magazines used by NASA proved the viability and advantages of 70mm to photographers who needed to make large numbers of exposures for special reasons, even in that most hostile of all environments—Space. It’s not surprising, then, that Victor Hasselblad fully embraced 70mm for commercial applications, and made it an officially-sanctioned part of the Hasselblad system.

Other Early 70mm Users

In the early 1970s, after Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt had left the final human footprints on the Moon, earthbound amateur photographers with ambitions to shoot on 70mm had their work cut out for them. It was never really intended to be the format of choice for recreational photography by the general public. On Earth, it found a niche in imaging genres such as aerial photography (practised both by government/military bodies, or private aerial firms), and large-scale student portraiture. Commercial photography studios also would sometimes shoot 70mm, too. In all these applications, vast amounts of film might be consumed on an ongoing basis, in some cases literally hundreds, or thousands of frames per week.

70mm Was Always Harder For Amateurs

Even with a 70mm compatible medium format camera—a considerable obstacle in itself to many hobbyists, before digital imaging became mainstream around the turn of this century—a means of processing 70mm, (or, at least, getting it processed by someone else) still had to be available locally. Back in the day, many users of 70mm typically machine processed their own films in house. In the case of government or military users, (not surprisingly) this was often for secrecy or security reasons, as much as speed of access, and process control.

Equipment for developing lengths of 70mm film by hand was certainly available to purchase new through the 1970s to 2000s period. But, even at its peak, a 70mm 15 foot tank and reel was never cheap—figures of $200+ have been quoted, as far back as the ’70s—equivalent to nearly $1000 today. Clearly, shooting 70mm as a hobbyist presented certain challenges in its heyday, let alone 30–40 years later. Why use it in 2020? Well, I can only speak to my own motivations.

Using 70mm in 2020—Why Do It?

Several years ago I’d been gifted a sizeable assortment of unwanted photographica. Among all the 8mm and Super 8 cameras, 8mm projectors, and sundry unloved (and largely unwanted) detritus of an earlier age in imaging, there were, still, a few items with enduring appeal. Eg: a Leitz Pradovit 35mm projector; a Linhof copy stand and matching floodlight array for 4×5″ Technikas (goes nicely with my Super Technika III); and a Rollei P-11 6×6 projector. But there was also another item, unusual, and unexpected: a large Kindermann film processing tank, inside of which was an equally large metal reel. By comparing its width to an ordinary 120 developing reel, I quickly realised I’d acquired a fifteen foot 70mm tank and reel. Score! The idea of shooting 70mm had just become a little more tempting.

On 20th July 2019 I saw the outstanding documentary film Apollo 11. After years of collecting books, magazines, DVDs and researching the Apollo program online, it was the extra impetus I needed to take a closer look at the viability of 70mm in 2020.

Fortunately, procuring a camera with which to shoot 70mm was one barrier I did not need to first overcome. I’ve owned a Hasselblad 500C/M for twelve or thirteen years, purchased when the value of professional medium format kit was at an all-time low. One thing I’d never previously looked for, though, was a 70mm film magazine for it.

Certainly, a part of the appeal for me, personally, was emulating the Mercury and Gemini astronauts by shooting 70mm through a manual Hasselblad. (The electric Hasselblads famously used by NASA on the Moon, based on the company’s new 500EL model, modified for space use—simplified, really—were not flown until Apollo 8). But when I discovered the potential for significant cost savings by using certain 70mm films for my 6×6 workflow, instead of 120, I knew I had to give it a try.

After searching for a couple of weeks, eBay eventually turned up a reasonably promising Magazine 70 and, as a bonus, it contained two 70mm cassettes—essential for shooting 70mm in a Hasselblad. Unless, that is, you’re crazy enough to instead consider using a Magazine 70/100, 70/200, or (Heaven forbid) a 500 shot magazine—yes, there was one available! Fortune was on my side because when it arrived, one cassette contained around six feet of (what looked like) Kodak colour negative, just what I needed to test the back. Being of unknown source, age, and type, I didn’t even consider trying to actually use it.

Bottom Right: Hasselblad “Magazine 70” shell. Top Left: Magazine 70 insert with two Kodak 70mm cassettes installed.

Doing Some Basic Film Magazine Checks

Unlike some other Hasselblad mags, Eg. the commonly seen A12—a Magazine 70 won’t cycle unloaded—at least, not unless an internal sensor lever is temporarily taped into position. In any case, I wanted to run some actual film through my new-to-me 70mm mag, so that I could thoroughly check its proper operation, including accuracy of frame spacing. The latter, I verified over the space of ten or so minutes, by tediously firing off one frame at a time, before: inserting the dark slide; removing the magazine to mark the edges of the film gate; and re-attaching the magazine, prior to winding on.

After feeding through the entire strip of old film, the marked frame spacing looked fine. And although a Magazine 70 is fundamentally different to an ordinary Magazine 12 or A12 in many respects, it still shares the standard Hasselblad interlocks that:

  • Lock the shutter release until the dark slide is extracted;
  • Prevent the magazine from being removed, unless the slide is fitted, and;
  • Disable the shutter release, once all the film inside the mag has been exposed.

These all checked out correctly, too.

500C/M & Magazine 70. Also visible, 100 feet of “Rollei 400 Professional” double perforated 70mm black & white (ex-Maco, Germany) & 6 Kodak cassettes: one of which has been opened to reveal an end cap & its film spool.

The only point of concern I noted was that, with the 70mm mag fitted, the wind action was noticeably less smooth than with an A12 back attached, however I’d not previously used a Hasselblad body with a Magazine 70. I let that go for the time being, replaced the light trap seals for the dark slide slot as a matter of course—with an unknown back, you’re crazy, if you don’t—and ordered 100 feet of “Rollei 400 Professional” 70mm black and white, (the most economical 70mm film then-available) from Maco, in Germany.

The Three Basic Types of 70mm Still Film

70mm film for still photography is—or at least, was—available in three basic types: non-perforated; single perforated, and; double perforated. Various camera makers including: Graflex; Plaubel; Beattie-Coleman; Mamiya; Hasselblad; and Linhof, produced cameras and/or magazines able to use 70mm. Not always 6×6 ratio, either—6x7cm was a popular size. Some magazines were “agnostic” and would readily feed through any type of 70mm, perforated or un-perforated without issue. Others mandated a particular type of 70mm. In some instances, they were modified to accept a type of 70mm other than what they had originally been designed to use. As a case in point, Hasselblad mags were occasionally altered to accept non-perforated rolls.

Although Hasselblad’s own instructions stipulated their 70mm magazines could only transport double perforated 70mm, there is just one sprocket in their magazine inserts, for the perforations on one side of the film. Thus, some owners who have tried using single perforated films in them have reported doing so without problems. The Rollei “400 Professional” available from Maco until recently is a dp 70mm—in fact, re-packaged Agfa Aviphot photo reconnaissance black and white negative that has some near infra red sensitivity. After finding myself a few more 70mm cassettes and spools, more than a decade after acquiring my 500C/M, 70mm was finally good to go.

Rollei 400 Professional in Agfa Rodinal

My first strip of film exposed (processed by myself in Agfa Rodinal 1:50) certainly yielded some decent results—in fact, after being shared on Flickr, one image was one of a few dozen featured on the site’s “Explore” splash page that day—always a pleasant surprise, considering the millions of images added to the site every day.

Hasselblad 500C/M SLR; Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8; Rollei 400 Professional 70mm; Agfa Rodinal 1:50 20C/12.5 minutes. Featured in Flickr “Explore” 03/03/2020.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Rollei 400 Professional double perforated 70mm.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1:50 20C/12.5 minutes.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Rollei 400 Professional double perforated 70mm.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1:50 20C/12.5 minutes.

Some Early Teething Problems

My first attempt at using 70mm was not without incident, however as a consistent pattern of light leaking through the wind side film rebate was also apparent when I examined the developed film (see below).

Hasselblad Magazine 70 Light Leak Pattern

The reason for this took some investigating, but I eventually traced it to the magazine wind gear. Comparing the gears visible within the slots inside the mating faces of my 70mm and A12 backs, I noticed a difference between the position of the two. The distance from the bottom of the slot to the edge of the first tooth was 4mm in my 70mm back, and 7mm in the case of my long term, trouble-free A12 mag.

Hasselblad Magazine 70 (top) gear rebate position; A12 magazine appears below.

Hasselblad A12 Magazine (top) gear rebate position; Magazine 70 appears below.

This 3mm discrepancy is significant. The reason a Hasselblad magazine gear has a rebate (or, portion of gear without any teeth) is because that gear does not rotate 360 degrees—it only partially rotates to wind one film frame, after which it is reset to its starting position (as seen in the above images) by a return spring. When this gear is correctly adjusted, the first tooth of the magazine gear always meshes with the same tooth of the drive gear in the camera body that drives it. This is essential for accurate, consistent frame spacing.

As it was re-setting in the incorrect position, the mag gear and body gear would butt the tips of their teeth against each other briefly until they’d move far enough to fall into mesh, rather than meshing sweetly from the start of the wind cycle.

The consequences of this were twofold. Firstly: the additional friction and binding of the gears produced a harsh, un-Hasselblad-like wind action—not good for either body or magazine, long term. Secondly: when winding on, the binding gear teeth created enough pressure to momentarily force the wind side of the magazine away from the camera body. Not by much: maybe a half a millimetre, if that? But it is enough, if the ambient lighting conditions are conducive, to permit some fogging of the adjacent film edge for an instant. Because this occurs each time the camera is wound, it will be a recurring pattern of light leakage.

Hasselblad Magazine 70 Film Advance

The cause of this malfunction is not unknown. A Hasselblad magazine has a nylon stop for the front wind gear. Its function is both to achieve accurate positioning of the gear when it resets after being wound, and—I believe, looking at the concertina-like design of the stop—to provide a shock absorbing function for the magazine gear train. The problem is that, although the gear stop lasts a long time, sooner or later (depending on use, of course) it will need replacement. If not, eventually, the problems I’ve described above may occur. Visible at the top right in the following image, here’s a closer look at that gear stop.

Hasselblad Magazine 70 Gear Stop.

In the screen dump of my scanner preview above, the tell tale repetitive pattern of light leakage that an incorrectly positioned magazine gear will cause is clearly visible. Should one of your Hasselblad backs manifest a similar fault, getting it serviced may well be advisable, but in any case—the gear stop is usually the prime suspect.

It’s worth emphasising that, although a few components a Magazine 70 uses—notably, the dark slide and light trap seals, are shared with other backs, its design incorporates many unique internal parts not common to any of the 120 or 220 Hasselblad roll film magazines. This includes the gear stop, which is different enough to the equivalent part in Eg. an A12 back that they are completely incompatible. Although this article is written with an emphasis on 70mm, you should ensure, if ordering a replacement gear stop, that you use the correct part number for any type of magazine involved.

In hindsight, it’s perhaps not so surprising that I needed to replace the gear stop. Being procured from eBay I know nothing of its history. But although a professionally used Hasselblad magazine may have transported thousands of frames throughout its lifetime—the circumstances in which the use of 70mm was warranted in the first place, dictate that a used mag might have devoured truly colossal amounts of film since new. If you decide to purchase one, you should probably assume it’s more likely to benefit from a service than the average 12-shot magazine—it may be needed.

I’ve got this particular 70mm back working smoothly without light leaks, by removing the stop, cleaning it with isopropyl, and building the tip up by about a millimetre with JB Weld epoxy. This is slower drying than some epoxies, but strong and durable. After curing it overnight under the gentle heat from a desk lamp, I was able to file the epoxy smooth and test fit the stop a couple of times, until the magazine gear was in exactly the same position as that of my A12 back.

The 70mm mag is now functioning correctly, and the camera wind action, whilst very slightly heavier than with the A12 fitted—owing, most likely to the additional drag of the cassette slot seals and longer film length—now feels quite normal. I’ve ordered a replacement gear stop of the correct type for my 70mm back. In the interim, I’m confident the existing gear stop will work well and, due to the care I’ve taken in bonding the epoxy to the original nylon, it should be quite durable. I’ll retain it as a back up after I replace it.

Rollei 400 Professional in Ilford ID-11

After my initial strip of about 24 exposures that I developed with my supply of original Agfa Rodinal (1:50; 20C; 12.5 minutes) I decided to find out how this film would respond to my usual developer, Ilford ID-11. I diluted this 1:3 and gave the film 20 minutes @ 20C. Here are some of the resulting photographs:

Mount Roland, Tasmania.
Saturday 7th March 2020.
Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss CF 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Rollei 400 Professional double perforated 70mm.
Development: Ilford ID-11 1 + 3 20C/20 minutes.

1979 Aston Martin Oscar India V8.
Longford, Tasmania.
Saturday 7th March 2020
Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Rollei 400 Professional 70mm dp.
Development: ID-11 1 + 3 20C/20m. Cropped to 3:2 ratio from 6×6 negative frame.

1979 Aston Martin Oscar India V8.
Longford, Tasmania.
Saturday 7th March 2020.
Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Rollei 400 Professional 70mm dp.
Development: ID-11 1 + 3 20C/20m

What I found interesting about my results from ID-11 is that although tonality is OK, grain seems more noticeable than was the case with Rodinal. The latter is a high acutance developer. Although it can boost apparent sharpness by forming harder grain edges it generally will make film grain more pronounced. Thus, I find it a little surprising that with this particular film, Rodinal appears to produce finer grain than the Ilford. This is the opposite of what I had anticipated.

Back To Rodinal

Overall, I’ve preferred the look of negatives obtained using Rodinal, so, when I processed my most recent frames of 70mm, I reverted back to the Agfa developer. Coincidentally, one photograph from this batch was also selected for Flickr’s Explore feed, when I uploaded it.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 40mm Distagon f/4.
Film: Agfa Aviphot 70mm black & white negative.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1 + 50 20C/13m. Featured in Flickr Explore 19/9/2020.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Agfa Aviphot 70mm black & white negative.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1 + 50 20C/13m.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Agfa Aviphot 70mm black & white negative.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1 + 50 20C/13m.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Agfa Aviphot 70mm black & white negative.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1 + 50 20C/13m.
Cropped to 4×5″ ratio from 6×6 negative frame.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 250mm Sonnar f/5.6 & Teleplus MC6 2x TC (= 500mm).
Film: Agfa Aviphot 70mm black & white negative.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1 + 50 20C/13m.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Film: Agfa Aviphot 70mm black & white negative.
Development: Agfa Rodinal 1 + 50 20C/13m.

Is 70mm Right For You?

If this article has you thinking about trying 70mm yourself, I do have a few observations to make in closing which I hope may help.

Firstly, supply of the film I’ve been using has recently dried up. This is a great pity, because there are few other 70mm options that are fresh, in date stock. Ilford HP5 Plus is one such, it’s a film which will no doubt be familiar to many readers, and its quality needs no elaboration. It’s a double perforated stock. Unfortunately it’s not an “off the shelf” product and needs to be ordered through Ilford’s annual special order program for unusual formats. Prices of 50 foot rolls of HP5 Plus are such that you’d use it specifically because you want to shoot it in 70mm (for whatever reasons are your own), not to reduce costs. Until about July 2020 B & H were clearing some at around USD $100 off (from memory), and, even with that discount, it didn’t actually work out any cheaper than the equivalent number of frames in normal 120 rolls. At full retail price it’s likely to be slightly more expensive, in most markets.

The clincher for me to finally try 70mm was that, when the Rollei 400 was available from Maco, it could potentially work out at half the cost of using 120 rolls of black and white neg. I say, “potentially” because you’ll typically lose around four frames at the start loading a Hasselblad magazine 70, winding it to the first frame, and at least another one or two at the end, if you don’t shoot a whole cassette load at once (with a film base of ordinary thickness you’ll get 70-72 good exposures from a fully loaded 70mm cassette plus leader/trailer). Obviously, if you are of a mind to rattle off 12 exposure strips, you would save little if any money even using a cheaper option like the Rollei, because you’d write off about 6 shots for every 12.

Although (as illustrated above) I am, indeed, fortunate enough to own a Kindermann 15 foot reel and tank that enables me to develop 70-odd frames together—I generally prefer to treat my 70mm supply like 220, and process 23-24 frame lots. If for no other reason than the prospect of having to scan, edit and clean up 70-plus frames at once, does my head in.

I won’t rule out the possibility of pumping out a whole cassettes worth if the circumstances warranted it—after all, a key advantage of using 70mm is the sheer firepower on offer. But for general photography I feel that writing off 5-6 frames to get 24, is a trade off I can live with. If you’re of a mind to remove and fit your cassettes into the mag inside a changing bag, you might cut that wastage down to four frames, possibly.

As it happens, the Rollei is coated on a very thin base. So if I really wanted to, I could probably shoot 90-100 frames at once. The Hasselblad magazine frame counter runs out of steam at 73. But the mag doesn’t care when it stops, and will happily keep on sending through as much film as you can fit inside a cassette.

If you are inclined to give 70mm a try one of your biggest challenges may be finding a reel and tank at a semi-affordable price. But if, like me, you are happy to work with shorter lengths—at least, to begin with—there are ways and means to develop these at little expense. Many years ago I modified a bog standard Paterson 35/126/127/120/220 reel to take 116, a long defunct roll film format. I’d been asked to try and process a roll of it which had turned up inside the camera of a late relative of the person who sought my assistance. At it happens, 116 was the same width as 70 millimetre, simply, in a shorter length, with a backing paper, (and never, ever, any perforations).

To handle this request, I’d custom spaced the two halves of a Paterson reel slightly further out than the standard locking channels fix them for 120/220. I secured the halves at the correct distance from each other expediently with a short self tapping screw. Having plenty of Paterson system tank parts and accessories, I found it easiest to lock the halves together around a tank core. But if you use a very short self tapping screw you can set a reel correctly for 70mm by itself. Here’s a lousy phone photo of my hacked reel, next to another one set to the ordinary 120 position.

Paterson reel modified to take 70mm alongside a standard reel.

Although more commonly used for developing 12 exposure rolls of 120 in 2020, a Paterson reel will fit a whole roll of 220. Ie 24 6×6 exposures or equivalent 645/6×7 etc. (or 2 x 120 rolls back to back if you’re inclined to, which I’ve often done). Hence 23-24 70mm 6×6 frames can easily be developed using a modified Paterson and standard System 4 or Super System 4 tanks.

Finding Out More

I’m indebted to Dan and Cal, two members at Rangefinder Forum who laid much of the groundwork for starting off with the Rollei 400 70mm. Dan in particular is a 70mm maven who has accumulated a vast amount of expertise in different types of 70mm stock, magazine options and has a mouth-watering collection of medium format cameras with which to shoot the format. He is absolutely the vanguard for 70mm still imaging in 2020, and has written much about it at RFF which you may read here, and you may see his photographs, and images of some of his 70mm cameras and accessories in his Flickr portfolio.

WORDS & IMAGES COPYRIGHT 2020 BRETT ROGERS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The author of this material prohibits any use of it, for any purpose, whatsoever (unless permitted by law, Eg criticism), without the express, written, consent of the copyright owner.

Citroëns At Ross

In July 2020 my wife and I made a weekend trip to the Tasmanian regional city of Launceston. One of the reasons we took the trip was so that we could take in a display of classic Citroëns at Ross in central Tasmania on the Saturday.

Ross is situated less than a kilometre off the main highway between Hobart and Launceston, and it’s a popular stopping point for visitors to Tasmania and locals alike. It’s one of the prettiest little villages in the state, and, being located roughly halfway between the two cities, is conveniently placed for morning and afternoon tea breaks, or lunch stops at either of its two (very good) bakeries.

The town’s main street is a delightful avenue of 19th Century and early 20th Century buildings, and there are enough of them that one may still get a real sense of what it must have been like to live in the village 100 years ago or more. It’s one of my favourite places in Tasmania, and I love breaking any trip through the midlands to take a walk through town with a camera or two.

Ross Post Office
Rolleiflex 2.8C TLR.
Schneider 80mm Xenotar f/2.8.
Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 120 black & white negative.
ID-11 1 +3 20C/16m. Cropped to 6×7 ratio from 6×6 negative frame.

An old Holden workshop in the main street; now, re-purposed.
Minolta SRT 101 35mm SLR.
Minolta 58mm Rokkor f/1.4
Ilford Pan F Plus ISO 50 black & white negative
Ilford ID-11 1+3 20C/15m.

Ross Uniting Church
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super BC 35mm SLR.
Carl Zeiss 35mm f/3.2 Pro Tessar.
Ilford Delta 100 35mm black & white negative
ID-11 1 + 3 20C/20m.
Cropped to square from 35mm negative.

Most tourists visiting Ross make a beeline to its convict-built keystone arch bridge. It’s an exquisite example of precision stone-masonry complete with decorative carvings across its arches, and is one of the oldest surviving bridges in Australia.

Ross Bridge Carvings
Hasselblad 500C/M.
Carl Zeiss 250mm Sonnar f/5.6 & Vivitar MC6 2 x TC (500mm f/l).
Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 120 black & white negative.
Ilford ID-11 1+3 20C/20m.

When we arrived at Ross, the Tasmanian winter light was kind to me and the array of Citroëns on hand in the village centre did not disappoint. Representatives of various models from the 1950’s to almost the current day were present, including a handful of examples of their immortal D Series in various specifications. I’d brought several 35mm and medium format cameras with me, and a few types of film.

I immediately noticed an opportunity to photograph a couple of cars in decent settings without too many spectators nearby. Experience has taught me that if you are at a public display of collectable cars or bikes and a clear shot presents itself, it’s usually prudent to seize that opportunity while it’s there.  So I grabbed my Hasselblad, (which was ready to shoot with a partly exposed roll of Ektar 100), and promptly did a few hand held images with its Zeiss 80mm Planar, while I had the chance: starting with this beautiful red and silver 1974 D Special (I’m assuming, by the way, that it’s a 1974 model; it has the late door handles, and 1974 was a bumper year for Specials in Australia).

1974 D Special
Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.
Cropped to 3:2 ratio from 6×6 negative.

This was followed by some images of a 1972 DS23 Safari. Like nearly every 23 Safari you’ll ever see in Australia, it’s got the conventional manual column shift transmission; only a very few hydraulic transmission Safaris ever came into Australia (all privately imported, if my memory is correct).

1972 Citroën DS23 Safari
Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.

My attention was subsequently drawn to a lovely red D Series featuring the front styling the series debuted with in 1955. This front fender design is rarely sighted anywhere today, let alone on the road. (Their re-styled second front is overall, fairly similar, if not as well known as the final re-style from circa ’67 featuring that fabulous self-levelling and directional lighting array—in most cases, at least)

1960 ID-19 Parisienne
Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.

It turned out to be one of what is now a vanishingly rare D variant: a 1960 Australian-made ID-19 Parisienne— imported into Australia in CKD form, and assembled at Heidelberg in Victoria for a few short years. Running Parisiennes in good roadworthy condition are probably in single figures today—possibly, they can even be counted on one hand. A rare D, indeed.

Pre-dating the D series in Citroën’s model timeline is the Traction Avant. The first Tractions appeared well before WW2 but were so successful they remained in production well into the 1950s. Many (though, not all) of the Tractions you may see in Australia are the “Light 15” right hand drive specification, and were produced by Citroën’s manufacturing facility at Slough in England. This particular car is one such.

Citroën Traction “Light 15”
Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8.
Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.

Subsequently I was able to set up my Linhof tripod, and do a few images using the Zeiss 250mm Sonnar on the 500C/M, including another of that ’74 D Special.

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Lens: Carl Zeiss 250mm Sonnar f/5.6.
Film: Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.

 

Citroen D Special

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR. Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8. Film: Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.

 

John's DS23 Safari

Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR. Lens: Carl Zeiss 250mm Sonnar f/5.6. Film: Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative. Cropped to 645 ratio from 6×6 negative.

Here’s a final image looking back along the road towards the Ross bridge through the town square and its war memorial. A couple of Ds and a Traction may just be seen pointing their unmistakable fronts into frame left.

 

Ross Square & War Memorial
Hasselblad 500C/M SLR.
Carl Zeiss 250mm Sonnar f/5.6
Kodak Ektar ISO 100 120 colour negative.

ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT 2012–2020 BRETT ROGERS—ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.
THIS MEANS THEY MAY NOT BE USED ONLINE, IN PRINT, OR IN ANY OTHER MANNER, WITHOUT THE WRITTEN, EXPRESS, PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNER. 
INFRINGERS OF MY RIGHTS WILL BE PURSUED TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT AVAILABLE UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW.

KW Praktina FX 35mm SLR Review

KW Praktina FX with waist level finder & Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f/2 Biotar.
KW Praktina FX fitted with waist level finder & Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm Biotar f/2 lens.

Last year I was fortunate to acquire a pair of KW Praktina FX 35mm SLRs at a bargain price via a local eBay listing. These relatively rare East German-made SLRs, (not to be confused with the similarly named Praktica brand) were made in Dresden in the former DDR by Kamera Werkestätten. They were conceived from the outset as a part of a camera system for professional use, one that was quite impressive for its time (well documented at Albert Taccheo’s excellent site dedicated to the Praktina). Some accessories available for it included: interchangeable waist level or pentaprism viewfinders, and focus screens; bulk exposure magazine backs for up to 450 exposures, and; what was said to be the world’s first motor drive unit for a single lens reflex (spring-powered, originally, later, an electric version).

Although certain products from the former DDR could, at times, have variable quality control or reliability (some, but not all, Prakticas of certain vintages are a case in point) it’s still unfair to tag the entire output of what was once a global powerhouse of photographic equipment with this trait. Some of history’s finest cameras and lenses were manufactured in or around Dresden and Jena, before or after World War II—Exakta SLRs and the great Zeiss Contax rangefinders being just two examples. The Praktina may have been an Eastern Bloc product, but it’s a solidly built one with heft to match the best competitors from Nikon or Canon. It’s also a beautifully finished one, whose weight denotes the use of some high-grade metals in its interior. That it also possesses the tactile qualities one comes to associate with high-end German cameras, will therefore be no surprise to those who have experienced them. But let’s look at a few aspects of this apparent quality, beginning with its unique lens mount.

The Praktinas rivals from its own homeland, the Ihagee-made Exakta and the Zeiss Ikon Contax S/D SLRs, both worthy, ground-breaking designs themselves, employed bayonet and screw thread lens mounts, respectively. Each of these cameras definitely have their good points, but from personal experience I can confirm that, like others of its type, the Exakta bayonet mount can certainly wear after extended use. This will adversely affect accurate lens register and hence, focus accuracy. The so-called “Praktica”, or “Pentax” M42 screw mount—in reality, first used in the afore-mentioned Contax S—is self adjusting to some extent, but fell out of favour with professional photographers, being neither as convenient nor as rapid as a bayonet type when changing lenses. But there is yet another way of securing a lens to camera. Siegfried Böhm, designer of the Praktina, chose the “breech” system of mounting its lenses. This uses a rotating collar to lock the rear of the lens to the camera body flange just as rapidly as a bayonet, but unlike those, it’s a design that neatly sidesteps any chance of wear by eliminating any sliding motion between the mating surfaces. It’s what causes play to develop in a bayonet system.

Praktina FX with waist level finder & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm f/2.8 Biometar.
Praktina FX with waist level finder & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar f/2.8 lens.

A breech mount was subsequently used by Canon in their FD-FL manual focus SLRs, and it might possibly have been inspired by the Praktina SLR that preceded it. That it is also a feature of Praktisix/Pentacon Six medium format SLRs should not be surprising, as they were designed by Siegfried Böhm also. Clearly, Böhm was motivated to improve on what he saw as certain deficiencies in contemporary camera design, but his drive to make a superb professional SLR went much deeper than its external features.

Though firmly wedded to the use of a focal plane shutter—as was fitted to most types of camera originating from Dresden—unlike most period focal plane shutter designs, the various speeds of the all-new mechanism were set with only one dial. Most other makes needed two controls—a main dial for faster speeds, and a separate one for the delay speeds, (which normally would be used only after setting certain times on the main control). Shutter speeds could also be selected before or after cocking the Praktina shutter, without risk of damage to its internals—something which often wasn’t the case with other period makes of camera. And unlike many cameras of the time with focal plane shutters, the Praktina speed control ring didn’t rotate when the shutter actuated, avoiding the risk of an exposure being ruined by an unwary photographer’s fingers fouling the spinning dial and retarding the second curtain. Design features that are all taken for granted today, but they were cutting edge at the time.

Praktina FX with waist level finder & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm f/2.8 Biometar.
Praktina FX with waist level finder & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar f/2.8 lens.

One of my Praktinas came fitted with the optional waist level finder, an attractively styled item that does its job of excluding light from the focus screen efficiently, and which has a good magnifying lens, but it’s not until you’ve finished using your Praktina that you realise just how clumsy the viewfinders of most other period cameras are in comparison. For instance, an Exakta waist level requires the magnifier, sides, and back each to be folded, individually, before closing the front, otherwise the finder will not collapse correctly. If you force an earlier Praktica FX or FX2/3 viewfinder closed without stowing the magnifier first, you’ll deform parts of it and it will then not work correctly or look right. Gently fold the front of the Praktina finder rearwards, and it just neatly tucks away the magnifier and closes—that’s it. Hasselblad for one could have learned from this. Attention to detail is apparent in the design of the Praktina everywhere you look.

The self timer gives a standard delay of around ten seconds, but has no release switch. If you arm the lever, the timer begins to run as soon you let it go, but still boasts a neat feature. Soon after you set it off the mirror will retract, but, there’s a short interval before the shutter fires. In the interim, the usual SLR mirror-induced vibrations can subside. And if you prefer to employ a cable release, moderate initial pressure on it will also fire just the mirror, enabling shutter alone to be actuated at your discretion. Such features may never be used by some photographers or only rarely by others. But if you’re seeking maximum possible sharpness in your images, they definitely will help. It reveals just how well thought out Böhm’s new camera was.

Viewfinders can be interchanged in seconds. By sliding a lever underneath the lens (which, to the uninitiated, seems to be the lens lock), hooks on the lugs at the front of the various Praktina viewfinders are engaged or released. Finders are secured when the letter “Z” is visible next to the lever (as seen in the image below). With the lever set to “A” (see the image after it) they remove towards the rear. It’s probably the strangest location for a viewfinder release that I’ve ever seen but it’s secure and is easy to use (once you’ve worked out what it is!). Once you have removed the finder, changing the focus screen is also easy. Sliding two small metal clips away from the sides of the screen and inverting the body drops it out for cleaning or replacement (which is just as quick and simple). For an SLR conceived in the early 1950s, it’s impressive stuff.

Praktina FX & Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f/2 Biotar bottom plate & motor drive coupling.
Praktina FX & Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f/2 Biotar. Coupling for motor drive or rapid winder is visible near the wind lock release button.

My Praktinas
I was fortunate to acquire a pair of these beautifully made German cameras a couple of years ago for around AUD 65.00 (about USD 50.00 at the time). They are both the FX version (there is also a later “IIA” version of the Praktina, which offers automatic aperture stop down with certain lenses). One was fitted with a Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f/2 Biotar lens and waist level viewfinder. The other, with a CZJ 80mm f/2.8 Biometar and an interesting, but entirely non-standard, pentaprism that seems to have been fabricated from the top cover and prism of a Praktica Nova (but which still works well). Each body was also fitted with a genuine Praktina rapid winder attached to the motor drive socket in the bottom cover, and these accessories are said to be reasonably uncommon. I felt it all represented exceptional value for the money. Perhaps you’d agree.

Praktina FX & Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f/2 Biotar with accessory rapid winder fitted.
Praktina FX & Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f/2 Biotar lens with two accessory rapid winders, one fitted to the body.

Neither body was fully functional as acquired, but they did not need much work to run well. The shutter spindle springs had lost a little tension as the speeds were somewhat slow, but happily they required a minimum of adjustment to the spring tensioners. I say “happily” because making substantial changes to curtain spring tension is likely to result from overlooking mechanical issues elsewhere which really should be sorted, in the interests of long-term reliability. Prior to this the mechanism also benefited from some general cleaning and lubrication, not at all unreasonable, given the intervening six or so decades since these one owner cameras had been manufactured.

Praktina FX with home-made (?) pentaprism grafted from Praktica Nova components, & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar f/2.8 lens.

Working on them was not especially onerous. Like certain 1950s Prakticas that followed them (and which were possibly inspired by some of their design cues?) Praktinas have a detachable film rail plate. Removing this provides much improved access to shutter spindles without the full disassembly needed to attend to, for instance, most Japanese 35mm SLRs. Access to other parts of the mechanism such as the mirror actuating system—which features a fascinating cylindrical part that looks like a cross between a sleeve valve and a camshaft—is then also possible, though cramped. In conjunction with the removal of their lower covers, I was able to make each example run nicely at their various speeds with little difficulty as films subsequently run though them attest.

The Praktina FX In Use
Having explored some of the more interesting design features of this German SLR you’ll probably want to know what it is like to actually use. Below are some observations, however you should know that I prefer using fully manual mechanical cameras without any electronic automation or autofocus for general imaging. If you’re accustomed to newer film cameras with more automation, you may take a little while to adapt to one, but it’s definitely worth perservering, because overall I have found the Praktina way to be a very enjoyable imaging experience.

On loading a film, you’ll find that the camera back is a fully removable type with no “hinge” on its wind side. Instead, the body and its cover are shaped to securely retain the cover without one (in this regard, the Praktina and Praktica FX models have something in common, if little else). As with many of the best German classic cameras, the back excludes light without any of those pesky foam seals often used by Japanese manufacturers, which are generally a gooey, crumbly mess nowadays. The back is latched into place on the rewind side via a metal locking plate that isn’t sprung, but, when it’s set, it snaps into position with a firm click that assures you it’s secured.

Winding on the film leader you might notice an odd trait. Unlike nearly every other 35mm SLR mechanism, (which will normally actuate the film advance and cock the shutter before lowering the reflex mirror), the Praktina actually reverses this. At first, the knob glides easily for a fraction of a turn to lower the mirror, then, the loadings from the shutter springs and film advance kick in and the wind action firms up. It’s a slightly unusual variation to the norm, but an inconsequential one—as long as you ensure the knob is fully wound to complete the cycle, of course.

DSCF0620
Praktina FX; waist level finder; Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm Biometar f/2.8.

A Praktina feels good to hold. The aperture and shutter controls are easy to use and precise in touch. Personally, I find the angled release button falls to hand very easily, but where a shutter release ought to live can sometimes be a polarising subject—you may feel differently about that. The shutter speed control deserves special mention, as it would seem possible to vary shutter speeds between the marked full stops—at least in the escapement range, I detected changes in the times between the marks. The dial can also be turned “around the clock” from B to 1⁄1000 or vice-versa and, as previously noted, you don’t have to worry about remembering to set the shutter speed (or not) prior to winding on—something you can’t always say about other 1950s cameras. It all makes the imaging process a fuss free one, and you get a sense that the Praktina is on your side and working with you, not against you.

Focusing is trouble free by the standards of the day. That’s not a euphemism for a dim, squinty viewfinder either. At the time, Germany led the world in honing the single lens reflex configuration to—if not perfection—at least a pretty respectable standard of imaging prowess. I’ve had no problems focusing either of my Praktinas in a range of light levels including moderate indoor lighting but I also like ground glass focus screens. These are as good as any others I’ve looked through and they also have a decent split rangefinder, so in summary a Praktina viewfinder is unlikely to give you too many difficulties, and by way of comparison it is streets ahead of a lot of period Exaktas I have used.

Praktina FX & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm f/2.8 Biometar with viewfinder removed.
Praktina FX & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm f/2.8 Biometar with finder off. Clips for focus screen are visible at top & bottom of screen.

Perhaps the above should say “a Praktina reflex viewfinder is unlikely to give you too many difficulties” because—most unusually—a Praktina has two viewfinders: a conventional reflex viewfinder, and also; a fixed focus optical finder. The latter is designed to cover the same field of view as a 50mm lens such as the Zeiss Tessar. But by framing moderately tightly it’s close enough to sub for my 58mm Biotar reasonably well, so I use the optical finders of my examples from time to time, mostly when I also have the waist level finder fitted to whichever Praktina I’m shooting with. Naturally, it comes into its own when making a portrait orientated image with the waist level mounted. By pre-focusing on your subject with the waist level magnifier before rotating the Praktina 90 degrees and framing though the optical finder, images can be framed without the challenge of trying to align an upside down, reversed image through the reflex finder (and, having actually done this with various waist level finder-equipped 35mm SLRs, given the choice, it’s a no-brainer). On those occasions one needs to observe the image as it is being recorded the optical finder is also a boon. It’s a quirky feature, but also a useful one, and offhand, the only other SLRs I can recall having it are the rare, highly collectible and expensive Alpas formerly made by Pignons of Switzerland. Some of those even had fully coupled rangefinders as well as reflex focusing and unsurprisingly, I’d love an Alpa, one day. The Praktina optical finders eyepiece is visible in the picture below, just to the right of the rewind knob.

Praktina FX with pentaprism & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm f/2.8 Biometar.
Praktina FX with pentaprism & Carl Zeiss Jena 80mm f/2.8 Biometar.

To date, the only aspect of imaging with a Praktina that has given me any grief has been the gear ratio of its film advance. I’m used to winding on all manner of manual film cameras and in the course of shooting hundreds of films, I’ve only ever ripped the end of a film off its spool a couple of times, until I got my Praktinas. But I’ve pulled three films out of their canisters with only moderate force on their wind knobs. On at least one occasion, I was winding on quite gingerly near the end of a roll, and still managed to rip it off the spool. I have to assume the gear ratio to the wind sprocket is especially low. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s more important than usual to: (A) remember to reset the Praktina film counter during re-loading; (B) keep a very close eye on it, when the end of a roll is approaching; and (C) wind those last couple of frames on very gently! The last roll I exposed in one was rewound without incident.

Those who have not experienced a pre-1960s 35mm single lens reflex before might be perturbed, on taking their first image with a Praktina, to find that the reflex mirror doesn’t return automatically after exposure. Instant return mirrors were still in the future at the beginning of the 1950s. In this respect the Praktina is on par with Exakta, Contax, Contaflex and even 1950s Hasselblad SLRs (the latter would not get an instant return mirror until the release of the 500EL some years later). The Praktina fares better than most SLRs of the time, because at least the optical viewfinder enables you to “see through” your shot if you need to, but it’s still as well to wind on promptly after each exposure in sunny conditions. With the reflex mirror retracted, its fabric second curtain is as vulnerable as that of a 35mm rangefinders. Except for a Contax rangefinder, of course. 😉

Conclusion
My Praktinas were won on eBay after they were listed by a local seller and I placed a few snipes. I knew a little about them but had never seen one in the flesh. Prices vary all over the place, (as do opinions about their reliability which has been faultless, in my experience). As a rare camera—certainly, they’re rare in Australia—and one with shiny Carl Zeiss Jena aluminium bodied lenses, at that, they’ve got a certain appeal that I, personally, find very hard to resist. But I had no pre-conceived ideas about what they’d be like to photograph with and frankly, I bought them more out of curiosity than anything else. So I’m delighted to say I’ve found them to be examples of that rare thing: a camera that exceeds your expectations. My pair have become two of my favourite SLRs, because they’re so rewarding to actually use. It’s hard to put a finger on a particular reason why. Perhaps it’s the feeling of solidity and sensation of innate quality imparted by them? Certainly, their tactile appeal is substantial, but this alone is not enough to justify regular use (well, not to me). Any camera can never be better than the lenses for it. As well crafted and tactile as a Praktina undoubtedly is—a quality camera is made for only one purpose—recording images of excellent technical quality. Here, the true appeal of a Praktina becomes apparent, because a range of lenses in its breech mount were produced by Carl Zeiss in Jena, and at the time their lenses were probably as good or better than anyone’s regardless of country of origin. On that note, here are a few photographs made with my Praktinas and their Zeiss 58mm f/2 Biotar and 80mm f/2.8 Biometar lenses.

Hops Fields Bushy Park
Hops Fields, Bushy Park, Tasmania. KW Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2. Fuji Acros 100 35mm black & white negative in ILFORD ID-11 1 + 3 @ 20C/16 minutes.
Bushy Park Oast House
Oast House, Bushy Park, Tasmania. KW Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm f/2.8. Film & processing details as above.
Oast House Bushy Park
Oast House Bushy Park KW Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm f/2.8. Film & processing as above.
Pond and Oast House Derwent Valley
Oast House & Pond, Bushy Park, Tasmania. KW Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2. Film & processing as above.
Honda Super Sports
Super Sport. KW Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2. ILFORD Pan F Plus black & white negative in ILFORD ID-11 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C/15 minutes.
Victoria Dock Hobart
Victoria Dock, Hobart, Tasmania. Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm f/2.8. Film & processing details as above.
Mt Wellington From West Hobart
Mount Wellington, Tasmania. Praktina FX. Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm f/2.8. 35mm film frame cropped to 6×12 panoramic ratio. Film & processing details as above.

You can see more of my photography in my portfolio at Flickr, and I have a Facebook Page which you are welcome to Like.

All Text & Images Copyright 2016 Brett Rogers—All Rights Reserved.

Camera Repair Articles

I’m a member of the Film Shooters Collective, an international group of photographers who image with film. At the behest of its founder and guiding force, Cameron Kline, I recently penned a series of articles about getting started in camera repair. The series is in four parts: you will find them via the following links.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

I hope you find them interesting and informative, and perhaps, if you have an interest in older film equipment like myself, they might just encourage you to take on a few basic repair jobs for yourself. 🙂
Cheers,
Brett

Inside Government House Tasmania

On Thursday 18th February 2016 I was privileged to return to Government House Tasmania at Queens Domain, Hobart—this time, as a member of a small tour group. I’d been previously advised that on the day, photography was not only permitted, it was encouraged. I thought this was a splendid prospect.

Whether Government House staff anticipated the likes of myself would arriving armed with 2 x Minolta SRT101 35mm SLRs, a Hasselblad 500C/M medium format SLR, and a 2.8 Rolleiflex TLR, might be “dubious”. 😉 But as there were no stipulations as to precisely how much photography could be undertaken I decided to come (over?) prepared, with the hope of doing a reasonable enough job of making some decent images to do a photo essay of the experience. Readers will have to judge the success of this for themselves, of course—but here are the results as the majority of images below, were, indeed, made on that day. I have also included a few made by me during previous visits to Government House.

Governor of Tasmania vice regal residence
Government House Tasmania, Queens Domain, Hobart. Image Details: Circa 1955 Rolleiflex 2.8C twin lens reflex (Schneider 80mm f/2.8 Xenotar taking lens); Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 black & white negative film (developed in ILFORD ID-11 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C/16 minutes).

As a frequent visitor to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens adjoining Government House,  Tasmania’s Vice-Regal residence had long interested me from afar, both as a photographer and as someone who has an active interest in local history. But it remained tantalizingly out of reach until I eventually visited it for the first time about six years ago, during one of the Governor’s public open days.  It exceeded my expectations in every way, and ever since I’ve taken advantage of any opportunity I can get to return. Externally, the House is a fine example of 19th Century stone masonry on a commanding scale. Its setting adjacent the River Derwent around ¾ mile from Hobart’s centre is spectacular, as is its extensive garden.

Government House Hobart Quarry Pond
Pond, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1971 Zeiss Ikon Contaflex S 35mm SLR (Carl Zeiss 85mm f/4 Pro Tessar lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 35mm black & white negative film (developed in ILFORD ID-11 @ 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C/20 minutes).

Subjects for photography are positively abundant. The garden pond by the main drive (seen in the above image) was formed from the quarrying of stone used in the construction of Government House. The pictured dinghy was hand crafted out of Celery Top, a native species of Tasmanian timber.

But today, the House is still the principal residence of Tasmania’s serving Governor and his or her family, and most parts of it remain strictly off-limits to the general public, even on public open days which take place once a year or so. I therefore determined to make the most I could of this rare opportunity to discover the secrets of those parts of the House hitherto out-of-bounds to most of us.

In the first image, you will see an archway beneath the clock tower. This forms the main entrance portico off the turning circle, in the centre of which is an ornamental fountain. As you enter the turning circle, you pass a beautiful trio of native birds set in bronze to your left. I always assumed the sculptures were of Tasmania’s unique, (and, most regrettably, extinct), species of emu, but I’ve since been advised by the Head Gardener, Mr Steve Percival, that they are actually brolgas, not a species endemic to Tasmania—which makes them a curious choice of ornament—but no less photogenic for all that, to my thoughts.

Brolgas, Government House Tasmania
Brolgas, Government House Tasmania forecourt. Image Details: Zeiss Ikon Contaflex S (Carl Zeiss 50mm f/2.8 Tessar lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 (details as above).

Moving through the portico and up the steps through the main door one sees a foyer with stair case and classic furniture. On my first visit to Government House in 2010, a beautiful Steinway piano was on display in the foyer. It belonged to Mrs Frances Underwood, spouse of His Excellency the Honourable Peter Underwood AC, Governor of Tasmania 2008–2014. My camera that day was a Rolleicord Va TLR loaded with Ilford Pan F Plus ISO 50 black and white negative film. I was permitted to use a small tripod and cable release, without which the following image could not have been recorded, due to the metered exposure time of 30 seconds.

Steinway Government House Tasmania
Steinway Piano, foyer, Government House, Tasmania. Image Details: Rolleicord Va twin lens reflex (Schneider Xenar 75mm f/3.5 lens); ILFORD Pan F Plus black & white negative; (developed in ILFORD ID-11 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C/15 minutes).

Our tour guide on 18th February this year was Tasmania Police Inspector Glen Woolley (retired). He was ideally suited to show us through due to his extensive knowledge of the House and its history. Under his supervision, we were able to take a look through many parts of the house off-limits to most visitors. After a walk around the outside of the House we re-entered via the flower room to inspect the kitchen.

As might be expected, Government House has a modern kitchen equipped to cater for various functions such as formal dinners for dozens of guests. I’d brought with me a couple of rolls of Kodak’s classic Tri-X black and white film, in 35mm—along with a pair of equally classic 35mm Minolta manual focus SLRs (their ground breaking SRT101 model) specifically for some indoor images, but I still had a few frames of ILFORD Delta 100 black and white left on one roll. With no tripod to hand, the following two images were still able to be recorded hand-held, at ISO 100, thanks to the fast 58mm f/1.4 Rokkor lenses worn by the Minoltas—although, owing to the need to set them wide open, at some expense to depth of field.

Government House Kitchen, Hobart, Tasmania.
Kitchen, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT-101 35mm SLR (Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 lens); ILFORD Delta 100 black & white negative (developed in ILFORD ID-11 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C/20 minutes). Hand held, available light only.

Despite the presence of modern appliances, there were still a few signs of fittings originally installed for earlier Governors’ convenience. One feature I spotted was this gear drive for what may have been a 19th Century rotisserie. According to the details engraved in its face, it was supplied by: W. Jeakes, 51 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London.

Detail, Rotisserie, Kitchen, Government House, Hobart.
Detail of 19th Century rotisserie in kitchen of Government House, Tasmania. Image Details: Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 lens); ILFORD Delta 100 (details as above).

From the kitchen we were able to traverse the main corridor at basement level. This was also the location of a set of remotely actuated bells connected to various rooms above, from whence the Governor and other members of the Vice-Regal household might summon the staff.

Servants Bells, Government House
Page bells, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 58mm f/1.4 lens); ILFORD Delta 100 (details as above).

A small vault in the basement serves as a repository for the Vice-Regal silverware.

Silver Room, Government House Hobart
Silver vault, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT-101 35mm SLR (Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 black & white negative (exposed at EI 1600, developed in Ilford ID-11 @ 20C).
Silver Room Government House Hobart
Silver vault, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT-101 (Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 at EI 1600 (details as above).
Government House Roof,  Hobart, Tasmania.
Rooftops, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 58mm f/1.4 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 at EI 1600 details as above).
Chimney Pots, Government House, Hobart.
Chimney pots, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor 58mm f/1.4 lens); Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 1600 (details as above).

After viewing the silver vault we ascended stairs through several levels. Along the way a few windows provided glimpses of acres of the beautiful slate roof and the many chimney pots, individually carved in different styles, that we’d be able to admire from atop the clock tower. To reach the top, first we had to go through the clock room containing the clock mechanism.

Mechanism, Clock Room, Government House, Hobart, Tasmania.
Mechanism, clock room, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Minolta Rokkor MC 28mm f/3.5 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above); Camera supported on railing, fired with self timer for long exposure of approx one second.

Towers provide a convenient frame for those portions of the city of Hobart not hidden beyond the trees. Even further afield you can just see Australia’s first legal casino, Wrest Point, rising from the west bank of the River Derwent at Sandy Bay.

View To Hobart From Government House Clock Tower, Hobart, Tasman
View to Hobart from clock tower, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 28mm f/3.5 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above).

To the west the lower slopes of Mount Wellington may be seen beneath the cloud cover beyond the main driveway to the House. An unobscured view of the mountain would have been the icing on the cake so I may have to contrive another visit at some stage.

Flag Tower & View To Mt Wellington, Government House, Hobart, Ta
View of flag tower and Mt Wellington from clock tower, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 28mm f/3.5 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above).

To the south the River Derwent lies beyond even more chimney pots and spires. I had high hopes of the Government House rooftop being ideally suited to black and white film photography, but it exceeded all my expectations and then some.

View of River Derwent From Government House Clock Tower, Hobart,
View of River Derwent from clock tower, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 28mm f/3.5 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above).

Here’s another view of the fountain in the main entrance forecourt from an altogether different vantage point.

Turning Circle & Fountain, Government House, Hobart, Tasmania.
Forecourt fountain, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 28mm f/3.5 lens); Kodak Tri-X 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above). Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 1600 @ 20C.

The following image may be my favourite from the day. Tri-X can be a little “flat” in D-76/ID-11 at its “box speed” of ISO 400—but I love the tonality it can give when pushed a stop or two, and Government House has some of the finest views of the River Derwent in Hobart.

Government House Roof & View to River Derwent, Tasman Bridge, &
Government House Roof & View to River Derwent, Tasman Bridge, & Eastern Shore, Hobart, Tasmania. Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR. Minolta Rokkor MC 28mm f/3.5 lens. Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 1600 @ 20C processed in ILFORD ID-11 developer. Cropped to 6 x 12 panoramic ratio from 35mm negative frame.

All too soon it was time to descend the many stairs to ground level and take a look inside some of the stables. These 19th Century stone structures look to be in excellent original condition with their period slate roofs complementing those of the House.

Government House Stables, Hobart, Tasmania.
Stables, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 58mm f/1.4 lens); Kodak Tri-X 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above).
Government House, Hobart_Stable Stall,  Hobart, Tasmania.
Stables, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1966 Minolta SRT101 35mm SLR (Rokkor MC 58mm f/1.4 lens); Kodak Tri-X 400 exposed at EI 1600 (details as above).

After seeing the stables our visit concluded with a stroll though the hedge towards the House before we departed via the main gates. It seems fitting to end this article with a view back to the clock tower from which some of my favourite photographs from the day were taken.

Garden Arch & Clock Tower Government House Tasmania
Clock tower, Government House Tasmania. Image Details: 1971 Zeiss Ikon Contaflex S 35mm SLR (Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm f/2.8 lens); Kodak Tri-X ISO 400 film exposed at EI 400 (developed in ILFORD ID-11 at 1 + 3 dilution @ 20C/20 minutes).

My thanks to Her Excellency, Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania, her Official Secretary, Mr David Owen and the Government House staff, for their kind permission to tour the House. My thanks also to retired Tasmania Police Inspector Glen Woolley for showing me through the House and gardens.

All Images and Text Copyright Brett Rogers 2010–2016. All Rights Reserved.

If you’ve enjoyed these images, please like my Facebook Page or visit my Flickr photostream, to see more of my work.

Nant Distillery Tour

On Saturday 5th March 2016 I made my first trip to Bothwell in some years in order to visit Nant Distillery, makers of fine Tasmanian single malt whisky.

Nant is located just a few minutes drive from the centre of Bothwell. On arrival the first thing I spotted was a classic MG TC, arguably, the definitive British sports car.

MG TC
MG TC. Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS 35mm SLR. Lens: Asahi Pentax Super Takumar 35mm f/3.5. Film: Fuji Acros 100 silver halide black & white negative in ILFORD ID-11 @ 20C/16 minutes.

Luckily for me the current owner of the MG returned to the car as I was taking some shots of it. During our conversation he informed me that this particular TC was once owned by Australian artist Clifton Pugh. It’s in original, unrestored condition.

MG TC
MG TC. Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS. Lens: Helios 44 58mm f/2. Film: Fuji Acros 100 (details as above).

Nant is situated in what was originally a mill complex constructed from the early 19th Century. The mill building today remains in good condition and retains an original water wheel that, according to the name on its side, came from R Kennedy & Sons, Hobart. With its adjacent millpond sourcing its water from the Clyde River, idyllic is perhaps the first word that comes to mind to describe the setting in which Nant makes its whisky today.

Acros 100 009
Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS. Lens: Helios 44 58mm f/2. Film: Fuji Acros 100 (details as above).
Mill Pond
Mill Pond, Nant Distillery. Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS. Lens: Helios 44 58mm f/2. Film: Fuji Acros 100 (details as above).
Water Wheel, Nant Distillery
Water wheel, Nant Distillery. Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS. Lens: Helios 44 58mm f/2. Film: Fuji Acros 100 (details as above).

By the pond I found a vintage Churchill pram parked on the lawns unattended (it was unoccupied). I’m not sure why it was there, but it’s not something one sees every day in 2016, and seemed a good subject for black and white—so I did the obvious thing any black and white photographer would do.

Churchill Pram
Churchill Pram, Nant Distillery. Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS . Lens: Helios 44 58mm f/2. Film: Fuji Acros 100 (details as above).

Tours of the distillery and mill building are available on a daily basis. For $25.00, with tastings of several of Nant’s single malts included at the end, doing one sounded like pretty good value, as well as an opportunity to do some imaging of the mill interior.

I’d planned for such a possibility on the day and had some faster black and white film than I typically use on hand—Ilford’s Delta 3200 in 120 (medium format). After taking a few meter readings inside the mill with my Minolta Auto Meter, I calculated that I’d have enough light get away with rating the Delta at Exposure Index (EI) 3200, and loaded it into my Hasselblad 500C/M medium format SLR. Our guide on the day was Grace, one of Nant’s team of friendly, helpful staff.

Nant Distillery Tour Guide (Grace)
Grace, of Nant Distillery in Bothwell, Tasmania. Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M SLR. Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8 Film: ILFORD Delta 3200 silver halide black & white negative exposed at EI 3200, developed in Kodak HC-110 developer @ 20C.

As I’d hoped, the interior of the mill, repurposed as a repository for oak barrels of single malt proved to be ideally suited to a few frames of black and white. By selecting a shutter speed of 1/60 or 1/30, I was (just) able to ensure images made with the Hasselblad hand-held were acceptably sharp. As is usually the case shooting hand-held in lower light conditions I made the most of whatever depth of field was available with the lens open, or nearly so.

Nant Distillery
The Mill, Nant Distillery. Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M. Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8. Film: ILFORD Delta 3200 (details as above).

Nant mature their whisky in a range of barrels previously used for maturing red wines such as pinot noir, or those for fortified wines like port or sherry, and also bourbon casks. These all impart their own characteristics into the whisky, and during the after-tour tasting it was interesting to compare the effect that the choice of barrel had on its contents. My own favourite was the Port Cask.

Nant Distillery
Single Malt Casks. Camera: Hasselblad 500C/M. Lens: Carl Zeiss 80mm Planar f/2.8. Film: ILFORD Delta 3200 (details as above).

Near the end of the tour I was able, with the aid of a convenient dividing wall, to stabilise my Icarex 35mm SLR sufficiently to use its self timer for a vibration free half second exposure on the roll of slower Fuji Acros 100 black and white loaded in it. Acros is a non-starter for hand-held indoor imaging, however its superb reciprocity characteristics make it an ideal choice for longer exposures, indoors or outdoors—providing a tripod is able to be employed. In front of the window in the far wall, the gear shaft driven by the water wheel has been recorded in action.

Acros 100 013
Mill Interior & Gear Shaft. Camera: Zeiss Ikon Icarex 35CS. Lens: Helios 44 58mm f/2. Film: Fuji Acros 100 (details as above).

You’ll find Nant Distillery at 254 Nant Lane, Bothwell, Tasmania, and can contact them on 1800 746 453 or visit their website at: www.nant.com.au

Text and Images Copyright Brett Rogers 2016. All Rights Reserved.

If you’ve enjoyed these images, please like my Facebook Page or visit my Flickr account to see more of my work.

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