Last Saturday I was at Thessaloniki (Greece) to see some friends. A great city for taking images. At the past I used to do a lot of street photography but lately I prefer to take specific images of subjects that caught my attention. I wanted to travel light since I was going to walk a lot, so only took the Sony NEX 5 (with the 16mm e-mount lens and the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1) and the Plaubel Makina 67.
As I have mentioned many many times the Makina is a fantastic travel camera. Small and thin (for a 6×7 camera) and with superb image quality. When folded you can walk all day with it and it balances great. Unfold it, take the shot, fold it and you continue walking. Being a rangefinder I can focus easily even when there’s low light. The f2.8 lens together with the Kodak Portra 400 (the new film that replaced the VC and NC versions) allows for available light photography so you can also get some good images even at night.
What I really like with a medium format camera is that’s it’s normal lens is 80mm. On a 6×7 camera that means that you have an all around 40mm equivalent lens but with the depth of field of an 80mm. So, you get a normal focal length for almost any kind of photography but you can also shoot close at f2.8 or f4 apertures and you instantly also have a fantastic portraits lens or experiment with limited depth of field photos.
The Nikkor 80mm f2.8 is not the sharpest lens around (the Mamiya 7 80mm holds the title for sharpness) but it has a more subtle look which is perfect for example for portraits. Stop it down at f8 or f11 and you get the maximum quality and plenty depth of field for travel images.
On my last post I wrote about shooting a limited number of frames when shooting film. Since film costs money you get to be much more careful and selective about what you shoot, so you end up with a very good percentage of keepers. The proof of that I only shot a roll of film during my trip (10 frames). I had taken with me about 20 rolls of different films which if you think about it is too much and also take valuable space in my bag. I should probably limit the amount of rolls to four or five but there’s a catch, there are very few shops that sell medium format film today, so carrying more films than I would probably need is a must. I have figured out that for my style of photography the Portra 400 together with Delta 3200 (for low light) is all I need. For daylight black and white film, I always choose the Kodak TRI-X (and you can always push a roll of a TRI-X at 1600 ISO with great results if you need to).
It’s really strange how I can make all day images with a ISO 400 film and only miss a few, but when I have the digital camera with me I “demand” crazy ISO perfomance like 6400 !!
Anyway, the Plaubel Makina 67 will remain my companion for travel photography for a long long time (probably until they cease film production !!)
Here are the images, all taken with the Makina 67 and Kodak Portra 400 (the panoramic image is actually a crop of the 6×7 negative, so you can even do panoramic shots with the Plaubel, and despite the crop I have printed the specific image 45cm wide with no problem at all. There’s always enough megapixels on a medium format frame to do anything you want to !!)
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