A rose in black and white

The image below is one my favorites, although I don’t usually make images of flowers. This is the reason I still shoot black and white film. I find the tones and the transitions from shadows to highlight very different from my digital images. Also, since 35mm film cameras are full frame, I can get closer to the subjects with lenses like 50mm and create a more narrow depth of field.

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(Leica M7, Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.5, Efke 25 film)

As you can see, the bokeh of the Nokton 50mm f1.5 is not the best one. It’s kinda harsh and sometimes distracting, but overall it’s a fantastic lens at a fantastic price (at least when it was sold new, since it has been discontinued). The newer Nokton 50mm f1.1 also suffers from harsh bokeh, so if a totally smooth background is a must, one has to invest to either the pricey Summilux 50mm or the Zeiss Sonar f1.5 (for a 50mm lens that is).

I prefer to stick with the Nokton 50mm f1.5, since it’s an all around lens with extreme sharpness and great image quality.

About the film, it’s the Efke 25. A very slow (ISO 25) old technology emulsion which produces very distinctive, vintage look images. It’s inferior to more modern film like Delta 100 or TMAX 100, but I use it precisely for this old look, which when combined with older lenses (like the Leica Elmar 50mm collapsible for the 1950’s), gives you great results.

I haven’t been able to develop this film properly with my favorite Ilfotec DD-X developer (the times I have found on the Internet are not giving me good results), so I use the TMAX developer. Normally it’s 4 minutes developing at 20C, but I which is considered a “too fast developing” but since now I didn’t have any problems with that, the negatives come out just fine.

Because of the low 25 ISO, I can use a 3 stops ND Filter and shoot at wide open apertures even at a bright sunny day. (the ND is required since the max shutter speed of the M7 is 1/1000). I have used the Efke 25 with my medium format cameras and, as expected, the results are even more impressive, with gorgeous tone transitions.

It’s a great film to try if you don’t mince it’s slow speed.

(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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