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01-09-2011, 02:32 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Little MX, big viewfinder

I wanted to put some thoughts jotted down now, after getting some satisfying shots out of the MX, and while waiting for a new-to-me K20D body to be delivered -- by which I mean, before the upcoming new-toy digital phase.

Whenever I've been shooting digital, as I was over the holidays for various reasons, picking up one of the better film bodies seems almost like learning to breathe again. The world slows down, and I'm at peace with it. That probably has a lot to do with the subjects that seem to invite film use, but I also associate it with being given a big, clear viewfinder and having chimping taken away, which absolutely changes the process. Not to shoot and then verify (or hope) that a good picture resulted, but to compose, evaluate, move around, check depth of field, think about how the light falls, adjust the framing ... and to know, at the moment the button is pressed, what is being recorded. Plus for presbyopic folks like me, it's nice to avoid the irritation of having to repeatedly screw your vision up close to look at a screen in your hands, zoom in on this bit and then that bit., ... is it sharp enough?... hmm, maybe better do it again....

Rather: a long look, some personal involvement in the scene ... hold your breath ... squeeze the shutter release, and walk away satisfied. It just seems like a good Tao-ish discipline to observe, at least whenever circumstances allow it: drink in what you find, experience it richly, and don't feel you have to keep reliving it, groundhog-day-like, until you get it right.

Again, these are reflections on the eve of a digital upgrade, which will have its own sort of charm and usefulness. But I want to remember what there is to keep coming back to.

Surely it's not just me - when you pick up a film SLR for the first time in a little while, does it make you sometimes wax philosophical too?


MX, A28/2, YA2 orange filter, Fomapan 200 film, xtol 1:1

01-09-2011, 05:21 PM   #2
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Great thoughts and nice shot!


I am curious about the Fomapan 200. It looks a lot like the results I was getting from Rollei Retro 80s but with a speed boost. It is hard to tell from your photo, but what are its grain characteristics?


Steve
01-09-2011, 06:30 PM   #3
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+1 --- That's a very nice meditation and a really fine pic of the leaf... I shot a roll through a Yashica T4 which I'll develop in the next day or two, I haven't seen the new formulation yet of the 200.
01-09-2011, 07:38 PM   #4
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You're absolutely right.
Also +1 for Foma 200. It's one of my favorite emulsions.

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01-09-2011, 09:31 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I am curious about the Fomapan 200. It looks a lot like the results I was getting from Rollei Retro 80s but with a speed boost. It is hard to tell from your photo, but what are its grain characteristics?
QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
+1 --- That's a very nice meditation and a really fine pic of the leaf... I shot a roll through a Yashica T4 which I'll develop in the next day or two, I haven't seen the new formulation yet of the 200.
This isn't the new formulation. It's a bulk roll I picked up around the time of the announcement that it was discontinued, and before hearing that it would be made again.

Foma 200 is (or at least was?) a hybrid or mixture of T-grain (a la TMax & Acros) and conventional emulsions. Not as smooth maybe as a straight T-grain, but just enough grittiness for a nostalgic feel, and lots and lots of dynamic range. I've grown rather attached to it. You can be aggressive with unsharp mask as with the leaf, and it blooms into nice detail, or back off and let it be satiny.

These are from a Foma 200 roll pushed to ISO1000. (Davina and the Vagabonds, a very fun blues band from Minnesota)

LX, A-star 85/1.4


LX, K50/1.2


LX, K50/1.2

Last edited by Sluggo; 01-09-2011 at 09:45 PM.
01-10-2011, 07:02 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sluggo Quote
You can be aggressive with unsharp mask as with the leaf, and it blooms into nice detail, or back off and let it be satiny.
That is one of the best sentences about digital 'printing' - it contains so much information and direction - Yes!
01-10-2011, 06:02 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sluggo Quote
...
Rather: a long look, some personal involvement in the scene ... hold your breath ... squeeze the shutter release, and walk away satisfied. It just seems like a good Tao-ish discipline to observe, at least whenever circumstances allow it: drink in what you find, experience it richly, and don't feel you have to keep reliving it, groundhog-day-like, until you get it right.
...
If you think a MX is soothing, you should try a Mamiya m645 with a waist level finder sometime. There is nothing else like it on earth.
01-10-2011, 06:25 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve Beswick Quote
If you think a MX is soothing, you should try a Mamiya m645 with a waist level finder sometime. There is nothing else like it on earth.
I find a laterally reversed image unsettling, and a PITA to work with.

Chris

01-10-2011, 07:41 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I find a laterally reversed image unsettling, and a PITA to work with.

Chris
I did at first as well, but after a while it became natural to me.
01-11-2011, 08:34 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve Beswick Quote
If you think a MX is soothing, you should try a Mamiya m645 with a waist level finder sometime. There is nothing else like it on earth.
I really liked the 6x7 Viewfinder The S2 one as well.
I like non reversed viewing.
01-13-2011, 12:41 PM   #11
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quick question regarding viewfinder size. My ME and ME super's have GIGANTIC viewfinders. My minolta maxxum 7000 also has a big viewfinder, but seemingly noticeably smaller than the Pentax's. I've played with a canon 5d and its viewfinder didn't seem nearly as large. My buddy was asking how this could possibly be, so I come to you guys looking for an answer
01-20-2011, 10:09 AM   #12
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I expected somebody would reply to this by now. Viewfinder design should be a straightforward science, but there are sometimes surprises as you say. Not to go too far off topic I hope, but I just did an upgrade on the digital side - from K100D to K20D - and part of the reason was to get a better viewfinder. That was a jump from pentamirror to pentaprism, and it was a real difference. The view through the K20D is better than I had thought possible from an APS-C format SLR. I'm perpetually behind the times of course. Common part of the film-guy personality matrix, eh.

The prisms themselves vary in design, as do the focus screens and magnifying lenses. Probably it all matters. I don't have a better answer.
01-21-2011, 04:44 AM   #13
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The MX viewfinder is indeed a work of art. The ME's are great, especially considering that camera's target market, but the MX's VF in the only one I can confidently use the ground glass (ie, the entire finder, not just the split/microprism,) to accurately focus.
01-21-2011, 02:50 PM   #14
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IMO the shutter speed display intruding well into the normal viewing area spoils an otherwise excellent finder.

Chris
01-21-2011, 03:47 PM   #15
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I'm no photographer and in my vast (ahem!) experience of some 60 potshots (I really can't call them 'compositions' given the cack-handed way I go about pointing a camera and hoping for the best) I seem to have to make a deliberate effort to focus on that intruding shutter speed display (absolutely no doubt about it, it definitely projects in to the field of view, I just don't notice it).

This may well be because I only pay attention to what appears in the middle of the viewfinder!
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