Kodak Portra 400 – Minolta Dynax

The camera included pre-programmed settings for portrait, landscape, night portrait, macro, and sports, despite its simplistic description.

Only a few months ago, I purchased my Minolta at a cancer charity shop in my local town. I paid less than £10 for it. I took the below photos using it, with a roll of Kodak Portra 400. I scanned the images with a Canon 8800f.

Minolta announced the Dynax 40 in 2004 as a basic consumer-level 35mm film SLR. It was marketed as the Dynax 30 in some countries. It was also known as the Maxxum 50 in some other countries. All done to confuse us, I’m sure
Minolta – Portra 400 – “The Chair” – © Narrating Images – Christopher G

Minolta announced the Dynax 40 in 2004 as a basic consumer-level 35mm film SLR. It was marketed as the Dynax 30 in some countries. It was also known as the Maxxum 50 in some other countries. All done to confuse us, I’m sure!

The camera included pre-programmed settings for portrait, landscape, night portrait, macro, and sports, despite its simplistic description. Aside from these convenience options, the photographer can select aperture priority, shutter priority, or fully manual mode. Amazing technology for such a basic entry-level camera.
Minolta – Portra 400 – “Condensation” – © Narrating Images – Christopher G

The camera included pre-programmed settings for portrait, landscape, night portrait, macro, and sports, despite its simplistic description. Aside from these convenience options, the photographer can select aperture priority, shutter priority, or fully manual mode. Amazing technology for such a basic entry-level camera.

The flash is synchronised at 1/90sec, and the shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/2000 seconds. Aside from the main flash, the camera has a little pop-up flash also.
Minolta – Portra 400 – “The Entrance” – © Narrating Images – Christopher G

The flash is synchronised at 1/90sec, and the shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/2000 seconds. Aside from the main flash, the camera has a little pop-up flash also.

It was usually sold with the AF kit lens 28-100mm f/3.5-5.6, which I got. It's a little soft on the edges, but nothing I can’t crop out in Capture One.
Minolta – Portra 400 – “The Window” – © Narrating Images – Christopher G

It was usually sold with the AF kit lens 28-100mm f/3.5-5.6, which I got. It’s a little soft on the edges, but nothing I can’t crop out in Capture One.

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

Medium Format Photography

Its rumoured that a Bronica Medium format camera from the 1960s, was used on the Apollo mission – it can be also converted into a digital camera – not that I can see why you would want to do this. I love the classic analogue look film creates.

I’ve been shooting with 35mm point-and-shoot film cameras for most of my life. I remember as a boy sitting with my dad in his loft, watching him develop his rolls of 35mm film. So I have a long affiliation to film. However, when I had the opportunity to acquire a Bronica, a Medium format camera, which I found in a local Charity shop, I jumped at the chance – for me Medium format is the next obvious step. After all, the image quality of Medium format cameras is a major advantage; whether they are film or digital!

When I had the opportunity to acquire a Bronica, a Medium format camera, which I found in a local Charity shop, I jumped at the chance

As you may know, the 120 film size has traditionally been used in Medium format photography. It’s much larger than the 35mm film format I grew up with. It is the foundation of modern digital photography today. Similarly, the sensors in Medium format cameras are much larger than the 35mm full-frame standard. One of the other advantages is most older vintage lenses can be made to work on new digital cameras, as a full-frame sensor is roughly the same size as a single frame of 35mm film.

Medium format cameras aren’t just known for their image quality; they’re also known for being ‘system cameras.’ This means instead of a single camera body, they are modular, made up of different pieces. This is what enables the conversion of old obsolete Medium format film cameras to digital. As different lenses, viewfinders and digital-backs can be fixed to most Medium format systems – depending on your preferences. I prefer the waist level prism viewfinder. To me, it adds a more classic and authentic field of view.

While there are certain specialist digital Medium format cameras, such as the Fujifilm GFX 50R, Medium format film cameras can easily be converted into digital cameras. This is done by simply replacing the 120 film magazine on the back with a ‘digital back’; all thanks to their modular construction. This is simply a digital sensor that fits into the space where the film holder used to be.

Its rumoured that a Bronica Medium format camera was used on the Apollo mission – it can be also converted into a digital camera – not that I can see why you would want to do this. I love the classic analogue look film creates.

While there are certain specialist digital Medium format cameras, such as the Fujifilm GFX 50R, Medium format film cameras can easily be converted into digital cameras.

Some camera manufacturers like Fujifilm, have added more megapixels also, as much as 100MP in some of their models. Fujifilm have even used larger sensors, creating an even greater image resolution. The 51MP GFX50S for example is approximately 1.7x bigger than a full-frame sensor they originally made. You get much bigger and better quality photographs using a Medium or Large format camera, compared to 35mm film.

Images taken using a Medium format camera differ slightly from those captured with a full-frame or a crop sensor camera. Most photographers agree the images look so much better, yet I’m sure the average person just viewing say your holiday snaps would notice little or no difference.

Medium format cameras do have the disadvantage of being big, heavy and sometimes fragile. They also get lots of attention, most times I’m using it someone will approach me, and ask questions about it. One disadvantage, is they do have a much slower burst rate, and less advanced focusing technology. This I understand could be restrictive in some circumstances.

Medium format cameras do have the disadvantage of being big, heavy and sometimes fragile

Medium format cameras are mostly used in advertising, portraits and fashion photography. But I use them more for Landscapes, as the slower style of shooting and depth of field, works better for my style, than say faster Street photography. A Medium format camera is used to shoot the bulk of magazine covers today. When working in a studio, image quality is obviously so crucial. A Medium format camera’s image quality, such as its sharpness and depth of field is a massive benefit.

I must stop waffling and dribbling over my passion for Medium format camera. I’ll post some images and write more about my experiences with my Bronica Medium format camera soon.

Any questions, drop me a line!

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

Zenza Bronica Cameras

The Shinkodo Works built its first handmade Bronica prototype in June 1956

If you follow me on one of my social media sites, you’ll know how excited I was when I discovered an old Bronica Medium format camera in a local charity shop.

Zenza Bronica was based in Tokyo, Japan, and was a maker of vintage Medium-format film cameras and photographic equipment. In the Medium-format camera market, their single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras competed with the likes of Pentax, Hasselblad, Mamiya and others.

Zenza Bronica was based in Tokyo, Japan, and was a maker of vintage Medium-format film cameras and photographic equipment. In the Medium-format camera market, their single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras competed with the likes of Pentax, Hasselblad, Mamiya and others.

Originally the Zenza Bronica name had been a popular Japanese luxury goods brand. They specialised in the production of decorated personal accessories, such as metal cigarette lighters and cosmetic compacts and watches. This was way before the introduction of the first of what would become a dynasty of Zenza Bronica cameras in 1959.

For many years, Bronicas were the workhorse photographic film cameras used by professional photographers until overtaken by digital photography. Bronica cameras are still widely used by both professional and advanced amateurs today. The 120 size film is also still being made, owing to its superior image quality, compared to smaller 35mm films.

For many years, Bronicas were the workhorse photographic film cameras used by professional photographers until overtaken by digital photography. Bronica cameras are still widely used by both professional and advanced amateurs today.
Zenza Bronica ETRSi Camera – © Christopher G – Narrating Images.

Zenzabur Yoshino, the company’s founder and source of the Zenza Bronica brand name, was the third son of a Japanese rice trader family. From an early age, Yoshino had enormous respect for the technology used by other world-famous camera manufacturers, such as Leica, Contax and Rollei. Yoshino dreamt of creating a high-precision interchangeable single-lens reflex modular camera system, using his own design. This was partly due to his fascination and increasing frustration with the limitations of the cameras produced at the time.
Yoshino’s dream would require a significant investment, which he self-funded, using his family’s transportation business. His passion for photography started with the opening of a modest camera store in Tokyo’s Kanda area. Yoshino’s camera business, as well as his extensive knowledge of premium foreign equipment, was a major hit with Japanese photography aficionados. They bought and sold luxury Leica and Contax cameras – these were also popular with US Army servicemen stationed in Japan after WWII. This provided the financial foundation for his business.

Yoshino authorised the Shinkodo Works to commence research and development of the Bronica prototype camera on January 17, 1952.

Yoshino authorised the Shinkodo Works to commence research and development of the Bronica prototype camera on January 17, 1952.

The prototype was a ‘Yoshino Flex’, a modular camera. The Shinkodo Works built its first handmade prototype in June 1956, and by the time Yoshino’s eighth prototype camera was perfected in October 1958, the development costs had topped 200 million Yen, a massive sum at the time! The final prototype, known as the Bronica Z film camera and bearing the name ‘ZENZA BRONICA’, debuted at the Philadelphia Camera Show in March 1959. It received incredible reviews by industry press, leaving a long-lasting impression of being the world’s best camera. The Bronica Z modular camera system, later renamed the Zenza Bronica D and successor Bronica’s, were instant successes in the deluxe camera market worldwide. They used large Medium format film and high-quality Nikkor lenses supplied by the then Japan Optical Industries Ltd. The Bronica D was Japan’s first response to the Swedish Hasselblad cameras, outperforming them in key technological areas.

They used large Medium format film and high-quality Nikkor lenses supplied by the then Japan Optical Industries Ltd. The Bronica D was Japan's first response to the Swedish Hasselblad cameras, outperforming them in key technological areas.

Bronica’s design success attracted famous professional photograohers, from the photographic world, including Burt Keppler, who met with Yoshino. Bronica did later develop their own optics and lens modules, including Seiko shutters in later camera designs, and owned the international patent rights.

Bronica was eventually acquired by the lens manufacturer Tamron Ltd. Bronica’s optical lens manufacturing was highlighted in 1998. Tamron released the RF645 rangefinder camera under the Bronica label in May 2000. Between June 2002 and December 2004, Tamron discontinued the brand’s single-lens reflex camera models (ETRSi, SQ-Ai, SQ-B, and GS-1) due to a loss of market share to digital photography and digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.

Sadly Bronica’s final model, the RF645 rangefinder camera, was withdrawn in September 2005, therefore ending the brand’s existence.

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

Colour Chrome Effect

The development of Colour Chrome Effect is derived from a reversal film: fortia.

My stunning XPro-3 and I think all ‘newer’ Fujifilm X-Trans IV sensor cameras, have a ‘Colour Chrome Effect’ feature. If you have had the chance to shoot with the XPro-3 or say GFX, then you already know the effect from your hands-on experience.

©Fujifilm

The Colour Chrome Effect was created from a reverse film: fortia. In 2004, the film was released with the slogan “Higher contrast and vivider colour than Velvia”. The film was limited in production, so while many people talked about it, very few actually got to see it.

Fortia was highly praised by the enthusiasts. Many people asked us questions such as “How can I adjust the setting to make it look like fortia?” and “If you set Colour +4 Velvia mode, will it become fortia?”

©Fujifilm

Despite all your efforts in Velvia mode it will not turn into fortia. To begin with, the ideal colour reproduction is different. Reversal colour film has one characteristic: the tonality is maintained even in high contrast areas. Fortia images are not saturated, and the colour still achieves depth even when the contrast is greater than Velvia.

Fortia had a very limited run. This was due to the perception that this film was only useful in specific situations. In the digital age, the low saturation and high contrast characteristics of fortia are essential. We had to attempt fortia to replicate Velvia, PROVIA and ASTIA.

©Fujifilm

High brightness is a way to express colours like yellow, orange, yellow or yellow-green with high contrast. Tonality is impossible when brightness and contrast reach their maximums. The image will become very flat as a result.

The sensor surface can be detected by analyzing the light and the information it receives. However, there is a slight gradation. Colour Chrome Effect creates tonality and high contrast using this technique. This allows for images to be created without losing their depth.

This effect is universal. The difference is visible in both sRGB and Adobe RGB users. However, there is a side effect. You will need to have processing power. The X-Processor Pro takes about 1.0 seconds to process. To process the Colour Chrome Effect. This is fine if you only use the Colour Chrome Effect for a single shot. You can’t shoot continuously, or set the camera to AF-C.

Fujifilm suggests that you disable the feature when shooting and turn it back on when you are processing raw files in-camera. The XPro-3 has the ability to output Super Fine JPEG and TIFF. The XPro-3 can convert raw files directly from the camera and then use your Mac or computer to edit the final image.

Fujifilm asked the Colour Chrome Effect creator to show Fujifilm how he replicated the Colour Chrome Effect using image processing software. He replied, “Yes, but it would take an hour for me to complete each image.” I need to be able to identify the sensor characteristics for each image.

©Fujifilm

The film simulation is not the final touch to the colour, according to the image design team. Every photographer wants a different color. If a few clicks with the camera can save you an hour of labor, you may as well take advantage.

Fujifilm hopes to make film simulations perfect so that editing is not necessary. However, if that means only a starting point it is perfectly acceptable.

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images.