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

Fujifilm Medium Format

Fortunately, one of Fujifilm’s goals was to make digital Medium format photography more accessible

Sadly I don’t own a digital Medium format camera. I do however own a Bronica, which is an analogue (film) Medium format camera. Bronica went out of business in the late ’90s, due to the popularity of digital. However both formats produce stunning images; but I appreciate I can’t really compare digital and analogue…..

Fujifilm was a latecomer to the digital Medium format market, yet they have not only caught up with their competition but have established themselves as a front-runner, thanks to their comparatively frequent product launches. Fujifilm’s GFX Medium format system was launched in 2016 with the GFX 50S, and since then, they have released four more versions – way more than any other brand.

Fuji, if you’re reading this, any chance I could borrow one?

Fujifilm was a latecomer to the digital Medium format market, yet they have not only caught up with their competition but have established themselves as a front-runner thanks to their comparatively frequent product launches.

Fortunately, one of Fujifilm’s goals was to make digital Medium format photography more accessible and announced their first camera would be available for less than £10,000. However, with the latest GFX 50 S ll body-only priced at just £3500, the secondhand value of their previous models has crashed. This did have a good impact on the Medium format market as a whole, and has made the older Fujifilm bodies particularly affordable; for some! I’m still going to have to stick with my X-series cameras!

Fujifilm has two options really, a 50MP or 100MP model. If 50MP is sufficient, you can choose between a DSLR-style body in the S series or a flat-topped rangefinder-style in the GFX 50R. To put this into perspective, my X-Pro 3 is ‘only’ 26MP. In either case, you’ll get a Medium format camera with current menus and none of the lags or sluggishness that most other used Medium format cameras have. Whether you choose 50MP or 100MP, you’ll get superb image quality, as well as amazing and varied colour adjustments that allow so many Fujifilm photographers to shoot JPEG-only.

Fujifilm’s GFX Medium format system was launched in 2016 with the GFX 50S, and since then, they have released four more versions - way more than any other brand.

Fujifilm GFX50R is perhaps the best Medium format camera for the money.
I like its size, small lens and the fact it has a flip-out back screen. Something the X-Pro3 does not have. Let’s also not forget the 3.69 million-dot viewfinder. Some say the autofocus isn’t as fast or as accurate as more recent models, and the sensor’s read-out speed makes the silent mode unworkable for fast-moving subjects, but the image quality looks excellent and the camera is, like all Fujifilm cameras, simple to use.

As enticing as the GFX 100's 100MP is, the GFX 50R is my favourite among the versions most likely to appear on the secondhand market right now.

As enticing as the GFX 100’s 100MP is, the GFX 50R looks like my favourite among the versions most likely to appear on the secondhand market right now. I appreciate the interchangeable viewfinders and handling of the GFX 50S, but the GFX 50R’s smaller proportions make it a better fit for my street, travel, documentary style of photography. One of the biggest reasons I got an X-E4 as a backup to my X-Pro3. The GFX is also well-suited to studio work and pretty much any other type of photography really; albeit its flat top means it doesn’t look as stylish as the GFX-50s. I hope that makes sense?

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

7artisans 50mm F1.8 Manual Lens

The build quality is actually very good, remember it was only £70.

I have always been a bit of a glass snob, preferring Fujifilm’s lenses, or other prestigious brands like Voigtlander. However, with an almost endless stream of inexpensive third party lenses for Fujifilm cameras coming on the market, I thought I should swallow my pride and try one. So when I spotted the 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 lens on Amazon for less than £70 (about $95) I knew it wasn’t really the biggest gamble of my life!

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is a manual prime lens, which on a Fujifilm X series camera is the equivalent to about 75mm full-frame. It's very small, not quite a pancake lens.

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is a manual prime lens, which on a Fujifilm X series camera is the equivalent to about 75mm full-frame. It’s very small, not quite a pancake lens. It does not need an adapter, which was something that appealed to me.

The build quality is actually very good, remember it was only £70. The focus ring is very smooth, but it does lack a ratchet-like aperture ring that clicks; something I dislike. But over time, I actually got used to it. The images had an amazing bokeh, created by the 12 circular blades I guess. I kept asking myself, if I didn’t know it was only £70, or had a different badge on it, would I have been so critical?

The lens is a little soft around the f/1.8 and f/2 mark, but it sharpens up a lot when I stopped down. Again, I think I’m looking for faults because of its price, but actually, it’s quite a sharp lens. There is some vignetting at all apertures, which I like, especially when I’m trying to create that ‘film like’ look to my images. I’ve yet to experience any flaring or chromatic aberrations but have not used it in harsh light. But….. I do struggle to focus quickly with this manual lens. I’m sure with practise I’d get faster. Also when photographing subjects more than say 8 meters away, I get home to find a lot of the shots are out of focus; but that could just be me. But, I keep telling myself, it only cost £70! So for me, the only two downsides are the lack of a clickable aperture ring, and focusing at a distance is a struggle.

The 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is a manual prime lens, which on a Fujifilm X series camera is the equivalent to about 75mm full-frame. It's very small, not quite a pancake lens.

This 7artisans 50mm f/1.8 is for £70 incredibly good value for money. If like me you’re used to shooting film on vintage lenses, you will be blown away by its quality and value for money. Is the Fujifilm lens better, yes, but this lens is around £330 cheaper than the Fujifilm F2, and I can guarantee most people looking at your images will never notice the difference.

Official 7artisans website : www.7Artisans.com

Amazon UK Fujifilm page : www.amazon.co.uk/fujifilm

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images

Fujifilm XF10 Monochrome+R Recipe

I HAVE BEEN SHOOTING WITH Fujifilm equipment since the launch of the X-Pro1 in 2012 and migrated to the X-Pro3 in January 2020.

Fujifilm XF10 | Narrating Images

Back in the Summer I got myself an X-E4. I adore this Rangefinder ‘style’ of camera. It allows me to photograph up-close, naturally composed photos….. However, I’ve lost count of the number of times when shooting at an event, I wished I could have pulled a second camera from my pocket. The X-Pro3 is small, and the X-E4 is even smaller, but not small enough to sit unobtrusively in my pocket. So I also purchased a tiny, lightweight Fujifilm XF10. I love its minimalist design, and it looks fantastic in Black.

After a few days of using it, I was very pleased with it. Wow, what a powerful little camera, I wish I’d got it years ago. Don’t get me wrong, it is not an X-Pro3, nor will it ever replace it. However, it is ultra-compact, has a fixed-lens, fixed-focal-length, wide-angle, inexpensive, and has a massive 24-megapixel APS-C sensor. It is also so simple to use, it starts up quickly and has a brilliant Snapshot feature. Snapshot uses zone focusing and has two predetermined settings. Either five meters at f/5.6 or two meters at f/8. This is brilliant. It enables quick, spontaneous photos as the focus and aperture have already been set.

Fujifilm XF10
Fujifilm XF10

My only issue with the camera is that it doesn’t use the X-Trans filter, nor can it hold more than one film simulator at a time. It uses a Bayer sensor, producing images that feel more like they came from my original X-Pro1 – they are almost film like, rather than pin sharp. In addition, it doesn’t have film simulators, like Acros and Classic Negative, which are on the X-Pro3. Yet, it’s still possible to get beautiful JPEGs from the XF10. Also, other options like Grain, Clarity and the Colour Chrome Effect are missing. Don’t get me wrong, it produces simply stunning quality images. Therefore, I use the XF10, which is a little like a modern digital version of my old Olympus or Minolta 35mm cameras. I pull it out of my pocket, when I want a more analogue experience or image, but still have the benefits of digital.

I have created many film simulation recipes for my X-Pro cameras over the years; the X-Pro3 and my X-E4 use an X-Trans IV sensor. But none of them were obviously created for my Fujifilm XF10, with its Bayer sensor. So I have started developing a new set of film simulation recipes specifically for this camera.

As mentioned, the XF10 can only save one film simulator at a time. The whole reason for me owning this is to replicate the experience I get when using my old 35mm Olympus or Minolta film cameras. I typically use black and white Ilford film for these. Therefore, the below recipe is the one I use most of the time, giving me that Black and white look and feel.

I hope you enjoy it, I’ve simply called it, Monochrome+R.

Film Sim : Monochrome+R
ISO: 3200
Dynamic Range: 200%
Sharpening: -1
Highlight: +1
Shadow: +2
Noise Reduction: -2
Exposure Compensation: -1/3

When cloudy and overcast, I increase the Highlight setting to +2

I created this recipe for my XF10, but it should work on all cameras with a Bayer sensor, such as the X-A1, X-A2, X-A3, X-A5, X-A7, X-A10, XF10, X-T100, X-T200. I’m sure there are other cameras I have missed off the list too!

Pizzeria – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” Narrating Images
Pizzeria – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” – © Narrating Images

Never Feel The Cold – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R”
Never Feel The Cold – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” – © Narrating Images

Sculpture – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R”
Sculpture – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” – © Narrating Images

Signpost – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R”
Signpost – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” – © Narrating Images

Cirencester Friendly – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R”
Cirencester Friendly – Cotswolds, UK – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” – © Narrating Images

Dashboard – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R”
Dashboard – Fujifilm XF10 – “Monochrome+R” – © Narrating Images

This article was written by © Christopher G – Narrating Images