I need a new film scanner

My Epson V750 Pro, purchased in 2009, has scanned thousands of rolls of film, slides, and prints. After making strange grinding noises recently, it has finally ground to a halt.

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Feelings about the Leica M10-R

I’m feeling twitchy about owning the Leica M10-R .

The M10-R is an astonishingly good camera. World-beating build quality, timeless design, and a fantastic 40-megapixel sensor, all in a small, beautiful package.

Still available new in 2022 for an eye-watering $8,995 (I bought mine used), the M10-R is also a ridiculously expensive camera. Buying one is a big deal and a significant investment.

I am fortunate enough to also own Leica M film cameras, and being able to share lenses between those and the M10-R is very handy. And OMG those Leica lenses! The control layout and handling are the same as well. It’s like having both a digital and film platform for using 70 years of tiny, wonderful Leica lenses. I can carry a full film and digital arsenal with 2 bodies and lenses in a tiny bag.

So, why am I feeling twitchy?

I worry about having such expensive, relatively delicate equipment swinging about around my neck. It makes me nervous. It’s hard to relax and make photographs when I’m so worried about losing or breaking the camera I’m carrying.

Unlike film Ms, digital M cameras depreciate steadily in value. Not as quickly as other digital cameras, perhaps, but still, the trend is downward.

But mostly, I feel guilty having such a fine camera because I’ve barely used it. I’ve been shooting mostly film for the past month or so, leaving the M10-R idling in the bag. I can justify the expense for something I’m using all the time but to have the M10-R sitting in the bag “just in case” is hard to stomach.

Still, I love the camera and I’m keeping it. At least for now. I know me, and I know that the digital-film pendulum will swing back the other way soon enough, and when it does I’ll be glad I have the M10-R.

I love this boring photo of a lamp

My wife bought an awful, kitschy plastic lamp and set it on one of the floor speakers. I, of course, balked.

That was a week ago and somehow the lamp is still there. I hate the lamp, but I don’t mind the light that it throws against the wall, and my wife loves it and thinks “it’s adorable”. Who am I to judge?

I took a photo of it. It’s just another boring snapshot by a film photographer looking for excuses to finish the roll. It’s exposed the way I intended and it’s composed nicely, but it’s not a great photo. I love it anyway.

I love the photo because it makes me smile. It makes me smile because I love my wife and it reminds me of one of the many reasons why. That’s the best kind.

What makes a good family photograph?

The above photo is a good family photograph. Why? Because it doesn’t just capture members of the family, it captures a family moment. So many family photos are smiling selfies taken at arm’s length. Selfies say, “Here these people are.” but not much more. They’re fine, but ultimately not much more than basic record-keeping. I much prefer photos showing family simply living and interacting in their natural habitat. Here’s another from the same roll:

Gail and Alice (2021)

These were both taken with a film camera in low light, so required a slow shutter speed and wide aperture. This meant missed focus and some motion blur. I don’t care. It’s the moment that counts, not the sharpness. And being film photos, it means I’ll forever have the original negatives on my shelf. Of course that doesn’t make the photo better, but it does make me feel good.

Large Format: Challenges

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There are too many things that can go wrong when shooting large format (4×5) film.

I made four exposures of my friends Steve and Bryan this afternoon. Two of the four were ruined right off the bat: The first, because I’d left the shutter open when pulling the dark slide. The second because I didn’t expose it at all and processed as though I had.

Large format is hard.

There are so many opportunities to fail that making a successful image is really quite rewarding. Today wasn’t a rewarding day. Both of the photos that weren’t completely ruined were spoiled in other ways.

The above image was taken while facing into the sun. That was dumb. I was so flustered after accidentally exposing the first negative that I basically ignored the actual subject of the shot.

And the following image shows some blooming/flair around the overexposed decking and table areas. I’m not sure why it’s so severe. The lens may have been dirty.

Bryan and Steve (Linhof Master Technika | Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 135mm | HP5+ 400 Scanned with Epson V750 D-76 1+1)

Oh well, I’ll just need to keep practicing because when it works, it’s awesome.

The Linhof Master Technika

Anyone who’s dabbled in large format photography knows the name “Linhof”. It’s one of those companies with a long history and a reputation for building some of the best 4×5 field cameras available. I’ve always been curious about them. Are they really “the Leica of large format”?

My first 4×5 camera was a beat up Burke & James press camera. Then a beat up Crown Graphic. Then a Speed Graphic, and finally a Wista Field Camera. The first three were super cheap. The Wista was bit more serious, but it was such a beautiful wooden camera.

The problem I have with large format is that I hate tripods. I had the most fun shooting the Speed Graphic hand-held. This is not how large format is done today, though. Maybe back when Weegee was doing his thing, but now it’s for sharp and super-detailed landscape and architectural work, mostly. Maybe studio portraits. Nonsense, I want to do hand-held, informal, environmental portraits. My Speed Graphic has a light leak, though, so I haven’t been shooting much 4×5.

Then one afternoon I spotted a Linhof Master Technika kit in one of the forum classified sections. It was the camera, lenses, grip, viewfinder, cams, and film holders. The camera was recently CLA’d and had the bellows replaced with genuine Linhof replacement bellows. Basically, it was everything I’d need for handheld 4×5 work. Plus, it was the mythical Linhof.

I bought it. The gentleman who sold it to me included a stack of large format photograph books, negative sleeves, a cool Grafmatic film holder and a bunch of hand-written notes with details about many of the items. I couldn’t be happier with the purchase.

And the camera? It was made in 1972 but looks and feels almost new. The short version is that it’s as well-built and smooth as I’ve been told. Everything is solid and tight and moves like butter. Its build quality feels so far beyond that of my old Graphics that it’s hardly fair to compare them.

It came with three lenses: A 90mm Schneider-Kreuznach Super-Angulon f/8, A 135mm Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S f/5.6, and a 240mm Fujinon A f/9. All three lenses have lens-specific custom cams that allow for accurate focusing using the rangefinder. This means I can focus and shoot hand-held with any of them. And just look at that giant grip!

90mm, 135mm, and 240mm

I’ve only had the camera for a week, and shot maybe a dozen sheets so far. It’s a joy to use, and I hope to use it often. Here are a few photos I’ve made while getting used to using the camera.

Linhof Master Technika | Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S | Ilford Delta 100 100Scanned with Epson V750Home developed in D-76 1+1 | 11min at 20C
Linhof Master Technika | Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S | Ilford Delta 100 100Scanned with Epson V750Home developed in D-76 1+1 | 11min at 20C

A tweak to the photo workflow

I’m trying to stick with the Adobe suite for processing, editing, and managing photos.

I prefer Capture One’s editing process, but Lightroom Classic has everything else going for it, (ecosystem, tooling, ubiquity, etc.) so that’s where I’ve settled for now.

But I’d love to take advantage of Lightroom CC on mobile and my laptop. CC and Classic will sync, but if not handled properly the whole enterprise can quickly turn into a mess. What I was doing is to import into Classic, edit, export, then add the “keepers” to a synced catalog (or “all synched photographs”) so that those photos would be available everywhere. The problem is that this takes diligence and consistency. It takes work. I’m not good at consistency, and I end up frustrated and bailing on the whole thing.

So here’s what I’m trying. I’m reversing the process and importing directly into Lightroom CC instead. I cull and rate the photos there. I do simple edits and enter captions. For any images I’m more “serious” about, I launch Lightroom Classic which automatically syncs all the images from CC. While I’m there I copy the files to my usual places on the filesystem and rename if desired. All this can be done in Classic and the photos still remain synced and available in CC.

One downside is that when syncing from Classic to CC the photos don’t count toward my subscription’s storage, which is nice, but going the other way takes up space. I think this will be OK. If I do come home with cards chock-full of images I’ll just start in Classic instead.

This also means I can enable auto-import from my phone’s library and have everything show up automatically. I have to be careful here, because if I want to keep Apple Photos app as my final library (for sharing, showing people, and ease of OS integration) I can end up with duplicates this way.

Lightroom CC is a more pleasant place to live than Classic, so for 80% of the time it’s good enough. For the other 20% I head over to Classic.

Update July 11, 2021: I’m mostly back to only using Lightroom Classic. Too many moving parts trying to wrangle both.

Selling cameras is usually a mistake

I’ve owned a lot of cameras and lenses.

More than average , I’d say. I’ve of course sold more than I currently own. With few exceptions, I regret selling any of them.

Remember how the Nikon F6 printed exposure data between frames?

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Self-portrait with horse head. Nikon F6.

Or how nice it was having aperture-priority auto-exposure on the Leica M7?

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Lobster Buoys. Mount Desert, Maine.

Or the Mamiya 6 with its giant square negatives in an easy-to-shoot package?

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Self-portrait with eggs. Mamiya 6.

I’ve been thinking about this lately while pondering all of the money I have tied up in various cameras and how infrequently I use some of them. My head tells me to sell everything I’m not using often, but my heart won’t let me. I always, always regret selling camera gear, so I think I’ll hang onto all of it for now. At least until circumstances dictate that I cannot.

A reluctant Lightroom user

I’ve never loved editing photos in Adobe’s Lightroom (Classic) . It does the job fine, and it has all the tools one might need, but it’s no fun. I prefer editing with Capture One Pro .

As much as I enjoy the editing process in Capture One, it otherwise feels like working on an island. C1 has no way to sync photos, the plugin/extension options are very limited, and while it works with other editors, it doesn’t do it as seamlessly as Lightroom. And so on.

Lightroom’s ecosystem is hard to beat. It works with nearly everything. I can sync with the mobile Lightroom CC library. It works with every plugin one could possibly want (most notably, Jeffrey Friedl’s and Negative Lab Pro .) There’s no end to the presets and styles available. If I want to do something with a photo, Lightroom is more likely to be able to handle it.

Lightroom’s cataloging is more capable than Capture One’s. Or at least it feels easier to use. I’d prefer not having to rely on a specific vendor’s tool for managing my lifetime of photos, but it’s better than only having them scattered in folders. Believe me, I’ve tried it that way numerous times. It’s liberating, but only for a moment, then it quickly becomes frustrating.

And of course I don’t like having to pay a monthly subscription to Adobe. That said, for $20 a month I get Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Lightroom CC on all my devices, and 1TB of cloud storage. It’s a pretty good deal.

While I’m still looking for excuses to go back to Capture One, I am, reluctantly, back in Lightroom Classic for the majority of my photo management. For now.