Monday, 15 August 2016

b/w Photography: Gear


regular readers might be familiar with my vegetable cooler. It used to house mealworms in spring-time. New season, new purpose!

ready to go with a decent film stock at hand

About one and a half years ago, I sat at the legendary Café Jelinek in Vienna, chatting with a friend, after-work, talking about this and that, Rome and fashion and suddenly I came up with the idea of buying a pre-loved Nikon F4. The legend! Out of reach – moneywise – in my teenage years. See, I still know the name, having admired the famous camera only from the distance. Instead I teamed up with a Yashica FX-7, which turned out to be a reliable tool, it's still in use

The friend – a professional photographyer – disagreed: "Why buy a 35mm camera? F4? You should try medium format, that might be something for you"

It did not take long and I came home with this camera in my hands:
Yashica Mat 124-G

Binocular system
3 reasons why I favoured this camera over others:

1. no mirror
I look through an additional lens - the binocular system.  No mirror means, there is no flipping, no shaking, when the mirror moves. The binocular Yashica Mat allows slow speed, handheld - 1/30, 1/15 - no problem

2. light weight
The complete camera weighs less than a Hasselblad body. Trying various cameras, I noticed several reasons, why the Hasselblad is not for me. Mainly because my hands are too small. A friend, she is a photographer, gave me one advice: hold it and see how it feels. If it does not feel right in your hands, it's not right for you, no matter how phantastic the specs are.
3. built-in light meter
The light meter is nice. In the long run I teamed up with a hand held light meter. The camera needs a exotic battery, mercury free, which has a shorter life span, compared to the original mercury batteries in the 1970's. Ever 3-4 months approx. 9 EUR. 

Ordinary sky, seen on a digital camera display
The ordinary sky suddenly becomes special
6 months later a friend de-cluttered his closets, mainly camera gear. He knew about of my renewed passion for analogue photography ... 

Canon AE-1: Love!

I had no idea what a difference the gear makes until I started shooting with the Canon AE-1

Canon AE-1 and Viviar 70mm-150mm lens
The 70-150mm and I did not team up very well at the beginning. The 150mm zoom did not suffice for my needs when I wanted to capture details on facades etc. It did not make any sense, until ... well, until I heard read about 80mm & portrait!!

Our youngest family member is a Labradoodle: Luna

Both cameras – the Yashica Mat and the Canon AE-1 fit in this backbag:
KATA backbag
KATA was a legend. Was – because unfortuantely, KATA is no longer. Manfrotto bought KATA a few years ago. From what I've heard, the original  KATA knowhow* and KATA design became part of the Manfrotto pro-line.

Ok. Now you have read a lot about my cameras. And what about black and white? 

To be continued!

The follow-up posting will lead us straight to the dark room

* two Isreali guys, both experienced with weapons founded KATA. Their bags provided maximum protection for (all kinds of) gear. 


  1. Paula, you are giving me G.A.S., Gear Acquisition Syndrome! I suddenly want to buy a TLR and an 80mm portrait lens. I’ve always wanted a Twin Lens Reflex camera. My only medium format camera currently is a Mamiya 645 1000s. It’s modular, so I can purchase a waist level viewfinder for the waist level experience.

    That AE-1 is a classic. I love my OM1. The size and functionality is superb. It feels like an extension of my hand. It never gets in the way and it never lets me down. I’ve been using only two lenses for years, a 50mm f1.8 and a 28mm f3.5. I’ve been wanting a nice portrait lens for a while, something in the 80mm range. Your blog post has reminded me that I need to find one.

    I really like that bag. I have a good bag now, but I need something that is more functional. I will probably acquire something similar to yours. When I do, I will have to do a blog post about my gear. Thanks for the history lesson on KATA. That is a very interesting story.

    We have similar taste when it comes to film. I love all the film stocks in your fridge. I love Kodak Portra and I just shot a roll of HP5 Plus. HP5 is awesome! I’ve used Delta 100 for some cityscape work and I’ve done some street work with Delta 400. Although, I still prefer TRI-X 400 for street work. I used some Delta 3200 for the first time at the end of last year. If interested, I can forward you the links to specific blog post illustrating my captures with these films stocks. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dear Travis,
      thank you for the insight!
      Usually I don't push people into buying stuff, but this time: Yes, go for a 80mm (or any excellent 70-150mm). Espescially since you are into people-photography.
      80mm might suit you better, a zoom-lens seems so "non-street"

      Delta 400 is my favourite film. There are just a few left, because I have used them all :-)

      The Mamya would have been nice for a stronger version of myself. :-)

      PS: last weekend I've acquired another camera: my sister gave away a Olympus AF10. With the Olympus AF10 I will shoot only in colour. I aim for some cheap looks from the lab, now that I plan to start with high-end fibre based paper in b/w, a complimentery look might be nice.