As I may have mentioned (ha!), I’m working on a new series out at the Craigieburn Forest Park and yesterday I headed back to see if I could make it to the snow line having run out of time on the weekend. In particular I headed up to about 1500M and the Broken River ski fields. I left a little late again so this time I hiked up the fire road access with a little more gusto than a few days ago. I also took the Rolleicord VB with me instead of the Yashia635 to check out it’s capabilities some more. This time I headed off with a few rolls of my favourite black and white film, Ilford HP5 and like last visit some Kodak Portra for good measure. I’m still investing in a better connection to this new addition to my collection, and I was intrigued to see how it performed wide open, as well as higher apertures. The Yashica635 is my desert island camera for sure, and an amazing portrait camera wide open, with swirly out of focus backgrounds. The more complex, the greater the swirl and softness. So how did the Rollei compare? How was it above the tree line? And how was is wide open?
On the way up, this time there was no torrential rain so the light was quite typical of midday. Horrible. I avoided all scenes that had dappled light, and luckily a fair amount of the forest was bathed in a soft like shadowed by high points of trees and mountains. On route upwards I was shooting at about F5.6 mostly and the results were to be as expected. A good image focussed on fore or background elements with some minor bokeh, and when in focus there is a good amount of sharpness across that point in the scene. If you look at the running water over rocks for example, you can see a specific part (or plane of focus) of the image in focus while the rest is not. As I got higher so did the aperture as the light broke free of the shaded trees, and I was regularly shooting F11- F16 +. Quite frankly, the results are breathtaking! The image depth and clarity is quite frankly amazing on this camera. On a selection of images looking over the ranges to mountains the background, you can even see little houses and trees so clear, that I’m gobsmacked. Basically, the Rolleicord VB hits infinite very well, and with a high aperture the whole scene is in focus. This is good to confirm and compared to the Yashica635 its noticeably richer, and more imersive. Don’t get me wrong, the Yashica performs similar at high apertures too- but is still noticeably softer to the edges of frame past F11. The images captured on the Rollei don’t seem to have much edge image softness at all at mid to high aperture with most of the image in focus… so perfect for landscapes!
So how was the Rollei at f3.5? Truthfully, its hard to know! After scanning today, I saw a lot of camera shake in the images shot wide open on the way back down into the forest, because the shutter speed was also low. I’m pretty good at holding a TLR still at low shutter speeds, but not on this hike. The sun was setting on the way back to the van and was so dull, that It was a waste of a roll to be honest. Thankfully HP5 is not just a great looking film, its pretty cost effective too (when purchased off shore).
Anyway, I did shoot a self portrait today at F3.5 the following day, and with a better shutter speed of 1/60. I focussed on my the camera, and the image looks to be pretty sharp to me with the room looking as it should and the first portrait captured on this camera. Thats pretty damn cool. I can’t see any weird distortion to the edges or noticable softness to speak of. I’m going to wait for more rain, and then re-visit the forest park with a tripod next time and see how the images turn out then wide open. That’s enough gear talk for now and apologies for the double dutch, if you are not into cameras and their settings. Anyway, let’s take a look at the images!
This set is really beautiful and I’m so happy with the quality of development too, for both colour and black and white. I’m sorry Photo and Video, it has been great having you develop my colour film for the past 5 years, but we are finished. What a feeling being able to shoot and develop and scan all of my images. This reality has been in the making for a number of years, and I’m stoked to finally have the setup to do everything myself. Talking of development, I’ve always processed my black and white images at room temperature, and it should be 21°C. The results have been good to be honest, but with the Cinestill temperature control system (I got mine from Walkens) I can now set my temp to 21°C exactly. In my opinion, the black and white rolls i’ve developed over the past weeks have been consistently better than any to date, with great contrast, grain and tonal range across all brands of film developed.
As for the Rolleicord VB, how is it? So far this camera renders black and white in a similar fashion to the Yashica, but with more depth and details at higher apertures. Coloured images just look so much better IMHO, with increased tonal range, highlight details, image sharpness and rendering of colours. It could be my development methods maturing, a better quality lens, or simply a coincidence. The images just feel different. I guess I’ll have to shoot more and form a better opinion on this matter, so the next roll I’m going to shoot with it will be a new film for me, Cinestill 800, and I can’t wait.