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Thursday, April 4

Hexar Landscapes

It's been in and out of my "things to sell on Ebay" list more often than a fiddler's elbow but it's still here. Looks like the Hexar AF isn't going anywhere soon. It's earned its place in my camera bag because of its outstanding fixed 35mm f2 lens. In common with the Zeiss lenses on the Contax, it produces negatives that just seem to have something about them: a crispness and character that's very nice indeed.

I'm also coming to terms with its vague viewfinder - something I've moaned about often enough in the past. It's a cross you have to bear when using rangefinder-type cameras. If I want the Hexar's lens I have to put up with the Hexar, simple as that.

It's not usually thought of as a landscape camera but I had it with me the other week when I was out with the Contax outfit shooting some gritty and bleak scenes. There were no surprises as far as framing is concerned when I reviewed the Agfa APX 100 negs so I must be getting used to the viewfinder. Exposure was good in most of the frames. When there was a lot of snow about I used the Hexar's exposure compensation buttons to dial in about one-and-a-half stops of over-exposure. I've found that whilst +2 stops might be needed where the snow is sunlit, in the dull, overcast conditions in which I was shooting, +1 to +1.5 stops is plenty.

The film was developed in Spur Acurol-N, a developer that was sent to me for review by the manufacturers. I'm just feeling my way with it and will write up my impressions later. Don't read too much into the pics in this post as they've been breathed on in Photoshop, a necessary evil given my scanning abilities (or lack thereof) and the fact that I'm darkroomless for the time being.

The photographs do give a good impression of the Angus countryside around my Carnoustie home for most of the year, however. Temperatures hovered around 0-3C for a few months and it was quite miserable - especially since our boiler packed up and we were without heating on and off for about five weeks. It was lovely to see the temperature "soaring" to 8C today and the sun poked out from behind the clouds for quite lengthy spells as well. I narrowed my eyes, concentrated hard and tried to pretend I was in the South of France. It didn't work.


Christy Spero said...

Bruce, I love film photography and I love daytime long exposure black and white. With the dramatic scenes of the cloud streaks with archtecture and the dreaminess of the water scenes. Have you ever shot daylong exposure with film. Up until now I have been using my dslr, but would love to use film. Even medium format. What is your experience with this?

Christy Spero


Hi Christy,

I love long exposure stuff as well but, like you, I've only really done it on digital. I'll get round to shooting LE pics on film at some stage. I'd like to use my medium format gear but sea air, crashing waves and a stiff breeze can be pretty rough on cameras.

Film has one really good advantage over digital - reciprocity failure. You know how you sometimes need exposures running into many seconds? If you use Fomapan 100, an indicated 5s exposure actually needs almost half a minute and a 30s exposure needs about six and a half mins. So it's much easier to get long exposures without resorting to ten-stop ND filters.

If you want to see some of my LE stuff then take a look here:

Christy Spero said...

I have never used Fomapan film. So are you saying I would not need a 10 stop filter if I use that film? I am so used to using a 10 stop plus a 2 or 3 stop nd filter with it to get 4 minutes or longer exposure. Do you know of any information/websites I could read about how film reacts to long exposures?

twelvesmallsquares said...

Long exposure isnt much different on film, you just have to compensate for reciprocity, ie adding exposure time to what your meter tells you. reciprocity is different for each film unfortunately. its worth it though to get those shots.


It depends on how bright the scene is. If you rate Fomapan 100 at 50 ISO then you'd get an exposure on a cloudy dull day of around 1/4 sec at f22. A 3-stop ND would take you to 2s at f22. With Foma's reciprocity failure, that would require an actual exposure of 6s, which is a long enough exposure for some scenes such as fast-moving waves. To get a four minute exposure you would need your meter to be indicating a 20s exposure. That in turn would mean a 6 or 7 stop ND filter. On a bright day you'd still need your 10 stopper but probably not the other NDs.

Reciprocity failure is easy to understand. You know how going to the next slowest shutter speed is the equivalent of opening the lens up a stop? Well that reciprocal arrangement fails when you (usually) start using shutter speeds of a second or longer. The film needs extra exposure to achieve the same effect as opening up a stop. All of the black and white films available today with the exception of Fuji Acros behave like this. Fomapan 100 is probably the "worst" in that regard, making it the best for long exposures.

You can see Foma 100's reciprocity failure here: