Friday, March 01, 2019

I'm In Love With My ̶C̶a̶r̶ Sonnar

OK and Good Morning/Evening.
Well this tale is like a strange love story.
It's a bit like the best Romcom ever made - When Harry Met Sally.
First the characters meet but there's indifference. Then time takes its toll, life moves on, they meet every now and again and they start to get used to each other; then there's the denouement when love is proclaimed and they sail off into a happy future together. 
Sorry to ruin it if you've never seen it, but you really should.
Oh and it has the best Mexican Wave in the history of film - I never tire of it.

Anyway, nearly 2 years past this April, I bought a reasonably priced CF 150mm Sonnar for the 500C/M. I liked it, but barely used it. It was part of my arsenal, but was bypassed in favour of the 60mm Distagon and the SWC/M.
If you read FB regularly, you'll know I had terrible trouble with underexposure recently - you can read the whole sorry story here - however, as detailed below, I am pretty sure I've discovered what I did wrong.
But to rewind a little, I desparately wanted to see whether I really did need to buy another light meter (I was convinced it was duff, despite testing it against 2 other meters) so I packed the 500C/M, attached the Sonnar and went out into the freezing cold.
I dunno, the things I do for this 'ere blog . . . 

Why the Sonnar?
Well Bruce from The Online Darkroom and I had been talking about lenses and he'd said he'd love to see some of my reflection photos made with the 150mm. I thought about it for a while, because I didn't think it would work; I didn't think you could get in close enough to get that wideness you need with reflection photos. Anyway, my fears were unfounded and even though there's only a couple of those photos of slightly that ilk on here, a longer lens really does work.
Not only that, but I've discovered that at pretty much any aperture, the humble 150mm Sonnar (the cheapest lens you can buy for a Hasselblad, full stop) is sharp and beautiful.
It's a stone cold optical bargain actually.
As an optical design it is ancient - nearly as old as semi-modern photography itself - and wonderfully simple; however, with Zeiss' T* coating (and maybe a lens hood++) it is as good as it gets actually.
Well it is in my opinion.

++ If you own a Hasselblad, don't be tempted by the likes of Photodiox lens hoods or those awfully cheap ones on Ebay - they're mostly very poor - I know because I have spent the money for you and tested them myself.
The real Hasselblad ones are made from high grade plastic and are built to last.

Urban Artist, Dundee

You kind of need a hood, especially in circumstances like the above, but onwards, that's a sample print . . . strap your rubber trousers on, 'cos here's THE CONTACT!

Film #66/53

Film #66/53

Anyway, as before and the new regime, here's my film notes - you know the score by now, read 'em or don't bother!

#66/53, HP5 EI 200, 10/2/19

1./ 1/15th, f8, Z? Guess Gossen/Lux comparison
2./ 1/125th, f11, ZIII, Gossen
3./ 1/125th, f11, ZIII, Gossen
4./ 1/125th, f11, ZIII, Gossen
5./ 1/125th, f11, Z?, Gossen/Shatter
6./ 1/125th, f11, Z?, Gossen/Shatter
7./ 1/250th, f11, ZIII, Refl.
8./ 1/60th, f8, C-Gul, Guess
9./ 1/60th, f16, ZIII, Wall
10./ 1/60th, f11, ZIII, Design
11./ 1/60th, f.8, ZIII, Plant
12./ 1/15th, f5.6, ZIII, Guess

All handheld

PHD 5+5+500 22℃.
Agit 30 sec, then 4 per min,to 17 mins then stand to 21. No waterbath.

Very happy with this - I double checked the Gossen with Lux on the piephone - the Gossen is fine. I read the standard reading not the spot on 66/52

It might be hard to discern from the contact above, but it was printed at Grade 0 to give me some idea of the negatives potential. It is a new way of working for me and I like it. Sadly scanning only really reveals part of the story, but if it wasn't scanned you wouldn't see it, so you'll have to carry on squinting.

Ah, but before we get into the meat and potatoes (actually neeps are probably better for the gut and can be wonderful in a casserole) here's what happened last time:

Maybe you'll remember in Rescue Job I detailed the horrors of an underexposed film, well I think I've worked out what I did wrong.
The bit below also explains why I am talking about Gossen and Piephone in the notes above.

An Old Friend

So, here's an old old friend, my Gossen Lunasix 3s, with spot attachment.
When I started again, I couldn't afford fancy-pants Sekonic or Pentax spot-meters, so I ended up with a battered but useable Gossen, from MXV for very little money - possibly about £30 - and it has been a reliable friend ever since. 
It's also one of the most sensitive light meters ever made and tbh I love it. 
I had him recalibrated (for exactly NOTHING) by Gossen about 10 years back, and have made many well metered photographs with him. The spot attachment was an option accessory and clips on the front - it reads 7.5 or 15 degrees, I use 7.5. 
The whole shebang is kept in a £5 Lowepro compact camera case on a strap, and when out and about, that is worn on my left hip, camera bag on my right, bandolero style! 
It's convenient and works for me.

Gossen Lunasix 3s

What I did wrong last time:

- I'm only huuuuman after all, I'm only huuuuman after all . . . blah blah blah -

You see the meter window at the top has the needle nearly on 11? 
Well using the spot attachment, I should have been aligning the 11 on the lower yellow disc with the green mark (just above that disc - it is to the left of the yellow triangle).
Instead I was using the spot attachment and using the 'standard' reading on the silver disc (just above the 'V'.)
Me too, and I hope I have dissected it correctly - it really is much easier with a meter in your hand than staring at a screen. Anyway, suffice to say that I was consistently underexposing by a whole stop  - not too much trouble if you were using ZV, however I always place shadow readings on ZIII, so with the last film I was actually placing everything on Z II, hence, shite.
Lesson learned!
Be aware.

Shattered Window, Wobbly Bridge, Dundee

A picture of that shattered window from last time - it is trickier to photograph than it looks - I've probably handled the exposure a bit too heavily here, but it does get the extraordinary texture across. On the whole I like it, but I've taken better photos of it.

Inside Outside, Vision, Dundee

If you're a REALLY longtime FB reader you might recognise this scene from years back. It's in the Vision building in Dundee. The last time I photographed it, it was almost empty; nowadays, well there's a lot of it being used, hence the office chairs and tables. I just liked the fact that it wasn't at all apparent where the outside began and the inside ended.
It's scanned off a print made on Ilford MGRC Pearl and lightly toned in selenium. The print is better than the scan (but then I would say that wouldn't I!) - in fact everything on here is scanned - the prints are better.

Urban Artist, Dundee

Here's an on-the-fly portrait of a young artist.
I've photographed him before - he's a really interesting chap actually, more artist than graffitti artist, he's more inclined to cheer the place up with his crazy pictures of charachatured Seagulls, than to tag his name everywhere. I like that attitude. Anyway, he was doing this crazy Doctor Octopus Seagull on an ex-Dundee Waterfront noticeboard that someone had scrawled "Cock" all over - public service or what?!
I asked him if I could take his pic and he agreed.
It was a tricky one actually, because of the strong backlight coming from behind him, and I am glad I opted for f8 rather than f5.6, because it snagged the catchlights in his eyes.
There's something Breugel-esque about this and I can't place it.
I know, give him a brush and some sack-cloth and there y'go!
PS. the arm movement was from his spray can shaking - gotta keep it moving in cold weather . . .
It is my favourite from the whole film - maybe I am more of a people person than I thought. It was easy to go up to him and start chatting.

Wall, Dundee

This wasn't as well executed as I'd hoped - I just liked the simplicity of the shadows. It was v.hard getting the wall straight from a ground level pov.

Safety Glass, Dundee

Ah, the dread shatter again. Again not as well executed as I'd hoped, but not bad - it kind of looks like a giant Spring roll over-mounted with broken glass. I should try and do a better print of it . . maybe get Bruce in, in his Split trousers to do some adjustin' an' waftin' an' stuff . . 

Whole Safety Glass, Dundee

And the final one - this is a print too, but I'll confess that I've straightened it ever so slightly, as my verticals were off and it is better for it.
This is the back of DOJCA opposite the old plaster sheds  - I just liked the starkness of everything!

A ThinkTank Suburban Disguise 20 Just Ate My Hasselblad

Oh, yeah, I wasn't pulling a Spiderman or nuffink, but just so's nobody can spot me, here's a pic of my ThinkTank Suburban Disguise 20. A 500C/M with Sonnar, hood and back fills it completely, but it is dead convenient and very well made. 
Probably one of the better bags I've owned actually - should I need another bag for anything in the future I might well buy more from their range.

Anyway, that's it.
I've come to love the Sonnar now and look forward to using it further in the future - what a great lens.

Now, remember to tie your shoelaces, lace your bow-tie, clean your teeth, brush your hair, check your wallet and make sure you turned the toaster off.
That's you! 
Off you pop . . see you in a couple of weeks.


  1. I'm glad the exposure problem was nothing more than an incorrect setting on your light meter. Sometimes I forget to turn off exposure compensation . . . .
    My favourite photos here are Shattered Glass, Urban Artist, and Whole Safety Glass. I would like to spend some time on Wobbly Bridge making photos. It looks like there might be a lot of photo opportunities there.
    Kudos to you for handholding the camera with a 150mm lens attached, by the way. I wasn't great at holding my Contax 645 steady with the 140mm Sonnar on it, and that camera had a grip on it. The 140 Sonnar was a tripod lens for me.

    1. Thanks MArcus - much appreciated!
      Wobbly Bridge is only called such by me, but it only needs one other person on it to set it off.
      The Hasselblad by its nature sits very comfortably in the palm of your hand, and with your other hand dealing with the lens barrel, to be honest you're not really aware of the weight - I use a strap too, so it's probably diaphragm height when I am looking into it. I get a real buzz from the camera actually, and using it with the 150mm used to be a common way of shooting fashion . . now all I need is some models!

      P (guess what Goggle isn't allowing me to do again!)

  2. Another interesting set. I do like the self-analysis.
    Those extra index points are tricky until you know what they are. It's also easy to have the attachment set on the wrong angle, although why anybody would need fifteen degrees is beyond me. We are a bit spoiled by modern devices, which adjust themselves imperceptibly to our needs.
    May I ask why, as you are generally quite close to your subjects and none of them seem to be high contrast, you don't use the incident dome on the Lunasix?
    The Hasselblad shutter seems to work without shaking despite the lovely plop. Can it be because the real shutter is in the lens and moves symmetrically? Focal plane shutters move in one direction, which must impart some movement to the camera. And as you say, the camera nestles very nicely in the hand instead of being perched on the eyebrows. Or could it be that when you press the shutter, the movement is along the optical axis and not at one end of the body?

    If you need to get closer, Hasselblad make a series of extension rings, some of them quite short, to get in just that little bit closer. They seem to work well and fit all lenses. As you might expect, the interlocking means that there's a right and wrong sequence for attaching and removing them, but it's hardly a problem.

    Where I live we have graffiti artists, who sign their work, and taggers. If anybody tags over a signed work, it seems that the lads know where he lives and have a kindly word with him.

    This may be off-topic, but I've found another tripod!

    ...and how are you getting on with the Campaign for a Silvery Tay Gallery of Scottish Photography?

    1. Thanks David - I take it you're familiar with the olde Lunasix? I love mine - I do use the incident every now and then, but I suppose I am lazy and the spot is always attached.

      Using a grain focuser, the Hasselblad's handheld negs are surprisingly crisp - maybe it is all that mass?

      I know about the extension rings and might well pursue in the future.

      What sort of tripod?

      Mr Anon-E-Mouse

  3. It's a very old Cullman that I'd lent to my wife and she had tucked away in a very tidy place. It has a centre column that turns into a monopod, which impressed me greatly, although I never used it.
    What do you do about batteries for the older Lunasix?

  4. Ah esy, Cullman - nice tripods - so how many is that now?

    The batteries - if I remember rightly, it came with a Gossen battery adapter which allows me to use 2 silver oxides, either that or the lovely bloke at MXV threw one in for nothing. He was a remarkable chap actually - hand delivered my DeVere, had a cup of tea and a chat with my parents-in-law and off he went to collect a collection from the Highlands!

  5. Mine uses mercury cells, which would cause the Universe to end even if I could get my hands on them. There's something called an air battery. To use it, you peel of a sticker to let the air in and it works. I'm not sure about storage, though.
    I'll look out for the adaptors.

    1. Gossen no longer make the adapter - though to be honest it just looks like a couple of diodes on a plastic tube, however this might do the trick with hearing aid batteries:

  6. I too have a Gossen. Mine is a Digipro F. I used to find squinting at needles and small stuff too much - especially in dim light. For me the clarity and size of the LCD display cannot be beat.

    It's interesting how you had this thing (a lens) which went virtually unacklnowledged and yet when you start to use it you realise that it actually is quite a marvellous item. A metaphor (or is it an allergy) for life, I think.

    Chin chin. Toot toot.
    (sprout season almost at an end)

    1. Thanks Cap'n Sprout (W.I.N.D. [Hons])

      I've looked at the digipro and might well consider such in the future if the Lunasix stops - I do't mind the needle, it sort of slows me down . . though that wouldn't be hard to do . . .

      And yep -the Sonnar really does seem to cog with me at the moment.

      Hope all is well Sir J.

  7. We know you like Haselblad, but just how much? Here's a real treat for the truely dedicated Hasselblad lover.

    1. Yeah I know - seen these gold ones around before - I'd only get the one with the diamante focus hood though . . .

  8. I wouldn't consider anything that wasn't upholstered in baby Snow Leopard skin and the plastic fittings carved out of rhino horn.
    I had thought that only Leica did these Collectors' Editions.

  9. You know what . . it wouldn't surprise me . . . hopefully all hand-tooled. I can see the half-case for it now, £900 . . .

  10. Cheap-skate. Here are some more goodies to tempt you.
    Monogrammed lens cap: £600 + VAT.
    Made to measure matching wrist strap: £855 + VAT.
    Heated Monogrammed Glove £1450 +VAT. (each).
    All the above without Red Spot: £340 + VAT extra.
    Leica branded shoe laces: £280 + VAT (pair).
    One gramme of soil from Oskar Barnack's grave in golden casket: POA +VAT.

  11. Hmmm - the glove sounds GOOD!

  12. You might like this:

    1. Thanks - they're quite fussy though - without being a pedant, I actually highly rate these and indeed their clothing range full stop. If you are in serious country and serious weather, Buffalo (STILL MADE IN SHEFFIELD) will keep you warm - it's extraordinary stuff - even when wet through, it stays warm:


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