Camera Lenses Low Price Top Quality

Leica M6 Perth Australia 1024x768 Camera Lenses Low Price Top Quality

Leica M6 and Zeiss lens that was purchased on Ebay.

My adventures into the world of USED…

Film photographers have little choice these days but to dive into the used market.  Few companies make film cameras anymore and even those that do seem to be relying on brand recognition to drive their sales.  As I began discovering the joys of film I was forced to look into the used market to pick up the cameras I dreamed of owning.  The good news is that I found plenty to pick from but the bad news is that there is no second hand photography store anywhere near me.  And so it is that I was introduced into the world of Ebay.

Ebay is a scary place for those who are uninitiated.  We are taught to look to the internet with fear and trepidation.  We are not to share any information, we should question every piece of information we get from it and most importantly….we are to trust NO ONE! So how is it that we are expected to hand over personal information, organize payment for items that we cannot see based solely on the word of a faceless individual who is selling it?

To be fair it is not just Ebay or even the internet that causes us such concerns.  For how long has the phrase “buyer beware” been floating around…long before the internet that is for sure. You see we trust new items because the manufacturer stands behind it.  When it comes to used items we have no control over how it was used prior to arriving to our door.  And so we are indeed wary of everything we buy and everyone we buy it from.

People who deal in used goods work in the shadows of our society…consider the used car salesman, a profession who has seen more jokes written about it than any other aside from being a lawyer. So the used market and anyone who deals in it should remain a cautionary tale, unless it is the only way to purchase items for your hobby.

And so I carefully created an Ebay alias and put in my account information.  I began searching for a camera to buy and quickly found a nice Olympus OM-2.  The camera was interesting as I already owned my father’s OM-1 but the real reason the listing caught my eye is that it came with four wonderful lenses!  All this for a very respectable price and so I took the plunge and after a short bidding war was able to acquire my OM-2 with four lenses.

Then the package arrived I was surprised at how dusty the box was. Everything smelled of dust but fortunately it was a dry dust and not a scent of humidity.  The lenses, while dusty, appeared to be very clean.  No inside dust, fungus or scratches (called “cleaning marks” in the used camera world).  The camera seemed to be in great shape until I loaded film and then noticed that the exposure counter was not working.

I was disappointed, hurt and felt a little foolish. The seller had assured me it was in mint condition and from the outside appeared to be the case. I contacted the seller knowing full well that no returns were accepted and asked if he knew about this issue.  He replied, a small miracle in itself, and told me he did not and to enjoy my purchase…so long better luck next time.

And so I sat looking at my purchase with a heavy heart.  I went to bed thinking that this was the end of my Ebay purchase days. The next morning I wanted to catalog my failure and so I sat with everything I purchased, the partially working camera, the four lenses, the lens adapter (for Pen cameras) and the motorized winder. Just as I was beginning to get upset again I looked at the price I had paid…just over USD 200!

Forget the camera, adapter and winder the four excellent lenses were a bargain at USD 200! Zuiko glass is of amazing quality and the images I could capture with them would be fantastic! This began to make me feel a little better.  Enough to try my hand at Ebay for another purchase.

And so it was that a few weeks later I ordered a almost “mint” Nikon F3 but this time I made sure that there was a 14 day return policy.  Again I spent around USD 250 for a body only. When it came in I was shocked that it looked so new. Yes there was a little rub here or there but if I had pulled this from a box I would have sworn it was new.  I put it through the paces very quickly but amazingly found it to be…well….perfect.

Nikon F3 Perth Australia 1024x768 Camera Lenses Low Price Top Quality

Nikon F3 purchased on Ebay (without the lens).

I then went on to my most ambitious purchase which was a Leica M6. Originally the seller would not take returns so I asked him if he was sure about this.  He indicated that if there was anything wrong with the camera he would take it back. He lived in a city that I often travel for work so I thought it was a safe bet.  If there was a problem I would be able to give him a visit.

The M6 came in and it was brand new.  Not a rub, scratch or wear pattern anywhere.  A couple of days later the lens arrived in the same phenomenal shape.  I quickly ran a roll of film through it and everything worked perfectly.  I tried different apertures, and shutter speeds and really tested the light meter.  All 36 images came our perfectly.  The little camera was working like a brand new swiss clock!

And so I have learned to read all the postings carefully, contact the sellers and inspect carefully upon receipt of the item but so far I have not been disappointed.  All this built up my confidence enough to try to attain the holy grail of photography…excellent glass for a low price.  But that is left for another post.

Hasselblad Style Shooting

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Taking Picture with a Hasselblad: Copyrights purchased from RF123. Photographed by “Cottonfioc”

A few posts ago I shared a realization that my Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) has a direct impact on my photography.  I shared a quote I had come across;

If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.

— Nobuyoshi Araki

The more I play with different cameras the more I come to realize the truth in these words.  I decided to pick up my Hasselblad 500CM yesterday as I had a half roll of film through it already from when I went to shoot the Perth Skyline at night.  I was excited to see what those frames held and I had been wanting to try this camera out with some flowers.

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Perth by Night (Perth, Australia): Hasselblad 500cm 8omm shot with Tmax400

The Hasselblad 500CM is a medium format film camera which is rather large.  It was not really designed for field carry, although it is built like a tank.  No, the Hasselblad’s were made for studio shooting and the quality of the 6cm x 6cm negative is absolutely mind blowing.  After shooting with 35mm film the change over to 120 is shocking.  It is like my Nikon D800 in terms of detail pick up.

The size of the camera and the 12 exposures you get per roll means that every shot is carefully contemplated.  This is not a “pull out and fire” camera.  It is about as far from point and shoot as you can get before reaching the 4 x 5 monsters.  The sound of the shutter, which is the siren that first called me to this camera, is loud and forceful.

You cannot focus much closer than about a meter away.  It was built for some amazing portrait photography and with an 80mm lens it just cries out to be used for that purpose.  I have a picture of my son which I shot with this camera and I have printed it on A3 paper so it is massive.  The detail of every hair, gesture and shadow is brilliantly represented.

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Silver Flowers (Perth, Australia): Hasselblad 500cm 80mm shot with Tmax400: D-76 developer.

So I pulled out the camera and with my six remaining exposures I went into our backyard to see about those flowers I had seen.  I love the symmetry of flowers and feel that, if properly captured, can be perfect on film.  The “Silver Flowers” picture above is a good example of what I am talking about.  There is a silver nature of the tonal range that is impossible to get any other way.  For some reason the larger format seems to capture it better than the 35mm I usually shoot with.

Another great thing about these shots is that I am very happy with how they were developed.  Getting 120 film into the development reels has been a headache for me and this is the first time that I did not lose any exposures in the process.  The development time was accidentally altered a little and I am thrilled with the results.

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Five Petal (Perth, Australia): Hasselblad 500cm 80mm shot with Tmax400 and D-76 Developer.

I had looked up the development time and did not realize that I had looked up the 35mm times.  The difference is about 1 minute which means that these images were underdeveloped a little bit.  The result is MUCH smoother grain than I was expecting and reduced contrast.  The reduced contrast would be an issue if I was making my own darkroom prints but since I can bring these images into Photoshop I was able to increase the contrast a little getting the best of both worlds, smooth grain and good contrast.



A New Take on the Selfie

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Selfie (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX 100.

The selfie has become the epitome of self absorption.  Society laughs at it, cries over it and criticizes it.  But selfies have been around for a very long time.  You can see the self portraits of the master painters such as Rafael.  Are these self portraits not a selfie?

Should we look at selfies as an act of selfishness or is it a way for us to say to a busy world that we are here?  We matter.  We did something and here is proof!

A blog that I frequent was asking if we should take another look at the selfie.  Take something that matters just as the self portraits of the masters.  I decided to give this a try but think as I might the important things in my life are the people around me.  And that would not classify as a selfie.

So I decided to take my standard self portrait with my hobby…photography.  It was fun to shoot as it always is and as an added benefit the camera hides a bit of my face.  Photographers are never comfortable in front of a camera.  We belong behind it.  But that is not to say that selfies are bad.  Maybe we should start calling them self portraits.

A Common Perspective

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Gestures (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX 100.

There are common scenes that we see everyday.  We walk past something so many times that we no longer take notice.  Perhaps it is the way people interact with social technology, or the way people wait at the bus stop.

The common gesture that is repeated so many times that we no longer pause to contemplate.  There may be beauty in that gesture.  Grace.  Love.

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Clock (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX 100.

Or maybe it has nothing to do with people at all.  Maybe it is an object.  A chair, clock or statue.  It is there everyday and we really no longer notice it.  One day if it disappears we might notice it is gone.  We may think back at how much we liked it.  We will then continue our walk and think of it no more.

Maybe it is time to revisit those gestures, those objects that make our place our own.  A quick picture can keep it close to you even if it is no longer there.

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Take a Knee (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX100.

Every Saturday I take my eldest son to play basketball at a local club a few minutes from our house.  He has grown to like the kids he plays with and has taught him some important lessons about sacrificing for your team.

At this weeks game I took my Leica and managed to capture some shots.  I must admit that the action, in game shots are not really the ones I liked.  I like the ones where you can see the team coming together, with the coach trying to keep them in the game.

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Mother’s Pain (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX100.

The shot of the mother holding a bag of ice on her sons arm after he fell on it.  The kid really wanted to get back in the game but the pain did not let him.  I am not sure if the ice was really helping him or if it was the mothers understanding of his desire to continue playing.

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Coach Chat (Perth, Australia): Leica M6, 35mm shot with TMAX100.

It is a simple club basketball game but the emotions, friendships and exhaustion is just as real as any professional sport.

Film Contact Sheet

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Final Drying Wings (Perth, Australia): Leica M6 35mm shot at 35mm with Delta Pro 100.

When capturing images on film you end up with a time based sequence which is interesting to look back on to deconstruct.  The Contact Sheet was a sheet of photo paper where the negatives were placed directly on top of and a light shown through it to expose the paper.  This gave the photographer a positive image of his negative in a thumbnail format to be able to use to select the preferred image.

Lightroom uses the same Contact Sheet format to display the images.  In digital we typically delete images in camera if they fail to satisfy.  This breaks up the image storyline and makes it more difficult to follow the technique.  With film you have to develop every image so everything is imported.

So here is the argument for NOT deleting in camera.  I know all the experts argue that to save hard drive space you should delete like crazy and only keep the absolute best.  After much thought I believe you should keep all your images and only show the very best.  Digital hard drive space is cheap these days.

In the image above I was testing out the Leica M6 camera as explained in a post last week.  below is the digital contact sheet (Lightroom) and I explain my thinking.  This is exactly what I was thinking after I captured each image.  Even without a digital display I knew what each image would look like.  Film forces you to have an image in your mind of what the photo looks like.

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Contact Sheet Drying Wings

I kept struggling with the composition on this series.  You will see that I kept wanting to put the subject in the middle of the frame.  This is due to my getting used to the focus view on the Leica.  I kept wanting to focus the main subject and my instinct was to press the shutter.  This comes from digital laziness where I can move the focus point so that I can focus and shoot with a single press of the shutter ending up with my desired composition.  A very nice advantage of digital that I had not noticed before.

You can click no the image to enlarge it but essentially throughout the series of images I was fighting a few things.  First was to get close enough to the bird.  I got closer twice.  The first image I realized that the subject would be lost in the picture.  I then got close enough but the bird was centered in the image.  When I recomposed I realized that the subject would again be too small.  When centered the subject is clear but when using the rule of thirds the subject must be more prominent.

I got closer again but realized that I had centered the subject again.  I repositioned it at the bottom right third but wanted to test a different vantage point.  I then realized that in B&W the bird would be lost in the background.  I needed to move the subject to a empty part of the scene.  Again I fought with my tendency of centering the subject.  I composed but realized that the bird was in too bright of a spot.  I was worried that I would not have the detail with such high contrast.

In the last two frames I had the position right and the bird was in a good pose.  I just wanted to hit the rule of thirds dead on and after the second to last image I realized that I had missed it by a hair.  I recomposed on final time and got the image I wanted.

Not every time do I select the final image I shot.  Many times it is the first image.  The importance of this is the process that I followed and deconstructing my own image afterwards.  Had I gone through this process in my mind I would have saved four or five exposures.  Fortunately my subject was willing to stick around for a little while.  Had the bird been a bit more “flighty” (pardon the pun) I would have missed the shot.  But this is the difference between a good photographer and one that is just learning.


Leica M6 & Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2 First Roll

Screen Shot 2015 02 08 at 11.02.24 AM Leica M6 & Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2 First Roll

Leica M6 with Biogon 35/2. Image from

There should be little as rewarding and running your first roll of film through a camera.  But these days most film cameras purchased (all of mine included) have been purchased second hand.  That means that the first roll of film that is put through a camera by its new owner, has nothing to do with understanding the camera, or putting together an artistic vision but rather on testing the camera to see if it works.

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Drying Wings (Perth, Australia): M6, 35mm shot using Ilford Delta Pro100 developed with D-76 stock.  One of the last pictures I captured of this bird drying its wings.  I used f/16 at 1/125sec for this shot.  

I typically through in a good roll of film and proceed to test the camera at different shutter speeds from slow to fast.  Ideally I want a couple of shots slower than 60sec and a few shots between 1/125th of a second and 500 of a second.  I then want to make sure that the fastest shutter speed is working as well.

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Gabriel (Perth, Australia_: M6, 35mm shot using Ilford Delta Pro100 developed with D-76 stock.  I like to test the camera with some portrait work and m son was willing to be my subject…for just a single image.

The entire time I am doing this I am listening to the shutter, feeling the amount of pull on the slide advance lever and ensuring that the exposure count is doing its job.  I also make sure that the light meter is sensitive to a change in film ISO.

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Drift Wood (Perth, Australia): M6, 35mm shot using Ilford Delta Pro100 developed with D-76 stock.

This was the procedure I put my new Leica M6 and Zeiss Biogon lens.  The camera body arrived over the weekend but the lens only came in today.  While at the office I threw in a roll of Ilford Delta 100 Pro film (it was a very bright day) and took four or five shots around the office.  I then put it away and continued to work.

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f2 Test (Perth, Australia): M6, 35mm shot using Ilford Delta Pro100 developed with D-76 stock.  Here I was trying the lens at f/2 to see a much higher shutter.  I believe the shutter was at 1/1000 sec which is the fastest it will go.  The camera worked well and the bokeh was a pleasant surprise.

After returning home I took a walk and pushed through the remaining frames.  It is amazing how slowly 36 exposures are shot when you are trying to get through the roll.  Since my attention during the shots was on the camera and lens operations I have not really enjoyed the camera yet or even put it through its creative paces.  But I have pulled together enough thoughts to justify a quick post.

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Crane (Perth, Australia): M6, 35mm shot using Ilford Delta Pro100 developed with D-76 stock.  Here I wanted to focus to infinity.  This is my view out of my office window so it was one of the first shots I took.


The Leica M6 is heavier than it looks.  This is not to say that it is too heavy but it is clearly a solid piece of engineering.  When I put on the Biogon lens the weight seems to even itself out a bit.  It is still rear heavy which is how it should be.


The Leica feels good in my hands.  I have large hands, and I can see how someone with smaller hands may find it too cumbersome but for my size (6′ 3″) the camera is just fine.


What controls?  You have two options on the camera body…film ISO or shutter speed.  Shutter speed goes from Bulb to 1/1000 sec.  The dial does not go around fully.  This means that if you are at 1/1000 sec and wish to shut it off you need to turn the dial all the way to the other direction.  It would be great if you could just turn one more click and have it off.  I could easily turn the shutter speed while holding the camera up to my eye.

The zoom on the lens is silky smooth.  It feels nice and solid and the aperture gives you the option of ⅓ stops.  This is a GREAT advantage as you can fine tune what you want.  It makes it much easier to dial in the right exposure.


The camera gives you feedback in one of three ways.  An arrow pointing in one direction tells you that your exposure is off and that you need to turn the aperture ring or shutter speed in that direction.  Obviously there is another arrow pointing in the other direction.  The final signal is a round dot which tells you if the exposure is dialed in properly.  That is it.  Nothing else.  No way of telling how far off you are on your exposure.

It helps a great deal if you can eye ball the exposure before picking up the camera.  Since it was nice and sunny I used the sunny 16 rule where I picked a shutter speed of 1/125sec (closest to 1 over your ISO) and set the aperture to f/16.  Low and behold it was spot on.  I could then easily guess based on the amount of shade and was only off a stop or two which made it fast to dial in the right exposure.

Film Loading:

Pretty straight forward.  I got about 38 exposures from my 36 exposure roll which is a nice bonus.  The film just slides in and does not require a great deal of precision to get it right.  The film advance lever works smoothly in one clean stroke.

The rewind knob is smooth and has the right level of tension.  The “R” or rewind button is very definitive in moving which gives me some security that it will not be moved accidentally.


This is MUCH better than I had feared.  I had read a lot on the M3 being the best finder and I feared that the M6 would not be very good.  It is big and clear and the frame lines are very visible and easy to work with.

Much has been said about this Biogon lens blocking the view from the finder.  It literally takes up about 3% or so of the viewfinder.  It does not bother me at all as it is in the far bottom right corner.  The view finder is big enough that if I wanted to see this I would have to move my eye to look in that corner.  I would not worry about it.


The camera and lens work.  No scratches or other problem.  Just as advertised and an amazing lens / camera combination.  I would buy the same ones again.  Beyond that I am not really sure what conclusions I can offer.  It will take a few more rolls to better understand the camera and see if I like it.  I can say that I wish the exposure would give me some indication of how far off I am.

The lens came without a frond lens cover which is the risk of buying used.  The seller was honest about this from the beginning.

The camera was sent with four rolls of film which was an unexpected bonus.  I will take these four rolls as a honeymoon period with the camera.  Free shots to see how it works and see how I like it.  Once done I will upload a detailed report on camera and lens.


New Zealand and Disney?


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Gabriel’s Bike (Perth, Australia): F3, 35mm shot with TRI-X 400, Developer D-76 Stock.  I shot this thinking of William Eggleston image seen below.

What do New Zealand and Disney World have in common?  Aside from being great places to visit there really isn’t very much.  However these are two themes that I found on my last roll of film that I developed.  With digital photography it is easy to keep shots from one theme separate from another.  With film, it would be rather expensive to cut a roll half way through merely because the theme changed.

I am very happy with the results.  The first image is of my sons tricycle.  This was shot after we came back from Orlando but before going to New Zealand.  When I shot this image I was thinking about William Eggleston famous “Big Wheels” shot above.  I carried that thought with me to New Zealand so when I came across this one story house I just had to shoot it.

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White Picket Fence (New Plymouth, New Zealand): F3, 35mm shot with TRI-X 400 developed with D-76 stock



William Eggleston is the photographer who really brought color photography into the art world.  Prior to him it was a domain owned by the Black & White images.  Eggleston had a knack to shoot some very everyday items in a fascinating way.  This is a photographer who would shoot a street scene and you could stare at the image for hours, however if you had walked past the very spot you would not have given it a second thought.

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Big Wheels by William Eggleston

This image is special to me because before I really got into looking at the works of great photographers I happened to run across this image at an exhibition in Sydney.  This image really spoke to me even though I knew nothing of Eggleston.  I still find myself drawn to it.

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Lucas Wildcat (Perth, Australia): F3, 35mm shot with TRI-X 400 developed with D-76 stock

The next image was taken after the trip to Disney when back in Perth Australia.  I was taking the family to see the professional basketball team here called the Wildcats.  We were sitting outside a restaurant in downtown Perth while the girls were ordering the food.  I really liked the light (it began raining 30 seconds after this image was taken) and snapped this picture of my son Lucas.

I wanted the background to be visible but not overly in focus.  I used an f/4 instead of opening it up to f/2 which the lens was capable of doing.  I love his expression and the tonality in his face.  Wonderful film.

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Disney Families & Fun (Orlando, USA): F3, 35mm, shot with TRI-X 400 developed with D-76 stock

The final shot I will share with you today was taken in Disney World.  I had a fascination with the people selling the balloons and you may have seen a few shots in earlier posts.  On this interpretation I wanted to capture the scene around the balloon girl and the fun all the families were having.

Every time I see Eggleston’s work I want to try my hand at color.  I have purchased a roll of Kodak color film to give it a go.  All I need is a bit of inspiration.  I believe I will try to shoot a homage to Eggleston by taking my sons tricycle outside my house here in Perth…now that is a great idea!


Ilford’s PANF and an Unexpected Portrait

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New Zealand Couple (New Plymouth, New Zealand) F3 shot with 35mm using Panf 50 film

Last week I was on a business trip to New Plymouth, New Zealand.  The entire day was packed with meetings, however in summer the days are nice and long with a sunset near 8:30pm.  This allowed me a quick walk every afternoon for about 1.5 hours.  I was able to walk several kilometers from the hotel and take some interesting pictures using my Nikon F3 and a roll of Ilford PANF 50 Plus.

I was fortunate that the day was very bright allowing my first test with some very slow film to actually occur.  As I took a slow walk I began taking pictures of the ocean and sea wall.  After about an hour I ran into this very nice elderly couple who were visiting from the South Island.

We spoke for about 20 minutes about film, family and youth after which I asked if they would allow me to take their portrait.  The were gracious enough to let me capture them where they sat.

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Sea Wall (New Plymouth, New Zealand): F3 35mm shot with Ilford PANF 50.

The great views and the chance to try out some new film were all exciting events however the highlight of that day will always be this gracious couple and the reminiscing of a simpler time.  Photography continues to surprise me with everything it gives me.

To Grain or Not to Grain…

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Pipes F3 35mm TMAX 400: This was developed at home using D-76 developer.  Nothing has been done in PP.

Learning photography on a digital camera for the past few years has spoiled me.  The portion I struggle with the most is ISO or film/sensor sensitivity adjustments.  With digital, ISO sensitivity adjustments can be changed from one shot to the next while film must be selected when you purchase a roll.  Digital technology has also improved to where higher ISO introduce less grain.

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Pipes F3 HP5 400: Here a shot of the same pipes also developed at home using D-76.  Once again no PP.

Take my Nikon D300 which is all but retired now in my drying closet.  It has a native ISO of 200 and can shoot to ISO 400 perfectly but after that grain is introduced.  Unfortunately I am not talking about the pretty film grain (more on that in a second) but the rather distracting digital grain.

Jump to my Nikon D800, my current digital workhorse, and I have no issues taking it to ISO 1,600 and with the improvements in Lightroom 5 noise reduction can push it to ISO 3,600 or more.

When I came into film, I assumed that the grain impact would be similar to my D300, as I did not appreciate the great advances that digital technology had seen before I picked up this camera.  I really did not notice the grain because I was more interested in getting the simple mechanics down.  Ensuring the camera was working, that I understood her controls and that the pictures were coming out similar to what I had imagined.

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Portrait FS Tmax 400: Agin developed at home using D-76 and no PP.

After a few rolls of primary education, I began looking for more artistic value in my shots.  This came about during our recent trip to Disney World where I took several different types of film however all of it was ISO 400.  Here, I would be able to practice some interesting street photography so I was going to focus on the artistic value of my shots.  This coincided with my desire to start developing my own film.  And this is where I began seeing the level of grain in the developed film.

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Portrait F3 HP5 400: Developed at home D76 with no PP.

In my mind the level of grain is defined as the size of the grain, dispersion of grain, visibility in the true blacks vs true whites and the texture of the grain.  Digital grain is usually fine in size very heavily clustered in the blacks but with a mechanical dispersion that begins to resemble a pattern.  This is what is rather annoying as it appears to have been shot with a “grain” filter on.

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Portrait F3 DeltaPro400: Developed at home D76 with no PP



I began to question if perhaps there was something in my development process that was introducing the grain.  After a bit of a review I saw a great deal of opinions regarding the impact of development on grain size however much of it was utter nonsense.  After a bit of work I was able to list these development issues that can affect grain size.  Obviously ISO or ASA film speed is the largest contributor of grain but below are the things you should control when developing.

  • Temperature
  • Development time
  • Type of developer versus film

That is it.  Keep in mind that temperature includes the temperature of all development chemicals, not just the developer.

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Portrait OM1 HP5 400: This one was professionally developed with no PP.


So I went back and looked at film that I had professionally developed and found the same if not more grain in those shots.  This tells me that either the professional lab is making a mistake or my development is not adding a significant amount of grain.

Still OM1 HP5 400 1024x683 To Grain or Not to Grain...

Still OM1 HP5 400: This one was professionally developed with no PP.

The interesting aspect is that film grain can add a sense of character to a shot.  Too much grain and it can be distracting.  Not enough and it can look clinical.  Since getting into film this is something I have noticed on allot of digital images…they look too perfect.

If you get too close to a film image which was shot at higher than ISO 100 you will see grain and it will be distracting.  As you pull away, to a normal viewing distance, the grain forms part of the image and helps convey a softer perception of the scene.

Girl Skater F3 Panf 50ISO 1024x683 To Grain or Not to Grain...

Girl Skater F3 Panf 50: Developed at home using D76 some PP.

In order to see a lower ISO I decided to pick up an ISO 50 in the Ilford Panf Plus.  This is a great little roll of temperamental film.  It is very slow film which means it is almost exclusively for bright, outdoor shooting.  It does give you the ability to shoot wide open.

New Zealand Couple F3 Panf 50ISO 1024x683 To Grain or Not to Grain...

New Zealand Couple F3 Panf 50: Developed at home using D76 some PP.

The grain is indeed less however the day I was shooting was very contrasty.  These last two images had a little PP done to them because I had purposely overexposed them by one stop.


1.  When developing your own film be sure to use a recipe and stick to it.  Temperature and time being the two most important things you must control.

2.  Any amount of grain when viewed at 100% will look awful.  The goal of an image is to be seen at a respectable distance.

3.  Professional development may increase the amount of grain if they use non-optimal developer for your selected film type.

4.  The only way to learn with film is trial and error…fortunately it is fun to learn!