Photography, Communications & Me

Field Studies No. 1

Field Studies No. 1

Last year I acquired a Bronica SQ-A medium format film camera. I wanted to see the difference between it and the full-frame Canon 6D I normally use. After a few YouTube tutorials, I hopped in the car and stopped for a few quick shots, using the 6D as an expensive light meter. Of course, it also takes photos, so I did that, too. In today’s post and in the next one, I’ll compare results. The digital and analog shots were taken at the same settings. I hadn’t started a logbook yet, so I didn’t record the settings or the location (South Barrington, Illinois). According to the sensor data on the digital file, these were at 1/125 sec., f4.0 and ISO 100, which matches the film speed. The medium format was shot through an 80mm (~40mm equivalent) lens while the 6D had a pancake 40mm. OK, enough specs. On to the images!

First up is the full-color version of the Canon 6D shot. Taken late in the day, the sun is starting to cast a warmer tone on the silo and fields. Using the RAW file, I’ve bumped up the contrasts, colors, etc., and brought out the definition of the clouds. This is one of my favorite things about digital, is that the detail captured by the camera can be recovered.

Field Studies No. 1-A

Field Studies No. 1-B

Here’s the B&W conversion of the first image, with a few minor tweaks to the curves. For this particular photo, the DSLR had a slight advantage as I could focus and shoot at eye-level, giving me a tad more height to see over the corn rows.

Field Studies No. 1-C

And above is the 120 film as scanned at the lab. I’ve since added a medium yellow filter to my bag to help with cloud definition. You can see that the perspective is slightly lower, I’m up on my tip-toes and looking into the waist-level finder, but that difference of a few inches creates a different look. The thistle in the foreground is very close to the lens. The f4 apeture is more like f2, and it’s this focus falloff that I like about this image. The DSLR at the same aperture brings out more depth of field, but this one feels slightly more intimate.

Let’s take a look zoomed into the silo.

The first thing that pops out to me is what I assume are copper ribs on the roof. The DSLR does a good of keeping the details, and the dynamic range is impressive.

On to the B&W conversion:

Here’s the B&W crop. The distracting roof colors are gone, and the jaggedness of the silo openings pairs well with the starkness of the corn.

And now the film crop:

I’ve resized it down from the lab scan, and as you can see it’s not as sharp on the details. The pines in the back blend into the other trees, and the feel of the Kodak T-Max 100 is softer, more gradual even if I try to pump up the contrast. You can really see the film grain in the sky. Again, though, the perspective feels more intimate than the DSLR’s angle.

Here are the three crops, side-by-side:

I’m picking the DSLR B&W conversion as my favorite of the three crops. For overall image, though, I’m picking the color digital version as my favorite. I’m loving the sky detail and the flow of the fields and sky. For my first venture into the world with a 120 camera, it was a lot of fun!

Which did you like best? Weigh in over on my social channels.


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