Tagged: Film

Contax 645 Reviewfor Wedding Photographers

I had dreamed of the Contax 645 for years. Mostly due to “gear acquisition syndrome.” I believed this camera would make me a better photographer. In the back of my head, I knew it wouldn’t, but I learned to ignore the rational voice. Six years ago, I finally reached a point where I could afford a Contax 645. Surprisingly, it did change my work for the better. With the camera, I could finally achieve the vision I had in my head. I was immediately in love! But the camera also has a dark side. I thought I would share my experience with others, so I created the detailed Contax 645 review video below.

To sum up my feelings from the Contax 645 review above, I would simply offer the following pros and cons –

Pros

  • The legendary Zeiss 80mm f/2 planar lens – it’s a dream factory
  • Available battery grip – easier vertical shooting, better battery life, and enables use of standard AA batteries
  • Auto-focus and exposure meter unlike some older medium format cameras
  • Ease of use – simple dials for major functions, good ergonomics, not too complex

Cons

  • Price – popularity has driven the prices surprisingly high (too high)
  • Parts availability – all spare parts are now gone. Any major problem will require cannibalizing parts from another camera
  • Prima Donna – when the camera works, it’s amazing, but it’s known for random errors and finicky operation
  • Film flatness – sometimes the film doesn’t lay flat on the film plane, causing weird focus issues. Solving this problem can be really tough
  • The camera only operates in full-stops (no 1/3 stops), although the aperture can be set in half-stops
  • It weighs a ton with the battery grip, albeit less than a Hasselblad H1

Thoughts to Consider

The Contax 645 is worth exploring if your photographic style necessitates this particular camera. If your style is built around shooting wide-open apertures for creamy backgrounds, then you should consider the Contax 645. However, if you commonly stop down the aperture, then the greatest asset of the Contax 645 is wasted. Because I was having film flatness issues, I decided to try a Hasselblad H1 with the equally legendary 100mm f/2.2 lens. Since that time, I’ve hardly touched the Contax 645, especially for professional work. If you’re seriously looking at the Contax, consider it’s problems, and whether another camera might be a better choice.

With all that said, I still own the camera and would buy it again today if I had to do so.

Hope the above Contax 645 review helped. If you enjoyed the video, consider subscribing to my YouTube photography channel. It’s dedicated to all things film, digital, and hybrid photography. You can also find my most recent work on Instagram. You can also find more information for photographers right here.

How to Safely Ship Film

Tons of thought goes into how to safely protect images for any professional photographer. Consideration is given to image protection when shooting, photo archive back-up, and even protection against hazard using cloud storage. For the digital photographer, any concerns usually stops there. However, for the hybrid or film photographer, film must be shipped to their photo lab for processing. This extra step can bring with it extra risk. But there are steps you can take to mitigate this risk. In the video below, I cover how to safely ship film to your lab.

The steps aren’t about choosing the best shipping company. I’ve heard so many people complain about FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Fact is, they’re all the same. Each shipping company delivers regularly and occasionally has issues. Choosing one company over another really won’t make a difference. Instead, mitigating risk is done how you pack and address the shipment. Here are some top tips from the video:

  1. Secure your film inside zip-lock bags
  2. Use a good shipping container – use a box and avoid envelopes
  3. Securely seal your package with good, thick tape
  4. Use a printed label – ensures the shipping details are easily scanned by the shipping company
  5. Never hand-write the shipping label
  6. Consider buying a label printer to make at-home preparation easy

How to safely ship film really boils down to ensuring the shipping company can easily read the intended destination. Equally important is choosing a good photo lab that will treat your film well.

If you enjoyed this quick tutorial, try subscribing to my YouTube photography channel. You can also follow recent work on Instagram.

Europe Travel PhotographyCaptured on Film

We still debate the purpose of what we call our “European Adventure.” Brooke would say the vacation was to celebrate a milestone birthday for both of us. I believe differently. Brooke had always wanted to dedicate more of our resources to travel, so we established a travel savings account. When we could save a little extra, we would add the funds to this special bank account. With time, I came to realize three things. First, my wife was approaching a certain milestone birthday. Second, she had never been to Europe, which seemed a shame. Third and finally, we had saved a surprising amount of money. Certainly enough for an over-the-top adventure. So the plan was set – in September, 2015 we would go on a grand tour across Europe. Normally when we travel, we pick a single spot and stay there. This gives us a good opportunity to settle into the community. In this case, it was more important for Brooke to experience as much of Europe as possible. Later, we’ll go back on smaller trips to “stay awhile.” Below are some highlights from my Europe travel photography.

Rome

Brooke was glued to the window on the ride from Fiumicino airport. Our private driver was flying through Rome’s morning traffic, but that didn’t stop Brooke from noticing every little thing. We found decent sleep on our red-eye flight, arriving in Rome relatively refreshed. It was the first time in Rome for both of us, but I had been to Europe before. We quickly checked into the hotel and ran out the door again. Given we had just arrived, our first day would be a slower walking tour of the city.

We were immediately struck by the quantity of tourists in Rome. I had never seen anything like it before. Technically speaking, we were there during the off-season. We simply kept to ourselves and strolled the streets, making sure to use back alleys when possible. After all, you never know what you’ll find down a back alley. As the day progressed, we visited the Parthenon, Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona. Our first night in Rome was truly the highlight. A taxi dropped us in a back alley. The entrance to the D.O.M. Hotel was lit with a single lamp in front of us. Inside, we found ourselves in a cramped but gorgeous lobby. A host helped us find the elevator to the rooftop. From the roof, we sipped on cocktails all night while enjoying a view of the Vatican.

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Tuscany

It’s hard to overstate Tuscany. It’s everything you’ve read and then some. It seems every night is a sunset over a rolling landscape dotted with hilltop towns. Behind ancient city walls, you’ll find surprises around each corner. Our little agriturismo near Buonconvento was home base. It had just seven rooms, but only three were occupied at any given time. It felt like we were staying at beautiful private villa.

In Tuscany, our focus shifted from seeing the sights to enjoying the food & wine. Both Brooke and I have a real passion for wine. We know American wines very well and we have an understanding of French wines, but Italian wines were completely new to us. We used our time in Tuscany to tour vineyards, including Boscarelli and Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. Each day we ate at enotecas, which are wine stores that also have a kitchen. I highly recommend enotecas as a way to avoid tourist-centric restaurants. In the end, we came away from Tuscany with a new found love of cherry-rich Tuscan wines, and a couple cases in our wine cellar!

Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film Europe travel photography from Tuscany, Italy captured in film

Munich

It was like returning home for me. I had spent a month living in Munich when I was much younger. For Brooke, Munich was a total surprise. She didn’t quite understand why I had insisted on visiting Bavaria. Once we were there, she completely understood. Brooke immediately fell in love with Germany, as I knew she would. We happened to arrive just two days before Octoberfest. While we missed the big celebration by design, we did have an amazing beer garden experience.

We spent an afternoon at Munich’s Englischer Garten, which is a sprawling city park similar to New York’s Central Park. Sitting beneath a Chinese pagoda, we sipped on Hofbrau and listened to traditional music all afternoon. Brooke even got a chance to meet the Hofbrau draft horses as they prepared for the coming celebrations.

Europe travel photography from Munich, Germany captured in film Europe travel photography from Munich, Germany captured in film Europe travel photography from Munich, Germany captured in film Europe travel photography from Munich, Germany captured in film

Paris

Hiding in Paris was a secret. Four secrets to be exact. I had done all of the vacation planning and share most of the details with Brooke. Secretly I had planned four romantic surprises for Brooke, one for each day in Paris. On day one, we found ourselves rushing to the Eiffel Tower. Not to see the tower, but to meet surprise number one. Waiting beneath the tower was a horse-drawn carriage – the last in all of Paris. We spent the next hour on a personal tour of Paris, with champagne of course.

Day two was a celebration of our wedding anniversary, and a surprise dinner at Guy Savoy – a three-star Michelin restaurant. The dinner may have been one of the best meals of my life. After all, it did feature two cheese courses. During the early evening on day three, we were strolling back alleys in Paris. Brooke looked amazing in a brand new dress, and I was in a suit. She knew a surprise was coming, but did not know what. We turned a narrow corner, and strolled through a park. Just then, Brooke noticed something up ahead. “That girl has the same camera as you,” Brooke said. In that moment, she understood what was about to happen. Standing in the sunlight ahead was Ashley Kelemen, my favorite photographer. She had flown in for an anniversary couples session with us.

On our final evening in Paris, we returned to the banks of the Seine. It was time for the last surprise – a dinner cruise up the Seine at night under the lights of Paris. If I weren’t completely overcome by the flu, it would have been the perfect end to Paris.

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Below is a single photo, my favorite, from our anniversary couples session with Ashley Kelemen. Ashley was kind enough to fly in just for this session, and we are eternally grateful. We love the photos so much and will for the rest of our lives. Aside from the one image below, I’m not going to post Ashley’s work here. Instead, I would strongly encourage you to check out her Parisian Anniversary feature and the rest of her stunning work.

A Paris anniversary couples session captured on film by Ashley Kelemen The above image is copyright Ashley Kelemen, 2015

Europe travel photography from Paris, France captured in film Europe travel photography from Paris, France captured in film

The Loire Valley

Our arrival in the Loire Valley found me healthy again, and both of us rested and relaxed. We were staying at Domaine Des Hautes De Loire, a chateau just outside Onzain, France. The small chateau is nestled against an enormous forest dotted with ponds and black swan.

On a rainy first day, we visited Chateau Chambord, the largest chateau in the region. We also took time to visit Chateau Amboise, set high on a cliff overlooking the wide Loire river. On the second day, we visited Chateau Villandry, which is surrounded by world-famous gardens. It’s also where I stuffed a rental car into a tree, but we won’t talk about that. On the last day of our European adventure, we visited Chateau Chenonceaux, a chateau which straddles the Cher River.

Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film Europe travel photography from the Loire Valley, France captured in film

By the time it was all over, we were exhausted. Our European adventure was completely different than our normal travel itinerary, but we came home with a lifetime of memories. We will return soon. In fact, we are already planning our next adventure. This time, it will be on a much smaller scale. Hope you enjoyed my Europe travel photography. I’m sure I will have more to share soon.