A wonderful thing about living in a larger city is that even after a decade there are still plenty of things to discover.
In September we found a new favourite spot – the Bergius Botanic Garden, or Bergianska Trädgården in Swedish. I’ve written before about how I like shooting in conservatories, and for this the Bergius Gardens are a real gem.
Aside from the large garden grounds, beautiful and interesting in their own right, there are two conservatories. One spacious and modern, built in the 1990’s, feeling very biosphere-esque overall. The second one, opened in 1900, is much smaller but apparently unique of its kind and very pretty architecturally.
Unfortunately the smaller one was closed during our visit, but I got a few shots of its exterior that I liked. Overall there’s plenty to see, as well as a very serene atmosphere.
This was sort of a special outing for us, since it was one of our first with our daughter. To reflect that I wanted to document it in a somewhat special way.
So for the first time in years I didn’t bring any digital camera with me on an outing like this. Instead I chose to shoot the entire day using film. I brought two cameras, both loaded with Portra 400. Very different in shooting style, not to mention size.
The Hasselblad 500C
I’ve had this awesome medium format camera for ages, but rarely use it. It’s quite big and heavy and slow to work with, but I really enjoy shooting it. I only have one lens for it – the Zeiss Planar C 80/2.8.
The Leica CL
I’ve written about this camera before, on several occasions, and how I really enjoy shooting this little oddity. On this outing I chose to equip it with the almost insanely wide Voigtländer 15/4.5, to complement the longer lens on the 500C (80mm on medium format is equivalent to around 40mm in 35mm terms).
I’m not super used to shooting the 500C. And composing with the 15mm Voigtländer is hard even with a live view camera, let alone with a not quite wide enough external finder on film without the option to chimp. So shooting the two cameras felt a bit like juggling. Going for a simple combination like the CL and the Summicron-C 40 would’ve probably been more sensible, but where’s the fun in that?
I feel a got a good number of shots that I really like. The combination of super wide and normal angles of view made for an interesting contrast to my eye. Something I like with film is also that I can load up two cameras with the same film stock like this and get visually very similar output with little work, despite the vastly different cameras and lenses. Of course the different aspect ratios as well as the lens rendering characteristics become very visible.
The 15 fared really well I feel. I’ve not shot it on film before but have to say the performance is even better than on digital with slightly better definition in the corners of the frame. I also don’t think I’ve shot anywhere as well suited for an ultra wide as this and made a few of my new favourite shots with the lens on the outing. I did get some really quite poor compositions on a few frames though, and I even managed to get my finger in the frame on one instance (the dangers of a small sized ultra wide). But overall I’m pleased.
The modern, high contrast, high resolution look carries over well to film. Though it can become a bit harsh at times. Since there’s often quite a bit of dynamic range in shots with an ultra wide the gentler highlight roll off of film also makes the overall look slightly different on film, a bit smoother and in some situations more pleasing.
I'm not quite sold on the quality of the 35mm scans I'm getting from my lab though. Despite them being their highest quality offered, I find them a bit harsh and with a bit heavy handed colour correction going on. I'm even a bit interested in getting a scanner to try and see if I'd be able to get better results myself.
The Planar 80 is obviously an older lens than the Voigtländer. It has lower contrast and saturation, and the rendition of detail is a bit gentler as well. Colour is fantastic. There’s a lot more separation than with 35mm film, especially evident at larger distances. The lens really seems to shine stopped down slightly – at around f/4 there’s a bit more bite and loads of detail thanks to the large negative. Overall I’d be hard pressed to think of another normal lens with significantly nicer rendering than this.
Overall I must say I’m quite pleased with the outing from a photographic standpoint. I got better than expected results from the tricky 15mm and really got keen on shooting the 500C more often as well.
I've added my findings to the Voigtländer 15/4.5 review