The Black Hole

This is the other project that's been stealing most of my precious free time:

(Image shamelessly ripped from

The Yashica-mat 124 is a medium-format 6*6 film camera, which means that the roll of film is ~6cm wide, and it'll fit 12 6cm*6cm exposures on a “120” sized roll. (A 6*7 format camera takes wider shots, a 6*4.5 narrower shots, making correspondingly fewer/more exposures on a roll. 35mm cameras use "135" sized rolls.)

Here are some proofs, shot on Fuji's Provia 100f slide film. (Developed and scanned by the lab at Carousel downtown... more on that later...)

Here's a “full crop” comparison (samples of ~300x300 pixels from similar areas of similar images) between the Yashica and my Fuji F40fd point & shoot digital:

I'm sure you can tell which is which, if only by the increased depth of focus from the smaller camera.
(This isn't exactly a fair or accurate comparison: the Fuji's image was taken on a brighter day, almost a week earlier in the season, and without a tripod. That said, it does give you an idea of the differences between the two formats.)
Even at wide open (f/3.8) this lens is remarkably sharp. There's actually a bit of separation or mold in the corner of the lens that you can only see at apertures wider than f/5.6:
View of nasty lens problems from inside the camera.

But it doesn't seem to make that much difference on soft and colorful images (as above). If I had needed critical focus on a high-detail subject across the entire image I'd probably see some distortion, but if I was really worried about critical focus I wouldn't want to shoot wide open anyway—the lens is always sharpest in the aperture midrange, ~ f/11. You've also got a lot more depth of field when you stop it down; as you can see, the larger format has much narrower depth of field to begin with. On this roll, only two of my images were actually shot wide open; though I was using a tripod. If I had been doing more hand-held work I would have needed a faster shutter/correspondingly wider aperture.

I'm happy with the camera and the exposures, but I'm not happy with Carousel's “high resolution” scans. The images on the CD are only 2079*2048, and less than 4MB each. I don't know whose definition of “high resolution” they're using, but I'm not impressed. McBain's scanned my last roll of 35mm at 3072*2048... since the 6*6 slide has more than double the surface area, Carousel was scanning at less than half the dpi! In this scene, the loss of detail is a lot easier to see:

Those trees in the background are clear and sharp on the film itself; if it image were actually scanned at a higher resolution I could show you that.

Carousel also did something strange with the colour balance of these scans: everything was too yellow in the scans on the CD. It's not a really difficult problem to fix in Irfanview, Picasa or Photoshop, but it's something that a lab tech should notice. I'd guess that someone needed a correction filter on the last roll of film that went through, or that the scanner was still set up for negatives when they scanned my slides...
Worst of all, they snipped ~1cm off the bottom of one of my exposures! It's possible there was a problem with the way I loaded the film (the first frame might have been too close to the start of the roll) but if that's the case I'd expect them to tell me about it so I can fix the problem! It was my first exposure with the camera, and it's not a very interesting picture or anything, but that's no excuse for a photo lab to be negligent. When I pay $1.60 per exposure, I expect slightly better than this sort of sloppy processing!
I suppose that's what happens with monopolies in small markets.
The next roll's going to Nova in Calgary (McBain sends 120 stuff there. 10 days to get your film back. Blech.) I really wish those Coulourfast people were still around.
Then again, I suppose this is a good excuse to start shooting B&W and developing it myself...

1 comment:

Naomi said...

It looks like you CAN have colour in a black hole lol! Nice to have something to show for your free time. Maybe I could just hire you to follow me around and take pictures of things for me. But then again, the advantage to TAKING pictures is that you are not in them, hehehe.