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Contax 645 Medium Format Film Photography | Got my Film Back!

So I got my first couple of rolls of medium format film back from the lab having had them developed and scanned. I can’t remember the last time I was so nervous to see how images turned out! I decided when I got the camera that I would experiment with 2 different film stocks: Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji 400H. Both were 120, which on the Contax 645 gives you 16 shots per roll. Clearly, you have to slow down otherwise you burn through film! I have to say I’m pretty pleased with my first results, especially as they were taken just with the view to experiment to see what worked. Digital photographers will know that for digital photography, you stay away from overexposing the highlights…once they’re gone they’re gone and you can’t get them back. With film however, it’s kind of the opposite…you mostly expose for the shadow, and because of the latitude of film, the highlights will hopefully retain detail. To complicate matters, different films need different treatment, for example with Fuji 400H the more overcast the sky, the more over-exposure you aim for. So these are my first photos on medium format film. All photos are taken with my Contax 645, all at an aperture of f2 on the Carl Zeiss 80mm f2 prime lens. Metering was done by a combination of in-camera via the prism, and by using a Sekonic 358 handheld lightmeter, just to see which gave me better results. In all cases I manually exposed and manually focused. The film was developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in California, and I asked them to scan to keep skin tones neutral. The images below have had no post-processing whatsoever- just resizing for the web.

Portra 400, f2, overexposed by 2 stops.

Portra 400, f2, overexposed by 2 stops. The shot of Erica indoors was metered for the shadow and with another stop of exposure added.

Fuji 400H, f2, overexposed by 2 stops.

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January 26, 2014 - 11:04 am

Richard - Hi Christian

These images are amazing! If you say ‘Two stops’, how does that translate to the actual exposure dial on a film camera like the FM3A, which I just received as a gift and really want to try with the 400H Pro. It is marked (-2.-1.0.+1.+2). Does each dot also represent a stop?….

January 26, 2014 - 6:04 pm

christian - Thanks Richard! You need +2 to dial in 2 stops of over-exposure. The dots refer to half stops…i.e. 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2.

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