Experimenting with Rollei Retro 80s Film

I recently bought a two-pack of Rollei’s Retro 80s Film from B&H after reading a little about it and deciding that it would be something I’d like to mess around with myself. I shot a roll of it with my Canon A2e and had a pretty wide range of results; almost all of them had very high contrast, some even to the point of having so much contrast that significant detail was lost (though that was also likely as much if not more so due to operator error on my part). Below are a couple of my favorites from shooting my first roll.

These guys were scanned in shortly after being developed (D-76) and from what I remember had relatively little post-processing done aside from adjusting the contrast on some to bring back some detail.

One thing I did notice about the film is how much detail it did capture on certain frames, like in the shot of the leaf caught between two fence posts below.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much texture came through – here’s a close-up at a 100% crop so you can see what I mean a little more clearly.

I’d like to try shooting the next roll in my LC-A+ to see how the Minitar lens changes the results I get from the film; all-in-all though, I really liked the film and going out on a whim and trying it paid off. For those who want to pick up a roll themselves, you can find it lots of places across the web, though I bought mine through B&H here.

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Outdoors with the Petzval Lens

I backed Lomography’s Petzval lens on Kickstarter back when the campaign was running in August last year and a couple months later got the lens in the mail, which I immediately took out and played around with. I’ve used it multiple times since for its artsy effects and swirly bokeh, though it struck me I’ve yet to share my images from it. So, I grabbed my Petzval and my T3-i and headed outside for some nature shots and experimenting.

Exploring the outdoors

The Petzval is known for its swirly bokeh, which – despite being used largely for portraits – I’ve found to be awesome at nature shots.

Above are the final, edited versions from my Petzval excursion, though there are a couple I’d like to offer some more insight into.

A closer look at the bokeh

I’ve mentioned the infamous Petzval bokeh a couple times above, which you can kind of get an idea for by looking at the images of the ground cover and flat leaf Italian parsley (shown both above and below).

You’ll notice the blurring around the edges of the frame and the circular, swirly pattern of the bokeh (the little blurred dots) with a relatively sharp part of the image in the center. Both of these were shot using an ƒ/2.2 aperture, which helped to make the bokeh and blur even more pronounced.

Using the Petzval

The Petzval is pretty easy to use, though there are a couple modern lens features absent from it, and understandably so. The first would be the lack of autofocus and an image stabilizer, though this is to be expected firstly for the sake of its historical accuracy and secondly due to the fact that there are no camera-to-lens electrical connections on the lens mount.

The other caveat is that photos taken with the Petzval are missing aperture information from their metadata, as the camera doesn’t receive any aperture information from the lens (the aperture is set using drop-in plates). This also makes it a little tougher to use certain modes on the camera, though a little tinkering should be able to solve those problems.

Getting close up with the Petzval

I also decided to try using the Petzval for macro, which I was surprised to see turned out pretty good for the most part despite the blur of the lens.

I used the Petzal in conjunction with my set of Hoya close-up filters (I used the 4+ filter; luckily the thread size I had for my set happened to match that of the Petzal, 52mm) and two different apertures: ƒ/2.2 and ƒ/5.6.

While I was shooting using the filter, I noticed that at smaller apertures (like the ƒ/2.2) the images became increasingly fuzzy. You can see what I mean by looking at the two images of the same plant below, the first shot at ƒ/2.2 and the second shot at ƒ/5.6, taken directly as shot in-camera.

Excusing the slight difference in exposure, the difference in clarity is really noticeable. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, since it can easily be overcome by using higher apertures. The blur can be used to create additional artsy effects as well, making for a very versatile lens and filter combo.

In fact, the lens is capable of picking up pretty great detail with the filter, as shown in the leaf below (the first straight from the camera, the second edited in Aperture 3).

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the Petzval and its performance for macro, which is one of my favorite styles of shooting. If you’d like to pick up a Petzval and try it out for yourself, you can head over to Lomography’s online shop and snag one.

The Lomo LC-A+

I recently got the Lomo LC-A+ (which is a really awesome little camera) and decided to take it for a spin with some different films than those I usually use since I was feeling a little wild. To be honest, though, I just wanted to try everything out, and taking them on a little photo excursion seemed to be the best way to do so. As a kinda of welcome-in-the-new-year post to represent forging ahead and trying new things (and taking another look at old things, too), here are some of my photos from my first attempts with my LC-A+. More details about each set follow.

Double Exposure

This was shot with my LC-A+ and took two exposures on Rollei Superpan 200 which may have snuck ahead of T-MAX as my favorite black and white film for more artsy prints. Scanned in versus photographed and then inverted, which some of my other photos were since the scanner was unavailable later on. My second scanned photo was a single-exposure of my friend Becca, seen below.

Despite the blur (due to my inability to focus the camera, not my shaky hands – bummer) the scanner really worked well on this image I thought, versus the following that weren’t scanned.

Photographed versus Scanned

Later on, the scanner was unavailable for me to use, so my instructor David Arnold advised me on how I might accomplish some film “scanning” on my own. The process was relatively straightforward: place the film negatives on a light source that would illuminate them from the back and then use a macro lens to photograph the image with a regular DSLR, which would produce a positive after inverting the digital image. The hard part was setting everything up to the point where I actually had a smooth system of “scanning” my film in. For the B&W Superpan, it was no problem, and the scans turned out pretty decent (not true scanner quality, but definitely usable) after inverting them.

The color scans, though, were a different story. Since this was new film (and I was relatively inexperienced with shooting it in the LC-A+) it could also be due to those facts, though “photoscanning” it in didn’t yield quite as good of results as I’d hoped. Still interesting, however, and since the whole point of this project was experimentation, I consider it a success. The post-processing definitely helped thanks to my instructor’s advice and the awesome tutorial found on Jeffrey Sward’s website that got me through it.

I plan to scan the rest of my first batch of images in and post those as well as taking some more on some good old T-MAX and seeing how those turn out. Until next time, keep experimenting, and thanks for reading.