First of all, please excuse the title of this post. I thought it was funny.
I’ve had my Kiev 60 for a few months now. It is an awesome camera. Fully manual classic 35mm style medium format SLR. It’s a tank! Heavy and sturdy. You could kill a bear with this thing. This camera uses the same lens mount as the German Pentacon Six – the P6 mount. This means you have access to a lot of awesome lenses from Zeiss, Schneider and the native, Ukranian Arsat. I put the camera through a test, shooting a slide film, Fujifilm Provia 100F. Slide film are notorious for having lousy exposure latitude. This means that the exposure should be more or less spot on to get a nice image. So this was really a perfect test of shutter speeds. Mostly the fast ones though. Other than the Provia, I also shot a Kodak Portra 160 and a Kodak Ektar 100. All these images were shot with a Zeiss Sonnar 180mm f/2.8. A beast of a lens – tack sharp and a pleasant bokeh.
The camera itself is pretty cool to shoot. It’s heavy, so probably not the best vacation walk around camera. The shutter gives a nice clunk, but it doesn’t feel like the mirror creates too much camera shake. The TTL prism is awesome. Very bright and easy to focus and frame through. The lightmeter in the prism sucks though. I just pulled the batteries out of mine and use the camera with a handheld meter or by using the Sunny 16 guidelines.
The kit lens for this bad boy is an Arsat Volna-3 80mm f/2.8. A classic Soviet medium format lens. It is actually quite sharp – supposedly even sharper than the equivalent Zeiss version. I shot a single roll of Fomapan 200 with this one. I developed it in Caffenol – and it went horribly wrong. However, a good modern scanner and some proper software saved it. I think the Volna-3 looks good – very good even.
The last lens I have for the Kiev 60 is the Zeiss Flektogon 50mm F/4. I have shot with it, but have not developed the films yet. Supposedly it is not the sharpest of the sharpest, but should be good enough.
The camera does have a frame spacing issue. At least mine does. It is an easy fix, a screw needs to be adjusted. I just haven’t had the time to sit down to fix it. The spacing seems to differ from film stock to film stock. The Provia had overlapping frames, by about 5 mm. The Kodak films seem to have fine, but a little narrow spacing and the Fomapan has spacing which more or less does not exist – no spacing and no overlap either. From guides online, I believe that this camera is extremely easy to adjust in different ways. I love it!
I recently got my hands on the photo book “And then there was silence” by renowned Danish photojournalist Jan Grarup. The book is an almost 500 page giant, weighing in at just under 5 kg.
My first impression is that it is an impressive piece of work. It must have taken a lot of coffee and perhaps some tears to get through selecting images for that many pages.
Let’s jump straight to the core of this. The photos. Jan Grarup travels the world’s war zones and disaster areas, documenting human tragedy at its worst. He has a special talent for capturing beauty even in the most grotesque scenes. Unlike the famous photojournalists of the last century, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Cappa, among others, he does not seem preoccupied with capturing the decisive moment. Jan Grarup captures feelings, atmosphere in astounding compositions. One has to wonder, how he manages to use angles, composition and depth of field, almost to perfection in many of the pictures in the book. Some pictures left me with an ambiguous feeling: How can one be totally breathtaken by beauty in images showing absolute horror?
Photographically, it is all that it is built up to be – and more. The title seems to fit perfectly. Flipping through the pages, you are rendered speechless by both the beauty and the horror of the images. An absolutely amazing feeling – even though you are supposed to feel bad after looking though the book.
The book’s psysical appearence seems quite nice from a distance. A large hardback bound in black cloth with white printing. However on closer look, it seems a bit cheap and a little fragile. The cardboard making up the inside of the cover seems a bit soft to me. Thick but soft. And the assembly and binding itself seems like it could have been done tighter.
The paper is a nice quality 150 g, semi glossy type which feels nice and durable to handle. For image printing it is quite okay. It doesn’t make the photos pop, but then again, many of the pictures are large and had to be viewed from a little distance to get the best impression of them. The paper seems perfectly fine for this. The smaller pictures, I feel lose a bit of detail though.
The price for all this is very reasonable. 349 DKK including shipping and a 10% donation to Unicef. That is a very nice price for a book of this size with that many extraordinary photos inside.
In conclution the book is of photographically very high quality but is lacking a bit in the physical department.
Today that question suddenly popped into my mind. The reason it did, is because I am sometimes struck by the lack of historical and technical knowledge that so-called photography enthusiasts display.
For me, my interest in photography is not at all limited to taking pictures. Of course, actually taking a photograph is the main goal, most of the time. But getting to know the historical background, the development in processes and techniques over the last 200 years and of course knowing about the work of some of the people who have pioneered the craft during the last century is very important too.
Sometimes, I spend a lot more time studying photography than actually doing some myself. I can watch the same documentaries over and over again, discovering new details every time I do. I study old cameras, filmtypes and printing methods till I am blue in the face.
So when I come across enthusiastic “picture takers” and try to talk to them about photography – key persons, history, cameras etc. I am sometimes surprised by the lack of interest in the thing they are actually doing.
Now, I know we cannot all share the same interests, but to me it is still kind of sad to see knowledge not being accumulated but simply thrown away to make room for the next new, fast zoom lens or high ISO sensor.
I am afraid that knowledge about photography will be lost with each coming generation, caring less and less about how we got to where we are now, technologically.
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