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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Film Ain't Dead, Part LXXXVII

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times: Kunal Sah’s parents had been seeking political asylum in the United States, but last year they were sent back to India.

Here's some work by one editorial photographer who's still using film. That's not a Hasselblad; I wonder what it is? Anybody know Stephen Crowley?

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON, with thanks to Richard Sintchak

Featured Comment: by Stephen Crowley: Yes, journalists shooting film are in the minority but I keep at it best I can. I'm using a 1952 Ikomat. Wonderful camera. Conrad continues to do amazing work on film.

Cheers, Stephen Crowley

Mike's Comment: Very cool. By the way, by "Conrad," I assume Stephen means Fred R. Conrad.


Blogger John Roberts said...

I think a journalist still shooting film may be in the minority, but it's not quite in the category of odd or quaint yet. Or is it?

5:37 PM  
Blogger mikepeters said...

Stephen is a NYT staffer out of D.C.. A number of their shooters, Angel Franco (Hassy & XPan) and Fred Conrad (Hassy) from time to time, are still shooting film. Looks like Crowley is shooting with a Mamiya 6, the frames run horizontal on the strip in that camera, where pretty much everything else runs them vertical on the film strip. I don't know him personally, just been looking at his work for a long time.

7:23 PM  
Blogger david place said...

the NYT page shows another image with the frame lines _ the printing is on the top & bottom of the frame so the camera must be some sort of range finder _ film ? _sort of remember the stuff _ sort of _

8:02 PM  
Blogger Ernest Theisen said...

OK, I'll bite. How do you know by looking at this image that it was not taken with a Hasselblad. E

8:21 PM  
Blogger Clayton said...

What a coincidence. Back in March my brother and I, on a 12-day photo expedition in Utah, stayed at that Ramada Ltd in Green River. There was an Indian man at the desk when we checked in at dusk. Must have been the uncle. He was very pleasant and we had a nice chat. Very nice motel, too.


Info on black and white digital printing at

9:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Might be a Mamiya 6. I know a couple of photojournalists using them in conjunction with Leicas.

9:25 PM  
Blogger rob said...

What do we think about not cropping out the film frame? It looks good, but I can't help feeling it's a little too self-referential, calling attention to the photographer rather than the subject. BTW, the Times ran a nice multimedia version of the story which was apparently also produced by Stephen Crowley.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Probably a Rolleiflex? Many great B&W photographers stick to Rollei, especially in 6x6.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Yeah, Mamiya 6 was my best guess....

I heard that when that camera came out Mamiya was assuming the only pros that would be interested in it would be wedding guys, and they pitched a bunch of ads to wedding guys, but come to find out all the pros that were buying it were pjs....


10:08 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

You can tell from the frame mask.


10:10 PM  
Blogger David Bennett said...

For me, this is a case of the thread being more interesting than the article. And a time to reflect with some humour on how techno-nerdy the thread is.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Max said...

To be original, I'd bet on an old folder, from the messy frame alignment and the horizontal film run (and some hairs on the borders). A Voigtlander Perkeo.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Dwight Jones said...

I wonder if all the hits from TOP readers will cause the NYT to think people all interested in spelling contests.

7:34 AM  
Blogger david vatovec said...

Isn/t a Mamiya 6 a 6x7 beast (not square)?

7:58 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Max wins--an Ikomat is a 6x6 folder similar to an Ikonta. David, the Mamiya 7 is 6x7; the original Mamiya 6 was 6x6.

Ernest, to clarify, the frame mask is what creates the edge of the frame, between the picture and the black border. Hasselblads have a frame mask that is distinctively shaped, so if you can see the black film edge you can always tell if the picture was made with a Hasselblad. I missed the fact that the film is also running the wrong way for a modular-type back.


9:12 AM  
Blogger Max said...

That's still amazes me, using an Agfa Isolette or one of those Zeiss folders, even with the cheap lenses, at f/32 the pictures look pretty close to any modern MF camera.

11:06 AM  
Blogger josean said...

Is he really using an old bellows thingie to do proper work for a major paper? Or is he just joking?
It's difficult to believe! If so it's definitely the coolest equipment possible.
Obviously you can't judge quality at this size and definition. The pictures are very good, in any case.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of film in long term project, the film/digital combo gives a photographer greater latitude. Sometimes film cameras receive favourable reactions from people, digital is seen by some as fly by night stuff

6:30 PM  
Blogger dyathink said...

David Burnett is an award winning photojournalist who has not disposed of a camera since 1978. He began to notice that all the photojournalists were essentially using the same couple models of digital cameras and that there was not only a sameness in the look of news photos but the universal crispness and bright colors often made it difficult to quickly identify the subject matter or point of the photograph. He wanted to create something different enough that the reader would pause a second or two longer before flipping the page. So, when he can, when time permits , when he's after that one unique photo and not hundreds at a time, he shoots film.

In 2004, on the campaign trail he was packing a digital Canon, a 2.25x2.25 Mamiya or Rollieflex and a Holga. He famously (or infamously) won top prize at the 2001 White House News Photographers' Association's Eyes of History contest with a photo of Al Gore on the stump that he shot with a Holga. A black and white portfolio of work shot with a 55 year old 4x5 Graflex Speed Graphic camera during the Athens Olympics for ESPN magazine won top prize for sports stories at the World Press Photo Contest in Amsterdam.

What does he say about equipment?
""Ultimately, the technology is just a tool," he said. "It's a tool that lets your eye become the picture. It's easy to get caught up with all of the gadgets and all of the technology, but the most important thing is just to get comfortable with the tools you have."

Here's a link to some of his news photos shot with a Holga.

12:43 AM  
Blogger pgn said...

My first guess was Pentacon Six or Kiev 60 and i'm pretty amazed by the quality of such a small and probably light camera like Ikomat.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Max said...

The maximum quality obtainable from a good folder can rival anything else, except may be in the coatings department. But it's a pain to keep aligned for perfect focus, free from light leaks, they have tons of issues. Anyway, a good one will beat 35mm every time (nothing that will show on net sized images). I always wanted to get a good Voigtlander Perkeo, it's a true pocket MF camera with an excellent fixed lens. 6x6 folders are perfect, great neg/camera size ratio.

8:48 AM  
Blogger m. said...

That shot of Al Gore is also in Michele Bates' Plastic Cameras book that Mike is flogging on the left side of the page. Like Ctein said in his review (I think), I wish the pictures were larger.

Speaking of film, I finally broke down and developed my first rolls of film ever (shot with my Holga). It turned out to be much more fun that I had anticipated (although digital is definitely way more convenient).

10:47 AM  

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