Monday, January 26, 2015

Fujifilm's Fifty-Sixes Compared! The APD Effect...

A large version of the above here: APD-f1.2-lights.gif

Fujifilm has two versions of the their 56mm lens, the regular Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2R and the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2R APD, one that has an internal apodization (APD) filter. Before I get into the technical lens details, let me mention that you'll see a number of animated GIFs in this blog posting that are comparisons between those two lenses wide open at f/1.2. Note that GIFs only have 256 colours in total and are dithered to allow them to display a 24-bit colour image. This dithering can be visible as some roughness or even slight banding in these animations. Also, for those who just want to dive in and look at images, following is a link to a full gallery with all the photos mentioned in this posting, each carefully shot at seven different f-stops with both lenses - 70 images in total! Please note: this gallery is hosted on the author's personal website and the links in the gallery won't get you back here. Since the gallery will open in a new window, just close that to return to this posting...

GalleryFujifilm's Fifty-Sixes Compared! The APD Effect…

I chose to test the lenses at third-stops from f/1.2 to f/2 and then go right to f/2.8 and finally f/4 since the effect becomes so minimal once you stop down past f/2.0. The photos in the sample gallery were all shot on a tripod, with the two 56mm lenses changed carefully as to not move the camera. For some reason, I did notice a hint of movement on some sets that was likely my forgetting to sufficiently tighten the panning-lock on my ball-head, however, there was definitely a distinctly different "aim" to both 56mm lenses, something I found a bit unusual. Even though the shift was only slight, it was bothersome enough that on all the photo groups, I carefully cropped them ever so slightly, then nudged the crop frames around until I got the best superposition of the regular set with the APD set. While this was rather tedious, luckily Lightroom made it fairly painless. Once I had the f/1.2 versions aligned, I could just sync the crop settings on each group of smaller f-stops.

In order to show some of the bokeh effects more obviously, I heavily cropped two sets in the gallery, namely photos 15-28 and 57-70. On those, the frame you see is roughly a third the area of the whole field-of-view. All the others only have a tiny bit of cropping, just enough so I could achieve perfect alignment of each set of shots, well almost perfect at least. Lastly, there was some movement of branches due to wind, especially in photos 43-56.

For some less technical and more aesthetic samples, see my own personal blog posting from a week earlier (also opens in a new window)...

PostNicole with the Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2R APD

So, now for some details of what makes Fujifilm's 56mm APD lens (almost) unique...

Red Light in a Dark Room - Part 9

This week we are excited to take a look at Doug's darkroom! Looks like he has a great set up for printing. Thanks for the photos too, Doug.

What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom? Please tell us a bit about it.

I have a Saunders LPL 6x7 Dichroic Enlarger that I set up in my bathroom. The enlarger is on top of a kitchen trolley bought at Home Depot and modified to roll over the toilet in the bathroom. I use a tray rack that lets me stack three trays on top of each other to save counter space. I also have an old 8x10 print washer for washing fibre prints (my preferred material is Ilford Multigrade FB). The challenge in my situation is that the bathroom gets hot very quickly and sadly the ventilation fan is very noisy. I am considering replacing it with something much quieter, but proper ventilation is key. I have not been printing a lot recently, but the recent purchase of a 5x7 camera is going to allow me to contact print, which I find very exciting.

 What's your process? Tell us a bit about your developing routine, especially if it's tricky.

I process roll film using the Paterson tanks. They use a little more chemistry, but I find the reels much easier to load (but they must be really dry) than the stainless steel systems. Sheet film is processed using Jobo drums. My preferred developers have been Ilfotech HC and Kodak D76. They give different looks but I find both pleasant. I have also used pyrogallol developers for landscape photos but understand the Pyrocat is a superior alternative to PMK. My developing routine is extremely repeatable. For roll film tanks, I agitate for the first 30 seconds of the first minute and for 10 seconds at every minute thereafter. Sheet films are processed in drums on constantly rotating roller bases. Developing times shift around based on how contrasty the situation is or if I am looking for extra “pop” in terms of contrast. It is valuable to test your film and developer combinations but too much testing takes away from taking pictures. I don’t really use the Zone System, but I try to understand the effects of the variables in the process. Henry Horenstien’s “Beyond Basic Black and White Photography” is an excellent book for folks who want to go further.

What's your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo?

Right now, I really enjoy Acros 100 in Ilfotech. It provides sharp, punchy images and the grain is minimal. HP5 in D76 is a real smooth combination. It’s a good general purpose combination that yields easily printed results. For longer scale scenes, the staining developers with pyrogallol are great for the separation of highlights and provides a lot of subtle gradation. I used to use it with TMX 100 (which would blow out highlights pretty easily) shot at 50 ISO.

Have you tried any or are you into any alternative processes, such as cyanotype?

I’m a bit of a nut for the alt processes and have printed both cyanotypes and platinotypes. I have done a workshop in carbon printing, but don’t have the space for the process at home. I recently completed a wet plate workshop and found the process to be fascinating and worth the effort.

The 5x7 camera I plan to be working with was bought to encourage me to work with the alt processes. The negative size is, in my opinion, the smallest that is comfortable for viewing as an image on a wall, or in a portfolio. The result of all this is that I am starting to look for a space to set up a dedicated darkroom where I can work with chemistry without wrecking my apartment (silver nitrate stains are the mark of the wet plate photographer).

What is the best processing tip you can give?

My best advice for new darkroom people is to be consistent. Make as much of it as repeatable as possible. When you want to make a change, change one thing at a time. Otherwise, you will never understand how you got something. I also feel that you should go out and shoot rather than chase magic bullets in the darkroom. Only optimize your processing to the point that you can see a difference in your prints. Though I enjoy the darkroom, I prefer to photograph.

Here are a few samples of Doug's work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SONY Stills Camera Expo

We are sponsoring an event, along with Sony Canada, at the local IATSE offices in Burnaby on Sunday, January the 25th. If you would like to attend this free event, please click on the above image to email and RSVP to Louise Baker-Griffiths at Come and see all the latest mirrorless A7 series bodies, including the spectacular A7S with its unequaled high ISO capabilities! Bring our own SD cards to take test images back with you. If you don't yet own any SD cards, we will be selling some Lexar Pro 400x cards at a great price.

UPDATE: in case you see this and have tried to register from the website, please note that the registration email address provided was wrong in several spots. Please re-send your RSVP if you think your email may not have been received...

Space is somewhat limited so don't wait too long to register, and hope to see you there!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Red Light in a Dark Room - Part 8

This week we start you off with a look into Spencer's darkroom set up, where he mainly processes C41. Thanks for sharing your insightful notes and ideas with us, Spencer. Not to mention the photos! It's nice to actually see your set up.

What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom? Please tell us a bit about it.

I develop my photos in the bathroom of my basement studio apartment. There’s not a lot of space, but that doesn’t really matter since I’m not printing or really doing anything except the actual development of my film. I usually try to warn people who come over for the first time so that they don’t freak out when they see all of the chemical containers and beakers, etc. lying all around my bathroom.

What's your process? Tell us a bit about your developing routine, especially if it's tricky.

I load my film onto reels to go into a 1L Paterson tank after the sun’s gone down, so I don’t have to worry as much about ambient light sneaking in. I fill my bathtub with water at the required temperature to pre-heat the chemicals and then get going. I find that the water temperature from the bath tap is much easier to control than from the sink tap. I’ve started putting down an old shower curtain on the ground to keep spills from leaving residue on the tile floor. I recently bought the Massive Dev Chart Timer app for my phone, which reminds me when to agitate the tank and when to go on to the next stage. It’s great for someone like me, who tends to space out a lot and forget an agitation cycle or take too long to move along to the next step of the process. I have paperclips hanging by string from the bar that holds my shower curtain, which I use to hang my film up to dry. I reuse my chemistry until it expires, then I take it to a pro lab for them to properly dispose of. I scan my negs at school with their Epson v500.



What's your go to developer?

I primarily shoot colour film and develop it in Tetenal’s C-41 chemistry. I used to use the Arista kit, but I find that I’m getting much better results from the Tetenal. They also have a 5L kit for a reasonable price, which I use and would recommend to save some money. For the B&W that I do, I’ve mostly been using X-Tol, but I recently bought some Blazinal (Rodinal) that I’m eager to try out.

What's your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo?

One of the nice (or not nice, depending on your point of view) aspects of C-41 is that it’s a standardized process that works the same with all film, which means that I can develop 100iso Ektar with 400iso Portra in the same batch without any problems, for example. I shoot a lot of Kodak Ektar and develop it in my Tetenal C-41 developer, so I’ll call that my favourite.

What result/look does this give?


Have you tried any or are you into any alternative processes, such as cyanotype?

C-41 seems to be a crazy alternative process to some people, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I have a book somewhere that my grandparents gave me, which outlines the twenty-something steps of developing colour film. I think that’s why my Dad, who got me into photography, and my teacher at Emily Carr, who got me back into film photography and developing, both politely tried to dissuade me from trying to develop my own colour film. After completely ignoring them, I found that it isn’t really any harder than developing black and white film. I guess photographic technology has advanced and been simplified since the 50s? Two summers ago, I was in a camera store in Toronto and asked the guy where their C-41 stuff was, since I couldn’t find it with their B&W chemistry. He seemed to think that that was the craziest question he had ever heard, saying that no one does C-41 anymore and then went back to his conversation with another customer about how great shooting with a Holga on expired film is. We should all appreciate how much better Beau is.

Outside of that, I’ve been meaning to make a batch of caffenol and try that out. I haven’t been able to find washing soda, which doesn’t seem to be as commonly available here as it is in Europe and the UK, where a lot of the articles on caffenol are written. I might be completely missing it, though, so please let me know.

What is the best processing tip you can give?

Developing your own colour film isn’t that scary! Seriously! Next time you’re in the store, I’m sure Nicole will be happy to tell you how generally clueless and inept I am (she might also be able to give you more useful information like where the Tetenal kit is and what the best containers to use are (accordions)). That should be proof that anyone can do it. I believe in you.

On a more technical level, make sure to pre-heat your developer to the temperature you want for at least 5 minutes before you actually start developing. Not doing this was the main reason I wasn’t getting good results when I started out. One of the biggest differences between B&W and colour development is that colour is (usually) developed at a much higher temperature for a relatively short period of time. I develop at 100º F, starting at 3:30, then increasing :15 for each time I reuse the chemicals. It’s important to get your developer up to that temperature before you start developing or else you’ll end up with a lot of underdeveloped photos. Also start running the water for the rinse stage before you finish with the Blix, so that it has time to warm up to the required temperature. Make sure to keep a log of your development times and results so that you can tweak your process from what the instructions say to what actually works for you. I also recommend using demineralized water rather than tap water.

Here are a few samples of Spencer's shots, straight after developing and not retouched.

You can see more of Spencer's work on his blog at:

Friday, January 16, 2015

E6 Film Processing

If you are having trouble finding a place to do your E6 film processing one of our regular customers, John, has a great home dark room set up (see our very first Red Light in a Dark Room series post!) and can process your E6 film for you! John is very meticulous and does a great job.

For his rates and info see his Craigslist posting here:

And to read more about his dark room set up on our blog post here:

Photo: John Brunstein. Fuji Provia

Friday Featured Film Spotlight - Ilford XP2 Super

This week we take a look at Ilford XP2 Super, Ilford's chromogenic black and white film.

XP2 Super, is the current version of Ilford's XP line of film and has been around for about 17 years. The original XP film was introduced by Ilford in 1981 and did not have quite the same exposure latitude as the current XP2 Super film. This makes XP2 a very versatile film good for all situations. A lot of wedding photographers at one time really liked the XP2, as it has quite a fine grain and good contrast for portraits.

The great part about XP2 is the fact that it is processed in C41 (color) developer, making it easier and faster (and usually less expensive) to get processed at a lab. Despite the fact that this film is not a 'true' black and white film, it has really great tonal range and I don't think most people would recognize that it is a C41 processed film. If you are familiar at all with regular black and white and color negatives however, you will notice that XP2 has an all together different tone on the actual negative. It tends to have a bit more of a warm purple hue after it has been developed.

In the days before digital became huge many professional photographers loved to shoot XP2 instead of a 'true' black & white film because XP2 could be processed along with all their color rolls in an hour if they needed it to be, no waiting around. Then depending on the photo lab the photographer used, the proof photos would be printed on colour paper but look black & white. Though quite often if the lab's machines weren't calibrated the prints would have a magenta or green hue. This was a whole other ball of wax. These days photographers interested in using XP2 can scan their negatives and drop their files into a photo editing program and correct scanning imperfections themselves. Then enlargements can be printed from the XP2 negatives on 'true' black & white paper, colour paper or digitally using inkjet paper.

Here are a few sample shots from Nicole...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Red Light in a Dark Room - Part 7

This week's darkroom post is care of Kevin, who also does some printing in his home darkroom. Thanks for the great details, Kevin!

What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom? Please tell us a bit about it.

My darkroom is my 800 square foot apartment's only bathroom, because Vancouver. I'm a member of the West End Photographic Society, and as such can use their darkroom in the West End, but I live in South Burnaby so the occasional hassle of monopolizing the bathroom is kind of fun. It does mean that I can only really print when my girlfriend isn't home for a long stretch of time, but anyways...

The enlarger sits on the floor, a couple of trays are in the tub, and one is next to the enlarger. I process one print at a time due to space requirements. I have a home-built print washer that I can set up elsewhere to do hour-long plus archival washing for FB prints, or if I'm really excited, I could get some Ilford Washaid to make it quicker.

In short, it's fun. I'm working with some colleagues who may wish to re-start a darkroom co-op, so if you are someone who has space that we could rent for an affordable rate, or wish to learn more, Nicole at Beau could probably put you in touch with me. (She sure can! Email if you are interested.)

What's your process? Tell us a bit about your developing routine, especially if it's tricky.

Developing is both a lot of fun and the bane of my existence. For colour, I ship it all out to the Lab because I'm so terrified of temperature control it's not even funny.

For B&W, I tend to use trendy experimental methods I find online. I haven't done a Caffenol-C experiment yet (soon, soon), but for a while I was doing extremely dilute HC-110 stand development. I started getting edge density issues, so I've changed to a fancy combination of Rodinal and HC-110 (the so-called Rodin110) which is 4ml of Rodinal and 1ml of HC-110. Developing time is 30mins for any film, and any ISO at box speed. 30 seconds initial agitation, followed by 3 inversions at 10, 20, and 25 minutes. I have had no significant issues with this method, though I haven't tried to push it, yet.
What's your go to developer?

For the longest time, it was HC-110. Now, it's Rodinal/HC-110 combined. I'm enlarging up to 11x14 at home with a 6x7 negative, so I haven't had massive grain issues at all.

What's your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo?

Oh, I'm so split right now. I was, until very recently, all about Acros 100 in HC-110. Smooth, smooth, smooth. Acros is still my heartfelt favourite film, and I'll curse Fuji the day they discontinue it, which is why they never will, I'm sure.

As of late, however, I've had exceptionally good luck with Shanghai GP3 film. Clear base, seems to have nice tonality. I haven't run into the same problems others have had with it (backing numbers chemically etched into the emulsion).

What result/look does this give?

The Acros/HC-110 combo has been beautiful tonal gradation. That continues with the Rodin110. Shanghai GP3 has been interesting because it's been tonally great lately, too.

Have you or are you into any alternative processes, such as cyanotype?

I've a 4x5 camera that I really want to do wet plate photography with. I'm tempted by emulsion lifts, or homemade paper negatives. I've never done any of this, sadly.

What I have experimented with is stand development. It's great for low-contrast, compensating developing. However, I had some real problems with edge density, due to lack of agitation. I've got a happy medium at the moment with Rodin110 and regular agitation.

What is the best processing tip you can give?
Don't underestimate the importance of agitation for not ruining your prints.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coming soon... Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8R LM WR

I had a chance to try out a preproduction copy of the upcoming Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8R LM WR the other day, Fujifilm's new professional grade mid-range zoom. Notably, it does not have OIS (optical image stabilization) which seems to have gotten a few people riled up. Originally, Fujifilm specified OIS for this lens, but then a few months back when Fujifilm showed a prototype at the 2014 Photokina trade show, it was suddenly missing that feature.

Contrary to apparent popular opinion, I am quite pleased Fujifilm decided not to include OIS. Why? Well as you can see in the photos of this lens, it is already quite substantial (although not quite as heavy as it looks in my view) and adding image stabilization would have meant either increasing the lens' girth even more, or shrinking the optics instead which then would likely lead to more vignetting and other image quality concerns. More importantly, I have seen far too many non-telephoto, stabilized lenses suffer from image quality issues, most often inconsistent edge and corner softness and variable chromatic aberration, which is rather hard to compensate for properly.

A lens projects a round image-circle, slightly larger than is needed to cover the rectangular image area of the sensor (or film!) that takes the photo. Often times, especially with wide angle lenses, the closer you get to the edge of the image circle the more compromised the sharpness might become, often with increased vignetting and chromatic aberration too. While you are holding a stabilized lens, the image circle is constantly drifting about, compensating for your handholding jitter and movement. If you happen to take the photo while one corner of the sensor is near the edge of this drifting image circle, that corner might have worse sharpness than then rest of the frame. Wide-angle lenses tend to require very precise alignment of all their optical elements to achieve sharp, consistent image quality edge-to-edge so I don't know about you, but to me, having a group of lens elements tilting about continuously inside the lens doesn't strike me as a good recipe for optimal image quality!

Gallery: Testing the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8 Zoom

I finally had a chance to really put the new Fujifilm XF 50-140mm f/2.8R LM OIS WR zoom lens through its paces on this past Christmas day. You've probably already seen my preview blog posting of this lens at this link here, but for that one, I only had the lens briefly and took maybe a dozen shots with it. On the 25th, I took nearly 300 shots and you can see some of the selected images in a gallery on my personal website by clicking on the above image. The high-res images are nice and big, 3000 pixels in the long dimension, so you can get a better idea of how good the image quality is on a wider range of shots.

My conclusions hold by and large: the new professional zoom from Fujifilm is spectacularly sharp, focuses very quickly and has effective image stabilization. On my X-E2, with the added Fujifilm handgrip, I actually didn't find it to be unpleasantly heavy, although it is certainly a large lens. Following are some additional comments about this lens, now that I have tested it more thoroughly.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Used Canon 5D

Used Canon 5D Digital SLR camera. 12.8 megapixel. With extra battery, manual and box. Good condition.

TAG# 5617                                               $250.00  SOLD

Used Norman Power Pack Kit with Strobes

Used Norman power pack P2000 Kit with four LH 2000 strobe heads and cable.

TAG# 5624, 5625, 5626, 5627, 5628                                   $800.00

New Consignment Brownies & Hawkeyes

We now have a variety of Kodak Box cameras in our consignment department. Recently we just received a few different Brownies & Hawkeyes.

Check out this list of interesting old cameras!

First up is the No.2 Buster Brown. The No.2 Buster Brown is a small black box camera and will conveniently fit a 120 spool. Price: $25.00

The next items on the list are two larger Brownie box cameras that fit 116 size spools. Unfortunately 116 film is no longer made. 116 spool size is larger than a 120 spool, so modifying either of these cameras to fit a 120 spool or re-spooling 120 film to fit a 116 spool should be easy enough. However, in the case of re-spooling film you would need to find a secondary 116 take up spool. The camera on the left has a wooden spool and is priced at $20.00. The other is going for $25.00.


Lastly, we have the Hawkeye Brownies. These cuties take 620 film, which is also no longer available, however it is quite popular to re-spool 120 film onto 620 spools. Or perhaps just modify the 120 spool to fit a 620 camera. $25.00 Each.
For any more questions or inquiries, please give us a call 604-734-7771 or email

Thursday, January 8, 2015

NEW! Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2R APD

We just got a shipment of the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 APD lenses. With an apodization filter, this 56mm promises to have super smooth wide-open bokeh for beautiful portrait shots. In addition, I have one on loan from Fujifilm (the one you see out of the box above) and I will be doing some tests, comparing it to the regular 56mm f/1.2, to see just how different the new lens is, and also if it warrants being $1,599, a substantial $500 price increase over the regular one. My guess is that if you are a portrait shooter that wants the smoothest and creamiest bokeh, and you tend to like shooting wider open than f/2, then the advantages of this APD lens might indeed be worthwhile.

Stay tuned in the next week or two for some tests and an explanation of what the heck an "apodization filter" really is! By the way, the filter you see on the counter is a thread-on Fujifilm ND 8 which is included with the new lens in order to facilitate shooting wide open in bright lighting, allowing for the most dramatic improvement from the APD element. As opposed to the thread-on ND filter, the lens' APD filter is something permanently built in, like a lens element...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Learn to develop your own black & white film!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to process your own film at home but you aren't sure how to get started?

Well you are in luck! Beau Photo's own Kathy Kinakin will now be holding Black & White Film Developing classes, by appointment only. Schedule a time that suits you, for just $45 and receive a complete 90 - 120 min tutorial. (Please note; price change due to class time being extended to give everyone more time to practice film loading and ask lots questions!) Kathy will go through loading your film in the tank, and all the chemical processes needed to develop your black and white film at home!

The only required items for this course is your own developing tank and a roll of black and white film that is ready to be processed.

Please email the film department for more information or to schedule a time.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Red Light in a Dark Room - Part 6

This week we hear from Zach on what he has in his dark room set up. Thanks for taking part, Zach! You can see some of what Zach has shot and processed on his Flickr page here:

What is your darkroom? A room, closet or bathroom? Please tell us a bit about it.

It's a washroom. Not much added save a sign outside saying "light tight; no entry."

What's your process? Tell us a bit about your developing routine, especially if it's tricky.

I use Rodinal, so it's more a matter of math and timing. I sometimes use C-41 and Rodinal, so there's a good bit of guesswork involved.

What is your all time favorite Film/Film developer combo?

PanF+ and Rodinal. Figures right? Such a super power duo.

What result/look does this give?

Soft haloing, really unique grain structure and perfect mid-tones. Nothing quite like it.

Have you or are you into any alternative processes, such as cyanotype?

Plenty. Dabbled in plenty, nothing fancy though.

What is the best processing tip you can give?

Always be prepared to make mistakes, and to use them as reference.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday Featured Film Spotlight - Kodak T-MAX

This week Nicole talks a bit about her experience with Kodak TMAX 100 & TMAX 400 black and white films.

For the longest time my fellow film fanatics would tell me how amazing Kodak's TMAX TMX100 & TMAX TMY400 film is, and for the longest time for my personal work I didn’t totally agree. I found my work lacked contrast when I shot with TMAX. On paper its characteristics read as follows: extremely fine grain, good tonal range and Tabular grain structure for super sharpness, all good attributes. But I was not really seeing these results when I shot the film, even in different situations. I shot other films as well in the same types of situations, so I knew it wasn't in how I was shooting the film.

However, I soon realized my dissatisfaction with TMAX film was perhaps because I’d only ever had it processed in Kodak XTOL. Perhaps that wasn't the right film and developer combination for me. I decided to load a roll of TMX100 in my Pentacon Six and have it processed in Blazinal/Rodinal. Much to my delight I found the Blazinal gave it the contrast I like my film to have while keeping the finer grain look that the TMAX is known for. This is why it is always a good idea to try out different combinations of films with different developers. You might think you don't actually like a certain film, but it may be more in the way it reacts with certain developers than the film itself. If you don't develop film yourself, it is a good idea to ask the lab you are having it done at which developer they use so you can keep track. It's not that easy to find labs to develop film these days, but it is an interesting experiment to take the same type of film to two different labs, using different developers, and see what it looks like!

If you have tried T-MAX in different developers and have found a noticeable difference, we'd love to hear about it! You can leave a comment below, find us on Twitter @beauphotostore or mention it on our Facebook.

Here are a few shots I took with the TMAX 100 developed in Blazinal.