Sometime around the early 2000s, my grandpa purchased a Bronica ETRSi outfit. As he was already in his early sixties and in poor health, he never had much of a chance to use it. After a few years, he gave the entire outfit to my dad, who primarily stuck to shooting digital. I have been long term borrowing it since January of this year.
Along with the camera, I was able to get a good few rolls of 10 year expired TMAX 100 in 120 and 3 rolls of Portra 160 NC in 220. Fortunately, since my dad enjoys photography, and because my mom used to work at a camera retailer, they kept all their film in the refrigerator. I followed the common rule of thumb of over-exposing one stop per decade expired and shot it at 80 ISO.
For those who don’t know, Portra used to be a little different. The had both the VC (vivid color) and NC (natural color) variants. To my understanding, the modern Portra is something of a happy medium between the two.
The main thing that I noticed when I finally scanned the film is the absolutely incredible colors. I don’t know how much of this is due to age or if this is actually how it looks, but I adore it. There is a noticeable blue cast for darker images and a green cast for brighter images (this could also be my scanning process- I used the bundled Epson software with which I only change the contrast, never the colors).
My previous experiences shooting film were almost exclusively with 35mm. This would either be taking snapshots with point and shoots as a kid, or SLRs and black and white film in college. While I enjoyed the process, I enjoyed the freedom of my first DSLR after I graduated.
The flexibility of digital was remarkable, but digital cameras just don’t feel as good to use. A chunky 35mm SLR mirror slap is way more satisfying than that of an APS-C digital. My wife and I also didn’t make all that much money at the time, so having the monetary investment that film brought was a non-starter. But upon discovering the ever growing film resurgence community, I wanted to give medium format a try.
While I primarily shoot landscapes, and 645 is not known for landscapes, the quality of the Bronica lenses and the step up from APS-C was astounding. The camera itself feels incredibly well engineered, with numerous safeties in place to prevent accidental exposures. And the pictures! As anyone can tell you, medium format has a certain look to it, and I don’t believe that it’s just the shallow depth of field.
Quick last minute note about the edits: scanned with an Epson V600 in Epson Scan with the flat contrast setting, with minor color tweaks, contrast adjustments, dirt cleanup, and cropping in Lightroom.
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