35mm Compact Camera Photographer #25 – Carlos Albisu

Hi there! My name is Carlos. I live in North Spain, close to the French Border in a seaside town with my little family. I don’t travel as much as I used to, but I still do travel a fair amount. Sometimes for work, sometimes for pleasure. I work in the field of rule of law.

I started shooting 10 years ago. And 10 years was the time I gave myself to decide if I was worth shooting. That time has gone and I keep shooting, so maybe not that bad after all. The most important thing is that I still enjoy shooting, and sometimes I even like my photos!

I began shooting digital. I first borrowed my wife’s camera. I was travelling to very interesting places and not shooting? Shame on me. I bought a couple of digital cameras and after few years I ‘discovered’ some interesting pics in flickr, they looked just different. I tried mimicking the look, but still it was not the same. So I bought my first film camera, a Canon A1. Not a rangefinder yet, I know. And from there I bought many cameras! 35mm SLR cameras, medium format cameras, big format cameras, instant cameras… and yes, the Polaroid 195 is a rangefinder camera ; ) After many fears I went all they way down back to 35mm cameras. Something I thought I would never do.

I did not really like the 35mm film format. When compared to the medium format it looked so… 35mm. But then I realised that for my shooting style there was only the 35mm option. I am very casual when shooting. I just shoot the things (people) around me. These things are always moving, and most of the time in dark or murky environments. So I needed a quick and capable camera. And here it is where the 35mm rangefinder camera comes in. Something small, light and quick.

After looking at many 35mm cameras the Contax G1 was the option that made sense to me, so I gave it a try. I had many other candidates the Zeiss ZM, the Leica.. but I finally went for the Contax. I read many reviews against it, but then few of them just praised the camera, and it made sense, fine build quality, superb lenses, light, compact, and inexpensive!!!

I now have two Contax G1 bodies and the 28mm and 45mm lenses. So far so good. I have learnt to come to terms with the 35mm format. And is no wonder, that many of my favourite photographers shoot with 35mm cameras, Eugene Richards, Bruce Davidson, Cartier Bresson, Don McCullin…

As for the Contax G1, for sure is not the perfect camera. Certainly is not as appealing as my Rolleiflex 2.8E or impressive as my Pentax 67, but it does the work! Almost always I have it with me, in a little pouch hanging from the belt, with no lens cap, always ready. It’s incredible how unpopular this little camera is. People usually complaints about the viewfinder and the noise, but at the end what it counts is the result, and I am very satisfied with it.

Shooting with a 35mm compact camera has not changed much my shooting style, but I can say that now the camera matches my shooting style 🙂 With the medium format cameras I was slow and somehow clumsy, and could not get to shoot many situations around me as I wanted. Nowadays I shoot 100% with the Contax G1, I bring it everywhere. Before, when travelling I would bring with me 2 Contax G1 bodies, just in case. But now I am travelling with just Contax G1 and 1 lens. Make it simple, make it easy.

Thank you!


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12 thoughts on “35mm Compact Camera Photographer #25 – Carlos Albisu”

    1. Yes she is : ) sometimes you go to the other part of the world and the shots you cherish the most are the ones that could have been shot anywhere..

      1. Thanks Carlos. Things is, I use Tri-X at ISO 400 and develop at home in D76 stock but I often get really grainy pictures, much more than yours. I invert the tank twice every 30 seconds and use a normal acidic stop bath. I don’t mind some grain (which is to be expected with Tri-X) but often it’s too much. I’ll also find that I get golf ball grains and smooth grain on the same roll of film. I wonder if underexposure leads to big grain, as the grainy shots are often shot indoors? What’s your experience?

        1. Hi Malcolm. I would say is underexposure which leads to grain, but then it happens in all your pictures? I invert smoothly every minute and use a mix of water and vinegar as stop bath. May be you could invert every minute as too much movement will excite the chemicals and lead to strong contrast, and then when you try to recover mid level detail cand produce stong grain. But again myself I am not very knowledgable when it comes to developing : )

          1. Thanks Carlos, I’ll try reducing the agitation and see how I go with that. There certainly are a lot of variables around developing film!

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