The idea of trying to take macro shots on film came to me, when I was watching older illustrated books with all kinds of nature photography. I’m deeply impressed by the images the nature photographers in the 1970ies to 1990ies were able to take with the equipment of their era. I would never be able to do such wildlife photography with my analog equipment.
But trying some plant macros seemed possible.
Some years ago I got a well used Minolta MC Macro Rokkor 3.5/100mm with 1:1 extension tube which I mostly used adapted on my Sony A7II. I really like the Minolta MC Macro Rokkor 3.5/100mm (a classic Planar-design with 5 Elements in 4 Groups) though it’s surprisingly large and very heavy for a 100mm f3.5 lens. Despite it’s size and weight this lens is a joy to handle with buttery smooth focus and very nice build quality. This lens is not such a good multi-purpose lens as some of the longer macro lenses of other manufacturers (like the Canon FD Macro 4/100mm or the Tokina AT-X 2.5/90mm) but stopped down at macro distance image quality is quite good. Bokeh at close distance is very nice and creamy even stopped down to f8 or f11.
Unlike on my digital cameras, where I often try to get along without a tripod even at close focus distance (image stabilization is a very handy feature), for all these shots I used a tripod and a cable release and for most of them also a Minolta angle finder. This is slowing down my workflow a lot and therefore I didn’t get a single decent insect image. I don’t understand how the old photographers 30 or 40 years ago got their insect macros.
Despite the slow process it’s a very pleasing experience to compose macro shots in the great bright viewfinders of my Minolta bodies. Doing macro shots, for me the view through these finders is a lot nicer than through the EVF of my digital cameras, where I have to use focus magnification to set proper focus.
I used my Minolta XD-7 with Kodak Ektar 100 and my Minolta SRT-101 with Kodak Ultramax 400. Ektar for me certainly is the film stock of choice for macro work, Ultramax is way too grainy. Using slide film (like Fuji Velvia) could also give great results, I think, but I haven’t tried this yet.
All images made between June and August 2021.
This spring I did almost no film photography at all, but I’m planing to do some more macro and close up work on film (perhaps I’m also going to try Silbersalz35 film for macro) and I hope I can speed up the process a little and finally get a nice insect (or spider or whatever small animal) shot on film like in those old illustrated books of nature photography.
The film was developed and scanned by MeinFilmLab.
For more photos (mostly digital) – flickr.com/steckmatthias
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