Yes, the title is long, but for a good reason. This trip to Berlin was my third or fourth photo expedition with the Ricoh 500G. I’m still getting used to this lovely little camera, which I bought three months ago. This 40€ purchase was in excellent condition, apart from the light seals, which I had to replace. After shooting a few initial rolls of film, I was keen to find out which film would be best for a given subject and lighting situation. So I packed my bag for Berlin with the following mix of films: Ilford HP5, Ilford FP4, Ilford XP2 and Fomapan 400.
Let me start with the XP2. Admittedly, the first picture is more a tourist snapshot than an artistic impression, but anyway, I like the way it turned out. The sharp 40mm lens produces beautiful greyscale renderings that the XP2 is able to reproduce nicely.
I usually develop black and white myself, but the XP2 is supposed to be developed in a C41 process. This is a good reason to put it into the trustworthy hands of Foto Kotti in Berlin. They developed and scanned the film within three business days. I could just drop it off at their shop and after my trip I found the download link for the high-resolution scans in my inbox.
The second image was taken during the same session, walking around Berlin-Mitte. Also exposed on the XP2 at 320 ISO (like the first). The image shows my great love of reflections, which I think I share with many other photographers. The scenery with the new and modern building and the reflection of the historic Berlin immediately caught my attention.
The picture of the tall building next to Zoo Station was taken with a Fomapan [email protected] I’ve stood in front of it many times and love the repetitive structure and the combination of sharp edges and rounded corners of this building. On this day I was lucky enough to be able to stand in the middle of the street for this photo. Due to the Berlin Half Marathon, some streets were closed to cars.
While I was in Berlin, this vibrant city hosted the 2023 EMOP (European Month of Photography). The next photo was taken at a pop-up photo exhibition and exposed on an Ilford [email protected] It was a bit dark for 100 ISO, so the image probably isn’t very crisp, but maybe that’s why it has some character.
Later that day I saw that they had set up a huge mirror in front of the Nationalgalerie. Many people (including myself) could no resist the temptation to take a mirror selfie. Even more fun was taking pictures of people taking pictures of themselves. The following image is one of them, taken with the Ilford [email protected]
Back at home I downloaded the XP2 scans as well as developed all the other films in Rodinal 1+50 and scanned them on my reliable Plustek OpticFilm 8200. I like the results, all the film stocks give very nice “colours”, but the clarity of the XP2 images is unrivalled with a very good resolution and an optimal separation of objects. Despite this the FP4 provides a great deal of atmosphere, even though or perhaps because it was not used here in its preferred setting here.
The HP4 almost always delivers what you expect, solid images with strong character and good reproduction in a wide range of situations. I wasn’t sure before if the Fomapan 400 was in the same league, but now I’m convinced that this film is a very versatile and evenly forgiving film for everyday use. As you can see from the ISO values, I tend to overexpose all of my analogue b/w shots by a little.
The Ricoh 500G has not disappointed me at all, it is a lovely everyday camera to carry around. Not only is it a good camera for street photography, with zone focusing and automatic exposure. It also gives you the freedom of manual control if you prefer, and handles all types of black and white film equally well. Focusing with the small focus patch of the small rangefinder works surprisingly well. The 40mm focal length is my personal sweet spot and I’m looking forward to my next photographic adventure.
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3 thoughts on “5 frames of Berlin with my Ricoh 500G and Ilford HP5, Ilford FP4, Ilford XP2 and Fomapan 400”
besten Dank für den Beitrag; ich habe selbst auch einige Sucherkameras, verwende hauptsächlich Foma und scanne mit demselben Scanner; Entwickler Adonal 1:100 bei mir für 40min.
Daher ganz toller Vergleich.
Ja und nach Berlin wollen wir auch endlich wieder mal.
The 500G will always have a place in my heart, I own 2 of them, neither of them has a working auto exposure mode. But the lightmeter and the manual settings didn’t ever failed me. The lens is some kind of itself, I only used it with color film so far, but the results are stunning and unexpected, concerning the small prices of the camera. It’s a lovely outside, hike, festival, camping camera, with flash even capable of great indoor party shots. I glued a lens tab on the focus wheel, to get a real rangefinder feeling, which works well with the short focus throw. Thanks for your article, and may your 500Gs automatic mode ever work longer than mine did 😉
Greetings from Potsdam
Nice shots! I had a 500G for a few years and it rekindled my enjoyment of 35mm photography. Great little camera! Your Fomapan 400 shot looks good for this film. It usually doesn’t like overexposure, as I understand it Foma films are a little more sensitive to blue, so highlights can get blown out. But the soft lighting of a low-light situation seems to have been ideal for shooting at 320.