Photos & Projects

Long exposures with the Minolta Dynax 5 and a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200 – By Robert

November 29, 2018

I’ve had the Minolta Dynax 5 for a few months now and seeing that it was capable of a shutter speed up to 30 seconds I was intrigued by what could be achieved. So I loaded a roll of Kodak ColorPlus (I really love this film), picked up my tripod and made my way to central London.

For the first few shots my initial temptation was to stretch an exposure out to 30 seconds for a collection of combined light trails from traffic but in central London traffic rarely flows freely for 30 seconds, even at night. With the usual stop start of a busy road, a large part of a long exposure could be taken up exposing to an empty stretch of road or stationary traffic which would diminish the strength of whatever light trail I found. So I shortened the exposure time to between 3 seconds and 15 seconds at about f/11 or more. This made the light trails more pronounced.

There is a noticeable cast to these images. This is possibly due to the effects of reciprocity failure or perhaps the colours of the street lights, I don’t really know for sure and I like the effect so I’m not too fussed.

For this shot, to get all three traffic lights on at the same time I had to time the exposure to start just after the red man went out, and end just after the green traffic light went on.

Having two busses pass at the same time was cool although I would like to have had a bit more definition from each one.

This next exposure was about 7 seconds long – I’m grateful the couple kept still long enough for me to set up and take the shot. Some people don’t like lens flare but in this shot I think it adds to the scene!

The lights here might be a bit overblown but I’m not unhappy with the effect! Again, some people have a problem with lens flare but each little hexagonal disk is individual and gives the shot a bit of character, I think.

As the vehicle slowly passed, I wondered how much of it would actually be in the shot. Here I had to guess how long it would take the car to pass, allow enough time but try to avoid the frame being over-exposed. I had to think on my feet but I think it worked out O.K.

I may have over exposed in order to capture long enough light trails but I’m happy with the colours.

This is not a high end SLR but It was a lot of fun shooting long exposures without a filter.

You can find a curated collection of thought provoking analogue art and info about a range of workshops and photo walks on my Instagram – londoncameraproject

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  • Reply
    Paul Mulherin
    November 29, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Stunning shots and great article!

    • Reply
      November 30, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Thanks Paul. I’d been planning a late night walk around for a while. I really enjoyed doing it.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks Paul. I’d been planning a late night walk for a while. Lugging the tripod around is a faff but I am really happy with the results.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    It’s doubtful that it’s reciprocity failure. It would just be a negative that isn’t dense enough if you’ve hit that.

    It’s probably a combination of color cast, plus the film being a daytime film. Street lamps are unlikely to be 5000K or so, so they’d all appear to be more orange. You could try getting your hands on some Cinestill 800T, which is Tungsten balanced and see if the orange cast is reduced.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      I once tried a roll of Cinestill 800T which was kindly given to me by the amazing Tanya Alexis. I waited for ages to shoot it and recently I took it to Canary Wharf for the architecture and red lights and completely messed it up! Each shot just failed to capture that awesome low light look it’s famous for. At least Kodak ColorPlus is cheap and quite smooth. Cinestill is not cheap. Also, I think 800 ISO film would have given me a much shorter exposure time and less pronounced light trails although I would like to repeat the project without the cast. Can you suggest another film I should try it with?

    • Reply
      December 10, 2018 at 8:30 pm

      Hey. Do you think a mild blue filter might help next time I try this? To counter the yellow cast.

  • Reply
    Malcolm Myers
    November 30, 2018 at 5:38 am

    That’s a great mini project and I really like like the results, thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      You’re very kind. Yeah it was fun. A cheap body, almost free lens and a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200. It probably took me a couple of hours start to finish but I can’t wait for the next project. Once I figure out how to do multiple exposures I’ll get on to that!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I have a couple of Dynax 5’s. They are a really nice camera and very light to carry around. Unfortunately they have an age-related issue where the viewfinder discolours to varying degrees. Photos are not affected but it can be off-putting to use. One of mine has a slight yellow tinge on one side, so still fine to use. The other (which I mainly bought for the box, manual and accessories) has really bad blue discolouration across the whole view and isn’t really usable.

    A real shame, if you’re in the market for a Minolta I’d recommend going for a slightly older model like a 700si or 600si instead.

    • Reply
      November 30, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      There is a bit of discoloration but after a while I stopped noticing it. To be honest I bought the Dynax 5 because I really wanted an Alpha 9 which was a bit pricey so I was looking at Alpha 7s. I randomly saw the 5 and hoped a few of the features of the higher spec models would have trickled down to its level. I really want to try some multiple exposures with it at night. I found the 35mm-70mm lens on another Minolta I’d got for a fiver and twisted it on but it’s really plasticky and some of the anti glare coating had scratched off (hence the 1980s glare in each shot). I’d like to try a faster lens on it before I get rid. You mentioned the 700si and the 600si but I haven’t tried them yet. I have tried a few of the X Series though which are not bad to use. Solidly built but you can see when camera design started to move away from metal bodies towards the polymers.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Good to read your experiences. Great pictures by the way! Love the second one.

    I’m really impressed with the 700si, it’s built like a tank. But obviously there’s a trade off there against the super light Dynax 5.

    My 700si is in excellent condition although the top LCD is playing up. Thinking of trying to swap it. How hard can it be!!

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      The Dynax 5 is very light compared to my X-700 and Pentax Spotmatic unfortunately the lightness does add to the cheap plasticky feel. It’s nice exploiting it’s features but I do enjoy holding those cameras more.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Nice shots and a great write up. The colour cast will be mostly due to it being daylight balanced film shot under a mix of fluorescent, led, halogen, tungsten, etc. All different colour temperatures, with typically a big lean towards green for fluorescents, and somewhere off centre for LEDs. And it’s a common misconception that Cinestill 800T is going to give you a correct colour balance for night street shots. Very very little of the artificial light around the place is actually tungsten balanced these days. Besides, the high contrast between a light and a dark street/sky on 800T will give you a massively amount of halation. Using vision 3 500T (i.e. With the remjet still on) might be interesting though.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    I really upset my local lab when I brought him a roll of Kodak 50D. He said that loads of soot came off the roll and gummed up the machine. The only saving grace was that the next two rolls through were also mine. Those were all write-offs too! I’m not sure what I should do with my other rolls of 50D! On the subject of Cinestill 800T, that’s something I really need try again. What setting would you recommend for shooting it at night? I’ll either be using a 50mm f/1.8 or a 55mm f/2. Do I need a filter? I’m not too worried about the colour shifts: it’s so unpredictable I pretty much dive into the variations! Thanks for the kind words!

    • Reply
      Rob Hawthorn
      December 7, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Uh oh. TBF the lab should have know what they were dealing with. There are a few labs in the UK that don’t mind dealing with remjet films if you don’t want to process them yourself. As for shooting cinestill at night, no need to use a filter necessarily, just be sure to overexpose it a bit. That way you can be confident all the layers have at least a correct amount of exposure, and whatever the overall colour cast it can be corrected in the scan. It is negative film after all

      • Reply
        December 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm

        Also it’s been ages since your last IR submission. Are you still shooting it? I Kept in mind your comments in the Sunny 16 Podcast when I shot a roll of Rollei IR

  • Reply
    December 20, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks Rob. Re the Remjet I should have warned him (he would have told me to sling my hook!) but I got a bulk load of Kodak 50D quite cheap so there are a bunch of rolls sitting in a drawer waiting for a trip to another lab. I’ll try again with the Cinestill. Maybe someone will buy a roll for Christmas!

  • Reply
    Richard C Millard
    June 3, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Hi there,
    I was wondering how you metered these, and whether you purposefully overexposed to counteract reciprocity failure. I’m using the same film but my camera doesn’t have a light meter so I was using a friend’s handheld light meter and overexposed by a stop to counteract reciprocity failure, but after seeing how great your shots turned out I’m not sure that I needed to!

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