Musings about using Nikon Rf's
On July 1 I started what I thought would be 30 days of shooting only with Nikon Rf's. The idea was to use all my Rf bodies (15!!!!) and compatible lenses (47 - and dont ask!).
Like any project it took longer than anticipated and consumed 500 ft of film (100 ft APX 400, 200 ft Tri X and 200 ft of Arista Premium 400). Multitude of developers were tried, from Rodinal/HC 110/Beutler/FX37/Stoeckler and more.
I did not expect to find anything conclusive about the shoot - just what worked well and what didn't. Two bodies have issues, a S4 decided that exposures are not necessary and resolutely decided to cap the shutter at all speed, a S2 has shown a bit of a light-leak, either the back door or the mount.
Interestingly enough, I did not have to reject a single negative due to inferior performance of lenses and considering that the lenses ranged from a 1931 Zeiss Tessar 50 to the latest C-Sonnar 50f1.5 and the SP 2005's 35f1.8 somehow proves that even the old lenses are good. Also, we are always fretting about the condition of lenses. A couple used were less than pristine, a 35f2.5 looks like it has been used as a skating rink, one 85f2 looks like a minor jungle inside!
As all of the lenses did what they were supposed to, picking favorites is difficult, but a couple of them performed beyond the "call of duty".
A venerable Zeiss Planar 35f3.5 is astonishing in its tonality - and of course built like a brick outhouse!
The VC 50f2.5 Color Skopar is stunning, great contrast, very sharp and good handling. It is also very compact.
Of course, the Nikkor 50f1.4's all work well (all 8 of them!). Some are slightly less contrasty (earlier ones) - but the later ones rivals anything from Leica and Zeiss - even today.
I also found out that I really like the S3's. usually Nikoholics extol the virtue of the SP as the holy grail and though they have a place (28/85 frames) - the S3 were my favorites. I did add a black S3 Olympic to the "stash" at the beginning of the test - and somehow, it became my favored camera, followed by the Millennium black S3 (still the smoothest rangefinder I own - even compared to Leica's and Canon's).
From a practical point of view - all rangefinders stayed in place and shutter speeds were within tolerances - though with 400 iso bl/w that is not super critical.
One lens that keeps surprising me is the Nikkor 35f2.5 - even with some fogging (1), some scratches (another one) and 2 that are nice and clean - it is a very good lens, compact and sharp.
If you are slightly masochistic - you can go to our Flickr site, click on the "July Nikon Rf Month" set and put it in "slide show mode" and see all 778 pictures ( edited down from about 3000 shots). If nothing else, it will show what I did in July and parts of August and probably make you fall asleep.
Of course you miss some stuff - I forgot about my 135f3.5's - but I save those for another Nikon Rf Month!