Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nikon S2 the Holy Grail?

Quest for Camera (QFC) is over!
Okay, not really.
I think I may be close though.
All this time I've been shooting black and white film I've had an image in my mind about how some of my photos should look.
Where this image comes from I dunno; maybe it's a composite of all the black and white pictures I've seen or maybe it is from my imagination but I've been chasing it all this time.
That image I mean.
That look.
I may have found it here:

I've wanted this camera from the first time I saw it mostly because it looked cool.
The metal construction and deco lines appealed to the gear head in me.
The camera though was a stretch for me to acquire as it's something of a collectors item.
I don't mind spending the scratch on a something new, like a digital body, but going over five skins for a film camera?
You gotta be outta your mind!
Which I am.
I have detailed files.
First of all, this thing is old.
Like older than me, built in the fifties old.
Not exactly high tech, even when it was first sold.
That title goes I suppose to the 'L' word cameras: Leica
Still it is a Nikon and I am a sort of Nikon person.
I think.
Anyways, this camera is not without some quirks:

The shutter speed selection dial is two stepped, unfortunately right around the speeds that I shoot, 1/15 to 1/60 of a second.
It also isn't very easy or fast to do the selection since you must lift the dial to change speeds.
This was changed on the next model, the SP.
More on that later.
The aperture ring is also on the outer part of the lens:

Which is opposite the F series lenses which have the rings on the inner part.
The focusing mechanism is also in the camera body and there's an infinity lock meaning when you hit infinity, the lens locks up and you must toggle a thingy to release it.
The shutter button is also set back from the front of camera,  not very ergonomic.
These short comings I can live with because of this:

Basically a metal barrel with some glass in it, 1950's optical technology.
From what I've been reading the lens formula is far from perfect.
Stopped down it looks great:

Okay I said great, not exceptional.
A bit soft on the edges I think.
Wide open, at f1.4, it's another story:

Without getting into the details of the distortion called spherical aberration,  it creates a sort of soft look, with a loss of contrast, when you shoot the lens wide open.
Here's another more obvious example:

One man's flaw is another man's visualization and it's All About the Light Baby (AATLB).
This optical 'flaw' is almost exactly what I've been looking for.
With today's software you can add almost any effect to your pictures to get the look you desire.
Except I rarely do any post processing on my film images.
What you see is what I got.
Authenticity don't you know.
I don't even adjust for exposure value; if it's under exposed so be it if it's over exposed I usually don't post it up.
Okay, I do some cropping and straightening, but that's about it.
So have I found my Holy Grail of Noir et Blanc Photography (HGONEBP)?
I'm still learning the camera and figuring out how to make it do what I want it to do.
I think I'm close though and that's a good thing.
Except that if I decide it works for me I may have to get another one or an SP, which was the improved model and that camera is somewhat rarer than the S2.
Not a good thing.
For my wallet anyways.
I gotta tell you though that my lust for camera gear has gone down about two notches and that's a good thing!
I think.


John Romeo Alpha said...

I foresee a Lust for Darkroom Gear (LFDG) up next. I Leica that Nikon.

Steve A said...

How does the light metering work?

limom said...

JRA, I have an enlarger, but no room.

Steve A, I'm glad you asked!