The Schneider Componon is Dead - Long Live the Epson & the CanonMonday, June 25, 2018
|Old scan of Linda Lorenzo & my father's mate|
Today, June 25 marks a day that I cannot forget in my career as a photographer. I am in a state of shock and I will have to adapt and adopt.
|Today's new scan "modified"for less detail (to no avail!)|
Let me go back to the beginning when I bought an Agfa Silette in a pawn shop in Washington DC in 1958. When I got to our hotel (I was in DC with my Austin, Texas St. Ed’s classmates) I tried to remove the lens. It would not budge. I had been reading about the controversy of the time which was the comparing of the status quo camera of excellence, the rangefinder camera with an upstart called a single lens reflex.
I soon discarded the Silette and purchased an East German Pentacon-F from Olden Cameras in New York. I quickly adopted the wave of the future and a Pentax S-3 was a good (and better) companion to my Pentacon.
And since that time I have weathered all the advances of photography. In that past century equipment would be relevant and up-to-date for years. Not so now when even this throwback manages to have both a Fuji X-E1 and its “improvement” a Fuji X-E3.
But yesterday was a shock as I began to print my show (mid September at the Galería Vermeer) for Buenos Aires. I am using a Canon Pro-1 which has many ink receptacles and is especially designed to make very good b+w prints.
In my living room is a beautiful 16x20 print of my granddaughter Lauren. I printed it in my former darkroom in Kerrisdale. The paper was very old Agfa Portriga that I found hiding behind other boxes of photographic paper. Next to the Lauren photograph is the one of Linda Lorenzo and my father’s mate which I took in 2001. It is lovely and I must affirm here that I was a very good darkroom printer. The tonality of the print is smooth. For it I used a medium format Mamiya RB-67. I printed it using a very sharp Schneider Componon enlarging lens.
My shock, after scanning the negative on my Epson Perfection V700 Photo was the print that came out of my Canon floated on 13 by 19 inch paper. The amount of detail, the pores on Linda’s face was astounding. No it was troubling. While I would never use and Photoshop tool to make the skin look like a warm porcelain teacup this was devastating to my concept of what a b+w photograph should look.
I used a skin smoothing (it is subtle) tool of Corel Paint Shop X2 but to no avail the detail was there. I diminished the contrast. But the result was not to my taste. As a floated image on 8x10 the result is not all that bad.
This is my conclusion and why today is a day I cannot forget. I (this guy at least) cannot match the look of a photographic print done in a darkroom. And I am not even mentioning here the problem of doing so in b+w with the digital file of my Fujis.
Where is the “blame”? The blame has to be in the awesome sharpness of my scanner. The detail that I see in the Canon prints is not invented. Somehow the Schneider Componon projecting onto photographic paper (very good photographic paper) brought a smoothness that I find pleasant and more so because it has been my standard until now.
So my conclusion to the above is that I have to move on and accept that attention to details in a world where it seems that is not all that important is printing photographs the Schneider way.
The smell of metal cameras, fixer in my unventilated darkroom, the turning of the light (a string hanging from one bulb), all that is history as I adopt living what is left of my life in this new world.