Some Scanning Experiments

Since the purchase of ColorPerfect/ColorNeg I have had to revise (and improve) my scanning work flow. I have also purchased and read Alex Burke' book Film in a Digital Age. It is a good book and at 180 pages worth the $20.00 if you practice a hybrid film digital work flow. Lots of practical tips. Alex's photos I think speak for themselves.

Interestingly the two scanning flows are somewhat different and I wanted to compare them. I normally use Vuescan which can be unclear sometimes but has lots of controls. For instance I have scanned for 48-bit color for a very long time. It was only after using ColorNeg that I discovered all my scans were saved as 24-bit files. This is because there are separate scanning and saving options. The tutorials with ColorNeg straightened all this out. These experiments relate to color negative flow.

Alex on the other hand uses EpsonScan and then Photoshop. Reading his scanning flow I decided to see what differences there might be. The recommended flow for Vuescan is to set for 48-bit scans and save as Raw only. This results in a linear scan, that is one with no gamma applied. Most scanners default to adding a gamma (1.8 or 2.2 is common) but ColorNeg works best with linear scans. I also use Image mode as I don't want Vuescan to perform the inversion as you want ColorNeg to do this as that is most of the value.

Balancing the filter layers in the film in Vuescan

 Negative film has a strong orange filter cast and for different films this varies. To capture the best dynamic range one can change the gain (or amplification) of each color channel. For Kodak Porta films I settled on Red=1, Green=1.6, and Blue=2. For this experiment I used a very old negative of my brother's that was Kodak Vericolor [6006]. For this negative it scans well with the Porta gains I have outlined here. Using these settings I get the scan below. Note the lack of orange cast and the cyans and magentas are quite visible.

Vuescan 48-bit negative
 The histogram is as follows and indicates a balance of the gains of the color channels in the image and most importantly little clipping of the highlights and low-lights.

Vuescan Histogram
Next I imported into ColorNeg for inversion and then exported it using only the Vericolor correction and not changing any controls. The photo looks very good with natural color and exposure.

ColorNeg Inversion of Vuescan Negative
Next I tried EpsonScan. Here I set it for 48-bit mode (only available in professional mode) and positive film. I then tried Alex's flow. I see a problem immediately. In the configuration menu he wants me to leave on color correction. This invokes gamma with no way to turn off the gamma. So I set no color correction and move to the next step. The next step is to set the clipping range of the histograms. However once you turn off color correction all these menus go away (grayed-out). So I make a scan this way as raw is what I want. I get the following. (It turns out according to the ColorPerfect tutorials EpsonScan always enable gamma but ColorNeg can reverse it though presumably the conversion loses some image information.)

EpsonScan No color correction.
The histogram shows the separation of colors as the gains and clipping cannot be adjusted. Still the histogram is well behaved and all the information is contained in the scan. The color is not fully distributed over the whole range however. This means some of the dynamic range may have been lost.
EpsonScan No color correction Histogram
Again I imported into ColorNeg for inversion and then exported it using only the Vericolor correction and not changing any controls. The photo looks a little more saturated and shows more contrast. It is also very close to the final images I present at the end.

EpsonScan No color correction with ColorNeg inversion
Next I tried with color correction on and attempted to defeat the gamma correction (this can't be done apparently). Here is the color correction dialog by default. Note the tone curve is not a straight line. I adjust the white and black triangles below the histogram and straighten out the curve and reduce the clipping. I also selected normal instead of the default soft endpoints on the Tone curve. I did all this in hope of getting a linear and unclipped image. When saving the image however EpsonScan does say in a message box it is saved with sRGB so it will not be linear.
Color correction dialog before

Color correction dialog after
The scan is as follows.
Color Corrected Scan

This is the histogram. Not much different though brighter than the non-color corrected version. There is some spread in the dynamic range particularly the separation of the red channel which might impart more dynamic range.
Color Corrected Histogram
This results in a somewhat darker positive image.

Color Corrected inversion with ColorNeg
ColorNeg deals with all these negative scan versions well.

For completeness I also used EpsonScan in Negative mode (it performs the inversion) with color correction turned off.

EpsonScan Negative scan (EpsonScan Inversion) No color correction
 This resulted in a dark scan but not surprising as no adjustments are made. The histogram reflects this.
EpsonScan Negative scan (EpsonScan Inversion) No color correction Histogram
I then used ColorPos to convert the image again with no adjustments.
EpsonScan Negative scan (EpsonScan Inversion) No color correction ColorPos conversion
Again a very similar result.


All of these methods produce what I think are acceptable starting points for image manipulation. A jumping off point with reasonably accurate colors where contrast and saturation and other adjustments can be made to capture the mood of the scene at the time. This is not a challenging image having a fairly narrow range of exposure values across the image.

A couple of observations.

  1. I am more confident in the Vuescan raw mode for ColorNeg work as it is the recommended flow from the folks at ColorPerfect.  That being said I think the EpsonScan results would work well as well. (ColorPerfect's instructions actually says that turning off the color correction does not disable the gamma correction. ColorPerfect can deal with this by reverting the correction which is why the results here are OK.)
  2. EpsonScan does a much better job than Vuescan at negative conversion. In fact before I found ColorPerfect I would use EpsonScan to convert color negatives because Vuescan made such a hash of the conversion and Photoshop wasn't up to it as well. EpsonScan makes a very good low cost alternative and is indeed what Alex Burke uses as the basis for his excellent film work.
Finally I made a couple of attempts to get a printable image from the VueScan and EpsonScan (no color correction) scans above. They are shown below. I treated them much the same in ColorNeg. 

I color corrected the image using the top of the rock to take out some blueish cast. I boosted the saturation from 100 to 120. I then adjusted the 'White' slider that affects contrast. This boosts the saturation a bit more and really gives the image punch. I then used the ring CC function and added 1/3 stop of yellow. I tried to use this consistently between the two scans. They seem almost identical. The only thing left to do is sharpen the image. 
Vuescan Final version
EpsonScan Final

Fuji GSW690iii First Experience

I finally got delivery of my Fuji GSW690 6x9 camera with 65mm f5.6 lens. The so called Texas Leica medium format rangefinder camera. It is a beast and but for the rangefinder aspect suits my preferences for cameras. Manual, simple, and medium format. The only time I have shot 6x9 is when I take out my Zeiss Ikonta from the 1930s. Bought very cheaply the Ikonta works surprisingly well.

Fuji GSW690iii
I loaded up some Ilford FP4+ so I could have the result when I got home. (I had tested the shutter speeds using a fast frame rate video camera at home and they all seemed accurate.) I then headed out to the Fen Drayton RSPB refuge near where I live. This is a close-by place that allows some good scenery and is relatively quiet so I can get on with photography without a lot of distraction. It was a warm and very cloudy day and it made for a pleasant few hours out. I took my meter, tripod, and 67mm yellow filter along with the beast. I wanted to test a few different shutter speeds and scenes.

The camera worked well. I used it only on a tripod so I haven't tried it handheld yet. I am getting used to the range finder which is bright but the focusing patch is small. On a tripod I have to move to the point of focus first then compose it. A small but bothersome step. Handheld this should not be an issue and I think focusing before mounting on the tripod may alleviate this.  The built-in lens hood is completely crap. It does not slide smoothly and needs to be retracted to add/remove filters and then extended to access the shutter speeds and aperture. Many users have complained about this and a lot of those have cut the hood off. A drastic but I see increasingly necessary step.

My first shot was one I have taken a few time before. A small reed covered lake.

(Ilford FP4+ yellow filter)
I found a nice birch tree and some shadows. The sun also emerged from the clouds to give the dappled light. I took 3 exposures afraid of blowing out the white back I took an exposure at the meter reading using the meter in incident mode against the brightest part of the trunk. I took two more exposures stopped down 1 and 2 stops respectively. These I scanned in the same way and inverted using ColorNeg from ColorPerfect. I made no other adjustments. 

This is the first time I used ColorNeg on B+W film. They claim it does a different and better inversion job than Photoshop. It did seem to produce good results. I am still learning my way through the adjustments as they are very different from Photoshop. I also think these choices are very personal. I downloaded a trial of Lightroom some time ago and I never got the hang of the way it handled color space. Photoshop I could understand and ColorPerfect I can get good results with, especially with negatives. 

Nominal metered exposure
The above exposure captures the dynamic range without too much contrast which I can add later in Photoshop or the darkroom. The examples below are too underexposed and contrasty. This is my fault I was worried about blowing out the highlights on the bark. However what I should have done is overexposed the shot a stop or two. A bit counter-intuitive but if I want the white bark to really stand out as white I should push the exposure as the meter will render this as 18% gray which it has done. 

Underexpose one stop 
These two underexposed images don't look that far apart in exposure. The sun was behind rapidly changing cloud so I suspect there was a change in scene brightness right before the shutter opened. 

Underexpose 2 stops
Finally I took the first exposure and processed it with ColorNeg. I brightened it somewhat and then used the virtual contrast filter pack to get the result below. 

Final Result

The next series of photos are the same scene with focus on the tallest reed head and different apertures for the same meter exposure. I metered away from the sky. The exposures are all consistent.

f22 1/60 sec

f8 1/250 sec

f5.6 1/500 


Llyn Peninsula North Wales and the Fuji G617

A few weekends back Vicki and I traveled to the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales. It is located as circled on the map below.

It is a beautiful place with beaches, spectacular cliffs and the Snowdonia mountains as a backdrop. We only stayed a couple of days but the weather was fantastic and we fell in love with the area and the warm Welsh people we met.

I brought along the Fuji G617 and hoped to get some nice landscape photos. I also brought along my recently purchased soft graduated neutral gradient filter. I bought a cheap version of the Cokin filter (100x150mm) and holder. I was concerned about possible vignetting or interference of the filter holder on the edges of the image. The holder can keep multiple filters with extra slots. I removed these extra slots in an effort reduce the chance these would interfere with the edges of the image.

All of these photos can be seen here in full resolution. This blog format does not show them off in the best way.

I started out with just the center filter and shot the first two photos on a roll (4 photos) of Kodak Portra 800 film. This is great film for handheld photos. I have printed as large as 20" on the long dimension with good results despite the speed and grain. The first photo is at Whistling Sands on the north coast. A beautiful bay and sandy beach with lots of people enjoying the day out.

Whistling Sands (Kodak Portra 800 with center filter)
The next day we went to Porth Meudwy near Aberdaron. This is the port where the ferry runs between Bawdsey Island and the mainland. We considered taking the trip out but there was a heavy off-shore fog bank and we thought the risk was too great of not being able to see much on the fog-bound island. Instead we opted to hike the coastal path. This first photo was from the beach where the boat launches from. You can see the fog is still present. I wasn't sure how this shot would turn out but I really like it. The transition to thicker fog seems perfect to me. A good balance of detail and murkiness and the colour shines through. 
Porth Meudwy (Kodak Porta 800  with center filter)
The next shot is from on top of the headlands. The fog has cleared further and revealed more. Here is when I removed the center filter.

Headlands above Porth Meudwy (Kodak Portra 800  without center filter)
Further on the walk and one can make the mountain tops across the bay

Emerging mountain tops. (Kodak Portra 800 without center filter)
For the next roll I moved to Portra 400 (who needs all that speed on a day like today!). I also decided to play with the graduated neutral density (GND) filter. This filter is a soft transition gradient and offers 2 stops of neutral density. Alex Burke has a great blog article on GND filters, one of the best and clearest I have read. The difficulty with using GNDs on the Fuji G617 as with all non-SLR cameras is judging the position of the transition on the image. There are some suggestions in G617 articles using ground glass and marking the filter, but I went with judging it by looking at the filter position on the lens in relation to my planned composition.

Another difficulty of this camera and the Cokin style rectangular filters is the 'roll cage' of the G617 allows only one orientation of the filter holder. One cannot use the rectangular filter with camera in portrait mode for instance. This does not bother me much as the G617 is a landscape camera after all and I have not been able to find a really good portrait subject (yet!).

 I was concerned about possible interference of the filter holder on the edges of the image so I removed the center filter. This was done on the advice on some forums that many times it is not necessary. Unfortunately this is not true. The photos below are a case in point. One can easily see the darker corners/left right edges as a result of removing the center filter. This is with color negative film with lots of dynamic range and I can only assume would be worse with transparency film like Velvia. I can believe that the vignetting is not as noticeable for photos that don't include the sky where the effect is more noticeable I think.

This was too bad as the center filter costs me a stop of film speed. C'est la vie, I don't think I will remove it again. My next time out will be the try the GND with the center filter and look for the filter holder interference in the image.

 (Kodak Portra  400)

 (Kodak Porta 400)

 (Kodak Portra 400)
The next roll of film was Kodak Ektar 100. I have had a difficult time with this film in the past. I find it difficult to get a realistic color rendition on the scanner or at least one I like. I often got a robins egg blue sky but this has improved markedly with the purchase of ColorPerfect and their ColorNeg plugin for Photoshop. Again though there is the pesky vignetting from the missing center filter.

The first two photos below I wanted to see the effect of the GND. The first photo is with the GND in place. These two photos were processed identically and only had the color saturated. The effect of the GND is clear with a darker sky. The section of land on the left of the image darkens significantly as well. The lack of center filter dominates these image however though the GND does diminish the central brightness.

Test with GND  (Kodak Ektar 100)

Test without GND  (Kodak Ektar 100)
The next photo works well with the GND as the sky and horizon are uniform.

 (Kodak Ektar 100 with GND)

Looking back at the headlands (Kodak Ektar 100)

Finally one other thing is apparent in the images without a center filter. In most cases the left side of the image is darker. I find if I look at thumbnails of photos corner vignetting is more pronounced. I am not sure if this a result of the smaller image size making it more apparent or the scaling process used to shrink the image. Below I have included a screenshot of thumbnails.In most of these there is more than corner vignetting going on with a dark band on the left side of the image. The lower right shows the opposite and so it seems correlated with the darker land image in the end of the image which may just trick the eye into seeing a band.


North Norfolk Coast and the Fuji G617

Vicki and I traveled to the North Norfolk coast during a rare sunny weekend. I took along my Fuji G617 monster camera complete with rollbars as she calls them. The thing really is ridiculously huge.

Fuji G617 (6x17mm negatives)
The Norfolk coast is lovely but we have really been there only once before when we first moved to Cambridgeshire. This time again we headed for Wells-Next-The-Sea but detoured to Little Walsingham on a lark. It is known as a very popular medieval pilgrimage destination until Henry VIII had it torn down and sold in 1538 along with most Catholic monasteries of the time.

It is a beautiful little village and the shrines and religious sites have benefited from an early 20th century revival.  Many still come for pilgrimage and religious contemplation. We were blessed with a lovely day and a very uncrowded village. This was probably because in the good weather Wells and the surrounding beaches absorbed most of the hordes.  We counted ourselves lucky and visited the shrine and walked to the edge of town to the small Catholic church the Slipper Chapel. Later we ate lunch at the Bull (not the papal kind) and visited the ruins of the Abbey afterwards.

The G617 only takes 4 photos per roll so I have a few photos that I would consider presentable. The G617 is a challenging camera. I did not use a tripod for any of these shots. It is big, the wide aspect ratio means one must watch the level carefully, there is no way of seeing the focused image. Everything is manual and the front center filter means you have to remember to compensate by a stop or two. I find it is like I am starting all over again in many ways. In other words lots of fun.

I started out with a roll of Portra 800 film from Kodak. I hadn't shot this before but I liked the speed for hand held work to keep the aperture small as I had to judge focus. Depth of field is your friend here. Never the less the depth of field scale only starts really at f11. I was very pleased with the film. It has the famous high dynamic range of a print film and I could only perceive grain when I got the exposure horribly wrong. With the center filter I metered all shots at ASA 400.

Here are some conventional landscape shots. The first four are on the Portra 800 film and I can thank Colorperfect and ColorNeg for the great color rendering. I have never had such satisfactory results with print film before I used this sofrtware.

 A Bridge on the Abbey Grounds
The bridge turned out nicely. Lots of detail in the shadows and good highlights in the sunshine.

Walsingham Street
The street in Walsingham above shows the wide format very well I think.

Abbey Gate Ruin
Here is an attempt at a vertical shot. These are challenging to take and compose as we have no level to reference. Also not many subjects suit it well.

Shrine Grounds
This was the first photo I took and it was very poorly exposed probably 2-3 stops. It exhibits a lot of grain as a result.

Stream on Abbey Grounds
This final photo was taken with Fuji Velvia 100F. I really like how this turned out. The wide aspect ratio captures the length of the stream nicely. The photo captures for me exactly the feel of the scene. The exposure was very good as well.

I do not like Velvia 100F which I bought when I did not appreciate the difference with Velvia 100. Velvia is more saturated and makes for nicer colors I think. Fuji took this as a fault a attempted to rectify it with 100F which probably has more accurate colors but does not usually reflect how I see an outdoor landscape.

One thing I realized with this camera and the 105mm lens is that although it is panoramic and therefore one assumes landscape images at infinity it is actually well suited for certain mid-range subjects with foreground 5 or so meters away. This means I have to keep my eye out for these types of subjects.

The minimum focus for the lens  on the G617 is 3m/10ft but with a small aperture closer should be possible.  I also want to experiment with closer range subjects.


New Cameras

My odyssey in film photography these past short 8 years has taught me a few things about my preferences for cameras. Affordability has always been a factor. I also have a distinct prejudice in favor of medium format.

This stems from first my brother’s involvement where he left a distinctly favorable impression on medium format despite having shot 35mm and large format competently as well. He passed away well before the digital era.

I also decided that I wanted to avoid 35mm despite the obvious advantages in terms of cost, size and weight. I reasoned the advantages of film over digital was being quickly overtaken and medium format would remain relevant for a while longer. As I write this however it seems the technical advantages of film have been mostly if not completely over-run by advances in digital technology and cost. Never-the-less there are some attendant benefits to shooting film; among are not economy, simplicity, nor instant gratification.

So my first film camera that got me started was a Nikon F that I inherited from my Grandfather. Now you who are paying attention will say 'what happened to medium format?' Hang on we’ll get to that. A holiday in South Africa and my wife and son were traveling with DLSRs with big lenses. I had a little digital camera being convinced this was the future in terms of convenience. Indeed I got lots of mileage out of it in terms of snapshots and maybe a few notable photos.

So rather than spend a bunch of money to duplicate the equipment my wife and son had I dusted off the old Nikon F which I hadn’t used since my university days. My grandfather had 50mm and 200mm prime lenses which were perfect. It is a Photonic F but the meter was not working. I got an old selenium cell meter from my father’s wife. I then went to a photo store and bought the few old rolls of slide film they had stored in a freezer. I was all set.

In Africa, to some frustration for my wife and son, I set about learning to photograph completely manually. Load the film, select the lens, meter the scene compose, set the exposure, snap the photo.

Some fun in being slow and deliberate. On return I sent the film to Jessops in Bath and they were already struggling as a photo business at that time (2009). They sent it away and 2 weeks later the slides came back. Yes I know 2 weeks. They really did not know how to deal with this and I just did what I used to do many years before.

The results were mixed. It turned out, I learned much later, the 200mm lens aperture was stuck and so exposures were hit or miss with this lens. The meter was inaccurate as well as selenium cells fatigue with age. I was shooting slide film that is never forgiving. The few good photos below. 

Nikon Slide Photos

In retrospect it is a wonder I got any photos at all. Photoshop rescued some but most importantly I began to become interested in film photography. 2009 in my recollection, was during the full insurgence of digital and film had not yet become retro.

I began to look on eBay for suitable cameras knowing nothing except a few things I remembered my brother saying. I took the plunge with a Mamiya 645 1000s. No film backs it had a pentaprism eyepiece and 80mm lens. I quickly found a waist level finder. All this was based on remembered comments from my brother. (Mamiya was a reasonably priced camera and waist level finders were cool. He had a Hasselblad.)

I took this out around Bath and the Southwest of England with a cheap lightweight tripod. I got a few good results. 

Pultney Bridge at night (Fuji Velvia 100)

Pultney Bridge at night (Fuji Velvia 100)
Light on the Avon (Fuji Velvia)

Pultney Bridge daytime (Fuji Velvia)

More importantly I slowed down and considered my photography. I bought a couple of books and studied composition and exposure. I was enjoying myself. I quickly began to love Velvia 100 for the color and and ease of scanning. I learned to send my film off to Peak Imaging where they have always done a top quality job for me.

I acquired more lenses 45mm then 35mm then 150mm. I sold the body and bought a 645 Pro with film backs. I learned a few preferences 1)medium format I liked 2) waist-level finders enhanced my experience and improved my compositions. 
Mamiya 645 Pro

Next foray was to experience Twin Lens Reflex cameras. A Yashica MAT-124G was my choice based mostly on economy.  I really enjoyed this camera; simple and light weight I took a lot of photos with it. 
Yashica Mat 124G

I also tried a Mamiya C220 lured by the interchangeable lenses. It had 65mm lenses so did a good job on landscapes. A great camera but heavy and not so fun to use as the MAT-124G. I never did buy any lenses for it.

Mamiya C220

Next an old Rolleicord not wanting to spend as much as a Rolleiflex. Disappointing in that it wasn’t as easy use as the Yashica. I ended up years later (last summer) buying a Rolleiflex 2.8f for about £1200 from a shop CLA’d. Lovely piece of equipment, clearly top quality in terms of build and feel. Heavier and bulkier than the MAT-124 but not oppressively so. (Such is the over-engineering of the Rollei that it is the only medium format camera I know of that does not use the arrows on the backing paper to line up when loading the film. The Rollei makes you pass the backing paper between two rollers and senses the change in thickness when the edge of the film goes by. Amazing and confusing at first.) The lens does produce noticeably better photos but for sheer fun for the buck I would have to award the MAT-124G the top prize in my experience. Alas the C220 will be sold as will the MAT-124G after I fix the meter screen.

Rolleiflex 2.8f

I am rationalizing my cameras now. I do this for fun and have a limited budget. I have established medium format as the preference. Waist-level finders. The Mamiya 645 Pro is my multiple lens camera and flexible with backs as well. Lenses are now 35mm, 45mm, 80mm f1.9, 150mm and a 55-110mm zoom. This gives me lots of flexibility with prime lenses and film choices.

Social Cameras
The downside to the Mamiya 645 setup is the social context. If I am traveling with my wife or we are walking with friends it is not the most social setup. Constant changes of lenses and film backs slows everyone else down. It is bad enough with metering and shutter, aperture and focus. I have a smaller setup that fits in a sling bag meant for a 35mm camera with 2 lenses and a couple of film backs. 

The next most social camera would be the Rolleiflex. Fixed lens and film reduces choices. The freedom this simplicity gives has its own satisfaction. 

The ultimate in social cameras is the Yashica Electro 35. An electronic shutter, built-in meter 35mm rangefinder, it is as close as I have to point and shoot. Focus with the rangefinder, use the meter to set the aperture and snap. The camera opens and closes the shutter exactly as long as it needs to. It is in fact an ‘analog’ shutter as the shutter speed is continuously variable from 4 seconds to 1/250th of a second. The exposures are accurate and the leaf shutter is quiet.
Yashica Electro 35

35mm Blues
The 35mm has another drawback for me aside from the smaller negative. Film today only comes in 36 exposure rolls. This is way too many for me to shoot on a day out. I shoot 8-15 on my medium form at camera and this works well for me. I can shoot during the day and develop that evening if I am doing black and white. With 36 the film hangs around in the camera waiting for the next time I pick it up and then much later I have finished to roll and am ready to develop it. Also 36 exposures is a lot to print in the darkroom. I solved this by loading my own 35mm cartridges. Now I load 12 exposures on a roll with considerable waste but it suits my shooting style. I also have an Olympus OM1 from my dad which I still regard as the best 35mm film camera going (or gone). Simple and unbelievably small and lightweight. And of course I still have my grandfather’s Nikon F and I got the meter fixed. Great iconic camera. Still not my goto format.

Unsocial Cameras On the other end of the scale from the Electro is my accidental purchase. An MPP MK III 4x5 large format camera. Accidental as I low bid it on a whim and won it unexpectedly. I got some dark slide film holders and have used the camera infrequently.
It is a solitary camera to use. It takes a very long time to setup and take a photo. It is heavy and requires a tripod. Not something to be rushed. Alone with enough time it can be sheer joy. The level of focus and engagement required can be for me almost meditative. Not quite like fly fishing but close. I have shot almost exclusively black and white and only recently have shot 2 color negatives on slightly expired Porta 400 film. Until last year I was stuck with scanned negatives though now I have a 4x5 enlarger so can complete the printing process as well.

MPP Colour

So what next? What new cameras? First I wanted to take a new another look at rangefinders and of course medium format. Would I take to range finders or not? I like to explore and experience different cameras.  I narrowed my search to the Fuji GW690 with a 90mm f3.5 fixed lens and a Fuji GSW690 with a 65mm f5.6 lens. Both rangefinders that take 6x9cm negatives. I opted for the wide angle having fallen in love with wide angle with the 35mm on my Mamiya 645. This I am still waiting for delivery of. This is a very social camera and complements my Rolleiflex in this regard. Wider angle with only exposure and focus to set. No lens or film back changing.

Fuji GSW 690

This lead me to my next not quite accidental purchase. While researching the above Fuji I was reminded of that rare category of panorama camera. Some use rotating lenses which are interesting, others just very long strips of film. The rotating lens cameras are akin to a stitching digital photos and as a result have curved horizontal lines which I have always disliked. 

There is the unique Hasselblad Xpan which is a wide format 35mm camera. Over £2000 and full of electronics I steer away from it. Complex digital electronics will be difficult to get repaired and it is 35mm. No doubt a great camera though. 

In the medium format camp are cameras in the range of 6x12 to 6x24 with 6x17 being very popular. At 6x17 a roughly 3:1 aspect ratio and 4 photos per roll of 120 film (8 for 220 film only available in Japan). Horsman and Linhoff are the top of the range and very expensive. There are Chinese makes without lenses which are more affordable (Dayi, Goersi, and Fotoman). I considered these carefully. Finally Fuji made some in the 1980s and 1990s. The G617 fixed lens 105mm f8 and the newer GX617 with replaceable lenses at 90mm, 105mm, 180mm and 300mm. The GX617 is much more expensive and I don’t see myself spending more on additional lenses. The body is more that £500 and the lenses seem to be north of £800. 
Fuji GX617

While pondering this I found on eBay a G617 for sale in the UK. It seemed in good shape and included the custom case and most importantly the neutral density center filter that reduces vignetting at the edges and corners of the scene. At £1250 starting I reasoned it was a pretty good deal and placed a bid fully expecting to be out bid. I was not and being the only bidder now find myself the owner of another sort of accidentally camera. 105mm on this film is very close to the 35mm of my Mamiya 645. The film is of course 3x longer. 
I am really looking forward to learning how to use this beast. The aspect ratio will be a real challenge to exploit. I am pretty sure this is not a social camera. I would guess slightly more social that the MPP MKIII 4x5 camera. No film-backs or lens changes. Almost certainly a tripod required though in good daylight is said to be able to be hand held. Heavy though at about 6lbs it is twice as heavy as the Fuji GSW690.
First Fuji 617 photo

That brings me to some rational range of cameras to suit me for different types of photography and social situations when photographing. No doubt after this rationalizing of my collection I will find a way to rationalize another purchase. :)