Night photography with Fujicolor Pro 400H and Bronica ETRSi

Night photography with Fujicolor Pro 400H and Bronica ETRSi

I tried my luck with night photography on film! I loaded a film that I have never used in a camera that I have used only twice. I went out in the dark and stayed out for three hours. This is how it went. (The results are yet to come out of processing.)

(This blog post will be updated with photos and other stuff)

I have never done night photography with film. Actually I have not done much night photography at all. But since nights in Norway last almost all the day in this period of the year, I thought that I will try to take advantage of the situation.

This was my equipment list:

  • I took my 50mm, 75mm and 105mm Zenzanon lenses. I used all of them.
  • I took one extra roll of this film. I bought four packs of this film from a local auction site here in Norway for a month ago but it is the first time I shoot with it. I had earlier shot with the 135 version.
  • For the camera, I had the waist-level viewfinder and the prism with metering. I did not use metering, but I used the prism viewfinder in one shot because I wanted to shoot in portrait mode.
  • I took my incident light meter Minolta IV and its 5 degree spot metering head. I used mostly incident metering, with spot metering on a couple of shots.
  • Of course I took my Manfrotto tripod with me (Note to self: Write a review for this tripod since it is so good!).
  • I had my glasses, a small torch, shutter release cable, a tiny bubble level, lens hood (not for 105mm). I used the hood on all the shots with the 50mm and the 75mm lenses (except the first one I think).
  • I also had a very useful tool: The Magic Film Viewfinder app on my Android smartphone (in addition to Exifnotes and another app called Reciprocity for calculating reciprocity failure).

This is what happened:

  • The viewfinder app worked quite excellently! I used it for almost all the shots. It was precise and I could precisely frame the shot before setting up the tripod. Very convenient (Note to self: Remember to buy the paid version of this app to help the developer! And write a review!)
  • You need a lot of patience. This comes partly from tripod use, but also the camera needs patience especially when changing lenses and changing film (I still have only one back for my ETRSi. I should get another one).
  • A problem I have with the ETRSi is that it does not have any place to attach a bubble level. I used the one on the tripod but a slight adjustment to the ball-head messes up the level. I also used the bubble level I had with me but it is a bit difficult to used because the camera does not even have a flat surface to put the level on!
  • Having a light torch is a must. For the next time I might consider wearing a head torch. Glasses are also a must for me because I don’t see almost nothing in the darkness. I needed light to set the shutter speed and aperture on the camera, and sometimes to read the light meter.
  • I used incident metering for almost all of the shots. I went close to the scene and metered a spot that I wanted to have clear in the shot. I shot at ASA 400 box speed. I am excited to see how the photos will turn out. Most of my shots were exposed between 1 seconds and 8 seconds (taking into account reciprocity failure). This is much less that what I have seen people reporting on IG, some reporting 30 seconds for ASA 400 films! Crossing fingers.

Some reflections:

  • A nice night out in Corona times! I was out shooting almost three hours. I was lucky with the temperature. Below zero temperatures might make it unpleasant (not to mention the guy who sold me the 50mm said it might freeze in cold temps).
  • I should go out a bit earlier. Most shops were closed so there weren’t many street scenes with lights to shoot. It is easier to frame the shots when there are many lights out there!
  • I might get a new film back. Or at least the film back content (I have seen them on eBay).
  • ETRSi is not easy to shoot portrait on tripod. I might take a 6×6 camera next time.
  • Most probably I will have to experiment with metering. I might take a digital camera next time to see how it works with the same ASA values. Though digital does care about have reciprocity failure.

Here are some photos I took:

Film roll: 2020-034

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