Stoating with the Zorki 4K

I’ve been playing with rangefinder cameras recently, a topic I will return to in future posts. On Monday I needed to nip out to the post office to post a parcel and as the sun was tentatively shining I popped a camera in my pocket. With my chore complete, and with the sun still flitting in and out, I took myself for a twenty minute wander around the bottom end of town. As my regular reader will know, this activity has recently been christened “stoating”, hence the title for this piece.

My way of choosing a camera for an impromptu wander hasn’t changed in years; I pick up the nearest camera that has either a fully charged battery or a roll of film loaded. This time it was a Zorki 4K, fitted with a Jupiter 8 50mm lens and an orange filter, loaded with Ilford HP5+. I set the lens to f11, set the infinity mark to f11 and popped a light meter in the cold shoe and headed off.

I’ve used the orange filter a lot with this lens recently and have very much enjoyed the results. The images, whether on film or digital with the lens on a Fujifilm X-Pro1, have a distinct character that works well for my style of urban imagery. The orange filter helps tweak a bit more detail and out of our dull, winter skies and the combination of the two has been very pleasing.

So, there you have it. The fruits of a quick stoat about with a Zorki 4K, the Jupiter 8 lens and an orange filter. Add a roll of Ilford HP5+ and jobs a good ‘un!

Next up will be some more Chroma Double Glass imagery … but I need to get that written up first!

A bit more Glass

Following on from an earlier post, I’ve had another play with the Chroma Double Glass lens and thought I’d share a few more images. I will do a “proper” review at some point but to be fair, images speak louder than words when considering a lens, especially a fixed focus one such as this.

All images: Zorki 4K, Chroma Double Glass, Y/G filter and Ilford HP5+

Take one image

Just one image.

Every now and then one makes an exposure and immediately knows, or perhaps more accurately, feels, that it will be a good image. As a film photographer there isn’t the immediate validation of a preview on the LCD screen of course, it’s definitely more of a “feeling”. As an aside, I’ve not always found the LCD preview to be helpful; sometimes it convinces me that it’s a rubbish picture and so I move on disappointed and demotivated. You could argue that it’s a bonus when you get the file on a larger screen and see it’s a keeper after all but to my way of thinking the damage was done when the flow was interrupted in the field. But, once again, I digress.

In Chester recently I made an image in a churchyard of a man, sat on a bench feeding the birds, seemingly enveloped by trees. He is a tiny but important part of the scene. I raised the camera to my eye, quickly focused and made two exposures. I quietly walked on and “knew” it was a keeper.

Fast forward three days and I’m just taking the film from the developing reel to hang it to dry and I can see instantly that the first half of the roll is badly under exposed. I instantly suspect user-error. I tend to take a meter reading periodically when out on the streets, tweaking it as required using experience as a guide. I only re-meter when the scene or lighting changes noticeably, I’d clearly got this base reading wrong as I know that the exposures were tweaked and the degree of under-exposure is consistent from frame to frame across the first half of that roll.

If that wasn’t enough, the first part of the roll, including the under-exposed churchyard images, had suffered from light-piping. Again user error (I’d had a bad hour in Chester it seems) as I’d forgotten the requirement to load that film stock in subdued light.

But, these are part and parcel of the film photographer’s daily lot and que sera sera as Doris Day sang. You might argue that had I been able to view it on an LCD screen I’d have noticed and possibly had the chance to try again and you’d be correct. But that’s not an argument in my book for going back to digital. I am a film photographer in part because it isn’t as easy. There are fewer failsafes and checkpoints. Indeed, it’s the absence of the ability to check, review and reconsider that makes photography on the street with a film camera such a fluid experience.

And I’m not alone in this belief. I was watching a video on YouTube recently from Jeff Ascough, a professional photographer with a passion for street photography. In his words, looking at the screen after every shot is a “really, really bad thing” as it takes your eye away from the scene and down to the back of your camera. This breaks the visual flow and you are likely to miss other opportunities whilst “chimping”. For the record, Ascough uses Leica digital cameras and so his views aren’t based on it being Hobson’s Choice.

Realising that I’d made an error was disappointing, but it’s part of the process and proves we are human I guess. I simply didn’t copy the first half of that roll when I was digitising the negatives with my digital camera later that evening and moved on.

Now, I recently replaced my ancient computer and have bit by bit been installing software and peripherals. It takes me weeks as it’s not a chore I enjoy. Fast forward four days from developing that fateful roll of film and I’m sat in my study installing scanner software. I had just installed the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 35mm scanner and needing to test it I took out a strip of negatives which coincidentally included the “lost” churchyard image.

The scanner functioned as expected, saved the scans to Dropbox as instructed and was clearly functioning as expected so I moved on to the next job on the list. Later that evening though I remembered the churchyard image that I’d scanned and downloaded it to my iPad for a better look.

I was not expecting to be able to create a usable image but was curious as to what could be done.

I needed to crop out the effects of the light-piping, evident only across the foreground of the image and the sprocket holes fortunately – my first bit of luck with this roll. I then proceeded to apply global and local adjustments to the image to tease out the best from the scene that I could (see below). Of course, I was doing this in Snapseed on my tablet rather than in Photoshop on the computer but remember I habitually work this way as I avoid the computer as much as possible. Half a dozen steps is my norm, this one has eleven!

My Snapseed workflow – “Brush” is where the dodging and burning happens

I rarely spend more than a few minutes with an image on the tablet. If I wanted to spend hours on individual images I know from experience that the computer is far easier to use so I deliberately restrict post processing to a few minutes. A gentle toning was applied followed by some light dodging and burning before adding a border and clicking “save”.

“Contemplation” – Leica IIIf, Elmar 50mm, Washi Z film

I was happy with the result. It’s not exactly as I’d envisaged being darker and moodier and of course has had to be salvaged as it were but it’s still a pleasing result. I hope both my readers enjoy this final image too.

LINK to larger file on Flickr

A Touch of Glass

Last time out I talked about Chroma Cameras and my recent purchases. One item I mentioned was the Chroma Double Glass, a double coated glass optic with two elements weighing virtually nothing (well, 16 grams to be exact). I’ve had it on the Zorki 4 twice this week and whilst that’s not long enough for a considered review I thought I’d share some images from today’s roll.

All images Zorki 4, Chroma Double Glass, yellow filter and Ilford HP5+

So, there we are. A very enjoyable couple of outings, I’m going to have fun with this lens.

It’s all Steve’s fault!

I blame Steve. Steve Lloyd of Chroma Cameras to be clear.

It goes back to January 2022. First it was the Cube, a diminutive 35mm pinhole camera giving square images. Great fun, pocketable in even a small pocket, truly take anywhere.

A pinhole trichrome – Chroma Cube

I was fine for a few months after this purchase, but without realising it the seeds of what would be several early 2023 purchases had been sown. But before we get there we need to stop off in late 2022.

Egged on by good friend Andy, aided and abetted by John, I started to look at the Chroma Snapshot on Steve’s website. I had a 65mm lens in the cupboard which I couldn’t use on my Intrepid 5×4 but everything I was reading both on Steve’s website and in messages from John and Andy suggested it would work fine on a Snapshot. But I stayed strong and resisted the siren calls.

Until October 2022 when the postman delivered a parcel from Wales. Inside was a Chroma Snapshot. Andy’s Snapshot. I was going to be testing the theory that this thus far unused lens was usable with the Snapshot. I tested it wide open at f5.6, at f8 and f11 then finally at f32. A tiny, tiny amount of vignetting at f5.6 but less to be honest than I usually add myself. It was more than usable so the following day I was out with camera, four sheets of film and no tripod.

That same day I was back on Steve’s website. Ensnared. I messaged Andy to say I had exposed 29 sheets of film and my order was in at Chroma Towers.

Chroma Snapshot

To be fair it’s a purchase I do not regret.

Which brings us to February 2023. Steve had been talking on social media about a new product. He had also been sharing images created by himself and others using this diminutive lens.

The ‘Double Glass’ lens is the first truly affordable, aluminium-bodied, double coated glass optic to come out of the Chroma workshop. The lens is professionally assembled in the USA, using high quality machined aluminium bodies, with laser engraved unique serial numbers and design. The glass elements have been designed by the optical genius of Jason Lane from Pictoriographica, ensuring zero distortion/CA and sharp, focus-free, photography from 1m to infinity in a tiny lens, which is compatible with any M39/Leica thread mount body.

Chroma Cameras

That’s a shame. I have no suitable cameras to use the lens on. I could buy an adapter to use it on my digital camera but where was the fun in that? Anyway, there was a Zorki 4 for sale online for £30 and that would take the Chroma Double Glass …

You’ve guessed it. Two orders made on the same day.

Zorki 4 – Chroma Double Glass


Something I hadn’t considered. I loved using the Zorki 4, not just with the lovely Double Glass optic but with the 50mm Jupiter 8 lens that came with the camera. I had fallen for the charms of the classic rangefinder experience.

Which then opened up another rabbit hole …

More of which on another day. Suffice to say Steve has caused me to buy not just two Chroma cameras, but a Zorki 4, two Zorki 4Ks and a FED 4.

I blame Steve. 😎

For the record, Steve is a fabulous bloke who really cares about his customers. He also has a sense of humour – otherwise I wouldn’t have penned this tongue-in-cheek piece. I’m watching his website regularly to keep up with what he’s adding to his repertoire. I’ve no doubt I will be spending more with Chroma Cameras before the year is out!