In your bag 396, Geof Crowl
Geof brings us a lesson in simplicity from Salt Lake City. Come and see how he rolls.

Hello everyone and JCH!

My name is Geof and I’m a graphic designer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I started out at Northern Michigan University studying photography, but decided it was better suited simply as a passionate hobby. I shot a lot of film in college, but stopped shortly after changing my major to graphic design (having a fellow student accidentally ruin “just” a couple of rolls for my final in the film dryer probably didn’t help much either).

A little over a year ago, my interest in film was rekindled. It has continued to progress and I recently just started developing my own black and white film in my kitchen. Because of my job, I’m on the computer almost all day. It’s extremely satisfying to come home and develop a roll of film and deal with a physical process. Dichotomies can be quite lovely sometimes.

I attached a shot of what I will usually grab when I walk around downtown on the weekend or go for a road trip around western America. I have slowly begun collecting older cameras, and I generally have a good range of choice: from a Yashica-12, a Nikon F, or all the way down to a Canon Canonet. That said, I have my favorites for producing work and three of the four are pictured here (the fourth, a Nikon d7000 took the picture).

I almost always bring my Fuji X100. It’s a fantastic size, unobtrusive, and passerby’s don’t think twice when seeing it. The X100 is of great help when it comes to getting my composition and visualization warmed up before I start committing with a film camera. I just wish the manual focus on the X100 wasn’t so slow. That said, the image quality is really impressive. If it wasn’t for EXIF information in Lightroom, I would get most of the photos taken with the Fuji X100 and Nikon d7000 mixed up.

The tough part, when heading out, is deciding between the Nikon FE or the newer and autofocus capable Nikon F100. They’re both fantastic cameras and it mostly comes down to my mood. If I’m going on a road trip, I’ll usually bite the bullet and just bring three cameras (and maybe a medium format camera… just in case…).

Personally, I think the Nikon FE has the best user interface when it comes to manual metering. It really makes the manual process a complete joy. It’s viewfinder metering display is a moving needle overlaid on a column of shutter speeds. I find this is considerably faster than reading the tiny LCD found in today’s dSLRs. I’ll usually bring the Nikon FE when I don’t have any specific photos in mind and I really just want to enjoy the process of taking photos. The “clunk” it makes when creating a photo is extremely satisfying and has a nice sense of finality.

Recently I have been shooting the FE with the Nikkor 35mm f2.8 pre-AI lens. The durability and smooth focusing is really impressive when compared to the plastic kit lens that came with my Nikon d7000. This lens is also perfectly compatible with the (relatively) newer—late 70s—Nikon FE as long as the user doesn’t mind stop down metering. The optics on this 40+ year old lens is surprisingly sharp and more than acceptable for me. The contrast and color rendition is extremely pleasing when paired with Kodak Portra.

The Nikon F100 is probably my favorite modern film camera that I own. It’s fast. It autofocuses very accurately. And best of all: It’s metering system is modern, top notch and generally smarter than me. If I’m shooting Velvia 50, this is always my go-to camera. Usually this will win over the older Nikon FE if I’m concerned about reliability, the weather and elements, or making sure I nail the photo I have visualized in my head. That said, the Nikon FE hasn’t actually ever failed me.

Pictured here, the F100 is mated with a Nikkon 50mm f1.8 AF-D which is one of my all time favorite lenses. I shot almost exclusively with this lens for four years. This lens and it’s characteristics are usually what I picture in my mind when I visualize a shot. It pairs really well with the F100 as a general lens, and it also pairs nicely with my Nikon d7000 as a portrait lens (cropped sensor and all). I love shooting Tri-X with this lens. The contrast just feels right.

You’ll also notice that I have a JCH film case as well. I love this film case! Everyone needs one. When it’s not helping refrigerate my film, it’s in my bag being carted around. Currently, it’s packed to the brim with mostly Portra 160 and 400 with a few rolls of Tri-X 400. I also have a batch of Ektar 100 queued up in my freezer once some spots become available.

Last, but not least is my bag: The Chrome Niko. It’s a nice size for walks around town and straps extremely securely to oneself. This is ideal if one’s idea of getting the shot involves climbing or jumping over things. The sacrifice is that it’s not always the quickest bag to get camera gear out of. A trade-off that I think is usually worthwhile.

I hope everyone enjoyed this submission. I tried to prevent myself from blathering on too much!

I’ve uploaded a few photos from my first batch of home developed film to my flickr.


Happy holidays!

Thanks for sharing your bag and your great description Geof. I love the F100, it is a beast.
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