Product Review: Tap & Dye Rolleiflex Strap

A Rolleiflex is a beautifully crafted camera, and holding one is a tactile, almost visceral experience.  I purchased this one last year, and ever since I did I'd been leery of the new-old-stock strap that came with her.  While it was obviously unused, it was just as obviously dry and brittle, and not trustworthy for the task of carrying such a precious device.  When I looked around, I struggled to find just the right strap for this lovely camera, but was uninspired by the ready-made options out there.

I'd been curious about Tap & Dye for a while, because I'm particularly partial to the Horween Chromexel leather that Justin uses on some of his straps.  I also try to buy American handmade items wherever possible, and he makes his straps in Brooklyn, NY.  When I didn't see a Rolleiflex strap listed on his site I reached out to him to see if he could make one, and sure enough he said it would be no problem.  I commissioned a strap in Dark Olive Chromexel with red stitching (the latter at Amanda's request).  The strap took about 4 weeks in production and arrived at my door nicely wrapped in a little canvas sack.

In a word, the strap is beautiful.  The leather is soft and rich, and is already developing a lovely patina.  The olive is really a brown with maybe a hint of greenish notes, and matches my Barbour jackets nicely.  The width of the wider neck strap is perfect and comfortable over a long day's carry walking around Washington DC.  All of the stitching appears carefully and skillfully executed.  The clips work perfectly and appear new (sometimes procuring clips for Rolleiflex camera straps can be a challenge these days!).  Justin was also communicative throughout the process, and very helpful.   I really can't recommend Tap & Dye enough if you're looking for a quality camera strap.

All images shot by me using a Hasselblad 500c/m and Kodak Ektar 100 film.  

A Quick Comparison: Delta 100 vs. HP5+


As much time as I've spent with different film emulsions and development, I'm always interested in head-to head comparisons of films in the real world.  Its one thing to look at curves and other technical data, and its another to see how it plays out in practice.  One has to be careful not to extrapolate too much about such film comparisons, as there are always a ton of variables, and I've done my best here to let you know what was and was not controlled.  The other day I was finishing a roll of Delta 100 on my Rolleiflex at the Lincoln Memorial, and changed to a roll of HP5+.  I shot nearly the exact same shot on each emulsion, compensating on the HP5+ with one stop smaller aperture and one stop faster shutter.  Each shot was developed in D76 by Photovision at box speed.

So, here's what's constant:

  • Rolleiflex 3.5F (recently serviced with accurate shutter)
  • Scene
  • Light Conditions
  • Compensated Exposure
  • Developer
  • Lab Processing by Photovision
  • Frontier Scanner
  • All contrast, exposure, shadow, highlight, and sharpening settings in LR identical.  No local adjustments have been made.  I have opened up the shadows as much as possible in these both for aesthetic effect and to illustrate the details in the scans.

Here's what may not be perfectly constant:

  • Appropriate development time for each film in this developer may be open to interpretation, and I did not personally witness the development.
  • The scanner settings were adjusted by lab to appearance, but may not have been perfectly equal.
  • I did straighten and slightly perspective correct as needed for aesthetic appeal.  This is minor.
  • As one would expect, there is more DOF in the HP5 shot since I closed the aperture a stop.


As expected, the Delta 100 has finer grain and higher contrast.  I was a little surprised though just how much the lower contrast in HP5 allowed for detail in both the shadows and highlights.  Notice the preserved detail in all but the darkest parts of the shadows in the HP5+ image, and also the preserved details in Mr. Lincoln.

So in my view both are fantastic films that each have their place, but I think this illustrates nicely that HP5+ does an excellent job of handling contrasty scenes in addition to being two stops faster, and that's worth factoring in when one is selecting which film to load.  Of course on can control contrast in development to an extent, but all other things being equal, HP5+ will probably always be able to retain more dynamic range.

Images (click for larger version)

Ilford Delta 100

Ilford HP5+

Product Review: ClearSight USA Hasselblad to Arca Foot Adapter

Today I want to take a moment and give a quick shout out to one of my favorite camera mods that is tucked away in a hidden corner of the internet: the ClearSight USA Hasselblad to Arca Foot Adapter.  

Some of you may not be aware that your 500 series Hasselblad camera actually has a built-in quick release on the bottom.  The problem is that its specific to Hasselblad, and few people still use the quick releases made for that plate.  What most people wind up doing is putting a removable plate on top of the Hasselblad QR plate, which winds up being both uncomfortable in the hands and adding bulk to the camera.  

After scouring the internet, I found this company manufacturing a replacement for the stock plate.  Its not really any more bulky than the stock plate, its smooth and comfortable to hold, and it works perfectly with my RRS BH40.  Its an elegant, comfortable solution to a minor but annoying problem.  For whatever reason I never see anyone write about this product and its hidden on the website of a company that makes lens cleaning fluid, so folks are unlikely to find it.   I haven't seen any of the other big plate manufacturers offer a stock replacement plate, as opposed to one that fits over the original.

The product itself is nicely made with comfortable smooth edges and good finish.  The one pictured has been used for a year or two with no significant blemishes.  All in all I recommend you consider this product if you're using a Hasselblad and use Arca-compatible tripod mounts such as the ones on Really Right Stuff, Markins, or Kirk ballheads.