top コラムTokyo Film Camera StyleVol.1 My favorite film camera

Tokyo Film Camera Style

Vol.1 My favorite film camera

John Sypal

Hi.  Welcome to my weekly column here at PCT. My name is John Sypal. I’m an American who has been living in Tokyo since 2004. 


I’m excited that PCT has kindly invited me to use this weekly column space to share Tokyo’s photo culture with you.  Actually, that’s what PCT (pronounced “pict”) stands for: Photo & Culture, Tokyo.  


It’s a new online endeavor founded by some former camera magazine editors- they’ll also be publishing photobooks- and I have high expectations for how they’ll enrich the photo scene in Japan. 


Tokyo is a special place for photography, and as probably most of you know, for well over a decade now I’ve been casually sharing my experiences with it through Tokyo Camera Style.  

I’m looking forward to doing so here on PCT, too- I’ll still be doing TCS of course- but this is where I’ll be able to share more information in a slightly different format.


Now, I’ve never claimed to be a journalist or an academic- and likewise I’m uninterested in the objectivity required for success in those fields. Instead, I’m going to offer a personal take on photobooks, exhibitions, and whatever I think you might want to know about. I’m also going to introduce photographers that I think you’ll enjoy. It ought to be a good time and I hope you check out what I share. 


Also, feel free to contact me with what you’d like to know more about- or about something you think I ought to know. 

What else...?


I have a cat, a wall of photobooks, and a couple of cameras. 

I’m in the darkroom a lot, but never enough.

I’ve got a growingly unmanageable archive of my own prints- and yet I still collect amateur snapshots. 

I’m drawn to photography that celebrates life- the kinds of pictures that are about living. 

I think miso ramen is the best kind of ramen.I will never, ever get tired of wandering around Tokyo’s Yanesen area with a camera around my neck. 


Finally, I'd like to share my camera with you.  This is my main camera, a Leica MP that I bought used at Map Camera in Shinjuku back in 2006.  I still remember the feeling I had as I went home with it around my neck that October evening. Granted, I lived a life of instant noodles for a while after, but I've not once for a moment regretted making this camera part of my life.  Over the past fifteen years I've shot over 3,000 rolls of film with it. 

Speaking of film, I only use Ilford HP-5, shot at box speed.  I like the look of its grain and appreciate how it's able to hold shadow detail so well. 


The lens on my MP is a Leica 35mm f2 Summicron Asph.  The 35mm focal length fits me perfectly- I can shoot it near and far and it always does the job.  For me, this lens & camera combo is inconspicuous- by that I mean, it's second-nature to use. I don't even really have to think when I use it-  and I think an ability to spontaneously take a picture without to much in the way is a key to making interesting photographs. 

It's simple and fairly compact- It's my camera for life.







2008年より、日本のフィルムカメラ文化を世界へ発信するために「Tokyo Camera Style」というブログを始めました。その後、海外の出版社より写真集を出版。2013年からはブログと並行してInstagramを始め、カメラだけではなく、気に入った写真集や写真展を紹介しています。また、雑誌『日本カメラ』では10年間TCSの連載をさせていただいておりました。




「Tokyo Camera Style」が有名になってしまったがばかりに、なによりカメラ好きだと思われがちですが、カメラと同時に、日本の独特なフォトカルチャーと写真を愛しています。



最後に、私の愛機である、ライカを紹介させていただきます。これは、2006年新宿のマップカメラにて中古で買ったLeica MPです。手に入れてしばらくは、カップ麺生活となりましたが、結局一度も後悔したことのない買い物となりました。この15年で3000本近くのフィルムを撮影しました。


フィルムはイギリス製ILFORD HP5 PLUSのみを使っています。このHP-5は粒子が優しくて、影のディテールがちゃんと出るのです。コスパがいいところも気に入っています。


また、使っているレンズはSummicron f2/35mm ASPH.です。35mmのこの焦点距離が私にぴったりで、遠くても近くても、どんなアングルでも撮れ、意識せず直感で使えます。意識せずシャッターを押せば、面白い写真が撮れると信じています。




















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