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34 Year Old Film

Posted 2011.08.10 10.52 in Hobbies, Photography

This past weekend loaded my 39 year old Rollei A26 with some 34 year old Kodak Verichrome Pan film, and went out for some driving around.

The film was actually more than 34 years old – it expired 34 years ago (June, 1977 to be exact) so it was probably made in 1975. The results weren’t fantastic, but they were pretty darn good considering it’s more than three decades past it’s best before date!

I took two indoors (non-flash) shots while I was visiting the Lomography store in Toronto, but the camera wasn’t quite up to the task – it’s slowest settings are 1/30th at f/3.5 and with the 34-year-old 125ASA film… the second image below was barely usable, the other image I took was almost all grain and no detail.

Another problem I discovered was with the Rollei A26, the light sensor is in a location where I tend to let my fingers rest, so a couple sunny outdoor images were completely blown out as the camera exposed for ‘darkness’ while it was about EV+15. Once I realized (from the sound of the shutter) what was happening, I made a point of holding the camera differently.

Here are a couple images from that very expired roll.

Processed for 7 minutes in T-Max 1:4 developer at 76 deg F which is likely too long, except my brew is probably nearly exhausted as well as expired (over a year since I mixed it).

Compact Camera Quest (Part 3)

Posted 2011.07.18 12.31 in Photography

In Part 1 of my quest, I started to identify what I was looking for in a classic compact film camera. In Part 2, I found a camera that was very easy to love – except that you can’t get film for it any more and the batteries it uses have been banned.

The third camera I came across on this journey was the Minox 35GT. Minox is mostly known for their sub-miniature ‘spy’ cameras – tiny little things you’d expect to see in a James Bond movie. Their 35mm line is not as well-known, but seem to be quite popular among the sub-compact enthusiast crowd.

Unlike the two Rolleis I looked at earlier, the Minox is a real lightweight – it’s made of a dense plastic, possibly ABS. Like the Rollei 35B, the Minox lens collapses into the camera body when not in use. Unlike the 35B, the Minox has a fold-up door which covers and protects the lens (and the front of the viewfinder) while the camera is closed.

One of the features that attracted me to the Minox 35 series was that they use aperture-priority AE. This was the mode with which I first learned about automatic exposure, and it remains my favorite kind of AE. With aperture priority, you select your desired aperture and the camera sets the appropriate shutter speed. This allows you to control the depth-of-field of your shot.

Minox 35GT

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Compact Camera Quest (Part 1)

Posted 2011.07.14 16.14 in Photography

“The best camera in your collection is the one you have with you when you need it.”

I don’t know who originally said that, but they were right. The fanciest gear and finest lenses in the world won’t do you any good if you’ve left them at home because they’re too big / heavy / bulky.

Granted, every cellphone now has a “camera” in it. Or the latest Canon or Nikon digital P&S is about the size and weight of a deck of cards… but that’s not what I like. I like film. I like old-school. I like classic cameras. I do like convenience though, and I don’t always want to have to stop to tinker with my camera before taking the shot.

At one point, I had thought my Canonet GIII QL17 was the perfect 35mm camera. And my Zeiss Ikon Nettar is a nearly-perfect medium-format. Problem is, I don’t carry them around everywhere. The Canonette isn’t all that bulky but it is a bit heavy, and doesn’t fit in a small purse or jacket pocket. And the Nettar is a fantastic folding camera, but it’s an antique in great condition, so just a bit too dear for me to lug around everywhere day after day.

Then I learned about the Rollei 35 – a full-frame 35mm camera that some referred to as “sub-compact”. Intrigued, I soon found one available online at a good price, and took the plunge…

Rollei B35

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Found Film

Posted 2011.07.13 18.20 in Hobbies, Photography

I’ve read about this in the past – someone buys an old camera and finds a roll of film still in it. Or you find some film in the attic. Or at the back of a drawer in some old furniture. However you come by it, the common traits are that the film is exposed or partially-exposed, you don’t know when or by whom.

While I’ve acquired a number of old cameras, I’ve never been lucky enough to score any found film. It seems exciting to me – what shots might be there, how long ago were they taken, what happened to the people in them, or the person that took them… Not to mention, why were they never processed, how did the roll get forgotten or lost…

There’s also a bit of voyerism I think too – it could be a brief window into someone else’s life. Literally, a snapshot from a moment in time that a stranger thought was important enough to capture on film.

So I finally got my hands on a couple rolls of found film. Still haven’t had any lucky surprises in old cameras, but other people have those sort of surprises and aren’t interested in trying to process it. The rolls are both black & white 620 roll film. The 620 format was around from 1932 to 1995. It’s basically the same film size as 120 format, but wound onto a smaller spool.

The first roll was labeled as Kodak Verichrome Pan. I did some research to get a feel for how to process it, then I went ahead and winged it. Here are the results:

The first frame was partially blown out which may have happened when the film was loaded in the camera. The fourth frame was completely blown out / overexposed. At the end of the roll, it looks like someone opened the back of the camera while the film was still in it as frames 11 and 12 were blown out, and frame 10 was half-blown. However, I was able to get 7 complete images and 2 partials — not bad for my first experience.

So who are these people? Where were these shots taken? When was this? No idea. But it was fun to develop and exciting to remove the film from the tank and see there were images on there!

I have a second roll of found film, that I’ll process in a few days or so.

Edited to add: Developing details – Presoaked for 10 minutes then developed for 10:30 in T-Max 4:1 at about 77 degrees F.

Art Camp, 1983

Posted 2011.07.09 21.16 in Family/Friends, Photography

Going through my negatives binder recently, I found buried in the middle of it a few strips of negatives that brought me back… way back, to June, 1983.

These were the first two rolls of film I ever shot & developed myself, in the first couple days of the first photography class I ever took. After 28 years, I can still remember many of the details.

It was Art Camp, I had my dad’s 35mm Rangefinder — a Fujica 35-SE, which he bought in 1959. Photography was a popular subject at Art Camp and there were four different classes set up. My instructor’s name was Tom I believe, and he gave each of us a roll of film and told us to come back in an hour or so with the whole roll shot.

Art Camp, by the way, was a 2-week camp experience for students with some skill, aptitude, or interest in the visual arts. Participants selected their major and minor studies from options such as drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and so forth. It was held in June, towards the end of the school year. If my memories and calculations are correct, I attended in 1982 (majored in sculpture), then in 1983 when I majored in photography.

Here are a collection of shots from those first two rolls, from those first couple days of class, in June 1983.

Click the thumbnails for the full-size images, and for some details & information on each pic. There are likely to be inaccuracies as this is based on my memories from 28 years ago.

For what it’s worth: the negatives are marked as “Kodak Safety Film 5062” which was known as Plus-X Pan film, rated at 125ISO. I have no memory of what chemistry we used to develop it, only that we had dark bags and daylight Patterson tanks like I do now. The dark bags were optional as the classroom was light-tight and could be secured for processing.

We didn’t just do the negatives, there were also enlargers so we could make prints. Somewhere I still have some of my prints from back then filed away, but probably not as carefully as my negs were.

Those Darn iPods

Posted 2010.09.27 10.11 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather

What is it about those crazy iPods? They just don’t wanna stay put-together!

This was iPodasaurus, a third-generation iPod, from the days when 40GB was top-of-the-line, black and white was all the rage, and USB was called Firewire.

Suddenly… Feeling Old

Posted 2009.10.25 10.37 in Pointless Blather

It’s finally happened. This morning I woke up, and felt old. I think I’m entering my middle ages.