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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 2)

Posted 2011.07.16 10.21 in Pointless Blather

In Part 1 of my quest, I started to identify what I was looking for in a classic compact film camera: small, not-too-heavy, full-frame 35mm, classic (as in, not a point-and-shoot), but also convenient and easy to shoot (not 100% manual). Spelling that out, it does sound a bit like I’m looking for the impossible – or at least, that some of my requirements are at odds — not too manual but not too automatic? WTF?

Part 1 also looked at my first compact 35mm camera, the Rollei B35. A solid, well-built compact manual camera. But a little too heavy, a little too manual, and it didn’t have any built-in protection for the lens or viewfinder.

Before long, I came across another intriguing compact camera – coincidentally, another Rollei too. This time, it was the Rollei A26

Rollei A26

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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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Rollei A26 & 36 Year Old Film

Posted 2009.12.12 12.01 in Hobbies, Photography

Not long ago, I ran some more film through my Rollei A26 camera. The A26 was IMHO one of the better cameras made for the 126 cartridge format film. A very compact, sturdy, well-designed camera, the A26 is a nifty little piece of kit.

The film I used this time was Kodak Verichrome Pan. It was ‘new in box’, sealed & unopened. It was marked with a ‘Process Before’ date in 1973 — in other words, this film was thirty-six years past its best-before date.

Nonetheless, a healthy combination of blind optomism and overconfidence led me to assume that not only would the film still be good, but that I would be able to process it successfully in my haphazard kitchen-sink darkroom.

The results were a resounding ‘not bad’. I had some problems with focusing, because I suck at guessing distances and sometimes forget to focus entirely. However, the A26 has a pretty-good depth of field, especially in bright sunlight.

Here are a few examples:

Technical info: Verichrome Pan ISO 125, automatic exposure. Developed in T-Max 1:4 for 9 1/2 minutes.

Rollei A26

Posted 2009.11.21 17.03 in Photography

Here’s a neat little camera – the Rollei A26. It’s from the 1970’s and was designed during the Instamatic craze. Using 126 format film cartridges, it’s kind of nifty – closed, it’s the same size as the Rollei B35, plus it has a built in lens-protector. You just pull it to open it and it’s ready to go!

On the downside, 126 film has been discontinued since the last millenium, though you can still find some now and then. Or, if you can find some 126 cartridges, you can reload them with 35mm film. This is what I’ve been doing actually – reloading 126 cartridges with modern 35mm film. See, 126 film is actually 35mm wide, but it has different edge hole things.

The biggest problem with the 126 reloads is with the holes is I get a few double-exposures or overlapped exposures, because the 126 format uses one edge-hole per frame where 35mm film has holes every few mm.

Technical info: Agfa APX-100 aka Silvertone 35mm film loaded into 126 cartridge, exposed by Rollei A26 automatic exposure, processed in T-Max developer 1:4 for 6:30 minutes.

Good, Bad, or Fugly?

Posted 2009.11.01 9.29 in Hobbies, Photography

Have you heard about this Lomography stuff? It’s sort of a ‘movement’ thingy. They use these Lomo LC-A cameras, or Holgas, or Dianas… the point is using a cheap / crummy / mediocre camera, expired film, ‘shooting from the hip’, cross-processing with the wrong chemistry, whatever – so the end result is sort of the opposite of carefully composed properly exposed photography.

Perhaps its a little like throwing cans of paint at a canvas, and calling it fine art?

It also reminds me a bit of the Dada movement from about a hundred years ago, sort of an anti-art movement, where the Dadaists were rebelling a bit about what the modern world was calling art, and they went in some wierd directions to sort of call attention to the pretentious silliness of it all. (Yeah, I actually learned stuff in the Art History classes in highschool.)

Anyhow, so the thing with Lomography is that ‘bad’ is ‘good’, or something along those lines. That you find the beauty in the results you get, and you don’t know what you get till you get the film back. They do caution that you can’t expect every shot to be a masterpiece, you might only get one good shot out of a whole roll…(**)

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Rollei B35

Posted 2009.10.24 19.12 in Hobbies, Photography

Another day, another camera… I saw this for sale at the online division of my local camera store. I didn’t know much about the Rollei 35 line, but it looked interesting, so I did some reading. I found out it was ‘small’, ‘compact’. The B35, introduced in 1969, is small, light, fully manual, and has a selenium powered light meter (no batteries required). It was inexpensive so I went for it.

What all the internet pictures fail to convey is just how small this 40-year-old camera actually is! I was amazed that they had a full-frame manual functional 35mm camera in such a tiny package. It’s just totally adorable! Believe me, it’s smaller than you think.

Rollei B35

Rollei B35

The light meter functioned and gave sane readings – after 40 years it still worked! The aperture and shutter seemed to work right, and the lens looked good.

It did have some issues though – it was obvious someone had tried to ‘fix’ it and messed things up somewhat. The leatherette was peeling in areas, and there were blobs of crazyglue where they’d tried to fix it. The top plate was very loose. And the viewfinder was cloudy and dusty.

It proved to be quite easy to remedy everything but the leatherette – after removing the wind lever, there are just two screws to free the top-plate. I suspect someone else undid the two screws (they were very loose) but didn’t know how to remove the wind lever. Once the top plate was off, I went at the viewfinder with q-tips and windex. I got it about 80% clean – there was one bit I couldn’t access because the parts were glued and I didn’t want to risk breaking the glass. It’s an improvement, anyhow. Then it all went back together easily and I made sure it was all tight and sturdy.

Rollei Repairs

Rollei Repairs

So I ran a roll of HP5+ through it to see if it worked as well as I thought it looked. The Triotar lens is only a triplet and some people say it’s not very good, but I was pleased with the results. It did a good job considering I was just guesstimating the focusing (and I suck at guessing distances.)

HP5+, ISO 400, developed in TMax for 6:30 minutes. The quality on the last shot isn’t that great because it’s been heavily cropped.