Film, 35mm, and scans, Monochrome, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

SLF to Love, FirstCall film, Caffenol, Gdansk, Leningrad

Screw Love. Olympus XA2 35mm film compact camera (cost 50p from a car boot sale). First Call (Agfa) 400S B&W film (low budget b/w film). Developed in ID11 stock 10.5 minutes.

My latest photo in Flickr Explore.  I’ve seen far better from others not make it into Explore, it really is a mystery.  Taken on my infamous 50p car boot sale camera, a pocket friendly Olympus XA2, loaded with FirstCall 400S film.  It was the first time that I’ve used this film.  Resold by a UK based photographic supply distributor called FirstCall, the plastic 135 film cassette states that it is made by Agfa-Gevaert Belgium.  It’s a low budget b/w film, only costs a few quid a 36 exposure film, which is about as cheap as I’ve seen for true black and white film recently.  Development times were a bit long – ten and a half minutes in full ID11 stock.  Not sure if I like it, it ain’t HP5 +.  Still it is cheap, so might buy some more.  Certainly suits budget 35mm cameras as a true b/w film.  I don’t really like cross processed C-41 in Ilford results.  They leave too much to the digital scanner to correct.

I’ve settled for another film process project.  I’ve not yet tried alternative home recipe developers.  I’ve been looking at Caffenol, the umbrella name given to home made developers based on coffee granules, and usually vitamin C powder, and washing soda.  I’ve even bought a jar of cheap coffee ready for the project.  Where am I going to get the other ingredients here in the UK?  Couldn’t see vitamin C powder or washing soda in the superstore just now.

Other news?  Ok, Iain Stewart is right.  My recent medium format exposures have been poor – often over-exposed, sometimes under-exposed.  Thing is, I broke my only light meter.  It was a cheap old Capital selenium thing that I got at the local car boot for 50p, after three Sundays of haggling down with some travelers (I can be tight fisted).  So I’ve ordered a similar used but this time, a Soviet light meter (a Leningrad 8) from an online auction site.  Hope it arrives before my flight to Gdansk!


8 thoughts on “SLF to Love, FirstCall film, Caffenol, Gdansk, Leningrad

  1. iamamro says:

    I was wondering about the FirstCall film. That’s very interesting – I might try it. Although the postage is extremely high, it’ll have to wait until I need some other things.

    I really must go to a car boot sale or two. That camera is an outstanding bargain. eBay sells for far too much for my meagre budget.

    Thank you for an excellent blog (I’m a fairly recent subscriber)


    • I’m finding out more about this film. It’s manufactured for Agfa-Gevaert Belgium. It may have originally been produced not as a cheap b/w, but as Agfa Aviphot Pan 400S, designed for high altitude aviation photography (with near infrared range making it suitable for photographing through haze and fog), but has been resold by a third party distributor, and then presented as a low budget film by FirstCall. It is not DX encoded, and is best not exposed in its cassette (e.g. when changing film) to bright light.

  2. Dave Webster says:

    For vitamin C for caffenol you can get pure powder vitamin C in Holland and Barrat health shops 🙂 check if they’ve got any of their cheap deals on. Some folk buy Vitamin C tablets but there’s not much of it in them and it will also have other chemicals/compounds in it that will cock things up :-(.!!! Pure vit c is what you want. You’ll be needing iodised salt I believe too and you will get Cerebos iodised salt from Sainsburys or another supermarket :-).I’m presuming youve been on The Caffenol Cookbook site for your recipe and ingredients as things change in how and what folks make their solutions with and also what is available in Europe or America isn’t necessarily available or legal over here. I have a box of ingredients I gathered together to try Cafenol last year but never got round too it :-/!!!!!! Maybe this year I will.give it a go :-). I believe it Stinks to high heaven when you mix it up :-0 ! Good luck 🙂

  3. Dave Webster says:

    On light meters – if you have a iPhone or android phone you can download/buy lightmeter apps and use your phone as a lightmeter 🙂 I have on my pc a website where a guy has made a lightmeter type scale which you print on white card , cut out,laminate and fold and it has printed on it all the types of lighting situations your going to meet as used to be printed on old Rollei cameras, it has a sliding scale on it with shutter speeds f stops, ISO speeds, and you slide it in and out to match your ISO and light situation and it gives you the exposure setting you need 🙂 next time I’m on my pc I will get the website details 🙂

  4. Thanks for your views on Firstcall 400s. I tend to agree with you that it’s not right up there with HP5+ but it’s still nice to have a much cheaper alternative. I’ve written quite a lot about it on my own blog here:

    It’s much better downrated to somewhere around 100 ISO – 200 ISO if using a normal developer like D76. I’m away to try it at 40 ISO in Spur Acurol-N. It works well at 40 ISO in Spur HRX.

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