Doin’ Different

Run dog run. Olympus XA2. Kodak Tmax 400 film. Developed in LC29

A local saying is Norfolk do different.  Most photography enthusiasts these days, of course use modern digital cameras and equipment.  Many also have the goal of making technically perfect images.  By that, I mean perfectly focused images with beautiful colours, deeply detailed, and sharp as a pin,with perfect exposure via a super fast shutter, onto a state of the art sensor and software.

That is fine for them.

I’ll just stick to my lo-fi 50p camera for now, or with similar gear.  Our photos do different.

50p camera

Look where you are going

Cambridge. Olympus XA2. Kodak Tmax 400 film. Developed in LC29.

This one recently captured on a Kodak Tmax 400 film in my 50p camera, the Olympus XA2.  I liked the textures of the old brick and stone work, with the chain curtain hanging in the doorway, I saw the cyclist coming, so saw it as a chance to put some animation and Life into the frame.  I didn’t see him look at me until I scanned the developed film.

I can’t see no end to this 50p Camera Project, not unless I manage to smash the XA2 (I have dropped it several times).  Still, it continues to produce photography that I like – even if it is too lo-fi for the taste of the modern online crowds.

Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II


Olympus XA2 compact camera. Ilford HP5+ b/w 35mm film. Developed in Kodak D76 stock. Scanned on a V500.

The two Ilford films from the XA2 (the 50p Camera Project) are dried and scanned.  The above is one of my favourites.  A candid taken at the burger van of a local mid week car boot sale.  I think that it captures the atmosphere of such an event quite well.  Car boot sales, auctions, and Sunday markets are great places to catch interesting people.

I developed in D-76 stock, which might have made the HP5 a little grainy, but as any regular readers will know, I don’t shy away from the rough.  It adds I think to the feeling of the photograph.  Anyway, I wanted to use the developer up, as it wasn’t well stored, and I’m keen to give a bottle of Ilford LC29 a go next.

I guess that is one of the attractions of film and even hybrid photography – we have so many different films, developers, and processes available still, each of which will affect the final image.

Next in the XA2 will be a couple of Poundland C41 films.

Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

Wolf in sheeps clothing. The 50p camera still lives!

This is what a camera looks like!

Zones of Focus – the 50p Olympus XA2

This is what I bought the HP5+ film for – a treat for my trusty old 50p Olympus XA2.  You can see from the images, it’s pretty battered from being stuffed in pockets, along with car keys and what not.  Beaten up, scarred, and misused.  This is the XA2 that I bought at a car boot sale for 50p (GBP £0.50p – around 77 US cents) a few years ago, and proceeded to make this 50p camera Flickr gallery with.

Hopefully, it’s still in good working order.  If not, I’ve another one or two XA2s somewhere around the house, but I’d like to use this original 50p individual.

There is a genuine message that I try to get out by using this camera.  It is that you do not need to spend thousands of hard earned dosh on gear, in order to enjoy photography, and make pleasing photographs.  Whenever I hear two or three photography technicians arguing over the merits and benchmarks of the latest sensor, body, or lens … I think of my 50p camera.  Yes, I can see the benefits of the latest, most expensive technology for some schools of photography. I couldn’t take much of a photo of a pied flycatcher at 100 metres distance, using my 50p camera.  However, I don’t want to take a photo of a pied flycatcher in the distance.  I want to make photography.

Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

Photography can be social

On a 50p camera and one quid film. Taken on a car boot sale bargain – the Olympus XA2, and AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland. Discount photography v Canikon fanclub.

My 50p XA2 camera hasn’t laid totally dormant.  Ok, it was replaced for a while by the sexy Pentax SP500 Spotmatic, and it is looking a bit battered from previous pocket usage – but I did recently load it with a Poundland C-41 film, and return it to my coat pocket.  The idea being to check if this poor abused camera (last film, I dropped it onto the floor of a KFC in Cambridge – back door flung open), and it’s zinc battery were still functioning – and then to get a photolab to process the C-41 film in it’s full colour.  I really cannot be asked to process C-41 again.

Then I keep seeing bloody cracking street photography on the Flickr photostream of Alistair Prentice.  That really is not fair.  Now I’ve had to go and buy some new 35mm film – just when I thought that I couldn’t be bothered with it – he reminds me of just how much fun can be had with a 50p Olympus XA2 pocket camera.  Bugger.

Mind you. I’ve also ordered some tasty Ilford Delta Pro 400 in 120, for when the Shanghai GP3 just doesn’t do, and some Kodak D-76 developer, which I’m told, works out cheaper than Ilford ID11.  We’ll see – calculations will follow.  The order was placed with AG Photographic just now.  Let’s see how that processes.

Film, 35mm, and scans, Landscape and buildings, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II, The East English Fens of East Anglia

Back to Tight Fisted Basics with a 50p Camera

Capture the Sunset. Olympus XA2 compact 35mm film camera, loaded with AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland.

I’m really enjoying the dark room learning curve at the moment, but I still have plenty of cheapskate colour 35mm film from Poundland, which I take to a local independent commercial processor to run through his mini-lab.  He presently charges me £2.50 for developing negs only – no printing.

I’ve used so many car boot sale cameras over ther past year, but it might surprise people, that if I had to choose just one to keep, it would by my lovely little Olympus XA2 compact zone focus camera, that I purchased for 50p at a car boot sale.  It is such a fun camera – great for street fun – capturing odd moments or sights.  Discreet, small, quiet.  Close and open the clam shell lens cover and it defaults to a medium zone focus.  It’s not such a bad camera for the countryside neither.  Here are two photos that I’ve recently ‘snapped’ with the Olympus XA2!

Balloon over Fenland Skies. Olympus XA2 and Poundland film. Some post neg scan touch up using Gimp 2.8 open source software.

Click on either image to view a Flickr set that I’m proud of – Poundland film in a 50p camera.

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

Sunset using a 50p camera and Poundland film

Fenland Sunset with Poundland Film. Olympus XA2 compact 35mm film camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland

Another success with the little compact Olympus XA2 loaded with AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland.  Caught this one on the way home last week, as I drove out of Downham Market towards Wisbech.  Sunset over the Fens.  Film, including this Poundland film, really does seem to render skies better than do digital sensors, at least in my eyes it does, but I’m just a cheapskate amateur.  Landscapes are not really my forte, but living in the Fens, I cannot help sometimes capturing a big Fenland sky.  An 8p exposure on a 50p camera.  That’s low budget photography.  How low can I go?

Film, 35mm, and scans, Internet, Yashica AW Mini - 50p camera project

50p camera meets Staffy

Dudget camera meets Staffy. Yashica AW Mini compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Post neg scan enhancement using Gimp 2.8 free open source software.

Woof!  From the first roll from that Yashica AW Mini that I recently bought at a car boot sale in Wisbech, for 50p.  Now, this is not one of those fancy Yashica T compacts with Carl Zeiss lenses.  This is the budget AW (All Weather) Mini, circa 1991 production, featuring a plain Yashica lens.  It was immaculate when I bought it, but around the time that I took the above photo, the exposure button fell apart, and I lost the soft plastic cover.  It’s now held in with sellotape!

One issue with the camera, I wish that I could turn off that damned auto flash.  Never mind, I’ll regard it as part of it’s charm.  I love the dog owner’s leg, and his tucked in jogging bottoms.  For that reason, I’m submitting it as the first photo for my 50p camera gallery project.

Other news:  I’ve found this brilliant funny community website, called “You Are Not A Photographer“, where people submit awful photographs by Faux Photographers – people with no skill or training that with very little experience of photography, set themselves up as professionals, often with FaceBook professional photography pages, and advertising for business.  It sort of ties in with my own observations in earlier blogs, of beginners that give themselves FB pages and ‘photography studio’ names.

Cameras and equipment, Dogs and animals, Rants and discussions

Three more 50p cameras from the Car Boot Sale

Sunday Market Dogs. Sony DSLR A200. Sony DT AF 35mm F/1.8 SAM lens.

Oh dear, visited the local car boot sale come Sunday market last weekend,.  The weather was gloomy, and wet.  Not many stalls, but I still unfortunately parted with £1.50 of my hard earned cash, buying three film cameras for 50p each (GBP £0.50).

Camera 1) a Yashica AW Mini.  This VGC camera is weather resistant (AW = All Weather).  A compact auto focus point and click 35mm film camera, dating to circa 1991.  Perfect condition, and it’s black plastic design hide the fact that this working 50p camera is actually 23 years old!  Unfortunately, it bears a Yashica 32mm F/3.5 lens rather than the Carl Zeiss lens of the posher T-range Yashica compacts.  Still, not only is it all weather – it has a fantastic New Angle Scope mounted on the top of the camera, aiding waist height operation.  You can look down into this top mounted viewfinder.  Perfect for Lomo style street photography.  What a great innovation!

Camera 2) a Ricoh AF-35.  Perhaps the worse bargain.  It’s a 1980’s early autofocus compact point and click 35mm film camera.  The only user review I’ve found for it online describes it as ugly, heavy, automatic, and with a boring lens.

Camera 3) a Kodak Brownie 44A.  Dates to circa 1961.  A collection piece rather than a working camera, as it was designed for 127 format film.  Not cheap and easily available.  Still, condition is fair to good.  It was made in Great Britain, by an award winning designer.

I’ll maybe post some photos of these 50p cameras later, but for now, an earlier image captured of a pair of Great Danes at the Sunday Market last summer.  Looking forward to playing with that little Yashica.  Photos to follow – I’ve loaded it with Poundland AA batteries and Poundland 35mm film 🙂