Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

Colour

Olympus XA2 compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland. Scanned with V500.

I haven’t shown a lot of it on this blog of recent.  I do prefer b/w photography, but at the same time, I am the tight fisted photographer, and I still have plenty of Poundland film (AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200) in my freezer.  I tried C41 home processing, I did have some success, but I didn’t really enjoy it, not enough to learn how to keep C41 chemistry well.  The nearest photolab is not only incredibly expensive, but on my last film, totally botched up the colour.  I’ve even resorted to cross processing C41 film in b/w process and chemistry a few times.

Still, I recently thought I’d try again.  My faithful Olympus XA2 from the 50p Camera Project kept looking at me from the camera shelf.  So in went a cassette of Poundland film – that Ilford can be so expensive.  It was in there a few weeks or so, I didn’t use it to take any particularly good photos, just snapshots here and there.  I like the above result – it fitted my mood post general election about the future of minimal government – our parish council certainly provides it.  I have a very dystopian view of the future, perhaps I’m getting old.

Anyway, after I used up the 35mm film, I took it to a photolab in Kings Lynn, that I hadn’t used before.  Not a chain, but an independent.  They charged £2.50 for film process only, but had my film dried, cut into strips, and properly packaged in less than a hour!  Colours look good (of course, my scanner will have an effect), and they are clean.  Really pleased.  They did point out that the quick process was a result of their minilab being hot when i walked in, and I got lucky – but it looks like I’ve got a new photolab resource.

Now, that works out at a cost of £3.50 of film / development for 36 exposures.  I don’t think that at the moment, I could get b/w that cheap.  Other than cross processing.  Better get some of that Poundland film out of the freezer.

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35mm, and scans, Film

35mm film to 120 size converters from Ebay

35mm film converters to 120 size. Fitted here onto a Poundland film. Taken with a Nokia Lumia 1020 phone camera.

I haven’t tried them out in the field yet, but a few readers have asked for more information on these 135 to 120 canister converters that I purchased on Ebay.  Link to the Ebay listing here.

The seller is manufacturing them on his 3D printer.  Simple, but apparently an effective little design.  They simply plug into either end of a 35mm film canister, and hey presto – the 35mm film now fits into a 120 medium format film loader.

The seller does state that they haven’t been tested with many films or film loaders.  Still, they are a neat little product.

For those of you that might be interested in “sprocket hole” scans, just be aware, that these don’t come straight out of many film scanners including the Epson V500.  The masks cover the sprocket holes either side.  You need a bit of ingenuity.  Newton glass mounts, or, modified masks, simply trying to peg them into a 120 mask, or old school – use a digital camera and light box set up instead of a scanner.

As above image – but mounted in the film loader of a Lubitel 166B camera.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR

It’s about technique.

Arrrgh, Geee, Beee. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry. Stitched together post negative scan with open source Gimp software.

Another day of nothing to do but demolish Poundland 35mm film.  Actually, it really is getting easier with practice.  I had a technique that worked yesterday.  Even managed to avoid running into the kitchen screaming “I need the kettle now!  I need temperature!!”.  No spilling of jugs of developer.  No chemicals poured into wrong containers (I’ve carefully numbered my storage drums and measuring jugs to match now).  Now I understand it (until some swot corrects me), the critical 38 C temeperature only really applies to the developing stage – so as long as I pre-soak in water at 38C (or slightly above), and develop at 38 C -/+ 0.3 tolerance, then I don’t need to worry too much about lower temperatures (30 C to 38 C) for all of the following baths – and I can use the water that I heat my jugs of chemicals in, for rinse.  The three scanned Poundland film negatives in this post, were all taken in the Pentax ME Super, using 35mm Poundland film (AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200), and were developed in Rollei Digibase chemistry.  The top image has been stitched from three exposures, post digital scan, using the free open source Gimp software package.  All taken in the last few days and quickly processed at home.

Colour test. As above image.

This will probably be my last post for a week or so, as my ISP wants paying and they are going to have to wait.  Maybe I should rename this blog The Broke Photographer.  Will catch up at the end of the month.  Take care.

I tell yer. I left my hard hat in here! As top image.

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Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR

Nothing to do … but take pictures

Not Forgotten. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry.

I’m incredibly broke at the moment, and I have time off from work.  It’s pretty fortunate then that I have plenty of film, and processing chemicals.  Just can’t afford to go far, and the weather is … British.

We shot some photos yesterday, and I processed them in the Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry later.  Digitally scanned them on the Epson V500 today.  Really, it was a case of looking for colour, in such dreary grey weather.  I loaded the Pentax ME Super with Poundland film (AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200).  The ME Super is a classic little SLR built in Japan around thirty or more years ago.  It was an Automatic SLR camera – not as in modern DSLRs, but Aperture priority.  You can simply set the aperture ring where you want, and the light meter will electronically set the shutter speed.  Unlike some Olympus counterparts though, it does have a full manual exposure option.  It also has a 125X option – if your battery runs down at an awkward time, you simply switch to 125X mode, and it shoots at a set shutter speed of 125.  Using the Sunny F16 rule or an external light meter, all you need do is stop up or down the aperture ring.

Processing was ok.  I’m getting there with C-41.  I am already missing my Ilford B/W films though.

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

C-41 Process and Me.

The General Cemetery. Wisbech. Olympus XA2 compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland. Developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry.

For crying out loud.  I really do not like this C-41 process game, and it does not like me.  However, I’m sticking with it, but it is fighting me back.  Ok confession time.  First attempt.  Screwed up totally, although sort of salvaged a few sprocket hole images.  I’ve posted on that one before, so I wont go into detail.  Second attempt.  I accidentally poured some used bleacher into the fixer storage drum.  I’ve checked with the swots on an analog forum – the verdict is that it’ll gradually degrade and to use it ASAP.  I did however pretty well process a 24 exposure of 35mm, although it wasn’t a very good shoot.  I took it in my 50p Olympus XA2, and it included the above image, of the chapel of rest, in the disused General Cemetery in Wisbech.

Third attempt – just now.  I processed two 35mm films in the Paterson tank together.  Too early to say how they’ll turn out, I’ll see tomorrow.  However, I accidentally dropped 600 ml of precious C-41 developer to waste.  I wanted this stuff to last 6 – 8 months, but it isn’t looking good.

Maybe I’m just too much of a rush-about klutz to process my own C-41 colour film.  Too much worrying about temperature, too many jugs.  It’s certainly another learning curve.

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Film Dark Room, Monochrome, Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR, Portrait

FoolHardy Clowns

The Likely Lads. FoolHardy, clowns in Wisbech. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus 35mm film, developed in ID11

Clowns at the Christmas Fair in Wisbech.  From the FoolHardy circus in Norwich.  Joe Fool, and his partner Cosmo Hardy.

A place in Explore, and over 11,000 views, and 180 faves for this image on the Flickr website yesterday.  Well I liked this one, so I’m glad that others do as well.  It was a good strip of film.  I’ve started pre-soaking my film in water at developing temp (or slightly above), and it’s probably just me or a lucky film, but the grain looks really nice.  As I’m moving towards Colour film and C-41 developing, I’m having serious second thoughts!  I’m liking my home developed b/w so much!

On the C-41 front, I’ve found an online article, based on my Digibase chemistry kit, using stand processing. The method develops C-41 at a lovely familiar 20 C, with minimal agitations, but very, very slowly.  It sounds safe, and I think I can manage that better, so when the time comes, I’m probably going to use that method.  My dark room notebook is starting to dry out (since I dropped it in water), and I need to start writing a C-41 plan stand processing plan.  Not too sure that I fancy bleach bypass though.  Meanwhile I also need to do two other things.  1) take some photography, and 2) find some nice 5 litre drums to store chemicals in.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Lubitel 166B

Chaos Colour

Upwell Church and the Well Stream, Norfolk. Taken with Lomo Lubitel 166B camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film, developed in Rollei Digibase C-41 kit.

Well that was a cock up.  Ok, not all of it.  Let me start from the beginning.

The plan was to go crazy, and to load a Poundland 35mm film onto the 120 spindles of a Lomo Lubitel 166B camera, expose it in a day, then develop it using the Rollei Digibase C-41 chemistry kit.  My first ever attempt at C-41 colour film development.  A fun project.

The Lubitel 166B is a TLR (twin lens reflex) camera, built in the Lomo factory of the former USSR during the early 1980s.  It is designed to use 120 medium format roll film, exposing it in 12 frames of 6 cm by 6 cm squares.  It is an entirely manual camera, with no light meter.  They were mass produced in the former Soviet Union as a medium format camera for the masses – but with full exposure controls.  I bought mine at a car boot sale in Cambridgeshire for two quid (GBP £2.00).

I’ve already shot several rolls of Ilford b/w 120 roll film in it, and I’ve been pleased with it, although the Bronica SQ-A has replaced it as my number one medium format film camera.

I placed the camera in my film changing bag, with two empty 120 spindles, a small pair of scissors, and a 35mm cassette of Poundland film.  Later Lubitel’s have been fitted with masks for using 35 mm film – but the 166B was exclusively 120.  I rolled out the film from the 135 cassette, snipped it off, then rolled it back onto the middle of the 120 spindle.  Simple.  No masks or complications so far. I then fitted the spindle into the Lubitel, fed the end of the film into the second spindle, and then pulled it across – fitting the top spindle into the camera (all of this was done in the safe confines of my film changing bag).    I had already taped the red window over in case of light leak.  Shut the back, took out the Lubitel loaded with 35 mm.

In the field, I exposed the film using my usual Sunny F16 Rule of manual guess-timate settings.  I wound the film advance two full rotations between frames.  It turned out to be generous.  Next time I’ll use one and a half rotations, and should get an extra few exposures to my film.  I felt the 135 film release from the bottom spindle on my last exposure.

So far, it had gone very well.  The film had exposed quite well, although some wasted film between frames.  The Lubitel had performed well, and as expected, the whole width of the film, either side of sprocket holes had exposed, to give that sprocket holed

Leverington Church Spire. As above.

film look so beloved of the Lomo school of photography.

Then disaster struck.  I decided to rush into my first ever C-41 film development using the Rollei Digibase C-41 kit.  I did everything wrong.  I tried developing at a high temperature that I couldn’t sustain.  I mucked up solutions.  Last second realised that I hadn’t got a stopwatch in the house.  I dropped my beloved developing log book in water, losing my notes.  It turned into chaos.

I learned lessons, and I wont make certain mistakes again.  I’m not giving up with the C-41 colour film developing yet.  Indeed, I’m determined to do it better.  All of that lovely Poundland film demands it.  I was also quite pleased qith the Lubitel on 35mm.

More patience next time.  I’ll also try to C-41 develop at lower more sustainable temperatures.

This is partly what amateur photography should be about.  Challenges, learning, and improving.

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Film Dark Room

Bad Man! Stop that Cross Processing!

Bad Man. Olympus Trip 35 camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 C-41 film cross processed with Ilford B/W chemistry.

Sorry about that.  In future I’ll try to develop my Poundland film, and any other C-41 films (quite fancy trying some 120 medium format C-41) in full glorious colour!  I ordered the mini Rollei Digibase C-41 developer 500 ml  kit in the evening.  It arrived at my door mid morning the next day!  Well done to FirstCall Photographic.  It’s so cute that I don’t want to break the seal.  I already wish that I’d gone for the five litre Super Maxi size kit, but this will do for a tester.  Now I need a bunch of used 35mm colour films!  I have nearly forty AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 36 exposure 200 films from Poundland in hoard.  I just need to find something to photo.  I’m afraid inspiration is a bit short lately.

I took a quick snap with a DSLR of my new Rollei C-41 kit just now, and slotted it into my previous post below.  It seemed more appropriate for that post.

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Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Cheap C-41 colour negative film developing

My cute little Rollei Digibase C-41 kit. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR

What a plonker!  In my last post my maths went to hell.  It works out much cheaper than I initially calculated, to develop C41 film using the Rollei Digibase kits.  The larger the chemistry kit, the cheaper that it is.  However, I’ve just ordered a small kit for now, to test the water with.  With this 500 ml kit, if I successfully develop 10 films using it, it works our to £2.70 per film (including the cost of delivery).  If proven successful, then I’ll order the 5 litre kit next.  I’ve calculated, that for  the 100 films that it is supposed to develop (100-110), and including delivery of the kit, the cost per film would be 49p per film.  Yes, that’s GBP £0.49 for a 36 exposure 35 mm film.  If true, that is outstanding value!  On a 36 exposure AgfaPhoto Vista Plus film from Poundland, that adds up to a film price + developing cost of 4p per exposure on colour film.  Wow.

Ok, you are perfectly justified to argue that digital costs nothing per exposure, except for a few milliamps of power.  That’s perfectly true.  However, it misses the point that shooting with film is challenging and fun (as can be digital).  In addition, there are the negatives.  Stored in binders, they are future proof hardware copies of your photography.  Digital doesn’t offer that.  I’ve recently been reading that for this reason, negative film images are being sort for time capsules.  No issues with binary code or digital compression formats in the future, if you archive in film.

So, next adventure – developing colour negative film!

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Film Dark Room, Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR, Portrait, Rants and discussions

On the Fiddle

On the Fiddle. Pentax ME Super. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus film developed in ID11.

I bought another eighteen 36 exposure AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 35mm films from Poundland in Peterborough yesterday.  That’s on top of the twenty that I recently bought from the Poundland in Kings Lynn.  I can’t resist those 36 exposure films for a quid each.  It’s ridiculously cheap.  Thing is though, I’m not totally happy with cross processing them all in b/w Ilford chemistry.  It’s sometimes cheap and convenient, but it’s not HP5.  All of these colour 35 mm films begging to be used.  I’m increasingly tempted to have a go at C41 colour film developing.  Just the film mind.  I’m looking at the Rollei Digibase C-41 LT20 Midi Kit 1L to start with.  A C41 chemistry kit sold online at FirstCall Photographic Ltd.

It claims to be sufficient to develop 20-24 films (presumably 35 mm), and depending on post & package costs, will cost me somewhere around £3 a film to develop.  I can actually get my film commercially developed locally for only £2.50, but I hate having to wait, and accepting his quality.  So, I’m thinking it over.

 

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