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.