Some of my favourite black and white film results from the XA2.
All captured on home developed, then scanned 35mm b/w film. All in the Olympus XA2 camera that cost 50p (USD 70 cents) from a car boot sale.
I don’t often get an urge for a camera, but just lately, I’ve had some kind of nostalgic desire to get hold of a half decent 1980’s 35mm film compact camera, and yesterday, I got one.
Back in the early 1980’s, I couldn’t afford a decent SLR camera. My brother bought this knock out Canon AE1 35mm SLR. I was bowled over by it, but there was no way that I could go without beer long enough in order to buy one. My Bro recommended that I bought a “35mm compact camera”. Until then, other than a brief flirtation with a Yashica TLR, I’d only ever owned 126 film Kodak Instamatics, a Polaroid, and God awful 110 pocket cameras. So a half decent 35mm compact would be a step up! A visit to a Norwich camera shop, and I purchased one. I can’t remember which one! It may have been a Canon AF35M. Anyway, I remember a salesman trying to explain to me about lens quality. As they usually did. I do remember that this 35mm compact camera had state of the art gadgets, including a newfangled space age auto focus, and motorised film advance. Wow. I remember reading the user manual about this head screwing technology.
I continued to use 35mm AF compact cameras (with a brief flirtation with Kodak disc film) all the way until I discovered digital around 2003. Digital came in, 35mm film compact cameras went the way of the dinosaur. They cram boxes in charity shops and in car boot sales. Yesterday’s technology. Most of these 35mm film compact cameras were not anything special. However, a small number of them were something a bit special. The Yashica and Contax T series of compacts, were manufactured with highly reputable 35mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss T* Tessar lenses. Collectors and those in the know, stalk car boots looking for these treasures. A VGC Yashica T4 or T5 fetches three figures from the collectors and hipsters on Ebay. I kid you not, a good GBP £120 – £220 for a compact film camera. These are not rubbish cameras.
My relatively old and lower status T2 (manufactured c1986) cost me considerably less than that, but just hearing that motorised film advance and rewind sends me back thirty years ago. I only received it yesterday, I want to use up some Poundland C-41 film in it. A fun camera to carry around. I ran a test film through it yesterday, a spare 35mm cassette of Ilford HP5+ that I could quickly develop, then dry overnight. It works (unlike the last T2 that I bought – see a few posts back).
The above photo is nothing special, except that it demonstrates the daylight flash function, the auto focus works (although this is not an action AF), and the lens does give good shallow DOF when required.
I think that the 50p Camera handled the above photo quite well. Taken on a recent visit to London, in Leicester Square of a group of street dancers. Yeah, it has a tilt, but I think that the tilt works quite well on this sort of scene – I like the other dancers and legs sticking caught on the edge of the photo.
I’m quite liking the Ilford LC29 developer, although at 1:19, I’m not sure if it is that a great value. I might perhaps use LC29 on my faster films, and use a Rodinal solution on slower films. Does that make any sense?
I enjoyed taking the above photo. I was visiting Camden Market in London, and snapped him with the crafty little XA2 before he could even pitch his Polaroid instant photo sale to me. Hah hah! The 50p Camera is l33t!
I’m trying out some posh film – Kodak T-Max 400 here. Developed in LC29 at 1:19.
Our intrepid reporter phones in the tight fisted report. The 4.2 magnitude tremors of the Kent Earthquake yesterday were felt far and wide. Causing damage to structures as far away as Cambridgeshire. Either that or some drunk managed to back his car into this Wisbech telephone box.
The fun that you can have with a little XA2 35mm film compact camera.
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!
The above photo taken with my awesome little Olympus XA2 that I bought at a car boot sale for 50p (circa USD 70 cents). Seems to produce well on Ilford HP5 Plus. Other news? I’ve now home developed over thirty films. This evening I cross processed two 35mm C41 films with Ilford b&w chemicals – in the same tank together, another first. I’ve really got a hang of simple straight forward b&w film developing by now, although reeling 120 film can still be a curse. Anyway, another new photo from the XA2 below:
I think that the Olympus XA2 has proven itself by now. What do you think? I know, I know, it’s not a Canon or Nikon full frame DSLR, but I think it’s a cooler camera.Other news? I bought a 135 film of AgfaPhoto from Poundland today. The box had been opened, and it was reduced to 75p HA HA ha hah hah….
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!
Click on either image to view a Flickr set that I’m proud of – Poundland film in a 50p camera.