Nita pulling her Dad’s face. Zenza Bronica SQ-A medium format film SLR. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5+ film. Developed in ID-11.
Struggling to get time, and inspiration to fully road test my newly acquired Zenza Bronica SQ-A. Manufactured in Japan during the 1980s, this is a medium format SLR system camera, fitted with a Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 stock lens, a waist height ground glass viewer (as usually found in TLR cameras), and a 120 film back.
Granddaughter Mia. As above photo.
I loaded it with an in-date roll of 120 Ilford HP5 Plus (ASA 400). I found the Japanenglish instructions a little confusing on film loading, and I seem to have misloaded the film. As a result, I only had seven exposures on the film. The SQ-A exposes 120 film with twelve 6 x 6 square frames. That’s about four times the area of a 35mm film frame, or of a “full frame” DSLR. Unfortunately, I don’t have the best digital film scanner to exploit this at the moment. I have an Epson Perfection V500 on my wishlist, but for now, I use an antiquated Epson Perfection 1200 for my medium format scans. It scans only one frame at a time, and produces measly maximum resolution of 2600 x 2600 pixels – barely doing justice for the 6 x 6 cm negs. On the tight-fisted side though, my ancient Perfection 1200 only cost me £15 (plus postage) and is incredibly fast.
Hopefully I’ve loaded the film back correctly this time! It certainly appears OK, and I’m on frame 8 of the second roll already. The Bronica seems to be performing OK. No signs of light leaks or any problems so far – except for a small screw that fell out and needed replacing. Expect to see the Bronica SQ-A used as my primary camera on this blog in the future.
Transferring 120 film in a changing bag.
Transferring 120 film for developing in a Paterson tank. Sony A200 DSLR and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens.
I did mention in my previous post that I’ve finally found a method of safely transferring 120 film onto a Paterson tank spool, in a changing bag.
Briefly, this is it:
1) Place the exposed and sealed film, with the Paterson tank, funnel top, auto load reel/spool (set to the 120 size), and spindle, into the changing bag, zip and seal. A changing bag, for those who do not know, is an alternative to a dark room, for handling films in complete darkness before developing. It is made to be light proof, but allows you to place your hands inside through double elasticated ports. Cheap and portable, but compared to a dedicated light proof darkroom, it can be cramped to unroll film in without contact.
2) I then CAREFULLY unravel the paper backing until I detect (slowly here) the free end of the film starting to unravel. I then CAREFULLY unravel the film, allowing it to gently roll up, free of the paper backing. Only touching the edges, and certainly not the inside of the film.
3) When I reach the end of the film at the end of the tape, I peel away the paper backing, then carefully remove any free tape. I don’t try to clean all of the tape away – just the free overhang, as it tightly adheres to the film itself. I stick any sticky tape that I peeled off onto the paper backing (to avoid it falling into the tank), then scrunch it up (making sure first that I’m scrunching up the paper backing NOT the film itself!), and push it down out of the way in the corner of the changing bag under the Paterson tank.
4) I then feed the film carefully into the auto load reel inserts. If anyone hasn’t done this before, then practicing first with a spoiled film in light, outside of the changing bag, is essential. Only that way can you get to recognise where on the reel that the film feeds in. I pull it past the locking pins (as long as you rip any free hanging sticky tape off, it will still feed past the locking pins with a surface of sticky tape on the back), back onto the reel some 3 – 4 cm.
It’s at this point that I kept having trouble, until I worked out my method. If you simply try to rock on the film as per instructions, the free film coils too tight, and pulls out of the tracks of the reel. Or it catches the surface of the bag and knocks out of line. You don’t have free space in the bag to simply pull out a strip of film, and anyway, it just snaps back into a coil. Each time, I had to start again, becoming more and more tense, and roughly handling of the film would damage it – fingertips catching the exposed surface, or creasing the film. Other’s make it look so simple on Youtube. Maybe they used more supple brands of film. One put his finger inside to coil of film – but you have to be dexterous to still rock the film on, and keep your finger straight – also, I’d fear of damaging the exposed surfaces. So, here is my method:
5) Once you have that first three or four cm past the locking pins on the auto load reel, GENTLY wrap the free film around the outside of the reel. Then just touching the outsides of the reel (not the edge where you might catch and stop film from moving onto the spool), carefully rock the remainder of the film on. Job done, no contact, no creasing. Phew!
All that’s left is to place the reel on it’s spindle, then place it (the spindle to correct way up with the flange at the bottom) inside the tank, and to carefully screw on the funnel top. To avoid cross threading unevenly, I reverse screw it slightly first, then clockwise screw – making sure that it snaps shut as it should. Job done, it can come out of the bag, and I can now add developing chems.