Film, 35mm, and scans, Lubitel 166B, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II

Catching Up from 620 to 120 film

Too Much. Olympus XA2 (cost 50p). AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film from Poundland


The Lady of Wisbech Museum. Lubitel 166B. Ilford FP4+ ISO125 120 film

Gawd, what happened to this blog, time to pick things up again.  I bought a cheap scanner.  I have this bloody dream or target, where I concentrate on 120 medium format film, develop my own, scan my own.  At the moment I take my negs to a local processor who hand develops them, then scans them.  He’s very reasonable, but I want to do it – the full experience.  Ok, where have I been heading since my last blog?

I LOVE the Lubitel 166B TLR.  I’ve had some cool results from it on Ilford.  Shit I need to stop tilting it to one side, but I’m really pleased with the exposure settings I’ve made.  The Lubitel has aperture and shutter speed controls, but no light meter.  Sometimes I’ve used a DSLR for readings, other times I’ve used a dodgy old selenium light meter that I’ve ‘repaired’.  Other times I’ve simply guessed.  Surprise is, they work out what ever the method.  It’s about learning to measure light.

I’ve recently bought two beautiful condition, immaculate Kodak Brownies, each for a couple of quid at car boot sales.  Both were designed for Kodak 620 roll film.

The first is a wannabe TLR – a circa 1961 Kodak Brownie Reflex 20.  What a gorgeous reflex top viewfinder, and a very well designed plastic body with an advanced film loader.  It even automatically winds to the next exposure.  I say wannabe TLR because the crappy camera lens is not engaged to the viewfinder lens.  Instead, you have a three-zone-focus. Still – this is a smart old Brownie, but not just a box camera.

The second is of a more classic ‘Box Brownie’ design – although built towards the twilight of box brownie manufacture circa 1959.  It is a Kodak Brownie Flash III.  A pressed metal box, with soft covering.  Two viewfinders (top and side), two levers – one to select a yellow filter, the other for portrait or normal focus (two zone focus).  A fair clip, and a sturdy film loader.  It’ was also fitted with connections for a whopping big flash lamp, which didn’t come with this camera.

Both as I said, were designed for Kodak 620 film, in colour neg, b&w neg, or colour pos slide film.  I think the Kodak film was of a single sensitivity of ASA 125. They stopped making Kodak 620 some thirty years ago.  Does this mean that these Brownies are dead in the water?  No.  It turns out that 120 roll film, still in production by a number of firms, is of the same dimension as 620, but on different spindles.

I bought a developing or dark bag.  Decent anti-static one, not the cheapo this time.  I’ve perfected rolling a 120 film off it’s spindle, then back onto a 620 spindle, in the dark bag.  So far I’ve shot one roll on each of the above Brownies.

The next stop will be to buy a Paterson or developing tank, then the chemicals.  You see, targets can be achieved, just give me time.

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

The Great Flickr Upgrade 2013 etc.

Cambridgeshire Orchards. Olympus XA2. Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film.

Pump it Up. Olympus XA2. Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film

Man in Funny Hat. Olympus XA2. Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 35mm film

A little selection of recent photographs captured with my cute little Olympus XA2.  Fits so nice in my handbag.  Hang on, I’m a bloke!  These images captured in glorious cheapo Poundland colour, via the quid a time AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 films, on my 50p Olympus XA2 zone focus.

Other news – what the fook has happened to Flickr.  I don’t think I’d mind the changes too much except that I can’t see them half the time due to server hang ups.  Maybe it’s just to my ISP or part of the World, but since the great 2013 Flickr upgrade sneaked up, the already unreliable feed has become horrendous.  A few days after I celebrated my eight year subscription with them as well.  Happy friggin’ birthday Tight Fisted bastard.  Fook you and your lousy cheapskate photos.



Cameras and equipment, Olympus Trip 35, Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II, Portrait, Rants and discussions, Street and Protest

Why a Zone Focus Camera?

His and hers. Our two Olympus Trip 35 cameras. Taken with Sony A200 DSLR camera and Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM lens. UFRaw b&w conversion.

Our two Olympus Trip 35 cameras side by side – both manufactured in 1981.  Anita’s (on the left), we bought at a car boot sale, with a flash gun and original lens cover for a fiver (GBP £5.00).  I’m still waiting for a light seal kit before we run it, but all looks ok.  Mine (on the right) cost a staggering £17 from Ebay (I know, I know, it’s not the cheapest marketplace for buyers, but still well below the ‘book’ price).  In addition, I bought a cute little Olympus XA2 camera a few days ago for 50p from a car boot sale!  We are becoming overwhelmed by Olympus zone focus 35mm compacts.

But what’s the attraction of these thirty year old compact zone focus cameras?

  1. 35mm film is still easily available, and cheap.  I primarily use film from Pound Stores – £1 for a roll of 35mm negative film.  I can still get it developed locally as well.  A local independent pro-lab charges me £2 a roll for developing only – no prints.  I then digitally scan the exposures.  I plan to move to Ilford film later, and to develop my own.  It does not look that difficult or expensive.  Film (at least 35mm format), is far from dead, despite rumours to the contrary.  Look on Flickr, and you’ll find plenty of bustling, booming film camera groups.
  2. 35mm film on these cameras gives the same crop factor as a Full Frame sensor D-SLR or digital compact.  But such a camera costs in excess of a thousand, or even two thousand quid (GBP £1000 – £2800).  My Olympus XA2 just cost me less than one quid (£0.5).  I can digitally scan the developed negatives up to a resolution of 9,600 dpi (I usually scan to 2,400 dpi which gives me a digital image of 3400 x 2252 pixels).  Sure there is far more to it than resolution – but I hope that I make my point.  A 50p camera can do some pretty awesome things.
  3. Zone focus compacts are l33t.  They have a cool factor.
  4. Compact zone focus film cameras are still regarded as the best choice for street photography and candid portraits.  D-SLRs or even many SLRs are just rude.  The public does not want a big chunk of Canikon glass and a clunky SLR mirror pointed in their direction.  It’s just not discreet   D-SLR street togs are frequently stopped or blocked by Police and security firms.  It’s bizarre (after all, surely a real terrorist would use a spy cam?), but in this post-9/11 World, DSLR users are often seen as nuisances at the least, or at worst, possible pedophiles or even terrorists!  A 35mm zone focus IS so discreet.  It doesn’t even need focusing.  You can shoot from the hip and hope for the best.  It’s fast, discreet, and quiet.  Just set it mid-range, and shoot.  No time lost auto-focusing the lens – it just opens the shutter instantly.  Hide it back in a pocket.  Job done.
  5. Lens quality.  Ok, most of the cheap film compact cameras of the 1960s – 1990s had some pretty shitty lenses.  But not all.  Just as today, there were some pretty expensive and high quality compact cameras – especially during the competitive 80s and 90s.  Our Olympus 35mm cameras all sport D.Zuiko lens.  Some Yashica and Contax compacts sported the elite Carl Zeiss lens.  You just need to learn to tell the gold from the coal, when filtering through all of those compact camera cases at the car boot sale.
  6. Vintage (1980s/90s) zone focus and compact cameras V new Chinese toy film cameras (e.g. Diana and Holga).  No offence to the Lomography camp.  But I bought Nita a Diana F+ Mini.  The quality was rubbish – but that is to be expected.  The wind on mechanism kept jamming and double exposing.  It has a plastic lens!  I know that part of the charm of the Lomo craze is for images to look crap, but come on, it’s cheaper to buy a car boot classic than a new toy camera.  Get real.

Sorry for any offence – none intended.