Cameras and equipment, Portrait

Mamiya C3 TLR Camera Test

Mamiya C3 Professional TLR. Mamiya-Sekkor 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford FP4+ film. Developed in ID11. Scanned film on a V500.

Well, yeah, that look okay to my eyes.  No light leaks.  Camera is a good ‘un.  There is a slight blemish (not fungi) on taking lens, but as usual, it doesn’t seem to have affected the images.  I’ve loaded it with another roll of Ilford FP4 Plus.

I presently have three medium format film cameras on the go – all loaded with film.  This Mamiya C3 TLR, the good old trusty Bronica SQ-A, system camera, and for share lightweight convenience, an Agfa Isolette I folding camera.  I don’t like all of this choice.

Monochrome, Portrait, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Portrait of a Cambridge Busker

Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in R09. Scanned film Epson Perfection V500.

Feeling a bit disillusioned with the infrared film, following some grainy negatives, so I took a day out with the good old Bronny for some street photography in Cambridge yesterday, and wasted a few rolls of Ilford HP5.

Dogs and animals, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

I Never Raced

Greyhound for re-homing. She doesn’t like racing. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 150mm f/4 lens. S-18 extension tube. Ilford HP5 Plus 120 film. Home developed in ID11.


We bumped into Hope at a recent dog show organised by a greyhound charity.  She is a greyhound looking up for adoption.  Apparently she didn’t like to run in a race.  For WSC316.

Band and Concert Photography, Zenza Bronica SQ-A

Soulweaver, Elme Hall, and the Post 9/11 World

Soulweaver at Elme Hall. Goodge and M on lead guitar and bass, yesterday at Elme Hall, near Wisbech. Bronica SQ-A camera. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus medium format film. Home developed in ID11

A temporary break from the Poland travel photography (I still have several 120 rolls of Ilford in the fridge to develop and process).  Yesterday, we found something to do, despite the dreary English weather.  A nearby hotel by the name of Elme Hall, hosts this rather unusual but excellent local rock and blues club, that usually commences at 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon.  Who says that nothing ever happens in the Fens?  It’s an unusual time of the day to watch local guitarists do their strut, and stranger still, they have a break during which sandwiches and …. roast potatoes (?) are served.  The bar is of course open throughout the event, and it can be a rather pleasant way to spend an otherwise dreary Sunday afternoon and early evening.  Rock n roll, ale, and roast potatoes.

This week was the turn of a three piece heavy rock band from Cambridgeshire, by the name of Soulweaver.  Lots of their own material, clearly lots of experience and skill, and yeah, some very good covers – even successfully braving a bit of Hendrix.  They got away with it very well.  I took the Bronica loaded with Ilford HP5.  Band lights were surprisingly strong on the faces either side.  I set aperture to f2.8, and tried shutter speeds of 60 and 125 (too much jumping around for 60).  Developing was straight with ID11.

There is actually a nice edge to these local bands, in that, unlike professional groups and venues, you are usually free to take and use any sort of camera that you wish.  I had to smile when I recently visited the Parlament venue in Gdansk, Poland, to see the established Polish heavy rock band TSA.  I asked the door if photography was permitted only to be politely declined.  I left my camera at home.  But as soon as the band appeared, up came the Iphones and smart phones.

Band Photographers start young.  As above photo.

This of course is the curse of using DSLRs and any serious looking camera that doormen and security personnel regard as “professional”.  I had it a few years ago on the London Tube.  I was warned not to take photographs for terrorist reasons.  Yet, later in the day I witness smiling tourists flashing away on smart phones.  Now, if I was a terrorist, wouldn’t I conceal a small digicam, even a spy cam, rather than be caught on CCTV sporting a big fat “professional” camera?  Logic rarely prevails in this post 9/11 World.  But I’ve digressed.


Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR, Travel Photography

Thanks for the Nudge

Sopot, the Twisted crooked house, Poland. Theme restaurant and bar at the popular Polish seaside resort of Sopot. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus film. Developed in ID11

Mariacka Street, Gdansk. Amber sales area, with St Mary in the back ground. Pentax ME Super camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Ilford HP5 Plus film. Developed in ID11.

Thank you for the nudge Fabius.  Yeah, I’ve finished processing the 35mm films from the Pentax ME Super and Olympus Trip 35 cameras that I used in Poland.  I’ve just started the rolls of medium format 120 film from the Bronica SQ-A today.  First of all, the advice not to let Airport Security X-ray your photographic film – forget it, it’s going to happen in this post 911 World.  Are you going to try and argue with them?  Then get ready for some rubber glove treatment and to miss your flight.  The good news though, is that I was assured that it wont fog all but the very fastest film, e.g. much faster than the ISO 400 that I took.  So far, I can’t see any damage.

As for the cameras, the Olympus Trip 35 was to be honest, a wee bit disappointing.  I don’t feel that it gave me the results that I’ve come to expect from my beloved 50p Olympus XA2 compact.  Sometimes it gave great results.  But as a quick shoot from the hip street camera, it just borked for me.  Maybe it’s that it is a battery free camera, relying on the selenium power.  As for the Pentax ME Super – as expected,  Superb results through the Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 glass, but it ripped film sprocket holes, forcing premature ejaculation of expensive films.  I was hesitant to take this camera to Gdansk, as it has had a knock in the past, and I already knew that it had a tendency to do this.  Still what a shame, it’s such a great camera.  I hope one day that I’ll find a similar Pentax 35mm SLR in better condition.

So anyway, I’ve started with the two above scans.  I particularly like the top image, taken of the twisted or crooked house in Sopot.  People just doing their thing.

Other news:  I’ve bought a few Praktica 35mm SLRs recently, and from them, I’ve put together a rather nice Praktica BMS Electronic.  These were made in the former socialist republic East Germany circa 1989 – 1990, literally just before the Berlin Wall fell.  I bought a worker today at a car boot sale.  Looking forward to testing it out.  They remind me of a contemporary Zenit, only better.  I’ve a few nice lenses with them.

I’ve also just started developing the 120 films from Poland.  Ilford Delta Pro 400’s to start with, but I also used HP5 Plus.  I also chucked away my C41 chems.  I’m going to stick to what I do better – black and white film.

More posts more regular – I promise.


Cameras and equipment, Film Dark Room, Film, 35mm, and scans, Monochrome, Portrait

Back to Basics – the Box Camera

Flint and Myself on a dog walk. Kodak Brownie Flash III box camera. Ilford FP4 Plus expired 2004. 120 film rolled onto 620 spindles.

Every now and then we like to take an ancient box camera out for a little simple fun.  This time it was the Kodak Brownie Flash III.  This is a very late box camera from Kodak, dating to circa 1958.  Kodak replaced their box cameras during the early 1960s, with a wide range of plastic Brownies, some designed to use 127 roll film.

The box camera had a long and noble history – they were central to the popularisation of photography during the first half of the Twentieth Century.  Kodak started making box cameras in their Brownie range in 1900.  In 1901 they introduced 120 roll film, that for many years became associated with box cameras.  This was film photography at it’s most simple and cheapest.  A basic camera obscura – a box, often a cardboard box, with a cheap meniscus lens in a single hole on one side.  Behind the lens, a simple spring shutter linked to a lever – a single stop shutter, and aperture.  A basic roll film loader that slides out of the back of the box.  A red window on the back of the box so that you could see the number of the exposure on the film backing paper.  One or two little reflex viewers in the corner of the box to help you point the lens in the right direction.  That was just about it.  A single stop roll film camera built in a box.  An idea that was taken up not only by Kodak, but by camera manufacturers around the World, and that lasted sixty years or more.

It took photography to the working classes, and it often took photography to youth.  How many famous photographers started out with a box camera?  I wonder if it could teach much to the youth of today, if they were given this, instead of a digital HD all singing dancing gadget camera?  After the shock, they might even marvel at the beautiful and simple idea of capturing light in a box through a small aperture, onto a plastic film coated with emulsions of silver salts.  Imagine children of the Digi Age … one stop, that means no exposure controls, not even manual.  You have to match the camera to the light.  Even the film was one stop, ASA 125.

I can just about remember building a camera obscura at school when I was quite young.  I hope that they still teach this to kids today.

Returning to the above photo, this Kodak Flash Brownie was a late, and advanced model.  It has toggles for two fixed focus zones (under ten feet away, or over), and for a yellow sky filter for B/W photography.  It even has a fitting for a flash gun to be attached.  High technology in 1958.  It was designed to be used with Kodak’s 620 film format.  I’ve often posted on this before, but to recap, Kodak 620 film and paper backing were identical to 120.  However, in order to encourage consumers to buy Kodak film for Kodak cameras, the 620 spindles were different, so common 120 wont fit in the camera.  Unfortunately, 620 film format is now obsolete.  Ha ha, we can easily get around this.  All that you need is a couple of old 620 spindles (most old broken box cameras have an empty spindle in them), and in a light proof environment (I use a film changing bag), you can roll a 120 film/paper backing off it’s modern 120 spindle, then back onto a 620 spindle.  You just need to practice first a little in light, and lift the taped end up – release any slack, and push it back down.  Tutorials are on Youtube.  It takes five minutes a film.

In the above case, I used an old long expired Ilford FP4 Plus 120 film that needed using up.  I’ve since reloaded it with an equally long expired Fujifilm Provia colour roll.  Anita snapped away over a few days.  Then I quickly developed and processed the film in diluted ID11.  The negatives for this class of medium format box camera are huge.  Massive 6 cm x 9 cm exposures – nine on a roll of film.  Indeed, that’s part of the magic.  Although I digitally scanned the film to produce images like the above, in future, should I wish to, I could very simply make a reasonably sized positive print from chemical process.  It doesn’t need to be enlarged.

By the way, the Kodak Brownie Flash III camera that we used here – I bought it in a box of cameras and equipment for about five quid at a car boot sale – sold a Konica that came with it for a fat profit, so this box camera was basically free.  It is in almost immaculate condition – as new (almost), and in it’s original carry case, with the owner’s address scribbled inside the bag.

We are going to continue using a box camera from time to time, and I’d recommend it to others.  It is back to basics.

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.

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.

Monochrome, Pentax ME Super 35mm film SLR, Portrait


Ricky. Pentax ME Super 35mm SLR camera. SMC Pentax-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. Orange filter.  Developed in Ilford ID-11

I do like Ilford HP5 Plus film.  Quite pleased with some recent results, not only 120, but also with 35mm.  I’m also quite pleased here with the performance of my Pentax ME Super.  A lovely little camera.  Oh yeah, he does have a bit of a shiner!  Thanks for posing Rick.

Olympus XA-2 - 50p camera project II, Rants and discussions, Uncategorized

Cross Processing 35mm Poundland Film

Looking Down. Olympus XA2 35mm compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland. Cross processed in Ilford b&w chemicals / process.

Looking Down. As above image.

Looking Down. As top image.

Looking Down. As top photo.

Looking Down. As top image.

Looking Down. As top image.

Looking Down. As top image

Well the one use camera project failed – but while Nita was snapping away with a light leaking dog toy, I was using Poundland film in my trusty little Olympus XA2.  This film costs me a quid a roll of 35mm.  Labelled as AgfaPhoto (to distinguish it from the defunct Agfa) Vista Plus 200, it’s rumoured to be a repackaged variant of Fujifilm C200.  Incredible value colour film.  However, I’m not yet inspired enough to try and develop C41 film.  But I do have plenty of Ilford B&W chemicals and a Paterson tank.  I can get it commercially C41 process developed at a local photo lab or two, but that’s more expense, and I’m trying to be the tight fisted photographer.  To be honest, I could get it developed only (no prints) at one local photo lab for only three quid a film.  Tempting, but it’s nice to DIY isn’t it?

So cross process it was.  In the same tank as the Kodak GT800 that I posted on yesterday.  A dilution of 3:1 water/ ID11 stock at 20C for 22 minutes.  Inversions 10s in each minute.

The negatives are ugly, and you need to tweak the scanner to produce results on digitalisation.  I scan using my Epson Perfection V500 set for color negatives, but saving as 16 bit greyscale images.  A bit more tweaking post scan on Gimp, particularly on Levels.  I think that’s passable b&w film photography.  A quid a roll and cheap b&w home developing.  Cheapskate tight fisted film photography, and with the 50p compact camera!

Other News.

Poundland Film.

Talking about Poundland film, I have recently heard rumours that some stores are temporarily retailing 36 exposure AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200, rather than the 24 exposure films.

A few years ago, Poundland stores were selling a mixture of colour 135 film types, but shifting to the AgfaPhoto brand.  At first, this was not a problem, as they were 36 exposure films, incredible value for GBP £1.00.  A local photo lab would C41 develop them for me (no prints) for £2.50 a film – regardless of 24 or 36 frame.  That worked out to an incredibly cheap rate of 8p per exposure – cost of film and developing!  I did buy quite a few, but when new supplies reached the stores a year ago, they were replaced by 24 exposure films.  Still great value, but less exposures for your pound.

I recently ran out of 36’s, and started to resort to 24’s, when I heard the rumour.  My local Poundland is still retailing the 24’s.  However, on a visit to Kings Lynn today, I popped in the Lynn branch …. and there sat a box with twenty beautiful AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 36 exposure 135 films!!!  Of course I bought the bloody lot.  The box underneath were 24’s.  Sorry Kings Lynn cheapskate photographers, I raided your supply.  Twenty quid for 720 x 35 mm exposure frames.  Now that’s tight fisted.