Category: Cameras


#BIFscale17 #BelieveInFilm

I’ve been distracted lately and missed a few self-imposed deadlines.  During the month of February the #BelieveinFilm Twitter community ran a redscale theme.  I respooled a roll of Fuji 400 and shot it at 100 ASA in my Leica M3.

I forgot to remove the yellow filter, so the first half of the roll has a very extreme color shift.  I like them though.  Most were shot on a train trip to Boston.

BIFscale17Central Square

Burned out
BIFscale17Work train
BIFscale17Mosquito camp
BIFscale17Bridge repair
BIFscale17Sherman looks a bit rough after a salty winter.
BIFscale17Buried lead; this is my favorite.  Note the Nikon around her neck.

Developed at home with a Unicolor kit and JOBO processor.

#PolaroidWeek 2014 – October 21

This week I am participating in Polaroid Week on Flickr and Twitter.  I’ve been itching to shoot with one of my pack cameras anyway. Today I selected the Automatic Land 220 and loaded it with FP100c color film.


My 220 is special in my collection. My grandfather bought it when he retired and took it on vacation. When it came to me it still had a customs inspection sticker from Bermuda on the back.  Of course I’ve preserved it.


The 220 features a plastic lens, the more complicated “scene selector” shutter assembly and a fixed, non-folding rangefinder. I’ve converted mine to use AAA batteries.

The weather wasn’t great today, so I chose the desolation of Hampton Beach in the off-season.

Mystery Machine

Mystery Machine

October at the beach


October at the beach



52 Cameras diversion – the Pdexposures challenge

The crew at the Pdexposures podcast have issued a challenge for the month of June: You have $20 to spend. Make it look good.

Full rules are available at the link above, but in a nutshell you have to

  • Buy a film camera
  • Buy a roll of film
  • Shoot
  • Develop

for a total of $20 or less. There are few restrictions, but the cooler the camera the better. I thought it sounded like fun, and Beth was up for tagging along.

We worked things backwards to figure our budget. The first step was film. The cheapest local source is Walmart: $2.94 for 24 exposures of Fuji 200 ASA color. We each bought one. 400 ASA is only $1 more if you want it.

Developing was a little harder. My first stop was the local drugstore mini lab, only to discover that it was removed last month. (I never cared for their quality anyway. Its loss was a self-fulfilling prophecy.). Unfortunately it was replaced by a mail-order service which returns a CD instead of my negatives. Don't ask me why. They won't be getting my business.

That left mail-order. The cheapest service from Old School Photo Lab is $11 with shipping included. I love them, but that would only leave $6.06 in the camera budget. Eventually I discovered that Dwayne's Photo, the guys famous for being the last lab to process Kodachrome, could do negatives only for $8.49 on my doorstep. That would leave us each a slightly better $8.57 for a camera.

I am fortunate to live in the same town as one of New England's premier flea markets. In fact my parents live only a 5 minute walk away. Beth and I stopped at a local cafe for iced tea and fresh doughnuts, left the car at Grampy's house, and set out on the hottest Sunday morning of the year to stalk and capture our prizes.

Some days the market is full of vintage filmy goodness, others are a bust. We got lucky. We added numerous cameras to my collection, and we came home with three challenge candidates. I chose a Kodak Pony 135 for $8, and she landed an old Mamiya rangefinder for $7. The Mamiya has no markings on it, but research leads me to believe it is a 35EE variant. The third option is a Tower 55B if either of them fails.

I've already shot my film and shipped it to the lab. I confess I've also exposed a few frames in the Mamiya just to get a feel for it.

The challenge runs until the end of June, so it's not too late to have some cheap film fun. Go buy an old camera and start shooting!

EDIT: see the results



Rule #1 of photography: ALWAYS HAVE YOUR CAMERA HANDY.


If you don't, you risk missing the shot or trying to do this justice with your cell phone:


The iPhone actually did a decent job, but I can't help thinking the Canon AE-1 loaded with Portra 400 sitting in my hotel room would have done better.

Disappointment and redemption

In my eBay travels I stumbled upon the Kodak Signet 50 recently. After a half day of shooting it, I was disappointed. It’s oddly put together, with the film advance lever on the bottom and an odd feel. The ASA setting is jammed, and I had begun to suspect that the selenium meter may be dead. I gave up on it, rewinding a partial roll of Ektar and transferring it to my Uniomat.


I set the Signet aside on the ‘to sell’ pile and forgot it, until I got the roll developed.

I am stunned. I knew Ektar was a great film, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the results. I’m very happy with all of the Signet results. I think it has earned a second (and possibly third) chance.

And I need to buy more Ektar.

Light (P366 – April 26)

4/26 – Beth & Cricket. I was experimenting with alternative lighting using a new flash slave adapter. This little $5 gizmo fires its flash when it sees another flash fire. It has lots of possibilities, and I highly recommend picking one up.

4/28 – First day with the new (to me) Minolta HiMatic AF2. I drive past this swamp on Route 1 a few times a week. This particular morning the light was calling to me.

Incidentally, the AF2 has become a quick favorite of Beth’s. It has auto focus, auto exposure, and a built-in flash. The flash has to be engaged manually, but the electronics will tell you when it’s needed. It’s a cool little camera for $6 and takes some very nice pictures. She’s on her third roll of film with it. I must confess I like it too.


Sunrise, sunset (P366 – April 28/29)

Jake Bouchard (@jbphto) from Old School Photo Lab issued a challenge recently. To paraphrase, “Everyone shoots sunsets. I want to see what the sun is setting ON.”


Here you go, Jake.

4/28 – Sunset in Deerfield, NH.


And the object. Nikon FM2, Kodak Ektachrome E100G cross processed.

And for good measure, here’s sunrise the next morning over Salem Harbor.


For those fond of Instagram, Photoshop, HDR and the like, I’d like to point out that none of these images have been post processed. This is the magic of modern film.


The scientific method

I’m not exactly happy with my results in the darkroom. My latest attempts at printing have been flat. I’m not having much luck boosting contrast to the levels I would like to see.

I have been saying that I’m experimenting with my photography, but I haven’t been organized. I’ve been playing with multiple new cameras and different films for the last two months. The results have been fun but not educational.

So starting tomorrow, I’m shooting a known camera (my Nikon FM2) and known film (Ilford HP5+ because it’s what I have that’s not expired.) Hopefully I can pay attention to my darkroom technique and figure out where I’m going wrong.

These are uncorrected scans from my last roll of HP5. They’re not too bad, but the boardwalk could use a boost. Hmmmm…


Foldex 20

One of my recent eBay finds was the Foldex 20. It’s a 620 roll film camera with a folding body and an 86mm fixed focus lens. It takes huge 6×9 cm exposures.


4/24 – Merrimack River. Foldex 20, Portra 160

My first attempts with it could be better. The red window caused a major light leak, and my attempt at re-rolling 120 film could have been better. I also ruined a couple of exposures because the shutter lever is easily bumped from 1/50 to B.

Still, how could you not have fun with this?

4/21 – shot with the Bessamatic on Kodak Gold 400