In the small town of Woodland Park, there are few times that are better to go out shooting than Friday mornings at the Farmers’ Market, but the 4th of July is one that definitely surpasses that: more booths, more people, more space, more going on. I thought I’d do something different this summer, I’d dig into my backlog of cameras and pick out two that I hadn’t used yet, and give them a go.
As this was the 4th of July, I thought I could at least be a bit more patriotic and use Kodak film this time. Go America. I had 5-6 rolls of Kodak Max and Gold 400 film that my aunt had given me when I was in Louisiana for a wedding (thanks, Judy), so I pulled out one of those. Unfortunately, even being freezer-stored for the past 10 years wasn’t enough by itself to yield good results in the N60. This camera has no way to override the DX encoding, and one can tell from the pictures that they are underexposed for the most part (the camera store’s scanner had problems with several of the negatives too, there are occasional streaks). The guy with the guitar is the only shot in which the colors look right. I think I have 4 or 5 rolls of this film left, I’ll make sure to shoot this film at 100, just to be safe. I’ve already complained about the autofocus, so no need to do so again. One happy thing about the camera though, is that there was a big chunk taken out of the front element of the lens, big enough that I could see it in the finder, but thankfully this didn’t show up on the film at all, as either a flare or light streak. I’d read that one can fill in dings with black nail polish or the like, but it really wasn’t necessary. This N60 was given to me by a family at church who no longer uses it. If what you want to do is take pictures, it’ll do it, but I’m not a huge fan of these modern-style cameras that make you go through hoops to make the camera useful. Having to hold a button and spin the one wheel to switch aperture or shutter speed is too much hassle, and then there’s the autofocus.
The Fujipet EE was actually much more fun to use. I picked this camera up at the city-wide garage sale in the fall of last year, for a whole $2.50. Not bad. The guy selling it said that it was the camera he had had growing up in the ’60s. Just a guess, but I’m betting his dad was a GI stationed in Japan or Okinawa after the war (like my grandpa was).
When I got the Fujipet, I bought one roll of Tri-X 120 film that was put away in the freezer, and I pulled it out for that day. I took the film to the same place that did my slides, and they did kind of a botched job. The pictures are the wrong way around, and though they don’t look particularly bad (though not the way I’d want them to look), I wonder if they had the negative flipped toward the film base side instead of the emulsion, so I had to flip those around. They actually forgot to scan my negatives, and it had to be sent back a second time. I dropped them off the same day I dropped my 35mm color negative at the other camera store, but turnaround for this medium format black & white negative was about 2 1/2 weeks (and the 35mm was of course done the next day). They had a special deal they call “Holga processing,” which is processing (color negative, positive, or black and white, you can cross-process, and push/pull is no extra charge), plus a scan for $15, which isn’t too bad. Still, there’s another option available to me, as yet another camera store in Colorado Springs does regular business with Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas (of Kodachrome fame), and their prices seem to be a bit better. I’ve loaded a roll of Ektar into the Fujipet, and I’m going to try sending this roll to Dwayne’s, and maybe I’ll be happier with them, but we’ll see.
Speaking of Ektar, which is an ASA100 film: according to this wonderful site (which admittedly is dedicated mostly to the original Fujipet, so I don’t know just how different the technical info would be), I’m guessing that this little camera is set up for 100 speed film, what with an aperture of f/8-16 and a single shutter speed between 1/50-1/60 second. There is a sticker on the inside of the camera that recommends Fuji Neopan SS (which is ASA100), and the last user of the camera had the box top from a roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan (ASA125), so I bought this roll of Ektar, plus a 5-pack of Fuji Across 100. Looking at the roll of Tri-X though, it doesn’t look particularly dense (certainly not like it was overexposed by 2 whole stops), so I wonder if I’m wrong about the film speed. I guess it’s possible that the camera store knew enough with the Holga processing to know that the film needed to be pulled, and admittedly I don’t know enough to tell just by looking if that’s the case. In fact, I haven’t looked closely at a negative since fall semester, so maybe this roll of Tri-X is overexposed. I guess time will tell.
The Fujipet EE is extremely easy to use, but there are some quirks. There’s no way to tell how far to wind the film (and no rewind), so the image spacing is interesting, to say the least. I started off with a half-turn, then started a whole turn, then went to more (I read about it somewhere, but couldn’t find it again). I think one complete turn of the winder is correct, though I’ll find out after my next roll I guess. The lens is I think around a 70mm length, and combined with a speed of 1/50 can produce blur if not held steady, that’s something else to keep in mind. Honestly, I was surprised at how good the images are considering it’s a super-basic plastic lens.
One last thing with the Fujipet: there’s an actual class on Lomography given at UCCS, called “The Plastic Camera,” and it’s the class that I’ll be taking this fall, in all likelihood. I really wish I could have taken landscape photography instead, but it doesn’t work out for my schedule. In any event, the Plastic Camera class is the only one (past Intro) that is completely film-based. As I type this, I’m also busy trying to figure out the school’s standard scanner, an Epson V600 flatbed device. So far, the results are promising, but the process is a major pain in the ass. If all goes well, this could be what I end up using for my medium format work for next semester’s class, which means lots of black and white 6×6 images, and perhaps not much else…