Spotmatic shutter problems

This is where I start jumping around in time a little.  After shooting ~40 rolls of film summer 2019, I found out that on the last few rolls the camera shutter had developed a problem.  I had already decided that I would start using my Olympus point & shoot, which has the same focal length lens as I’d been using, plus weighing a heck of a lot less, so it wasn’t like I was obliviously using this camera and ruining so many images; it was only the last 2 rolls of Tri-X that I shot with the camera, thank God.  If you look at a lot of the exposures you can see that the right side of the frame is underexposed, to the point of being clear.

Still, it was annoying since I’ve had this exact camera serviced twice in the last couple years, but this time I think it’s my own fault.  I’m extrapolating from what Sover Wong says about the Nikon F2, but seems like it might be applicable, and I’m a guilty offender: I left my shutter cocked for hours, overnight, even several days in a row.  It’s a habit I have that as soon as I take a shot I’m winding for the next shot, I like to make sure I’m cocked and ready to shoot.  And I never thought about burning a frame at the end of the day to let the springs inside rest, so I did this to myself.  The slower shutter speeds are fine and I shot a roll of Tri-X at 1/60 back in the Fall but I’m hesitant to go above 1/125 which means outdoor shooting will be tricky.  I’m smarter now than I was earlier this summer, but this has put me at a bit of a crossroads.


This was a 1/1000sec exposure which should have been a good shot, alas!

I sent my Pentax ESII to Eric Hendrickson a few years back but he couldn’t bring the camera into spec.  My other ES has developed the same problem it had before which means I’d need to take it apart and give it a bit more valve oil.  And despite giving my beloved SPII two CLAs there were still other problems that came up this Summer (outside of the 6-month warranty), namely that the film spacing is starting to become a bit erratic and the film counter has stopped working. Is my local camera tech to blame for not checking everything thoroughly, or is this just the consequence of using a nearly 50 year-old camera?  Until this I’ve had no problem with the build quality of the Spotmatic and the lenses are top-notch of course.  While the shutter problem would require a CLA anyway and is totally my fault, what that means is that I’m looking at another $120-150 repair.  I’ve shot M42 (and this specific Spotmatic SPII) for a complete decade now and I’ve been so pleased with the Takumar lenses but with my current needs I’ve decided that it’s time to move on to a more capable camera system.

Steampunk birthday

These pictures haunt me.  I don’t know exactly what went wrong but they didn’t turn out like they should have.  This is the companion piece to the whiskey tasting birthday, husband & wife, and was made using the exact same camera, lens, and film combination (Tri-X pushed to 1600 in the SPII with the 1.4/50 Super-Takumar).  Originally I thought that maybe the camera light meter’s battery was finally giving up the ghost after 9 years, which still might be the case, but the other possibility is just as likely, that I dumped the developer too soon.  It’s actually very believable that I lost count of the minutes and didn’t push this film the full two stops.

Live and learn, I guess.  Besides shooting 35mm I also took a couple photos on 4×5 film, coming at some point in the future.

Two rolls of Ektachrome E100 (7294)

It looks like Kodak colors!  Over the summer I shot my first two rolls of the new Ektachrome in my Canon AE-1.  I have another roll that I haven’t shot yet.  I was planning on using my SPII for that but it seems to have developed a few shutter problems so maybe in my new Olympus Stylus Infinity.  It being October with the leaves changing color I should have got on that, however I missed my window, just so much else going on.  But here’s what I’ve shot between July and September, though I have to admit that after shooting Tri-X nearly exclusively since sometime last year, I’m a bit out of practice shooting color, but here goes:

I had these developed/scanned by Mike’s Camera, SOP is that I drop the rolls off at the Colorado Springs store so their courier can take to the Boulder store where the E6 processor is.  I asked high-res scans (only 3000×2000 now) on their Noritsu but to send the rolls back uncut so that they could be scanned on the Colorado Springs store’s Fuji Frontier scanner (I’m thinking if I do this enough I should be able to write up a comparison between Noritsu, Fuji, and Pakon scanners…haven’t gotten around to it yet).  Unfortunately, the Boulder store has no concept of how to follow directions and I received cut and mounted slides and the scans were a measly 1818×1228.  And they showed me the tickets, the directions were very saliently written so there’s absolutely no excuse for that to happen.  Thankfully the Colorado Springs store gave me rescans, though I don’t think it was on their Fuji Frontier; they must have some sort of Minolta or Nikon prosumer scanner for mounted slides but I don’t know which model; at least they’re a bit more high-res than what the Boulder store is offering, it’s about 2400dpi.  This gives me the opportunity to compare the Noritsu to what I’m calling right now the Mystery Scanner.


(there was some slight dodging the sunlight areas in this picture)

In nearly every instance I’d choose the Noritsu’s colors over the 2400dpi Mystery Scanner’s.  Nearly

It’s obvious that there’s more detail in the shadows on some of these (different cropping/framing too).  I’m not sure that the Mystery Scanner actually has a better D-Max than a Noritsu, but it does matter who they have operating the machineMike’s Camera in Boulder, you fucked up and I’m not happy.  Think I’ll ever go back?  Maybe someday.  This is the first time I’ve looked at the two scans side-by-side and the Mystery Scanner seems to have some sort of haze/fog as well as a slight color cast I didn’t pick up before.

As far as the film goes, I’m happy with the new Ektachrome.  Is it Provia or Velvia?  No, but when I heard that Fuji was discontinuing their 5-roll packs (which made the film $10-11 per roll), I bought 10 rolls of Velvia 100, stuck it in the freezer, and knew that when I’d shot all that I wouldn’t be buying any more.  I’ve said it before, I love Fuji’s colors.  But at least I know that a couple years from now, I’ll be able to still shoot Ektachrome and it’s actually a good price!  In 135 size that is.  As I write this, Ektachrome is being sold for $13 while Velvia 100 is $18 and Provia 100f is $16.  Ouch.  Considering Ektachrome is priced lower than either and it just came out, that’s great (and hopefully if my predictions are right regarding Fuji, we’ll see the price drop someday).  Now, $40 for a roll of the stuff in super 8, that’s pretty high.

More Kodak super 8 camera news from CES2018

Yup, two years later and it still isn’t out.  And the price has kept going up.  Honestly it’s been extremely frustrating with all the delays and price increases.  I’ll be honest, I was much more into this camera when it was going to be $400-750.  Right now they say it’ll retail somewhere around $2000-2500, with a release date of Summer 2018.  But it does officially exist:

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Although I still want one bad, anymore I’ll have to wait and see just what the final price will be because it seems that even Kodak employees don’t have a final answer.  But if this thing’s gonna cost $2500 I don’t see how I or other students would be able to afford it.  The universities should be able to, though…I hope I can borrow one from mine!

One good thing in there, it seems that if you’re a fan of developing your own movie film (and I’ve met a few who are), you’re not automatically required to buy processing/scanning with the super 8 cartridge so I see that as a plus.  Kodak’s online store has gone back and forth between offering and not offering 16mm and 35mm film, and the price of super 8 film randomly fluctuates, I haven’t seen it advertised at what it should be since summer of 2017.

Why I love Fuji slide film

I might shoot a whole lot of Double-X and Tri-X, but when it comes to color, Fuji still has my heart.  If you need a reason to shoot a roll of slide film, look below.  I mean, what’s not to love?

The price, I suppose, so I usually save this film for special occasions.  And it’s the processing costs that really can drain one’s bank account fast, around $20 for developing and scanning (plus $10-15 for the roll of film itself).  Yikes.  But then I look at a slide on a light table or scanned, and all misgivings go by the wayside:

I don’t shoot a whole lot of slide film, but that’s changing the more I get good results.  While I will shoot Ektachrome when it returns (and with Ferrania not too far away either), Fuji is still my first love for color film.  As I look through these pictures, I notice that a lot of them have very striking shades of blue, a favorite color of mine.  To be honest, Velvia 50 and I didn’t get on very well, but then I’ve only shot one roll and I probably need a bit more practice with it.

The modern slide films are remarkable.  Compared to Velvia 50, which is a bit of an older emulsion from the early-’90s, the more modern Provia 100F and Velvia 100 are pretty remarkable in their latitude, being able to survive one stop of over- or underexposure with only slightly noticeable differences in color.  Color, in fact, that is supposed to have an archival life of 300 years.  Color negative film doesn’t come anywhere close.

It’s a bit sad the direction that Fujifilm as a company has gone, and I don’t doubt that at some point in the next decade we will be holding the last-ever Fuji slide film.  I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to continue supporting their business when they have obviously abandoned film photographers.  Perhaps it would be better to not get attached to anything Fuji makes, because I know that whatever it is, its days are numbered.  But then I look back to the point when I knew Plus-X was discontinued, and only bought one roll to shoot, or when I passed up the opportunity to buy a few rolls of Provia 400X, or Superia 400 in 120 size.  Or the fact that I never got a chance to shoot Kodachrome (or Ektachrome, Astia, Sensia, Fortia, or Velvia 100F); I regret those things.  And so, like marrying a person with a terminal condition, all I can do is enjoy the time that is left, knowing that at some point all good things must come to an end.

What is Kodak ColorPlus 200?

I found this at one of the stores in the Springs a few months back, and originally thought it might be something new, but it seems it’s something mainly for the overseas market.  I have no idea why the cartridge says Kodacolor and the box says ColorPlus.  I think Kodacolor was something that was sold back in the ’90s, had no idea it had come back.  Or has it?

 

As an all-around consumer film it does alright, especially with the blues.  It doesn’t seem to pull detail out of the shadows as well as some of the others, and I really hope this isn’t being brought in as a substitute for Gold 200, because I think Gold beats this by a significant margin.  Like with Gold 200, I shot it at ASA100.

Now the bad stuff: the first few shots were of wind generators in Eastern Colorado.  I don’t know what was up with the film, but there was some strange mottling that’s most apparent during those frames, plus reduced contrast, almost looks like it’s expired.  I suppose it has its uses as an effect, but I would have expected better from Kodak.

Unfortunately it wasn’t just that roll either.  I took my second roll to Durango with me and had the same problem with that one.

I spent $8.00 a roll on this.  Never again.

Washington by moonlight

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned my new job but I drive jeep tours in Colorado Springs.  While we were in Manassas, VA for a wedding, I and a few relatives took the opportunity to go into Washington, DC and get a bus tour of the nation’s capital, by moonlight.  As I was halfway through a roll of T-Max 400 (and not pushing it), I didn’t have too high hopes for these pictures shooting 1/2 and 1 second exposures.  Still, I quite like the ghostly quality of the results…

Just a reminder: don’t be asshole cheapskates like my relatives, tip your tour guides well!