End of an era

I remember when Jim Grey wrote this post just last a few weeks back, I thought to myself, “I’d better get over to Wal-Mart and pick up another 4-pack for old time’s sake,” especially since I had just looked on B&H and everyone else and saw that 4-packs of Fuji were listed as discontinued.  By the time I actually got to Wal-Mart, it was all gone and the only film they sell now (besides Instax) is single-use cameras.  It breaks my heart, however I have 5 or so rolls close at hand and more in the freezer.

But then just a few days ago I went to the other old standby, my local City Market.

They’d been selling 3-packs of Kodak Gold 200 for around $9.00, but now they’re $15!  Heartbreaking, to think that there are now no cheap sources of film left unless one buys online.  Still, when you really need something immediately, it’s good that there are a few options left…

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Milestone of a different kind

I don’t know exactly why, but I’m the first hit when someone Googles “Fujica ZC1000.”  Feeling lucky, it’ll send you directly to The Resurrected Camera.  And if you search just for images, mine is the first there too.  Pretty good for a camera I bought over a year and a half ago, have never used, meant to get a CLA for and never got around to doing it.

Not that I’m complaining mind you, but it’s strange to have that happen and it’s not like I’m an expert in the field of small-gauge filmmaking or the ZC1000 in particular (for that go read Ignacio’s blog).  Having the number one search result on Google is pretty significant milestone, one I didn’t see coming.

Though while we’re on the subject of the ZC1000, I did manage to track down a (somewhat rough) copy of the 1.8/5.5mm EBC Fujinon-SW lens…so wide the only focus it needs is macro.  And when I get a workflow for developing the film and reloading the single-8 cartridges, I’ll be using that baby.  But for now, the Canon is easier to deal with.

Oh, and guess what: it seems I’m the first choice for information regarding the Pakon F335 scanner as well!

Well that I can understand more I guess, but still…

Rolling forward

a.k.a. Quo Vadis II

An update: I spend the summers working and have been extremely busy, then cut back slightly so I can have a day or two just for classes.  I’ll admit, I’ve been so busy that I have been restricting my posts to one or two a month, and all the pictures I’ve posted were shot sometime last year.  Despite my good intentions, I don’t know if that’ll change soon, but I do still roll forward:

I got 25 rolls of film developed back in July, and finally started scanning some of them (the first 8 rolls at least).  It’s good to hear the hum of the Pakon and so wonderful putting an entire roll through every few minutes.

I have 8 more rolls of film in the fridge waiting to be developed, and 17 more rolls to scan though I’ll try to edit as I go, as time permits.  At any rate, I’m running out of drafts in the queue so there will be more recent photos posted soon.

In other news, Ektachrome is back and available in super 8 directly from Kodak’s website.  135 canisters will be available in about 2 weeks from retailers and 16mm is expected by the end of the year.  Unfortunately, together with the $40 price tag (it says it’s an introductory price; hopefully it will drop eventually), there is no student discount available, which makes it nearly twice as expensive for me as all the other films.  I think I’ll be waiting a while, but I wish Kodak all the best!

PONF

Well, the Reflex won’t be the only new 35mm SLR on the block, it seems (and evidently I missed all the big news with this, because the news broke around the same time).  Also coming soon will be the PONF Camera – Photography on Film is what it’s supposed to stand for.  For more information you can check out their website, https://ponfcamera.com. They have a WordPress blog too, which it might interest you to follow.

Just like the Reflex, they’ll have an interchangeable back, but they’re planning on having a 35mm back and a digital back.  That way a photographer can use the same camera to digitize his/her film–I have no idea what other uses it could have…

Pictures and other thoughts are available here.

So the big question for me, because I’ve heard rumblings about this with the Reflex, is will the camera automatically function with M42 lenses, or will I have to manually stop them down?  Because I could still buy a Bessaflex.  An even better question for me personally, regarding previous thoughts, is if I should continue putting money into the M42 system or if it’s time to start seriously migrating to K-mount.  Or just dump Pentax altogether and get myself a Nikon F2.  I’m at a crossroads and I don’t know which direction is the right one yet.  I of course want to help support new camera makers, but they need to provide the right features on their cameras for me to want to buy it.

Economics vs. ethics in buying and maintaining used cameras

I’ve gone on a bit of a spree recently, in the process of getting a Mamiya RB67 from a coworker, and also taking long looks at Pentax K-mount camera bodies.  The RB67, it turns out, has quite a lot of problems with it, starting with the lens: the shutter doesn’t activate before the mirror flips up, letting in much more light than it should (check out this video).  Besides that, it looks like the light seals are going.  I decided to take the lens in for a CLA first, and see if I can get by without doing the camera body and film back, if so it’ll save me $100.  RB67 lens CLA cost me $150, still negotiating how much I will buy the camera for with my coworker.  While the price of a CLA doesn’t excite me, what’s really frustrating is that I was all ready to start shooting medium format, spent $90 on some 120 film from the camera store (hint: if you want to save money on film, buy online), and now it’ll have to wait a few weeks.  So possibly $250 just to get the thing running plus whatever I end up paying for the actual equipment, when I could have got one online for $300-400.

My Olympus Trip 35 just jammed on me a few weeks back, the shutter’s stuck halfway and won’t move; I shot a roll of Ferrania P30alpha and a roll of Kodak Gold 200, and was just starting a roll of Fuji Velvia 100.  Having just sent my favorite Spotmatic for a CLA last year, I’m glad that I have something that’s 100% reliable, but I’m aware that it might seem strange spending $120 on a CLA for a camera that cost me $5. The Trip 35 cost me about $8.50, and you know what, I love that camera so I’ll be willing to drop $120 on a CLA for this one as well…at some point.  I could get one off the ‘bay for under $40 probably, but at least I know mine has working AE and accurate speeds.

Moving into the future though: while I love my Spotmatics, eventually I want to get a more full-featured 35mm camera and sadly that means getting away from M42 mount and into Pentax K (or Nikon F, if I had any luck finding lenses for it).  Now, what I really want is the Pentax LX but I don’t know if I can quite afford one yet, so I’ve been looking at a K2 or KX.  I already have a few good K-mount lenses that I can use for that, so it’ll happen sooner or later.  And knowing that I’d probably have to get a CLA at some point anyway, I came across a K2 that’s had a recent CLA, and the asking price is not much more than it would cost me to have it done anyway.  While that seems like a no-brainer, I remembered that a few years back I picked up a KX for $10 (with a lens) that had a broken meter; why not send that out for a repair/CLA instead?

When I started this blog, I was all about finding the best deal out there.  Buying a camera from a garage sale or thrift store for $5-8 is the cheapest way to get into film photography, and in times past the most I ever spent for a camera was $25; that gave me much more money to spend on film.  And if a camera breaks, who cares?  It’s not much money to replace.  From 2009 to 2013 I upgraded constantly and still had put less than $150 into all my camera equipment.  But I think I’m past that now.  Since re-falling in love with the Spotmatic and using that constantly for the last 4.5 years, I want to have dependable equipment for shooting paying projects, and I found out recently that I don’t have two camera bodies of the same make/mount that I would describe as reliable enough for that end.

When thinking back to when the new Reflex SLR camera was announced, I was excited about it, but I do see the problem where it’s much cheaper for people to spend $50 on a used camera than to buy a new one for $700 or however much it’ll cost when it comes out.  I’ve also seen prices rise for film cameras over the last 9 years, which has me thinking that sooner or later our supply of cheap used cameras will dwindle noticeably.  I’m not the only one to notice that trend.  These cameras that are 40-50 years old need a little help to keep going, so instead of just buying cameras on the cheap I’ll spend the extra money to get them repaired.  Keeping as many old cameras going as possible is the right thing to do.

Why I love Tri-X

It’s Thanksgiving, so what am I most thankful for?  Tri-X, of course.

I suppose it’s all about the mood.  There’s a lot of darkness in these photos, perhaps because I tend to use Tri-X where there isn’t a whole lot of light, and it always gets the image.  You can push it, pull it, overexpose or underexpose it and still get results.  It’s the most versatile film I know of, the best damn black and white film ever made.

You will notice that most of what I have here are people.  I suppose that with larger formats it would work great for landscape photography (which I don’t do a whole lot of in black and white), and I was experimenting a bit with caffenol back in the day, pulling film a stop and using a semi-stand development to reduce grain.  Fuji Acros 100 seems to be the king of black & white landscape photography these days, but I’ve always said it’s Kodak for black & white and Fuji for color (and I’ve always said that I’ve always said).  One of these days I’ll mix it up.

I’m not the only person in the world to love Tri-X, it does happen to be the best-selling black and white film in the world.  Because of its latitude and forgiving latitude in not only exposure but also development, it’s used in a lot of photography programs (including mine).  It was used by newspaper photographers from the 1950s to the 1980s, used by combat photographers in Vietnam, and countless street photographers to this day.  Think of a famous black and white photo and chances are it was shot on Tri-X.  Classic Americana.

Bad news and good news

So the bad news first: according to Japan Camera Hunter, Fuji is discontinuing 5-packs of all their 35mm slide films, plus Natura 1600 and large format Acros 100.  http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2017/10/film-news-fujifilm-end-nigh

Considering that a single roll of Velvia 100 costs $15 and a 5-pack costs $55, it will be costing $4 more per roll.  I’ll be stocking up as much as I can now because I certainly can’t afford a 25% increase and I’m sure neither can everyone else. Now this is only the 35mm, it seems medium (and large) format is safe for the moment.  It might be the beginning of the end, but we probably have a few years left.  Still, I’d say that by 2020 Fujifilm will be making film no more.

While I love Fuji slide film and will shoot it as long as I can, I hope that Ektachrome will be a tremendous success for Kodak and that it will have been reworked for increased longevity.  While Fuji slide film is supposed to be stable for 300 years, Ektachrome has a reputation for fading rather quickly, and this problem had better be addressed in the new formulation.

Also, I learned today that Cloutier Fotographic, local camera store #3 (and run by a friend of mine) will no longer be carrying film and darkroom supplies, due mostly to the bankruptcy of their distributor of Ilford products, but also because of Fuji’s announcement.  I try to support my local camera stores as much as possible, but honestly things like film, etc I’ve been getting from Freestyle Photo for quite a while.  I do hate that so much stuff is going online (especially as Cloutier just started carrying JCH Streetpan recently), but I’d rather that my dollar went further, and I’m really more interested in supporting the film manufacturers than I am brick and mortar stores that mark up the prices.

Now on to the good news: there’s a new black & white film company from Russia called Silberra, and they’re holding an Indiegogo campaign right now.  Please contribute if you can! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/silberra-b-w-photographic-films#/

Also, don’t forget that the Reflex 35mm camera will be going onto Kickstarter November 7th (originally they said it would be yesterday but they pushed it back). For all the bad news, there are plenty of exciting things happening in the film world.