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.

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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.

Don’t ever trust the meter…

Don’t ever trust, don’t ever trust the meter, it lies!
Don’t ever trust, don’t ever trust the meter, 
When it cries, cries your name…

I’m paraphrasing Queensryche here.  But the point is, that even I’m still making exposure mistakes on occasion, and evidently it had to do with it being a particularly overcast day (a rare occurrence in Colorado Springs, I can tell you).  Evidently everything I shot during the Pike’s Peak Regional Airshow was underexposed by a stop or so.  Not the end of the world, thankfully, as Ferrania P30 seems to just lose contrast when it’s underexposed.  At least, under the circumstances where it’s an overcast day, and using a 1940s lens.  Here’s the worst offender:

 

That was at least 2 stops underexposed.  Even though underexposed, I was able to pull incredible amounts of detail in scanning, it was just a matter of bumping up the contrast and usually lightening things up a bit.  What I couldn’t say is what’s up with all the dust particles and water spots (and I always run my film through the StaticVac right before scanning).  I had a roll of Tri-X developed at the same time and there was nothing wrong with that roll at all; I think I will make an entire post out of unfairly comparing the two films.

Here are all the stats for this:
Scanned myself with the Pakon F335, edited in Photoshop
D-76 stock at 8min (I think, or it could have been 9min…it was developed by my local camera store)
Canon 7 with the Leitz 35mm f/3.5 Summaron
Overcast day
Shutter speeds were nominally around 1/125 at f/8 (I was shooting at around ASA100)

The Axis Trio makes its first appearance, here’s a pic:

(Shot with the Spotmatic SPII on Tri-X) – Japanese camera body, German lens, and finally, Italian film!

As far as first impressions go, I wasn’t expecting much at all because John at Cameraworks said they were very underexposed and the negatives were quite thin.  I don’t know how to describe what I mean, but looking at the curve I provided, the picture was there right in the middle, where with something like Tri-X all that information would have been way to one side where it’s much less usable, and usually is a lot grainier.  And this film certainly has some fine grain!

I shot that 35mm Summaron at f/8 all day and it looks incredibly soft, compared to my beloved Takumars (this is really the first time I’ve put it through its paces), which threw me for a while.  Having had a couple weeks to think it over and studying the rest of my scans, I think I might be dealing with a focus error here.  Is P30 a different thickness from most other films?  I’m going to rescan all the negatives when I have a chance, and make sure I run the autofocus wizard using this particular film.  I assume that I will also have to run it again to refocus it to all the other films I use.  Again, nothing wrong with that roll of Tri-X I scanned at the same time.

I’m hoping that the dust/water spots were just so noticeable because of the underexposure.

Quo vadis?

I had a surreal moment recently, as scrolling through my Facebook feed was someone I know only from the WordPress world:

My worlds are colliding.  Also surreal: having a link to the Resurrected Camera from Petapixel (I’m #46).  But though I forgot about it in the 2 or so years since Jim first put me on this list, Jim’s description of my blog really bothers me: “Joe explores and discovers with his old film cameras.”  I don’t know if I’ve ever brought that up with you Jim, sorry.  Really it’s something that has caused a bit of an existential crisis for me.  If that’s the description that sums up what I’ve been doing here for almost 3.5 years now, I think I need to reexamine what I’m posting, what my motives are, and what this blog should actually be about.

It’s been a journey for me, and I started posting January 1st, 2014, after having taken an Intro to Photography class at my university.  I found that one photo class wasn’t enough and ended up going for a minor in photography.  Then I started shooting super 8, made a short film, and over the past year have been taking that to festivals.  My long-term photo project begun in Advanced Photo has been the chronicle of making the film from beginning to end, and photographing the film festivals has been the tail end of that.  But what is this blog actually about?

My intention at the beginning was to show the world that film photography is not expensive, and often cheaper than digital, as well as visually superior.  If that’s not what people think of when they think of The Resurrected Camera, I probably didn’t do a good job emphasizing this aspect.  Maybe it’s time to bring that back in again, or start finding a new theme, new direction.  The name itself, Resurrected Camera, came from the astonishing generosity of other people who have given me cameras, and the incredible deals I’ve come across for items that no longer hold value to people.  Is that still relevant?  And am I still following that goal?

Here’s a self-portrait with my beloved SPII.  I always talk about it because I paid $5 for it at a garage sale, it’s still my main camera, and really if I needed to, I could get by the rest of my life using nothing else.  Maybe it’s time for one of those one camera, one year challenges.  Or something.  The trouble is, since I’m done taking photo classes, I don’t really have a direction anymore.  All the stuff I’m down to are pics I took back in April (or earlier!) that I’m doling out once a week.  Sometimes posting even that much seems like a chore.  It was my goal to make what I’d already shot last all summer, but maybe it’s time to get all that out of the way quicker and start afresh.  I don’t know what direction I’ll take now, but it is my goal to make this blog a little less aimless in future.

(suggestions welcome)

Flying with film to the UK

I’ve read a bit about people’s experiences taking film into/out of the UK, though usually most people are going through London.  My flight in the beginning of April was Denver to Detroit to Amsterdam to Cardiff (back was the same except switch Salt Lake City for Detroit).  I’m not a stranger to taking film on an airplane, but this was my first-ever trip overseas.  As an old hand, I’ll echo what others have said before, in that you want to:
-show up early, when there are less people and you’re not in a hurry
-always be polite
-if possible, try to find a line being looked over by someone older, in their 40s or 50s: they’ll actually remember film
-have your film ready to hand over and don’t take up extra time getting it out (I keep mine in a separate ziploc bag in the outside pocket of my carry-on)

Now I’ve heard that the security in the London airports are rude and will never accommodate requests for film to be hand-checked.  Thankfully, it was not a problem to or from Cardiff at all…the Delta terminal in Amsterdam, that’s another story, but that was mostly due to my transatlantic flight being delayed and terribly long lines waiting to get to my plane.  When flying out of Cardiff, I asked them to be hand-checked and they did seem slightly put out by it, but did acquiesce.  There was the standard “the new scanners don’t damage film” spiel, but like I’ve read I just told them politely that I’m still unsure about that and that I preferred them to be hand-checked.  They were under the impression that taking the film out of its plastic containers would do more damage than the x-ray scanner, so there is that to deal with, but ultimately it turned out fine.

While not having to go through customs in Amsterdam, I did have to when I reentered the US in Salt Lake City before catching my connecting flight, no problems with hand-checking the film there.