Why I love Double-X

Because for some reason Tri-X just isn’t enough for me.  When I want something a bit different I go for the 5222, Eastman Double-X.  Reasons to use Double-X?  Though grainier, it’s sharper, and it gives a different look, lovely tonality.  And cost, if you’re willing to invest in a 400ft roll of the stuff!

Tri-X is an everyday film, Double-X is for special occasions, and I used it for a few specific projects including my 2-semester-long (and just wrapping up) document of making Overwhelming Majority.

This current iteration was developed by Kodak in the late 1950s and then left alone, so it will give you a classic, mid-century look, especially if you use older lenses/cameras. And that is something I recommend!  It requires fairly precise exposure and development can be tricky since it’s designed to be used with Kodak D-96, and anything else will boost the contrast quite a bit.  Using older, low-contrast lenses will tame that somewhat.  I tend to shoot it inside if the light is good enough, or outside on overcast days.  I’ve seen some pretty good results from pushing, etc, though I’ve never had much luck myself.

Here are some great resources if you’re going to shoot Double-X:
Project Double-X (sadly defunct due to the death of its owner)
Through the Viewfinder’s 400ft Roll Project

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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.

People at the airshow

The Axis Trio strikes back hard!  Seeing all the Allied warbirds was too much for them.  Although it was a perfect day to try out the Ferrania P30 Alpha film for the first time, I underexposed the film by at least a stop (and did in my Spotmatic too, shooting Tri-X).  Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal:

Even though underexposed, there was plenty of detail, which I am extremely happy about!  The shots were completely usable, though like I said in my previous post, bumping up the contrast so much did start revealing lots of dust and scratches, water spots, etc, and I didn’t have the same problem with the Tri-X (see below). I will say that my local camera store isn’t one of the labs that Ferrania recommends.

Here is all that shooting info again:
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
Very overcast day
Shutter speeds were nominally around 1/125 at f/8 (I was shooting at around ASA100)

Tri-X definitely has a different look to it, slightly more consistent when underexposed I’d say (the middle shot was overexposed by a stop I think).

Alright, here’s the thing with the P30: It’s so fine-grained that I expected it to be much sharper than this, and it looks soft as butter.  I’m not completely convinced it wasn’t my lens, but comparing it to other shots on Double-X those look much sharper.  Here’s a 100% crop from my scan:

So the other possibility is that P30 is sufficiently thicker (or thinner?) than regular film to be out of focus in my Pakon, so I will have to rescan both negatives making sure I refocus using some P30 film.  Then I will have to refocus again with something like Tri-X, for everything else I scan.  It’s on the agenda, but I haven’t quite found time yet.

This is one of the best exposed shots I had.  And here’s the other one from the last post:

And one last one, this is an extreme example of burning in the sky, just to see what was possible:

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A new manual film camera?

Well here’s some more good news: a company called Reflex is making an all-new manual SLR, which would make it the first since Cosina-Voigtlander made the Bessaflex (which was what, 13-14 years ago?  Not quite as long as the article is claiming but whatever).  Their Kickstarter campaign will be going live in about two weeks, the original story is here: http://www.film-traveler.com/reflex-1st-new-manual-slr-25-years/

Like the article mentions already, the shots on their Instagram are taken with a Super-Takumar lens, so I do really hope that like the Bessaflex this is an M42 mount camera!  Of course, whether or not I can buy one, that will depend on the price.  I did just get a full CLA for the Spotmatic which cost me $120, meaning that the entire amount of money I paid for that camera body (including the battery) is somewhere around $137.  I doubt that a new manual camera would be less than $400, and also doubt that it will have the same build quality as a Spotmatic.  Hope I’m wrong though!

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.