I have tons of lenses and other Canon gear already, so I didn’t see a need to buy a “kit” which comes with (yet another) zoom lens. Though image stabilization would be nice, I think I can probably find a lens that features this much cheaper on the used market. I have never bought a “non-kit” lens new, except for a 50mm that I got in 2002 from B&H Photo severely marked down.  That’s another blog post altogether, but the short of it is that there are so many bargains to be had buying old used lenses that I just haven’t found a need to get one new.  The whole reason I chose to go with Canon with digital photography in the early 2000’s in the first place was that I already had invested time and energy in Canon’s film products, and I wanted to keep reusing the lenses that I felt comfortable with. This decision has ended up paying huge photographic dividends, so I have no regrets about it.  In reviewing I thought it’d be more interesting to compare the two.  Things change a lot in a decade.  So, what has changed?

Pictured is the SL1 body, purchased in 2016 to commemorate my 40th birthday (left) and the original Digital Rebel XT with its included “EF-S” kit lens, purchased in early 2004 (right).

img_1642

The first thing I thought to compare is the weight.  With the XT weighing in at a hefty 19 ounces with its kit lens attached, I expected the SL1 to be lighter than that, especially considering it is much more compact and comfortable to hold.  The SL1 weighs in at an even more hefty 22 ounces with a “kit lens” attached.  In comparison, the Pentax Spotmatic and K-series bodies from the 1970’s weigh in at around two pounds each with a 50mm lens attached. Given 40 years and a lot of plastic difference, I would expect the SL1 to be a lot more than 10 ounces short of the weight of the venerable 1970’s era SLR camera. Perhaps glass is heavy? I’m not sure how to explain that one.

Second thing I thought to compare was storage media – the XT takes Compact Flash media, which being huge never really lived up to its name. The SL1 takes the much newer, much tinier, and if you will excuse the pun, more “flashier” Secure Digital “SD” card.

The “kit lens” that comes with the SL1, which I chose not to purchase, is somewhat better including image stabilization.

On the back side, the display screen is very much improved being much larger and having touch capabilities, so you can easily select menu options and so on.

img_1646

The layout of the top controls and the different shooting modes have changed very little since the introduction of the EOS line of cameras in 1988.

img_1645.jpg

The one thing that the entire internet makes a big deal over is the fact that the SL1 does video.  A digital SLR that does video.  Amazing!  Amazingly useless.  Unless you have a very, very good lens attached that can refocus very quickly and quietly, which if you have read this far you know I don’t, you’re not going to get anything worth watching.  Aside from that photography and cinematography are different animals altogether.

The biggest improvement is the photo quality.  The sensors have improved exponentially, resulting in photos with much less “digital noise” and much higher resolution than I have ever seen. Not to start another megapixel measurement argument, but the leap from 8 Digital XT megapixels to 18 SL1 megapixels is astounding. Digital cameras have improved by leaps and bounds over the past 10-15 years in every brand.

All in all, upgrading is most definitely worthwhile.  Do they make me want to abandon film, as Adorama seems to suggest in their newly viral “5 reasons why I am never going back to film” article that has all of facebook in an uproar? Not at all.  Film and digital are both mediums.  They both offer a lot of great value to the photo enthusiast.  You wouldn’t approach a painter and tell them that those oil paints they’re using were antiquated decades ago and they should use acrylics would you?  You wouldn’t approach a musician and ask why they’re playing an antiquated acoustic guitar instead of a newer, more cutting edge electric would you? Of course not.  Different formats offer different things, and there’s no reason why they can’t all be appreciated.

Here’s a parting thought – in this age where shootings at schools and places of work seem to have our flags at a permanent state of half mass, we should shoot photos, not each other.

And if you care to see some images from both of these cameras –

SL1

Daily Photo – “Curious Husky”

Daily Photo – “Resurrection”

Daily Photo – “Robin Landing II”

Daily Photo – “Robin Landing”

XT

Daily Photo – “Petunias”

Daily Photo – “Night Fever”

Review: Canon EOS Rebel 2000

I can’t go without reviewing this – the first SLR camera I ever purchased in 1999.  The Canon EOS Rebel 2000, or for the Japanese audience, the Canon EOS Kiss III.  The attraction was the feel.  Ergonomically the most comfortable of all my cameras (thankfully this design trait has carried on to their modern digital bodies), it felt just right.  Unlike the Nikons available at the time which were lacking in features in my price range (think college student tax refund) and the modern Pentax bodies which felt okay but did not have any good deals available at the time, this camera seemed to fit just right in terms of usability.  It included a remarkably good 28-80mm zoom lens that holds up well even by today’s standard of inexpensive lenses.

img_1423.jpg

The most impressive thing about this camera is by far the film loading.  Literally it is a matter of pulling out the film leader far enough to line up with the orange line and closing it.  Nothing to turn, no sprockets to make sure it’s catching on, no slot to make sure it’s firmly in.  Put it in and close it.  With the built in motorized film advance, it will automatically unwind the entire roll, and then wind it back into the film cassette after each exposure. The advantage here is if something happens and the camera is opened accidentally, all that is lost is the unused film.  The stuff wound back into the film cassette can still be salvaged and developed. The downside of this is that the camera is extremely noisy. The electro-magnetic shutter isn’t so bad – but the film advance is loud enough to be a real distraction.  The built in retractable flash (another trait that has carried on to the modern digital SLR cameras of all brands) is all of useless.  In general I find flashes have little use.  Very, very few pictures I have shot have looked like anything when a flash is used.  In comparison I have many shots where I took advantage of adjustable shutter speeds, apertures, high film ISO sensitivities, and in the case of digital freakishly high ISO settings.  It runs on two CR2 sized batteries widely available everywhere, and despite having motorized power everywhere, they seem to last quite a long time.

img_1419

For those that own the modern Canon digital cameras, the controls here do not look any different.  There are enough automatic modes to make you dizzy.  The only ones that I ever used on this, or even on my newer digital SL1, are the “P” mode for automatic exposure or “Av” mode to do things in aperture priority.  It is possible to do everything manually in “M” mode and for giggles, sometimes I do.  This camera, unlike many of its counterparts in this price range, also has the coveted (though in my opinion not really useful) depth-of-field preview button.  It closes up the aperture so you can see how much depth you’re get in your picture, which I suppose is good.  Unfortunately, because the viewfinder is dimmed so much, you really can’t make heads or tails of what you’re looking at unless it’s really, really bright outside.

While I considered the Nikon N60 at that time as well as the Pentax ZX-M, just for the virtue of following in the footsteps of two previous generations of photo nerds, I wanted to be different when diving in to SLR photography.  Back then this camera offered a lot of value for your dollar.  On today’s used market, it’s still pretty tough to go wrong.

Get out there and take some pictures.  And by the way – shoot photos, not each other.

Now Developing Feature

This past October I was featured on this blog – sheds some light on how I do film. Enjoy, and shoot photos, not each other.

Part of the Process is a series of posts that puts the spotlight on film photographers and DIY film developers. These features provide unique experiences and perspectives on shooting and developing film while also showcasing diverse talent and film photographers around the globe. If you are interested in being featured, feel free to contact me! Name: […]

via Part of the Process: Chris Moore — Now Developing

Review: Kodak Pony 135

I can almost guarantee that every phography enthusiast and vintage camera collector has one of these.  They can be found at thrift stores across the globe and on ebay for extremely low cost.  This particular Kodak Pony 135 Model B was a gift to me from my father-in-law.  One of the very early 35mm cameras to be produced (but not the first), it features a Kodak Anaston lens that contains radioactive thorium, used back then to allow the manufacture of high-quality glass lens elements at a lower curvature (and thus a lower cost). The fear is often overblown if you look it up on google, in fact the radiation you’d be exposed to would be about 1/10 what an average chest xray would give you, and that’s assuming the lens comes in direct contact of your eyeball and stays there for a measurable amount of time.  Safe to say, as long as you don’t wear glasses made out of this glass, you aren’t going to get some kind of radiation poisoning.  The lens is nowhere near the rangefinder and you don’t actually look through the lens in this camera.  The SLR mirror design was still a few years away yet when this camera came to market.  In any case,  it’s a nice factoid. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.

img_1344.jpg

The first task I had is just to figure out how to use this thing.  It is different than anything I have ever used before.  After several days of searching I did manage to find an owner’s manual. This was a tremendous help.  The camera is made of a bizarre early form of plastic known as bakelite, used up until the 1980’s to make everything from telephones to Soviet ICBM warheads (seriously). It’s no longer used due to the fact that it’s very toxic to the environment and not recyclable as newer plastics are.

The second task, having learned what all the knobs, levers and buttons do, was to figure out how to get it open to get film loaded. After getting the back cover removed (this is where the manual comes in handy to read first), getting film loaded is actually a relatively painless affair.

IMG_1340

Note the red circle Kodak emblem – does somebody have Leica envy? Having figured out what all the knobs and levers do, how to remove the back cover, get film loaded, and get the back cover reattached, the next thing was to actually figure out how to shoot some photos with this thing.  The range finder does not show what’s going through the lens, so you have no way of knowing if you’re focused or not.  It also has no light meter, so you’re on your own to guess unless you have an external light meter.  In my case, there’s an app for that – the Lux app for iPhone allows you to measure light as you would on a meter so you have some clue what shutter speed to set based on desired aperture.  Also note the Kodachrome listing on the film reminder dial – classic!

img_1345

Having to essentially shoot blindfolded, the question remains – what kind of images can this camera produce? I thought I had  a roll to process, but unfortunately i thought it was rewound and opened it to find I wasn’t holding the lever hard enough.  A nice piece of history, but I am grateful that film rewinding has improved over time.

It probably does produce a great picture – it just hasn’t decided to cooperate with me yet! Stay tuned for images.

Update:  Check out Part Two

Review: Pentax ME Super

One night on ebay……

We all know where this story’s going. It looked so nice, it was so shiny, and the “buy it now” option was there.  Previously owned by an 87 year old professional photographer in Utah, this came to my house in a bit over a week’s time for only $49.99.

What struck me first was the lens that it was sold with – a 28mm Seikanon macro lens.  I had no idea who Seikanon was until the kind people who post on uglyhedgehog.com (the largest photography forum I have ever encountered) shed some light on it.  Searching google yielded one single review on YouTube. From what I’ve gathered Seikanon has been bought out many times over the decades, though they were once owned by Kiron. In my humble opinion, you can’t go wrong with a Japanese-made camera lens. If you’re rich enough to have a German Leica budget, good for you. For all of us mere photo-mortals a Japanese-made Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma or other brand will most likely get you 95-98% of what Leica offers. For the cost differential, that’s not bad.

This lens has also been sold as:

Sicor-XL MC 28mm Macro
Porst-WW MC 28mm Macro
Sirius 28mm Macro
Vivitar 28mm

In any case, this lens goes on ebay for around $30-40 and I didn’t have any lenses in my collection with “macro” capabilities, so that plus a near-mint Pentax body makes for a good deal.

Packed so securely that it could have been dropped out of the airplane right above my house, it literally took nearly 15 minutes to get it unpacked. What finally emerged from the pit of packing peanuts, bubble wrap and tape was a thing of hefty beauty.  Having been manufactured from 1980 until 1986, the camera has got to be at least 32 years old, but potentially as old as 38. With only a couple tiny nicks and some usual scratches on the bottom, it didn’t look a day over 20. A couple of fresh LR44 batteries and I was on my way.

The camera has all the amenities that you’d expect to find in a modern camera, with the exception of auto focus and electronic aperture, both of which were actually only a few years away with Canon’s EF lens system in 1988.  Like others in the “M” line, this camera operates as an “aperture priority” camera in which the user sets the aperture ring and then the shutter speed is automatically calculated.  As with all the “M” series cameras, it’s partially mechanical and partially electronic.  With no battery the camera will work, but only at a shutter speed of 1/125.  It has the more compact design making the camera tiny in comparison to its other counterparts in the “K” series and the older Spotmatic series, though still contains a fair amount of metal so it has a bit of weight to it.

The most unique feature of this camera is the push button shutter speed select – something rarely seen on any camera, new or old.  When set to “M” mode for manual operation, the two buttons can be used to select the shutter speed, which are shown by an LED in the viewfinder.

At first, I found this to be quite awkward.  With other cameras in my collection there is some other way to do it.  Canon cameras have the knob near the shutter button.  Other Pentax cameras have a knob on top for it.  But, after using it a while it actually is quite a comfortable way to use it in manual mode.

Overall, I rate this camera very highly. In its heyday as a new camera it would cost a great deal more than $49.99.  While there are better lenses, the very rare (yet still very inexpensive) Seikanon lens still does a fantastic job in the middle range apertures around 8 or 11.  It’s a bit soft at its widest 2.8.  Still, a good lens that, with the ability to focus only 8 inches away from your target, provides a lot of value for your dollar, considering most macro lenses can easily set you back $500 or more.  The focusing screen makes manual focus about as painless as it’s going to be – not nearly as bad as you might think.

I have a few images from this camera posted here, both of which use the Seikanon lens:

Daily Photo Pictoral – “Vintage Chevy”
Daily photo – “Bridges”

For those interested in the original literature, I have a brochure and the original owners manual here as well.

Pentax ME Super Original Brochure
Pentax ME Super Original Manual

Many of these were made and it is quite a popular camera.  What are your experiences with it?  I would love to hear what you like, or don’t like about this camera.

Shoot photos, not each other!

Review: Canon Digital Rebel XT and SL1

I have reviewed a lot of film gear on my little photo blog, but it would be lacking if I didn’t spread a litle bit of digital love.  Having been succeeded by the newer, lighter and even more powerful Canon SL2, there were tons of online deals for the Canon SL1 body, which is very powerful in its own right.  At $349.99 before applying accumulated Best Buy rewards points, it was a bargain to behold. The Canon Digital Rebel XT that I purchased in 2004 was beginning to show its age, so after such a long period of time (12 years) I felt like it was time to upgrade.  Considering the average lifecyle of a desktop computer in American corporate industry is 3 to 5 years (and the lifespan of the operating system is 10, go figure), this is quite a long time.

I have tons of lenses and other Canon gear already, so I didn’t see a need to buy a “kit” which comes with (yet another) zoom lens. Though image stabilization would be nice, I think I can probably find a lens that features this much cheaper on the used market. I have never bought a “non-kit” lens new, except for a 50mm that I got in 2002 from B&H Photo severely marked down.  That’s another blog post altogether, but the short of it is that there are so many bargains to be had buying old used lenses that I just haven’t found a need to get one new.  The whole reason I chose to go with Canon with digital photography in the early 2000’s in the first place was that I already had invested time and energy in Canon’s film products, and I wanted to keep reusing the lenses that I felt comfortable with. This decision has ended up paying huge photographic dividends, so I have no regrets about it.

In reviewing I thought it’d be more interesting to compare the two.  Things change a lot in a decade.  So, what has changed?

Pictured is the SL1 body, purchased in 2016 to commemorate my 40th birthday (left) and the original Digital Rebel XT with its included “EF-S” kit lens, purchased in early 2004 (right).

img_1642

The first thing I thought to compare is the weight.  With the XT weighing in at a hefty 19 ounces with its kit lens attached, I expected the SL1 to be lighter than that, especially considering it is much more compact and comfortable to hold.  The SL1 weighs in at an even more hefty 22 ounces with a “kit lens” attached.  In comparison, the Pentax Spotmatic and K-series bodies from the 1970’s weigh in at around two pounds each with a 50mm lens attached. Given 40 years and a lot of plastic difference, I would expect the SL1 to be a lot more than 10 ounces short of the weight of the venerable 1970’s era SLR camera. Perhaps glass is heavy? I’m not sure how to explain that one.

Second thing I thought to compare was storage media – the XT takes Compact Flash media, which being huge never really lived up to its name. The SL1 takes the much newer, much tinier, and if you will excuse the pun, more “flashier” Secure Digital “SD” card.

The “kit lens” that comes with the SL1, which I chose not to purchase, is somewhat better including image stabilization.

On the back side, the display screen is very much improved being much larger and having touch capabilities, so you can easily select menu options and so on.

img_1646

The layout of the top controls and the different shooting modes have changed very little since the introduction of the EOS line of cameras in 1988.

img_1645.jpg

The one thing that the entire internet makes a big deal over is the fact that the SL1 does video.  A digital SLR that does video.  Amazing!  Amazingly useless.  Unless you have a very, very good lens attached that can refocus very quickly and quietly, which if you have read this far you know I don’t, you’re not going to get anything worth watching.  Aside from that photography and cinematography are different animals altogether.

The biggest improvement is the photo quality.  The sensors have improved exponentially, reasulting in photos with much less “digital noise” and much higher resolution than I have ever seen. Not to start another megapixel measurement argument, but the leap from 8 Digital XT megapixels to 18 SL1 megapixels is astounding. Digital cameras have improved by leaps and bounds over the past 10-15 years in every brand.

All in all, upgrading is most definitely worthwhile.  Do they make me want to abandon film, as Adorama seems to suggest in their newly viral “5 reasons why I am never going back to film” article that has all of facebook in an uproar? Not at all.  Film and digital are both mediums.  They both offer a lot of great value to the photo enthusiast.  You wouldn’t approach a painter and tell them that those oil paints they’re using were antiquated decades ago and they should use acrylics would you?  You wouldn’t approach a musician and ask why they’re playing an antiquated acoustic guitar instead of a newer, more cutting edge electric would you? Of course not.  Different formats offer different value, and there’s no reason why they can’t all be appreciated.

Here’s a parting thought – in this age where shootings at schools and places of work seem to have our flags at a permanent state of half mass, we should shoot photos, not each other.

And if you care to see some images from both of these cameras –

SL1

Daily Photo – “Curious Husky”

Daily Photo – “Resurrection”

Daily Photo – “Robin Landing II”

Daily Photo – “Robin Landing”

XT

Daily Photo – “Petunias”

Daily Photo – “Night Fever”

Review: Pentax MV

Along with the Spotmatic, I also inherited this Pentax MV body equipped with an absolutely gorgeous  SMC Pentax-M f/1.7 50mm lens.  The story behind this camera is that my dad purchased this for my mother in the early 80’s (the camera itself came to market in 1979) so that she could easily photograph my brother and I, both of which were pretty little at that time.  Since it is an aperture-priority camera, there’s no need to worry about shutter speed.  Just focus it, adjust your aperture ring, press down the shutter button half way to get a light meter reading, repeat until you get a green light, and then fire.  Considering she is not really a photo buff, this theory really didn’t pan out, and back to dad’s camera bag it went.  A bit later on the camera developed this strange mirror and film advance jam problem.  For years the mirror was stuck up and the film advance lever was stuck.  No matter what we did, it just stayed stuck.  It was dormant for 3 decades, going through moves from Springfield to Kansas City to Washington and back to Springfield again, with all the temperature changes you’d expect being in those meterologically tempurmental places. Until one day, I found it on the shelf at their house and slammed it really hard against my hand. It let out a loud thump, the mirror retracted and since then it was worked perfectly without incident. The only other thing I had to do was remove the corroded battery and replace it with two fresh LR44 batteries. To my surprise even the battery contacts were shiny and clean, even though the battery itself was rusty.

pentaxmv.jpg

Unlike its older siblings the Spotmatic and K1000, this camera is actually compact and light, despite using a lot of metal in its body.  If one were to mount a pancake lens to it, it’d probably fit in a coat pocket.  The zoomed in picture shown shot on my iPhone actually makes it look bigger than it is. I also like that the light meter uses LEDs rather than an analog needle – in situations where light is not the best, it’s much easier to see. It’s also the first Pentax I have encountered (though by  no means the first of this type to be produced) with the bayonet style “K-mount” lens, which is easier to work with than the older M42 “screw-mount.”  Although, the M42 is not without its own charm.

Since my camera is loaded right now, I did not want to open it up.  I am using a page from the owner’s manual here to show film loading.  As can be seen, the film leader can go anywhere in between the white plastic rods.  This makes loading much easier than the earlier style cameras which use a single slot on the take-up spool.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 5.19.22 PM

Unlike its older siblings in the Spotmatic and “K” series, this camera is not entirely mechanical.  If the batteries are dead, it will only function at a shutter speed of 1/125 and you have no meter. If you’re out in the sun and you’re using 100-speed film, perhaps you can use the classic “f/16” rule and be okay.  Fortunately, it uses very little power and the two LR44 batteries, easily available at any retailer that sells batteries (in my case Wal-Mart).  If you read the Pentax forums, you will find that most people report that batteries in the majority of these cameras last a freakishly long time.

Overall impression – it gives you that “retro experience” without the heavy weight.  The  lens is nice and sharp.  This camera goes from $9.99 US all the way to $99.99 US and it is quite good if you really aren’t interested in all the manual functions and just want to try your hand at a bit of film on the cheap.

For those interested in the original owners manual, it can be found here.
If you’re interested to see the original camera store brochure, it can be found here.

Pentax Spotmatic at the Olympics – 1964

Having just reviewed this camera myself, I also found an interesting review of the beloved, revered, groundbreaking Pentax Spotmatic from 1964 from someone at the Tokyo Olympics.  As 54 years have gone by and we have another Olympic season upon us in the Far East, not terribly far from Japan (only 637 miles from PyeongChang to Tokyo), I wonder if there will be any camera geeks in the audience with a Pentax Spotmatic and a nice, powerful M42 telephoto lens that will allow for some good shots from the nosebleed seats? It would be so cool to be that one guy on the sidelines at the figure skating events with a 300mm telephoto lens and a spotmatic when everybody else has some insanely expensive professional Canon or Nikon DSLR camera.  Alas, I’m afraid that worldwide press outlets are not interested in recruiting amateur photo geeks for high-profile events. Even if they were, I’m not sure I’d be that comfortable being so close to Pyongyang for even a few days with political tensions being as they are.

But anyway, JPEG scans of this can be found just about anywhere online. I have chosen to make it available as a PDF file instead.  Enjoy!  Shoot photos, not each other.

 

 

Ultrafine Extreme 400 – Is it Ilford?

Originally entitled “Bulk Film Insanity: Part II,” this post was originally intended to be a continuation of this posting on the purchase of bulk film. I am pleased to report that I did short 15-exposure roll and developed it and found no evidence of light damage.  There’s always the fear when handling a roll of film that big and loading the film loader in darkness that you’re going to make a false move, so that made me feel better.

It occurred to me a while ago – who actually makes the Ultrafine films?  I asked Photo Warehouse this question and got no answer.  I searched google and found in forums where many people asked them this question, also getting no answer.  Somewhat understandable – if there are contractual obligations, they may not be allowed to reveal the actual manufacturer.

The question still remains – who makes this film?  Searching more forums, some say it’s rebranded Agfa, others say rebranded China Lucky Film.  Others say “it looks too good to be Chinese.”  Having never actually used or scanned any Chinese film, I really can’t make any sort of opinion there. Others say it’s rebranded Ilford with the most popular theory being that it’s rebranded Ilford Delta 400.  But, Ilford is insistent that they do not rebrand emulsions that are sold under the Ilford name.   There are others that claim that it’s rebranded Kentmere film.  But all of these are speculative, so that doesn’t really answer the question – who actually makes the Ultrafine films?

After more digging, I uncovered the bar code number on the side of their single film rolls (not found on the bulk roll container):

img_1293

A side note – in my experience, I have used Ilford films in the past and they have that same grayish color on the emulsion side, a noticeable contrast to Kodak’s purplish color.  But, that is also speculative.   Note the middle four digits of the bar code number: “1770.”  There is a mathematic formula to interpret this number, which occurs on nearly every commercial film brand.  Divide the middle four digits by 16 to yield “DX number, part one.”   Next take the remainder of that division, this is “DX number, part two.”

For the code aficionados out there, this is easier than doing the division by hand if you have a python interpreter handy:

Python 3.4.3 (v3.4.3:9b73f1c3e601, Feb 24 2015, 22:43:06) [MSC v.1600 32 bit
tel)] on win32
Type “help”, “copyright”, “credits” or “license” for more information.
>>> 1770/16
110.625 – the division operator, giving us DX number part one
>>> 1770%16
10 – the modulus operator, giving us DX number part two

After having both numbers, visit this link, which will open an old 2008 edition of the DX Codes for 135-size film.  Go to page 25.

img_1295

As can be seen, the part 1 code of 110 indicates the manufacturer is Harman Technology, the parent company of Ilford.  Since this is a 2008 edition it’s unsurprising that the part two number 10 is not listed.  The emulsion was probably created sometime after 2008.  While it should be noted that the digital truth site lists the development times of both Ilford Delta 400 and Ultrafine Xtreme 400  in D-76 as 9:30 at stock dilution, this doesn’t necessarily mean the film is identical. It sure does look suspicious though.

So, is this film a rebranded Ilford formula?  No.  However, it would appear that the film is manufactured by Ilford.  It is clearly a close relative to 400 Delta.  There are some who speculate that it’s rebranded Ilford HP5, but its development time in D-76 is much shorter (7:30).  It is not the exact same thing as Delta 400, but it’s likely at least 95% the same.  A new formula based on delta 400, perhaps.

There is an easier way to interpret these codes if that’s a bit more math than you care to do.  Pascal de Bruijn has developed a web app that will calculate this – no math or java plugins required.   I put the Ultrafine code here and it confirms that Harman technologies makes it as an original emulsion. Curiously enough, it shows as also being sold as Kentmere 400.

In short – if Ilford were to make an emulsion and call it “Ilford not quite as good as, but kind of like Delta 400 and about half the price,” this film would be it.

img_1294

Bulk Film – 100 feet of insanity?

I have shot and loved film for a long time.  It occurred to me not only do I have a lot of film gear, but I have also acquired a lot of “new to me” film gear .  I want to keep all of that in a usable state for a long time to come, but I don’t want to pay a lot for film and chemistry.  Kodak D-76 is extraordinarily good and cheap, and most black and white film is inexpensive.  But what about bulk film?  For years I’ve wondered about rolling film myself using the bulk 100 foot film rolls – as professionals, schools, and people that just use a lot of film do. This Christmas I decided to take the plunge.  At the Photo Warehouse site, they sell a bundle that includes the loader, some empty film cassettes, and a 100 foot roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400 film (quite inexpensive but also quite good).  For a bit over $100.00 US after standard UPS ground shipping, bulk film can be discovered.  Considering the film itself costs about $35 US, and one can easily get about 18 rolls of 36-exposure out of a 100 foot roll, the cost savings add up rather quickly after the cost of the film loader and cartridges.

Firstly, let us examine the package from Photo Warehouse.

In the package received today we have:

IMG_1277

One Lloyd film loader

IMG_1281
One 100 foot roll of Ultrafine Extreme 400 film

IMG_1279

A sack full of ten empty, reusable film cassettes.

IMG_1283
One package developer (might as well get that to save on shipping later).

IMG_1284
One package fixer (again, stock up and save on shipping later)

 

The trick to making it all work is getting a large 100-foot roll of film into the lightproof loader without exposing it to any light.  Doing this in full light would be no big deal – but doing it in complete darkness will prove to be a bit more of a challenge.  Fortunately, YouTube is extraordinarily helpful in teaching how to work with bulk film, but there are many out there who, like me, have wondered  – how exactly does bulk film work? This video explains the loading process clearly.

Watching this video closely, I got my nylon changing bag and unloaded the film from its plastic container and inner plastic bag.  There was no hub on the film roll, so I had to watch it not to get the film to uncoil. I managed to get it untaped and by some miracle, it went right through the felt light trap on the film loader.  After reassembling, I had it done in about two minutes.  Did I manage to get it done without fogging anything? We’ll have to wait and see when I get a couple of rolls shot.