Film Photography Project Super Monobath BW Developer

When New55 released a monobath a few years ago, I was eager to give it a try. What could be easier? A single solution to develop black and white film and no need to mix chemistry. After successfully developing a few rolls of 120 film, I was happy. That changed when I tried to develop 35mm film. I found that each roll had bromide drag. What is bromide drag? It occurs when the silver bromide overpowers the developer, leaving marks from the edges of the film sprockets, bleeding into the center of the film. When doing some research online, I found no real consensus. One person stated the temperature of the monobath needed to be exactly the right temperature, another said that agitation needed to happen at certain points in developing, and another person said that a prewash on the film was necessary.

Bromide drag on a photo taken with the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole and developed in FPP Super Monobath

Bromide drag on a photo taken with the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole and developed in FPP Super Monobath

Fast forward to 2018, the Film Photography Project and CineStill released liquid monobaths. I thought I should give it another try. I purchased some of the FPP Super Monobath and developed the first three rolls I shot in my Ondu pinhole camera. The 1-liter bottle from the FPP contains no instructions other than: 3.5 minutes at 75° F. After developing, the negatives looked good until I scanned them. And just like my experience before, bromide drag. I was disappointed, so I contacted Mike Raso at the FPP. He quickly responded with: agitation. And to be certain, he included Leslie Lazenby in on the email. Her response: agitation. So why wasn’t this printed on the label? Why wasn’t a small insert not included with the bottle? It wasn’t until recently that FPP updated the information about the monobath on their website. It now includes a list of recommendations and tips. What have I learned? Monobath is not a stand developer. It does need agitation like conventional developers. I found in subsequent rolls that this worked the best:

  • Heat the monobath and some distilled water to 75° F with the FPP Heater Helper.
  • Prewash the film for 1 minute with distilled water, dump distilled water.
  • Pour in the monobath and agitate (invert) for the first 30 seconds, and then 5 seconds every minute.
  • Pour monobath back in bottle. It can be used for about 3 – 6 months.
  • Rinse film with FPP Archival Wash for 1-minute. Saves 10 – 20 minutes of wasting water.
  • Pour archival wash back in bottle.
  • Add diluted Kodak Photo-Flo for 1-minute, dump when finished.

Camera & Lens: Leica M3 (1959) – 50mm f/1.5 Summarit
Film: Ilford HP5+
Process: FPP Super MonoBath BW Developer 3.5 Min @ 75° F
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

FPP Super Monobath Pros:

  • It’s odorless. When I was using the New55 monobath, I had to open the window because it smelled like household cleaning ammonia. The FPP monobath has no smell.
  • It’s quick and easy to use. There is no need to dilute or mix chemicals. In just a few short steps, your negatives are developed.

FPP Super Monobath Cons:

  • It doesn’t work the same with all black and white films. Kodak TMax needs longer developing times. And films over ISO 400 are not recommended.
  • Doesn’t give you the same flexibility as conventional developing, i.e. pushing and pulling. Increasing temperature can give you a small boost in density.

Would I recommend trying a monobath? Yes. It’s a guaranteed gateway drug for developing film. For me, using a monobath gave me the confidence to move to more conventional developing. Mixing, diluting, and using multiple chemicals can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. A monobath is a great starting point for anyone that wants to develop easy, quickly on a small budget.

 

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The Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole

In the past, I’ve tinkered with pinhole cameras. Nothing too serious. My first attempt at pinhole was the Viddy cardboard pinhole camera . Then there was the pinhole lens cap for a Pentax Sportmatic. Next, there was my semi-successful attempt at making the Tie Fighter pinhole camera. Last year my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted a nice wooden pinhole camera. Her response, “Go buy it yourself.” So, I did. I found a local film photographer that sold me his Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole camera.

The Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole

Ondu’s success goes back to a Kickstarter in 2013. Elvis Halilović, a Slovenian industrial designer and carpenter, created six different types of pinhole cameras. At the end of 30-days, the Kickstarter was a success. Elvis manufactured and delivered cameras to pinhole enthusiasts around the world. The smallest and cheapest of these was the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole. Handcrafted in Slovenia, the Ondu 135 is made of chestnut and maple wood. The back of the camera and advance/rewind spools on the top are held in place by magnets. The pinhole size is 0.20mm, a focal length of 25mm, giving you an 81° field of view and an aperture of f/125. The camera has a standard tripod mount on the bottom. To trigger the shutter, you simply slide the horizontal wood piece on the front of the camera up, uncovering the pinhole, allowing light to enter the camera to expose the film. Since the initial launch in 2013, Ondu has continued to craft updated designs. Newer versions of the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole include a bubble level, shutter stop, and engraved lines on the camera making it easier to compose an image.

Before I continue with the pros and cons, keep in mind that my Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole is first model. This version lacks a few features that newer models have.

Cons:

  • The camera doesn’t have a bubble level, but that’s okay because my tripod has one.
  • This version doesn’t have the horizontal and vertical viewing engravings. I may need to make some markings on my camera so I can compose a better shot.
  • The takeup winding knob lacks any kind of information on which way to wind the knob, or how far to wind the knob. Newer models have an engraving indicating which way to wind the knob. I’ve made some marks on my camera to remind me.
  • While there is a strong magnet behind the shutter, there is no shutter pin on this model, making it easy to accidently move the shutter up or down.

Pros:

  • The Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole weighs 220g, making it a small but sturdy pinhole camera.
  • The camera comes with an empty take-up cartridge. As you advance the film, it’s rolled into an empty 35mm cassette, making accidentally exposing an entire roll of film impossible.
  • The camera is very easy to load. Even in the cold weather, I was able to quickly load a new roll of film.
  • It’s a good looking camera. The wood finish feels good in your hands and looks good.

Overall the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole is a fun camera to use. The quality and craftsmanship of having a wooden pinhole is a nice change to cardboard pinhole cameras. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some additional photos taken with the Ondu. Being that I’m no pinhole expert, many of my shots were poorly exposed or composed. I’ve experimented with three different film stocks and used a simple development method. And though my images are far from the awesome pinhole photos found in The Lensless Podcast group on Facebook, I enjoy this camera so much, it’s worth the time and patience to learn more about pinhole photography.

Camera: Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole (2013)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono
Process: FPP Super MonoBath BW Developer 3.5 Min @ 75° F
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Another Reason for Film Photography

When I was a kid, I remember the first time I experienced using an Apple II. Yes, I died of dysentery several times, and knew how to make fun geometric graphics with Logo. Most of my teen years were spent typing in programs from magazines, calling bulletin boards at 300 baud and cracking games. From an early age, I knew I wanted a career that had something to do with computers. I still own a Commodore 64 with every imaginable peripheral, accessory, and game.

I think about how many screens I look at each day: computer, phone, tablet, television. I have a screen built into the dash of my car. Occasionally, I still play games on my Nintendo DS and PSP. Over the last 4 years, I’ve come to dislike the amount of time I spend in front of a computer screen. This is one reason I think it’s critical for digital photographers, myself included, to get the shot right the first time, in camera. Why spend all that extra time in Photoshop if you don’t have to? When I was president of the local camera club, I’d often pose the question to members, “Are you a good photographer, or a good Photo-shopper?” I know a lot of people that, on the surface, are good photographers, but are slightly better at Photoshop. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a digital tool to get the image that you envisioned. I believe that pixels are meant to be punished. And any person who pays me to capture their photo, deserves my time to make sure they look their best.

One more reason for film photography: it requires minimal amount of time in front of a computer screen. After I develop my film, I scan it, and removed a few dust specs. That’s all. I spend far less time in front of my computer when I shoot film. Using the same philosophy of getting the image right the first time, only with the scanner, I use an anti-static brush and handle negatives with gloves. I spend minimal amount of time at the computer fixing scanned negatives.

I doubt my future grandchildren will say, “Grandpa, you must have spent hours in front of the computer to create this photo.” I would rather spend my time capturing images of the people and places I love than sitting in front of computer. Is anybody really going to care how much time I spent at a computer to fix a photo? No. If I can shoot film, enjoy the process of developing and scanning, and spend time on the other things that matter, that’s what I’m going to do.


Kosmo Foto Mono 100

One final roll from the the Canon 10S. This time using one of my favorite black and white film film stocks, Kosmo Foto Mono 100.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 100
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°


Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 (Expired 3/1981)

Here are some additional photos taken with the Canon 10S. This time I experimented with some Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 that had expired in March of 1981.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series
Film: Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 (Expired 3/1981)
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 8:30 Min @ 20°

 


Canon Barcode Reader E

This is the first time I’ve written about a camera oddity. After I discovered the Canon Barcode Reader E, it was too fun to pass up. After I purchased the Canon 10S, I noticed the barcode option on the camera, but not much information was given in the manual. What might be a laughable concept to a 1990 professional photographer is really a unique way to program a camera for a beginner.

Canon Barcode Reader E

Canon Barcode Reader E Original Packaging with EOS Barcodes 101 Book

In 1990, Canon released the Canon Barcode Reader E, an accessory intended for both the Canon 10S and EOS ELAN/100 SLR camera series. Labeled as part of the Program Image Control was a new barcode setting on the camera Command Dial. This allowed users to use a small handheld barcode reader to scan a 14-digit barcode from a booklet that represented some of the more difficult photographic situations. For example, you’re taking a portrait of someone in a backlit environment. Simple, scan the barcode that represents this situation and program the camera.

The Canon Barcode Reader E itself measures about 90mm long and weighs under 30 grams with two CR2025 lithium batteries installed. At the end of the reader is a small LED and photocell to scan the barcode. The scanning is activated by pressing once on the button located on the side of the scanner. Using the scanner like a pen, you simply slide it over the desired barcode that’s labeled with the photo situation. The scanner emits a small beep when it’s successfully scanned the barcode.

To transmit the programming to the camera, the Command Dial of the camera must be turned to the barcode program position. This enables the cameras infrared connection point. Opposite the scanning end of the barcode reader is an infrared transmitter. You simply press the transmitter of the barcode scanner up against the connection point of the camera. The transmitter presses inward like a button, against the cameras infrared receiver. The best way to think of this process is like using a remote for a television. Only the remote is extremely low powered and must be placed flat against the televisions infrared receiver. When the information has been transmitted from the barcode reader to the camera, it beeps with a confirmation. Looking at the LCD of the camera, you can immediately see the programming changes made.

Canon originally gave users a small booklet called EOS Photo Files with the barcode reader that contained 24 different programs. In 1991, Canon released an additional book called EOS Barcodes 101 that contained 101 different barcode programs. I’ve been unable to find the latter on eBay, but I did find an archive of a 2009 Geocities website from an unknown programmer that created a Java program for creating Canon EOS barcodes. The code is simple and runs in a web browser.

You can create your own barcodes, give them a program number, name, and specify the camera programming options you want. They are then kept within the browser cache, so you can go back and pull them up (if you don’t clear your cache), but it’s recommended that you print the barcodes after you’ve made them. Not only can you create your own, but you can print all the original barcodes that Canon released in the EOS Barcodes 101 book, but unfortunately, they aren’t labeled. If you want to experiment, you can download the original Java program page here. Unzip and run the index.html file.

So why would anyone want to mess with this? Why not. It’s an interesting look in to Canon’s past where they were trying to make shooting in difficult environments easy for beginning photographers. It’s a unique accessory. From what I’ve read online, Minolta attempted to do the same. I’ve not been able to find any information on a barcode scanner for Konica or Minolta cameras. If you have some knowledge about this, please leave a comment. Or if you have an original copy of the EOS Barcodes 101, please let me know.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series
Film: Kodak TMax 100
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Canon EOS 10S (1990)

Last May, Scott Smith was at the Utah Film Photography Worldwide Headquarters (my house) to develop some 4×5 sheets he’d shot with his newly acquired Graflex. We used a tank that would hold ten sheets and required over a half gallon of chemistry. I’m not doing that again. I’ll stick with 4 sheets in the Stearman Press SP445. Anyway, I digress. Scott showed me a Canon EOS 10S that he had purchased earlier that day. Both Scott and I have owned Canon digital gear over that past decade. He has sold most of his Canon gear but kept a Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series lens. Because the EF lens mounts were the same, he paired this lens with the 10S. While Scott developed film, I played with the camera. Autofocus and image stabilization worked as quickly as it would on my Canon 6D and I was impressed. The next day, I went hunting on eBay and bought a mint Canon 10S for $10, including shipping. In the last six months, the 10S has become one of my favorite cameras, and the closest I want my film and digital worlds to get to another.

Canon EOS 10s

Introduced in March 1990 by Canon, the 10S (10QD in Japan, 10 in Europe) is an autofocus 35mm SLR camera. The camera features a Multi-BASIS AF sensor. This sensor gives the photographer three autofocus viewpoints. Many of the design elements and features of the 10S still remain on Canon’s DSLR cameras. For example, the command dial is nearly the same: automatic and creative modes, P Program, TV Shutter Priority, AV Aperture Priority, M Manual. The LCD on the top displays your selection of focus modes like one shot, AI Servo, AI Focus. Shutter speeds are 30 sec to 1/4000th sec, bulb and flash sync up to 1/125th sec. Film speeds can range from ISO 6 to 6400. With the meter and exposure controls, the camera has 15 custom functions from autobracketing to multiple exposure. The automatic advance allows you to shoot 5 fps in One-Shot Autofocus and Manual modes, or 3 fps in AI Servo mode.

One thing I personally like is the camera design. Because I’ve owned 4 different Canon DSLR bodies over that last 11 years, the layout of the buttons and features are all familiar to me. When I want to change the f-stop, I quickly know where to place my finger. While three autofocus points don’t sound like a lot, the simplicity works. It makes the 61 selectable focal points on a Canon 5DMIV DSLR extreme overkill. I enjoy using Canon L-series lenses like the 24-105 f/4 and 70-200 f2.8. One thing I’ve learned over the last 4 years is I don’t like heavy SLR cameras. The 10S only weighs 625 g (1.4 lbs), but when you use a lens like the 70-200 f/2.8, you add another 1490 g (3.28 lbs). The 10S uses a single 6V 2CR5 lithium battery. Even though it’s a common battery, I paid more for the battery than the camera.

I’ve shot 4 rolls with this camera and will be posting the results over the next few weeks. Plus, next week I want to cover the most interesting part of the 10S, the Canon SLR Barcode Reader. Yes, think grocery-store-beeping-barcode reader.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 100
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Save Water & Time When Developing

Utah is the 2nd driest state in the country. Mother Nature gives us an average of thirteen inches of water per year. Yes, we’re in a high desert, and we boast The Greatest Snow on Earth. Our Wasatch Mountains receive an average of sixty inches of water per year. Water is an essential, but a limited resource. About 40% of our municipal water supply comes from surface water sources. Meaning, we have some natural springs and wells, but the majority is collected in reservoirs. Most of the water we use for landscaping comes from a secondary source, untreated water stored in reservoirs and dams. Water is critical, and water provides life.

FPP Archival Wash

Last year while developing film at home, I kept asking myself, “I’m rinsing this film for 10 minutes because the Massive Dev app tells me to. Why?” It seemed like such an enormous waste of water. About this time, the Film Photography Project Store started to produce and sell FPP Archival Permanent Wash for Black & White Negatives. There’s nothing new about archival wash, but it was new to me. I emailed Leslie Lazenby at the Film Photography Project and asked her about it. This is her response:

Hi Shaun,

Good to hear from you! Personally, and professionally I don’t know any film that will have any permanence with just a 10-minute wash time. Depending on the film and the fixer used it is a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour. So, yes FPP’s Archival Permanent Wash is just the ticket for the 2nd driest State in the Union.

Here’s how it works:
Mix 3 ounces of it with enough water to make 1 gallon of working solution.
After the Fix step, wash your negatives for 1 minute in running water.
Soak the negatives in your APW working solution for 1 minute (remember this working solution is re-useable for at least 75 rolls!).
Final wash is 1 additional minute in running water – done!
If you use a wetting agent like PhotoFlo it would follow here.
As an archival freak and a water advocate, I love this stuff.

Now I’m saving over 90% of the water I used to waste on rinsing film. Plus, instead of rinsing for 10-minutes as indicated by the Massive Dev Chart, the final steps only take 3 minutes. And now my black and white negatives are archival. The 1 quart bottle of concentrate makes about 10 gallons of Archival Permanent Wash working solution that can be reused for up to 3 months or 75 rolls. And if you don’t want to mix a gallon, you can use the directions on the bottle to make smaller quantities. Here’s an example of my modified recipe in the Massive Dev app:

Kosmo Foto 100 – 35mm, ISO 100
Kodak D-76 (1+1)

Development: 9 Minutes
Stop Bath: 1 Minute
Fixing: 5 Minutes
Rinse: 1 Minute
FPP APW: 1 Minute
Rinse: 1 Minute
Hypo Clear: 1 Minute

You can also listen to Leslie Lazenby respond to my email in the “Dr. Is In” segment on the Film Photography Project Podcast, 54:26 into the podcast.

If you have a product recommendation or a tip on saving water while developing film, please let me know in the comments. I’m interested to learn what other people have done to conserve water and save time.

 


The Abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital

Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital

Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital. Camera: Olympus XA (1979). Film: Kodak TMax 100

This was an incredible experience, and I wrote a post for one of my favorite websites, The Dead History. Yes, the images are digital, except the one above. However, the article is full of interesting facts, cool photos, and comes just in time for Halloween.

 


Minolta XG7 (1977)

This camera was given to me by a coworker whose father owned it. I was told his father had another Minolta, accidently dropped it, and was told it would be cheaper to buy a new camera than have the repairs done. The XG7 is what he upgraded to. He gave me the camera with an awesome 50mm Rokkor-X f/1.4 lens, a Minolta Autowinder G, and a Quataray 85-210mm zoom lens. This camera and all the accessories are in fantastic condition. Normally, when I get a camera this old, I usually expect to replace the light seals or the mirror bumper, but not this camera. There’s no stickiness or crumbling foam.

The Minolta XG was the budget line or entry-level camera to Minolta’s XD series. Both the XD and XG series of cameras came after the SRT line from the late 1960’s. The Minolta XG7 (XG-E or XG2 in other markets) has the Minolta Bayonet MD lens mount, shutter speeds of 1 – 1/1000th second with bulb, TTL central zone CdS metering, and a hotshoe with PC X-Sync.

In 1977, the XG body and 50mm lens sold for $289 at B&H. That’s about $1200 today. For an entry-level camera, that’s a lot of money for 1977. From the information I’ve looked through on The Rokkor Files, I think this version of the 50mm Rokkor-X f/1.4 was made in 1979. The original owner must have purchased it a year or two after buying the body. And because this is a Bayonet MD mount lens, it’s highly sought after by digital mirrorless photographers.

The body of the XG7 is small, like a Pentax ME Super or Pentax Super Program, and is covered with a synthetic leather that has started to shrink a bit. One unique feature of the XG7 is the electromagnetic touch shutter button. This is the first time I’ve used one. How does it work? You lightly touch your finger on the shutter button, and the meter activates. The camera has aperture priority and manual modes. However, I’ve found that the autowinder only works in aperture priority mode and allows you shoot at 2 frames per second.

The viewfinder is bright and has LEDs on the right-hand side to show your shutter speed. The LEDs also have an up triangle above 1/1000th and a down triangle below 1 second to indicated that you are over or under-exposed. The LEDs in the viewfinder are bright but tend to jump around a bit as you place your finger on the electromagnetic shutter.

What this camera doesn’t have are some of the pro features that were included on the XD series. Things like depth of field preview, mirror lockup, and standard cable release. Because of the electromagnetic touch on the shutter, a cable release must be screwed into the side of the lens mount.

This camera requires batteries to operate the film advance and shutter. If you’re looking to buy one and the seller doesn’t think the shutter works, or they say it’s not been tested, there’s a good chance the camera doesn’t have fresh batteries. That’s another feature of the XG7. It takes two standard LR44 1.5v batteries.

The XG7 is one of those unknown cameras that pass by a lot of photographers. It doesn’t get much love compared to Pentax, Nikon and Canon’s from the late 70’s. You can usually find an XG7 on eBay starting at about $22 with a 50mm lens. And Minolta MD Bayonet mount Rokkor lenses have a reputation for being sharp.

Overall, I enjoy using the XG7. I like the size of the camera. Even with the autowinder, it’s not overly bulky or heavy. The body weighs 20 ounces.

Camera: Minolta XG7 (1977)
Film: Agfa Vista 200
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo