Author Archives: Shaun Nelson

About Shaun Nelson

Learning to shoot analog in a digital world. UtahFilmPhotography.com is dedicated to sharing information, sharing experience and sharing knowledge about film photography and vintage cameras.

Minolta X-700

I’ve been looking to buy a Minolta X-700 for a few years. I passed on a few of them because I thought they were overpriced. However, last month I found one in an antique store for $20. I believe they thought it was broken. With a set of new batteries, light seals, and some cleaning, the camera works great! This is one of the few cameras that my friend Mike Williams has raved about for a few years now. He likes this camera so much; he bought a backup. And he’s been eager to hear my thoughts on the X-700.

Minolta X-700

The Minolta X-700 was released in 1981 and was the top of the line from the X-series of cameras, boasting the largest number of accessories and part of the MPS (Minolta Program System). Initially produced in Japan, and then manufactured in China, the X-700 was produced from 1981 to 1999. While the X-700 was sold as a professional camera, it gained popularity with both amateurs and pros because of the camera’s Program mode. The Program mode made use of camera’s electronics, automating the camera, making it a high-end point and shoot, with perfect exposures every shot. The X-700 has three modes: Programmed Automatic Exposure, Aperture-Priority Automatic Exposure and Full Metered Manual Exposure Mode. During my testing, I stayed in the aperture-priority mode because I like control over my depth of field. I spend about 80% of my time shooting in AP on most cameras.

You can find dozens of X-700 reviews online, so I’m going to touch on a few features and specs. Like the Minolta XG I tested last year, the X-700 has the electromagnetic touch shutter button. Resting a finger on the shutter button activates the meter that is displayed by LED lights in the viewfinder. The camera features shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/1000th of a sec, plus bulb mode. The main power switch lets you select if you want audible beeps from the camera, indicating the shutter speed is 1/30th or slower. The camera has a silicon photocell through the lens, center weighted metering. Made of plastic with a metal frame, it weighs 505 grams, a little over 1 pound without a lens.

Overall, the X-700 is a fun camera to shoot with. The features are on a professional level, but the camera is simple to operate. It feels balanced in my hands. The plastic molded grip reminds me of the Canon A-1. Minolta MD lenses have a solid reputation of being sharp. The only downside to this camera that I can think of are the electronics. How well do electronics age? I think the only reason Konica-Minolta abandoned the X-700 was photographer’s preference for autofocus lenses in the mid 1980’s.

Camera: Minolta X-700 (1981)
Film: Fomapan 100 Classic
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 

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Holga 120 WPC

The Holga Wide Pinhole camera was released in 2008, but hasn’t been produced for a number of years. Despite its plastic cheap feel you expect from a Holga, it’s gained a reputation for being a good pinhole camera. Over the last few months they’ve appeared twice on Amazon. Mike Gutterman of the Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast became aware of this and shared it with both the Negative Positive Podcast Facebook group, and the Lensless Podcast Facebook group. I ignored it the first time it came up but took the bait the second time it appeared. I’m blaming this purchase on Mike.

The camera itself features an f/125 aperture, and dual 0.3mm pinholes. The horizontal exposure can give you a maximum wide 120 degree shot on 120 film. The camera comes with two masks that can be inserted, allowing you to shoot 8 frames at 6 x 9, or a slightly wider 6 frames at 6 x 12. On the top of the camera you’ll find a spirit level and lines that represent your viewfinder. Because it’s a Holga, I used gaffer tape to keep the camera closed after loading the film. I also put a strip over the red exposure window on the back. The shutter button allows you to connect a standard threaded shutter release cable.

For my first roll, I shot some Kodak Verichrome Pan that expired in September 1989 and decided to use the 6 x 9 mask in the camera. After my first three shots, I remembered that I was shooting wide and needed to skip every other frame. The first three images created a unique overlapping double-exposure. The Holga 120 WPC is fun to use. I’m happy with my initial shots and looking forward to shooting more pinhole.

Camera: Holga 120 WPC
Film: Kodak Verichrome Pan (Expired 9/1989)
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 

 


Classic Advertisements

Recently my friend Maurice has been on a book and magazine purge. I’ve brought home several boxes with interesting contents. Some of those items made their way from Utah to Natalie Smart in the UK. Make sure to check out her site NatalieSmartFilmPhotography.com. Some of the items acquired from Maurice were old international photography magazines. These are some 1950 & 1951 UK magazine advertisements I would classify as classics.

Ferrania Film

Ilford

Ferrania Film

Anatomical Manikins

Agiflex II

 


Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera

Coca-Cola began using polar bears for print advertising in 1922. And the polar bears would appear occasionally in printed advertisements over the next seventy years. It wasn’t until 1992 that advertising professional Ken Stewart gave life to the Coca-Cola polar bears in the popular Northern Lights television commercial in February 1993. The Coke polar bears were one of the first digitally animated advertising campaigns. The television commercials featuring the polar bears touched on the emotion and magic that many of Coca-Cola’s previous ad campaigns had done. Starting in 1993, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears from the “Always Coca-Cola” (admit it, you just sang that in your head) series of advertisements and many more successful marketing campaigns came complete with matching Coke merchandise.

Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera

Manufactured in 1999, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera could be purchased in a Coca-Cola collector tin or bought by itself in a sealed plastic clamshell package. The camera came with two AA batteries and a roll of Kodak Max 400 color film, a Coke branded camera case, and camera strap. The camera is a simple point-and-shoot, with no special features other than being automatic and motorized. Sliding the polar bear, holding his beverage of choice, to the side reveals what I’m guessing to be a 35mm f/5.6 lens. The camera automatically senses light and fires the flash if needed. The top of the camera features a frame counter and a switch to rewind the film. The shutter is triggered by pressing the Coca-Cola bottle cap.

This camera was given to me last Christmas by my oldest son, Caleb. My initial test was an incredibly expired roll of Kodak Gold 400. The roll was not stored in a box, so I don’t know the expiration date, but the shifting colors are a good indicator that it was past its prime. I developed this roll with the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. I like quirky branded toy cameras like the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera. I wish they would make a camera featuring my preferred drink, Coke Zero.

 


The 2nd Annual Negative Positives Podcast Double-Exposure Challenge

Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast

One again, I’ve organized a double-exposure challenge for the Negative Positives Podcast Film Photography Podcast.

What is the double-exposure challenge? Two photographers shoot and expose the same roll of film. How do you participate? Sign up in the Google form (link below) and we’ll match you with another photographer. This year you’ll have the choice to shoot 35mm color or black & white film. You get to chose if you want to be the first or second person to shoot the film, and you’ll select (if you’re the first shooter) if your willing to send the film to another photographer in another country.

The first person to shoot the roll of film:

1) Supplies the roll of film.
2) Shoots the entire roll of film.
3) Mails the finished roll to a matched partner.

The second person to shoot the roll of film:

1) Shoots the entire roll of film.
2) Develops the film or has it processed at a lab.
3) Scans the roll of film or has it scanned at a lab.
4) Shares the resulting images with his/her matched partner.

Plus, if you are a podcaster, you can participate in this challenge with another solo podcaster, or one of your podcast co-hosts.

Here are some important deadlines that you need to know:

April 1, 2019: Registration for the NPP 2nd Annual Double-Exposure Challenge begins.

April 17, 2019: Registration for the NPP 2nd Annual Double-Exposure Challenge ends.

April 22, 2019: Each participant will receive an email with an assigned double-exposure partner.

April 28, 2019: Submissions for Double-Exposure Contest begin.

May 31, 2019: Submission for the Double-Exposure Contest ends.

June 14, 2019: The 2nd Annual NPP Double-Exposure Challenge Zine available.

June/July: Mike and Andre will critique and judge images that have been submitted for the Double-Exposure Contest.

After you’ve been matched with another photographer (4/22/19), you’re encouraged to communicate with your assigned partner to share your visual ideas on your final images. For example: Are we going to shoot strictly in landscape or portrait orientation? Will one of us under-expose or over-expose the images? Will we concentrate on a specific subject? How concerned are we with lining up each frame?

The Negative Positives Double-Exposure Challenge was created to be a fun event for photographers that share the love of film and The Negative Positives Podcast.

Communicate, shoot, share, and have fun!

 

Click here to sign up as an individual to be matched with another film photographer.

Click here if you are a podcaster and would like to shoot with another podcaster or podcast co-host.

 

 

 


Developing Color Film for the First Time

For Christmas 2018, I received the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. This seemed to be the right size for my first attempt at developing color film. At $25, the kit is a price I’m willing to pay, to experiment and learn. Plus, the amount of chemistry is enough to get me through roughly 8+ rolls of film. That should be enough to determine if I’m really interested in color film developing.CineStill CS41 Liquid Developing Quart Kit for Processing C-41 Color Negative Film The CineStill C-41 kit I used is a liquid kit, they also have a powder kit available. Before using the chemistry for the first time, you mix the developer, blix and rinse stabilizer. Using the FPP Heat Helper, I heated some distilled water and followed the instructions included in the box, mixing each of the items. Doing this for the first time, I pre-read, re-read, and re-re-read the instructions. CineStill has done an excellent job documenting each step for both mixing the chemistry and developing. To summarize mixing the developer and blix: heat the distilled water to the correct temperature, measure out the correct amount of water, stir in Part A, stir in Part B, stir in Part C. For the stabilizer rinse: measure out the correct amount of room temperature distilled water, stir in Part A.

CineStill Cs41 Liquid Developing Kit for C-41 Color Film - 1 Quart

During the Christmas season, I shot two rolls of film that I intended to be my experimental developing rolls. The first roll was Agfa Vista 200, the second was an expired roll Kodak Gold 200. I developed both rolls at the same time in a Patterson tank. The instructions provided by CineStill are straight forward. So easy, even a caveman can do it! And depending on your skill with the kit, they also provide the details for pushing up to 3 stops and pulling 1 stop.

In the end, the results surprised me. Could it be that developing color film is easier than black and white? The color developing process was much faster than black and white. The step that took the longest was heating up the chemistry. And stepping through CineStill’s instructions was incredibly easy. After this experience would I recommend developing color film at home? Yes.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Film: Agfa Vista 200
Process: CineStill C41 Kit
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


The FPP Heat Helper

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t recall seeing so many sous vide cooking options when walking through the kitchen appliance department in retail stores a few years ago. It seems like instant pots and sous vide cooking is the new trendy way to prepare meals at home. One method is incredibly fast, and one is incredibly slow. This past Christmas, we added both of these appliances to our kitchen. Only the sous vide wouldn’t be used for cooking food.

The Film Photography Project saw a cost effective and dependable way to help photographers heat C-41 and E-6 developing chemistry. In the past, photographers have used other methods to heat chemistry: aquarium heaters or running gallons of household water in a sink. The popularity and price of a sous vide, or immersion circulator, provides more control over temperatures, and it’s convenient.

The key to color film processing is a consistent temperature. And using a modern sous vide allows you to dial in the exact temperature you need. When testing the FPP Heat Helper for the first time, I decided to use it to heat up enough FPP SuperMonobath to 75° and develop two rolls of black and white film. The top of the FPP Heat Helper contains a digital display with a large circular temperature adjustment knob. The unit must be placed in a tub of water that’s large enough to hold your chemistry, plus the unit clamped to the inside of the tub. Once the unit is plugged in, the temperature can be set by turning the knob clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Here’s a few things to keep in mind when using the FPP Heat Helper:

  • The unit has a power cord, so you need to be within a few feet of a power outlet.
  • Because you’ve dialed up an exact temperature doesn’t mean your chemistry is the same temperature. Make sure to use a thermometer in your chemistry and monitor that temperature.
  • The unit has lines that mark the minimum and maximum water levels. Use a water level in your tub that matches the liquid level of your chemistry. If you use too much water, you’re going to be waiting for the temperature of your chemistry to rise because the unit is circulating excess water.
  • Is the FPP Heat Helper made specifically for film chemistry? No. In fact, the unit they sell is a Power Precision Cooker that’s made in China. You’ll find them in several stores, but any sous vide unit will work. However, I recommend buying from the FPP because this helps them continue to provide us with film and other cool stuff!

Some seasoned film photographers may find this trivial, but my next step is developing color film at home using the FPP Heat Helper and the CineStill CS41 Liquid Developing Quart Kit. You’ll be able to see my results and read about my experience next week.

 


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.

 


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.