Category Archives: 120 Film

Hasselblad 501CM (1997)

Over Memorial Day weekend last month, I rented a Hasselblad 501CM kit from Acme Camera in Sugarhouse, Utah. The camera itself is a medium format SLR and came with an 80mm Planar CFE 2.8 T* lens. The 4lb camera shoots 6×6 images on 120 film and features a leaf shutter with speeds from 1 – 1/500th of a second and bulb mode. The Gliding Mirror System in the body provides you with a full view of your image in the waist level viewfinder, and it’s incredible! It’s bright and clear from edge-to-edge. All of these images were shot on Ultrafine Xtreme 400, a film from Photo Warehouse. I used my Gossen Luna Pro S to meter the light. If I ever decide to buy a Hasselblad, I would want a pentaprism viewfinder with built-in meter. The slap of the mirror when firing the shutter is an incredible sound on this camera. And because this camera is a single-piece, cast aluminum body, it simply feels like a piece of professional gear in your hands. Overall, this camera was enjoyable to use. I’m still undecided on the Ultrafine Xtreme 120 film. It seems a bit grainy compared to other medium format ISO 400 black and white films. Even when trying to darken or lighten the images in Photoshop, I’m not really satisfied.

Some of these photos were part of a family day trip to two ghost towns in Utah. The trip was inspired by Jennifer Jones at The Dead History. The first ghost town we visited was Thistle, Utah, where a large landslide in 1983 blocked the Spanish Fork River. This caused water to engulf the town within 2 days. People moved away and the town was deserted. The next ghost town we visited was Spring Canyon, outside of Helper, Utah, where a town was established in 1912. The main purpose was to mine coal, and they were successful from 1924 – 1942. In 1969, the town was abandoned. Many of the homes and buildings have been torn down, with the exception of the main mining building, where coal still sits in a large bin.

Camera: Hasselblad 501CM
Film: Ultrafine Xtreme 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 14:00 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

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Film Christmas Tree

At Christmas time, we all have family traditions. One of our family traditions is to change our Christmas tree ornaments every other year. For 25 years, we’ve had twelve different Christmas trees. Some have been conventional with colored bulbs, others featured candy canes and gingerbread men. Most of them have been fun for our kids, and they always center around a theme. Some of my favorites have been: Blue’s Clues, Bug’s Life, and PEZ dispensers.

For our 2016 & 2017 Christmas tree, I contacted the crew at Old School Photo Lab in Dover, New Hampshire. They shipped me over one-hundred empty 35mm film cartridges and 120 film backing paper from about 70 rolls. The backing paper is used as garland and wraps around the tree. It was also used in the place of ribbon on the gifts. The branches are decorated with 35mm cartridges of various brands and speeds. The tree is topped with a Kodak Starflash Camera from my friend Maurice.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Filmtastic New Year!


Agfa Isolette I

Agfa’s production of the Isolette series spans several decades. Multiple models were made from pre-WWII 1936 up to 1958. The Isolette I is a simple German-made 120 folder that was sold from 1952 to 1960. The camera features an 85mm coated f/4.5 – 32 Agnar lens and a synchronized Vario leaf shutter. Focus is scale-focusing, measured on the lens from 3 feet to infinity.

Agfa Isolette

I purchased the Isolette I for $20 after listening to Episode 143 of the Film Photography Project Podcast. Host Mark O’Brien details many of the features. He also describes the common issues with sticky, or dried lubricant. When I received the Isolette, sure enough, the lens would not focus because the original lubricant had cemented the focus in place. Utah Film Photography friend, Maurice Greeson, put the camera on his workbench, cleaned, lubricated and freed the focus.

My experience with the Isolette was just so-so. I like having a 120 folder that has such a small footprint. However, I found that ultimately I wanted better control over the focus. My ideal 120 folder would have a rangefinder focus. The Isolette I doesn’t have a light meter. For some photographers that might be a deal breaker, but for me it wasn’t an issue. Now that I’ve said that, the majority of my shots were under or over-exposed. I don’t believe this was my fault or the cameras. I think it was the expired Kodak T-Max 100 I was using. I’m not sure how it was stored before it was donated. Will I shoot with the Isolette again? Sure, but with some fresh Kodak Tri-X or Illford HP5.


Yashica Mat-124 G

The Yashica Mat-124 G is known as being the last TLR (twin lens reflex) camera manufactured by Yashica from 1970 to 1986. In a time where camera manufactures had abandoned TLR’s, the Mat-124 G was very much out of place, but very successful. The Mat-124 G is nearly identical to the earlier 124 model. The only differences being cosmetic, the 124 G is all black, some electrical changes were made along with the pressure plate slides internally.

Featuring a four-element, Yashinon 80mm f/3.5 taking lens, and a 80mm f/2.8 viewing lens, the Mat-124 G has a Copal-SV shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/500 sec, bulb mode, self-timer, MX flash snyc selector and shutter locking device. On the top of the camera is a Cadmium Sulfide (CdS) meter powered by one modern PX-625 battery. The meter is match-needle based on the preselection of the shutter speed. The film advance crank on the right-side of the camera automatically stops, preventing accidental double-exposures and proper spacing on the film between images. The focus knob on the left-side of the camera extends and retracts the front panel containing the taking and viewing lenses. The shutter button is threaded for a standard cable release and the bottom of the camera is threaded with a standard ¼” tripod socket.

I bought this camera because I really enjoy shooting 120 film, Kodak Tri-X being my favorite. I’ve also enjoyed using my Yashica A and wanted something with a meter and a better focus screen. The Mat-124 G meter powers itself on when you open the focusing windows on top of the camera. While Zinc Air batteries don’t last as long as the old mercury ones, at least I don’t need to worry about forgetting to replace the lens cap or flipping a switch to save the battery. The physical location of the shutter speed and aperture dials make this camera easy to use. While the ground glass focus screen is bright and sharp from edge-to-edge, I find myself using the built-in magnifying lens over the top of the focus window frequently to ensure that I’ve nailed the focus. The focus screen is considerably better than my Yashica A, plus there’s still a number of vendors that sell and install replacement glass for better viewing on the 124 G. The taking lens is a bayonet mount for accessories. I’ve found that buying an original metal lens hood, or 30mm filters, can be very expensive. Overall, the camera is built like a tank and produces a wonderful 6×6 medium format images. Below is a selection of photos taken on three different types of film: Lomography Color Slide / X-Pro 200, Fujifilm Reala 100, and Kodak Vericolor HC (Expired 3/91).


Landscape Photography with the Mamiya m645 Super

It’s been a snowy and cold start to the new year and I’m already behind updating UTFP. Searching back through my catalog of film images, I decided to share these from June 2015. The Mamiya m645 Super with the 80mm f/2.8 lens is not ideal for landscape photography. Stopping down the lens, like you would expect to do when creating a landscape image, closes out much of the light in the viewfinder. As I stated in my early review on the Mamiya m645 Super, I found the best solution was to focus, stop down (f/16 or f/22), check the meter, set the shutter speed, and then take the shot. Even outdoors in bright sunlight, f/22 is very dark through the viewfinder. These images were shot on Lomography Color 100, processed by TheDarkroom.com, and scanned on my Epson Perfection V600 Photo.

Chesterfield is located between Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs, Idaho. The town was settled in 1880 by Chester Call and his family along the Oregon Trail. Some of the homes and buildings have been restored, some are in the process of being restored, and others have been abandoned.


Yashica-A

The Yashica-A is a basic TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) medium format 120 film camera that was manufactured by Yashica from 1959 to 1969 in Nagano, Japan. When introduced in the United States, it was advertised as an entry-level TLR for $29 (US). The Yashica A, C and LM cameras led the way for the popular Yashica Mat line of TLR cameras. During production of the Yashica-A, twin 80mm Yashimar lenses were used, but later changed to a Yashikor 80mm. All of Yashica’s lenses were manufactured by the Tomioka Optical Works in Japan. My Yashica-A has the 80mm Yashikor lenses, f/3.5 – f/22. The shutter speeds are bulb, 1/25 – 1/300. The color of the camera body also changed during the production: all black, black/gray, and a rare cream/brown. The Yashica-A has a leaf shutter and PC connection for flash sync. The shutter control, shutter lever and aperture control are all located around the lower photographic lens.

Yashica A - 120 Film (1959 - 1969)

This is the first quality TLR camera I’ve used or owned. While the top-down viewfinder is big and clear, I’ve learned that using it can be very frustrating. The viewfinder does have a grid, and it has an additional magnifying glass to ensure accurate focus. However, I found that it really slowed me down when trying to compose an image. I did not take the time to use the camera with the Sportsfinder Window. This allows you to hold the camera up at eye level to compose the shot. Setting the shutter speed and aperture is extremely easy and straightforward. The first roll of film I used was Kodak Porta 400. Color was good, images are sharp and what I expected. The second roll I used was Lomography Lady Grey 400. The Lomo film has medium grain and overall I’m happy with the look and feel of the images. I have one complaint about Lomogoraphy’s 120 film. I understand that 120 film is a paper-backed film. The paper-side against the film is black for obvious reasons. However, the paper on the outside opposite of the film is also black with faint gray lettering. When winding the film, this makes looking for the image number in the red film counter window almost impossible. With the two rolls of Lomo Lady Grey film I used in the Yashica-A, I’ve missed the first frame because I couldn’t see the number in the film counter until it was 2 (late). I realize I could have used a film changing bag or a dark room to roll the film back, but I was at the beach and it wasn’t an option. As I continue to use medium format cameras, I may need to rethink the brand of film I’m using.

 

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Holga 120S

My film camera collection is starting to be an obvious fixation. Last fall, a friend posted a comment on my Facebook page indicating that a local was selling a bunch of Holga cameras. The truth is, I saw the post a few minutes prior on another page and had already contacted the seller. Up to this point I knew I wanted to get a Holga, but didn’t feel like paying full price for plastic camera. When I met the seller downtown Salt Lake City, she told me that she had purchased a mixture of items from an estate sale. One of the items in the lot was a case of Holga 120S cameras. She decided to keep one for herself and sell the rest for $15 each. I purchased the last two from her, one for me, and the other for my friend Scott. They were both new cameras, each in a box, but one had been barely used. The seller told me that one of the two had been loaded with film and she didn’t know anything about it. When I met with Scott to give him a camera, I purposely mixed the boxes up, told him that both cameras were new, but one was loaded with film, and let him make a blind choice. Neither one of us cared because both were identical. I ended up with the camera loaded with film. I could see that the film had only been advanced to the second shot, but whoever had used it knew what they were doing because the body of the camera was carefully sealed with gaffers tape to prevent light from leaking into the film. The biggest part of the mystery was not knowing what film was loaded. How long had it been in the camera? Was it color or black and white? What brand and speed was it? I decided to take my chances and complete the remainder of the roll over the next month.

Holga’s history goes back to 1981 in China. The Holga was introduced to the Chinese as an inexpensive medium format camera. Despite Holga’s attempt to mainstream their 120mm camera, smaller and cheaper 35mm cameras dominated the market within a few years. However, the popularity of the all plastic Holga remained, and even grew. Holga sold more than 1 million cameras by 2001. The unique Holga look is created by a plastic lens, plus the possibility of artistic light leaks.

There’s really not a lot to say about the specs of the Holga 120S. It was the original Holga model produced in 1981, and has since been discontinued. It has a fixed shutter speed of about 1/100 sec, adjustable focus, a plastic 60mm f/8 lens, a two-position f-stop switch, hot shoe for external flash, and a 6×4.5mm film mask. It’s cheap, plastic, toy camera.

During the month of November, I took the Holga with me everywhere. Not knowing what film speed was loaded, I did my best to guess the amount of light needed. I used an old flash on a few shots. When I finished the roll, I found that the mystery film loaded in the camera was Kodak T-Max 400. My favorite images were done during a senior photo shoot. I admit that when I’m working on a paid shoot, I use my Canon DSLR. However, I’ve been slowly introducing film into my sessions. The next time I use my Holga, I’ll probably load it with some Lomography 120 film that I received from my wife and kids for my birthday.

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35mm to 120 Film Adapter Giveaway

Now it’s your turn to shoot some sprockets!

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Utah Film Photography is giving away a set of 35mm to 120 Film Adapters from Pinhole Printed.

All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and tell us:

1. What camera will you be using the 35mm to 120 film adapters in?
2. What 35mm film will you be using to shoot sprockets?

We will pick a random winner on Monday, December 1, 2014. The winner will be notified by email.


The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera – Part Two

i-mTnsXQ5-XL

After shooting the first free roll of 120 film in the FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair, I was anxious to try something new. I decided to do some sprocket hole photography. What is sprocket hole photography? It’s a method where you use 35mm film in a camera that normally uses medium format 120 film. The result is a style where the image displays the sprocket holes in the 35mm film because the camera has exposed the full width of the film. To use smaller film in the camera, you can modify the camera, or modify the way the 35mm film is held in place. Either way, if the camera or spool is hacked, it’s critical to ensure film is centered as it passes behind the lens.

Before I loaded film into the camera, I took two pieces of black electrical tape and blocked out the red frame indicator window on the back of the camera. This is done because 120 film has a paper back, 35mm film does not. If the window isn’t covered, the 35mm film will become exposed to light. Without a number in the window, how do you know what frame you’re on? A little guesswork, but turning the takeup spool about 1 ¼ turns advances the film far enough to be safe without overlapping on the previous image. A 24 exposure roll should yield about 17 images. I was probably winding too far, I only shot 12 images on a roll of Kodak Gold 200.

i-8htn6TD-XL

Earlier this year I purchased some adapters from Pinhole Printed. These 3D printed adapters attach to the 35mm film and center the film in the perfect spot. They allow the film to unwind from the canister and move to the take up spool without having to modify the camera. There are several hacks you can find on the internet that basically do the same as these 3D printed spools. I liked the idea of using the spools because they’re cheap and they fit snug on the 35mm film canister. The only problem I had is the size of the spools. They’re meant to fit in most cameras, and because they fit so snug in the camera, I had problems after the first eight shots. I found myself really cranking the camera to advance to the next frame. Before I use the adapters again from Pinhole Printed, I’ll need to sand them down and make them a little smaller. I found that storing the adapters in an empty plastic film canister kept them from getting lost in my camera bag.

Shooting sprockets on the FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair was fun. I spent the day in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, with my family. I love the vivid blues and golden browns in my photos. This is exactly what I expected from a toy camera with 35mm film. In the past week I purchased a Holga 120N camera. I think I’m going to come back to the Debonair to shoot sprockets over the Holga. Why? The Holga back and body doesn’t seal as well as the Debonair. Without trying, I can see that shooting sprockets on the Debonair is easier than the Holga. On the Debonair, you only have to block out the frame indicator on the back of the camera. The Holga will require blocking out the window, and covering half of the camera in gaffers tape to ensure light doesn’t leak to the 35mm film. Removing film from the Debonair versus the Holga would be much easier too. Because the 35mm film is now on the 120 takeup spool in the camera, it’s necessary to manually rewind the film back inside of the 35mm film canister. This can be done using a film changing bag or dark room. I took the Debonair into my dark basement, opened the camera, and removed the 35mm canister with the adapters still attached. Next I carefully removed the 120 takeup spool and rewound the 35mm film back into the camera. Going back to my earlier comments about the Debonair versus the Holga. When I rewound the film, I was doing it in complete darkness. With the Debonair, it was only a matter of flipping the latch on the bottom of the camera and removing the film. On the Holga, I would need to remove all the gaffers’ tape, in the dark, before opening the camera and rewinding the film.

The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera – Review Part 1


The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera – Part 1

I was thinking about buying a Holga or Diana, but along came the Film Photography Project’s Plastic Filmtastic. It’s a hybrid of both, priced at $19.99 with a free roll of Kodak 400TX film from the Film Photography Project Store. The FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair has a lot in common with other toy cameras, but the Debonair (classy name, huh?) has a great deal in common with the promotional freebies you would receive in the 1980’s for subscribing to Time or Sports Illustrated magazines. With 120 film in the FPP Plastic Filmtastic, you’ll get sixteen 6 x 4.5 images. The camera has an f/8, 60mm plastic molded lens with focusing options for a single person, group, or mountains (close-up, medium, and infinity focusing). Or as Michael Raso from the Film Photography Podcast likes to say, “One bloke. Three blokes. Mountains.” The camera also has a sunny and cloudy day switch for exposure control. The fixed shutter is approximately 1/100th of a second on sunny and 1/50th of a second on cloudy. No batteries are needed, and it has a hot shoe for a flash.

Using the Debonair was my first experience with a plastic 120 film camera. If you look closely at the photos of the camera, you can see a few blobs where grease was applied around the Super Lens during the assembly of the camera. I’m sure the lubricant was applied to keep the plastic from wearing away while focusing the lens. I didn’t notice it until I looked at these photos.

These are my initial shots with the free roll of Kodak 400TX Black & White Film that came with the camera. After reading another review of the Debonair on Lomography.com, the author indicates they noticed lines across the negatives. I noticed the same after receiving my negatives and scans back from The Dark Room. However, when I shot some sprockets on 35mm film in the camera the next day, there are no lines.

Many of my photos were taken while hiking with family last month in Zion National Park, Utah. The Debonair is a fun camera. Because it’s plastic, the weight is unnoticeable, so it went in my backpack with four other cameras. I didn’t pack any water or snacks for the kids, but managed to pack 5 cameras. My wife, making a joke, was quick to point out how messed up my priorities are. One item I was looking forward to with the Debonair was the possibility of some artsy light leaks and it delivered them nicely. With the lens pointed in the direction of sunlight, it produced the effect that Holga and Diana cameras are known for. In the two images of the abandoned truck, you can see how random the light came in. It worked as I hoped, but I think it looks better on color film. I also think that’s part of the fun and experience with a plastic toy camera like the Debonair. There’s a lot of possibilities for creativity that can come through experimentation.

The Debonair does require a lot of light. I like my black and white film images with a lot of contrast. The images I created with black and white 120 film versus the 35mm color film for sprockets are vastly different. The black and white images, with the lines, look aged and antique. The color images on 35mm film spill color with a vibrant retro look. The following are my recommendations for 120 film for the Film Photograph Project Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair Camera:

Kodak T-Max 100 Black & White 120 Film for outdoors and bright light.
Kodak T-Max 400 Black & White 120 Film for indoors and low light.
Kodak Ektar 100 Color 120 Film for outdoors and bright light.
Kodak Porta 400 Color 120 Film for indoors and low light.

In Part 2 of the FPP Plastic Filmtastic 120 Debonair review, I’ll share my experience shooting sprockets. And I’ll be giving away a sweet little accessory to help you shoot sprockets in your 120 or 620 film camera!