Tag Archives: Black & White Film

Kosmo Foto Mono 120

Yashica Mat-124 G

When Stephen Dowling at Kosmo Foto announced the new Kosmo Foto Mono 120, I rushed to preorder several rolls. Why? Kosmo Foto Mono has been one of my favorite films. You can read my original review here, and view more photos here.

Kosmo Foto Mono is a fantastic ISO 100 black and white film. Just like the 135-36, the 120 medium format version has a nice balance of grain and contrast. I’m really looking forward to shooting more in my Yashica Mat-124 G.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a drive north to Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a stormy, cloudy, rainy day. However, each time we stepped out of the car, it stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy ourselves. Our first stop was Stricker Ranch in Hansen, Idaho. This ranch and homestead date back to 1865 and was one of the stops along the Oregon Trail. Then we drove on to Shoshone Falls outside of Twin Falls. With plenty of winter snow and spring rain, the roaring waterfall was incredible. I was able to created a panoramic shot of the falls with two 6×6 shots, stitching them in Lightroom. And then we stopped to walk along the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.

Camera: Yashica Mat-124 G
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 120
Process: RepliColor, SLC
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 

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The 2nd Annual Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast Double-Exposure Challenge

This year I organized another double-exposure challenge for The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast. Using some of the lessons learned from last year, I decided to simplify the challenge, and give photographers deadlines. The concept of the double-exposure challenge: one photographer shoots a roll of film, rewinds the film, and then sends it to someone else, who then shoots on the same roll. Listeners of the podcast signed up via a Google form and filled out their preferences to shoot black & white or color 35mm film. Something new this year, hosts from other film photography podcasters were also challenged to participate.

My partner for the Double-Exposure Challenge was Ben Mills from Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom. Ben runs an awesome website that connects photographers with film. If you have a stash of film that you’re not going to shoot, but want to trade it with someone that has something you’d use, Ben’s website can hook you up. Ben provided a roll of Fujifilm Acros 100 black & white film, and shot the roll around London. Me and Ben also decided to use the same camera body, hoping for a better chance to line up our double-exposed images. And it worked for the first half of the roll, but eventually drifted towards the end. The camera we both used was the Minolta X-700 (1983). These are some of my favorite images.

Photographer #1
Ben Mills
Buckinghamshire, UK
Camera: Minolta X-700

Photographer #2
Shaun Nelson
South Ogden, UT USA
Camera: Minolta X-700

Camera: Minolta X-700 (1983)
Film: Fujifilm Acros 100
Process: RepliColor, SLC
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


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

 


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

 


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 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
Photo Flo: 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.

 


Olympus XA (1979)

Back in August, my wife and I took our two teenage sons to New York for eight days. I knew this was going to be a great trip to get some photos, so I took 3 cameras; one digital, and two film. The digital was a Canon 6D with 24-105mm f/4 lens. The two film cameras were my Leica M3 with 7Artisans f/1.1 lens, and a borrowed Olympus XA. I always tell myself I want to travel light and end up taking too much gear. The camera that received the most use on this trip was the Olympus XA. Why the Olympus XA? I needed something that was wider than 50mm, and small enough to fit in my pocket.

The Olympus XA is a compact camera that was sold from 1979 to 1985 and has some not-so-compact features. It’s a rangefinder focus camera, aperture priority, with a 35mm Zuiko f/2.8 lens, and shutter speeds from 1 – 1/500th sec. The design of the XA is simple, you slide open the camera, uncovering the lens and activating the CdS exposure meter. The rangefinder focus is located below the lens, and the aperture is controlled by a vertical sliding switch on the front right-side of the camera.

Compact 35mm cameras are commanding higher prices on eBay, and the XA is no exception. The unique compact design and sharp lens are two features that set this compact apart. The electronic A11 flash can be detached from the camera, making the camera a nice 7.9 ounces. And how did they get such a sharp f/2.8 lens in such a small design? According to Modern Photography Magazine in 1979, “high-refractive-index glasses had to be used to control aberrations across the picture field, and optical elements had to be manufactured and aligned to very close tolerances.” Olympus was able to accomplish this with, “the XA’s “reversed retrofocus” [is] a 6-element, 5-group optic measuring about 31mm from front element to film plane. Focusing is internal, via moving third group. Achieving this extremely flat design necessitated high index crown rear element, special flint second element. Result is a super-compact, rigid camera body with rangefinder focusing.” Voodoo magic and pixie dust? No, just some super engineering and meticulous optics.

The size doesn’t predict the quality of images this camera can deliver. As you can see by the gallery below, the Olympus XA was used a lot on my trip. Unfortunately, the photos taken from the top of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center were subject to a few days of poor air quality in Manhattan. The only complaint I have about the XA is the sensitive shutter. The feather-touch shutter doesn’t take much pressure to fire, and it can take some getting used to. This is hard to explain, but this is the first film camera I’ve used where I knew immediately whether I got the shot I wanted. The images in the gallery were shot on both Kodak TMax 100 and Kodak Tri-X 400.

Camera: Olympus XA (1979)
Film: Kodak TMax 100 / Kodak Tri-X 400
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo