Wednesday, December 25, 2013
I just wanted to take a moment to share my hopes for this Holiday Season with all my friends and followers. Its been quite a year for photography and I will be posting my thoughts on the past year and expectations for the new year shortly but until then my wish for all of you is that you remember the reason for the season and enjoy a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
I guess I wasn’t really paying much attention to what’s going on in the world of 127 film. Recently, I stumbled across a Flickr thread bemoaning the demise of this historic film format. I started asking around and was stunned to discover that I totally missed the news that 127 is no longer in regular commercial production and existing inventory stock is quickly running out.
As of yesterday the only 127 film available is some 160 color film at Blue Moon and some 800 Rollei Nightbird at B&H and Freestyle - no black and white anywhere!
That’s the bad news. Tragic really, introduced by Kodak in 1912, 127 film was a staple of family picture taking for over 100 years. Tremendously popular throughout the early 20th century it began to lose out to the plethora of 126’s and 110’s in the 1970’s and 1980’s but still has a dedicated cult-like following even today.
The good news is that apparently 127 film fans are vocal and relentless and the latest news indicates that there have been some special runs of bulk 46mm film. Rumors abound but it seems pretty certain that there is some HP5 floating around and maybe even some Portra.
These stocks have to be bought in bulk (50 to 500 foot rolls) and then spooled onto 127 film reels. Although I have a change bag this is not how I would want to spend my spare time so I was heartened to find out from Mike Raso at the FPP that they plan to have 127 film in stock within the next 4 to 6 weeks (hopefully in time for Christmas)!
The same kind of thing happened with larger than 8 x 10 format films. Kodak now only does special runs when they get enough demand to justify a certain size. This may just be the way of the future for film stock other than the commonly used ones (like 35mm, 120 and a few larger sizes) that have a big enough following to justify continuous commercial production.
The days of being able to run into the store to buy film on the way to where ever you’re going are pretty much over but film, even 127, is far from dead. We just have to plan ahead now.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Back in the days of Kodachrome I really loved slide film. There was nothing more beautiful than the bright and totally saturated colors of Kodachrome projected up onto a screen that made the images look as big or bigger than life. Well, Kodachrome is gone for good but the experience shooting with sharp supersaturated color transparency film is not.
Rollei Digibase 200 is no Kodachrome but it is a very nice film to work with. Similar in many respects to Fujichrome Velvia 100 but a full stop faster, this slide film has a warm color palette and with it’s clear base seems to have been designed for scanning. I can’t say that I prefer this film to Velvia but with Kodak out of the slide film business altogether it is good to have another choice besides the Fuji.
The photograph above was taken with a 50mm lens set at f11 and 1/125 using the Pentax ZX-7. This was on an outing that designed primarily to shoot a roll of Portra 400 in my new (to me) Kodak Vigilant 620 folder. I used the ZX-7’s meter to check up on my cell phone light meter app and make sure I was using the correct exposure on the old Kodak and I shot a few of the same compositions with both cameras for comparison. The quality of the ZX-7’s images was clearly superior because of the better optics but the Kodak’s were actually more impressive for having come from a 70 year old camera.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
It was a bright and beautiful day when I set out to shoot a roll of 120 Portra 400 film that had been re-spooled onto the smaller 620 spools for me by the Film Photography Podcast Store. Because of that most of my shots, like the one above, were taken at f16 and 1/100 shutter speed.
As I explained in an earlier post 1/100 is the only shutter speed that seems to work reliably every time. The other two (1/25 & 1/50) are still a bit sticky and do not completely close about half of the time. With five apertures available to me and the considerable latitude of the Portra 400 color film I was completely comfortable working with only one shutter speed.
As you can see for a camera that is 60 to 70 years old the results are fairly spectacular. I also shot a few frames with 35mm Pentax ZX-30 of the same compositions on Rollei Digibase 200 slide film and the results were predictable. The 35mm images were sharper and of course the Digibase showed a warmer color rendition but considering that the ZX-30 and its optics are 21st century designs with special high tech lens coatings while the Vigilant has a less that the best lens from the last century I think it more than held its own.
Remarkably, all of the images came out except the very first one (below) which suffered from light leaks, probably due to the loosely re-spooled 620 film.
This is a common problem with re-spooled film so from now on I will just have to be more careful to load and unload the film in the dark. That should take care of that problem. Overall, I’m pretty happy with my $11 vintage folder.