Friday, November 29, 2013

Rollei Digibase 200

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

Kodak Vigilant Six-20 – First Photos

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.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kodak Vigilant Six-20 Folding Camera

Now here’s a vintage camera for you! Manufactured from the late 1930’s until 1949 this 6 X 9 camera shoots 620 film.  6cm X 9cm is the size of the negative it produces; 2 ¼” X 3 ½” for all you non-metric types.

This ”folder type camera” was the standard “pocket” camera for most of the first half of the 20th century and most of them shot 620 roll film until it was mostly discontinued in 1995. There are a few remaining sources for this film. It is virtually identical to 120 roll film which is still made, and most of what 620 film you find these days is actually re-spooled 120 film that has been re-spooled onto the smaller 620 spools. 

I bought this camera from the “” online auction web site for $11.15 and other than a little dust and a sticky shutter it appears to be in excellent shape. All I’ve done so far is clean it up a bit and “exercise” the shutter daily since I got it a few weeks ago. 

Aside from the excellent condition the biggest surprise with this camera is its size. From looking at pictures of these folding cameras I always had the impression that they were much larger than they really are. When folded it is truly a pocket camera. Although a bit heavy for pants pocket it would ride comfortably in a coat pocket.

The f6.3 Anaston lens with the Flash Dakon shutter is supposed to be one of the better versions of this camera but it is not the very best. The lens openings range from f6.3 to f32 and the shutter operates at 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 with “B” and “T” settings. The 1/100 shutter speed now works almost perfectly as do the B and T settings. The 1/25 & 1/50 speeds still stick about half the time.

I will of course continue to “exercise” the shutter and may even try to dismantle it and clean it but now that I have at least the 1/100 shutter speed working properly the next step is to load it up and try to take some photographs. Stand by for the results!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

“Long Live Film” - The Documentary

Apparently Kodak (Alaris), freshly out of bankruptcy,  has teamed up with Indie Film Lab of Montgomery, Alabama to produce a new documentary film exploring people's continued fascination with shooting film.

The photo above clearly documents my own personal fascination with film. This was shot a few months ago when I just dumped a bunch of film and cameras on the table to illustrate the point that contrary to popular belief there is no shortage of film or film cameras ( at least not at my house).

Anyway, here (below) is the link to the article about the soon to be released documentary about film. Check it out and watch the trailer.

“Long Live Film” documentary explores the continuing fascination with analog photography