Saturday, March 27, 2021

Like New

I decided to try some of the expired color film I recently acquired.  I am not usually optimistic about the chances of getting predictable results from old color film, but this Fuji 400 was only a few years past its expiration date and it had been in frozen storage.  I loaded the roll into my Spotmatic SP, made a few shots on a walk in the Sandia Mountains, and then finished up with a morning stroll around our neighborhood.

I processed the film in Cinestill C-41 for six minutes at 95C and can't see any issues with the pictures attributable to the film's age.  I have one more roll of the Fuji, and several of Kodak Gold which is considerably older, but it has also been properly stored.

No film test of course is complete without a picture of the cat.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Old Film, Old Camera

 Among the trove of expired film I was recently gifted were six rolls of 120 Tri-X Professional with an ISO of 320.  I decided to shoot the first roll with a use-by date of 08/1992 in my Welta Perle folder.  I made a few shots in my neighborhood and then spent a morning walking around the UNM campus.

I gave the film an extra stop of exposure to compensate for age and then processed it in L110-b for six minutes at 20C.  The negative density was a little thin, but there were no obvious age-related artifacts in the images.  I'll try an additional stop of exposure in the next roll, and maybe add another minute in the developer as well.

The Welta Perle is the oldest of my 6x4.5 folders, but also the best preserved, it looks like it was hardly used since it was produced in 1935.  The f3.5/75mm lens is a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar which is uncoated, but still a sharp performer as long as it is not brought too close to the sun.  The rugged old Compur shutter seems accurate throughout its range.

Many of the 6x4.5 cameras have light leak problems because of the need for two ruby windows in the back.  The Welta Perle is totally light-proofed with a swiveling cover for the windows and tubular baffles over the film holders.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Ilford Pan F 50

Thanks to my friend, Kodachromeguy, I have a big pile of expired film to play with.  First up is a roll of Ilford Pan F 50.  The expiration date on this one is June 1991.  I loaded the first roll into my Argoflex Forty and went to the Botanical Garden to shoot some familiar scenes.   I gave the film a couple extra stops of exposure to compensate for age and processed in Rodinal 1:50 for 11 minutes at 20 deg. C.

The first shot of the brick path through the garden seemed perfect in regard to exposure and tonalities, but I either misfocused, or the speed was a bit too slow.  The next shot of the fountain was better in regard to sharpness.  Bracing the camera on the ground probably helped to keep it steady.

In the middle of the roll there were a couple very dense, strange looking frames.  Hard to say what happened there.

Toward the end of the roll the images seemed normal in every respect.

Here is what I really, really like about this film:

the backing paper.

The numerals and lead-up symbols are marvelously visible through the ruby window which is used for advancing the film in a lot of old medium format film cameras.  By contrast, the framing marks on modern films are so dim and low contrast that it is nearly impossible to properly advance the film without overlapping frames or missing frames altogether. 

I have a couple more rolls of Pan F and am looking forward to shooting them, perhaps in different cameras which offer a bit more control over exposure and focusing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

The Spiralite Proxivar

I don't recall when, where or why I acquired this Spiralite Custom Proxivar.  I'm sure the accessory close-up lens did not fit on anything I had at the time.  I came across it in a box recently and realized the Proxivar would screw onto my Nikkor lenses.

The instruction sheet in the box provides a good description of the capabilities:

The SPIRALITE CUSTOM PROXIVAR is a most remarkable auxiliary close-up lens which provides a continuous focusing range from about 30" to under 4" simply by rotation of its calibrated focusing mount.

The Custom Proxivar performs the function of the entire series of close-up lenses ranging from +2 diopters to +8 diopters while still maintaining any existing auto diaphragm feture and without affecting exposure.

I had half a roll of Kentmere 400 left in my Nikon F, so I screwed the Proxivar onto the Nikkor 1.8/50mm and shot some pictures around the house.

The Proxivar's magnification adjustment is very smooth and the pictures it makes show no diminution in the quality which is expected of the Nikkors.  At small apertures there is a tiny bit of vignetting apparent in the corners.  For close-ups with maximum depth of focus a tripod is essential, but it is feasible and fun to explore the selective focus capability provided by the Proxivar with the camera hand-held.

The Spiralite Custom Proxivar was a typical offering of Spiratone, the importer and distributor of camera accessories and lenses whose ads were featured in camera magazines for the half-century up to 1990.  The company's founder, Fred Spira, started his company by processing film in his bathroom and built up from there into a multi-million dollar operation based largely on his early realization of the potential of the Japanese photographic industry for building low-cost, high quality photo gear.

Spira was also a collector of photographic gear.  His vast assemblage of over 20,000 items became the basis for his book, The History of Photography As Seen Through The Spira Collection. I was pleased to find used examples of the book online and am looking forward to reading it.