Tried and Tested Thursday: Vintage Views – Agfa Isolette I with Ilford Delta 100 (Expired)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting an expired roll of Ilford Delta 100 on the Agfa Isolette I.

The Agfa Isolette I was an eBay buy for under ten pounds, which I bought over a year ago. It’s the second medium format camera that I have in my collection, also the oldest camera – it was originally made in Germany in the early 1950s.

The Ilford Delta 100 film expired in May 2000, twenty one years ago!! Last year, I was given a small stash of expired and discontinued films. Most of them expired almost two decades ago, including the Delta film which I shot with quite recently.

I took the Isolette with me to Valentines Park in Ilford on a lovely day in June. I had set the aperture at f8 and the shutter at 1/100, although I do believe it should have been higher at 1/125.

The results after processing and scanning were quite good, considering this film is over twenty years old. There were no clear signs of deterioration, since there was no colour shift because it was a black and white film!!

I scanned almost every single frame from the Delta negatives, as I was pleased with the outcome. As I pointed out earlier in the post, the shutter speed should have been higher at 1/125 with the aperture at f11 or f16. I know I have said a few times on a few posts to buy a light meter, preferably a manual one, however someone left a comment suggesting I download a digital one on my phone via the app store.

The contrast and tones are on point, especially the shadows. Black and white photography is versatile, also forgiving too hence why I often shoot with it and create darkroom prints.

I have to say I’m quite impressed overall. I would definitely consider shooting older expired black and white films again, maybe up to thirty years past expiry. It would be great to experiment around with them on various cameras.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: A Stop in Arundel and Felpham – Olympus XA2 with Ilford FP4 (Pushed to 200)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 (pushed at 200) on an Olympus XA2.

This isn’t the first time pushing Ilford FP4 beyond its box speed; I had pushed one roll two stops at 400 on a Canon Canonet camera late last year. I decided to get out of my comfort zone again and push the FP4 roll at 200 on another camera, an Olympus XA2, which has the settings to change the film speed.

Admiring Arundel Castle: Bigger both inside and outside

It had been a while since I last picked up my Olympus XA2, but this is the first Tried and Tested Thursday post on it.

In the last week of May, my friend, her youngest son and I went on a four day break to Butlins, a popular British holiday resort in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. We did explore beyond the resort during our stay, we went walking mostly along the beach and going into town.

On our second day, we headed to Arundel, a short train ride away from Bognor Regis. It was a nice day trip, relaxing and interesting to go around the town, as well as Arundel Castle. I couldn’t resist bringing my two cameras with me; a Canon Z135 for colour film (Kodak Pro Image – expired), and the Olympus XA2, already loaded for black and white shots.

I recently had to cut down on the number of films I took whenever travelling or when I am on my outings. Bringing five rolls on my trip was the right amount; four colour and one black and white, only to avoid ‘shooting for shooting sake’ – as I would put it. On the upside, it was easy for my workflow when scanning not to be overwhelmed with the heavyload of negatives to scan. If I had twice the amount of negatives, it would have taken a longer process to finish, not mention frustrating for me.

The overall outcome came out very good, I was very happy with most of the shots from the film. Certainly worth pushing a stop higher, it did make a difference with the contrasts and tones. The castle shots from outside were amazing, however inside shots were blurry and shaky due to its speed, since I didn’t attach a flash to the camera as I rarely use it.

The beach shots taken in Felpham, the quieter side of Bognor Regis, were also my favourites too. I captured the peaceful spots while on a morning stroll around the area, a day after Arundel. I finished the last few exposures there and then. I would consider producing darkroom prints of the beach, maybe on both gloss and matte finish photo paper, possibly a size bigger than 10 x 8 inches – great for framing and displaying on walls. Alternatively, I could create postcard style prints.

I wished I did shoot more beaches with Ilford FP4, or at least bringing along another roll – though I put myself on a limit on shooting. Surprisingly enough, the film did last me a day and a half, so I made sure that 36 exposures were put into great use.

The shadows were spot on, the quality was smooth like most films with a reasonable speed and subtle grain, even when pushed a stop or two. I have been shooting Ilford FP4 for a decade and I am very rarely disappointed with its results after processing, scanning or printing. Ilford FP4 is a film I would highly recommend shooting for beginners, enthusiasts, intermediates and professionals.

Is there any room for improvement? Not really, maybe consider pushing Ilford FP4 higher or lower on other cameras, preferably manual setting ones? Maybe give the Olympus Trip 35 a try or two?

Close but no Monet’s garden in Giverny: a small pond on the grounds of Arundel Castle

Whatever I decide, I know that I have to order some more FP4 rolls at some point as I have none left!!

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Kodak Sports Disposable (Expired)

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Kodak Sports Disposable, which expired in September 2019.

A couple years ago, I purchased two Kodak Sports Disposable cameras from Analogue Wonderland, that were both near to expiry at the time. Discounted at £6 each, which was half of the original price of £12.99.

What to call them?: They marketed in various names from Kodak Sports Underwater Disposable, Kodak Sports Single Use to Kodak Sport Underwater Waterproof 800. I simply chose to use ‘Kodak Sports Disposable’ in this post, not so much a mouthful

The Sports Disposable can be used underwater, down to 15 metres deep (50 feet), due to it being waterproof and shock resistant – good for divers and swimmers alike, who have a photographic eye. Plus the camera’s handy for outdoor use or bumps along the way, such as rocky trails or adventures. It is highly recommended to shoot during daylight hours or with good light conditions.

Like most disposable cameras, Kodak Sports cameras have a high speed of 800 ISO and 27 exposures (some other brand disposables have 39 exposures). I assume this camera is simple to use like most disposables, fuss free all round; just snap away with complete ease.

I would like to shoot the Kodak Sports Disposable at some point, possibly not underwater as I cannot swim, maybe in water based situations such as the beach or when it rains during the summer. I am hoping to put those two expired disposables into great use this year, during the summer or autumn months. Either way, they will not be stored or forgotten about in the drawer for longer than they should.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Living Lubitel Life – Lubitel 166b with Lomography CN 400

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Lomography Color Negative 400 on a Lubitel 166b.

Earlier this year I bought a Soviet-era TLR camera from eBay, the Lubitel 166b for under £50. Described in the film photography community as the ‘cheapest TLR’ in the market. Thankfully there are many of them floating on eBay, or similar selling sites, normally sold anywhere between £30 to £80 depending on the camera’s condition.

There’s also a modernised version of the Lubitel 166b, which Lomography had recreated and is sold via their official website. It’s made out of plastic and possibly lighter in weight compared to the original one, also the price tag is higher at £289.

The Lubitel camera was challenging to start with, since it differs slightly from other TLR’s. Loading the film was straight forward, a similar setup to loading in any medium format camera; turning the knob until you see ‘1’ through the small red window.

Manually focusing wasn’t easy, the viewfinder and I didn’t see eye to eye (pun intended). Not to mention, the little magnifying glass, which took a lot of patience to use. I am sure it will take some time and practice along the way eventually.

The shutter speed and aperture is manual, of course. Sans lightmeter as per usual, I had to figure out what shutter speed to set it at for shooting on an overcast day in late March. The ISO/ASA dial on the side of the TLR is technically redundant and has no significant use, so I doubt it would have affected the outcome from the film.

The chosen film was the Lomography Color Negative 400 (or simply Lomo CN 400 for short). It was the only high speed 120 film in colour I had in my stash at the time, so I thought it be would great to test the camera with that particular roll.

I stayed locally to test drive the Lubitel 166b, shooting mostly mundane stuff such as anything that caught my eye. While out, I realised the camera couldn’t fit properly in its leather case properly, so I had to put it in my tote bag, being extra careful while wandering out and making sure it didn’t drop.

After finishing the roll, I had it processed and as usual I scanned the negatives at home. I only picked nine frames out of the 12 from the negative, with many of them coming out OK despite shooting the Lubitel for the first time. The exposure wasn’t the best, the speed could have been set at 1/100 or below. The focusing wasn’t the greatest either, which I may need to improve on this.

The best shot from Lomo film was possibly of the gravestone. Not exactly sharp in focus, but I felt it was the strongest with the exposure on point, as well as the depth of field.

Graveyard Shift Snap: My personal favourites without even trying

My time with the Lubitel is far from over, despite the initial results, I’m hopeful that I will be able to master my way around the camera.

Luckily enough, I did give the Lubitel a second chance but this time shooting with a black and white roll quite recently. Hopefully this will be all unveiled in a future Tried and Tested Thursday…

Take care and stay safe

Monday Monthly Mentions – July 2021: Kent Coast, Journaling, A Hidden Gem, Art Fairs, Petrol Stations and Bjork

  • I had my first Covid vaccination last month!! I wanted to share that bit of news first. I did finally overcome my long time fear of needles, but at least I got it out of the way. I should have my second one in a month’s time, which I might need to book soon. Anyway, I had the Pfizer and thankfully I didn’t have many side effects, apart from a sore arm and a headache.
Welcome to Whitstable!! The main harbour close to the beach
  • June was a good month for visiting the Kent coast; I went to Whitstable for the first time on a warm Saturday, exploring the beach, town and trying out the local oysters!! Then two weeks later I headed back to Kent, this time to Folkestone. Just like Whitstable, it is a shingle beach, plus it’s a direct train ride from Stratford International. I spent most of my day walking along the beach, also seeing the lighthouse and harbour. Of course, when at the seaside one must have fish and chips, and I highly recommend Harbour Inn where I had the famous cuisine. It was so delicious that I left a Google review rating it five stars!!
  • Hidden Hills: My friend and I went to The Hill Garden and Pergola at the start of this month. After a few delays, we made our trip there. The small pergola is located near Hampstead Heath, North London. I had never known about this place until my friend sent me a link via Whatsapp. It’s free of charge and it’s worth a wander on a nice afternoon.
  • A Fair Result: after cancellation after cancellation with dates being moved, the Other Art Fair finally had the show on the road this year. I went this past Saturday with my friend Mark. It has been over a year since I last saw him and it was good to catch up. The art fair took place at West Handyside Canopy near King’s Cross station, which was a bigger venue space with more artists, as well many who have exhibited many times before.
  • Note that down!: I have been into journaling again recently. For the last decade, I have been buying so many journals and notebooks but hardly put them into use, only a few for random lists and notes. I have a couple that I started using as a ‘wellbeing’ journal and another for as a diary of my thoughts and feelings. I mainly get inspiration from a Reddit group called Journaling, and also I get a few ideas on making travel journals. Despite it being fun to do having a physical notebook, at times it can be difficult to finish them – something that has been a problem for me.
A few bits from Paperchase a couple weeks back; the Noto notebooks were on sale and I couldn’t resist
  • Fuji Finished: Fujifilm is set to close four photo equipment factories in the US, axing 400 jobs. All four factories are located in the state of South Carolina, that manufactures printing plates, inks, papers and disposable cameras. Petapixel added, this is mainly contributed to the ‘declining demand’ of products. This is sad, I feel sorry for the workers as this job might be their only main source of income. The upcoming axing will not come into effect until next year in 2022.
  • A possible end to an era: the decline of petrol stations has been a slow ride for a long time, with the increase and popularity of electric cars in recent years. I did a photographic series of petrol stations almost a couple years ago, and it was hard looking for a station to shoot. It was a mission to find any nearby, since some had shut around my local area – including one I had taken back in the first series (Texaco/Co Op). No surprise, it might most likely be turned into high rise flats soon.
  • Prom Princess of The Ukraine: Michal Chelbin’s ‘Best Photograph’ in the Guardian is of a young girl in the Ukraine in her prom dress. Chelbin had created a series of photographs of teenagers in their last year at school in the country. Interesting read on the concept of transitioning into young adulthood.
  • At home? Want some photography inspiration?: Amateur Photographer has listed ten photography projects and ideas to do at home, with some being easy and accessible to do.
  • There’s something about Bjork: all thanks to Spotify and Youtube!! I have been listening to the famous Icelandic singer Bjork recently, mainly to her older stuff such as Debut and Homogenic. I knew about her before, only from her cover song ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’. Then I listened to her song ‘Isobel’ on Youtube, from the 1995 album Post. Last week, I listened to Homogenic for the first time while I was at the gym. My favourite song from the album is ‘Bachlorette’, and I cannot stop listening to it!!

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Fuji Pro 400h in 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Fuji Pro 400h in 120.

Earlier this year, Fuji had announced that they would be discontinuing the Pro 400h in both 35mm and 120 formats. A huge loss in the photography community, as expected since Fuji has axed many favourites over the few years such as Natura, Superia 200 and Acros (with it resurrecting back to life a year later).

By my side: I had this film on my list prior to the shock announcement

As predicted, there would be some photographers rushing out to order as much remaining stock as possible. Then of course, there would be some sellers listing the Pro 400h on eBay at very high and ridiculous prices – which I find very greedy, I am not surprised but that’s my opinion. I did capture a few screenshots from my phone days after the announcement, some sellers are selling a single roll at the same price as a five pack 120 film!!

I did compare this to the international panic buy that we had last year during the start of the pandemic, when customers were buying toilet paper left, right and centre at various supermarkets.

I was lucky to have bought two packs from a photographic retailer via eBay at a decent price. I will be putting them into use very soon, rather than keeping them for keepsake. I would certainly not be reselling them either.

The Pro 400h itself is a high speed film with decent grain coverage. It has been recommended to use for wedding and portrait photography, especially the latter for skin tones. Kodak Portra 400 is often compared with the Pro 400h, due to its similarities with colour balance and quality.

Last summer I bought two single 120 rolls from Parallax. I had tested them both on the Yashica 635 TLR camera, mainly for nature photography around the local wetlands.

Most Fuji colour films have great greens all thanks to their four film layers. The Walthamstow Wetlands shots weren’t too bad for a first try; exposure may seem a little off in some frames, but I am proud of them. I do miss using a proper TLR sometimes.

I would take advantage of the two packs I currently have until its expiry date of March 2022, or maybe let a few rolls expire… I would try to try some on my Holga and Agfa Isolette, or test out a couple on the Kodak Box Brownie.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Greenwich Picture Perfect Time – Olympus Trip 35 with Kodak Portra 160

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Kodak Portra 160 on the Olympus Trip 35.

In my previous post, I discussed shooting with the Olympus Trip for the first time. Although the results were out of focus, I was proud of myself considering this was a ‘test run’ and hoping the outcome would be better in the second round.

It started out perfectly, focus is sharper than last time

A week later, I took the camera with me to Greenwich in London, famous for Greenwich Mean Time, Cutty Sark, Royal Naval Colleges and the Royal Observatory. The film used was Kodak Portra 160, which I set to its box speed on the camera, plus placed the aperture between f8 and f11 as it was quite a nice bright day.

I walked some of my way through the park, passing through there towards the hill where the Observatory is located.

I have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with the Portra 160. It’s a film great for portraits (as often recommended), especially with skin tones and landscape shots, however it doesn’t seem to ‘stand out’ or ‘pop’ for me much. I have to admit the colour balance is soft and subtle with a tinge of orange tints whenever scanning or printing. I don’t buy that particular film often, probably a couple rolls or a pack a year.

During my day out, I took mainly landscapes and skyline shots from the hill. The focusing got slightly better, it did improve since the last time as well as the aperture settings. There were a few overexposed patches, but it was alright nevertheless once scanned. The Portra colours were softer, not too harsh although some look a little washed out, particularly with the greens and blues from the skyline shots.

Out of the film tests on the Trip 35, Portra 160 is the winner. I would likely shoot with it on the camera again, possibly for portrait photography or street shots on nice days during the summer months.

I would also concentrate on both focusing and aperture, improve on it a little more and put it into practice until I get the hang of it. Hopefully I will be able to work my way around the Trip 35 very soon!!

Take care and stay safe

(Belated) Monday Monthly Mentions – June 2021: Bognor Regis Break, Seaside Summer, Blast from The Past from East London and Exhibitions from this Month

This is the first time I had to post a very belated Monday Monthly Mentions two weeks later than scheduled. I have been so busy with work, and although I had written my draft already, it was finding time to type everything down…

  • First thing’s first: hello, how’s everyone doing? I haven’t been posting as much recently, mostly due to work, however I will be posting a few entries before the month closes and prepare some in advance for next month.
Bognor Rocks: Bognor Regis beach was literally a stone throw away from where we were staying
  • I went to Butlins last month for the first time. I went with my friend and her youngest son only for a few days. The resort is located in Bognor Regis, right next to the beach. We spent most of our time on the beach, as well as her son doing a lot of fun activities at Butlins which he did enjoy. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any shows or live entertainment while there, but it was nice to get out of London and go somewhere different.
Beach Huts that match the sky: Felpham is a quieter area close to Bognor Regis, not as busy
William Blake’s Cottage in Felpham, where he was arrested for sedition
  • The day after our arrival to Butlins, we went to Arundel Castle, quite nearby Bognor Regis by train. A few days prior to our visit, there was a robbery at the castle where thieves had stolen Mary Queen of Scots’ Rosary beads – a devastating loss of very important historical artifacts. The castle itself was amazing, both inside and out. Even bigger than we actually thought, when we saw it enroute via train the previous day.
  • To be by the seaside, as foreign travel is uncertain for the time being. It seems the good ole British seaside trip is making a ‘comeback’ since the increasing popularity of staycations this coming summer. Photographer Sophie Green captured the best of British beaches via Vice Magazine.

Take care and stay safe

Film Friday: Lomography Potsdam Kino in 35mm and 120

For today’s Film Friday, I selected Lomography Potsdam Kino in both 35mm and 120.

Lomography had unveiled its first film of 2019, the Potsdam Kino in 35mm and 120. The Berlin Kino was only released the previous year, which was only in 35mm at the time.

I have a few Potsdam’s: the remaining rolls I have left, might order more at some point

My memory is slightly foggy on how I ordered the film, but it was either March or April of 2019 when I pre-ordered the Potsdam Kino in the two formats from the official Lomography website. I believed the film came all the way from Austria, where the company is based.

There were five rolls of the two formats. Lomography rarely sells single rolls, probably on the odd occasion. There are a few photographic retailers that sell Lomo film in singles, including Potsdam, such as Parallax and Analogue Wonderland.

The Potsdam Kino is a black and white film with an ISO of 100, added with fine grain and smoothness – just like most low speed films. The Lomo website described Potsdam as being ‘inspired by the New German Cinema sweeping through Europe in the 1960s’. Rolls were created from what was made to shoot cine film by a company in Germany.

Picture Potsdam Perfect: A few examples on the film packaging

Luckily, Potsdam does exactly what it says on the tin by producing ‘gorgeous grayscale pictures’, having shot 120 and 35mm around the streets of East London. The outcome came out quite good with the film producing sharp and deep tones. Makes a difference, especially shooting with colour filters, like I did when using my trusty Canon EOS 500n with a red filter on a wide angle lens.

The 120 film almost produced similar results to the 35mm, when shooting with a Yashica 635 TLR camera (sans filter). I played around with the TLR’s focusing, shutter speeds and aperture until I was satisfied to fire.

For the 35mm Potsdam roll, there is no DX coding. Like the Lomo Babylon and Fantome films, it is recommended to use a manual setting camera and set the ISO manually. Although I have used the Potsdam before on an Olympus Mju 1, which is a simple Point and Shoot with very limited controls and settings. Regardless, the photos came out ok after processing and scanning.

The 120 roll should be smooth sailing, which can possibly be used on any medium format camera out there; from Hassleblads, vintage box cameras to Holga’s. It’s worth noting that results may vary from each camera, but there’s no harm in trying a roll or two.

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: A Day Trip to The Park – Olympus Trip 35 with Kodak Ektar

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Kodak Ektar on an Olympus Trip 35.

Earlier this year, I bought an Olympus Trip 35 from eBay. The camera was in good condition, which I bought for around £65 as I made an offer with the seller. I had been wanting the Trip for a while, although some of the prices on eBay were too high, some at almost £200. I was fortunate to have bagged myself a bargain at the right time!!

Cherry Blossom Season: The entrance to the Kyoto Garden, unfortunately it was closed on that day

I must mention how surprised I was to see how small the Olympus Trip was when I first received it. I originally thought it would be a big and bulky camera, possibly heavy to carry around everywhere but it was the complete opposite. The Trip already had a leather camera strap, as well as a soft black leather case which is very convenient to avoid damage to the camera.

I decided to give the Trip a test spin back in April, since the lockdowns were slightly easing plus the weather was very nice. I went to Holland Park in West London with the camera, also a roll of Kodak Ektar already loaded. Thankfully the camera doesn’t take any batteries!!

One of the first shots on the Trip; notice everything is blurry and not in focused

I had a wander around the beautiful spacious park, initially hoping to photograph the famous Kyoto Garden but sadly it was closed for a few days, due to refurbishment and repairs. Better luck next time. Although I was lucky to take a few snaps of the peacock before my departure, a great way to finish the roll.

The results came out fair, considering it was my first time shooting on the Olympus Trip. I can see where I need to improve which is mainly both the focusing and aperture, as it is a manual camera I may need to work my way around the settings and functions. This might be a good idea to consider buying a manual light meter, or alternatively download a digital one from the mobile app store.

The colours were slightly saturated – that’s what you kind of expect from Ektar. The colours were a little harsh and vivid in some areas, however the speed of 100 did wonders in bright conditions, especially as it was very sunny.

I would certainly continue experimenting around with the Olympus Trip until I get used to it. I would try out a variety of different films, also try out a few colour filters for black and white photography.

At the time of writing, I only used the Trip twice, both in April. The second time was a little bit of an improvement than the first, faring better in terms of quality such as the focusing, however the aperture may need some work. Hopefully, I will go into depth about it on next week’s Tried and Tested Thursday.

Turn your back: ‘Walking Man’ sculpture by Sean Henry

Take care and stay safe