Tried and Tested Thursday: Down The Kent Coast – Holga 120 with Ilford FP4

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting Ilford FP4 on my Holga 120.

I took two separate trips to Kent in a space of two weeks in June, heading Whitstable first and then Folkestone. It was the first time going to both places, also my first time in over a decade since I had visited Kent.

For the two lovely days out, I brought along two of my film cameras with me – the Holga 120 and Olympus XA2. Today’s post I will be focusing on the Holga, then Olympus XA2 possibly the following week.

The choice of film for the Holga was Ilford FP4, an absolute classic all thanks to its low speed and fine grain.

The Holga was taped with black electrical tape, only to prevent unwanted light leaks or overexposures since the lighting conditions were very bright, in Whitstable especially. I wanted to take something a little simple for my trip, so the Holga was useful. Plus I did want to take a few black and white shots of mainly the beach.

The outcome from the Ilford FP4 was interesting… for some unknown reason there were white grains on both Kent negatives. The film was in date when purchased and eventually used for shooting, however it was strange to see this type of grain since the film has a low speed. It could possibly be a bad batch during the film production, certainly not from processing. Either way, the image quality wasn’t the best, had there not been any mysterious grain, the quality would have improved. Regardless, the contrasts and tones were the only saving grace.

I’m quite unsure if printing from the negatives in the darkroom would impact the printing quality. Most likely the same results as the scans with the grains.

The obvious room for improvement would be if I had the chance to reshoot the two trips again on a couple FP4 rolls or maybe a similar low speed film like Kodak Tmax 100 or the new Fuji Acros.

Back to Back? Returning to Whitstable wouldn’t be ruled out, maybe this time next year?

Those two FP4 rolls had so much potential after processing, sadly the unexpected outcome let it down overall…

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

Tried and Tested Thursday: A Day In The Museum – Canon Canonet 28 with Ilford FP4 (Pushed to 400)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 at 400 on a Canon Canonet 28.

There are a couple firsts: 1) It was my first time shooting with the Canonet 28, despite buying the camera around six years from eBay; 2) First time pushing FP4 at 400, and not its original box speed of 125 ISO.

A Stone Crypt (?): probably one of the best selected shots

A little background on the camera itself: according to Camerapedia, the Canonet 28 is the ‘cheaper consumer version’ of the Canonet QL17, both look identical and most likely have the same functions. The Canonet 28 was launched in 1968, and marketed between 1971 to 1976.

The lens of the camera is fixed at 40mm with an aperture of f2.8. The ISO settings (or ASA) is from 25 to 400, with the shutter speeds on auto exposure at 1/30 to 1/600. There is a hot shoe to attach in a flash gun.

I had originally wanted to shoot the Fuji Superia 800 on the Canonet, but it was impossible due to the ISO limit. Although I would eventually use the film on the Olympus Mju 1 on the same day. Let’s say the results didn’t come out as I had expected – that’s for another Tried and Tested Thursday around the corner…

I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&A) in Kensington, West London with my friend back in mid-December. It had almost been a year since my last visit there, however it was my friend’s first time going. Because of Covid and restrictions, we had to book a slot online in advance, rather than turn up which was common before the pandemic hit. It did feel weird that it was quieter in the museum than usual with very few people.

When shooting at museums or galleries with film, it can be a challenge on what film to use, as lighting conditions can differ. Some exhibit rooms or spaces don’t have the best lighting, with some being too harsh, dim or low. I thought I could chance it with the FP4 at 400 ISO on a camera I had never used before.

I must note, I had no flash gun or light meter on me (I don’t even own them). So I couldn’t determine what aperture to use, but like I said before I chanced it and hoped for the best after processing and scanning.

The overall outcome wasn’t too bad, however I need to improve in some areas mainly with the camera. The Canonet 28 was a great way to learn how to shoot manual, that was my initial intention when I originally purchased it. There are so many opportunities to improve and learn with this camera – once I get the broken rewind crank fixed.

Some of the focusing is off with the main subject(s) being slight blurry, but I can work on that by practising or learning more along the way. As someone whose eyesight isn’t particularly the best, focusing with the lens can be difficult, especially when capturing detail or anything up close.

The results were decent for its first time use, but had it been on another already high speed film it would have been slightly better. Ilford HP5, Kodak Trix or Kodak Portra 400 would have been suitable for low light shooting. The outcome might have differed with those mentioned films, most likely HP5 which I often regard as the most versatile roll ever.

I do have plans pushing and pulling FP4, probably on other manual cameras.

Hopefully I will soon be able to master the Canonet, after being in a box stuck in the cupboard for years…

Take care and stay safe

Tried and Tested Thursday: Canon EOS 500n (50mm 1.8 lens/Orange Filter) – Ilford FP4 #FP4Party

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 on a Canon EOS 500n camera on a 50mm 1.8 lens with an orange filter.

This month was the return of the #FP4Party that any film photography is invited to. There are a few rules such as what dates to shoot, when to develop and when to post results on Twitter (where this challenge is hugely based).

From the week of Sunday 1st March, I had shot four rolls of Ilford FP4; two 35mm and two 120 on four different cameras, ranging from a Point and Shoot to a toy camera. 

I was satisfied with most of the results after  scanning them, apart from the Holga – they were completely blank!! Although it was not all bad in 120 as the Yashica 635 results came out better than expected and I shared my results on last week’s Film Friday. Now back to business with the Canon SLR!!

It was the first time in a long while since I shot FP4 on a film SLR. The first time shooting that film on a Canon prime lens with an orange filter (second hand Jessops brand from eBay). The lens itself I had for years when I had a DSLR, but due to its overuse the autofocus is broken so I have to try my best with manual focusing. Nevertheless the results, especially the close ups, aren’t too bad. I had to focus on the main subject closely, stepping towards it slowly at times. Prime lenses are versatile, although I often reserve them for portraiture, close ups or street photography.

125 ISO is a rarity in speed. The slower the better, when the weather is bright or when there is available light take advantage of the slow speed and fine grain.

Take care and stay safe!!

Film Friday: Ilford FP4 in 120

Today’s chosen film is Ilford FP4 in 120 format (also known as medium format). I chose this particular film to coincide with this month’s #FP4Party, where film photographers shoot, process and share results using that film on Twitter.

I started shooting on medium format cameras again, especially on the Yashica 635 I’m currently borrowing until the summer. I was initially nervous about using it first, however I got used to the functions such as the viewfinder and manual settings.

For the #FP4Party I decided to shoot on four of my film cameras, including the Yashica. It was my first time shooting a roll of FP4 on that camera, and I had to make sure the aperture and shutter were on 1/125 and f5.6 or f4. As I had no light meter, I had to rely on estimations, manual focusing and a viewfinder. I was worried my negatives would come out blank, which did happen on my Holga 120n. The good news was the results from the Yashica came out quite good and I was surprised with them!!

I haven’t shot FP4 for a while and when I do, I would do a spot of street photography to get into the swing of things. For the month’s challenge, I only stayed local and went around back streets; shot anything that was interesting or caught my attention. Also I carried another camera with me, my Olympus Mju 1, loaded with a roll of FP4.

Since the FP4 is a low ISO of 125, a very rare film speed, it would be great to use in bright conditions for capturing shadows and tone. I could consider a push process possibly a stop or two, although would it still maintain the same smooth grain? Who knows? What I do know is I will be buying more of this film again in the near future, if not soon…

Take care