Last night I tried c41 processing at home. I found it to be much faff and less enjoyable than black and white processing, but this morning, after processing more rolls, I think I have the process down.
I have the BelliniFoto Monopart C41 Kit from nik & trick. It features a developer, a bleach, fixer and a stabiliser to wash with. The main differences from a black and white process are the temperatures, which are much higher at 38c, and with this kit there are no water washes.
My main reason for getting a c41 kit was to finally process old colour films and to try the process. I stopped mostly shooting colour film towards the end of 2014 and started experimenting with black and white films, so there are a few colour films hanging about waiting for development.
The following is a complete 120 roll of ektar that I exposed with a holga pinhole camera on a trip to kent, 2015.
The following are the best bits from 2 rolls of agfa vista (re-branded fuji stuff) spanning 2014-15, featuring two camping trips. I think they were shot with a contax 139q, and a Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.7.
It looks like a tumblr blog, is that still a thing?
Currently burning more agfa vista 200 in my oly mju ii. I want to see what a freshly exposed pushed film will be like.
This film is something special, a totally new film with two emulsion layers.
I am really impressed with the amount of detail it can hold in the shadows when underexposed, and how much detail it retains in the blown highlights. Scanning and processing was a little tricky, I always scan for neutral tiff files and then batch edit with a curve later on. The neutral scans were muddy in the shadows -its like the film retains details too well, and it took me awhile to sort out but I had to curve down the blacks a lot more than I normally would with HP5.
Speaking of hp5, the images are similar in tone but the grain is very different. Up close the grains are smaller and there seems to be more, probably because of the 2 layers.
I developed the film in my go-to HC110 at dilution B for 9 mins at 20c as recommended by Bergger in the data sheets (though, on the box there’s no HC110 data.) The film has to be fixed for a longer time than most films and it drys very straight with no curling.
The images were shot with my leica m2 at 400 iso and are a mixed bunch.
The images have really nice tones but can I push the film to 1600 for some zone focusing street photography?
Social media and photography are two different things, the latter is always more important.
This year, social media wise, has been different for me. During the spring I found I was fed up of chasing likes. I cut down sharing images on Instagram, one of two social media platforms I use (the other being twitter, and even then I don’t use it enough). The singularity of the platform too, means it is difficult to group together images of value, like I can with a blog like this one. It’s also the increasing number of memes, spam bots and irrelevant content, I find myself not browsing Instagram. I am unsure what to do with it, perhaps I will start to use the dreaded phone camera for a visual diary.
Cutting down and separating social media from actual photography has allowed me to think more about photography. Ultimately, what is more important getting likes and posting the same stuff, or progression and experimentation?
According to Instagram’s yearly best nine, these are my “best” photos. They are not.
However, this roll, or grouping, may well be my best. What a roll it was! This sort of grouping is more effective, getting my name and my work out there, rather than Instagram’s singular focused images which are forgotten in 2 days, tops.
Electronic compacts are a fickle bitch, mechanical is the way to go
Compact film cameras with prime lenses are my kryptonite. I like having my tiny mju II in my shirt pocket ready to go, the amazing carl ziess lens of the contax t2, and the cult status plastic brick nikon l35af “Pikaichi” with its punchy sonnar like lens. They are all quirky, convenient, and produce effective images that are more interesting than a digital or phone camera. This is all well and good, however these cameras are dying a slow death with no way to get the tiny complex electronics inside them repaired. Owning a compact, you should be prepared for the day it goes crunk. This happened to me with a ricoh gr1. I ran one roll then poof, nothing. I am now using my small but all mechanical rangefinder, Olympus 35RC, as my everyday film camera.
The Fujifilm x series and the xpro1 is the digital work system for me
When I had a canon SLR, I did various jobs with it. Though, I never felt inspired with it. It was clunky, plastic, and uninspiring unlike my film cameras at the time. Acquiring the xpro1 was a game changer. It’s small, unobtrusive, and requires a different and slower way of working. Rather than burst through a job, I take my time by finding a subject, take two sometimes three shots, changing aperture to make sure depth of field covers subject(s) and move on in a confident manner without looking down at the LCD screen. This sort of confidence is needed. Rather than turning up to a job with a big SLR, which everyone from grandma to granddaughter thinks is professional, you have to show it and let the work speak for itself afterwards.
Medium format, 6×17 is as good as it gets
Going from 6×12 to 6×17 for my panoramic pinhole work made a massive difference from wide to damn right wiiide. For example here is my favourite to 6×12 wide pinhole holga image:
And here is a 6×17 wiiide reality so subtle image of the peak district:
Experimenting with the reality so subtle, I found the extra 5cm of negative sucks in everything in front of the camera, making landscapes almost endless. It’s also fun to pull out 4 large negative images out of the developing tank. The fact that the images are from a pinhole camera too; I’m unashamed that out doing photographers with the latest most expensive kit with a simple box with a hole in it adds to the level of enjoyment.
This is probably the closest I will come to writing a review of the Olympus MJU II otherwise known as Stylus epic, a cult point and shoot camera. There are already plenty of in depth reviews around, most of them stating the obvious that it’s small, like a slippery bar of soap -its that small.
After 3 and a half rolls (one was a tester), it looks like my MJU is cleared of light leaks which were ruining shots from my trip to Kinderscout. So I’ll just write some thoughts down, and show some snapshots, hopefully giving it justice. All the photos were shot with Rollei Retro 400s which is very contrasty.
First of all it’s small (very original blog post here). It fits in my jean pockets, along side my wallet, phone and keys. It also fits snug into a shirt pocket. I almost lose it in my jacket pocket. Roughly around 10.5 cm long, 5.5cm tall, and around 3.5cm at its most thickest depth. The ergonomics seem to have taken second preference to the size. It can be fiddly to handle, like I said at the start, a slippery bar of soap.
The 35mm f2.8 lens is beautiful. With the flash on, or in the right conditions -not a rainy evening, it offers punchy tones and a slight vignetting. It is surprisingly sharp dead centre. The lens is almost as good, if not better than some, expensive luxury 35mm compacts.
As a point and shoot it offers nothing in the way of manual control. The sliding front door opens to turn it on. Flash options and a timer are on the back door in the form of two buttons alongside a rewind button. Other than the shutter-release, that is all the control you get. There’s no ISO override either.
The viewfinder is painful to look through and compose. It is tiny and takes time getting use to. In the centre of the finder sits a crosshair. Presumably not to trigger gun crime, but to help with focusing.
The AF seems to just work. I’ve had one maybe two go wrong. But it might be me not half pressing the shutter release to lock in the focus. A green light in the viewfinder indicates if it is focused with no indication as to what on
Turning the flash off is a pain. This camera loves the flash. The first time I tried the camera was with dx hacked hp5 at iso 1600. Even at 1600 and in bright sunlight the camera still fired the flash! To turn it off you have to hit the flash button twice everytime time you turn the camera on. A pain, but whatever, I would rather get into the practice of turning it off rather than blasting some stranger in the face with fill flash in what was supposed to be a candid street shot. Just one of those things.
There is a spot meter mode! This is so useful for backlit photography like below, where you need the camera to meter the subject, it also focuses on that point. You can lock the metering by half pressing the shutter release. This was taken at dusk with no flash.
The reputation of this camera is high, almost too high. Is it really worth the three figured ebay prices it goes for? I recently saw a trailer for a documentary called ‘Don’t Blink‘ about Robert Frank, in which you can clearly see him using the mju. This makes me think: if its good enough for a legendary photographer, it’s good enough for me right? Well I still dont think its worth over a hundred pounds -its a plastic point and shoot camera from the 90s that takes good snapshots, it won’t turn you into Robert Frank.
I think overall the MJU II is compact camera showcasing the best of the late 90s photographic technology in one tiny package. It is very simple, but it makes beautiful images. I hope to carry the camera with me on commutes to art college in september onwards for some early morning street photography, hopefully accompanied by some autumn/winter fog.
I dont think its worth the 3 figures it’s going for on ebay. I’m glad I didn’t pay anywhere near that. Yes, mine is a little scratched and suffered light leaks, but it’s nothing a bit of sticky foam and black tape couldn’t cure. Compacts seem to be marketed on ebay at silly prices that make no sense anymore.
As a finishing note -this is the first time I’ve used Rollei Retro 400s. It is very contrasty, with little shadow, compared to hp5 it’s more like acros 100. May have to buy more.