Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stocking Up as Kodak Reorganizes

A couple of weeks ago I placed an order from Freestyle Photo for 25 rolls of Kodak's Tri-X in 120 size, and 2 bulk rolls of 35mm. That's 200 feet of Tri-X. With all of the news coming out about Kodak's impending Chapter 11 filing, I felt that I should stock up, not because I thought Tri-X was going away, but the prices might go up due to uncertainty in the supply chain, as well as people cashing in on the fear of Kodak disappearing entirely. As has been widely reported, Kodak claims that "Film remains profitable." It has to be, as Kodak can easily swamp suppliers if it wanted to, and charge even less for its product. It could also raise the price. I think Kodak's film business has probably subsidized its attempts to be a player in the printer market, among other things. So, perhaps a "film-only" spinoff like Eastman Chemicals (also profitable) would be a good thing. However, with Ilford (a dedicated b&w manufacturer), Fuji, Efke, Forte, and other film suppliers, black & white film isn't going away. I don't know how the Chapter 11 reorganization will pan out, but I have enough Tri-X to last me a year or two. Maybe by the time I run out of my current supply, the "Eastman Film Company" will materialize and continue selling silver-halide products in a little yellow box like it always has.

A new website -- Darkroom Resources

Thanks to the ease of putting up a web site under Google, I have built one that is intended to be a resource for users of expired films, papers, and discontinued products. It's also a source of documentation and techniques that have largely been lost in the transition to digital workflow. Darkroom Resources is still under development, and I will be adding new material to it over the next few months. Some of the documents are those that I inherited from Bill Brudon, and are not easily found in any archives, as they date well before the Internet!

If you have suggestions for material to include, or want to contribute printed items to be scanned (and returned) and included on the site, just e-mail me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yashica TL Electro X SLR

New "toy" For some time, I have wanted to get another M-42 screw mount body, but one that takes modern batteries, has a working meter, and a metal shutter. I have been through way too many aged Pentax Spotmatics, Prrakticas, etc. I had a manual for a Yashica TL Electro X in my collection of printed materials, so I decided to look for one on Ebay. After some failed bidding attempts, I found a nice all-black model -- the latter version of the TL Electro with the atomic symbol on the front and the "ITS" designation. It was $29.99 (buy it now) with free shipping so I purchased it. The camera was even better-looking in front of me than it was on-line (which is not often the case). It was advertised as "100% working" and it does, but it might be a while until I have fully trusted the meter reading. However, the TL Electro X features:
  • Stop-down metering
  • Uses a currently available 6v battery
  • Mirror-lockup
  • ISO hot shoe + PC sync terminals
  • Vertical traveling metal focal-plane shutter
  • B - 1/1000 sec shutter speeds
  • DOF preview
  • battery-check button

Now, those are fairly standard features, but not always the case for M42-mount cameras. I shot a roll of Kodak Gold 100 the day I got the camera -- and it was an overcast afternoon by then. However, I ventured out to Chelsea, MI to do some shooting to try out the camera. One thing that took some getting used to is the exposure system. Exposure adjustment is indicated by --> <-- arrows at the bottom of the viewfinder. When you have correct exposure, both arrows disappear. The metering is activated by holding down the lever on the front right of the camera, next to the lens. It also works as a depth of field preview button.

A few shots from the day...

creepy scene
A bunch of creepy doll parts -- probably f/2 at 1/15 or 1/30 sec.

REO Speedwagon Art
An REO Speedwagon with "rustic" art bolted or welded on. Not sure what to make of it, but the truck did run, and was quite a spectacle. Thankfully, it had a "chase car" as I am sure it wasn't going too fast.

Milling about
Milling about. There are not many small towns anymore that have an industry still in town, next to other businesses and residential areas. The Chelsea Milling Co., home of Jiffy Mix is right in downtown Chelsea, making for a scene that is nostalgic and yet contemporary.

I thought the lens I used -- from an earlier Yashica purchase, the Yashica J-P -- is rather soft and not contrasty, so the next roll was shot with a Cosina 55mm f/1.7 lens, and I'll see how that performed after I develop the b&w film. Overall, this camera is a beauty, and works well. The price was a steal, and I look forward to using it with other M-42 lenses.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Pentax 6x7 on the street

I have owned a Pentax 6x7 since about 2001. It was given to me by my now-deceased mentor, Bill Brudon. It is not a camera that I use frequently, but I go through periods when I use it a lot for a short period. Mostly I use it on a tripod, as it's a pretty heavy beast, and that's one reason I don't use it for much than landscapes or portraits. The last year saw me trying something different. I figured that it deserved a try as a "street camera." Now, it's way too big to be a discreet camera, but I did re-attach the strap so that it could easily be carried over a shoulder and used hand-held. That means a film ISO of 400, so that I can shoot at higher shutter speeds. The mirror flip is loud, so this is not, I repeat, not a discreet camera!

Back in November, Marc Akemann and I went on a day-trip to Fenton and Holly, MI. The day was quite sunny, though the sun was getting low in the sky, causing long shadows. I used a roll of 220 Kodak Portra 400 VC that expired in 2007. Frankly, I was a little disappointed in the results. The shadows were really blocked up, so I probably won't use any more that film. The one thing that I had to be careful of is that the camera is easily banged into things, since it was hanging down from my shoulder, and the lens hood really sticks out. I quickly got used to the heft of the camera, and it's like shooting a Pentax Spotmatic on steroids.

Marc shooting with his trusty F100. His brother bought it for $25 at a yard sale.

Coffeehouse in Holly. It's a beautiful small town that has a nice antique mall district, small restaurants, and other shops.

Mural in Holly. This was taken in open shade, and the negative is lacking in contrast and seems underexposed.

Mailboxes, Holly. The 90mm lens is the "normal" lens for this camera, and vertical shots are fairly easy, as the camera has lots of "grippable area."

The plus side of the 6x7 format is that it is a big negative. Using 220, I can get 20 shots on a roll, which is a fair amount of shooting with a camera of this heft. However,220 is getting hard to come by, so in the future, I'll stick to 120 rolls. Some Kodak Tri-X will go for the next outing.