No worries : this is only the last roll of Ektachrome in my box. It expired sometime in early 2021 and travelled in a container from Singapore to London, and probably made a couple back and forth on airplanes without being shot.
It all started by the Secret Gardens open days in London, where I loaded the M6 Classic with the said roll, and attached the Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mmF4 and the famous 21-25 viewfinder. It was a very lovely day and we headed first to the Tower of London where we visited the garden of All Hallows By The Towergarden, where Nic the gardener grows plants he saves from the streets.
We walked back along the Thames , for the very touristic shot above, we also visited the Nomura building with its rooftop garden but I managed to screw-up the shots.
A bit of panning on passing vehicles is never lost, above on Lower Thames street.
Catching up with the city, we visited the Lincoln’s Inn, as they put on their website a “thriving society of barrister”, I am totally ignorant of this, but there were beautiful grounds and I could shot a few birds. Getting there we crossed the London’s Naked Ride, for which I made a couple of shots but not so funny with 21mm, so I’ll pass. Use google if you have no idea what I am talking about.
We continued the game the next day, spotted the nice vintage vehicle above.
We finished sometime Sunday afternoon around Notting Hill visiting some private gardens.
As I am a slow shooter, I finished the second half of the roll in Paris. Which I find very inspiring since my return to Europe. By then I had changed the lens to the vintage 35mmF3.5 Summitar LTM.
In Saint Sulpice church, a German Choir was practicing, the light was wonderful and I regretted not having a better set-up, but I think the above shot gives an idea of what was going on.
This was my first E6 roll processed and scanned by Analogue Films. Good job as usual and I was nicely surprised they were able to do it in the same one week period as they do for C41 or black and white.
7 years after my last failed experiments I am back again toying with Caffenol to process my black and white film. Do not try to figure out why I do not use standard methods, I cannot myself.
This time again I have put all the odds against me, I found a box of 5 year expired Fomapan P fixer in the cupboard, I shot the Caffenol unfriendly Kodak Tri-X on the Leica IIIc with the unreliable Summitar 50 and the new Chinese meter offered by a friend (more on this later).
From my past experiments I have a kitchen scale and a Patterson cuve, and some weights to hold the film when drying. (I just had to buy a 4$ battery for the scale)
Testing the fixer
I found this idea on the internet to test the fixer by taking a piece of unexposed film, I cut the lead of a new roll found in the box, and drop it in the fixer (not the developer just right into the fixer) and let it sit a few minutes : it should go totally clear if the fixer still work as they should. Mine did so I should be covered from that angle.
I used in the past a recipe for stand development, but today I will try the Caffenol-C-M, recipe, the first on the http://caffenol.blogspot.com website.
Testing the developer :
I planned to test the developer with one of the following two test cases, but actually after discussing with my assistant (my son), we decided that anyway we will not be able to resist trying the film whatever the result of the test is. Anyway here are the test cases:
Test 1: once again I cut the leader of a roll and drop one into your developer and let it sit a few minutes then drop in your fixer and let it sit for a few minutes. It should turn all black.(as this part is generally over exposed), advantage is that you can use the lead of the roll you want to process.
Test 2: use a piece of unexposed film, say, a few frames from the beginning of a fresh roll and make sure it’s loaded in the dark. Process as you should, you should see the frame numbers and DX codes along the sprocket holes develop and the unexposed frames should develop to be clear.
For one liter the recipe is to mix in order :
54 grams of washing-soda (Harm Brand 8$ for 1 kg)
16 grams of Vitamine C ( crap from Guardian 13$)
40 grams of instant coffee (Netscafe Classic 10$)
Time and temperature
This is the difficult bit, the original recipe gives 15 minutes at 20 °C for 100 ISO film. Digi
Pre-soak 5 minutes (this step is optional, but it is relaxing)
Pour the developer
Agitation first 30 seconds, then 3 times each minute.
– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times
Fix: 5 minutes
– Fill and invert the tank 5 times
– refill and invert the tank 10 times
– refill and invert the tank 20 times
– refill and invert the tank 30 times with a drop of washing up soap
the negatives are dense but images can be seen when back lighted and scanned with the Epson v800
A few more samples
Where it goes wrong
The problem often reported for Caffenol is that the chemicals are not reliable, for instance, my coffee is a mix of Robusta and Arabica, where the active compound is more present in the robusta, so 100% robusta would be better. My Vitamin C contains sugar and flavoring which impact is hard to guess.
Where to go from here
My film is over developed, so I already have some plans for the next roll : shorter time ( it was suggested to cut by 25%), or try the same recipe for a 100 ISO film, or cut the coffee.
I can do 5 batches with my Vitamin C + coffee, with 2 films per batch. You probably have to factor in 0.5$ a roll for Fixer, 0.4$ for the soda, if you are discounting the water you will be around 3.5 to 4 $, definitely cheap. 5 rolls would cover the 7$ a roll I pay to the lab for processing, so if you like the result its worth trying.
Time of the week again!I think I just took the camera with me three times this week, and I did not made a single shot today.
The weather is still indecisive but we have some nice moments, and some late afternoons with beautiful lights. I started the week with the old Summitar 50 that is on the M262 for a couple of weeks now.
Despite its back focusing issues, it performs quite well.
… enough to capture the event of the week : the re-opening of hair dressers.
Saturday, I decided for a change and picked from the magic box the 28mm Cron Asph v1. You can think how nice the old lenses are, and you can challenge me to tell objective differences between the two shots of Clark Quay, but the newer Leica lenses rock, they are the one who justify owning a digital M body. I always recommend to everybody who wants to go the digital M way to get at least one newer lens.
I have set the M body in auto aperture mode, but as much as it generally work, I always end up shooting at a too low speed. You will tell me this mode should be used with auto ISO, but yeah OK, it really needs some practice to be put to good work.
Yes I managed to shoot a human, that was a while since last one.
I think it is always easy to take random pictures and rather difficult to shoot something that means something to you and on which you want to express something. I wanted to shown the blocked Chess game area where a lot of old folks gather usually.
The area is now locked as you can see. I hope you get the feeling
Finally a shot of Potato Head, in a very quiet Keong Siak Road as night was falling down,
5 weeks ! No much shooting this week. I still go out once a day to keep my sanity, but the repetition kills the creativity (if there was ever any).
The cocks and hens are also wandering in our park (fort Canning), but it seems as if they also feel that something is amiss and retreat in the trees (I learned a few years back in Eater Island that chickens like to fly and rest on trees, I am a city boy, I would have never guessed,…)
Marina Bay Sands viewed from the grounds or our condo displays its love for the country, but the 1 North Bridge Road building hides the middle pillar of MBS and the letter … guess.
We had a nice walk along the river Saturday when the light was going down and the sky and river were beautiful (if it was not for the crowd of joggers and cyclists on the walking path).
My wife noticed that the Fullerton hotel was for once only displaying the national flag, is it national pride or just the lack of foreign customers?
The last two shots in the CDB show how nice the light was on the office buildings and how a lens build around World War II can perform nowadays (even if back focusing).
All shots with Leitz Summitar 50mm F2.0 on Leica M262.
The soft lock down was extended two weeks ago until 1st of June, so all in all that will be 8 week of lock-down.
Conditions are a bit more strict, but all in all I cannot complain. I can work from home, we have plenty of hardware here so we don’t fight over PCs, and we can within reason go out if we wear a mask.
We are allowed to go out for shopping in the neighborhood or for exercise, which is flexible enough and can be used without abuse. We generally walk an hour at the end of the afternoon, go for our food shopping and go home.
The photographic practice is a collateral victim of the lock-down, I am quite busy with work, so I have no leisure to (re) invent a “shoot at home” activity, and while going out, there is not so much happening and we always roam the same aeras.
I have stopped shooting film after the first week : I do not process at home so there is no incentive until the labs open again. I am carrying the Leica M262 Body (Coming to its 4th birthday soon) and some vintage lenses : the Summaron 35mmF3.5 ltm on the first two shots and the Summitar 50mmF2 for the others.
The Summitar is back focusing a bit, but its quite easy to adjust after a couple of shots. Wide open it gets this “swirly” Bokeh, which is funny.
The colors for both lenses are quite nice, but unfortunately the weather is also pretty nasty, it generally rains lightly when I can go out.
What to shoot to show the emptiness and halted activities? Not much really. Although activity is very quiet and the traffic is noticeably smaller, it is rare to be able to picture a usually busy street that is empty.
But surely there are a lot of signs like the public areas where seats are blocked as above.
Or below, bar areas who are wrapped away.
Empty parking places in the city center are definitely a sign that something is going on.
Hairdressers which were ordered to close two week ago, will now reopen before the rest of the businesses.
Finally when reaching the river on the way back home today, there was a very nice light on the buildings of the city center.
During my trip to Melbourne where I discover the FilmNeverDie shop, I bought a couple of rolls of their SHIROKURO but also one roll of JCH StreetPan 400 film (why only one?)! I am always looking forward to try new or uncommon films, this is part of the magic of chemistry of film photography, to make me expected something new and exciting that does not depend on my technical skills (if I have any) to happen on the roll.
You can find the announcement of the film and read more about it there.
This does not look to be a re-branded film as the negs have the mention JCH.
This is not a technical review, I am by noway an expert, I understand that pan chromatic does not mean much other than a reproduction similar to human eye. Not sure what this means for black and white. This film is supposed to have a higher sensibility to red and a low grain.
I loaded the roll in the newly repaired Leica IIIc, and the following shots are done during Chinese new year in Singapore using a Summitar 50mmf2 lens. The Summitar is a bit back focusing so this is probably not a proper set-up to judge the quality of the film, but I have a soft spot for the IIIc.
Exposure is measured with a handheld Sekonic 308s lighmeter.
This picture is shot under a red tent and gives for interesting palette of grey, probably due to the sensitivity to red.
For those who wonder, this was processed by the usual lab used by Ruby photo, no idea what chemical they use.
The grain is actually quite controlled, and the sharpness, if you keep in mind this is shot with a vintage soft lens, is quite good. I am not a big fan of high grain film like the TriX (although I use it a lot), and always preferred the soft TMAX100 or Fuji Acros
Actually the contrast is quite smooth, unlike the Rollei Retro 400s I used recently, so for higher contrast scenes it gives nice gradation of grey.
Even this night shot with back-light could be salvaged and give a nice rendering.
All in all this is quite a satisfying experience, if I manage to get more rolls they’l deserve to be shot with a better camera like the M6 or the “never-fail” EOS 1N.
JCH has sold all his stock, so only retailers will have some rolls now, until more are produced. I don’t think anybody has some in Singapore but you can find a list of suppliers on the JCH web-site.
I bought my first Leica in 2009; it was a very nice M4 paired with a Summilux 50mm version2; both from 1967 as close as I could to by date of birth (I was a bit worried at the time about getting involved in the double stroke or single stroke on the M3). In 2009 I was already back into film for 2 years, I was lusting for a Leica. After much considerations I splurged the equivalent of 2500 USD on the above combo.
If was not love at first sight with the Leica. First I was back to the shop (actually another) to invest in a light meter (Sekonic 380s). Then I brought it in couple of trips, but with mixed feelings.
I enjoyed using the little fellow, but really the results were no all great and also I have a trouble bringing the Leica on travel : I though the 35mm was redundant with my DSLR; at least in term of format.
The following years I bought a few other film cameras and got distracted, so indeed the love story with the M4 was not going the right way.
In 2013 I invested in a small LeicaIIIc and a Summitar 50mmF2; this fellow had a couple of problems, but I quite liked it for shooting around.
I got a couple on third party lens in various stage of in-usability to pair him with (a back focusing Jupiter 35mm, a non-focusing Canon 135F4, not mentioning the Industar of the Zorki 1) , but all in all we had good fun. Around this time I also invested in a 21mmF4 Color Skopar, that I always found difficult to use. And I made my first Leica trip only to Taiwan.
Last year finally when Lee Kwan Yew passed away I shot a lot of the funerals with the M4 and my interest was aroused again by the Leica M, so finally for a similar amount of the M4 kit, I bought a minty M6 Classic (Back) and a Summaron 35mmF2 (The version with the goggles).
And so started the year of shooting with Leica(s) (to be followed)
I was a bit restless last week-end, still scanning the backlog of films I needed some less intensive activity. Plus my son has a field trip in Indonesia and we were thinking he would be better off wit a cheap camera, just in case he lost it, drop it or got robbed.
So I scratched my head and after a while (and a bit of google-ing) went down to the shop and bought a Olympus E-PL2 and 12-24mm lens plus an adapter for Leica lenses.
For 140 USD my son have a very good camera although “obsolete” said the shopkeeper. And I can attach my Leica lenses including the russian and japanese ltms to a digital sensor. I can let you see some results.
Like everything this takes time to get used to and I am no expert in micro four-third cameras, but it looks this can be a fun toy. A few things to take into account:
the E-PL2 has a crop factor of 2, so the 50mm becomes a 100mm and the Serenar 135 becomes a 270mmF4 lens !
even with the adaptor depth there is not much room for recessed lenses, so the Jupiter 8 with its big inner element cannot be used (damn I really wanted to use this one)
on the good side you cannot hurt the sensor with the collapsible lens.
mmm the camera uses the back screen for focusing which is very difficult for me; and EVFs are a bit expensive just for fun, so I don;t know how much usage I’ll do with thus.
Gong Xi Fa Cai everybody, happy year of the monkey.
So this is (was) Monday and time to bring back the camera to the shop. I woke up early and decided to walk there armed with the old Summitar 50mmF2.0 and the Voigtlander 21mmF4.0 Color Skopar.
First stop is at the Hong San See Temple on Mohammed Sultan Road. The M240 shows no mercy for the WWII area screw mount lens : it is obvious the lens back focus; as I said yesterday no point using it if not with live view. The back focusing problem is visible even on the location, so no bad surprise when going back home.
Yes on the close and wide open shots the lens shows some “character”…
A bit frustrated I follow my journey along the Singapore river and put on the Color Skopar.
It is almost midday, the sky is cloudy as usual, so the light is not great. The colorful Alkaf bridge looks very dull on the above. Including the fact that the pictures are coming out with a wide purple band on the right side, even with the leica 21mm profile selected, this is really a no go.
The above is a bit better, but also required a bit of tweaking in Lightroom to remove the purple fringing on the right side.
So time for conclusion, I have played with the M9 and the M240 this summer, used some new and old lenses and…
1- I won’t rush to buy it: I think this is the most fair assessment I can do: I can probably afford to go to the shop and get a M240 + an Elmarit 28mmF2.8 but my test did not convince me that I really need to do it now.
2 – No mercy : the M240 has no mercy for lesser lenses : you may be lucky with a gem of an old lens, but clearly for me all these old ltm lens I have are useless. No point getting such an expensive kit to produce such below par shots. The weather in Luxembourg and Singapore is quite different but the 28mm Summicron results were far superior to the Elmarit.
3 – Back to film : Do not be mistaken, I really enjoyed the experience, going through the 800 to 900 shots of the week end was a bit painful, I could have done some things better and I may try again next year. Meanwhile I think that I would be more tempted to get a newer Leica film camera and a nice lens like a Summicron 35mm and wait before going digital. But meanwhile the meanwhile, I’ll go back to “junk” gear and Nikon digital. On a side note, I have been shooting recently with the D700 and 1980’s manual lenses again and unlike the Leica I am amazed by the results.