Not long ago the folks at the Film Photography Project came upon a cache of expired-since-1995 Kodak Gold 200 color film in size 620, and offered it for sale in their store. It was pricey at $14 per roll, but wanting to try a couple of my 620 cameras I bought two rolls. I shot the first roll in April on Route 66 using my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye and was disappointed with the faded, grainy results. See them here.

Kodak Monitor Six-20

Recently I spooled the remaining roll into my Kodak Monitor Six-20. I wanted to use the Monitor again anyway, and I wanted to try the Kodak Gold in a camera where I could control the exposure so I could better test the film’s capabilities. That the Monitor has the fine Anastigmat Special lens only sweetened the deal.

Then the processor dunked my $14 color film into the wrong chemicals and I got black-and-white images back. At first, I was severly disappointed. But quickly I recognized that the images had potential. Contrast was poor, but a touch of Photoshop cured that ill and brought these images right to life.

I took the Monitor with me to Bridgeton. I had three cameras along on that trip: the Monitor, my Pentax Spotmatic, and my Olympus XA. The Monitor did the best job of capturing the sky, and edged the other cameras for sharpness.

Bridgeton covered bridge

I find it difficult to frame shots with the Monitor’s tiny bubble viewfinder. This bridge portal was all akimbo in the original image, so I straightened and cropped it for best effect.\

Cross this bridge at a walk

My house faces east, and sometimes the morning sun bathes my little front garden in some delicious light. All too often I’m rushing to work and can’t stop and really enjoy it. But the light was right one lazy Saturday morning, so I put my Monitor on a tripod and took this photograph from my front stoop. I also shot the scene in color with my digital camera; see that shot here for comparison.

Early morning front yard

My Monitor is not a pleasure to use. I’ve already mentioned the difficulties framing shots. The shutter button has a long travel and is stiff at the end where it trips the shutter, so I usually trip it by sticking my finger in by the lens barrel and moving the linkage. And the wind-stop feature on mine doesn’t work well, so I have to work around it. But I so love the results I get from it that I am likely to shoot it again. Perhaps I will soon, because the Film Photography Project offers fresh, hand-respooled 620 films now.

See more from this roll, along with some great color shots from my Monitor, in my Kodak Monitor Six-20 gallery.

Other 620 cameras in my collection: Kodak Six-20 and Kodak Duaflex II.

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14 responses to “Color film, black-and-white results”

  1. hmunro Avatar

    I can imagine your disappointment when the processor handed over a bunch of monochrome prints, but the results are actually fantastic! And I admire you for shooting with old cameras that are “not a pleasure to use.” Your discipline pays off in some truly beautiful images.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I shot the not-so-pleasant Monitor because ohhhhh, that lens. I’ll probably keep shooting with it for that very reason! But next time, let’s hope I get color images from color film.

  2. 62Skylark Avatar

    Hi Jim – Does the Anastigmat lens turn rectangles into trapezoids as sometimes seen in old photographs? I used to develop my 35mm black and white film myself in the late 60s. Sorry for my ignorance – but I am curious – Did they print the color film on black and white paper or can you develop color film in such a way that it turns into black and white negatives? I used to have Kodak cameras like yours that belonged to my parents. That style viewfinder sure looks hard to use! Your photographic results are consistently excellent btw.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I haven’t experienced any aberrations with this lens — it’s been a fine performer. The processor probably processed the film in black-and-white processing chemicals. I’m guessing; they didn’t tell me exactly what they did wrong. They then scanned them and probably did some sort of software correction of the image files to give me the low-contrast b/w images that were on the CD. (I hardly ever order prints.) I used Photoshop to improve the contrast of those images; that’s what you see here. Thanks for saying such nice things about my work!

  3. Derek Avatar

    They actually look pretty darn good. I mentioned to you you should respool your own 620 from 120 film before didn’t I? That’s a lot cheaper.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, yeah, I know. I’d have to actually buy a changing bag and get good at fumbling around where I can’t see.

      1. Derek Avatar

        We all do our best work after lights out right!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar
  4. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Nice photos excellent work, they turned out well in B&W nice sharp lens , I just ordered some of the cheap Chinese 120 B&W ( Shanghai GP3) film form eBay , I am going to have a go at re-spooling some of it for 620 as I have some Kodak Box Brownies 620’s I want to try out.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Christopher! The Monitor’s lens is a peach.

      Cheap respooled 120 in ISO 100 seems just right for those old box Brownies.

  5. pesoto74 Avatar

    Nice results especially in light of the development mistake. Every time you post something about your Monitor I am tempted to start a search for one.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If you buy one, know that the Anastigmat lens is delightful, but the camera’s usability not so much.

  6. Brandon Campbell Avatar
    Brandon Campbell

    Love the shot of the Karmann Ghia!

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