Film Photography

Walking through Zionsville in the rain with an old camera and expired Kodak Tri-X

Wet brick street

I didn’t mean to walk in the rain. It’s supposed to be romantic and all, but I was alone, and I didn’t really want to be wet. But this shower popped up out of nowhere. It caught my Dark Sky app by surprise — it is very good about warning me before it rains.

Argus Argoflex Forty

I figured the rain wasn’t going to hurt my camera, a circa-1950 Argus Argoflex Forty. It’s a hardy little box. So I pressed on.

It’s also a reasonably capable little box. Its lens is sharp except in the very corners, and it offers a range of apertures and shutter speeds.

I was burning off my last roll of Kodak Tri-X, expired since June of 1981. After shooting my last roll at box speed and getting dense and foggy negatives, I set exposure on this manual camera as if this were an ISO 100 film, hoping for improvement. I developed in LegacyPro L110 Dilution B (1+31).

This roll looked far better than my last one — less grainy, better resolution. Fresh Tri-X would have looked even better, of course; these still look like they were shot on expired film. But I’m pleased with these results.

The Flower Shop
Black Dog Books
Five Thirty Home
One Nine Five
VW Bus
Downtown Zionsville

I shot this back in early July during a week when we had several pop-up showers in full sunshine. That’s a real rarity! I haven’t seen anything like it since I was a child.

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14 thoughts on “Walking through Zionsville in the rain with an old camera and expired Kodak Tri-X

  1. I had three of these cameras, two identical but none the same as yours. Argus made a few variations over the years. One version I had was 1/100 shutter and the other two 1/200. They all perform about the same: dependable but unremarkable. You definitely don’t have to worry about getting a little rain on them!
    BTW Tri-X has never returned great photo results in my experience. It is always grainy and the 400 speed is exaggerated even when fresh. Strangely I found a difference between the quality in 135 format and roll films; the 35mm was consistently better. I still preferred Verichrome Pan though.

    • Mine has a 1/150 shutter! Strange how Argus changed this up over the years. I used to very much like Tri-X, but I lost the feeling somewhere along the way and seldom buy it new anymore. I think it’s because I “discovered” T-Max 400 and liked it very much. Now that I develop and scan my own, I can’t imagine buying Tri-X as the stuff curls horribly and is hard to get into the scanner mask. Scanning these negatives was a bear for that reason.

  2. What a fun romp in the rain! And I am always amazed when we shoot these long expired Kodak films, that anything at all turns up on the negative. A testament to those fine folks in Rochester.

      • P says:

        Yes, it is crazy. I recently shot some nearly twenty year expired TRI-X and besides a bit more base fog than normal, the stuff worked practically as if new; it’s incredible. This was obviously the old TRI-X, before they “updated” it. I vastly prefer the old stuff. The new version, in my opinion, lost most of what gave TRI-X it’s iconic mood and feel. It’s really a shame. I think the closest thing to the old TRI-X available today is Fomapan 400, which I’m a big fan of.

        Take care, Jim!

        • Verichrome Pan is the one that blows me away. 25 years expired? STILL FRESH.

          I hear that Panatomic-X effectively never expires, as long as you don’t store it right next to a blast furnace or something.

  3. No apologies at all for outdated film shot on an old camera – these images are beautiful and evocative. Maybe because of outdated film and old camera!

    • And the subject matter. Downtown Zionsville is just charming, and if it weren’t for the modern cars it looks like stepping back into 1930.

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