The Stamp Shop
Olympus XA2
Kodak ProImage 100

A quarter century ago, Massachusetts Avenue in Downtown Indianapolis was a hodgepodge of random small businesses. In the years since, this street has become hip. Rising rents forced most of the original tenants out. Somehow, The Stamp Shop hangs on.

I bought some Kodak ProImage 100 to try it. I didn’t fall in love with it on this first roll. I shot most of that roll while riding my bike through rural Boone County, and the sickly greens this film gave me didn’t remotely match reality. I had better luck when I finished the roll on a short walk along Mass Ave.

I hadn’t used my Olympus XA2 in more than a year, which is why I chose it. I like how this camera is essentially a fixed-focus point-and-shoot — its default settings when you open the camera are good for the majority of what I shoot.

I’ve owned two XA2s and both of them have vignetted slightly. I’m not crazy about that. But the camera is so pleasant to use otherwise that I overlook it.

When I shoot my next roll of this film I’ll put it through one of my known-good SLRs, which I think will give me a better idea of this film’s capabilities.

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23 responses to “single frame: The Stamp Shop”

  1. J P Avatar

    Or maybe the Stamp Sho? Where’s the P? It reminds me of the punch line for a joke we used to tell in elementary school, where the teacher made little Johnny recite the alphabet before being allowed to use the restroom. He hit every letter but omitted the P. When the teacher asked where was the P, the answer was “it’s running down my leg.” I wish I could remember better jokes than the slightly risque ones we told in 4th grade.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Are any non-risque jokes funny when you’re in the 4th grade?

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    This is a film I know nothing about, apparently created long after I was shooting any color neg but the occasional roll of Ektar. The spec sheet says “saturated colors”, but your example certainly does not look “saturated”, in fact, it looks kind of flat?

    I used to keep scrapbooks of street photography, which I shot with an Olympus Stylist camera, and used to go through a pretty decent amount of Kodacolor Gold, which I loved for this usage. I lost heart in doing this when my Mom passed away, and about the same time, my Walgreens stopped processing film, and it also became impossible to find a local processor to do 3.5 X 5 prints, instead of 4 X 6, something I used to favor because they would fit “two across” in my scrap books. It’s interesting how digital impacted how I felt about doing things, and was never happy with using a digital point – and – shoot to replace my Olympus, and filing my negs and pasting my prints in a scrapbook.

    I also find in wild that Indy still has a stamp shop. I’ve seen a few coin shops around in my city, and in Chicago, but practically never see a stamp shop any more! This is a vestige of when people worked a “straight eight” hours a day, and had time for a hobby (I’m not even sure the millennials even know what a hobby is)! My Dad had some stamp books, but was out of it by the time we got to be about 12-13 years old. People may not remember this, but the downtown Gimbels in my town had a stamp and coin department (as well as a book store), before classic department stores started divesting themselves of almost every department other than apparel, and women’s accessories and scent!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have one more roll of this film, and it’s in my Spotmatic right now. That’s a known-good camera for me — the XA2 has always led to somewhat unpredictable results for me. Anyway, the Spotmatic should give me a better sense of this film.

      I was also not thrilled with the quality of developing and scanning I got this time. I even tried scanning some of the negs myself and got similar muddy results. I think the lab needs to replenish their chemicals or something.

      So with the roll in the Spotmatic I’ll use a different lab, too. Maybe I’ll splurge and send it to Old School Photo Lab. They do the best work of all of the non-pro labs I use. They’re just expensive at $19 a roll for dev/scan.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        You are correct Jim, I fear that even tho I find processing services to have gone up in price exponentially in he last 10 years or so (and that I can’t even get a contact sheet with black & white), there’s probably also a push to eke the last bit of usage out of the chemicals. Slightly muddy looking film is a dead give-away for developer that’s gone beyond it’s useful life (as well as possibly heat damaged film, or film stored in bad conditions). I saw this film priced at $31.99 for a 5 pack, vs. 5 rolls of Ektar being about 55 bucks! Kodacolor 200 is still cheap, at about 15 bucks for a 3 pack (this is all 35mm BTW).

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Yes, the ProImage is more expensive than Gold. I tried it out of curiosity, but I can’t imagine leaning into it as a go-to film when I can get Gold or Fujicolor 200 for a more reasonable price.

          The thing I use Ektar for most is my box cameras. My old boxes love Ektar.

  3. Michael Avatar

    This is indeed an odd location for such a shop, and I agree with Andy that you never see shops dedicated to just stamps anymore. I recall buying bags of used stamps in some department stores when I was school age. I sold my stamps long ago but think I kept a couple new sets.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I gather that it is hardly organized inside — just a room full of boxes full of stamps.

      I had a stamp collection as a kid, but found the hobby to be frustrating because it was essentially impossible to complete the collection.

      1. Michael Avatar

        Yeah, it had a similar draw that collecting baseball (or other) cards likely had… “If I buy just one more pack, maybe I’ll finally get that rare one!” It wasn’t that long ago my children were doing the same thing with Yugioh / Pokemon cards. :P

        I think even then I thought that they must be going through them before bagging to pull out the ones of any real value, but I still liked seeing my book get filled with those that were new to me.

        I wonder where they sourced all those old letters to recover the stamps?

  4. Roger Meade Avatar
    Roger Meade

    I’m not familiar with that film either, but it seems to handle overcast scenes well.

    I have always rather liked the vignette effect. Perhaps because I correlate it with a photo from the distant past, as in old black & white photos taken with box cameras.

    The last stamp shop I remember was on the mezzanine floor of the downtown J. L. Hudson department store in Detroit. It had both stamps and coins. It was just off the stairway to the lower level “Sale” floor, which also had the spices and exotic foods area. Great fun. You could spend a whole day in Hudson’s without seeing anything twice. I did buy a couple of silver dollars in that shop.

    Thinking back, I imagine the shop was independently owned and rented space from the store. I can’t think a department store would have employees in such a specialized occupation.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      Yep Roger, I spent a lot of time in retail advertising departments and that’s what would have been known as a “leased department”. Most people don’t realize that even the shoe and jewelry departments in most department stores that still exist, are lease departments as well, and not owned by the store. Back in the 90’s, we used to lament the reduction of department store services. They used to have decent sporting goods departments, and exotic food, as well as a decent white table cloth restaurant that most kids had their first “waiter/waitress” meal at (usually brought by their grandma or aunt). Not to mention, Breakfast with Santa!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m not wild about the vignette effect. Fortunately, when it really matters to me that it not be there, Photoshop is very good at removing it!

  5. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I have had nice results from Pro Image 100 film. I have Boutique Photo Lab do my developing and scans. I buy it in the 5-pack and it usually runs about four bucks a roll with careful shopping. From what I have read, the film was designed to be stored at normal room temp and even holds up well when stored at higher temps…places where refrigeration of film is not convenient.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m hoping the roll in my SPF, coupled with processing and scanning from a lab that pays better attention to quality, will let me see what this film is really capable of.

  6. marcusterrypeddle Avatar

    I’ve used the film a number of times and like it quite a bit. The grain is pretty good and the colours are saturated but not over-saturated. The greens didn’t look sickly in my photos. The price is nice as well.
    Very surprised to see a stamp shop. Everything here eventually becomes a coffee shop.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I hope that this roll just was an anomaly and that my future rolls show me better what this film can do.

  7. adventurepdx Avatar

    I like Pro Image. It’s not my favorite of the budget stocks (that would be Color Plus 200) but I’ve gotten some good results from it:

    I’ll probably be buying more too, since Color Plus is still out in a lot of places. When I asked the clerk at Blue Moon about when they’ll be getting more Color Plus, they said that it’s been hard to get any of the budget Kodak stocks other than Pro Image.

    I’d like to try out the Fuji 200 more, as you and many other people like it. But it seems to be out in the places I’ve looked, or the shipping makes it cost prohibitive. I’ve seen C200 at the local Rite Aid, but they want like $24 for a three pack. So Jim, what’s your source?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I get Fujicolor 200 at Meijer, a big box store much like Walmart but a little nicer. $13 for a 3-pack of 36-exp rolls!

      1. adventurepdx Avatar

        We don’t have Meijer here, though we have similarly named yet totally unrelated Fred Meyer. Last time I checked they were only selling disposable cameras, no film. I should look again the next time I’m in there.

      1. adventurepdx Avatar

        Thanks for that info, KHÜRT. I try to avoid buying things on Amazon, but Film Photography Project is cool.

        I’ve been trying to keep most of my film purchases local to both avoid shipping charges and to support my local film shops. I’m really lucky that Blue Moon is local, as their film selection is extensive and prices are quite reasonable. We also have The Shutterbug with a decent film stock. I do buy stuff from B&H every once in awhile, so I’ll probably order some ColorPlus from them the next time I do.

  8. Khürt Williams Avatar

    Hi Jim, I’ve also had mixed results with Kodak Pro Image 100. Like you the greens were not to my liking but overall I like the film and just finished another roll.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I see some of the same color signature in your images as in mine. Now I’m super interested to see how the roll in my Spotmatic turns out.

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