Film Photography

Ilford HP5 Plus at EI 1600

My kids came over for my birthday in August, so I loaded some Ilford HP5 Plus into the Nikon N90s and mounted my 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens. So I could shoot comfortably indoors, I set the camera’s ISO to 1600. I developed the film in HC-110, Dilution B, at the time for 1600. I scanned them on the Minolta ScanDual II. The images needed next to no post-processing, which was nice.

Here’s my son Damion, VRing.

Damion VRing

Here’s our granddaughter having her lunch.

Arya lunching

I didn’t upload most of the family photos to Flickr because I generally consider family photos to be private. I finished the roll around the house, though, and got some nice images. Our rosebush survived the late-summer drought okay and kept flowering.

Rose
Rose

I just love this ceramic pot and photograph it often.

Thing

Who needs T-Max P3200 or Delta 3200 when you can shoot much-less-expensive HP5 this fast, and get results this good?

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Film Photography

Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11

Kilroy's

I tried developing Ilford FP4 Plus in Ilford ID-11 recently.

Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK

I had shot a roll of film in my Zeiss Ikon Contessa LK, an early-1960s viewfinder camera with a coupled light meter. I enjoy using this camera for its big, bright viewfinder and smooth controls that all fall right to hand.

Its one fault is that rewinding can be challenging, and I’ve torn two rolls of film now, including this one. I’m sure this isn’t endemic to the camera line; it must be something wrong with mine specifically.

Union Station doors

I had mixed results from this combo. I can’t tell whether the Contessa is overexposing, or I underdeveloped. The negatives have good density. And an old selenium meter tends to grow weaker with age, leading to underexposure.

The Slippery Noodle

There are so many variables in getting an image. When one doesn’t turn out, I can hardly tell what went wrong. It’s kind of frustrating. My Contessa isn’t getting any younger and may be showing signs of failure. Or I could have miscalculated the development time given that my developer was 22.4° Celsius thanks to the ambient temperature of my warm master bathroom.

On South Meridian Street

I got okay tonality and sharpness with this film in ID-11. After I dialed in my development techniques, I got more pleasing results from HC-110. I like how HC-110 keeps for a good long time, and how little of the concentrate you need to develop a roll.

Window

ID-11, and its Kodak analog D-76, is the developer most people start with and stay with, however. I can see why. Let’s say I left these in the developer for a little too little time. I still got images I could use. HC-110 and Rodinal have much shorter development times, which means it’s much more important to get the time right.

Harry & Izzy's

I bought a 1L packet of ID-11 and I’m burning through it quickly. I haven’t had enough time with this developer to evaluate it well. But I have fresh bottles of HC-110 and Rodinal waiting their turns. I have enough ID-11 to develop about one more roll, and after that it’s back to those other two developers.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Film Photography

Fomapan 200 in the Konica Auto S2

Co-op

Of the many large, heavy 35mm rangefinder cameras I tried over the years, the Konica Auto S2 is one of two that I kept. (The other was the sublime Yashica Lynx 14e.) I liked it better than the vaunted Yashica Electro 35, better than the famed Minolta Hi-Matic 7. I don’t think this camera is objectively better than any of my other now-departed rangefinders — it just fits me better somehow.

Konica Auto S2

Of the cameras that I own but don’t need, of which there are many, I’m trying to give them annual exercise. In August and early September, it was the Auto S2’s turn.

I’m pushing through some Fomapan films that I bought on deep sale not long ago. I’m also experimenting with Ilford’s ID-11 developer. I suppose I could have titled this post “Fomapan 200 in ID-11” as well, because that’s just what I did. I shot the film at EI 125, as I seem to have best luck with it there, and developed it at the ISO 200 time.

One thing I like about ID-11 over HC-110, which has been my go-to, is that I get longer development times. Sometimes HC-110 puts me too close for comfort to five minutes — I’ve gotten unpredictable results with development times faster than that. Yet HC-110 is a more convenient developer for how infrequently I develop film. It keeps so well and it stretches so far!

I brought the Auto S2 with me as I went about my business for several weeks until the film was gone. For whatever reason, I encountered a lot scenes that said “shoot portrait, not landscape” to me. I made some decent photographs, but nothing that should go into my portfolio. Here are some of them.

Moore Road
2021-09-13-0005 proc
At Starkey Park
At Starkey Park
At Starkey Park
6516
VW grille

Every time I shoot the Konica Auto S2, I’m so happy I kept it in Operation Thin the Herd.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
Film Photography

Where can you still get film developed?

I’ll always miss the days of taking my film to the drug store to get it developed and then printed or scanned. It was so convenient, fast, and inexpensive!

By-mail labs now fill the gap — except they’re neither as fast nor as convenient, and some of them aren’t exactly inexpensive. Still, I’ve found a handful that do good work. I’m going to share with you the ones I’ve tried and like best.

I’m a frugal, hobbyist photographer in Indiana, USA. I’m looking for basic services, good quality, and reasonable prices. That’s why this list doesn’t include any boutique or pro labs. They offer white-glove service and outstanding quality for the demanding customer, and charge accordingly.

I also shoot more than 35mm color film in my vintage cameras. I need labs that can handle medium-format (120) film, and obsolete formats like 620, 127 and 110. I also sometimes shoot expired film and prefer labs that give it the extra care needed to produce good images.

I do have a couple gripes with most consumer labs. First, some of these labs have become much more expensive over the years, charging 20 bucks (including shipping) to process and scan a roll of 35mm color film, and more than that for other formats. I don’t understand the economics of running a lab, but that price is mighty high.

Second, most of these labs offer basic scans that I consider to be far too small, at less than 2,000 pixels on the long side. These labs all scan at 72 DPI, which allows these small scans to be printed at up to 11×17 inches. But I share my photographs online, where pixel dimensions largely trump DPI. I often want to crop my work, but scans this small makes it difficult to do that and have the image still be large enough for online display.

Here are the labs I use, in order of my preference.

Fulltone Photo

Fulltone Photo, of La Grange, KY, processes, scans, and prints 35mm and 120/620 films. Their Web site says they also handle 110 and 126, but their order form disagrees. They process color and black-and-white negative and color slide films.

Their Web site is fulltonephoto.com. You print and fill out their order form and mail it in with your film. After they’ve processed your film, they email you for payment. They accept only credit cards. When your scans are ready they send you a download link.

Fulltone does good work at the lowest price anywhere. Processing and standard scans for 35mm color negative film costs $7. Medium format films cost an extra 50 cents; black-and-white films are a dollar more. Slide film costs $14-16 to develop and scan. They provide a postage-paid label for mailing your film to them. Return shipping is $4.50 for orders under $15 but free otherwise, so it pays to send them many rolls at once.

Fulltone’s standard scans are especially small at 1545×1024 pixels (despite their order form claiming 1818×1228). Fortunately, for an extra $5 you can get scans at a whopping 6774×4492 pixels (despite their order form claiming 4535×3035). Even with this upcharge, Fulltone undercuts everyone’s price for their standard service. The quality of Fulltone’s scans is very good.

Customer service is good — once they screwed up scanning one roll, and they cheerfully rescanned the negatives. They’re also the closest by-mail lab to my central-Indiana home, which cuts shipping time.

Dwayne’s Photo

Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, KS, is the granddaddy of all by-mail labs. They process, print, and scan 35mm, 120/620, 220, 127, 110, 126, Disc, and APS films. They process color and black-and-white negative and color slide films. They also process movie films.

Their Web site is dwaynesphoto.com. At last, they offer online ordering! They take PayPal and credit cards. If you use their older printed order forms, they also take checks and money orders. When your images are ready, they send you a download link. You can also opt to have them mail you a CD of your scans.

Processing and scanning one roll of 35mm or 120 color or black-and-white negative film costs $9. Slide film costs $12.50-$13.50 depending on format. Other services’ prices vary. Return shipping costs $5 for the first roll and 50 cents for each additional roll. They don’t offer prepaid mailing labels so have your postage stamps ready.

Their 35mm and 120 scans of negative film are a not-bad 2740×1830 pixels, though slide film is only 1830×1220 for some reason. For an extra $5, you can get scans of these films at a ginormous 6770×4490 pixels. Scan resolutions are similar for other film types and formats. The quality of Dwayne’s scans is average.

Dwayne’s can handle any curveball I throw them. Once a roll broke while I rewound it in one of my old cameras. I stuck the camera into a dark bag, coiled the film into a black film canister, marked the can “Loose Film Open in Darkroom,” and sent it to Dwayne’s. They processed it without skipping a beat.

Customer service is good if impersonal. Once I sent them a roll of expired Kodak Gold 200 in 620 and they accidentally processed it as black and white. They sent me a note of apology, my black-and-white negatives and scans, and a fresh roll of Ektar, albeit in 120.

The Darkroom

The Darkroom in San Clemente, CA, processes, scans, and prints 35mm, 120/220/620, 110, 126, Advantix, and sheet film. They process color and black-and-white negative and color slide films.

Their Web site is thedarkroom.com. They offer online ordering with credit card and PayPal payment. They also offer printable order forms if you want to send a check or money order.

Processing and scanning one roll of 35mm or 120 color or black-and-white negative film costs $17.95 shipped both ways. Add $2 for a single-use camera, $3 for slide film, and $3 for other film sizes. Shipping costs the same no matter how many rolls you send, so it pays to send several at once.

Their standard scans are a puny 1536×1024 pixels. It’s worth it to spend the extra $3 to get the 3072×2048 enhanced scans. They also offer 4492×6774 super scans for $8 more. These sizes are all for 35mm and 120; other formats scan at similar dimensions. The quality of The Darkroom’s scans is average.

After you mail your film, expect scans in about ten days to two weeks. They are the lab farthest away from my Indiana home, so some of that time is how long it takes the film to reach California.

The Darkroom has never messed up any order, so I can’t comment on their customer service. They have been off this list the last couple years because they’re more expensive than the labs listed above. But I put them back on because they’re now less expensive than the next lab, which I keep on this list for a few key reasons.

Old School Photo Lab

Old School Photo Lab, of Dover, NH, processes, prints, and scans 35mm, 120/620, 110, 126, 127, 828, APS, and 4×5 sheet films. They process color and black-and-white negative and color slide films.

You order and pay through their Web site, oldschoolphotolab.com. Processing a roll of 35mm color negative film and getting their standard scans costs $19.75, including shipping both ways. 120/620 color negative film costs $20 shipped both ways. In both cases, black-and-white film costs $1.25 more and slide film costs $2.75 more. Other film formats start at $26 per roll, shipped both ways. They give discounts if you send several rolls at once. They accept credit cards and PayPal.

Over the years Old School’s prices have crept up so that they’re now the most expensive of this class of labs. You can get good service and quality for less at the other labs I recommend. Despite their ongoing price hikes, they stay on this list year after year for three reasons:

  • Their standard 35mm JPEG scans are a generous 3072×2048 pixels. I know no other lab that offers standard scans that large. You can order giant scans, at 6774×4492 pixels, for an extra $10 for JPEG or $20 for TIFF. Medium format scan sizes are similar.
  • They’ve never let me down — their processing and scans have always met or exceeded my expectations. I can’t say that about any other lab I’ve used. When the film really, really matters, I send it to Old School.
  • They take special care of expired films.

When your scans are ready, they email you a link to where you can download them. If you want a CD of the scans, it’s 3 bucks extra and you have to wait longer to get them. The quality of Old School’s scans is very good.

Old School is popular and therefore a little slow — after you mail your film, expect scans in no less than two weeks.

The staff responds promptly and cheerfully when you contact them. They’ve never screwed up one of my orders, but a few times I’ve written to ask if my film ever arrived. They now send an email when it does so you don’t have to wonder.

Film Rescue International

Sometimes you’ll find some very old, very expired film in a camera. Any of the above labs will process it, but they might not get good images because old film deteriorates.

Send it straight to Film Rescue International, filmrescue.com. They process any film, no matter how old, and use creative darkroom and Photoshop techniques to coax the best possible images from it. They’re expensive and they’re slow, but they do outstanding work.

I used Film Rescue for a roll of Verichrome Pan I found in a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. That film had been in the camera for more than 40 years in unknown conditions, so I was afraid it might have deteriorated badly. They got good, high-contrast images from that film. They lacked “that Verichrome Pan look” but were crisp and clean.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Film Photography

Shooting Kodak ProImage 100

I’ve been meaning to try Kodak ProImage 100 for some time now, so when I needed to order something else from Freestyle Photographic I threw in a couple rolls of it.

I shot the first roll in my Olympus XA2. I kept it in my bike’s saddlebag and shot things I saw as I rode around. I love doing that! When I got the roll back from the developer, I instantly disliked the muted, sickly greens I saw. Unfortunately, on this roll most of what I shot was green. Welcome to late spring in rural Indiana!

Barn and tree
Cornfield
Yellow barn

The film captured yellows, blues, and reds pleasingly, and with good fidelity to real life.

Bike by the barn
On the farm
Silos

Despite unsatisfying greens, I like how this photo turned out compositionally. There’s a saying in Indiana: knee high by the fourth of July. That refers to corn, and how tall it should be by Independence Day. I photographed this corn in the second week of June — it’s ahead of schedule.

Cornfield

My favorite photo from the roll is this one, which I made when I drove Downtown to meet my brother for a drink. This bar has arguably the most extensive whiskey selection in Indiana. I had a delicious whiskey from Oregon that reminded me of a peaty scotch, and an unremarkable whiskey from Nebraska. The ProImage 100 delivered true-to-life reds and excellent blacks.

Liberty Street

I put a second roll of this film into my Pentax Spotmatic F and screwed in my 35mm f/3.5 SMC Takumar lens. The camera came with me to work, so most of the roll features images from Downtown Indianapolis. I got far better results this time. It’s probably valuable to note that I used a different lab to process and scan these, which might also play in these results. But bottom line, the sickly green caste was gone.

The Slippery Noodle
The Lacy Building
Bank of Indianapolis
Harry & Izzy's

The meter on my Spottie was fussy through the roll, and it quit registering altogether toward the end. I brought the camera home and blew through the last of the roll using the Sunny 16 rule. The greens were not so sickly this time.

To the left
Old farmhouse
Escape
Chicory

I’ve not been thrilled with my Olympus XA2’s performance at all this year, with any film. So perhaps it was a poor choice to test Kodak ProImage 100. When I shot the film in my Spotmatic, I got fine results. This is a good all-purpose film. Its color palette is slightly muted compared to Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Max 400, which is nice. But I don’t see myself buying it much when I can buy Gold and Max for far less. Both films look wonderful with a stop of overexposure, bringing them in line or close to ProImage’s speed — and both films cost a lot less than ProImage.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

Standard
View camera

Speed Graphic
Nikon F50, 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor
Kodak Max 400
2021

A longtime camera collector and professional photographer retired several years ago and sent me a box of cameras from his collection that he no longer wanted. Some of them were broken in some way while others worked, either fully or well enough to test. I’ve shot several of them now, and their reviews are up on this site.

This one is a Miniature Speed Graphic, manufactured somewhere between 1939 and 1946, and it takes 2×3 sheet film. I’m sure that if I invested the time to figure it out, I could get wonderful photographs from it. I have decided to let it look glorious on my fireplace mantel instead. SLRs and TLRs have captured my heart.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

single frame: Speed Graphic

A small view camera that I own.

Image