Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Nikon Nikkormat EL

1971 Chevrolet

It was the last of the Nikkormats (or Nikomats, as they were called in Japan): the EL. It was also the first Nikon SLR with aperture-priority autoexposure. Nikon made them from 1972 to 1976. They’re well-built cameras that can take years, even decades, of heavy use.

Nikon Nikkormat EL

This one was a latecomer to my SLR party; by this time I’d settled on my favorites. While I liked this camera fine when I shot my test roll with it I kept reaching for my usual cameras after that. The test roll was Fujicolor 200, and my 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens was mounted. This photo from that roll is of two cars I used to own.

Looking Over my Car

This is a fine, capable camera. Perhaps that’s why I waited until near the end of Operation Thin the Herd to shoot it: I expected I’d like it and keep it. I plopped in some Fomapan 100, mounted my guilty-pleasure 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens, and went to town.


I also laid in a fresh battery, a stubby 4LR44. Thank heavens for Amazon, because you can’t get these batteries at the corner drugstore. The battery slips neatly in below the mirror inside the camera. Use the mirror lock-up button to get at it.

Founders Cemetery

Fomapan 100 is far from my favorite slower b/w film, but this roll had been moldering in my fridge for a long time and I decided to shoot it up. This is easily the best performance I’ve ever gotten from this classic film. Highlights are on the light side but at least they’re not blown out, which seems to be this film’s signature move.

Shelbyville on the Public Square

The EL’s tactile experience falls short of luxurious, but everything feels rock solid under use. If you send a Nikkormat EL out for CLA, it will outlast you. That’s what I need to do for this one. Every single frame on the roll showed shutter capping. I’ve just cropped it out of all the photos I’ve showed you before this one. Now you know why some of these photos are 16×9 rather than 4×3.


The shame is, you don’t know a shutter is misbehaving like this until after you’ve shot the roll and had it processed. Unfortunately I shot two rolls of film in the Nikkormat before sending them off for processing. The second roll was Agfa Vista 200. Cropping saved many of this roll’s images, too.

Capped Soft Selfie

I brought the Nikkormat out for a day on the Michigan Road. This pizza joint is on the square in Greensburg.


Half the 35-70’s split prism focusing aid was black on this bright-sun day, a not uncommon problem with zoom lenses. I had to guess focus, and I frequently got it wrong. Between that and the shutter capping I got nine usable images on this roll, which I shot entirely on Greensburg’s square. Not a great day with the Nikkormat.

On the Square

You don’t expect to find a tiki bar in the heartland, but here one is nevertheless. It’s in what used to be Greensburg’s department store, Minear’s.

Tiki Bar

To see more from this camera, check out my Nikon Nikkormat EL gallery.

The Nikkormat EL is a competent and capable tool, its shutter issues notwithstanding. I didn’t dislike using it, but I wasn’t falling in love, either. Its size and weight is similar enough to my Nikon F2 or F3, which truly delight me to use, that I’ll probably always reach for those cameras first. I’m going to pass this Nikkormat along to its next owner.

Verdict: Goodbye

Dartmouth Apartments

Dartmouth Apartments
Pentax K10D, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMC Pentax DA AL

We came upon this interesting apartment building as we walked along Michigan Street, which is not to be confused with Michigan Road, in Downtown Indianapolis.

I noticed the texture of the brick and how the sky was reflecting in the windows. I knew there was an interesting composition in here somewhere. But we had a destination in mind, and I didn’t have time to frame this building from a bunch of vantage points to find the best composition.

So I quickly tossed off a shot. Sometimes that’s just the ticket. I’m sure there was a better composition in this scene somewhere, but I might have had to take fifty photographs to find it.

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Film Photography

single frame: Dartmouth Apartments


Film Photography

The home processing adventure will soon begin

I now have everything I need to process my own black-and-white film.

I want to thank reader Peter for giving me a solid push by gifting me his processing tanks and changing bag. He has processed his own film since the 1950s but set that activity aside not long ago. He told me he was happy to pass some of his gear along to me. (I ordered everything else from Freestyle and Amazon.) Peter also gave me a ton of advice from his long experience about how to do this.

I corresponded with Peter, as well as with readers Pate and Mike, about which developer to use. The array of developers is bewildering. Each has different storage requirements and means of mixing and diluting to the right concentration. Each yields different results.

Based on their advice I saw that I wanted to simplify things as much as I could. That led me to one-shot developers, meaning I’d mix up enough for one roll, use it, and then throw it away. I also wanted a developer that keeps for years and years, as I won’t shoot in high volumes. That made Rodinal, also known as R09, my choice. It’s a classic developer, patented in 1891. It’s also a high-acutance developer, which means it will deliver strong sharpness with the tradeoff of enhanced grain. That high-grain look doesn’t please everyone. It might not even please me. But because of ease and long storage it’s where I’m going to start.

I hear the grain is best managed with slower films, under 400 ISO, so I’ll shoot primarily ISO 100-ish films, at least at first. I’ll start in medium format. Currently chilling in the garage fridge are three rolls of Kosmo Foto Mono (which is Fomapan 100 in disguise), one roll of Ilford Pan-F Plus 50, and as a special added bonus three rolls of Kodak Verichrome Pan, expired since the 1980s.


I’ll start shooting with my Yashica-D (review here), as it is probably the medium-format camera I know best. I adore this camera and really look forward to using it.

I’d also like to use my old folders more, like my Kodak Monitor (review here) and my Certo Super Sport Dolly (review here). I also bought an Argus Argoflex Forty in January that I’d love to use. It and the Monitor take 620 film. One of my rolls of Verichrome Pan is in 620. I also have a bunch of 620 spools. Using my changing bag, with some practice, I’ll be able to respool fresh 120 film onto those spools and put those 620 cameras to good use.

But first things first: Fresh film, the Yashica-D, and practicing my home development. I hope to have first results to share in the next few weeks.

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Satellite reflected in the Camaro

Satellite reflected in the Camaro
Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor
Fujifilm Fujicolor Industrial 100

One more photo from the Cars and Coffee, on that delightful Fujicolor Industrial 100. This ’67 Chevy Camaro reflects a neighboring ’66 Plymouth Satellite beautifully.

I’ve always wondered why Plymouth named its top-trim midsize sedan Satellite. The car always seemed down to earth to me.

If you’d like to try Fujicolor Industrial 100, get it from Analogue Wonderland here. Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll in exchange for this mention.

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Film Photography, Old Cars

single frame: Satellite reflected in the Camaro



427 Turbo Jet
Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor
Fujifilm Fujicolor Industrial 100

This is my favorite photo from the Cars and Coffee I went to recently. This 1966 Chevrolet was a low-line Biscayne with rubber floor mats and no radio. It also had neither air conditioning nor power accessories, but that was pretty common then.

What it lacked in amenities, it made up for in sheer cubic inches. The monster big-block 427 was under this Biscayne’s hood. A four-speed Hurst shifter sticks up out of the floor. I’ll bet this thing is a terror to drive.

This car was indoors — a real challenge for the ISO 100 Fujicolor Industrial. Fortunately, I had a fast lens and a steady hand. I counted on shallow depth of field and I got it.

This post is sponsored by Analogue Wonderland, which offers more than 200 films. You can buy Fujicolor Industrial 100 from them here.

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Film Photography, Old Cars

single frame: 427 Turbo Jet


Film Photography, Old Cars

Shooting Fujifilm Fujicolor Industrial 100

Analogue Wonderland, who sponsor this post, ships film almost anywhere. Click their logo to choose from their extensive selection.


I love car shows! Especially those where everyday people show off their old iron. A nearby dealer of classic cars invites folks to bring their muscle and classic cars the last Saturday of every month during the warm-weather months. I visited last month with my Nikon N90s and 50mm f/2 AF Nikkor lens.

Pontiac RPMs

My Nikon was packing Fujifilm Fujicolor Industrial 100, which Analogue Wonderland sent me in exchange for the mentions in this review. I liked the old Fujifilm Superia 100 very much — the two rolls I got to shoot before it was discontinued. I’d heard that this film was still available in Japan, but was rebranded as Fujicolor Industrial 100.

Bug light

These results are good enough for me: if this isn’t the same film it’s darn close. Unfortunately, it’s a little pricey. But when you need a smooth-grained, bold-colored film with managed contrast and excellent sharpness, this option remains available. As of this writing, at least; Fujifilm loves to discontinue film stocks. (You can buy this film from Analogue Wonderland here.)


This isn’t my first time shooting cars with a Fujifilm ISO 100 color film. I used Superia 100 at a show a couple years ago; see my shots here. I liked those photos so much that I saved my one roll of Industrial 100 until I could again find myself among some old cars. So far I’ve shared a ’67 Corvette, a Pontiac GTO from the late 60s (with the tachometer on the hood), an early-70s VW Bug from Australia (hence the amber turn signal; they were red in the US), and a ’66 Plymouth Satellite reflecting a newer Ford Mustang.

Stacked headlights

This photo of a ’76 Chevy El Camino shows the sharpness this film can capture. The 50/1.8 AF Nikkor lets this film’s capabilities shine through. This El Camino was yellow and white (which surely wasn’t a factory color combination). I find that many color films struggle to capture yellow. Not so the Industrial 100.


The light matters, of course; here’s the front fender of the same car and the yellow isn’t as vibrant. My Photoshoppery on these images was largely limited to using Auto Tone to remove a slight green caste, and to lightly tone down highlights and, sometimes, to boost contrast a little.

Collonnade nose

A car show is a great place to test color film because classic cars were painted in real colors, not just black, white, gray, and beige as today! Can you imagine buying a pea-soup-green sedan now? Various shades of green were common on cars in the ’70s. The jutting fender is out of focus because I made this shot inside in available light, and this ISO 100 film granted little depth of field.


What’s a car show without a ’57 Chevy?

57 headlight

I loved how this one had a model of itself on the back parcel shelf.

57 model

This film even likes black. A lot. Notice how the blacks are different on the ’57 Chevy above and ’67 Camaro below? It’s not a difference in lighting — these are legitimately two different blacks, and Fujicolor Industrial 100 rendered them both beautifully.


Now I want to buy five or six rolls of this film and keep shooting it. But I have too much Agfa Vista 200 in the freezer to need more color negative film. Maybe after I finish shooting up the Agfa, buying some more Fujicolor Industrial 100 can be my reward.

You can buy Fujicolor Industrial 100 in a few places online — including Analogue Wonderland, here.

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