Film Photography

First roll impressions: Kentmere 400

600 Kentucky Ave.

Kentmere 400 is a budget black-and-white film from Harman Technologies, whick makes Ilford films. It’s available only in 35mm, as 24- or 36-exposure cartridges or in 100-foot rolls. At the time I’m publishing this article, you can buy a 36-exposure roll for about five bucks. That makes Kentmere 400 the least expensive ISO 400 black-and-white film commonly available today.

Circle Tower

Fomapan 400 is another budget-friendly option, but it’s a dollar or two more expensive. My favorite ISO 400 black-and-white films are Ilford HP5 Plus and Kodak T-Max 400, but they cost up to twice as much as Kentmere 400. I’m happy to pay it when I’m shooting something serious where the output matters. But when I’m testing a new-to-me old camera or just shooting for pleasure, it’s nice to have less-expensive film options.

Lots of little windows

That’s why I bought a couple rolls of Kentmere 400 not long ago when I also ordered a brick of HP5 Plus. I loaded a roll into my terrific compact Pentax IQZoom 170SL in June and took it to my Downtown Indianapolis office. I often take short afternoon walks when I’m there, and it’s nice to have a small camera in my hand when I go.

PNC and Hyatt

As you can see, I shot a lot of architectural subjects on this roll. I developed the film in HC-110, Dilution B, and scanned the negatives on my Plustek 8200i scanner. Several of my film-photography friends get best results from this film when they develop it a little longer than what the Massive Dev Chart says, so I gave it about an extra minute. The negatives were appropriately dense when they came out of the tank.

Roach Bail Bonding

The film dried fairly flat and scanned easily. I thought the scans looked pretty good right out of the scanner, but I boosted contrast on them all in Photoshop anyway.

The Chatterbox

I’ve shot black-and-white in the IQZoom 170SL only one other time, and that was a roll of T-Max 400 which I developed in Rodinal. Check out those images here. I think those images are a little smoother and offer better sharpness than these Kentmere 400 images. I suppose that’s an apples-to-dump-trucks comparison, however; not only did I use a different developer, but a different scanner, on that film. Regardless, these Kentmere 400 images are perfectly acceptable.

Under the railroad

I hereby pronounce Kentmere 400 to be Perfectly Fine. I’d buy it again.

Lacy Building

Some of my film-photography friends have gotten reasonable results pushing this film as far as EI 3200, which makes Kentmere 400 extra versatile. Check out one photographer’s results here.

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Film Photography

We were fortunate to have Kodachrome

Not long ago fellow photoblogger Andrew Morang shared some images he made on the beaches of Rhode Island in 1976 and 1977. He had been hired to make beach profile surveys, and he brought his Nikon Nikkormat FTn and Leica IIIC along, loaded with Kodachrome 25 or 64. Even though the images he shared were made more than 45 years ago, they look like they were made just the other day. That’s because he made them on Kodachrome!

In the era when film was the only photographic option, I know of no other film that captured images that looked this good, and lasted. Kodachrome’s color may have been a little richer than real life — some color slide films may have had a more natural look. But all other slide films faded with time. Color negative films, especially early ones, tended to have unique looks one to another that today makes the images made on them look like period pieces.

My mother-in-law made hundreds of Kodachrome images from the time she was in college in the late 1940s through about 1960 when her oldest children were small. I shared some of those slides here, here, and here. I shared those images pretty much straight off my flatbed scanner. But check out this image from my mother-in-law’s collection that I freshened up in Photoshop. Click on it to see it at full scan size. The only things that date this image are the 1954 Mercury Monterey two-door sedan into which these fellows are feeding gasoline, and perhaps the style of those fellows’ clothes. Otherwise, this looks like it could have been taken the other day.

My mother-in-law wasn’t using a fancy camera to make her Kodachromes. About half of them are in 35mm film’s 36x24mm size, and the other half are in 828 film’s 40x28mm size. In the box with her Kodachromes was a Kodak Pony 828, which had to be one of the cameras she used to make these slides. It has the same lens as the similar 35mm Kodak Pony 135 camera that I reviewed here. That lens is surprisingly sharp for being as simple of a design as it is, but it’s hardly Leica quality. You’re seeing Kodachrome shine through in this image.

I follow a terrific site called Shorpy, which shares vintage images from the 1850s on, in high definition. Kodachrome shows up a lot on Shorpy — this link takes you to the Kodachrome collection on their site. Enjoy looking back through the second half of the 20th century with color as true to life as was possible then.

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Blogosphere, Film Photography

Film photography blogs you should follow

It’s time for my annual list of film photography blogs! One of the best things about film photography today is the community of people who enjoy everything about it: gear, films, shooting, photographs. Lots of us share our adventures on our blogs.

Bathroom mirror selfie
A portrait of the blogger, with his finger in the lens.

I was sad to remove 23 blogs from this list this year. A few of them no longer exist, and most of the rest have gone fallow. But I added 26 new or new-to-me blogs this year, bringing the list to 104 total blogs. That’s three more than last year, and the first time in three years this list has grown.

In this list’s first several years, most of the blogs were about vintage film gear. But over the last few years more and more new blogs are about making film photographs. I like this shift toward writing about film photography and not just gear. I think this shows that film photography has become far more alive and well than any of us could have imagined even ten years ago!

If you don’t see your blog here, I hope you won’t feel put out. Maybe I just don’t know about it. Let me know which blogs I’m missing in the comments!

If you do see your blog here but think my description misses the mark, go to my About page and send me a message on the contact form. I’ll take what you send me, edit it for length, and update this post with it.

Here’s what it takes for a blog to make this list:

  • Film photography and/or film gear has to be one of the blog’s subjects, or the blog features primarily film photographs to illustrate the blog’s subject(s).
  • The author has posted recently, and posts regularly.
  • It has an RSS feed so people can follow you with a feed reader.
  • New for 2022: It accepts comments, which helps build this community. (A few blogs fell off the list this year because of this.)

And now, the list! You’ll see πŸ’₯ next to blogs that are new on this year’s list, or have returned after being inactive.

  • 127 Film Photography β€” A blog dedicated to 127 film and cameras, and the major proponent of 127 Day, held annually on July 12th.
  • 35 millimetre β€” Film photographs by Charlotte Davis in the UK.
  • 35mm Chronicle β€” Rob Lowe does some lovely work in black and white.
  • 35mm Shootist β€” Black and whites from Martin Smith’s Leica.
  • 35mmc β€” Hamish Gill and his crew write about cameras and films and photographic skills
  • 6×6 Portraits β€” Kenneth Wajda shares his excellent work and writes essays about photography.
  • πŸ’₯ A Commuter’s Travelogue β€” Leah brings us along on her travels around Sydney, shooting film all the way.
  • πŸ’₯ A Life in Photography β€” Dave is a longtime professional photographer who reflects on his career and on photography. He shoots digital now, but frequently shares his film work.
  • πŸ’₯ Alex Burke Photography β€” Alex likes to see the world through the lens of a large-format camera. He does stunning work.
  • Alex Luyckx β€” A dedicated film photographer shares his work. His film reviews are the most useful on the Internet.
  • All My Cameras β€” Christoph in Germany and his growing collection. In German and in English.
  • Aly’s Vintage Camera Alley β€” Alyssa loves obscure old cameras, and shoots as many as she finds.
  • πŸ’₯ Analogue Archivist β€” Lisa in Dublin is an archivist by profession. She shares her gear, her photographs, and how she archives her work.
  • Analogue Wonderland β€” The blog of Analogue Wonderland, a film store in the UK.
  • Andrew Bartram β€” Film landscapes of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands in eastern England.
  • Aragon’s Eye β€” Chris shares photographs and film-camera reviews.
  • arhphotographic β€” arh shares his work and gear reviews.
  • πŸ’₯ Austin Newell β€” Austin shares his film photographs and the experience he’s built as a film photographer.
  • Barnaby Nutt β€” Barnaby documents his life with his film camera.
  • πŸ’₯ Bikes and FIlm Cameras Club β€” Shawn is an artist and film photographer and a dedicated three-speed bicycle rider who seeks ways to combine his two loves.
  • Bill Smith’s Photography β€” Bill shoots 35mm and medium format, and shares in a visual diary format.
  • Broken Camera . Club β€” Mostly reviews of mostly obscure gear.
  • Camera Go Camera β€” Peggy reviews lots and lots of gear, some of it off-the-wall stuff she bought while living in Japan.
  • Camera Legend β€” Sam collects legendary cameras and writes about using them.
  • Canny Cameras β€” Gear reviews and photographs by Alan D. This site explained why the Lomography 110 film I use sometimes leaves light spots on some images. A tip of the hat for that.
  • Casual Photophile β€” This site written by James and his crew sets the Internet standard for vintage gear reviews. Excellent writing, excellent images, great cameras. I read every post, from beginning to end.
  • Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris and Carol β€” Photos of gear from their extensive collection, mostly Yashicas.
  • Christopher May β€” Christopher shoots both film and digital, but film keeps calling him back.
  • πŸ’₯ Coronet66 β€” Film and digital photography, vintage cameras, travel, music.
  • πŸ’₯ Dusty Negatives β€” Jeremy talks about cameras, film, gear, and techniques, and tells stories that shed insight into the art of film photography.
  • Earth Sun Film β€” An exploration of gardening and photography, by Jerome Carter.
  • EMULSIVE β€” A place for film photographers of all backgrounds to share their knowledge, experience, and thoughts about everything related to film photography.
  • πŸ’₯ Exit 272 β€” David shares film gear reviews and his work.
  • Film Advance β€” Gary shares images from his eclectic collection of film cameras.
  • πŸ’₯ Film Musings β€” Sammi is a Web developer by trade, and a film photographer for fun. She shares what she’s learned about photography in general and about film photography in particular.
  • Film Photography Project β€” You gotta include the blog of the FPP gang.
  • πŸ’₯ Fine Film Days β€” A young woman who travels with her film cameras.
  • Fireside Five β€” Gretchen shares her photos from her vintage cameras as she lives her life.
  • Fogdog Blog β€” John takes his Nikons and his Pentaxes (and sometimes his Leicas) along the northern California coast.
  • fourohoh β€” Film photographs from the Hawaiian coast.
  • πŸ’₯ Fup Duck Photography β€” A fellow who shares his experience shooting film, with occasional gear reviews.
  • Going Lomo β€” Dan likes alternative film looks as he photographs the places he visits around the world.
  • GQGlasgow β€” Film photographs of a life in Glasgow.
  • πŸ’₯ Histoires de Photos β€” A professional film photographer in Lille, France, shares his work. In French, but Google Translate can solve that for you tout de suite.
  • πŸ’₯ Island in the Net β€” KhΓΌrt shoots both film and digital and shares his work.
  • Japan Camera Hunter β€” Bellamy lives in Tokyo and finds lovely old cameras for you. And writes about film photography.
  • Joe Van Cleave’s Blog β€” Experimental film photography, and typewriters, by Joe Van Cleeve.
  • John’s Old Camera Collection β€” If it can make an image, John Margetts will give it a try and share his experience here.
  • Johnny Martyr β€” Photographing portraits and live music on film.
  • Journeys in Film β€” Matt publishes lovely film photographs, and tells stories about the places they represent.
  • Katie Shoots Film β€” Katie shoots film all over the world, using a small stable of cameras.
  • πŸ’₯ Keith Cartmell Photography β€” Keith picked up his first film camera in 2016 and shares his experiences as he keeps shooting.
  • πŸ’₯ kevinthephotographer β€” Kevin is an amateur photographer from Newcastle upon Tyne who shares location guides to places I’ve photographed, hints and tips for beginners, and other stuff.
  • Kosmo Foto β€” Stephen dispels the myths about film: that it’s too hard and too expensive, and breaks film-photography news.
  • Marcus Peddle β€” Marcus shoots film all over Korea, where he lives.
  • Mere Film Photography β€” Shooting film, printing digitally, thinking and writing about the craft.
  • mike eckman dot com β€” Long form histories and reviews, from common cameras to wacky stuff you’ve never heard of.
  • πŸ’₯ Mostly Film Photography β€” Film and digital photography, technology, travel, and other things that interest Christian.
  • Mostly Monochrome β€” A photo-a-day blog with a surprising number of color photos given its title.
  • My Favourite Lens β€” Lee shoots vintage lenses on his mirrorless digital cameras as well as his film cameras.
  • πŸ’₯ My Journey Into Photography β€” Jim shares his images and thoughts on the cameras he has come to know and enjoy, and maybe one or two he didn’t get along with.
  • myvintagecamerasblog β€” Kathleen experiments with cameras and film.
  • North East Liberties β€” Michael shares scenes from the region of Northern Ireland his blog is named after. His specialty is printing.
  • Now Developing β€” Dylan is a hobbyist photographer who aims to feature good work from the film photography community.
  • Old Nikons and Other Photographic Items β€” Wes writes primarily about Nikon rangefinder cameras.
  • Outside the Shot β€” Nathaniel writes about classic gear.
  • Photo Thinking β€” Theo Panagopoulos writes a friendly and informative blog on photography, photo processes and the wonderful and varied cameras used to create pictures.
  • Photo-Analogue β€” Nicholas shares photos from his 20 film cameras and discusses tech and technique.
  • πŸ’₯ Photographer’s log β€” Viktor, native to Ukraine, writes about his experience with photography, especially film, and shares his photographs.
  • Photography and Vintage Cameras β€” Mike does great work with his old cameras, especially in black and white. He can make an old folder or box camera really sing.
  • Rambling Polymath β€” Tobias tells stories, regardless of whether they are told with a camera, a pen, a blog or in the newspaper.
  • Random Camera Blog β€” Mark shoots frequently with his old cameras and shares the results here.
  • reCap β€” Gear and photographs. A German blog in English.
  • Richard Haw’s Classic Nikon Repair and Review β€” What it says on the tin. Extremely informative.
  • πŸ’₯ Rick on Film β€” Rick chronicles his film photography journey. No reviews, critiques, or product news, just his photographs.
  • S.H.O.U.T. β€” Andy in the UK shares his analog adventures.
  • Sasha Krasnov Sasha reviews gear and writes about artists.
  • Seeing Wide β€” Photo walks and street photography, on film, by Monette.
  • πŸ’₯ Shoot With Personality β€” A pro photographer shares any aspect of his life that was captured on film.
  • πŸ’₯ Sigg Photography β€” Daniel writes a general photography blog that is more about the craft of photography, but many of the images are on film.
  • Steel City Snapper β€” Medium format and 35mm photography from Sheffield, UK.
  • Steven Lawrence Pictures β€” Steve makes film photographs mostsly around Seattle, where he lives.
  • Street Dances β€” Simon shoots the street, mostly on film.
  • Studio C-41 β€” A group blog about film photography, including breaking film news.
  • TeGieeR β€” Michael Sikorski is a Polish photographer who favors 35mm film.
  • the carrot room β€” Nigel and his film cameras, mostly VoigtlΓ€nders.
  • πŸ’₯ The Daily Lumenbox β€” Sonny loves lo-fi imagery, and shoots a lot of film in his Lumenbox camera. He also shoots more traditional film cameras.
  • The Glass Aerie β€” Nicole shares her film photographs.
  • πŸ’₯ The Lonerist Photo Blog β€” David shares his film photographs.
  • The Resurrected Camera β€” Joe proves that film photography doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • πŸ’₯ The Silver Skeleton β€” Mike in the UK shares his passion for black-and-white film photography and darkroom printing.
  • The View from the End of the World β€” New Zealander Steve Mitchell shares his film photographs.
  • The Vintage Lens β€” Tim Jeffers makes photos with cameras at least 50 years old.
  • thegashaus β€” Mark has collected about 500 film cameras. He shows them off and puts film through them.
  • Tim Dobbs Photography β€” This Welshman shoots film.
  • Toivonen Photography β€” Henri in Sweden likes old gear and unusual films. He shares what he’s learned about printing and scanning, too.
  • ULTRAsomething β€” Gregory Simpson has returned to film, and wants to share his work.
  • Uncle Jonesey’s Cameras β€” Gear reviews, stories, and images, all about vintage film cameras and the darkroom.
  • Urban Adventure League β€” Bicycling, geography, history, and film photography.
  • Urban Decay β€” Andrew shoots dilapidation he finds in Mississippi and surrounding states, mostly on film.
  • Utah Film Photography β€” Shaun Nelson with vintage gear photographs and reviews.
  • πŸ’₯ Victoria’s Light β€” A general photography blog with a slant towards film.

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Film Photography

My new book, Square Photographs, is available!

My new book, Square Photographs, is available!
Get the Standard Edition (left) now on Amazon
Get the Deluxe Edition (right) now on MagCloud

My first cameras as a kid made square photographs. The first was a Kodak Brownie that took 127 film. The second was a cheap Instamatic knockoff that took 126 film cartridges.

Even though cameras for 126 film were hugely popular in the 1960s and 1970s, most cameras make rectangular photographs. The 3×2 aspect ratio is standard for 35mm cameras and DSLRs, while 4×3 is standard for digital point-and-shoots. Remember the 110 film format? It made images in the weird 10×7 ratio!

Me and Yashica-12

Since I cut my photographic teeth on the 1×1 ratio, shooting on the square feels like coming home. I’ve moved far past those basic cameras, however. I own two twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras from the 1960s made by Yashica: the Yashica-D and the Yashica-12. These are well-built cameras with wonderful lenses that make images on medium-format film.

As you can see from the photo of me holding my Yashica-12, a TLR is a large brick. It’s hefty! It’s also sturdy. You could knock a sucka out with one if you swung it at their head. (But don’t do that.)

Up top you see the viewfinder cover flipped up. You peer down into it to frame your image, which renders backwards on the ground glass. It’s disorienting until you get used to it!

I’ve collected 40 of my favorite photographs I made with these two TLRs into a book. I titled it Square Photographs so that, as the British say, “it does what it says on the tin.” Next to each photograph I’ve written a short essay, meditation, or history. Here’s a look inside:

I made two editions of Square Photographs, a Standard Edition and a Deluxe Edition. I did it as an experiment. Let me explain.

When I published my previous photo book, Vinyl Village (info and where to buy here), I used Amazon Kindle Publishing for the first time. I wanted that book’s price to be easy to afford, and Amazon made it possible.

But I heard from a number of readers that they were very disappointed with the book’s image quality. I had chosen Amazon’s entry-level paper and ink, and it led to images of low contrast with blacks that looked dark gray. I thought it worked with the subject matter, but I heard it loud and clear: you expected better.

I still wanted an affordable edition of this book, so once again I turned to Amazon Kindle Publishing. This time I chose Amazon’s best paper and ink — and it turned out very well, with good color saturation, deep blacks, and good contrast. This is the Standard Edition, it’s 8Β½”x8Β½”, and it’s $15.99. It’s priced similarly at Amazon sites worldwide.

I published the Deluxe Edition through MagCloud, which specializes in printing top-quality photo books. The paper and ink are both a cut above. The colors are richer and the blacks are blacker. That costs extra, of course. The Deluxe Edition is $24.99 plus shipping. It’s also slightly smaller at 8″x8″, because that’s the square size that MagCloud offered.

Square Photographs. 86 pages, available worldwide on Amazon and MagCloud.

My new book, Square Photographs, is available now!

The Standard Edition is $15.99 at Amazon.com. Get yours here.

The Deluxe Edition, on premium paper and ink, is $24.99 at MagCloud.com. Get yours here.

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Film Photography

Hi everybody! Every August I post an updated list of all the film-photography blogs that I know about. It’s meant to be a service to the whole film community. This year I’d like to ask you in advance if you publish a film-photography blog that has escaped my notice.

First, check through last year’s list to see if your blog isn’t on it. Click here to see the list.

Second, check whether your blog meets my base criteria for being on the list. They’re about making sure the blogs on the list have enough film content, are easy to follow, and allow for community:

  • Has film photography and/or film gear as at least one of its major topics
  • Has recent posts and is updated regularly (“recent” and “regular” are defined broadly)
  • Has an RSS feed so people can subscribe to it in their reader
  • [New this year] Allows people to leave comments on posts

If you’d like to add your blog, send me a link to it using the form below! Thank you!

Time to update my giant list of film-photo blogs

Aside
Film Photography

The worst part of using expired film is getting it to lay flat in your scanner

I recently shot a roll of Kodak Plus-X that was manufactured in the 1970s. Do you know what happens to film that’s been wound tightly for 40 or 50 years? It curls like mad when you pull it out of the developing tank.

I didn’t let the film dry like that — I put a clip on the end so the film would hang straight. But even a couple hours of that wasn’t enough to remove the curl. This film was a huge pain in the neck to lay flat in my scanner’s film holder.

If you have any tips to combat that, let me know in the comments.

The film had considerable base fog, which isn’t surprising given its age. My scanner cut through it with no trouble. I’ll share some images from this roll soon.

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