Early this year a reader sent me a Minolta Maxxum 5, which I reviewed here. In the box were four rolls of film: two of the original Agfa Vista 400, and two of a film I’d never heard of: Tura 125. This is a black-and-white film from a German company that made some of their own films and papers and white-labeled films from other manufacturers. They primarily rebranded Agfa and Ilford films, I gather. Tura appears not to have made it after those two companies declared bankruptcy in 2004 and 2005.
I dropped a roll of the Tura 125 into that Maxxum 5 during my birthday week in August and brought it to a local car show. On advice of the fellow who sent it to me, I shot the film at EI 100.
There’s not a lot of information about this film on the Internet. The fellow who sent me the film gave me his development time for the stuff in D-76, but I don’t keep D-76 here. I’m HC-110 and Rodinal all the way. Persistent Googling finally led to a long-ago forum post where someone said he used the times for the original Agfa APX 100. The Massive Dev Chart didn’t have an HC-110 time for this film at EI 100, but it had a time for the similar Ilfotec HC, so that’s what I used. It worked beautifully.
This is a beautiful film with rich tonality. I especially enjoy how it renders blacks, and how silvery the film looks overall. This matches my experience with the couple of rolls of original APX 100 I’ve shot, so I am inclined to believe that Tura 125 is that film. I’ve heard speculation that Tura 125 is Kentmere 100, but I’ve shot enough of that film to know that it doesn’t look this good.
This car show is an annual event at the local American Legion. It’s a “bring what you got” kind of show that draws cars mostly from this county. Entries run the gamut from newer supercars to old pickup trucks to true classics like this 1927 Buick.
These cars were a great trial subject for my first roll of Tura 125. The 35-70mm f/4 Maxxum AF Zoom lens attached to my camera brought out this film’s sharpness.
As you can see, this film’s grain is imperceptible in blog-sized images. When you look at the scans at full resolution, the grain is barely perceptible. And the grays on this truck’s tailgate are positively creamy.
This 1950s Ford F-1 truck was painted in a bright metallic blue. The Tura 125 did a great job picking up the metallic flecks in the paint. The chrome trim looks so rich.
Even if Tura 125 isn’t rebranded original APX 100, it’s still a gorgeous film and I’m glad I got to try it. I have one roll left, and it’s worth saving for something special.
In Bloomington, Indiana, just north of the Indiana University campus, you’ll find nine blocks where the interior streets are paved in brick. Bounded by 7th Street on the south, 10th Street on the north, Indiana Avenue on the west, and Woodlawn Avenue on the east, these streets are lined with lovely older homes.
I was in Bloomington in late July to have lunch with my son. My Nikon FA was with me, its 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens mounted. I was shooting some expired Kroger-branded, Ferrania-made ISO 200 color film I had picked up cheap. I overexposed the film by a stop to reduce the color shifts I was likely to get at box speed.
Brick’s heyday as a primary paving material was the 1910s and 1920s. I don’t know when these bricks were laid, but I’d be surprised if it were much earlier or later than those two decades. The occasional brick street or road was laid after then, but more for aesthetic reasons than practical ones. Concrete and then asphalt came to rule the roads.
These streets have been maintained, but never restored. While I’m sure these bricks were in perfect rows when they were first laid, they’ve shifted in the century or so since and look uneven now. You’ll find patches where newer bricks were laid, probably to repair deteriorated sections or to replace bricks removed to access buried utilities. Here and there, concrete was used to replace removed brick.
The real stars of this neighborhood’s show are the gorgeous older homes that line these brick streets. The university owns many of them and uses them as offices. The rest appear to be private residences. The rest of this post are the houses I liked best of those I photographed.
That first FA looked nearly new while this second FA shows signs of heavy use. But it still works fine. Not long ago I mounted my 35-70mm f/3.3-5.6 Zoom Nikkor lens and loaded a roll of expired Kroger 200 color film. That film was made by Ferrania, which exited the film business in 2008. So this film is at least that old. I’ve shot enough of this film now to know that it looks best when I overexpose it. I set the FA to EI 100.
Margaret and I have been going to farmers markets on Saturday mornings this summer. I brought the FA to one.
I like this 35-70mm zoom lens for lazy photography, as it lets me move in or out a little without me having to physically move. It also offers a macro mode. My 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor is by far an optically superior lens useful for normal and macro photography, but it doesn’t let me be this lazy.
On this Saturday we visited the Broad Ripple Farmers Market in Indianapolis. I used to go to it sometimes when I still lived in Indianapolis. It was in a large empty lot behind Broad Ripple High School. Since then it’s grown to be a vastly larger affair. It outgrew its space and now operates out of the huge parking lot at Second Presbyterian Church, which isn’t in Broad Ripple.
Cloud cover diffused the light all morning. Shooting at EI 100 in that light, the large apertures I needed made it easy to limit the in-focus patch.
Margaret and I seldom spend more than ten dollars at a farmers market. We go to spend time together and take advantage of the many interesting photographic subjects the setting presents. If you follow me on Flickr, that’s why you’ve seen so many vegetable photographs this summer!
My goal for thinning my camera herd a few years ago was to keep a collection of gear small enough that every camera could get some use every year or two. That’s the photographic life I’m living now! It was good to enjoy my FA’s turn.
In the bottom of a box that contained my father-in-law’s photo gear was one forgotten roll of old Kodak Plus-X.
Based on the graphic design on the film canister, I think this film is from the 1970s. I knew nothing about how it had been stored except that it hadn’t been kept in the fridge or freezer. Who knows what environmental horrors were visited upon this hapless roll of film during the last half century?
I loaded it into my Olympus XA, which I set to EI 25, the slowest speed on the camera. I figured this long-expired ISO 125 film would benefit from a lot of overexposure. I shot the whole roll on a short walk on the south end of Downtown Indianapolis. Then I developed it in HC-110, Dilution B, for six minutes. The Massive Dev Chart called for five minutes at 20° C, but that’s for fresh film. I figured a little overdevelopment would do this roll good.
When you shoot very expired film of unknown provenance, you have to prepare for unpredictable results. Several images on the roll showed heavy deterioration of the film.
Other images were well exposed and clean, almost as if the film were fresh.
Here are my favorite images from the rest of the roll.
I really enjoy just shooting whatever subjects catch my fancy. It doesn’t make for Fine Art Photography™, but it does make for fun. When I shoot fresh film, which gets more expensive all the time, I find myself being more choosy about what I photograph. Shooting with abandon feels like wasting money. That wasn’t so with this free roll of very expired film. I just relaxed and photographed what I wanted.
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.
Slim when closed, folding cameras were intended to fit in the pocket of a man’s jacket. The front of these cameras opened to unfold a long bellows with a lens at the end. Folding cameras were popular for several decades, but by the 1950s their popularity faded as other camera types supplanted them. One of Ansco’s last folding-camera gasps in the 1950s was its Viking line, at the bottom of which sat the Ansco Viking Readyset.
Produced from 1952 to 1959, the Viking Readyset features an f/11 Agfa Isomar lens of unknown focal length. This single-element lens sits behind the shutter. If you’re wondering why an Ansco camera features an Agfa lens, it’s because these two companies had been intertwined since 1928. They were one company until World War II, when the U.S. government broke them apart due to Agfa being German. After that, Ansco still often turned to Agfa for resources. Agfa made Viking cameras in Munich for Ansco.
The Viking Readyset offers two aperture settings, “Bright,” which I’m guessing is f/16, and “Hazy,” which is the full f/11. You choose this setting with a lever at the bottom of the lens housing. The shutter has two settings atop the lens housing: I (instant) and B (bulb). An old ad I found said that the shutter operates at at 1/40 sec. The shutter button is the long lever along the inside of the front door. Press it down to fire the shutter, which is a simple single leaf on a spring that does not require cocking.
The camera offers two focus zones, 5 to 10 feet and 10 feet to infinity, which you select with a lever on the side of the lens housing. The viewfinder is a simple pop-up “sports” type, on the same side of the body as the winder. The body is metal with a water-resistant coating that feels like it’s made of plastic. There’s a tripod mount on the faceplate, which is a nice touch. The camera also features a flash sync port. The Viking Readyset makes eight 6×9-cm images on a roll of 120 film.
“Readyset” was Ansco’s way of identifying a folding camera as being simple to use. You could buy far better specified Vikings than the Readyset. The top-line Viking featured an f/4.5 lens; the next one down an f/6.3 lens. Both were set in a shutter with a top speed of 1/200 sec. The Viking cameras cost $48.65, $34.95, and $19.95, respectively, when new. $19.95 is equivalent to about $215 today. In comparison, an Ansco box camera could be had for as little as $4.95, or about $55 today.
I’ve reviewed a couple other Agfa and Ansco folding cameras, including the Standard Speedex (here), the B2 Speedex (here), and the Isolette III (here). I’ve also reviewed the folding Kodak Monitor Six-20 (here), Tourist (here), and giant No. 3A Autographic (here); as well as Voigtländer’s original Bessa (here). You can see all of my camera reviews here.
I bought this Readyset Viking for $45 shipped, which is a fairly high price for such a simple camera. I took the plunge because this one appeared to be in very good condition. Unfortunately, the bellows turned out to be full of pinholes. This is a common malady among old folders. I dabbed a little black fabric paint on each hole to make the bellows light tight again.
To open the Viking Readyset, pull out the chromed tab on the front, and then pull the front open. To close the camera, press in the joint on both of the door’s struts, and then push the door closed. Closing the camera resets the focus to 10+ feet.
My test roll in the Viking Readyset was Ilford FP4 Plus, expired since December, 1994, but always stored frozen. To load film, first open the back by sliding the entire top plate (with the carry strap) to the side. Then lift up the chromed, hinged arm , place one end of the film roll on its post, and lower the arm as you place the other end of the film roll on the fixed post. It’s harder to explain than it is to do it. Then thread the end of the backing paper through the slot on the takeup spool, wind the camera a few times, close the back, and wind until the number 1 appears in the red window on the camera back.
I shot all eight exposures at Zionsville’s annual Brick Street Market in early May. They close the main street and invite art and food vendors in.
It’s easy to make a vertical image with the Viking Readyset thanks to the pop-up viewfinder. I found the viewfinder to be reasonably accurate, too. What you put in the center of the viewfinder shows up in the center of the image, and the lens “sees” only a little more around the edges than the viewfinder does. This is true when you focus beyond ten feet, anyway. The two images I made focused in the 5-10 foot range suffered from some parallax error. That 1/40 sec. shutter speed sure makes it easy to get blurry photos from camera shake, as here.
The 1/40 sec. shutter also won’t freeze action, as the two people walking in this image prove. The lens is reasonably sharp except in the corners, and as you can see there’s a little barrel distortion.
The Viking Readyset handled easily, in large part because there’s next to nothing to set. That’s the whole point of any Ansco camera with the Readyset name: all I had to do was select the distance range, frame the scene, press down the shutter button, and wind. While winding, you have to move the cover over the red window out of the way to see the frame number on the film’s backing paper.
I enjoyed using the Ansco Viking Readyset. It was no trouble to carry around by its handle, and it was quickly ready every time I wanted to make a photo. But I can see that the slow shutter is always going to put images at risk of being blurry due to shake, even though I have a very steady hand. I probably won’t use this camera again.
If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here! To get Down the Road in your inbox or feed reader, subscribe here.