Film Photography

Goodbye Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros

Fujifilm appears to have stopped producing its Neopan 100 Acros black-and-white film. I’ve lost count of how many stocks Fujifilm has now discontinued. It’s the Fujifilmpocalypse!

The company has teased the film community with the possibility that it might resurrect some of its black-and-white films, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

What I like most about Acros is how images come back with lovely grays across the tonal spectrum, no matter the light. Many ISO 100 films I’ve used tend to go high contrast in direct sunlight, blowing out highlights, which makes me nuts. Not so Acros. It’s also extremely fine grained, so much so that if I told you I shot digital and converted to black and white you might believe me.

I’ve fed Acros into cameras ranging from a simple box with a meniscus lens to my Nikon F2 with good Nikkor glass attached. I’ve metered precisely and wildly misguessed exposure. Acros handles it all with aplomb. Here, look:

1949 Dodge pickup

Argus A-Four, 2010.

Lighthouse

Argus A2B, 2011.

Headless

Ansco Shur Shot, 2012.

Trunk

Voigtlander Bessa (w/ 110 mm f/4.5 Voigtar), 2012.

Monon Fitness Center

Agfa Clack, 2012.

Black Dog Books

Ansco B-2 Speedex, 2012.

Jet

Yashica-D, 2013.

Moore Road

Yashica-D, 2016.

Garrett

Nikon F2AS, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, 2017.

I just shot my last roll of Acros in 35mm, in my old Argus A-Four. The film broke as I started to rewind. In a dark bag I wound the film into a black film canister, and then sent it to Dwayne’s with instructions to open the can in the darkroom. I have one more roll of Acros, in 120, chilling in the fridge that I’ll probably put through my Yashica-D when its turn comes in Operation Thin the Herd.

But then that’s probably it. And it’s a shame, because this is very good film.

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James Monroe School

James Monroe School
Canon Canonet QL17 G-III
Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros
2010

Banking off yesterday’s post, with the photo of me in my second-grade classroom, I thought I’d share this photo of the school building itself, on the south side of South Bend, Indiana. The building was built in stages, the first of which was erected in 1930 and was funded by the Studebaker family. This is the original main entrance in the 1930 part of the building.

Additions in 1946 and 1959 brought the building to its footprint at the time I attended (1972-79). A 2010 renovation and expansion added a great deal of space and relocated the main entrance.

Film Photography, Preservation

single frame: James Monroe School

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Film Photography

Learning portraiture

My first wife made brilliant portraits. Through wit and charm, and sometimes even a little flirting, she was very good at drawing spark and life out of her subjects as she worked the shutter. She made many portraits of our young sons with her Pentax K1000, several of which were framed around our home. Two black-and-white portraits of Garrett, aged about five, somehow found their way into my hands and are framed in my living room. His eyes are full of light and joy.

I shied away from photographing people for a long time. I didn’t think I could ever be as good as my ex, so I wouldn’t even try. What a logical fallacy. But I let it be for years.

I wanted annual portraits of the boys, so we’d go to the Target portrait studio. They did reasonable work for the money. But after several years the photographer moved on, and the new one wasn’t very good. I figured I could do at least that well. So I started trying.

Damion
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak T-Max 100, 2013

I bested the new Target photographer right out of the gate.

Damion
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak T-Max 100, 2013

I don’t own any lighting gear, so I photographed my sons outside. Broad daylight turns out to be challenging for good skin tones. I relied on my cameras’ meters; I see I should have underexposed by at least a half stop.

Garrett
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Portra 160NC, 2015

I used slower films for the finer grain, but found the in-focus patch could be mighty narrow even in blazing sunlight. I got lots of soft-focus photos, and even some that were clearly out of focus. I shoot handheld; perhaps portraiture calls for a tripod. Or faster film.

Garrett
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Kodak Portra 160NC, 2015

I even started dabbling with 135mm lenses, because portraits are supposed to be taken with long lenses, right?

Damion
Nikon F2AS, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

I could really fill the frame without having to put my lens right in my son’s face, which they liked. But I think a 100mm, or maybe even an 85mm, lens would be more useful.

Garrett
Nikon F2AS, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

And soon I busted out some medium-format equipment, and even started experimenting with poses, trying to do something artistic.

Damion
Yashica-D, Kodak Ektar 100, 2016

I still haven’t mastered the art of posed portraits. I just don’t have that ability to be engaging and charming with my subject as my ex did. She had a gift. I’m too buttoned down, too unsure of myself yet. My sons frequently look like they’re trying too hard to smile. Damion usually doesn’t bother.

Damion
Nikon F3HP, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

But now and then I do nail it, usually at a more candid moment. Garrett was just watching YouTube videos in my easy chair when I asked him to look up. He was relaxed and content, and it shows in his eyes.

Chillin'
Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8 AI Nikkor, Eastman Double-X 5222, 2016

Now that the boys are moving on into their own lives, they’ll be around less for portraits. Maybe now I need to put Margaret in my lens more!

© 2013-2017 Jim Grey. All rights reserved.

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Me at Crown Hill

Your humble photographer
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros
2016

When I took my son to Crown Hill Cemetery for some portraits, I asked him to shoot mine, too. He’s always been my official photographer. Pretty much every photo of me I have from the last dozen years, he took. I was trying to look serious here, but I think I managed only to look bored.

Film Photography
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0859825_0859825-R1-E033 proc.jpg

James Richard Bradford
Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor
Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros
2016

A break from the Irish photos for a minute for this quick snap I made in Crown Hill Cemetery in August.

Film Photography
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Photography

I’m not impressed with your Leica

I’m not impressed that you own a Leica. Or a Hasselblad, or a Nikon F series, or any other fine, expensive camera.

Far be it from me to say you shouldn’t own one. I own a Nikon F2 and an F3 myself.

But if you want to impress me, show me your work.

67 Ford LTD
Argus A-Four, Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100, 2010

I never tire of looking at this photo. I made it with my Argus A-Four, a 1950s 35mm viewfinder camera made of bakelite and aluminum. It packs a surprisingly capable 44mm f/3.5 Coated Cintar lens. I paid ten bucks for it.

I paid closer to $100 for my Nikon N2000 and a 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens. That’s a bargain compared to a working F2 body. Yet there wasn’t anything I could capture with that 35mm lens on my F2 that I didn’t capture when I recently shot that lens on my N2000.

That’s not to say I enjoyed using the plasticky N2000 as much as I enjoy using my solid, smooth F2. It’s wonderful to experience such a fine instrument. An Argus A-Four feels cheap in its own right; it’s ridiculous to compare its usage experience to that of any Leica. Cameras so fine deserve their devoted and fawning followers.

Yet so many of those followers treat their cameras as museum pieces. If you’re among them, I refer you to the work of John Smith, who shoots his Nikons and Leicas all the time. He makes wonderful photographs of the northern California coast. Check out his blog here.

Some of these followers even look down their noses at cameras they consider lesser. If you’re among them, I refer you to the work of Mike Connealy, who uses simple gear to make stunning photographs. Check out his blog here.

Consider this a challenge to make good work — especially using simple, inexpensive tools.

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