2. Ilford XP2 Super in Ilfosol 3

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Here is one resulting image from the processing of XP2 in Black & White chemistry.

It’s clearly very high constrast, which I quite like, and that may be due to the developing time of 21 minutes (this came from the Massive Dev app). I’m pretty happy with the results. There is very little grain, which is ok with me, and the negative seems sharp (I’ve cropped and added a little sharpening (+10) and clarity (+5) in lightroom).

The negatives have a mild magenta cast, but that has made little difference in B&W.

Nowadays, the benefit of C41 high street processing is long gone. There is nowhere in my town that could process and return the same day. I think they all have to send images off for developing. The only place I’ve found 1 hour or same day processing is Snappy Snaps, Byres Road in Glasgow and that’s too far for regular processing.

So, apart from an incredibly long processing time, I’d say that it’s worth processing XP2 at home in Black & White chemistry.

1. Ilford XP2 Super in Ilfosol 3

Before I knew the difference between film types I saw what looked like a good deal in a high street store.

I bought a handful of Ilford XP2 which appeared to be at a discounted rate. I’ve since discovered two facts which have made me regret the purchase.

1. Even at the discounted price, these films cost considerably more than they would have from an online specialist.

2. More importantly, XP2 is a C41 type film, meaning it can be processed with colour films. But it’s generally better to get C41 processed professionally, unless you’re feeling confident.

I had two XP2 film’s professionally processed. One turned out great but the other had a milky sheen across many images. I was told that these were under-exposed. But I read that this phenomenon possibly relates to insufficient fixing.

So I was left with the remaining film, which had quickly expired (hence the discount). I tried to swap it but to no avail. I then went to my local camera shop and asked if they collected expired film. They didn’t. But they did have an expert on hand who suggested processing the XP2 in Black & White chemicals.

I’d heard this suggestion before, but had been reluctant to try it. Ilford recommend not doing it and comments online report mixed results. However, given that my other option was to ditch the redundant film, I decided to try the Black & White approach.

I used the ‘Massive Dev’ app recipe for XP2 in Ilfosol 3. And so far so good. The image above shows that some sort of images have appeared. But I’ve still to scan the negatives. Once that’s done, I’ll provide an update.

Auto focus

So, it turns out that shooting analogue doesn’t cure GAS at all.

After a few weeks of using the Trip 35, which I really love, I’ve managed to get hold of a film camera with auto-focus. This lovely Rollei compact belongs to my brother. I don’t think he’s used it much in the last 20 years, and he kindly gave it to me.

This is the first 35mm camera I’ve had with autofocus and I notice a big difference. Far fewer shots are not sharp and shots seems much sharper than using zone focussing with the Trip 35.

In fact this camera seems to achieve focus very quickly, probably faster than my MFT cameras. Here’s an example of a snatched shot while crossing the street.

Revival

The web is full of excellent pages written by film geeks and people with far too much disposable income.

I had hoped that getting into film would help me stop obsessing over cameras and just get out and shoot. But now I’m pouring over retro camera blogs and second hand dealers, because it turns out, old film cameras are even more beautiful than digital cameras.

Yashica Ts, LEICA Cs Contax Gs, Olympi (plural?) and Konicas are all calling my name. The annoying thing is that most blogs speak of finding cameras like the oly mju ii for under £10. Then you check the date and find that today; a decade later, the same camera will cost you around £100.

This is the price inflation of the film revival – amazing that old analogue cameras are appreciating in a way digital probably never will.

Another factor is that charity shops have got smarter. Many now have expert led websites or eBay shops where cameras are properly valued. Gone are the days of finding a bargain because the shop assistants don’t really know the value of the device. Presumably the internet has also informed pricing. In the long run this is good news for the charities, just not for hard up collectors.

First film

I processed my first film today – Ilford fp4. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to look quite so contrasty. The processing actually went ok, despite slight chemical burning to the hands and a lots of mess.

Sadly, there seems to have been an issue with the camera (I know, blaming my tools). A number of frames/negatives were blank. They had the manufacturers tags and numbering on the film borders suggesting they were developed but were unexposed. On closer inspection the camera shutter is sticking.

It’s a cheap point and shoot from the 80s or 90s and it has fixed focus. The resulting images feature lots of out of focus subjects and many completely bleached white by the flash at close range. But all in all this was a good start.

For those interested:

  • I used Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer.
  • The dev time was 4.25 as suggested by Ilford. They provide excellent fact sheets and videos eg here.
  • I used the ‘massive dev’ phone app which has customisable recipes and a good timer.
  • The camera was the Miranda ME-Z I mentioned recently.
  • I bought my tank etc from Ffordes who also have a great range of cameras.

Retro-spective

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This little camera was one of my first real cameras. I think it was a gift when I was around 11 or 12.

I was obsessed with photography, you can see this from the marks aside the lens. These are the remnants of velcro strips which I attached to fix on my home made filters – plastic and coloured acetate.

Having recently started shooting film again, I thought I’d bring this one back into service. I’m planning on making the film currently inside the first I develop myself at home. Perhaps some of the results will make it online.

This camera brings mixed feelings for me.  As well as being my first proper camera, it’s also the last camera I used between the my teens and my mid thirties.

I used it for a photography project at a youth organisation. Part of this meant receiving feedback on images I’d taken. I remember taking in my little book of prints to show the class. I was especially proud of a couple of shots and waited with great anticipation for the leader’s comments.  Unfortunately for me, these comments were not altogether positive. And constructive criticism was more than my 12 year old mind could handle.

I don’t think I lifted up a camera much again, for the next 20 years.

In my thirties, I began taking photos with a phone and reveived encouragement, especially from my wife, to start shooting again.  This has developed into a fulfiling hobby accompanied by a thicker skin to critics.

Sometimes I get to speak to groups of children about photography and I take the opportunity to encourage them to keep going despite knock backs.