I visited the Norfolk coast during the last week of August: I decided to use my Pentax MX and 40mm f2.8 Pancake lens for analogue images: Film used was outdated Agfa CT Precisa 100 and Fuji Velvia 50. The Agfa was about 8 years old and the Fuji 15 years +.
I developed the films in Tetenal three bath E6 using my Jobo processor. And here was the first and major mistake! The first (and most critical) developer was too cold by 5 degrees. And this meant the film was underdeveloped by 25% which lead to dark transparencies. The issue came about due to checking the temperature of the chemicals and not the water bath below the film tank. My old Jobo had a small fish tank recirculation pump which made the water bath a more consistent temperature. I would recommend anyone who uses Jobo CPE2 processors to invest in the circulation pump.
A mention about the Pentax and the 40mm Pancake:
I know the 40mm gets a hammering from so-called reviewers: I believe the lens is given poor reviews because of the photographer’s inability to focus the lens, the focusing ring is small and has little travel. The MX provided excellent and consistent exposures for all of the frames. It was my processing error which degraded the images. Out of 108 frames, only thirty were worth working with: incidentally, the Plustek 8100 scanner worked very well indeed. The scans are medium quality and I let Vuescan software sort out white balance and exposure. For those or you who think the humble 40mm pancake is unsharp: here is a comparison of two images one is taken with the Pentax the other recorded with a Fuji 35mm f1.4 digital lens which has a stellar reputation:
Yes, we can see the colour shifts and the way film resolves the image differently to digital. However, one must accept the resolution is very good. The Fuji Velvia film frame on the left is much sharper than the scan. I’d think a drum scan of the frame would have the Fuji beaten!
Ok so what about the Agfa 100?
The issue is with my processing failure and the age of the film stock. I’m certain we’d see a better image from correctly processed film. But remember reversal film is an expensive business. If you’re using in date Fuji or Kodak 35mm the price for nostalgia is 15 pounds a cassette and lab cost of 15 pounds for process and scan. That’s a pound a frame: You’d better be good with your light meter or the camera needs to meter well. Incidentally, if slide film’s your intention an incident light meter will provide good exposure: If you have a reflected meter use the old adage ‘Expose for the highlights and let the shadows look after themselves’. With an exposure latitude of one stop there is little room for mistakes.
Click on the images to see larger pictures:
Ok! So that’s another testament to using outdated reversal film. The images are fair and demonstrate the ability of the camera and lens. Never be afraid to buy and use cheap cameras. There is a lot of rubbish written about Leicas and Nikons etc. I’d pick up any camera and run a film through it to enjoy the process of analogue work.
I’m running some Provia 100 through a Canon EOS 1n and 40mm STM over the next few days. This time I’ll have the Jobo CPE2 sorted with water pump and let’s see if we can get that magical reversal (almost cinematic) film effect.
See You Soon