My film camera use has plummeted

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by brian_m.|1, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. When you have to think where your cameras are, or worse how to work them, it's time to worry. Ever since we lost our last local film processing at Costco and I had to send film away I have just stopped using film cameras. I tried The Darkroom once and although I eventually got the pictures, the ordeal proved too much to continue. This has had a similar effect on me posting here. Before yesterday, my last post was on October 19, 2013. I don't know, may be it is a love spat.
  2. Brian...don't give up! I never shoot colour neg film anymore, or rarely, due to the hassle with processing. As you can see with my posts they are all B&W, which is very easy to process without a darkroom...then just scan the negs. I do have a full darkroom which I use a lot, but for sharing scanning the negs is easy.
  3. What Tony says is exactly right. B/W is really easy to process at home: and if you use Rodinal (which keeps for ever) you don't have to worry about chemicals going off.

    I'll add that, if you have the space (or find a shared darkroom which is what I do currently), printing B/W is a deeply rewarding experience. I'm no more than mediocre, but I have prints which just fill me with joy to look at because they're so nice. And that's not nearly all: the physical act of making prints is just hugely enjoyable for me: it is something which requires concentration, a skill which (at my level) is achievable by anyone but is still rewarding to master, from which you can't be distracted by computers because you can't have a computer in a darkroom (but you can listen to music or the radio), which is physically good for you (standing up rather than yet more sitting), and finally just watching a print appear in the tray is wonderful.
  4. Like Rick and Tim I do B&W in my bathroom. I have a changing bag to load the Patterson daylight tank
    and in typically 20 minutes I'm done. The negs are drying. I scan them usually the next day but they will
    dry in about two hours. I have plastic bucket/tray with the mixed chemicals I just pull it down from the
    shelf. Wife has only complained that I took the bucket..

    @Tim... your description is so on the money I have definitely missed printing since I initially moved (1984)
    and then moved to Europe (1990) and raised kids. Now I have no place for a Darkroom. But printing
    standing in the dark listening to late night public radio (Jazz/classical) was soooo great! ( until 1.3.2014 )
  5. Can't say that I've ever had any issue whatsoever with so I can't suggest help there... maybe you could ask them how to improve things, whatever was wrong. I very seldom use any developing service. Maybe a half-dozen times a year. Developing color negative film is even easier than B&W and it's pretty easy to scan with even a cheapo modern $100-200 scanner. Believe me, there are LOTS of places to send digital files and get prints made. Twenty-six new printing businesses opened up online just in the time it took me to type this.
  6. I also lost my good, walking distance shop and pretty much stopped shooting film. One of the things that kept me
    shooting film was my Rokkor lenses, but then I went and got a Minolta to Fuji Speed Booster.

    Btw, latest classic acquisition: MD Rokkor 100mm f/2.5. This is an amazing lens. I'd actually rate it a fraction of a notch
    above my Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AIS.
  7. I still have a good local camera store that does 25mm and 120, and send 4x5 to Kansas City. I pretty much only shoot b&w film, so if I had to I could process my own. I scan the negs to make prints at Walmart etc. All in all, it's n ot much of a hassle.
    Kent in SD
  8. Another voice for home developing of B&W. To set up will cost a perhaps $200 or so but the payback comes quickly.
    A simple plan;
    Through mail order or locally obtain,
    A Paterson 2 reel tank w/reels.
    Ilford liquid developer concentrate for film.
    Ilford liquid Fixer concentrate.
    White 5% vinegar from the dollar store, cut it in half for stop bath.
    Ilford wetting agent.
    A photo grade thermometer.
    A 12 pack of 1 qt. brown glass bottles. (U-line corp. is a good source.)
    A changing bag or a place in the house that can be made 'absolutely' dark.
    Wooden spring clothes pins, dollar store. (Use office paper clips with these to make hooks to hang the film to dry, use one on the bottom to make the film hang stright)
    A few gallons of distilled water. (safer for mixing working solutions of developer and fixer)
    Two plastic funnels.
    Watch or clock with sweep second hand.
    Roll of sacrifice film to pratice loading in the light untill it becomes second nature.
    Daunting at first but soon you will gain the confidence that you can indeed do a great job developing you own B&W film, and for 50 cents or less a roll, no waiting or postage cost either.
    PS: An alternative to Ilford film developer is Kodak HC-110, get it from Freestyle and use at 1:62 as a one shot.
  9. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Anyone interested in classic cameras should develop their own black and white film. No darkroom needed just a dark closet or changing back to load the film into the light proof developing tank. Get an old camera, shoot off a few frames and in 20 minutes you can be looking at the negatives and then scanning to see how you made out while everything is still fresh in your mind..
  10. I've had a roll of Tri-X (or is it FP4+? Some kind of B&W 400-speed film) in my Canon A-1 for a few weeks now. I bought a Fuji X-E1 a few weeks ago, when the prices dropped after the X-E2 came out, and I'm enjoying getting to know it, so my film use is in a temporary hiatus.
    I really want to get back to medium-format shooting, though; I may pull out the Hasselblad or the YashicaMat sometime soon...
  11. Let me chime in here as my frustration is riding pretty high with this topic. We are being forced off the E6 and C41 by big corporate offices. There is still no substitute when inspecting negatives or slides in a nice light table with a loupe.
    As mentioned in previous post our local Walgreens lost its Forntier and had it replaced with a Noritsu Minilab which either they don't know how to use or it is just a horrible machine. All negatives are usually very thin or bent and torn; when I complain they just shrug at me and tell me to use digital: Really??!! I didn't know I had the option.
    Anyway, I bought an E6 kit from Freestyle for $23 I think, and tried at home, much more involving than B&W, with having to heat water in 3 large pots to try and keep the temp constant, but got some results.
  12. Brighton
  13. Let me just add one more voice saying that you might try developing you own black and white(if you are interested in B&W). I decided to go that route before the last of the local labs quit processing. It's really simple. And if all you're gonna do is develop and scan, no darkroom needed. I develop mine in my spare bathroom at night and with all the lights off on that floor of the house. No modifications to the room at all. And darkroom equipment is really cheap used these days. I set up a complete darkroom capable of printing to 11x14 last year and the most expensive part was the print washer that cost me $30.
  14. I rarely use my old film cameras these days as I find it just too much of a pain to get the results. I suppose having played with lots of them in many formats for about 50 years there is perhaps less to discover. I find it mildly amusing that cameras I once owned and used as the latest thing are now regarded as CMC's. :)
    So I would not worry about your film camera use but instead concentrate on what does interest you.
  15. This topic really speaks to me. I was a
    film holdout, and will never give up film
    entirely, but I hardly shoot film these
    days. I was chronically months behind
    on developing and scanning. It was so
    much easier back 10+ years ago when
    the local labs all used wet process and
    I could just tell them not to increase the
    saturation and just print them neutral.
    When wet process virtually
    disappeared, shooting color negs or
    especially B&W was pointless. I
    switched to shooting E6, and I bought
    a nikon coolscan V. I bought tanks and
    everything to develop B&W at home. I
    loved this, but it was very time
    consuming. I found it very difficult to
    scan B&W and very tedious to fix all
    the spots in Lightroom. I mostly stuck
    with E6 which is easy to scan.

    When my son was born, I knew I would
    not have time and I would fall too far
    behind sharing, so I bought a Lumix
    GH-1 and adapters for my Rokkors and
    Nikkors. I have hundreds of great
    pictures of my son, that I'm very
    thankful for. Two years later, this
    Christmas, I got a Sony a7 and more
    adapters. I love it.

    Anyway, I want film to stay so I feel a
    bit guilty not shooting more, but I had
    to speed up my workflow and increase
    volume with the kid, so I'm not
    ashamed of that. When he's older, I
    will teach him to shoot film.
  16. Thanks for all the advice but I thought I was sacrificing enough by putting up with manual cameras and figuring flash exposure in my head and occasionally opening up the camera with the film still in it. Developing my own negatives is a bridge too far. Just can't do it. No time, no room, no expertise and frankly no desire. I got other hobbies that eat into my time. I still love my film cameras and the way they handle and feel. I suppose they will sit there for special occasions, such as graduation coming up in May. No more shooting three rolls just walking in the park.
  17. I sympathise, Brian. I shoot a lot of B&W medium format film, and some B&W 35mm, but most of my colour work is on a digital platform. If you want to present B&W work on a forum such as Photonet you really have to invest in a good scanner as well as all the film processing paraphernalia, and it's time consuming, for sure. Aren't there any mail-order processing facilities up and running in your part of the world? Film processing down here is reverting to a few labs that handle it all, rather than your friendly neighbourhood photolab, but it looks set to continue.
  18. I think film will become like owning vintage cars: currently we're living in the 1940s or early 19550s, when ordinary garages knew how to look after such cars, and it was, just about, viable to own one and not do all the maintenance.
    In due course this infrastructure went away, and the modern vintage car owner has two options.
    • Maintain the car yourself, which will involve a significant amount of work, learning obscure new skills (how to take a magneto apart, in the rain, without getting it wet), very oily hands, a house full of spare gearboxes and a very understanding partner. You will become obsessed and very good at it, and will live a happy if nerdy life.
    • Be very rich and have one of the specialist people maintain it for you. Unless you have a special car this will involve spending more on maintenance than the car is worth: and I mean more on individual maintenance episodes: I was recently quoted a figure to paint my car which is more than it was worth. You will lose all your money when your bank fails and have to sell your cars (which you never drove anyway) to someone who plans to maintain them themself. Your partner will leave you for the cleaner.
    For film users I think the lesson should be clear: if you don't process your own film you should plan to be rich, or plan to stop shooting film.
    Interestingly supplies for vintage cars did not become unavailable: it is probably easier now to buy parts for than it has been since the 30s. I am fairly sure that the same will be true for B/W film & paper, less sure for colour film (really: very unsure). However colour paper turns out to be a commodity because it's used for prints from digital originals as well.
  19. Here in Japan, Kansai area, having color film processed is easy and the service is great. At the moment my Konica-Minolta dedicated scanner is on the fritz and I am using Epson flatbeds. Better than i expected.
    One thing that keeps me tied to film is there are no dust on the sensor issues. One other thing is that film cameras (in my experience) are less conspicuous or threatening than film cameras One more thing is that I like my film cameras.
  20. Brian's frustrations sound familiar. Fast, inexpensive C-41 processing is dead and gone around Toronto--Costco being the last to unplug the processors in late 2009. At least I have that provides slow but cheap, good-quality dev-scan service(oddly, their prints suck). It's 120 C-41/b&w/E-6 that I take in 4-5 times a year for pro lab processing. Still affordable but awkward and far from quick. If any of this remaining ecosystem fails, I'm probably done with film--sadly.
  21. We still have a Walgreen's that processes film in the same day, but they won't guarantee one hour anymore. In fact, they can never really guarantee that their machine works at all, and it's frequently "down, and waiting for a part." In addition to that the cost has shot up significantly, which also takes the fun out of shooting test rolls. I shoot far less film now than I did even a year ago, but I don't think I could ever really give it up. Plus, I really love the film cameras that I have. Unfortunately for them I really like the digital cameras I've acquired in the last year (particularly my little EOS M!) and am amazed at the quality of the pictures I can make with them. Technology can be a wonderful thing but even so, the 'new' Kodak Retina III S that I acquired recently has a class and charm that's hard to match.
  22. I don't shoot anything these days. Work has kept me so occupied that I haven't had time to eat let alone run around with a camera and shoot things. I think work is overrated. There are still places in Toronto that process for five bucks, but I don't know for how long. Walmart still develops the odd film that I shoot although I haven't had time to scan the last one yet (five bucks for process only at the Milner Ave. store). Phoenix Imaging does my 120 for five bucks (process only). For slide film, I have to go uptown, but again, for how much longer?
  23. Sorry about your problems with The Darkroom - I've had nothing but good luck with them - typically one week mailbox to mailbox and the scanned pictures are available for download about 4 days after I mail it in. Their enhanced scans cost an extra $5, but I find it worth it.
    I do find the difference between 35mm and digital small, except I prefer the simpler film cameras. On the other hand I don't think I will ever give up on medium format and processing B&W at home - fast, cheap, and rewarding. But it's not for everybody.
  24. Late here, but I will second some of the references to great satisfaction at pulling out a roll of freshly developed negs or a wet print. (I'm actively doing the former at home, but regrettably have been away from doing the latter for a few years.) In order to have more of those moments, I always am eager to go out and shoot more film. I'm almost never eager to have more moments in Photoshop...
    @Ben, how do you find the Rokkors on the a7? (I assume you mean MC/MD lenses, not the rare/elderly Rokkors in LTM etc.). I am thinking about an a7, because while I love shooting film, we all know there are some cases where the instantaneity of digital is useful or even necessary.
  25. Hey All, Is no one familiar with NCPS, North Coast Photographic Services? They do everything a film shooter needs, at prices that are palatable, if not cheap. Check out their web site at
  26. Fujifilm Mailers (35mm) processing
    Nikon Coolscan V (35mm) scanning
    NCPS (120mm) processing and scanning
    And then, I take very few shots. Probably not very well, but slowly with great attention. It's a HOBBY, not an efficiency contest.
    I fly fish. Clearly bait is more efficient, as are nets, as is a stick of dynamite.
    But I LIKE fly fishing and film photography because they force me to slow down and pay attention to my art and the beautiful old tools I am fortunate to get to use.
  27. I think it will take a few more years before some folks realize what they've been missing by not shooting film. It's unfortunate we're getting no help from the industry (sure, hard to do in these "digital" times). Advertising practically does not exist, young people born "after" film find silver process incomprehensible, and many opinions of silver from the "digital" crowd (spoken out of ignorance) do not help resolve it either.
    It's important to keep film going so there is sufficient demand to keep related businesses alive. I've had a few long years of only doing digital. Even, if I can come up with multitude of reasons for doing so, I had a major revelation when I developed, at last, a roll of T-Max. Film was old, stored badly, and results were not great, but supremely satisfying. It's the process of getting the image that makes my day. Eventually a full blown darkroom is going to come my way, but for now it's all about getting that image from bulk loading to scanning.

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