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Archive - 2017 January

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Deals & Stuff - Camera Gear and Film

Just a few things I noticed before Christmas; some of the prices have gone back up since then (late Jan. 2017), but I'll leave 'em up here for a bit.  Prices are not up-to-the-minute, so check.

10 Rolls Ilford HP5+ 400 (35mm)   $56.79
10 Rolls Ilford Pan F Plus 50 (120)   $64.99 w/ Free Shipping... fine-grained ISO 50 black & white film for your medium format camera. 
10 Rolls Kodak Portra 400 (120)   $66.83 w/ Free Shipping... great color film for your medium format camera.  I like the color palette of Portra;  it's not ultra-saturated, but you can always adjust that during the scan.
10 Rolls Kodak Portra 400 (35mm)   $72.99 w/ Free Shipping... Portra color neg film in 35mm format (aka 135).
10 Rolls Kodak Tri-X 400 (35mm)   $52.83 w/ Free Shipping... At today's prices, this is a deal.  What a great B&W film.  (This one sold out quickly; I don't know if they'll have more of them at this price.)
Antique Wood & Brass Tripod for large format cameras   $299... I've never used one of this type, but they sure look nice.  The seller has a bunch of them for sale right now;  that's all I know about these.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens   $299.98 w/ Free Shipping.  This is one that I keep wanting to get;  f/1.4 would be nice to have for night photography on film (Canon EOS 620).
Canon EOS 6D (Body Only)   $1,179.88 w/ Free Shipping.  1-year seller warranty.  One thing I like about the 6D is that it's a full-sized camera, yet it's not a clunker.  If you always thought the Rebel series were too small, you might like a 6D.  And it's got a full-sized sensor, unlike the Rebels or the 60D, 70D, etc. 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III (Body Only)   $2,074.99 w/ Free Shipping, import model w/ 1 year parts, 30 day labor warranty by seller

2017 January 31
Tuesday Evening

Light Metering & Film

Velvia 50 (35mm)

Here's an example of where it would have been better to use an external light meter.  The scene was dim, but I don't think it was that dim.  The in-camera light meter read the amount of reflected light.  With a snowy landscape, the camera will read more light than there really is.  (That's probably not a technically-correct explanation, but it's how I think of it.)  The result is that it stops down farther than it should, and you get pictures like this.

An external incident-light meter would have got this one correct.

This photo should probably go in that light metering article that I posted a little while ago.

By the way, if I'd taken this picture just a few minutes earlier, and metered it correctly, the Fujichrome Velvia would have yielded much better saturation.

2017 January 27

Film Developing

A reader from Finland emailed me about pushing Kodak Tri-X;  he says that he's tried pushing the 135 film to 3200 and 6400 in Kodak HC-110 with good results.  Here's the data he provided:

3200.....HC110 Dilution B, 30min, 22°C, Continuous agitation in rotary tube

6400.....HC110 Dilution B, 60min, 22°C, Continuous agitation in rotary tube

I think 22 C is about 71 F.  Here's a scan he sent me:

This was taken with a Nikonos V underwater 35 camera, scanned with a 24 MP full-frame DSLR.

Based on what I've found, you can do a 60-minute dev time for EI 6400 with very low agitation.  10 seconds every 5 minutes, to give you an idea.  So, if you went with continuous agitation, the picture is going to be brighter but more grainy.  You can see that in the full size image.  But it might not be too grainy for your purposes;  it all depends on what you want. 

Your results could depend somewhat on your water, how you mix and store the developer, and possibly other variables.  So, your mileage may vary, as they say.

One more thing, I haven't (lately) compared rotary-tube dev times with manual tank dev.  I think they used different times, but not by a lot;  check the Kodak data sheets to be sure.

2017 January 25


Here's another stage in the progression on that lamp bracket.  This step would have been easier if I had already flattened the end before shaping the hook.  But instead it's the other way around.  This made it tougher to get at it with the hammer. 

When this end is folded over, maybe it would be better if it were first tapered to a point.  Not sure.  I know that I'd like to flatten out the the round cross-section on the rest of this piece, because at the moment it looks kind of generic.

So I'm looking at this photo, and I just realized something.  You know you're really getting into this stuff when you look at a piece like this, and immediately you think you'd better get it heated back up so you can work it some more!  Long way to go here, but it's all about learning the basic techniques so I can actually start to make things with some kind of consistency.

I just recently noticed this 200 pound cast-steel anvil with an upsetting block.  (Cast steel, not cast iron.)  Now that's an anvil.  I'm starting to realize you need at least 75 lbs to do any reasonable blacksmithing (aside from the "mini" kind).  150 lbs is better.  200+ lbs, you can pretty much work anything within reason.


A reader asks whether it's better to run digital or RCA cable from the Onkyo 7030 CD player to an Onkyo 9010 receiver.  They both have Wolfson DAC's (192 KHz, 24-bit).  He's looking for the best audio quality this stereo system can provide.  So, cables...

If you run optical to the receiver, that means you're using the DAC in the receiver, right?

Now if you run RCA to the receiver, you're using the DAC in the CD player. Then you're sending that converted signal down a short run of RCA. 

Theoretically you "should" have better results from the optical.  Question is, will you notice the difference? 

I've never done a side-by-side comparison on the two different methods, but I don't think you're going to hear a whole lot of difference unless you use total junk for RCA cables.  RCA cables can pick up noise.  But on short runs with good cables, it shouldn't be an issue. 

Just my opinion on this, and your mileage may vary.  I'll say that I never bother with optical cables for CD's, though.  I like a good set of RCA cables.


Almost forgot what I was going to talk about in this section.  OK... the Tekton shoe rasp file vs. the Corona and the Nicholson.  I've tested it a bit.  More about that later. 

We need files to be made in the USA again, to the quality standard they had about thirty years ago. And the single most useful file they should make... the 4-in-1 shoe rasp.

2017 January 16
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Film Cameras

If your film camera's light seals look like this, it's time to replace them!

2017 January 14-15

New Gallery:  Kodak Ektachrome & Elite Chrome.  Since Kodak made that announcement, I figured I'd post a gallery of some images I've shot with these great films. 

This photo above was scanned on an old Epson flatbed, very low-res by today's standards.  The colors are great, but the scan detail and focus are nowhere near what they could be.  I would re-scan this with better methods today.  Most of the photos on that gallery page were macro-scanned, but there's one or two flatbed scans in there.

By the way, here is another reason to get excited about the return of Ektachrome.  From their website:  "Kodak is committed to continuing to manufacture film as an irreplaceable medium for image creators to capture their artistic vision".  This is the kind of thing that's nice to hear from film companies.

2017 January 12


How To Choose The Right Isolation Transformer and how to test it, because someone asked me recently.

2017 January 10


New Article:  Lamp Bracket From Mild Steel.  This was just messing around, trying to make a lamp bracket from some twisted-up 1/2" round stock of unknown composition.  The product was quite plain, nothing fancy at all, but I did learn some things.

2017 January 6

Kodak To Start Making Ektachrome Again!

Yes, for real.  I found out about this on Ken's site.  (And these guys had it first of anyone, looks like.) 

You folks who read my site a lot know that I've always liked Ektachrome slide film, especially its consumer version known as "Kodak Elite Chrome 100".    Believe it or not, Kodak Elite Chrome is my all-time favorite slide film.  Yes, I probably shot more Elite Chrome than Velvia, even.  If I was headed out the door and wasn't sure what I was going to photograph, it was Elite Chrome.  If I just wanted to go out and mess around for the afternoon with a 35mm, it was Elite Chrome. 

The only bad thing about Elite Chrome was that they didn't make it in 4x5 or 120.  But they did make Ektachrome in 4x5 and 120...

Kodak Ektachrome E100G (4x5)

I don't know if Kodak will market Elite Chrome again (hope so), but Ektachrome is the next best thing.  Actually it's better because it's a pro film, meant to be refrigerator-stored. 

Early Ektachromes were known to fade sometimes, but I haven't really seen this happen with anything from the 1980's onward.  There were only two exceptions that I can think of;  these were probably mistakes in processing, because otherwise all Ektachrome from the early 80's would look that way, and it doesn't. 

It's possible the older Ektachrome was more susceptible to poor stabilization, but I wouldn't expect that to be an issue with newer Ektachrome.  Another thing about the older stuff: it might have been less thermally stable, but that would have been 1970's. 

By the way, I've seen old color negatives from both Kodak and Fujifilm undergo fading over time, probably for the same reason... processing errors (stabilizer). 

When you see films that look OK, and then they fade or change color after a couple decades, that's a classic sign of stabilizer problems.  That's an easy error to make, because the stabilizer step doesn't seem to be a big deal.  It's like a rinse step;  there's no visible change in the film.  It's very easy to have and accept variability in a step like that, even in a standardized procedure.  In my C-41 processing, there was one step I got kind of careless with, and that was.... the stabilizer.  At one point I diluted the stabilizer and kept using it.  Will that affect the negatives later?  The only way to know is to wait and see what happens.

For landscape colors, Velvia is still the best, but actually Ektachrome E100VS was a fantastic film as well.  For autumn, sunsets, and rusty iron, E100VS might actually have been the better film.  I would be very glad to see any Ektachrome back on the market, though. 

Kodak Ektachrome E200 (35mm)

Kodak Ektachrome, made in USA, in 2017.  This is beyond awesome.

Also want to mention here that I'm still very enthusiastic about Film Ferrania;  they're making progress, and they need the support of the film community.  We have to realize the incredible task they've undertaken, given the state of the factory they had to contend with.  Those guys deserve admiration and support, for sure.

I strongly believe there is room on the market for multiple types of slide film.  Again, think artistic palettes or paintbrushes.  The only reason I haven't been shooting more film lately is that I've been playing around with metalworking, bumbling my way through a centuries-old art in the hope of making something cool.  Blacksmithing is an art that I hope to get more into as time progresses.  But if you've read much on here, you know that film is very important to that vision.  (One day I saw a big pile of scrap iron, and as the last rays of the sun were shining on it and the rust was bright red-orange, I immediately wished I had brought a camera with slide film.)

Actually when I post the pics of my various metal and woodworking projects, I'm reminded again that I much prefer the film versions to the digital.  (Yeah, I know.)  It's almost as if the digital is a placeholder until I can put the film pictures up there.  (Example here;  see if you can pick out the film photo.)  I've been using Fujichrome Velvia for quite a few of the metal & woodshop-related photos;  how much more cool will it be to have Kodak Ektachrome again, as well!

These are good times to get into film.

One more thing (this was way more long-winded that I intended), but the new Ektachrome will be 35mm only as far as I know.  That's about 75% of what I shoot anyway;  some of you guys are 100% 35mm which is cool, too;  but we can always hope they'll do 4x5 later, or least 120.  (The main reason I don't shoot as much 4x5 now was because Fujifilm discontinued Velvia 50 in 4x5)

2017 January 5

A reader asks, "How do I know if my 110 film camera is working or not?"

Answer: Most toy 35mm and 110 cameras allow you to trip the shutter even when the back of the camera is open. So, the first thing I would do is hold the camera up to a bright light with the back open, wind the film advance, and click the shutter button. (Some cameras might require you to wind the film advance before you open the back.) When the shutter opens, you should see light through it for an extremely short time. It's only 1/80th to 1/100th of a second, but you should still see something. Make sure the light is bright, like a 40-watt bulb or something.

Once you know the shutter works, you can be fairly sure it's taking pictures when there's film in it.

2017 January 4

Some of you guys have been wondering what I've made so far.  Here's a recent project: 

January 1, 2017
Minolta X-700 w/ MD Rokkor 50mm f/1.7 lens
Kodak Tri-X 400 @ EI 400
Developed in Kodak HC-110 Dilution B  (6 minutes @ 70 F)
Fixed 8 minutes in Kodak Professional Fixer, mixed at a conc. of 100 g per liter

I didn't write down the aperture / shutter speeds on these;  I think the first one was f/8 or f/11, with a shutter speed slower than 1/30th but faster than 1 second.

2017 January 3
Film Developing

This info will go on a separate page for future reference, but in the meantime I just wanted to write down the dev time etc for that recent roll of Tri-X:

Pre-Soak:  Tap water at 70 F for 2 minutes
Developer:  Kodak HC-110 Dilution B, mixed as 31 ml concentrate diluted to 1000 ml in pre-boiled distilled water
Dev time:  6 minutes at 70 F
Agitation:  continuous for the first 30 seconds, then 10 sec each minute.
Stop:  diluted vinegar, 30 seconds with mild agitation
Fixer:  50 grams of Kodak fixer + enough tap water to make 500 ml
Fixing time:  8 minutes at 70 F.
Rinse:  about 10 minutes
Final Rinse:  distilled water w/ a speck of detergent

This was developed Jan. 2.  Finished the roll January 1, ready on the 2nd, but I could have easily developed it on the 1st if I'd really wanted to.

Here's one from that roll of 400TX

The hook you see there is for a hat rack that I made.  (I'm talking baseball caps here, so these small ones will do.)  After this picture was taken, I heated up the end and folded it over a bit.  I'm learning that decorative features can be a lot more difficult than they appear;  for now I'm keeping it simple. 

I also worked on a lamp bracket that I've been making;  those pics are on the color film rolls.

2017 January 1

Happy New Year 2017!



It's 2017!  Sunday afternoon the weather was warm (for winter, that is) and clear;  it was a good day to shoot film.

I actually shot all three major types of 35mm film today;  I was working on a blacksmithing project.  I brought Kodak Tri-X, Superia 400, and Fujichrome Velvia 50. 

The black & white film I may develop in the next few days;  the C-41 I'll develop as soon as I mix up a new batch of Unicolor.  Wintertime is a great time for film photography, actually, and maybe it's an even better time for developing film.

This would probably be a good time to re-post my notes on developing one roll of B&W film at a time  I'd like to put some of today's photos on here, which will mean putting this roll ahead of two or three others in the developing queue (did I even spell that right??).  But it's all good. 


There's this lamp bracket that I've been working on, and the original form was kind of basic.  (Still is, actually.)  There's also the fact that it's made of either plain iron or mild steel, which means it bends rather easily.  I'm thinking of orange-heating it and doing a Super Quench on it, but first I've decided to work on making it look a bit better.  Article soon.


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