35mm Film

Added on by John Sturr.

Just before Christmas I did the unthinkable.  I shot a roll of 35mm film.  Did I just say that - did I just do that?  My name is JSturr, and I shot a 24 exp. roll of expired 35mm Kodak Royal Gold Film.

With that moment - I became even more film curious now - Hmmm… what’s this film craze all about ?

 Nikon FM-2 and Kodak Royal Gold

Nikon FM-2 and Kodak Royal Gold

Flashback:  1985 - Pentwater High School yearbook and I’m using the FM-2.  I was 16 at the time.  I came to develop a love hate with the FM-2, love at first because I didn’t know any better.  I shot over 200 rolls in that body.  Here’s the back story.

My late Father bought the camera in the early 80’s - basically when it first came out - it was quite a piece.  1/4000 max mechanical shutter with 1/250 on the flash sync - unheard of at the time.  Very shortly after it fell out of a canoe and the light meter was fried.  # 3 brother was to be married and the repair time was too close for comfort so Dad made me an offer — pay the repair bill and it’s yours.  He bought an FG (probably the worst body Nikon ever made), as a replacement, and I paid him $110 and got the FM-2.  What I didn’t know at the time - was the FM-2 never really exposed anything correctly except flash.  But I really didn’t figure that out until recently.

Flash forward to this century.  The last time I shot film was 2004 - ISU beginning photo - ugh - and I hated it.  Probably because I was forced to do it - with a communal dark room, etc.

When I was home over Thanksgiving - and rummaging around my late Father’s office area - I noticed these rolls of 35mm Kodak Kodacolor 200.  Hmmm…. interesting I thought - well Hell - can’t let this go to waste.  I should have stopped myself - but I guess the Gin clouded my judgment - and off to the suitcase the 3 rolls went.

It sat on the shelf — until — just before Christmas.  The FM-2, and the 50mm f1.4 AIS.  What was very new to me was the lab’s (if you call the Fred Meyer a lab) ability to scan the negatives.  That changes everything.  That’s half the pain in the ass of shooting film - the viewing and the printing, blah, blah, blah.

Now it becomes a hybrid workflow.  Hmm… I’m thinking again.

So - of that roll I shot before Christmas — a few were interesting and even compelling.

With all of this — now I’m thinking that if I’m going to keep this craziness going - I will need a new body - something fairly recent, and with AF.  I start looking at F3HP’s at first - I remember dreaming of those when I was a kid — but never was able to even come close to opening one.  F3HP’s are running at about $2 + with no decent metering of AF though.  

The body with the decent metering was the FA - a bastard child, if you would.  The FA was a head of it’s time - with Matrix metering.  But no one trusted it so it never really took off.  I really liked the FA - but is wasn’t AF - AF looked more and more better.  

So what about an F5 - they are big, but robust, and had some quirks and were running about $3 - and I didn’t quite know if I wanted to deep dive this early in the game at that price.  Ok — scratch that — onward — then the F100 found me.  A mini F5.

 Nikon F100, 24-120 f3.5-5.6 D

Nikon F100, 24-120 f3.5-5.6 D

I found one for about $200 - and here it goes.

So now I have killer AF, Matrix metering, but I need to figure out which film.

All the players (Kodak, Ilford, Fuji) have a smattering of films — really probably the just as many as there were 20 years ago - maybe not the same as before, but just as many.  

I’ve settled on Ilford Delta and Kodak Portra as of late.  Purchasing and development will run about $40 per roll plus or minus.  That price includes scanning, and that’s the other economic model for the labs — scanning resolution price hikes.  Basically $5, $7.5, and $10 upcharge.  If this exercise gains some traction - then I see myself getting a scanner and maybe even processing myself.

Ugh — this is insane I think to myself - but I’m starting to like the change, in a disturbing way.

That’s the story so far - I guess I’m telling it to easy the craziness - and convince myself I’m still normal.  I’ve Delta 3200 asa shot at 1600 in the can to be sent to the www.theFINDlab.com in Orem.  They will be the lab of choice for now - and are about 1/3 more expensive then others in the space.  But from what I’ve seen their services may be without peer.  We’ll see.  I may frequent the www.darkroom.com.