New film stock to try out … Agfa APX 400

I was recently sent a lovely little package from a twitter friend Sandeep @Givemeabiscuit that contained a bunch of different films stocks.

He kindly sent me the films due to losing a bet that we made last year in regards to Liverpool FC ( who I support) finishing higher than Manchester UTD (who he supports) .

We both agreed to send each other a pile of film which ever one of us lost the bet, I won but to be honest I forgot all about it but Sandeep being the gentleman that he is reminded me and suffice to say he sent me a excellent pile of films some of which I have never shot before.

The 1st film that caught my eye was some Agfa APX 400 which is a film that I have not tried so I decided as the weather last weekend was total pants and my rugby match was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch I though I would get wet anyway so loaded up a camera that I have had a while but never shot the Minolta Dynax 500si (more about this at the end of the blog) and went out up the mountain in the mist and rain to see how the film/camera performed.I tried to test the film/camera with a variety of settings and subjects from wide open closeups to stopped down wide shots all in aperture priority at iso 400 and developed the roll in Ilfotec HC 1+31 dilution for 8 minutes.

The camera performed really well I did switch to manual focus for some of the shots as it did struggle in the light a little but other than that it was great. The film itself was also a revelation with lovely contrast and excellent sharpness which really showed in some of the images where I stopped down to f8 and more.

The grain is pretty uniform and tight which helped in the large areas of mist in the pictures.

Overall I am very impressed with this film and will certainly look into buying some more in the future.As I said earlier in the post … more about the Minolta Dynax 500si …

I have been thinking about how to give back to the film community in some way.

I have given a few cameras/film away in the past but I was thinking about how to get others to join in the absolute joy that is “film photography” so as a start I am going to give this camera and AF35-70mm lens away along with some film to a newbie film shooter.

I will do a follow up blog post in the next few days with details about how I am going to do this as I am not really sure how to target newbie photographers.

Hopefully my fellow film togs can spread the word somehow and I can get the ball rolling soon.

Anyway thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂


1st time shooting Lomography Colour Negative 400 35mm….

I love trying new/old film stocks, usually its some old expired stuff I find on eBay but for a change I picked up a 3 roll box of Lomography Colour Negative 400 35mm last week and was interested in seeing what the film was like compared to some of my favorite films like Portra 400 vc or Fuji Reala.Luckily for me it was a nice bright day which after viewing the scan really showed the best side of this film.

I decided to use a camera that I have not shot for an absolute age … my Canon AE1 program with the 50mm f1.4 which was such fun to use again. The sharpness of the film was quite impressive as so were the colours.

There seemed to be a slight green cast to most of the shots which did not detract from the image in fact I really liked the look. The brighter the light the more saturation I seemed to get which was great.

I am not sure what I was expecting from this film but its fair to say I love it.

I have since bought another pack but this time in 120 format so I can’t wait to give that a try …. so watch this space.

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

Summer Velvia 50 colours ….

Last week I did my good deed of the month by giving away a camera to a twitter photographer friend who was happy to pay the postage but also gave me a lovely surprise by also sending me a little Lomo camera along with a selection of films one of which was some Fuji Velvia RVP50 which I have not had a great deal of experience with. I have shot plenty of Fuji Velvia RVP100 in both 35mm and 120 with lovely results but the RVP50  was quite a new experience.

I loaded up the Nikon F100 as I find the metering to be the most accurate and rated the film at 25 iso as it had expired back in 2006 and processed it using the Tetenal E6 kit. When opening the developing drum the colours were popping even before holding up to the light and once I got the scans into Lightroom I began to understand why photographers rave about this iconic film stock. The day that I shot the film was bright and sunny which obviously aided the look of the images with the Reds and greens almost aglow.

Obviously I will have to add a few rolls of this to my film fridge very soon and I will look forward to loading it up the next time we get any sun here in the South Wales Valleys.

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

Trying out a new film stock …. Orwo N74

Quite a while back I was gifted some film by a Twitter friend which I have steadily been trying out … all of which have been film stock that I have never used before.

This week was the turn of some Orwo N74 which is a 400 iso motion picture stock and after looking it up online it was described as having an excellent tonal range and great contrast which sounded right up my street for a B&W film look.

I rated it at box speed and decided on using my Nikkormat FTN and Nikon 35mm f2.5 as the trial camera, as I don’t have a lens with the aperture coupler prong so I used the stop down metering way of setting my exposures which seemed to have worked out well.

The film has a good exposure latitude and I didn’t get much shadow blocking or highlight blowout given that I was not 100% sure that the metering method was totally accurate.

I developed the roll in Rodinal 1+50 dilution for 13 minutes inverting twice every minute.

Overall I was pleased with the results more so with the closeup/shallow DOF shots than the Landscape type shots.

The grain didn’t lend itself to sweeping skies to my eye in fact it was a little distracting while the sharpness and contrast was great.

I may buy some more and either try stand development in Rodinal or use some IDII/D76

Here is the link to the film stock here in the UK ..

So here are the shots … click on an image to view larger Approx 100% crop 

Thanks for looking ….

I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

All images on both my blogs are available as prints just drop me an email


I love shooting expired film ……

Last week I managed to source some of my favorite colour negative film Fuji Reala from ebay and along side of the Reala the vendor also had some Kodak Vericolor II which I also bought to give it a try.

I have previously shot a roll of Vericolor III that I had been given and really liked the muted tone that I gave so I was hoping that this gave similar results.

I decided to take the Mamiya C330 for a run out as I had been neglecting it over the Yashica Mat 124G recently, I used both the 80mm f2.8 and 65mm f3.5.

Here are the images, only 9 as the other 3 were bracketed shots ….  It was an overcast day with glimpses of sunshine now and again.

I rated the roll at 80 iso with my Sekonic meter which was pretty much spot on.

If I shoot the next roll in brighter conditions I could probably rate the film at 100 or even box speed as it didn’t seem to have lost a lot of sensitivity even though the 2 boxes had expired back in 1994  🙂

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

Carl Zeiss Flektogon 35mm f2.4 on my Nikon FM2n …..

I was very lucky a few months back to be gifted a bunch of old camera stuff from a friend, most of which sadly was pretty far gone but mounted to an old Praktica that had died was this beauty … Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35mm f2.4

Funny thing was I was reading a random blog post only days before extolling the virtues of this particular lens.

I have a couple of M42 mount cameras so mounted it on my working Praktica MTL 5B and shot a roll of expired Kodak Colorplus just to test the performance.

See link here .. carl-zeiss-jena-flektogon-35mm-f2-4

I was very pleased with how the lens performed so I decided to get an M42 adapter for Nikon F mount so that I could use it with some of my older Nikon Slr’s.

I made sure that I got one with the glass element that let the camera focus to infinity and mounted it on my FM2n loaded with some ilford XP2 and went out to test it.

I found that if I switched the lens to manual diaphragm mode then the FM2n metered correctly for me.

Here are some sample images mostly shot wide open at 2.4 through 5.6 with the bench landscape at f11.

The viewfinder dimmed quite a bit the more that I stopped down making it quite hard to focus but if you switch back to auto diaphragm mode to focus if you are using f8+ then back to manual to meter then all is good. All in all I am very pleased with this little lens and it has the added benefit of being able to close focus down to 19cm.

Considering I got this for nothing is a bonus but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this as a purchase as you will not be disappointed

Thanks for looking ….

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All images are available as prints just drop me an email

I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂


Do you need to calibrate your monitor ….. ?

I suppose the answer to this question depends on what you are doing.

I mean if you are a photographer who just posts the odd image on the web then maybe the answer is no as most of the time people will view your image on a smartphone or on a monitor that is also un-calibrated so you have no control over how the colours in your image may look to them.

If on the other hand you want print out your images or post them on a blog or website and have some control on how the colours will be seen (assuming the end viewer also has a calibrated monitor to) then calibrating your system is a must.

I have been calibrating my system for years using  one of the original Datacolor Spyder express 2 which has served me well all this time but I recently managed to get hold of the new Spyder 5 to compare between the old and the new thanks to @digitalglueuk and

Firstly I was pleased with the size difference, the new Spyder 5 was a much neater compact unit that split open to reveal the sensor and the cover was then used as a counter weight over the top of the monitor.

Also after installing the software I was especially pleased to find that I was able to calibrate multiple monitors where as with my Spyder 2 I was limited to just the single monitor ( I use a 2 monitor set up ).

The sensor also monitors the ambient room light to optimally tune the screen to your environment.

Quite a few people ask me if calibrating your monitor is hard to do?

Well I have taken a few screen shots just to show you how easy it is as it is a step by step process that anyone can do .

The software guides you every step of the way…All you have to do is follow along and change a few monitor settings and you are done in a matter of minutes…You then save the new profile and the final screens will show you the before and after views …The best thing is if you have multiple computers when you calibrate each one you know that when you are editing/viewing the same picture on each computer you will get the same look and then when you save the image with the embedded profile and send it to the printer or out to a lab you know that the image will be reproduced pretty damn close to how it appeared on your screen (obviously it depends on the output device matching the colour gamut of the profile you used).

Since getting the new Spyder 5 I have printed loads of images and had a few done in a lab and the results have been perfect that’s not to say that my old Spyder 2 did not do the same but the ease of use and the newer software with the Spyder 5 made the whole process so much easier.

I cannot recommend this product highly enough, It is so easy to use with such huge benefits to a photographer that  I personally think everyone should get one.

I have only ever used the Datacolor calibrators so I can’t speak of any others out there on the market but I imagine that they may be just as good/easy to use too but they would have to go a long way to beat this little gem.

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

#Camerachallenge time ….

Over the last week or so I have been taking part in the #camerachallenge on twitter organised by fellow photographer Jason Avery @Jaysargo who came up with the idea of buying a camera for under £5 or equivalent in any other currency and then shooting and posting the results followed by a twitter Q&A today all about the process.

I am always looking on ebay and in charity shops for cameras so that part was not new to me so this challenge was right up my street.

I managed to get 2 cameras for under the £5 price both of which were Pentax Espio’s … the 115 and 140 which differed slightly but the main difference was the zoom length as the numbers in the names suggested 38mm to 115 and 140mm.

Also the 115 had a so called macro setting that the 140 did not have while the 140 has an extra spot af setting and both of those were useful, it would have been nice to have both on one camera.

They both also had a pano setting which only seemed to crop to the centre of the 35mm frame and most importantly you could shoot without the flash if you wanted and not be automatically forced to use it .

Also there was a landscape af mode on both which I assume  focussed to infinity and stopped down the lens to achieve a greater DOF. I tried all the of the available modes and was pretty impressed with the results. The Espio 115 shot a roll of Kodak Tmax 400 while the 140 already had a roll of what turned out to be Tudor XFG 100 which had 6 frames already shot.

I developed both rolls at home and here are some of the images.

First the Pentax Espio 115 & Tmax 400

And the Espio 140 and Tudor XFG 100

All in all both cameras were great and if I had used a better roll of film in the 140 instead of the expired roll that was already in there I would have said that both cameras had great lenses that gave very sharp and contrasty results.

This challenge has been good fun and I would recommend other film photographers reading this to give it a try … follow Jason and keep a lookout for the next challenge, I am not sure how it will differ from this one but thats the fun really.

It just goes to show that you don’t need expensive kit to get nice images and also how cheap it is to get into film photography.

After the Q&A today I may give one of these cameras away to someone who is interested in getting into film photography so follow me on twitter or leave a comment below.

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

Going Lomo with my Olympus XA1 ……

As it was a Bank holiday weekend here in the UK the weather forecast was for heavy rain as you would expect here in the South Wales Valleys.

I decided to travel light on my walk and dug out my Olympus XA1 and loaded it with some expired Fuji Superia 400.

It was quite nice to be able to just point and shoot for a change, the only settings on the XA1 are the ISO … either 100 or 400 and thats all you have to set and you are free to jus hopefully just compose an image.The only other thing to take into consideration is the close focus which is a measly 1.5 metres so everything must be further than arms length away.The light was pretty poor so I was not really expecting much from the roll but every now and again the sun popped through and I managed to shoot most of my frames in reasonable light.

I was pleased how the colours looked considering the age of the film which I got in a mixed bag of stuff from a friend who had no idea how it had been previously stored before he got it.When the sun raised its head a little the greens really popped and I was happy with how the little XA1 performed … so much so I am going to treat it next time with a nice fresh roll of film to see how much better the images will be.

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂

My 1st impressions of my Plustek 8100 Scanner …..

Quick disclaimer … this is not a full in depth techy review its just my personal impression after a few weeks playing about with this scanner.

I have never been totally happy with any of my own scans, not that there has been anything wrong with them really but they never seem as good as when I get stuff done in the lab.

I usually use an Epson v500 flatbed scanner and the bundled epson software.

I try to scan as flat as I can capturing as much of the Highlight/Shadow detail as possible by adjusting the individual RGB channels then do all the heavy lifting in Adobe Lightroom.

This workflow seems to yield the best results for me.

I was debating wether to upgrade my flatbed to an Epson v800 (I may have to as I am now looking to scan 4×5) but came across a review of the Plustek 8100 and saw that it was only £150 here in the uk so decided to jump in and give it a go.

Here is the link to where I bought it …

Its a nice compact unit and feels pretty solid but the film holders are just as flimsy as my epson ones.

This is a totally manual scanner in the sense that you can only scan one frame at a time, no batch scanning and no motorised loading you just have to push the holder to the next frame but it stops in position with a nice positive click so you know that the frame is aligned correctly.

The film holder is not the easiest thing to use if you have curly film as it is a pain to position and then close the top flap without actually handling the film surface so gloves are a must.

Also as a side note …. this is a 35mm only scanner

It comes complete with a nice little bag that holds the scanner/film-slide holders and leadsThe supplied software is Silverfast SE Plus 8 which I must admit has a damn steep learning curve compared to the Epson Scan software.So now to the results ….

Well before that just a quick word on the Silverfast software …

There are so many options that unless you enjoy scanning this is not for you.

My 1st scans were pretty awful, I clicked and tweaked away at every option and got nowhere fast.

I then tried to scan flat like I was used to and that was poor also so I then decided to check out the web for some instruction and to be fair the silverfast website really helped big time.

The best thing that this scanner/software does is multi exposure scanning … yes it takes quite a while but the results are worth it also the Negafix option gives you a great starting point with the colours as it features a ton of film profiles that you choose when you begin scanning.

All in all I bought this scanner to hopefully get better scans which It really does but I am not going to scan all my images with it as the workflow is pretty time consuming rather I am scanning my rolls with the epson 1st then re scanning the frames that I may want to process further or especially if I want to print an image as the amount of detail that it captures is way more than the v500 for sure.

This is the cheapest version that Plustek sell.

The next one in the range is about £80 more and features infrared scanning for the dust removal this model has dust removal but without the infrared pass so obviously its not as accurate but I never used it much on my v500 so didn’t want to spend the extra £80.

I have used the SRD which is what Silverfast calls the dust removal and it works fine but if its something that you require I would recommend buying the 8200i SE which incorporates the infrared scanning.This was a really old negative that had slipped out of a folder some how and was pretty badly marked and scanned on my v500.This is the Opticfilm 8100 scan using the SRD attempting to find the dust.This is the scan after the dust removal which is pretty good considering it does not have the infrared channel to help.Using the Negafix part of the software you get much closer to the correct color straight from the scanner and before Lightroom ….. this is Kodak Ektar. Epson V500 scan of some Tmax 400 … the 2nd image is a 100% crop This is the Opticfilm 8100 version which captures much more detail and it can then be processed further in Lightroom.

Click on the crops to see ….


Here are some more samples to compare 

The V500 versions have been through Lightroom for full editing while the Opticfilm 8100 versions have only had dust removed in Photoshop CC then re-saved as jpegs … no colour editing or sharpening etc….

V500 … Kodak Ektar

Opticfilm 8100 … Kodak Ektar

V500 … Kodak Ektar

Opticfilm 8100 … Kodak Ektar

V500 … ilford FP4@200

Opticfilm 8100 … ilford FP4@200

V500 … Fuji Superia 400

Opticfilm 8100 … Fuji Superia 400

v500 … Fuji Superia 400

Opticfilm 8100 … Fuji Superia 400

Just to finish off I am very happy that I bought this little scanner it doesn’t break the bank as far as scanners go and gives great results if you are willing to give each scan a bit of time.

Its not an everyday scanner unlike the V500 and I would find it quite hard going if this was my one and only scanner especially as I tend to shoot at least 1 roll of film a week so in conclusion I would have to say that if you shoot 35mm and want your scans to get to at least lab standard (not drum scanning) then this is a must buy especially at the £150 price point.

Thanks for looking ….

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I also have a film only blog over at if you want a peek 🙂