Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Found Film 4

In looking for some 127 film in early anticipation of this Summer's 127 Day in a couple of months, I found a roll of exposed Kodacolor II film that came with a Kodak Brownie 127 and some unexposed rolls. Although Kodacolor II is a C41 colour negative film, not knowing how old the film was and not wanting to pay to develop the film commercially especially if there were no images on it (the roll was not secured with the self-adhesive tab), I stand developed it in RO9 One Shot, diluted to 1+100 for one hour. The negatives that resulted were thin, but relatively easy to get images from them in scanning. The negative frame sizes were eight 4x6cm frames on the 127 film - as one might have predicted, although the film was not in the camera itself, it's the right frame size and the images look exactly like these were shot with the Kodak Brownie 127, down to the evidence of a lack of film flatness in the somewhat wavy edges to the negative frames. One frame was completely over-exposed, including the rebates at top and bottom, with the two frames either side partially exposed - the two images at the top and bottom of this post - which looked exactly like the camera had been opened with the film still inside, partially used.

Two images show two portrait groups; the clothes look as though they date to the 1970s. Kodacolor II was introduced in different formats in 1973 after first appearing the year before in 110 format only. It was discontinued in 1982, which gives a possible cut-off date; it seems unlikely that these family photographs would have been taken after this date. Later on the roll is a vertical image of the doorway behind the figures. The top photograph, with an off-centre composition has been taken with a steadier hand than the second; the first photograph was presumably taken by the older woman in the left in the second who does not appear in the first. This second photograph with a little camera shake may have been taken by one of the two men in the first, although the older man has what looks like a 35mm compact camera in his hand, so this shot may have been taken by the younger man - or perhaps the small boy. The open back of a packed car just visible on the right hand side of the photograph suggests a family having just arrived for a holiday.

There are also three shots from similar angles of the edge of a garden with gentle hills behind. Separated by the shot of the front door, in sequence, the image at the top of this post appears to show a gap of time, with the first two images looking as though shot in spring, the third photograph of the garden has fuller foliage on the trees and the flowers appear different. The climber around the porch has also flowered in the image of it without the people. This sequence of images is redolent of the uses of photography in the domestic sphere, where a roll of film might be left in a camera for some time after being started, and the camera only coming out for special occasions, suggesting a family visit to the same place in Easter, and then a return in the Summer.

The final shot on the film is a van door, double-exposed, after the blank, over-exposed section. This van looks to be a relatively contemporary model, suggesting the first six frames were shot relatively close in time to each other, possibly on two separate occasions, then the film was left in the camera, later opened, with the realisation there was a film inside, and then the last photograph taken after this, twice, without advancing the frame.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Halina 35X

Halina 35X
According to the chronology on Collections Appareils, the Halina 35X was Haking's first camera, while other sources place their medium format pseudo-TLR cameras earlier, it may well be that the 35X was simply the first 35mm camera that Haking produced. The Halina brand name was used for Haking's first cameras in the late 1950s, and later became synonymous with ubiquitous, cheap, mass-produced plastic cameras in the 1980s and 90s. Haking still exists, and their website (although apparently not recently updated) lists both 35mm and digital cameras. My first new camera as a teenager was a red Halina (a 260 I think), after being given a secondhand Kodak Instamatic 25.

The Halina 35X camera that illustrates this post was acquired in the job lot which included the Praktica nova I, the No.2A Brownie, and the Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak. The Halina 35X was the least interesting of the lot, but I decided to put a roll of film through it in order to check that the camera worked. My camera was missing its badges - the red, round badge above the lens might suggest a rather well-known expensive camera maker, which the camera's general design mimics (the styling makes the camera look more sophisticated than it is) - but the name and model designation are firmly inscribed on the camera's top plate. Haking was established in Hong Kong during the post-war period, while it was still a UK colony: my camera has the non-specific phrase "Empire Made" on the bottom. Presumably this meant that it was not subject to import restrictions to the UK at the time, enacted with the object of protecting the home market against the resurgent German manufacturers immediately after the war.

Halina 35X
The Halina 35X is a manual 35mm viewfinder camera. It has a fixed 45mm f3.5 Halina Anastigmat lens in a four-speed leaf shutter with speeds 1/25th, 1/50th, 1/100th, 1/200th, as well as 'B'. The shutter needs cocking on the lens barrel (about which more below); the shutter release is on the top plate of the camera. Focus is manual, down to 3 feet. Aperture selection is on the outermost ring of the lens; it is marked down to f16, but it does turn further, possibly to f22. The aperture ring also rotates as the camera is focussed. The viewfinder has neither framelines and, naturally, no parallax correction. Frame advance is by knob, at time when the design of many other 35mm cameras had progressed to an easier-to-use lever.

Halina 35X top view
The frame counter around the advance knob needs to be manually set. To rewind the film, there's a small button on the top near the shutter release marked 'R', and the rewind knob on the user's left is a little smaller than the advance knob. The camera does feature a PC socket for flash, and an accessory shoe. The back of the camera removes entirely for loading.

Halina 35X opened for loading
My camera came with its original case and push-on lens cap - this, oddly, is transparent. The case has a plastic dome and top to protect the lens, but there's no plastic in the camera itself. What is remarkable about the Halina 35X is, for its small size, it is surprisingly heavy. The main body is cast from a fairly substantial block of metal with very, very shiny chroming to the top and bottom plate. Rather than being reassuring, this weight (and shininess) suggests a lack of care over its design.

Halina 35X with original lens cap
As with some other vintage cameras, the Halina 35X seems to have been lubricated with grease that becomes very stiff with age: the focus ring was difficult to rotate, needing a firm grip on the body and lens in each hand to turn (there are some suggestions that this was always a problem with the camera). However, the most frustrating aspect of using the camera is its counter-intuitive double exposure prevention. After the shutter release has been pressed, the advance knob need to be turned to wind on the film before another shot can be taken whether or not the shutter has been cocked. This means that if one presses the button without remembering to depress the cocking lever - or by accident (there is no shutter lock), a blank frame is the result. Even with being familiar with non-self cocking shutters, it is still easy to waste film with the 35X. This post on Filmwasters states that if one continues to hold down the shutter release after pressing it without cocking the shutter, before winding on, it is possible to then cock and fire the shutter.

Halina 35X with Ilford Pan 100
I shot half a roll of Ilford Pan 100 to test the camera. The lens provides fairly heavy vignetting, and, based on just the few photographs I took with the camera, uneven illumination across the frame too. For some subjects of course, such as the image below, the vignetting from the lens may add something in terms of atmosphere or character, but it's not necessarily something one might want on all frames.

Halina 35X with Ilford Pan 100
Combined with the vignetting, there is also a falling off of definition away from the centre of the image - and, although the lens is described as an Anastigmat, the out-of-focus areas away from the centre of the image do seem to show some astigmatism. On the small sample of photographs that I shot with the camera, although a triplet, the lens behaves more like a meniscus or doublet - some of which can still perform well at small apertures. Oddly, just two of the three lens elements are coated.

Halina 35X with Ilford Pan 100
In a blog post on the Halina 35 X, Kosmophoto asks "Is this the worst 35mm camera ever made?" No doubt it isn't, but the Halina 35X is badly designed, and frustrating to use. There's not much to recommend the camera - and there are many other entirely mechanical compact viewfinder cameras that one could chose for a better experience of shooting, and to provide better results. The post on Filmwasters already referenced states that the Halina 35X is "loose" and "un-camera-like": "it gives the feeling that it must be a facsimile of a camera, rather than an actual camera. This sounds weird, but when you have one in your hands you'll understand. It is both familiar and alien at the same time." It almost suggests that the designers of the camera had seen detailed drawings, photographs, and descriptions of contemporary 35mm cameras - without ever have actually used one. To sum up, on a page which is more a passing comment than a review, Rick Oleson describes the Halina 35X as a 35mm Hit camera.

Halina 35X with Ilford Pan 100
Halina 35X with Ilford Pan 100
Sources/further reading:
Halina_35X on Camera-Wiki
Collection-Appareils (French)
Kosmofoto's page on the Halina 35X
Halina-35X on John's Old Cameras
Filmwasters review of the Halina 35X

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Ilford Pan 100

Ilford Pan 100 35mm film
Ilford Pan 100 is a traditional cubic-type emulsion medium-speed black and white panchromatic film from Harman under the Ilford brand, which is complemented with a fast Ilford Pan 400 film. Ilford FP4 Plus and HP5 Plus are Ilford's well-known traditional emulsion films in the same (or similar; see comments below) speed ratings; however, the Ilford Pan films have not been generally available in the UK. The data sheet states:

The ILFORD range of PAN 100 and PAN 400 black and white camera films are not generally distributed and sold worldwide, they are only made available in selected markets.

The name, 'Pan', simply standing for panchromatic, is indicative of the basic nature of these films (panchromatic is, of course, the 'P' in FP4 and HP5). Recently a number of UK retailers have been stocking the films, which may represent a change of policy by Ilford in terms of market strategy for their particular products. I bought a number of rolls of Ilford Pan 100 at Process Supplies Ltd - now my 'drop-in' shop in central London (on the closure of film photography shops, see my post Seven Years On), where I noticed a display under the glass counter of the Pan films - despite these not being listed on their website.

There are some suggestions online that the Pan 100 and 400 films currently available are the old formulas of FP4 and HP5; there's an unattributed 'Ilford employee' quoted on a thread on the Amateur Photographer forum given as stating: "They are based on FP4+ and HP5+ technology, but are produced to lower specifications and tolorances [sic]. While the quality is acceptable, these films are lower in quality than other ILFORD films." Having used the older version of FP4, before the 'Plus' iteration, I was able to compare times from the leaflet inside the box of FP4 with times given for Ilford Pan 100, and the times are different in all developers, some are close, but not the same. However, in some developers the times are the same for the current version of FP4 Plus and Ilford Pan 100 (notably for the developers I used for this post, RO9/Rodinal and Ilfotec LC29), with the important caveat that FP4 Plus is of course rated 125 ISO at box speed, one-third of a stop faster than the box speed of Pan 100 - not a great difference in sensitivity, but worth noting. It's also worth remarking that the Kentmere films, made by Ilford's parent company Harman, have been their low-price traditional films available in recent years, but these have different times from the Pan films. The data sheet referenced earlier states that the Pan 100 and 400 are available in 35mm and 120, but the sheet itself is dated March 2002; there are a few posts online suggesting that the Pan films were discontinued some years ago; it may be that the production ceased for a period, and was then restarted for 35mm film only.

When researching Ilford Pan 100, I did not find any in-depth, serious reviews of the film online - there are, however, plenty of forum posts along the line of 'what is this film?' Incidentally, Pan 400 appears to be a bit more popular, or at least seems to come up more often than Pan 100, and in searches, there's a lot of results for Ilford Pan F - which is quite a different film altogether. Developing times for Pan 100 (and Pan 400) are not listed on Ilford's standard development chart listing their other Ilford-branded films (except Ortho Copy Plus); for this post I used the times printed inside the box, which are the same as those on the Massive Dev Chart.

Ilford Pan 100 latitude test contact sheet
For a latitude test, I shot a half roll of Ilford Pan 100 with the Canon A-1. The first two rows on the contact sheet above were rated at exposure indexes of 25/50/100/200/400/800; the last row was shot at box speed, but with some bracketing. I developed the film in RO9 One Shot, diluted 1+25 for 9 minutes at 20ºC. The contact sheet appears to show a swift falling off with underexposure; with scanning, it was possible to pull detail from the shadows (likewise with the highlights with overexposure) for a stop under without any difficulty, but with three stops there was very little detail there.

Ilford Pan 100 one stop underexposed
Ilford Pan 100 three stops underexposed
With overexposure, the compression of the tonal range is problematic: the detail is all present, but the flattened tones are perhaps unattractive, and makes scanning more difficult.

Ilford Pan 100 two stops overexposed
Departing from box speed, I shot some Ilford Pan 100 at 50, a one-stop pull. Developed in Ilfotec LC29, diluted 1+19 for 6m30s at 20ºC, the results may show a slightly reduced contrast, although for most conditions, pull-processing is a compromise relied on less often, and so as a general rule, less critical than push-processing - I very rarely pull-process. However, in high-contrast situations, it may well be a useful corrective.

Kiev-4 with Ilford Pan 100 at 50
Ilford's developing chart in the box also has times for a one-stop push to an exposure index of 200. I shot a roll with the Kiev-4; however on the day I shot the film, I was not really shooting in 'normal' lighting conditions - the snow made for relatively high-contrast subjects, but the lighting was heavily overcast and grey. In addition, this one-stop test was mostly shot at end of afternoon as the light itself was fading. I developed this roll in Ilfotec LC29 diluted 1+19 for 9 minutes at 20ºC.

Kiev-4 with Ilford Pan 100, rated 200
The results from the latitude test were not as good as other films I've tested (my benchmark for a film that demonstrates especially good latitude is Adox Silvermax 100), but I did want to try a two-stop push with Ilford Pan 100; rating it at 400 is not recommended by Ilford themselves. On the Massive Dev Chart there are a couple of results for rating it at 400 (as well as 800 and 1600), but none in developers I habitually use. For a first test, I used Ilfotec LC29 diluted 1+19, and made an estimate at 14 minutes (in retrospect, this probably should have been more like 18 minutes, using a rule of thumb of a two-stop push needing 2.25x normal development). The results were mixed; with good, diffused light, as in the image below, this developing regime worked well enough.

Ilford Pan 100 at 400, developed in Ilfotec LC29, 1+19 for 14m at 20ºC
However, with high contrast subjects, the lack of shadow detail was clear. In the first of the two images below, this matters less, but the landscape image underneath suffers: the bright but low angle of the sunlight casts deep shadows that are nearly featureless. Highlight detail (as in the clouds) is also difficult to retrieve (I also shot some of this roll at night, further adding to the contrast).

Ilford Pan 100 at 400, developed in Ilfotec LC29, 1+19 for 14m at 20ºC
Ilford Pan 100 at 400, developed in Ilfotec LC29, 1+19 for 14m at 20ºC
In either case, I doubt that extending the development time to a full 18 minutes would have helped. Rather than assume that pushing Pan 100 to 400 to be a compromise hardly worth attempting, I tried a different tack: stand development. Using RO9 One Shot diluted to 1+150, I stand developed another roll of Pan 100 rated 400 for 3 hours (agitating on each hour interval). It's a method I have used with Ilford HP5 Plus previously and I've liked the results. The theory behind using such a high dilution of RO9 is to reduce the contrast that accompanies push-processing; no doubt most of the development has occurred by the one-hour stage, but I wanted to give the shadow areas as much opportunity to develop as possible. The grain in the photographs developed in this way appears smoother than the push-processing in Ilfotec LC29, although of course the subject matter is not entirely comparable. Incidentally, both rolls shot at an exposure index of 400 were taken with the Canon A-1, which should eliminate the vagaries of metering, although lighting conditions were quite varied; further tests might be taken to refine this approach, but, in a pinch, a two-stop push with Pan 100 can produce acceptable results.

Ilford Pan 100 rated 400, stand developed in RO9 diluted 1+150 for 3 hours
Ilford Pan 100 is certainly not a good substitute for FP4 Plus - but it may be for Kentmere 100, if one is looking for a budget black and white film. The grain of Pan 100 does not appear as smooth as FP4 Plus, and, to my eye, it also has a different look: something about it reminds me somewhat of the Fomapan films, the pattern of the grain being more random and less evenly dispersed. The price, of course, is what is attractive about the Ilford Pan films: I bought my 36-exposure rolls of Pan 100 at £3.99 apiece, which is admittedly a little more expensive than Kentmere 100 (perhaps the extra twenty-something pence is for the Ilford name) - and it may of course be possible to find the film even cheaper elsewhere online.

Ilford Pan 100 shot with Agat 18K (half frame)
Ilford Pan 100 shot with Halina 35X
Ilford Pan 100 shot with Praktica nova I
Ilford Pan 100 shot with Voigtländer Vito IIa
Ilford Pan 100 shot with Canon A-1
Ilford Pan 100 shot with Kiev-4, rated 200
Ilford Pan 100, rated 400, shot with Canon A-1
Ilford Pan 100 and Pan 400 data sheet (PDF)