I’ve been a camera collector for years. I love the feel of an old camera: the weight and precision of its metal body and lens barrel, the satisfying CHUNK of a mechanical shutter moving, the buzzing of a mechanical self-timer… they just feel right.
People keep giving me cameras because they will never use the old film ones again (if they ever did in the first place). They multiply like rabbits in my living room, garage, photo equipment closet… There are cameras everywhere. Most of them work, as far as I know, and so I decided to start actually using them. I signed up for a film photography class so I could get used to a wet darkroom again, bought some film, and cleaned some very dusty lenses.
So here goes. I’ll try to give as much information about the individual camera, film, processing, and so on as I can as I go through this.
First to the film. Since this is more of an experiment than anything, I dug out my old bulk loaders and purchased some Kentmere 35mm bulk film. For those who do not know Kentmere, it’s produced by Ilford, I believe, and it’s really quite inexpensive. This is perfect for me right now, because I do not want to be worrying about the dollars when running film through a camera that may or may not work. For the medium format stuff (the 120/220) cameras, I use Kodak Tmax 100. Tmax has been around forever and it’s always reliable. Large format, well, I got some Ilford Delta 100 sheet film.
Chemistry is more than a little bewildering, and so initially I went with what we are using in the classroom darkroom: Sprint. The Sprint stuff seems to work well enough, but I ended up getting a bottle of Ilford fixer (for reasons I’ll explain later) and I just last week got a packet of Ilford Microphen developer, which I’ve used before and I believe will give a little finer grain in the images during processing. If I think about it later, maybe I’ll run a side-by-side test of the two developers using films shot in the same conditions and developed with the different developers. We’ll see.
So, without further ado, on to the cameras!