Film + Another New-Old Lens

2010.05.20 in photography

From Japan With Love

A few months ago, I thought it would be neat to try my hand at using (*gasp*) film — mostly just for the experience, to see where we've come from, and what I've missed.

I got in contact with someone who was selling a whole kit (which he had acquired from his father) — discussing capabilities and the condition of the equipment. A few weeks later, we came to a very (too!) reasonable price (something like 40$, I believe), and he shipped me a perfect-working-condition 1975 Nikon Nikkormat FT2, a basic 50mm f/2 lens, the bag, a whole filter system, and another random lens he was trying to get rid of which doesn't fit on any camera either he nor I have (I eventually identified it as an Olympus mount, if anyone wants it; I think it's 70-200mm f/2.8 or something like that).

While it was on its way, I shopped around for film, eventually settling on one roll of Kodak Ektar (color, ISO 100), and one roll of Kodak TRI-X (black and white, ISO 400). Mike wanted me to get a roll of Kodachrome, to get the whole retro experience; unfortunately there's only one Kodachrome processing facility remaining in the world, and it's quite expensive to get film developed (and nearly impossible to do independently — apparently it's a very complicated process).

After it came (the day before Zoe, actually, so it got preempted slightly), I ran to RadioShack and got the battery required for the built-in light meter. I hadn't considered it needing power, and wasn't really expecting metering at all (a pleasant surprise!). The film still hadn't arrived, so I spent a little while toying around with all the buttons and levers, getting acquainted with the camera. One thing I've noted to people on numerous occasions is that it's relatively easy to contain almost the entire mechanism of the camera in your head and be much more "in tune" with the hardware than you could possibly be with, say, my D80, which I find rather neat!

The film arrived right in the middle of the second-to-last week of work on my final projects, so I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures. I did decide that I'd use up one roll before I left Troy, just to see what the pictures looked like, and if I was capable of metering and focusing with it and whatnot. So, I did exactly that! I ran around, taking not-horribly-interesting photographs of things around Troy, onto the color film.

The sound of the Nikkormat's shutter is much, much more satisfying than on my D80, which is much, much more satisfying than that of any other camera I've ever been around (and quite a bit nicer than the XTi/XSi shutter sound of Nate and DJ's cameras). Just thought I'd get that out there.

It's also incredibly heavy. I don't know why; I guess it's just well-built. I'm not sure that it's actually heavier than the D80, it's just... that looks heavy.

One neat thing: I get metering on my really long prime and my macro, which I don't get at all on the D80. That strikes me as bizarre, and I'm angry at Nikon for keeping that feature reserved for the D300 and up...

I took the film to Rite Aid; it turns out they no longer have 1-hour-photo, but instead have to send it away for processing ("Photo Lab" apparently now means "we print digital photos"). A week later (through ROFLCon weekend), I went back and retrieved my pictures!

They all turned out OK, surprisingly. A few right at the beginning were blurry, as I had a habit of grabbing the wrong ring (adjusting aperture instead of shutter speed) which had to be broken. All were exposed more or less correctly, thankfully (I was initially somewhat distrusting of the seemingly extremely simplistic light meter), and focus was generally good (I really wish they'd add that split focuser back onto the DSLRs; or maybe the highest end ones have it? it makes manual focusing much easier). Not interesting pictures, as I said, but they worked!

Now I've got the roll of black & white, which I'll probably end up taking to California with me, maybe. It'd probably be easier to get film developed there, too...

I sent one neat picture to Vivian in a card; a few out of the set that remain are sprinkled above.

Yashica and Soligor

Shortly before the Nikkormat showed up, but after I'd paid for it, Dad asked whether or not I'd be interested in some of his father's old photography stuff. Apparently Papa Cliff doesn't use his old Yashica TL-Electro much anymore (not a surprise; someone let him have a digital camera at some point), nor his old 500mm f/8 mirror "lens" (even less of a surprise; I said 500mm... he'd be lucky to be able to take a sharp picture of the sun at that focal length, with his shaking... I can't even begin to get sharp pictures at anything less than 1/800s exposures, and I'm relatively steady).

So, of course, I said yes!

How could I not? Another camera to play with and compare would be neat (I haven't gotten a chance to acquire film and try out the camera yet, but I will!), and the lens — once converted — could legitimately be useful; on the crop sensor on my D80, it turns into a 750mm lens. Wow! My next closest lens is my 180-turned-270mm, though it goes to f/2.8, so the shaking problem is drastically reduced from all angles.

Last night, Dad and I epoxied a Nikon lens-reversal ring (for turning that nice zoom you've got into a macro lens) onto the back of the lens; a bit of sanding and forcing things on seems to have gotten the lens to focus properly to infinity, unlike what some people on the internet seem to have managed.

I took it out today, and, as you can see, took some pictures! There are more (and larger versions) on Flickr. A lot of these would have been very hard/impossible to have taken with any glass I had before. Very neat! Thanks, Papa Cliff, I promise I'll treat it well and have a lot of fun :-)