The good news is that the Spartus Full-Vue works and takes some decent photos. The bad news: a.) The long-exposure toggle is in an unfortunate spot versus the shutter release, and b.) It’s a bitch to get 120 black and white film developed anymore.
As for the first issue: the Spartus Full-Vue only has two levers. One is the shutter release. Immediately above that is the Time/Inst. lever. Flip this up to take long timed exposures; flip it down to take normal, “instant” photos. I don’t know why, partway through my test roll, my brain somehow flipped those and made me think that the lever should be up for normal exposures.
So, the first few exposures came out great!
I got lucky with one or two downtown:
But, unfortunately, 50% of my test roll came out like this:
One other technical difficulty with the Spartus involved loading it. The film advance knob, when pulled out, releases the take-up reel to be removed when the roll is complete. I must have inadvertently pulled it out while trying to load the film, which caused me to have to unload the film and start over. Because I didn’t advance far enough to get past my exposed film, the first exposure I took — a three-second long exposure of Aaron sitting at his desk — was half obliterated. Which is unfortunate, since the third of the photo that did come out looked tack-sharp and well-exposed.
As for my other issue: developing. Some time ago, I picked up a multi-pack of Ilford Pro 120 film for a good price online, and have had it stashed in the deep-freeze ever since, removing rolls one by one for test runs such as this (or the occasional Holga outing). Haven’t had any problems getting it developed by my normal online means.
This time, though, my normally-trusty Dale Labs returned the film and my uncashed check with a handwritten note: “Unable to do any Ilford film.” Well, this is a new development. So, I emailed customer service and asked when this had happened, since my last order had involved not one but two rolls of this very same film.
OK, fine. So, I took the film to a photo place just up the road from me: Taylor Photo. I gave the woman a little bit of a hard time, because I was under the impression that this was color-process film. (I’d never had any problem getting it processed before, after all.) She refused to put it through her equipment without proof that it was C-41 or other color process, and rightly so. Interesting that they couldn’t process black and white, though.
Final attempt: Dwayne’s Photo. On the plus side, they take PayPal! On the minus side, they took longer to get my prints to me than I’m used to, and they cut my prints a little wonky. Actually, they only really messed up one print, but it was my favorite on the roll — hence the janky film scan above. (If you look not-so-closely, you can see where I stitched together different scan passes, since my scanner only scans 35mm film, not medium format.)
Consensus? Firstly, I need to find a photofinisher that I like, preferably local. Second, I need to run another roll through the Spartus, to get a feel for exactly where the focus is and where the sharpness falls off at the edges. Third, I need to get myself a pack of color-process 120 film. Overall, though, the Spartus Full-Vue seems to be a decent camera for bright, sunny days and old-looking images.