Imperial Flash Mark XII Test Roll

Part of the fun of buying antique cameras, or even just crappy plastic cameras, is that you never know what kind of results you’ll get. Could be the focus is off. Could be some crazy vignetting. Could be that those things add charm. Could be that the images are just crap.

I’m not quite sure with this one. I think I need another test roll…

Brownie Bullet Test Roll

This should be a familiar sight by now, as I take this photo as one of my basic test shots with every camera, it seems.

After some online research, I discovered that the going price for developing and printing 127 film is about $15. With this in mind, I opted to order a proof sheet from Main Photo, instead of individual prints, just to save a couple bucks. Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me that this would totally eliminate any chance the lab had of adjusting the tonality of individual frames (that is, making sure all the different pictures came out right).

So, I now have a particularly dark proof sheet, all but the above picture, and three negative strips that won’t fit into my scanner. However, I did some experimenting with the scanner, and discovered that scanning black and white negs in reflective mode isn’t a complete loss:

Although I don’t think my scanner has a very professional… what’s it called? Delta-V? It’s been a long time since VCT 208 or whatever it was. Anyway, I don’t think my scanner is terribly good at capturing the differences in grays, especially when scanning transparencies in reflective mode, but it’s a decent enough scan to help evaluate the camera, I think.

Basically, if I’m planning to do some shooting outdoors, in sunshine, and decide to go all artsy, maybe I’ll get some more 127 film and bring the Brownie as a backup. Apart from that… I’m not in love with it. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I get some reprints made of a few of the images on this roll, or if I try taking some snowy winter pics and get real prints made.

My opinion as of this moment, though, is that the Brownie Bullet is merely a neat and functional art-deco knick-knack I got for super-cheap at the thrift store.

Maiden Voyage of the Olympus XA


Got these scans from Snapfish on Tuesday, five days after the film was postmarked. I have no complaints about their service, FYI, except that I wish they processed medium format. 😛

About the Olympus XA: OMG, a rangefinder! I’ve never owned one before. See, you look through the viewfinder, and there’s a ghosted image of your subject superimposed on your little view of the scene. When the subject is in focus, the two images become one, giving you the focusing feedback that normal point-and-shoots lack. I like the fact that this will help train my eye regarding distance and focusing.

This is not a shoot-from-the-hip camera like the Lomo. This is a photographer’s compact camera. The user sets the film speed (ISO) and the desired aperture, and the camera’s light meter reads the scene and displays its calculated shutter speed in the viewfinder. This is a good feature, don’t get me wrong, but I do like the Lomo’s ability to do automatic exposure, as well. With the XA, there is no such option.

There are also several features you wouldn’t expect on a compact camera, including backlight compensation, a self-timer… even the light meter is nice to have on such a tiny axe. The lens appears sharp and doesn’t seem to require cleaning, which is good.

The test images were taken around the same time as the Argoflex pics: late September. For a camera comparison, compare the photo of the telephone poles (left) to the photo taken with the Argoflex, and compare the photo of the bench (right) to the Lomo version. (The Lomo version is a much better composition, though, IMO.)

Overall, I’d say I like my XA. It’s all I was hoping for… except no auto mode. That’s a small price to pay for a decent-quality compact camera, though.

Maiden Voyages of the Argoflex & the Brownie

My turnaround time from Dwayne’s Photo was much better this time around: 8 days total. Verra nice.

So, the maiden voyage of the Argoflex 75 was back at the end of September — around the 26th or so. I loaded it up and took it to work in my purse, and took a test roll of the path I like to walk during my lunch break. Same old photos, nothing overly original (which, IMO, is good for testing a new-to-me camera, as I know what the images “should” look like).

I noticed that there was some fogging and light leaks, although that could be from the 120 film spooling up on a 620 spool. The two spools have different diameters, so the paper backing and the film itself don’t quite meet up correctly at the end, leaving a bulged and loosely-wound roll of film after exposure.

I also noticed a desaturation of color — as this didn’t happen with my Holga pics, and I used the very same film type, I’m deducing that it’s related to the Argoflex’s lens. I’m actually OK with the saturation level, though, as it adds a certain mood and character to the prints. (Some of the brighter photos are of almost “normal” saturation, though, so it could even be a combination of the lens and the lighting conditions.)

I think I may also have smudged the lens once or twice, as the few out-of-focus spots on the images aren’t always in the same place. 😉 I forgot that I’d taken some long exposures with the “time” feature — looks like the wind was blowing the tree around during the five-second exposure of my street (right).

After seeing the results of the test roll, I think the Argoflex will get a decent amount of use. More so than the Holga, possibly, since the Argoflex is smaller and less bulky, and doesn’t cramp my style when I carry it.

The Brownie’s maiden voyage didn’t go nearly as well. The vintage 127 film I bought off of eBay was pretty much only good for display purposes, as 50-year-old masking tape tends to come loose, resulting in a resounding CRACK when the paper backing pries loose from the film within the camera. So, no vintage-looking 127 photos of the annual Apple Butter Festival, and no Brownie test roll. Yet.

The good news is that J & C Photography sells brand new 127 film (and several otherwise discontinued sizes), so I ordered myself a roll of 127 and a roll of 620 for the Argoflex. I’ve found a couple of places that seem to process 127 film, so we’ll see how this goes.

New Camera Self-Portrait

Self-portrait on walking path at Arrowhead Park, Maumee OH || ActionSampler

I picked up this little four-panel camera at Savers for 99¢ a few weeks back. This was one of the test shots I took over my lunch break, while walking in a local park. I’m impressed with the focal length, as this shot was taken at arm’s-length, a distance that makes most of my cameras cringe in blurry horror.

After only a moment of research this evening, I think I may actually have an honest-to-god Lomo ActionSampler. All the details of this unlabeled thrift-store find look exactly like the cameras on the lomography website.


Holga Roll #1

True to my word, I didn’t capture any amazing photos with my first roll of Holga film. I did manage to puzzle out 1.) how to load the bastard thing, and 2.) how to guesstimate the focus (and I thank the Lomo for prior help with that).

It also appears that the camera is, at least for now, free of major light leaks. That may change as time goes on, and the camera receives more abuse. 🙂 It’s also apparent from the photo above that the center of the image is indeed crisper than the edges, and that there is a noticeable amount of vignetting around the corners. I did use the flash, though, which might have added to the effect.

Overall, I think I’m pleased with my Holga.

Now I need to go ship off my three rolls of Lomo film and my one roll of Holga film from the 4th of July.

First Lomography Attempt

The roll of Lomo film I sent off to Snapfish has been developed, and the pics are up on their site. After seeing some of the crap other “lomographers” have produced, I was apprehensive about what my first roll was going to look like. But, as it turns out, I’m actually pretty pleased with the results.

To show you what the Lomo difference looks like, I’ve restrained myself from editing these photos at all—no color correction, no adjustments. I specifically requested that Snapfish make no color corrections to the prints, either. It goes against every digital instinct I have, letting these photos keep their flourescent green caste, but I’m doing it for the good of the order. Let me know what you think…