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Not every photo expedition has to be carefully planned, with the objective thought out before hand and all the necessary kit packed into a bulging and heavy backpack. Getting out of a cosy bed before dawn once the clocks have gone forward is one of the most difficult parts of the photographer’s calling. Sometimes, though, after a leisurely breakfast it’s good just to take the minimum kit and go for a walk. Pick up that mirrorless Fuji with its lightweight 55-230 lens, pop a spare battery in your pocket and see what’s nearby.

In my case, I decided just to go for a walk in one of the nearby parks along with dozens of other locals just taking in a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. After the long winter here in Canada the coming of Spring and Summer is something that has to be taken advantage of; it won’t be long before we’re thinking about putting the winter tires back on our cars, so let’s make the most of it.

This wasn’t a quest for the perfect wildlife photograph. I don’t get paid for my work, I get the occasional picture published but photography has given me hours and hours of pleasure over the years. The simple act of taking a few decent pictures is enough to satisfy that urge to create that lives somewhere in all of us.

These pictures aren’t wildlife masterpieces, they weren’t taken with high-end equipment but but they were a lot of fun to shoot and I get a lot of pleasure just looking at them. Not to mention the physical health benefits of getting outside for a walk.

I don’t think you can underestimate the mental health benefits of a hobby that takes you out of the 9-5 and that allows you to indulge, to whatever extent, your creativity. I look at hobbies as my healthy obsessions. I hope to be obsessed and producing pictures that I like to look at for many years to come!

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In 1996 Kodak introduced the Advanced Photo System, or APS. Aimed largely at the consumer market, we could now buy film smaller than 35mm in a single cartridge, load it into specially designed cameras without having to spool film, so no risk of the film coming loose from the end spool, and shoot. You could even get 40 shots from some rolls. Once the film was finished it rolled itself back into its cartridge, ready for processing. After developing you got the cartridge back with your negatives still inside, so no more filling old shoeboxes with uncatalogued negatives.

The problem for APS wasn’t the quality of the images despite what many would have you think. There were some good cameras produced to shoot APS. As well as the pocket point and shoot you had cameras such as the Nikon Pronea series which could use most of Nikon’s SLR lenses. People had been using 110 for years by this point, so families had no issue switching to the convenience of APS. There was a good choice of film from both of the giants, Kodak and Fuji, plus other suppliers. The problem was that APS appeared just before digital started taking off. By the early 2000’s many people, not professionals yet, were starting to buy their first digital cameras, and we all know what happened to film after that. From the peak of 2003, film fell off a cliff. Gone, finished, dead for ever (supposedly). And APS went with it, finally discontinued in 2011 but dead years before then.

A few weeks ago I attended a local camera fair and among all the large formats, the Mamiyas and the Leicas, there was this little thing. A Kodak Advantix F320. APS. With film that had been stored in a wine cooler for years. $10. Sold.

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Kodak Advantix F320

How did it shoot? I took it out one lunchtime at work with B&W film loaded and it shot great. Not sharp, but then you wouldn’t expect too much sharpness from this camera. But accurate, didn’t overexpose and given that the film expired a decade ago, not bad at all. A little bit of work on the contrast produced some very acceptable images.

Toronto

Toronto

Toronto

So maybe APS is dead in that the film is no longer produced. But it’s not quite buried yet. The quality of the reduced (vs 35mm) film size is still very acceptable and in a SLR it becomes even better. But that post is for next time.

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