film photography

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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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So now that the rugby league season in Toronto has been brought to a successful conclusion, I’m left with the question as to what I should be looking to photograph over the winter. The Toronto Wolfpack won’t be back in town until at least early May which leaves a bit of a void in the plans of this newly-minted international sports photographer!

Here in Canada the thoughts of the athletic now turn to our two national games, hockey (ice variety) and lacrosse. The latter is our official national game, but the former is the one that every child is brought up to play. My plan is to get to the open pre-season sessions of our Toronto Rock NLL team and see how different it will be shooting inside an arena as opposed to a sunlit, outdoor field. White balance will be completely different as will the overall lighting conditions, but a custom WB should resolve the first of those, while I know that the D610 can produce fine, noise-free pictures at ISO ratings at least up to 1600 if not 3200.

And then there’s my film photography. During the summer I had a trip to B&H in New York and picked up a stack of film, which is now sitting happily in my film freezer in the basement.

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I also have plenty of film that I picked up over the last 18 months. All my film goes directly into the freezer so there’s no concern over expiry dates.

Winter should produce some ideal conditions to try out the new Film Ferrania P30 as well as some of the other colour films I have. I recently shot a roll of Lomography 400 which turned out beautifully, so I hope to get some more of that one done.

New York & Pennsylvania
The Zippo Museum, Bradford, PA. Lomography 400, Nikon F90x

We’re hearing that Ektachrome will be back in early 2018, so that’s something to look forward to. Fall also looks to be the ideal time to shoot 120 Ektar, which delivered some excellent, richly coloured, results the last time I shot it.

Barn, Ontario
Barn, Ontario, Kodak Ektar 100, Rolleicord Vb

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