A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be approached by the Sunny16 Podcast who asked if I would be willing to be on their show and talk about camera repairs. Having fixed one or two in my time and after a little encouragement from Graeme (one 3rd of the Sunnies team) I decided to take the plunge, throw caution to the wind and go for it. So on a Monday night the show was recorded, beers were drunk and I somehow made my way through it without too much embarrassment or making a complete idiot of myself. At least that’s how I choose to remember it. I will never listen to the podcast, even the thought of walking into a room where the thing is playing fills me with dread. But if anyone out there wants to hear how things went then you can follow this link to the Sunny16 Podcast and make up your own mind. Even if you don’t fancy my appearance I can wholeheartedly recommend you listen to the many others great shows they have made.
Whilst on the show I was asked if I shoot any film cameras and I had to admit that I rarely take any pictures on any format, film or digital. Yes, I had shot a few films back before Digital ruled the waves but not in many years and never had I personally developed a film. I rashly promised both the hosts that I would indeed go out and shoot some film in one of the many cameras I have at home. But having made that promise in font of all their many listeners I suddenly realised that I would actually have to go through with it.
The next day I dug out a long expired (2002) roll of Kodak Tmax 400, all I needed was a camera to shoot it in. A few years ago I had taken pity on an old battered Pentax SP that had been languishing on a fellow dealers shelf. It was a black version that someone in its past had decided to vigorously touch up with thick black paint. But it was mechanically sound and needed little work to get up and running. I spent a day cleaning the paint off it, converting the battery compartment and circuit to take a modern 1.5v battery and gave it a good service. I found a standard lens that was too battered to sell but was the perfect partner to the SP and the camera was put on a shelf on display in my office. This is the camera I decided to use.
Its been pretty hot here recently and I’m no fan of standing out in the sun and getting hot and bothered so I decided a walk in a woods was called for. My wife had the day off and my children were away for a week with their grandparents so we took a trip to the nearby village of Dulverton which is on the outskirts of Exmoor. There is nice shady forest walk which was cool and provided some good photo opportunities. For those of you that may not be aware the Pentax SP is a fully manual camera with stop down metering. Nice and simple but it still gave me a few problems, the biggest of which was of my own doing. The way I was using the camera was meter, focus, fire as the meter switch knocks off when the shutter fires. Which makes sense until you realise that its difficult to focus with the lens stopped down (which I didn’t work out until nearly the last shot) At first I put this down to the shady conditions and the fact that its an older camera with a dim viewfinder. I also wear glasses and that makes using the viewfinder difficult. Next time I will knock the meter off and then focus or I may just try another camera with open aperture metering. I may even take a 35mm lens as I like a slightly wider angle.
Taken by my wife on an iphone (sorry)
I must admit it was great fun getting back to basics and shooting totally manually with nothing but a 50mm lens. I ended up in a few bushes trying to get a bit more in frame but the whole experience was excellent fun and I now have an insight into why analogue is so popular again. It doesn’t bother me that I don’t have the results instantly to see as I would with a digital camera. I can remember most of the shots I took much more so than had I gone out with a Digital SLR. It made me take my time with each shot and think about the exposure and how the light would effect it. And being limited to 24/36 pictures makes you choose each shot much more carefully rather than just shooting anything and everything you come across.
My next post will include the results (if there are any) and my thoughts on home film developing.