Category: Film

Analog Glass on Digital Cameras

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Money. It can’t buy happiness. But it can buy camera lenses. And camera lenses are basically happiness. I mean, let’s face it, I’m writing a blog about photography, you’re reading a blog about photography. Pretty clear what makes us 

I have a lovely set of Olympus OM-D EM 5 micro 4/3 (m4/3) cameras. They are beautiful, durable, affordable and surprisingly diverse. And the best part is with the proper adapter, you can use old film lenses on them. Have old Nikon glass you loved in the days of film? Use it! Have a Canon lens you couldn’t part with? It will work! You can pick them up on Ebay for a little bit of nothing. I picked up a prime 135 Hanimex f/2.8 for $30.00. I shot one of my favorite photo series with that lens one night during an impromptu fire breathing session. None of my other lenses were fast enough. There certainly many pros to adapt analog lenses, but there are a few cons as well.happy right? I’m not rich. But I’m not unhappy either.

The Pros:

They are super affordable. You can buy fast lenses, f/2.8 or wider, for less than 

100.00 on Ebay or from online camera stores with reputable used departments. I recommend or They have excellent rating systems that will let you know 

what kind of condition the lens is in. That’s one heck of a deal considering that a m4/3 35-100 f/2.8 lens -used- is almost $800.00. I don’t have that kind of cash just laying around. And since most of my paying work is real estate, I can’t justify it.

If you are hybrid (film and digital) shooter like myself, you can switch between your film camera and your digital camera easily. You don’t have to buy multiples lenses for different systems.

The crop factor on a m4/3 camera is almost 2x the size of a 35mm camera. Meaning that a 50mm f/1.4 film lens is is going to be 100mm f/1.4 on a m4/3 camera. Again, if you are a decent bargain hunter you can come away with an amazing zoom lens.

The Cons:

Another downside is the crop factor. It is listed above because it favors someone looking for a telephoto lens. But utilizing a wide angle lenses is a bit of a problem. Your 16mm wide angle lens becomes a 32mm lens. Cutting the the field of view in half.These old analog lenses are all manual when connected to with an adapter. Manual focus, manual exposure. This can be cumbersome in a situation that require quick focus or quick thinking. There is no way to let the camera do the thinking for you. However, could be considered a silver lining to some. New shooters who are trying to learn shooting manual on a digital camera will have no choice with lenses. Much like learning to do math before reaching for a calculator.

Adapters can be a bit of a hassle unless you have multiples. I have several Nikkor adapters which I keep on my favorite film lenses. But if you only have one adapter, hunting for it to switch lenses on the fly might mean the shot you wanted slipped by. But adapters are $10-$25, so for very little you can circumvent this problem entirely.

There are many different sources that argue for and against the use of analog lenses on digital cameras. If you shoot on a professional basis you should look into investing in digital lenses, in the long run, it will save you time, which is money. But for a hobbyist in search of a cost effective means to produce creamy bokeh or a fast nighttime lens have a look at some old glass. If its well cared for, the images produced in many situations will be better than the cheaper digital lenses in the same price range.

New Life for Yashica 44: Shoot 35mm

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When my grandfather passed away in 2015 I inherited his camera collection. There were some beautiful specimens

in the mix. But the camera that stuck out to me was a petite mint colored Yashica 44. In a collection of bulky black 

cameras this one was certainly unique. I instantly that imagined that it was my Pap’s favorite, because it was mine and I wanted a way to connect with him.

Right away I wanted more than anything to shoot everything with this camera. But there was a problem. This 

adorable little camera shoots 127 film. To be completely honest, I had never even heard of 127 at that time. I always have a stockpile of 35mm (which was just a little too small) and some 120 (which was just a tad too large).

Knowing that this film would have to be 

Fortunately, after reading a bit more about this diminutive TLR, a solution presented itself. You can convert these little babies to shoot 35mm. I won’t ordered from an online supplier I started searching. Looking at the prices I became a bit discouraged. The price per roll is about 10.00. And the film produced 10-16 

Don’t forget to cover the film counter. Otherwise your images will be blown out.

images per roll. That just wasn’t going to cut it for me. When I start shooting I like to know I have plenty of shots at my disposal. I don’t want to have that internal debate about whether it’s worth one frame or not.

go step-by-step here but you only need a screwdriver to remove the film roller. Once you’ve removed the film roller, don’t forget to cover the film counter window. I neglected to do this and as a result there are squares on my first roll where part of the frame is completely blown out. Save the film roller bar and screws and if you decide you want to shoot 127 you can 

easily put the film roller back. No harm done.

Center you subject as much as possible to avoid sprockets running through your subject.

Because 127 film is bigger than 35mm you will expose over the sprocket area as well. The result is similar to Holga 35mm sprockets. Personally, I like the  sprocket effect. It gives the images an authentic film feel, not like some cheesy film border slapped on a digital image. But it also means that you will need to make sure your subject is mostly centered in your image. Otherwise you will have sprockets running through your subject. 

You will need a light meter to help you in your shooting with the 44 though. It doesn’t have one built in. You may also rely on the Sunny 16 Rule while you are out and about. But you will have to estimate if you get into anything less than bright sunshine.

I actually recommend converting the Yashica 44. It is a beautiful, sturdy camera that in my experience produces excellent images. Cameras should be used, not just displayed. With 127 film going extinct, 35mm will keep this little gem from becoming nothing more than a shelf queen.   

Channel Your Inner MacGyver- DIY 2×3 Sheet Film Processing

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Lately I have been shooting a lot of film, mainly 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 ( 2×3) large format. I bought a Speed Graphic Mini camera (circa 1947) in excellent condition off Ebay. I

Film tank, adjustable spool, beading wire, and small jewelry tools are used to convert 35MM processing gear.

practically live there when I experience severe bouts of G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Look it up, it’s a thing…. Maybe.

When my Mini came in It came with three negative plates, which carry two shots a piece. In total I had six shots which didn’t leave much room for error. Kind of like a gunslinger in Dodge City. It didn’t occur to me until after I had exposed all six shots that had no way to process the images.

Frantically, I the internet for a tank which processed 2×3. Most sheet film tanks had a minimum size of 4×5. Apparently 2×3 is an endangered species, hard to come by and harder still to find proper tools to process it. Brand new the tanks I located had poor reviews and cost upward of $75.  I found one tank on Alas, before it shipped the seller refunded me stating she had found a crack when she was wrapping it for packing. So I searched for alternative processing options. I found one called taco-ing, but it seemed dicey, especially after having painstakingly composing these images.

Undeterred, I sat down with the items I had available to me for film processing; three round spool tanks and six adjustable plastic film spools. I opened up one spool to the widest setting which is the 120 setting. The film fit in height but needed needed a clip of some sort to secure it in the spool. I will spare you the details of all the failed attempts. I finally ended up with wax coated beading wire from the jewelry department found in the jewelry department at Walmart.

Below are instructions to convert your adjustable 35mm film spool into a spool which will hold two 2×3 negatives. Essentially, if you can process 35mm film at home you can process 2×3 with a few adjustments.

What you will Need:

  • Adjustable 35mm – 120 Film Spool
  • Spool Processing Tank
  • Narrow Gauge Beading Wire
  • Small Needle Nose Pliers / Jewelry Pliers
  • Small Tin Snips / Jewelry Snips

Step 1: Extend The spools to widest opening by turn the spool halves away from each other and pulling gently. Once fully extended lock in place by turning halves toward each other.


Step 2: Insert narrow gauge beading wire from the top to the bottom.


Step 3: Move the wire over two rings, insert and thread from bottom to top.

Step 4: Fasten wire together to make a loop. To do this I tied the ends together, cut off excess wire, then twisted the remaining tails around each other. Don’t over tighten. Just so that the its closed.*

Step 5: Make three more loops on film spool as described in steps 2-4.


To use, simply slip one end of the negative into loop and the other through the loop on the other end.

One spool set up this way can hold two 2×3 negatives. So each standard tank will process two negatives. I have three tanks and I have converted three spools so I have enough tanks and spools to process all six of my shots from one outing unless I purchase more negative plates. In which case I will need more tanks and spools. See… G.A.S.

I recommend trying to load a dummy negative first in a black room or changing bag. It’s worth sacrificing a negative to practice with. I think this process is easier than trying to spool 35mm film but you should still get comfortable with it before attempting on film you worked so hard to expose.

*Over tightening the wire will add pressure to the top and bottom making it hard to slip the negative into the wire loop. If you have to force it, you might accidentally scratch the negative, which will be very noticeable later. This is another reason to try with a dummy negative first, so you can see if there is too much tension in the spool. If it’s too tight you can restring the loop. Better to find out on a dummy negative than when you are up to your elbows in a changing bag.


Shake Up Your Photography, Shoot Film Now and Then

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I enjoy photographing a wide range of subjects. One afternoon I will be photographing a home for a realtor, and the next morning before sunrise I might find myself down at Reelfoot lake to shoot the sunrise, and later that afternoon I might be setting up for some portraits. But even with that kind of diverse subject matter I still find myself in the dreaded creative rut. The leading suggestion to spark creativity in your photography is to try something new. Well that’s a great idea, except that is about as specific as Chinese buffet fortune cookie.


So what I suggest is trying to shoot a roll of film… or five. I know most photographers are dedicated digital shooters these days. You almost 

Film photography increases thoughtful composition and can shake loose creativity.

have to be if your business is photography. But film will do a few things for you as far as developing your photography. Number one, you will be more deliberate in what you shoot. There will be a nagging feeling in the back of your head telling you that there are only 36 exposures on that roll of film. Make them count. This tiny itch in your brain will lead to the second thing that will happen.


You will have fewer wasted images. You will think about the composition in your photo. Instead of shooting twenty images of the same subject like a photographer would do in the digital world, you might fire off two, three if the subject really strikes your fancy. But you will spend more time using you eyes to check that the horizon is level, the shadow is where you want it, your angle is perfect, etc. Waste not, want not.


Recently, to get out of a digital funk, I learned to shoot a Speed Graphic mini (think 1940’s era press photographer camera)which shoots an obscure sheet film. The film is 2.25×3.25 and extremely limited in production. This camera jewel is very time consuming to shoot. The image is composed on a ground glass back. Think 19th century photographer focusing under a blanket. With this camera I have six shots. That’s it. I have spent all day out and about with this camera trying to find the perfect six shots. I don’t get six awesome shots every time, obviously. But when I nail one, I get that warm fuzzy feeling. I’m sure you know the one. I wouldn’t recommend this camera for film beginners. And knowing I did it with film makes it even more rewarding.

Multiple exposure shot with 2×3 sheet film. ISO 400 pushed to 800.

If you have no experience with film, get a 35mm camera. They can be point and shoot cameras or SLR rigs.These cameras can be found in a junk stores, antique shops and on ebay for less than $20. If you don’t want to spend the cash, I don’t blame you. It’s very likely that you know someone with a film camera that they want to part with. People don’t want to throw out a camera so they give them away. I acquired several Mostly through well meaning “donations”. Kind of like an animal shelter. People can’t keep these cameras for different reasons and want to see them go to good homes. Put a call out on your Facebook page. Ask if anyone wants to get rid of a film camera. You’ll find one, probably in less than 24 hours and if your not picky, it will be just what you need for a creative experiment.


A roll of film and some unique props should boost your creativity.

Color film can still be purchased at Walmart. Color and black and white film can be purchased online, from places like Amazon, Adorama, B&H and The Film Photography Project. I process my own film at home, but there are some good labs out there that can develop and scan your negatives for you. The Darkroom is a great lab, I recommend them if you need your film processed for you. Many digital shooters have worked with Mpix for photography products but they also offer film processing services.  If you aren’t too worried about precision processing, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS will still send your film out and do a reasonably good job.


It really doesn’t matter what you shoot, walk around on Main Street and photograph people hurrying to and fro.. Go to a park and try shooting landscapes or wildflowers. Call a friend and do a photoshoot. Set up some still lifes. But whatever you do, leave your digital camera behind. You don’t want a crutch for this excursion. And your digital camera will still be there waiting for you to come back refreshed and ready.

Categories: Film Inspiration