Sunday, 15 March 2009

A word on cameras


Self portrait in Greenland, 2008, copyright Margaret Sharrow 2009


George Eastman as a young photographer

During my travels I was carrying around a load of cameras, though not the level of photographic equipment that early 19th century photographers such as George Eastman were lumbered with. Here is what I packed:

- Pentax K-1000, 35mm SLR with 28-70mm zoom lens

- Fuji Finepix digital SLR with fixed 28-300mm zoom lens

- Mamiya medium format camera from the 1960's, borrowed from my ever-generous tutor

- Olympus u-ju 35mm compact camera with fixed lens and flash

- 110 film plastic toy camera

- Kodak Junior medium format camera with bellows, c. 1910

- Russian retro light meter

I didn't carry all of these cameras every day. In fact, I took a 'day off' in Nuuk by carrying only the compact 35mm and the 110.

I had great plans for the Kodak Junior, which is small and slim and takes photos with great depth of field on negatives the size of Montana. Unfortunately, like all the great Kodak rollfilm cameras of the early to mid 20th century, it was designed to take 620 film, which is basically 120 film on slightly smaller spools (about 1mm difference, but enough to jam if you just load a modern 120 spool). So, the plan was to bring 120 film, two antique 620 spools, and a portable darkroom which is basically a black t-shirt with elastic sleeves and velcro closure at the bottom, in order to transfer the film onto the antique spools. Except it was only in Nuuk, in the bedroom of my B&B, that I realised I'd forgotten to pack the spare antique spool. Aargh! I tried trimming modern plastic spools with scissors, but they continued to jam. Lesson learned: double check all equipment before leaving home, and load all the cameras, too.

I took a significant quantity of each of the following films, as well as an 8gb memory card, and several memory cards of 2gb or less:

- Ilford 400 and 100 Delta (35mm and 120)

- Ilford 200SFX (the mock-infrared film, and its magenta filter, which I held in front of various cameras)

- Ilford ASA 50 film (a couple rolls of 120 only)

- cheap 35mm colour print film, expired for interesting effects, for the compact camera

- Fuji 110 colour print film (still available from 7dayshop) (4 rolls)

- Adox 100 black and white film, with the 1950's style chromatic sensitivity that makes reds, for example, very dark

- Three rolls of medium format colour transparency film (Fuji)

- Two leftover rolls of high speed 35mm film, expired (1600 and 800 ASA)

I estimate that in total I recorded somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 images over 23 days, the majority being digital. I could have taken more, but I ran out of memory. I used up all my colour film and all the 35mm film except some of the Adox, and the 110 film. I had a fair bit of Adox 120 film and the ASA 50 film left, because it was usually impossible to shot the slower films without a tripod (mercifully left at home!), and the Mamiya being my only functional medium format camera and weighing in at 2 kilos, I was often tempted to leave it in my room.

One note on the photographs on this site:
Unless otherwise noted, they are digital photos and completely unmanipulated. So in terms of the light and colour, what you see here is pretty much what you would have gotten, had you been in Greenland on the day.

2 comments:

Ilham Bagus said...

i think so pentax cameras is very good. nice to meet u ....

Margaret Sharrow said...

I've had my Pentax for years - used it since I was a child and love it, so reliable.
Nice to meet you, too Ilham.