I like film photography and use up a lot of film. I also needed a new key chain as my old one was made out of leather and was falling apart.
Light bulb! I take my film to the local Costco and Lily is on friendly terms with the people behind the counter. So I asked them if they could spare the old used 135 film cartridges.
Boy, could they. I got about a dozen and picked out some different color ones. I got some 1″ key rings from Home Depot, Dad has a drill press in his work room and in a few minutes I had new key chains.
Last year I purchased another Olympus Trip 35 for 2 reasons. The first reason was to replace the camera that had taken a hit and stopped working. The second reason is that I wanted to try to re-skin one. Since the replacement camera cost less than $40 on eBay why not?
No turning back now
Back in December I went online and ordered a Cobalt Kid Skin (Goat) for my camera from Cameraleather.com. They have quality products but are really backed up. I received my order about 60 days later.
That’s not a complaint and I really am happy with what I received, but keep that in mind if you want to order from them.
Removing the old leatherette was not difficult and I started with the back. I pulled out my old Swiss army knife and began peeling the edge up in no time at all. Yes, yes I did.
Oh yeah, don’t do that. You’ll just scratch the metal underneath and tear the old cover. Instead use your thumbnail and lift up the edge. With a little effort it will come right off as long as you proceed slow and smoothly.
On the back I didn’t do that and later on I had to remove the scraps. The front pieces came cleanly off with just my fingers and some patience.
Applying the new skin was very simple and straight forward. I had originally gotten some Purell so that I could use the wet method but I eventually went with just applying the new cover directly on.
Future Film Camera enthusiast
It worked. The pieces lined up and I now have a Cobalt Blue colored Olympus Trip 35. Looks cool! My only concern is that I have 4 Olympus Trip 35 cameras lying around. But that’s alright for now.
Here’s a gallery of the newly re-covered camera.
I included a photo of my Nikon for size comparison. Compared to the compact camera it’s huge.
This was a fun thing to do and took hardly anytime at all. But unless one of my cameras gets broken (again!) odds are I won’t do this again soon.
I collect old parts for a junk pile cameras and today I found an old Sunpak Auto 121C flash at the thrift shop.
When it comes to cameras, the local thrift shop isn’t often a good place to go picking. They’re like a magnet for all sorts of broken junk, most of which are really cheap plastic 35mm toys.
Occasionally you will find some decent Olympus consumer film cameras, but that’s because they don’t know what they have. Once I even found a Olympus Trip 35 only it wasn’t passing the red flag test and looked like it needed a lot of work.
Today the kids and I were there and while they searched for inexpensive toys, I saw the flash. The batteries inside had leaked but somehow hadn’t corroded anything on the inside. It was $9 so I took a chance and took it home. Success! I put a fresh pair of double AA batteries and the flash fires.
Compared to modern camera flashes, it’s a simple no frills model. But my film cameras are at least 37 years old, so it’s exactly what I wanted. With a little elbow grease it cleaned up really well.
This was a good find. The flash is small and works so I plan to take it to get-togethers and shoot off at least one roll of film.
Last weekend my family was having dinner at my in-laws, looking at photos from their recent trip to China, and having a good time. Since I knew there would be a lot of us there I took my cameras.
Here’s a photo I took with my DSLR and no flash.
Nikon D300s, f/2.8, 30mm (45mm equivalent), 1/25 second, ISO 640
It’s a good capture and I’m shocked that a 1/25 second exposure worked out so well. My hands shake and that lens is not a stabilized version.
A few minutes after this someone asked why I wasn’t using my film camera. So I shot this next photo using my Olympus Trip 35 loaded with Fujifilm Superia 200 and also with no flash.
Olympus Trip 35, f/2.8, 40mm, 1/40 second, ISO 200
If I had thought about it, I would have set the D300s to 200 ISO! But this is still a good comparison. The film version is more grainy and, thanks to the lighting, a little underexposed. Here the Nikon clearly beats the Olympus film camera.
My DSLR takes awesome photos but next to the Olympus Trip 35 it’s a tank. My film camera is not small enough to go into my pocket but just the right size to go with me everywhere in my backpack or even outside coat pocket.
In the year that I’ve been shooting with film I’ve shared 500+ photos on Flickr and I won’t get tired of it anytime soon. But it’s good to know my DSLR really is a better camera than the one I purchased via eBay.
It ought to be better, that film camera was manufactured in 1975.
Somehow the Kodak B&W film is cleaner. I’m going to explain it poorly, but the Ilford comes out developed with dust particles. Not every frame but some do.
At first I thought it was just a bad day at the developing machine but it’s not that. Every Ilford Super XP2 400 roll I have used has samples where you get that look of scratched film or small particles of dust.
I don’t mind it as it adds character, but the Kodak doesn’t have that. It generally looks sharper and cleaner to me.
Shooting in B&W remains a surreal experience. It’s not like using Photoshop to make the image black and white, it’s got a separate character to it. With digital photography I almost always do some adjustment. It’s an automatic part of my process and makes for better images.
Not so with film photography. Even though it’s digitized and modified by the developer/scanner I never make adjustments. I don’t crop or change anything although I have re-sized the images for presenting here.
I’ll keep ordering both B&W films but for now I think I appreciate the Kodak more than the Ilford version.
For Christmas, one of my brothers gave me a Holga 120 CFN. This is a camera that takes 120 film and is entirely made out of plastic. Even the lens element is plastic.
Considering my infatuation with older film cameras, this really was a great gift. I’m always looking at eBay for a new vintage camera and this one is in that spirit. It’s all plastic; I’d never have bought one myself. But trying out 120 film was fun and I enjoyed shooting with it.
The Holga and the whole Lomography shoot-from-the-hip idea always struck me as silly. Switching to film still means you should still compose your shot and think about framing your image. While some out of focus images can be insightful, Lomography seems to me to be based on light leaks and poor photography.
That’s not to say that you can’t get good shots from one of these cameras, and I do admire the gallery. It’s just some of the examples look like the photographer wasn’t really trying.
After shooting a couple of rolls I can say that my opinion has been changed. The Holga is just for fun and intentionally taking soft picture is part of that.
This model comes with a built-in flash with color filters. You rotate the dial and get red, yellow, blue, or plain white. For black and white I used the white flash, for color I liked the yellow filter.
With 120 film there are two mask inserts, one for 6×6 cm and another for 6×4.5 cm. The 6×6 gets you 12 shots and the 6×4.5 gets 16. My first two rolls were shot with the 6×6 and I haven’t developed the 6×4.5 rolls yet.
Once thing I really need to watch out for is double exposures. On my 35mm cameras, the film advance cocks the shutter and you can’t take more than one exposure. On the Holga, the shutter and film advance knob are not mechanically connected. You can expose the same shot multiple times and that ability is part of the appeal.
I ruined a few of my B&W T Max shots because I hadn’t realized that I had already exposed that film. That’ll teach me to pay more attention.
Overall it was fun but I don’t expect this to replace my Olympus Trip 35. When the weather gets warmer I’ll take some outdoor shots with my remaining roll.
One of the appeals of shooting film is black and white photography. It’s the other side of the coin for color photos and somehow it tells a slightly different story. There are some really good fine grain films out there such as Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford Delta 400 Professional, and Fujifilm Neopan 400 Professional. I’ve used Tri-X 400 before and the results were attractive.
The problem is, these films are not developed using the C-41 process. That’s the film development system/chemistry that most consumer color films use. It’s what is used to develop film at Costco via their big automated developer and printer.
To get those B&W films developed I have to use a lab in Manhattan and they’re not cheap. At Costco development with DVD but no prints costs about $5 a roll. At the lab it’s closer to $10 and the DVD has lower resolution images.
I shoot a lot of film. Costco wins.
That’s where films like Ilford XP2 Super 400 comes in. It’s a B&W film meant for C-41 so I can take it to get developed and scanned cheaply. I ordered 3 rolls from Amazon and here’s samples from the first roll.
I like the look. I can get better detail, resolution, and less noise (grain) from any of my digital cameras but shooting with my Olympus Trip 35 is a joy.
This weekend we’re celebrating Christmas at my brother Ed’s place so I plan to use at least one roll there. My sister-in-law keeps a beautiful house and there’s going to be lots of images for me to capture.
Back in March 2011 I started taking photos with my newly acquired Olympus Trip 35 cameras. Since then I’ve taken hundreds of photos with them and even went to China with them.
In China I gave one of them to my wife’s cousin and he takes excellent photos with it. I kept the Tripman one and the oldest one is safely put away in the basement.
I broke the Tripman one. I had it in my bag last week and put the bag down hard. As soon as I did it I thought that’s it and I was right. The shutter is no longer working and the inside has something rattling around that I can’t locate. Taking it apart didn’t help and after a while I gave up.
So I went to plan B and ordered a replacement from Tripman and another one from an eBay seller. I’m back to having three functional cameras. The new Tripman arrived today and I’m planning on taking lots of photos this afternoon.
The eBay one came Wednesday and I’ve already shot a roll with it. If there are no light leaks and the photos are okay, then I plan to strip the leatherette and put on a different one. I’ll let the kids decide which color.
Once again, anyone considering a film camera should take a chance with eBay and get one. Thanks to eBay sellers I now have two working ones and each one cost me less that $40 each including shipping. The Tripman version is more money, but I got that one because it just works, has a warranty, and is really in great condition.
If you don’t mind spending a little more then you just can’t go wrong with Tripman. They’re great reconditioned models and they ship quickly.
As for the broken one, I’ve sent an email to Streetshooter in the UK to see what the backlog on his services are. Just because I can’t fix it doesn’t mean I want to leave it broken.