Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A passion rekindled

(Click on the photographs to enlarge)

I recently 'acquired' a vintage 1971 film camera from eBay, an 35mm Olympus 35RD rangefinder and just had it back from Camera City repairs in Fitzrovia, just off Museum Street. It had taken them, actually, him, Pany, a stocky built, possibly Greek descent-of-a guy 3 weeks to clean and service the sticky shutter blades, and now it triggers smoothly with a purposeful 'click' you can barely hear. Just perfect for street photography.

I still have several rolls of expired (read 2007) colour and black&white film stored in my fridge sharing the same compartment with my acidophilus tablets, so I promptly loaded a roll of Fuji NPH400 and went out with no expectation whatsoever, except I had 36 shots to prove the worth of this little charming camera.

It was a Saturday and possibly the worst Saturday this year. The winds blew horizontal rain pellets across your face, and any umbrella opened was rendered useless within minutes. Still, the brave must shop, and we ended up at Primark in Oxford Street (which is another story) bargain hunting for Christmas goodies, (yes, we shop cheap). Incidentally, one can buy a full tuxedo suit for £14 and 6 pairs of socks for £2, trendy 'Che' T-shirts for £3.50. I kid you not. (Hah! Petaling Street, you've got a serious rival).

The focusing on the 35RD is accomplished with a 1/4 turn, short and smooth and the rangefinder patch is still bright and clear of fungus etc. What I find great about using this machine is the size and stealth ability, that is, I can be right up against people's faces and no one really notices me. Ah, it's just a toy camera, its an old silvery thingy, its retro. Most of all, its quiet. Much more quiet than the clunky M8 but not as low pitched as the M6, which I think is still the third king of stealth of all time. (The quietest and quickest camera I have used is the Konica Hexar 35, followed by the Digilux 2)

I am presently in KL and just managed to get the roll of film developed and scanned onto a CD. for £4.00. The scan was way too over saturated by the film quality came through as expected. I was astounded by the sharpness and clarity of the 40mm F1.7 lens! Exposure seemed to be accurate as well and the selective focusing technique produced great bokeh too. The shots reproduced here were grab shots, pre-focussed and random, to capture the shoppers with their umbrellas on Oxford Street, so there are lots of movement and fluidity in the photographs. Most were shot from the hip which is a technique I often use in street photography.

Since then I have loaded another roll of film to finish off, possibly today in KL. Hmm, perhaps this little film revival of mine may just last a little longer, a passion enkindled 30 years ago by the draw of the tiny Olympus Trip 35 my late father gave me.


Pak Zawi said...

I dont know if films are still available for use nowadays with the advent of digital cameras.
I still remember preparing developers and fixers to prepare black n white films for processing. Does Microdol X still ring a bell in you?

svllee said...

Dear Pak Zawi, yes, indeed! Film is widely available, at least in the UK. There's still a wide following especially by students and professional photographers. Microdol, I recall but I have not used it. I am more of an Agfa Rodinol person. Thank you for visiting my posts.

YMO said...

Hi Steven - We found an undeveloped roll of film in a drawer the other day and got it printed and also put on a CD. We were struck how warm the colours seemed to be compared to our digital photos these days. But it's funny to think back now to that strange experience of waiting to see photos back in those days instead of the instantaneous point, click and review that we have nowadays.