5 Frames with Ilford HP5 400 in a Canon Snappy LX II – By David Hume

I was on holidays down the coast (as we say around here) and because the plan was to just relax I took a roll of  black and white film and a Point and Shoot with me. I had a roll of HP5 in my little Canon Snappy LX II. It’s one of my favourite cameras because it is so simple. No focus, and it reads only 400 ISO on its DX. Anything else it defaults to 100. This is cool – because if you take it to the beach and put some Portra 160 in it it will shoot it at 100. Anything 400 will get shot at 400.

This works up to a point – because shutter speeds go 1/45s to 1/200s and aperture f/4.5-f/11.  I can tell you this because I looked up the specs and I wrote it down on a bit of gaffer tape and stuck it to the back of the camera for reference. So at the beach I knew my 400 film would be overexposed by a couple of stops. Something else I did with this camera is make it shoot square frames – 24mm x 24mm,  by sticking little bits of plastic inside it to mask out the edges of the frame. I did this when I was going all dogma on a project and wanted square frames but didn’t want to crop. I must confess that I like seeing the edges of the square frame. 

Another thing I like is that I can think – “OK – most of these shots will be incorrectly exposed, and  some will be out of focus and WHO CARES. Let’s make a frame or two and see if we if we can get an IMAGE out of it, shall we?”

I was at an old coastal town in South Australia called Robe. It was an early port and now it’s a crayfishing town and a holiday destination in summer. We were there out of season, which is nice and quiet.

Robe is well known for the Obelisk, which is a signal thing built on a cliff in the 1800s so the ships would not crash into the rocks. A bit like a pointy pyramid lighthouse but with no light. Everywhere you go in Robe you see pictures of the  Obelisk. It’s the town mascot.  Just about every business in town has an Obelisk in its logo. Everyone who goes to Robe takes photos of the Obelisk – me included.

One morning I thought to myself. “I wonder if I can tell a little story about going for a walk from our house down to the Obelisk. And I wonder if I can take a photo of the Obelisk that’s not a cliche.” So I gave it a go. I planned this to be a story of 10 frames, but of course 35mmc does not have a 10 frames category, so what you’re seeing here is a 5 frames. 


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8 thoughts on “5 Frames with Ilford HP5 400 in a Canon Snappy LX II – By David Hume”

  1. The last image is so dramatic. The images actually look a bit underexposed! I haven’t had good luck with old point and shoots. I was just given a Canon “mega zoom” and when I inserted the battery and turned the camera on the lens got stuck in one position. It was a nada zoom, not a mega zoom! Regardless, it’s fun to run film through these old cameras, especially the ones that are handed down from relatives and there is exposed film in the camera. I just had this occur, receiving my father in law’s camera after he passed, and I finished a roll he started. Thanks for the post, Louis.

    1. Hi Louis. I think I was feeling a bit grumpy about cameras and technique when I shot/wrote this and wanted to make some rough dirty shots to get the rust off me. I confess I blew the shit out of the scans to suit my ends so that may account for some of the look. It was fun to pare back – removing things like focus and mid-tones from an image and see what’s left.

  2. I have the autofocus version of this camera, Canon Prima AF-8. And I like it quite a lot actually. The lens is surprisingly sharp and decent in good light. The viewfinder is *exceptional* (I can’t stress this enough) and makes this a more fun and immersive experience than just about any other point and shoot I have tried. The flash is a bit weak, it could do with more focus steps (I belive it has 3), and something like 1/30-1/500s would be nice. But all in all, it’s a nice and straight forward camera.

    I really wish they had made these big finders cameras (every brand has them by the late 90’s) with better specs back in the days. Something like this but with a Mju II quality lens and specs would be an awesome camera. But I guess the target market was grandmas with poor eye sight.
    The waterproof Canon AS-1 is maybe the closest. It’s like the AF-8 and the Prima Mini had a child. It has specs from both. But it’s still limited to a 1/250s max shutter speed, has a weak flash and is more bulky than the AF-8. And the viewfinder while very nice, still can’t hold a candle to the bigger and brighter one in the AF-8.

    1. Cheer Mats – agreed! I also had an AF-8 And concur. Those viewfinders! (also like the Agfa 1035 etc) I think I gave the AF-8 to one of my daughters’ friends. There was a time when I supplied their clan with $5 op-shop finds, but those days have passed. I kept the SureShot Supreme, which while more up-market I don’t use at all, and also a Prima 5. I actually plan to use the LX II for a project in a month shooting 100 frames of the same subject over two weeks. These are landscapes and putting Portra 160 (or Fuji c200 if I can get it) in decent light should give nice results. Cheers. (Oh – as an aside re grandmas; when I bought the Supreme it had a roll of undeveloped film in it that showed a Christmas and Wedding shot by a grandad about 10 yrs before I bought the camera. I was even able to track the location to a house in a town not far away from where I live)

  3. Well done. I’d love to see the ten frame version, but it’s done with justice in five. The film/development/grain choice is feeling off-season holiday town and beach. The square feels nostalgic in a way 3:2 can’t. The final frame avoids the cliche and the gesture brings it to a human end.

    1. Cheers John. It’s gratifying to read your thoughts. It is, perhaps a bit of a self-indulgent little series of images this; but then, I did find it good fun and it taught me a few things. I agree about the square format – a bit like in an Instamatic (or my own boyhood Agfa Rapid) I had a really good result with this little camera shooting square images of the sea that I used as the basis of some work last year, In fact I’m thinking of nobbling a 645 to emulate the 4x4cm 127 format. And these five frames were just about as good as ten were for telling the story. I tried it again in colour recently – https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ2vJvNj9hH/ I’ve been thinking recently about photos that grab my attention. Rarely is this because of their fidelity or mid-tones! Thanks again for your input.

  4. Peter Simonsson

    Great story ’bout the story. Great story. Great framing. Nice frames. Interesting post. Poetic pictures. Lovely tones. Inspiring. Thank you very much!

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