5 frames with...

5 Frames of Rollei RPX 25 with a 1924 Kodak Folding Hawkeye No.2 – By Sonny Rosenberg

August 17, 2022

I can’t believe it, but I think I have a new favorite film, at least in 120 format, sorry Film Washi S. I tend to gravitate towards high and higher contrast films, but until recently I hadn’t found a 120 black and white film that really did it for me. I had tried a couple of Film Washi’s offerings in 120, but at that time I was still getting my mise en place together for 120 film and didn’t have a good experience with it. I’m sure that was my fault entirely.

Here is where the story becomes ever so slightly convoluted; I’ve been considering an old folding camera for some time now. I knew I wanted a really old one as I prefer their aesthetics and mechanical simplicity, but where to start? There is an insane plethora of formats, brands and models available in old folding cameras. To keep a long story slightly less long, I stumbled upon an old 1924 Hawkeye No.2 Folding Cartridge camera, a simple meniscus lensed 6×9 camera in seemingly super good condition for a very good price. As it turns out the camera was in almost new condition except for the bellows. Luckily I had just read about a quick and dirty bellows fix on Jim Grey’s excellent Down the Road blog. It was an easy fix and now the camera is virtually perfect. It’s simple as can be, one speed plus bulb  (labeled T for time). Take your choice of close, middle or distant focus. There is a selection of apertures available, they range from f/8 to f/64! The manual cautions readers not use apertures 3 and 4 (f/32 and f/64) with the Instantaneous 1/25 shutter speed, although I plan on trying the Hawkeye at those apertures with some higher speed films.

With the Hawkeye’s one slow (1/25) shutter speed, it seemed like a really slow film was in order if I wanted to test it wide open (f/8), plus I wanted to try a film similar to one that I imagine this camera was designed to use. I had never really heard much at all about Rollei RPX 25 other than that it was high contrast. I thought I would develop it in my old stand bye developer Cinestill Df96 Monobath, which seems to work on almost everything. I have to say I was stunned by the first roll I shot with the Hawkeye, most shots were a bit underexposed and overdeveloped, but they were super, crazy, high contrast. With very little in the way of grays, mostly just black and white, I loved it!

From the first roll of RPX 25, developed in Cinestill Df96

Even though I loved and still do love the results of RPX 25 in Cinestill, I’ve been working on a developer made from sagebrush that I call Artemisianol. I really wanted to see what RPX did with Artemisianol as the sagebrush developer was proving to be rather high contrast itself. For this roll I modified the recipe a bit, with less sodium carbonate and ascorbic acid.

Turns out that I did get a little more tonality from this roll, it’s still very high contrast, probably too much so for most eyes, but I’m enjoying the combination of some nice tones and textures with the very high contrast.

These shots are mostly of my neighbor Shaun’s beautiful old 1930 adobe style stucco house.

528

Backyard Sofa

Sideways

Straight On

Thanks for reading this far!

For more of this sort of thing check out my little blog The Daily Lumenbox.

Sonny Rosenberg is a semi-retired Ceramics teacher and bicyclist who lives in Reno Nevada with his wife and three cats.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    William Hawkins
    August 17, 2022 at 11:12 am

    These are great – incredibly atmospheric. You wouldn’t want that intensity all the time but now and then, great fun. Impressed with the lens, too, given it’s age and allowing for the edge sharpness.

    • Reply
      sonny rosenberg
      August 17, 2022 at 2:50 pm

      Thank you William! I agree with you on the lens too, for an almost hundred year old meniscus lens it does pretty well!

  • Reply
    Keith Devereux
    August 17, 2022 at 11:14 am

    Great article, and thank you for posting. You also gained a new follower to your blog.

    • Reply
      sonny rosenberg
      August 17, 2022 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you Keith, I’m glad you enjoyed it! And thanks too for the follow!

  • Reply
    Kurt Ingham
    August 17, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    Great stuff- an unexpected camera/film combo that really works!

    • Reply
      sonny rosenberg
      August 18, 2022 at 4:59 am

      Thanks Kurt! I’m still surprised that it works so well.

  • Reply
    Austin Newell
    August 18, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    So crazy to think of using a piece of tech almost 100 years old. I like that you took photos of something almost as old as the camera, feels like the photos could have been taken at that time with this combo.

    • Reply
      sonny rosenberg
      August 18, 2022 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks Austin! Yes, I’m still completely amazed by the Hawkeye. It makes me wish that I had the time, space and money to collect and use a bunch of old cameras. There are so many really interesting cameras still out there at decent prices.

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