Recently I acquired some expired B&W film. I have heard about this film before, but never tried. It was the Kodak Plus-X in 4×5 sheets, which expired in 1981. Plus-x was an ISO 125 general purpose fine grain film, much loved by photographers but unfortunately discontinued in 2011. I guess the available equivalent might be Ilford FP4+?
I thought to myself, what a great opportunity to dust off the Linhof Technika V (I’m guilty of letting her idle for the last year), fire up the Schneider Xenar 150mm f/4.5 lens (not a fancy lens, but seems fitting to the task), and take some large format photos of my favorite 35mm classic manual cameras!
I rated the expired Kodak Plus-X at 50 ISO, considering how expired they were. Soaked them in Rodinal 1+50, and let it brew without any agitation. I was a little bit nervous when I opened the development tank after the wash, but they were all fine. A little bit of base fog, which was easily taken care of in Adobe Lightroom via some contrast and levels adjustment. And the results look good to me: the shining chrome, inky black leatherette, and enigmatic reflection of the glass, all blend beautifully. I really like the tonality of the film, and look forward to taking more photos with this limited stock.
And here are the photos of my favorite 35mm classic manual cameras::
Konica Autoreflex T3 with Hexanon 40mm f/1.8 lens:
A solid all manual camera that is simple and elegant. And the Hexanon 40mm f/1.8 is my all-time favorite pancake-like lens that shoots wonderful photos near sunrise and sunset.
You can find some photos with this combo during golden hours at Asiloma Beach in California.
Miranda Sensorex with Auto Miranda 50/1.4
A very underrated camera with beautiful workmanship, and a unique pentaprism design that adds some flare. The Auto Miranda 50/1.4 lens can focus down to 0.43 meters, which is very useful for almost macro-like photos.
Voigtlander Vitessa folder with Ultron 50/2
I like most lenses from Voigtlander, but hate most of their cameras. The folding Vitessa might be the only exception: combining jewel-like mechanical construction with my all time favorite 50mm lens Ultron 50/2. This lens is magic, sharp but not too contrasty, and renders an image like no other. I would even rank it a tiny bit higher than the Leica Summicron 50/2 Rigid.
And here are the photos with the Vitessa Ultron.
Minolta SRT 102 with Rokkor 58/1.4 PF MC
This is a new addition to my 35mm collection. It looks nice and operates smoothly, but I’m yet to put a roll through it. Later…
Leica M3 with Summicron 50/2 Rigid
This is the holy grail of 35mm rangefinders, and I was lucky enough to acquire the set before the price hike of recent years. The viewfinder and rangefinder of Leica M3 is revolutionary for its time, and superior to anything else even today. The 50mm f/2 Rigid Summicron is not a sharpness or contrast king compared to modern optics, but holds its own in terms of character and dreamy imagery. A near perfect match.
And here are the photos taken with Leica M3 and Summicron 50/2.
As you can tell, I had a lot of fun using the expired Kodak Plus-X film for the first time. Its fine grain, beautiful tonality and that classic look, will open up lots of opportunities in portraits and landscape photography. Since it is long discontinued, I will treasure every single sheet. Only 88 sheets left to go.
About the author
Zheng is a hobby photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also likes camera gear, a lot. You can find his portfolio on flickr:
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