5 Frames with “WP-Tech 100” and a repaired XA2

By Chad Hill

A few years ago I was gifted an XA2 via my local Buy/Nothing group after a bunch of people who were offered it first changed their minds when they realized it wasnt a digital camera! I shot a single roll with it before it jammed and stopped working. Using info from some forum posts, I managed to open it up and found a piece of the meter had come adrift and lodged in the focus mechanism! I retrieved it, straightened it out, and replaced it. Then I shot a roll that gave mixed results. I thought maybe the meter was now inconsistent/incorrectly calibrated, so I put it away for a few years.

A photo of an xa2 with its case open on a workbench , showing the broken light meter.
A photo of the XA2 open on my bench. You can see the glue residue above the lens where a piece of the light meter has come adrift. The missing piece is jammed under the zone focus lever to the left of the lens.

During a recent discussion on BlueSky about the joys of small cameras, I pulled this out for the first time in a while and wondered if maybe I was wrong about the meter. After a quick investigation suggested the metering was in fact OK (utilizing the low-light warning LED as a guide for when the camera was reading 1/30 light conditions), I decided to test it again. It is also easier to test now that I am back to home processing and so per roll processing is less expensive!

The Film

For a while now the US chain store ‘5 Below’ has been selling low cost film alongside low cost cameras. Originally they carried only unbranded B+W film (that appears to be repackaged Foma). More recently some color film started also appearing in stores, branded as “WP-Tech 100”. As others have pointed out, while this film is cheap (~$5/roll) it is not really cost effective as it is only 10 frames per roll! So on a cost-per-frame basis it is actually quite expensive, especially if you are paying for per-roll lab processing. However, I bought a few rolls recently, as I was intrigued to find out what film stock it actually is, and I often find it convenient to shoot short rolls in experimental situations (like testing my XA2!).

A hand holding a white box of WP-Tech, ISO 100 film.
The packaging for the WP-Tech film. There is very little info on the box or the cartridges.

Interestingly, there is no information given about what process this color film should be developed in, so I assumed it was C-41. Also, like the B+W film, there is a “Fake” dx code on the cartridge. The code is just printed in black and white on the sticker, so cannot actually be read by a camera. Which is good, because it is the same “code” as on the black and white film and indicates that it is 400 iso film, 24 exposures, and has +3,-1 exposure tolerance. None of which is true?

A photo of a film cartridge, held in a hand, showing the fake DX code on the label.
This is not a real DX code, it is just for decoration.
a closeup photo of the edge of a 35mm film strip on a light table, showing the sprocket holes and edge marking.
A closeup of the film after initial development, showing unremoved remjet and edge markings indicating Vision 3 50d.

The Location

There is a small bit of woods, near my house, called Carpenter’s Woods where I often walk with my daughter. Wanting to test the XA2 was a perfect excuse to go for a stroll in the woods, especially on a sunny day in beautiful fall weather. I explored a small bit of foundation that Ive passed many times, and which contains a lot of graffiti. It turns out it is a small shrine to the memory of a lost friend.

The Processing

Although I am not new to a wide range of darkroom work, I had never developed color film at home until recently. I started with the FPP Super Color kit and have been getting good results. I also assumed the WP-Tech would be something like re-spooled Kodak Gold and would be straightforward to process in the same setup. But after I processed the roll, I was surprised to see that the film was still partially covered in black goo. Surprise!: WP-Tech 100 is actually cine film as confirmed by the edge markings. The edge marking includes the text “Eastman 5203” which confirms it as Vision 3 50D. After asking for some help online, I rewashed the film and rubbed the remaining remjet off with my fingers! I then DSLR scanned it and experimented with a new-to-me process for inverting and color correcting in PS.

The Photos

A photo of trees, backlit by a low sun. There are leaves on the ground, but also green and yellow leaves on the branches.
The path as it leads down into Carpenter’s Woods. The shrine is just ahead.
A photo looking down at the ground of a rectangular stone, surrounded by leaves. There is writing on the stone, in marker, and a drawing of a fire.
This stone reads: “Ally decorated this place first. Paint, draw art here in her memory. Build a fire, celebrate her soul.
a photo of another piece of stone and ground, again covered in leaves.
This marker inscription reads: “We had a little fire here. Karen threatened us and called us punks. We put it out but stood our ground on principal. We were babies. Now one of us is dead. This place will not forget you.
A tree trunk, laying among fallen leaves, with a small inscription written in marker and paint.
This trunk reads: “I have a secret, I don’t know 4 myself, Im who I want to be but at a cost…”
A photo of a flat stone in a low foundation/wall. There is writing on this stone with marker and paint.
This stone reads: “Gold… God was a woman. She has no soul”

Conclusion

This was a fun excuse to try out some new respooled film from a chain store, test out my XA, and check out this interesting little graffiti shrine that I have walked past many times. The XA is a delight to shoot, with its simple controls and small size, and I think it is clear that it is working well and ready to be used more!

N.B.: It is extremely bad form for 5 Below to be selling cine film with remjet and not labeling it as such. I assume regular consumers will buy their $5 camera and this $5 film, shoot a roll, and send it off to a lab to process. This is going to be a nightmare for unsuspecting labs who, like me, unwittingly process the film without knowing what it actually is! 

 

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About The Author

By Chad Hill
Chad Hill is an archaeologist who specializes in remote sensing, digital imaging, and 3d modeling. He has enjoyed experimenting with different film formats and processes since he got his first camera 30 years ago.
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Comments

Huss on 5 Frames with “WP-Tech 100” and a repaired XA2

Comment posted: 29/12/2023

That film basically works out to be $22.50 if it was a 36 exp roll. You can get a roll of Fujifilm 400 36 exp for $7.49, or a roll of Portra 400 for $13.74
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Andy Karlson on 5 Frames with “WP-Tech 100” and a repaired XA2

Comment posted: 28/12/2023

Great shots, and great article! And I appreciate your call to vigilance about the ignorant (going with this rather than "duplicitous") labeling of this film - I can imagine it really messing up the flow in a processing lab!
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Huss on 5 Frames with “WP-Tech 100” and a repaired XA2

Comment posted: 27/12/2023

Excellent review and really nice results given what you worked with. As for this film from 5Below? I find it extremely dishonest of them to sell this product. First off - while is says '10' on it, for most people they would not understand the number 10 and an aperture symbol to mean 10 exposures. What the vast majority of people nowadays encounter as the shortest length of film is 24 exposures. I assumed this was a 24 exp roll, because who on earth would sell 10 exposures for $5? Well, 5below. It also takes advantage of their clientele who tend to be kids - who really would not expect that. And then we have the fact that it has remjet on it which can really mess things up for the lab who develops it if they are not informed of this. The fact that there is no marking on the canister stating this is just egregious. 5Below should be ashamed of themselves - but fat chance, right? Bringing it back to the light, again, really nice pics!
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