Yesterday I did go out to shoot some black & white film in my second Nikon F3 -- the F3blue with the MD-4 motor drive I got at Christmas (DW). I decided to try the 35-135mm f3.5-4.5 AF NIKKOR that came with the Kodak Pro SLR/n, and it turned out relatively easy to use as an AI manual focus lens. The push-pull zoom is very smooth and the focusing ring turns really easily. The Nikon F3 Type R focusing screen I bought, designed for running the split-image rangefinder with f3.5 to f5.6 lenses, worked very well, and the grid lines in the R screen are just bonus for when you're twisting and turning to shoot from the driver's seat of a vehicle.
Again, this is why you buy professional equipment.
A couple of weeks ago I realized that three of my 35mm Nikons were coming up on the ends of their rolls -- the F3blue, F4s and the N2020 -- and I'd started all the rolls I'd bought in 2013-14 when I got home from the hospital the first time. So, since I don't shoot film all that often, I just got four different rolls of pro film -- two B&W and two color negative, all C-41 color process.
So I was pleased to finish up the roll of Ilford XP-2 ISO 400 black & white film in the F3 yesterday. Pleased other than I missed one good shot: after circling around, I was coming up to 48th Avenue westbound on M-45 and to my left were two cars. Both were at 45° to the intersection and there was zero gap between them. My guess is that the little car pulled a right turn on red right into a car going straight on M-45. Or else the bigger car ran the red light. Either way, I had the perfect sight angle for shooting right between the cars as I sat at the light. Grabbed the F3, zoomed to 135mm, focused, pressed the shutter release. Nothing. As I put the camera down when the light turned green, I saw the red LED on which said I was at the end of the roll.
Because I had been shooting the F3 since December in the cold, I used the countdown counter on the MD-4 motor drive. It has enough torque to rip frozen film off the spool if you're not careful. So I wasn't sure if I had really hit the end of the roll, or the end minus 1, meaning I could've had one more shot. Actually, no. When I changed rolls this afternoon the shutter was only partly cocked, so I was at the end. Well, I've missed pictures before. It happens. Especially when you're dealing with only 36 exposures (or 24) and not 2GB or more of flash drive. And realize, if I had a digital SLR with me, I might not have had it out of the case, or had a long enough lens on it to get the shot I wanted.
So I had two errands to do in Allendale this week. Being a clever person, I figured I could do the Walgreen's trip today -- and then tomorrow or Friday do the other errand and pick up the negatives and Photo CD. Alas, not to be.
I've used Walgreen's for the C-41 processing and scanning because it was convenient. Their scanner only goes to 1 megapixel, but even that's enough to reduce to around 600x400 pixels for webpages. And the color has been good, and especially the richness coming from film.
New person at the Photo desk at Walgreen's, no problem, she called in the manager. Get my phone number, start the order. Two rolls, develop, Photo CD, proof picture, no prints.
Um, they don't do that anymore.
I mean, I had been impressed that they still did enough photo business to do 1 Hour developing in-house. Alas, those days are gone. They've contracted out to some third-party lab. And these guys do not return the negatives.
Do. Not. Return. The. Negatives.
First of all, totally unacceptable for professional film. Second, I haven't even seen any of the scans these new guys can do. With the 1MP scans I'd been getting, I had the negatives, which meant if I really needed to, I could send individual strips out to get them professionally scanned at a higher rate. But without the negatives, totally at the mercy of the lab.
For those of you who grew up on digital and have never used film -- or have forgotten -- the negatives are the real photograph. Scanner has dust on it or set wrong? JPEG corrupted on the Photo CD? Scan it again. It's the backup.
And remember, too, there is nothing wrong with this 33-year-old camera. Or the 20-25 year old zoom lens.
Now some of you might be clever enough to comment that, "well, you already don't get your checks back from the bank." And that's true. But there are differences. Check verification from a scanned check doesn't require a very good image. And technically, you do lose forensic information if you were doing some big criminal probe, such as fingerprints, pen pressure, ink brands, etc. But mostly we can live with our old bank scanned checks, even if new technology comes along.
Negatives aren't like that. As I said, they can be scanned by better scanners and more skilled operators.
My camera store in Grand Rapids, on Fulton between John Ball Park and GVSU's downtown campus, is gone. They managed to survive the 90s, but somewhere around when we got our first digital camera in 2003, they went away. There is still a pro-capable camera store in West Michigan, but their G.R. store is way on the other end of town and their Kalamazoo store is way on the end of town. That's why I've never checked their photo processing. Otherwise, it's one of the real pro labs which require shipping. And, quite frankly, more expense.
After I check out to see what Meijers is doing (close) or Costco (other side of G.R.), which is who pro guru Ken Rockwell gets some of his film processing done in California.
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