As I blogged before, I wanted to play with the antique large format cameras Best Beloved had acquired some time ago, and we had three rolls of 120 film sitting around waiting to be exposed.
I got the large format negs back from the lab yesterday. It was a very quick turnaround. I had posted them from Medway, first class, to the lab in Burnley, Lancs. I had an email to confirm my order had been processed and despatched back to me around midday the next day, and they arrived in the post Friday. Barely 48 hours turnaround. I was impressed.
If you’re interested, the lab in question is called Fuji Digital Imaging Service. I recommend them.
I was, frankly, more than a little excited about the results I might see. The instant gratification one gets with digital photography isn’t quite the same as waiting to see if that brilliant shot actually came out or not!
Once I’d opened the package, though, I was actually a little deflated.
You see, the images I thought would come out best had been taken on the Zeiss-Ikon, and I expected the iffy ones to be from the Soho Reflex. Ironically the best images came from the cumbersome Soho, which had the broken shutter. The Zeiss images were uniformly out of focus. Not just a bit blurry, but consistently out of focus, regardless of aperture and shutter speed. More on this later.
One film had multiple overlapped frames, which wasn’t that surprising. It was the first film I ran through the Zeiss, and I hadn’t got my head round how many turns on the cassette were needed to avoid the overlaps. The second film through the Zeiss was better.
As you can see from the scanned images, the quality is quite good. Despite the cumbersome nature of using the Soho (taking the cassette blanking plate in and out, having to uncover the lens to make exposures manually and so on) the results are pretty good. Okay, the subject matter isn’t terribly inspiring, being random shots around our back yard, but you can at least make things out.
Now, the Zeiss. I was particularly disappointed by the focus failure here, because I preferred using this camera. It’s smaller, lighter, has an operating shutter, and made for a generally more interesting experience. The fact all the images are blurred came as something of a shock. I thought I was at fault, and some discussion took place between Best Beloved and myself over why I hadn’t faffed about swapping the ground glass focussing screen in and out with the film cassette back.
However, when you look at one image, taken with the camera sat on our front door step, you can see there is a plane of the image that is in focus. I interpret this to mean the camera has a fault where the lens is not seated properly—in fact, I remember the lens would rotate when I tried to adjust the various settings on the front of the camera. After the final roll had been exposed, I did indeed fit the focussing screen to the Zeiss, and played with it to see what the actual minimum focus depth could be, so I am pretty certain the focussing does work. Perhaps there’s a mismatch between the actual focal plane and the film back, although that would surely mean nothing at all would be focussed, where the section of front step is pin sharp in that one image.
All of which isn’t to say the blurred images don’t have a certain charm to them. You can sort of make out what the photograph is about. That doesn’t mean I am not disappointed with the results, though.
I am a little flummoxed. I don’t think I shall bother getting the Zeiss repaired, and as for the Soho, well, it was fun, but not something I’d like to do often. We have discussed dismantling the Soho to see if the shutter can be repaired easily. However, I have been bitten by the analogue large format bug. I have been spotted lurking on used camera gear web sites, eyeing up used Bronica and lens sets. I fear a proper 120-sized film camera is in my future…