Restless for Film II

PenTestFirst2400 16-8bit

A few days ago I posted about a small half-frame film camera I had picked up in a thrift store. Well, I got the first roll of film back. The camera works just fine! Good exposures, and the lens is pretty good too, operator error aside.

There is quite a lot to say, but I have spent many hours since getting home from work figuring out the best way to scan this kind of film, and working up some of the images. And it is nearly midnight. So you get this one (three?) image(s) as proof things are going to be fine, and only a few more words.

The image above is a lot bigger than this – click on it for a more detailed view if you are interested (you might need to right click and select open image in new tab). Seeing it larger will allow you to see the dust. I live in a dusty house and I could not believe how much ended up on the scanner bed and film in this one operation. I am in need of some compressed air I think.

This is one of the first shots I took, without a light meter in sight. I was using the Sunny 16 rule, but at the suggestion of the guy in the camera shop it was really the Sunny 8 rule since it is winter, the light is low on the horizon and less intense and he thought that would drop about 1 f-stop out of the picture. However, I later found that f16 works better as the base for a sunny winter day too. The shots above would have been taken, from left to right, at f8, f16 and f5.6. This exposure works pretty well for this location – there was a bit of haze in the sky at this time so f8 was a good starting place.

I really like how the camera produces pairs of images, or series of images on the negatives. They seem more like part of each other than on full frame 35mm film, and that gives me ideas about how to have fun with this camera. Diptych time, I expect. Triptychs too.

More later on my results. I tried the camera out in sun, overcast, shady areas, indoors, backlit and on people, buildings, streets and so on. So over the next few days I am going to bore you with a bunch of shots. Some of them will be paired with digital versions taken at the same time with a DSLR, just for the heck of it. It is how I tested things, and probably about 1% might be interested, which should be consistent with my average anyway.


Olympus Pen, Half Frame, Fujifilm Neopan Acros, ISO100, 1/100th, f8, f16, f5.6 left to right, Epson V700 Scanner.

17 thoughts on “Restless for Film II

  1. Dust and film = Nightmare. When I started scanning transparencies with a CoolScan the first image took 2 hours to clone out the dust. Arrggh! I recall from the days when I used to shoot everything on Ilford FP4 I got quite accurate, after a while, at estimating exposure manually. It’s a skill one loses when we get lazy and let the camera do the work.


    • There is no doubt that the time should be put into cleaning the film before scanning – I have had that same experience with old slides.
      I think that knowing how to do these things will help me even with the digital camera. While it certainly takes good exposures and means I don’t have to think too much, there are times when I shoot in manual and it would be good to make adjustments on the fly rather than flipping back to AV or similar to confirm.


  2. Pingback: Restless for Film III | burnt embers

  3. I think all our houses are dusty! This is a big problem with pix we’ve scanned, especially the slides – even though I’ve kept them in sleeves pretty much the entire time I’ve had them, and even though we’ve used a blower on them. It’s made for a lot of post-processing time in spot removal, alas. If anyone comes up with a good way of dealing with them for scanning I’d be very interested. The new camera sounds (and looks, from these first pix) good!


    • Hi Laurie! I totally expect dust on old film, it goes with the territory. I was not expecting so much, or even very much at all, for brand new film.
      Slides are the worst – it is so hard to clean them properly, and to store them in a dust free setting seems tricky as well.
      My scanner for some kinds of film, including positives but I think not Kodachrome, has a dust detection system which uses lasers to find solid bits that are not film dark spots, and then clones those out. I have only used it a bit and I think it works much better in theory than in practice, but I have not used it enough to be sure of that. Might be me messing it up. Also, it makes scanning a lot slower (though not as slow as manual dust removal). My scanner can also support a wet scanning processes where the negatives (or unmounted positives) are doused in something which floats of the dust and also flattens the plane a bit and is supposed to work well. Sounds complicated, needs extra hardware accessories, and probably only worth doing on some exceptionally important images.


      • This all sounds WAY more high-tech and advanced than our scanner! Are you developing your own film, or taking it to a lab? If the latter, I wonder whether they still offer the service they used to do when digital imaging first became popular, i.e. for a small extra charge, to give you scans of the images along with your prints? And if they do…maybe the extra cost would be worth it considering all the time involved in dust removal. I’m sure their scanners would be top rate and hopefully they’d be doing it before the dust had a chance to settle.


      • Hi Laurie, I do have someone process the negatives, and they do offer a scanning service. But it is not all that cheap any more, and for really high quality scans it is quite expensive. I am already finding the cost of one roll of film with processing but no prints and no scans to have the potential to be very expensive – 10 rolls well over $150 which is money I would rather spend on other things photographic.
        I need to work out a good scanning method to keep all clean, or much more clean – I am sure I can do it, it is just a matter of getting a routine established.


  4. Fun stuff! I have a gorgeous little FujicaMini half frame and a Diana Mini that does half frame… might have to pull one of them out to play with soon! Have fun! Glad the Pen is workrng out for you!!! 🙂


    • Thanks Mark. I am pretty pleased with the way it works, and I do have some ideas that I would like to explore that can only be done with the half-frame format (other than photoshop or similar).


    • Hi Stuart – I agree the camera was a bargain. But it seems like buying film, and getting the negatives developed, is going to run around $16 a roll, which is going to be inhibiting me. I could develop the negs myself, but adding processing time to my photography is really the opposite of what I want to do (scanning is really quite time consuming too).
      I agree about the dust and the feel of the image. Some of the shots I took, especially of my baby grand daughter have an old feel about them – added to by the dust, but arising also from other factors like black and white and maybe the half frame format and something to do with the lens, not to mention it being scanned film.
      The place where I had my film processed has a small camera display, and right there in front of me was a Werra just like yours, with brown leather case. I would not have recognised it except for your recent post. I asked – it was not for sale.


      • Hi Ehpem…
        Cost is a factor, no doubt about it…In the UK film/developing and scanning set me back £12.00 sterling, and I had to use C41 film which wouldn’t have been my first choice…..In the UK the quickest lab turnaround for standard chemistry B&W film was a week….I was far too impatient for that…
        Going DIY is possible, but my current scanner cant handle negs or slides, so a scanner suitable will cost a bare minimum of £130.00 for anything like decent resolution, and dev tanks and chemicals even using ebay, an initial £50.00 to £60.00…
        Tough decisions in a world where digital technology has made photography virtually free.
        In the short term I’m going to just try to make sure that I use the Werra and B&W film ONLY when it’s the right camera to use….Right light/right subject/right situation to learn or re-learn something about technique..Hopefully that way I can minimise the lab costs AND improve my ‘manual’ brain without re-mortgaging Shpics mansions…
        If at any point I think my results are starting to be worth the investment I can rethink the DIY option.
        We shall see…
        What a coincidence with the WERRA in your lab! That’s a long way from home.
        Here in the UK there are occasionally a few on ebay but I think most were sold in Europe so their cropping up is a little more likely…The one you saw could probably tell a few stories.
        I paid £3.00 for a non-working example on ebay a couple of days ago as it had a case, lens hood and cap which mine was missing…..So, at least I’m complete now and can safely carry it around, waiting for those perfect, cost-effective, moments.
        I’m looking forward to seeing more of your ‘PEN’manship..
        Cheers Ehpem


      • The cost of processing (and buying) film is only going to climb as it becomes more and more of a specialised niche market with few customers. I am fortunate that there is still a good lab in town that will process true black and white in two or three days, and that there is another place in town that sells some of the now more obscure film, like 25 and 50 ISO black and white which is hard to come by, and which I might need to shoot with this camera if I ever want a shallower depth of field, or to use the lens and its best apertures.
        I have a bunch of quite fast colour film from a variety of sources and all of it expired. I will give that a try while the light is lower in December and see if I can get something from it. Or, I will use it in one of several full frame cameras I have lying around.


      • I hadn’t shopped for film for years but had a choice of XP2 400 or XP2 400 in any of my normal photo emporiums.. 😦
        Ebay seems my only recourse for anything more exotic.
        Plus, as I say, I was quoted a minimum of 7 days for developing ANY B&W film….
        DIY may well be my only real option in the not too distant future.
        Need to save some pennies for a half decent scanner.


      • Hi Stuart. I think you are in the UK – this photographer on the Isle of Man sends his film off to Peak Imaging, somewhere in UK. Here is a post that mentions it. but I am sure I have read several posts where he mentions them and the great job they do. I am sure it takes time, but in some ways, that is a rediscovered pleasure for me – the anticipation. Buying the film must be possible. You don’t want to be shipping from Canada, but these guys that have a store in Victoria BC probably would ship you film if you care for the extra expense…


  5. Exposure compensations aside, I like this shot quite a bit. And though I didn’t purposely look for dust, I can tell you from experience that 30 seconds of pre-scan cleaning is worth about 20 minutes of post process spotting. I use a fine sable brush followed by compressed air on both sides of the negs/slides and it seems to work fine.
    The photos appear to be nice and sharp. I thing there is a decent lens attached to the camera and you should get pretty good results. Half frame means focusing is probably not as critical as other cameras since depth of field should be very deep, another plus.


    • Thanks Ken, I like this image too. Bracketing by one f-stop really does not seem necessary – there is a lot of informaton in the film that adjustments in the scanner can pull out, or in LR.

      I did do some cleaning, though I assumed the negatives themselves would be pretty good since they were coming directly out of their sleeve. I could not find my air brush, but did wipe off the glass very carefully. I guess I have a bit to learn on that front.

      Some of the photos are much sharper than others – that is partly which focal distance I chose to shoot at, and partly the light I think. All the images got a bit of sharpening in the scanner and a bit more in LR. Since many of these are shot at f8 or f16, and it is a 28mm lens, there should be a very deep depth of field, which is good.


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