Restless for Film III

PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 7.tif

Bright Sun: Olympus Pen Half-frame, ISO100, 1/100th, aperture left to right: f14, f14, f15, f8

More shots from my experiments with the Olympus Pen half-frame film camera I had picked up in a thrift store. The series above are taken with the Pen, the image below with the DSLR. Since I am interested in being able to estimate exposures without a light meter (the Pen doesn’t have one), what I did with my tests was to first estimate the exposure, dial it into the camera and take a shot. Then I took a shot, in shutter priority mode, on the DSLR as a form of note taking, and to check the guesstimated exposure. After that, because I also wanted to check that the camera does not need a global exposure adjustment, I then corrected the exposure to agree with the DSLR shot, and then took brackets.

So, the top left shot is the original estimate, then the next shot is corrected according to the DSLR light meter (in this case the estimate was the ‘same’ as the metered reading – f14 vs f13), and then +/- 1 EV from there.

The DSLR images are under the Pen images – they are a simple conversion in Lightroom – no filters, not adjustments except a touch of sharpening and clarity. I am not sure what to attribute the difference between the top shots and this one but I suspect it was the scanner setting. I use Silverfast software for my scanning which has “Negafix” presets for various film types. Unfortunately it does not have one for Fuji Noepan 100. Initially I was using the Neopan 400 preset, but as my scanning progressed through other shots, and following some on-line research, I used other presets which I like better. I will do a post on those different presets another day.

Today I concentrate mostly on architectural shots with lighting ranging from bright sun with hard shadows through overcast sun and including total shaded sides of buildings. This was me learning how to estimate exposure.

I think all of this is actually a bit boring, except that as I concentrate on figuring out what I did and posting it here, I am learning more. The boredom is partly from not processing these images further – which I would normally do for the DLSR versions, and which I need to figure out for the film scans – but that is not suitable for these initial tests to see how the camera behaves and how I have to adjust to it. So bear with me while I go through an all too public learning mode. If you right click on any image and choose to open it in a separate tab you will see a much larger version of most images.


Bright Sun: Canon 5Dii, 50mm lens, ISO 100, f13, 1/100th


PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 11

Deep Shade in Alley: Pen Half-frame, ISO100, exposure left to right: f5.6 (1/100th), f3.5 (1/100th), f3.5 (1/50th), f4 (1/100th)


Deep Shade in Alley: DSLR, ISO100, f3.5,1/100th


PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 24 Tri-X 1.3

Complete Shade, ISO100, Bottom to Top all at 1/100th: f8.0 (the guess which is same as metered after), f11, f5.6


Complete shade: DSLR ISO100, 1/80th (oops), f8.0


PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 21 Tri-X 1.6

Shade with Sunny Patches: Bottom to Top all at 1/100th, f5.6 (guess), f8 (metered), f11, f5.6


Shade with Sunny Patches, DSLR, ISO100, 1/100th, f9.0


PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 9

Sunny with shadows, ISO100, 1/100th, aperture left to right f16 (estimate nearly same as metered), f22, f11, f8, f5.6


Sunny with Shadows, DSLR, ISO100, 1/100th, f14


PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 22 Tri-X 0.4

Sunny, soft shadows, ISO100, 1/100th, aperture from bottom to top: f/11 (estimate), f/16, f22, f11? or f8


Sunny, few shadows, DSLR, ISO100, 1/100th, f16


PenTestFirst3200 16-8bit 20 Tri-X 1.8

Sunny, harder shadows, Pen, ISO100, 1/100th, left to right: f16, f16, f11, f22


Sunny, harder shadows, DSLR, ISO100, 1/80th, f16


Olympus Pen, Half Frame, 28mm lens, Fujifilm Neopan Acros, ISO100, Epson V700 Scanner tested with Canon 5Dii, Canon 50mm/1.4 lens.

29 thoughts on “Restless for Film III

  1. Pingback: Garage in Blue | burnt embers

  2. I would say that all the shots from the Olympus Pen are within the tolerances for processing to a successful outcome. Is the scanner compensating for over/under exposure because I don’t really see the sharp changes in highlights and shadows that I would expect to see?


    • That is a good question Andy – it could be since there are many settings I don’t yet understand on the scanner. However, the groups of negatives with bracketing are single scans and it would seem a bit unlikely that the compensation would work quite as described. I am going to be experimenting some more to see if there are settings I am missing, or if maybe it is this film that is behaving this way. I need to find the “neutral” scan setting and see what it might do. Either way, what it does show me is that I have at least 1 f-stop latitude in my exposures to still get a good outcome with this film which helps instill confidence that I can use the camera without a light meter, at least in daylight conditions.


    • Hi Toad! I am amazed too! It is a great learning experience. And even if I don’t shoot film often, it gives me quite a lot of impetus to add it back into my photography vocabulary – sometimes it could be exactly the right medium for a project.


  3. Nice! Outdoors, I always found Sunny-16 to be just as good as a meter because with a meter you still had to compensate based on subject matter. I even shot Sunny-16 with Kodak Techpan film… and that had to have been the finickiest film ever made! Good work! Wish my film scanner still worked. I found that with BW400CN film etc. that I didn’t have to worry much about exposure anyway and the negatives scanned better than silver grain film. Best! Keep shooting! Inspiring!!! 🙂


    • Hi Mark.
      A few weeks ago I found in an abandoned old camera bag of mine a roll of Techpan expired in 1985. I am going to shoot it sometime, for the heck of it. I need to research the chemistry for full tonal range processing and see if someone in town will do it as I don’t do my own processing any more. I loved that film, and used it a lot of the time for technical shots that I knew I had to tripod anyway – such as artifacts in caves, and artifact shots for reports. Excellent results, no visible grain until very high magnifications. It is a shame they stopped making it, and at ISO25 it would be a good match with this camera. I also have just bought a bag of 2008 expired film for less than 50cents a roll and it includes a roll of BW400CN. I will have to find a way to try it out as well. I am very pleased with the Sunny-16 rule – I wish I had learned it years ago, it would have saved my bacon a few times, and allowed me to judge the light metre readings in tricky lighting more intelligently.


      • I had best luck using Photographers Formulary TD-3 and rating the film at ISO 50. These chems are pretty cheap.

        Yeah, I grew up with match needle and then aperture priority cameras. When I got interested in more classic mechanical only cameras I started carrying a small light meter all the time. Very quickly I recognized that outdoors, Sunny-16 was always dead on… except for the meter would get tricked by subject matter. Even still, outdoors, when I check my camera’s auto settings, I make a quick comparison in my mind to Sunny-16 to see if I should use exposure compensation.


      • Rating at ISO 50 – did you expose as if it were ISO 50, or as 25 and then process as 50?
        Regardless, I might need to adjust because it is old and not refrigerated at all in that time.


      • TD-3 comes with different recommendations for agitation/time/dilution combinations and each one corresponds to a recommended ISO rating. From their table, you got to choose 25, 50 or 80. I generally shot as if the film were ISO 50. It wasn’t that bad to hand hold outdoors at this speed.

        From my notes, I see that I even once pushed the film up to ISO 400 and got pretty good results — developed it for 36 minutes in TD-3 (68F and agitated following Procedure A).


      • Hi Mark – thanks so much for all that information. This means I can shoot that ancient roll of film (when I am ready) and either develop myself, or get someone to do it.


  4. After reading through your notes on the test (twice) I’ve decided that if I ever go back to photography with a film based camera with no exposure meter I will get my LunaPro out from the bottom of my sock draw and use it to determine exposure. I don’t see anything here that isn’t a keeper or can’t be adjusted in LR.


    • Hi Ken. I wish I could find my light meter. I would love to drop a roll of fast film in the camera (I have an expired roll of 800 ISO colour) and try taking some band photos. Though I might well need a 1600 for that, with this camera and f3.5 as the widest open I can go.
      A agree that there are no exposure duds in this batch so bad that I can’t fix in LR, or with judicious scanning followed by LR adjustments as necessary. That is true of all the pictures I took, though some are a couple of f-stops out.


  5. Yay! It works! I am inspired to take mine out with me today :). I like that you are going through the process of figuring out exposure without a light meter. Thank you for sharing your experience! This is really interesting!


    • Hi Moni – I hope you took you Pen out! I was quite surprised at how well I can estimate exposure in more normal daylight conditions, now that I know the rules. I have zero confidence for darker conditions, indoors, that kind of thing. But I like the quality of these photos, the film is very fine, and since I only have a 50th and 100th shutter speeds, I can’t shoot in daytime with any higher ISO than 100. That guarantees that I will have nice fine grain and the ability to blow the shots up quite a bit, or crop them if I want to. Does your model of Pen top out at 1/200th? If it does, I guess you could should ISO200 and still have some aperture room to play with.


      • I did take it out! It’s such a fun little camera. Mine only has choices for 160 and 200, so I shot with 200asa film. Loving your results!


      • Ah, yours has a light meter which I forgot. I am really looking forward to seeing your shots! I love it that you say ASA because film brings out the ASA in my vocabulary too.


    • Larsen Music is a great store – they sell and repair guitars, ukes, orchestral strings and a lot more. Nice people work there. Over the years with a musical children I have spent a lot of money there.


    • Hi Sheila – never having done photo school, I will be leaving those flashbacks to you. I hope some of them were good ones!
      It is very interesting to compare the digital to the film – when it comes down to it, there is not a lot of purpose in shooting film if you have a good digital camera. Other than things that are less to do with the photos and more the experience of taking them – like having to wait, the cost reducing the shooting ratio, potentially more care being taken with the photographs. And in this case, a camera in the pocket.


  6. You shame me…very organised and meticulous AND with great results….I didn’t take a single note…I just came away having (sort of) learned, “I reckon this camera might have a tendency to under expose a little…maybe”… My world is made up of mights and maybes….
    Methinks my learning curve will be slower than yours. 🙂


    • Hi Stuart – well, I didn’t take a single note either and was not in the mood for doing so, which is where the DSLR came into play. At least I now have a pretty good idea that the camera is exposing as it should, and that quite often in daylight conditions I can estimate the exposures correctly without a light meter. The scanning is going to be the big factor, figuring out which presets to use and when to apply them. At least that is something I can do over and over with the only costs being in time and hard drive space.


      • Hi Stuart, it is an Epson Perfection V700. They are really very pricey, but I had a project that needed some old film scanned to high resolution and that was going to cost at least $100, and another project I would like to do when I have some time, and I found a deal with the scanner at a much reduced price. And it has a good software bundle one bit of which I needed (PS Elements) and was going to buy anyway at some time. So, I took the plunge. I hope to be able to do some scanning of archival photos as part of a new job I will be starting soon, and then the scanner will paying for itself anyway. Lots of excuses for an extravagance, but it sure is a nice scanner and it really does a nice job once you begin to get a hang of the various settings and what works best for the negative or print in question. Someone that uses one for his film is Phil Kneen – if you check out his blog (it uses his name so is easy to find) you can see what terrific scans he gets from his film. Besides which he takes fantastic portraits that are worth a look.


      • Thanks so much Ehpem that really is a lot of help…I’ll have a good look at the scanner you mention…I’ve used an Epson scanner in the past and was very happy with the results, but like everything else these things have a finite life and it bit the dust long ago…..
        I’ll check out Phil Kneen as well..
        Once again Ehpem I really do appreciate the help.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: