Tag Archives: expired film

praktica history – chapter one – the praktica kw

the history of the series of praktica cameras is in a way connected to me growing up in eastern germany. I think I got my first plastic point and shoot when I was 6 years old. It was a beirette sl100 and I would carry the camera loaded with a 12 frames fast loading cassette everywhere. Later I got a beirette vsn, also a point and shoot but already loaded with 36 frames. But what I wanted was a SLR. My brother had a Exa 1b and I always wanted what my brother had. But I wanted a praktica, the bigger brand of the east german SLRs. When I had saved up the money, my parents and I would drive to Berlin to get the current model since the cameras weren’t widely available. Berlin was a good guess since the east german capital was preferred for its many international visitors as well as Leipzig during the internally trade fair in spring and autumn. My first own SLR was an MTL 5B with a pentacon auto 1.8/50mm multi-coated lens. All this happened in 1985 and I was about to enter high-school. The camera was used heavily until about 1990, the year of the german re-unification, when I got a Canon SLR with auto focus, motor drive and a zoom lens.

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The canon has been sold for many years already but the MTL 5B I still posses. I even shot a couple of rolls until it started having issues with the film transport. Repair would be more expensive than getting the same camera on ebay. So, the camera sits on the shelf and it’s being looked at with sentimental feelings which are even strengthened by the fact that my farther threw all my negatives away in the summer of 1989.

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Recently, I had the rather weird idea to start to collect praktica cameras from the first model introduced in 1949 simply named “praktica” to the last model “bx20s” made until 2001. I also found a nice looking praktica according to the serial number manufactured in 1950/51 with a zeiss tessar 2.8/50mm lens right away on ebay which started this new project. The camera was the successor of the praktiflex which was only the third 35mm SLR introduced. The praktiflex was the first camera with a returning mirror as well as an interchangeable lens with a 40mm screw mount. The later prakticas introduced the 42mm thread mount which was an industry standard until the seventies.

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After shooting the first roll, I also realize that this will take me through many years of 35mm photography, how it advanced and how the photographic opportunities developed. On the other side also the way viewing an image changed a lot throughout these years of ever changing technologies. already while deciding whether to scan an image or not, I was thinking if I had done a darkroom print many years ago. Looking through photo magazines of the fifties and sixties, it’s easy to conclude that the perception of sharpness, detail, contrast have changed significantly throughout the years. I don’t even claim that the biggest steps in photographic development were made in the digital age. This honor is undeserved by bits and bytes but goes to many step by step innovations of the cameras, the film material as well as the ever improving chemicals and darkroom techniques. The aim is not only to collect great work of engineering but the re-creation of the conditions at the time the camera was made.

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The camera has just a few knobs to do things. The waist level finder is fixed with a condenser type ground glass as focusing screen. On the upper right side is the wheel to advance the film with a frame counter and left the know to rewind the 35mm film. The exposure times can be chosen with the remaining third wheel. The release button is in front of the housing and makes a nice pleasant sound when hit. The mirror remains up after the release and needs to be charged by advancing the film first. The fact that there is no “communication” of body and lens takes a bit of getting used to since focus needs to be adjusted with an open lens before stepping down the aperture for shooting. I don’t think I’d be able to work fast with the camera. But looking trough old magazines photographers were still able to catch fast moving. For some shots I tried to use the largest depth of field possible by moving the infinity marker to the aperture used but these images turned out to be out of focus throughout while the manually focused images are OK.

The 2.8/50 tessar lens is quite OK considering its age. It’ fairly sharp and responses well shooting against the light. Of course it can’t be compared with today’s fancy and expensive glass. I’m not sure if I will run many more films through the camera. Yet, forcing myself to shoot with this camera is a re-thinking process and not just hit the shutter and go to the next frame. However, it will also look nice in my just started praktica collection.

These images here were taken on an long expired ORWO NP20 (ASA 80) and semi-stand developed in 1:100 Rodinal. What the camera looks like can be seen here.

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Orwo NC19 in C41 – the expired film page

In late summer 2014 I shot a long expired ORWO NC19 color film in my Lomo Belair. The film was sitting on my kitchen counter for a couple of month waiting for development. When I had a couple of color films for the lab, I finally had it developed and cut just to forget about the film again. There was something on the film however not “hot” enough to care right away.

Just recently I scanned the roll, didn’t edit at all and just stamped the dust and the usual cat hair in PS. I started wondering why the guy in the lab had asked me if I wanted the film developed in C41. At the time there wasn’t an alternative and I didn’t know any better anyways. After uploading the images to my flickr, I started googling “orwo nc19 developed in C41 process”. The first hit I got was a wordpress blog entry with the title “Don’t develop ORWOcolor in C-41”. Oops, I just did it. The blog talks a lot about expired films as well as processes to develop them. However, the last entry seemed to be in February of 2014. In the archives I found an article how to develop the NC19 the right way.

Some posts online give more details about the ORWO 5166/5166K process which was apparently similar to the old Agfa Color process. Anyhow, I’m not going to do it myself. I also found a site that specializes in processing old films (Film Rescue International) and might try them for the 2nd roll of NC19.

Of course people on lomography.com also got something to report about the ORWO NC19. “Frauspatzi” seemed to have burnt most of the emulsion away but really got the “crazy color” she mentioned in her post. The picture search on lomography.com returned 319 images taken on NC19.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and the experience with expired films as well as the Lomo Belair camera feels very different compared to my Hasselblad workhorse. It is also difficult for me to comprehend the imperfection and unpredictability of the results. Be it the plastic feeling of a lomo belair or hopelessly expired film, I still try it again in the search for new challenges and the unique image.

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Another Orwo NP27 expired a long time ago – the expired film page

I tried another long expired Orwo NP27. It doesn’t look pretty. The emulsion got tons of defects and it seems that the beginning and the end of the film behave worse compared to the middle. In general I observe that faster films age much worse compared to an ISO50-100. These film which I got with a bunch of others films on ebay expired in 1980. Oh my, the film expired 34 years ago. Isn’t that vintage?

I developed the film in Kodak HC110 diluted 1+119 for eighteen minutes with one rotation every three minutes. I don’t think the process has much impact on the outcome. The results are and remain more or less horse shit.

However, it’s fun experimenting. Enjoy the mess.

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Expired and exposed ORWO NP27 – The expired film page

Here is another ebay purchase: Seventeen old films made by ORWO. I looked through the films and found a NP27 (ISO400) that was exposed and expired in July 1981. I developed it in Kodak  HC110 1+100 for 2h. The film showed strong fogging but some images could be saved.

On the pictures I found a woman in the kitchen and a dog. I contacted the ebay seller and got the information that the guy who owned the films just passed away in his nineties in Grimma, Saxonia. Since the film expired in 1981, I guess it was shot in the seventies in East Germany. Apparently, the guy was an engineer. However, there is no more information.

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Svema 250 – The expired film page

I found these 3 svema 250 films on ebay, made an offer on the go and won the bid. The films expired in July 1991. The seller didn’t have much confidence to get anything out of the films. Of course I tried. I took an 6×9 Agfa Synchro Box, put one of the films in and tried.

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Svema (Свема, Светочувствительные Материалы) was founded in 1931 in the Ukraine and was the major photographic film manufacturer of the USSR. The company made b&w films and paper as well as cine films and magnetic tapes until 2000. Interestingly, color film was made with equipment that was dismantled from the Agfa factory in Wolfen, Germany after World War II.

According to info on Wikipedia, I have the late 1980s version of the Foto 250 film which is equivalent to ISO 250. The film speed is given in GOST a soviet film sensitivity scale similar to ASA. Infos about the different film speed scales can be found here.

Here is a link to a Svema group on Flickr showing images a little bit more successful than mine.

I threw my images in highly diluted Kodak HC110 (1+100) and let it soak for 2h. that worked just fine for other expired films as well. I agitated the film in the jobo drum for one minute and let it stand for the rest of the 2 hours.

The results were devastating. First I only saw dots, many of them. The light sensitive emulsion was gone in many places. Only two images were recognizable at all. I washed and tried the film anyway. I scanned the two images, imported them into Lightroom and exported them to jpg.

It’s really not much to look at. They are portraits of two of my neighbors in front of the house. I don’t think they’ll come and complain about privacy. Maybe I’ll use the other two films for some pattern project on an extremely sunny day.

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