The #FrugalFilmProject, January 2024: Another year, another camera.

The #FrugalFilmProject, January 2024: Another year, another camera. 

Back in December I introduced my camera/film combination for the FFP 2024 to the Frugal Film Project group on Facebook. In 2023 I chose a conventional camera and film, the Agfa Clack and Fomapan Retro. This year I decided to mix it up a notch and use a truly vintage camera with modern instant film. 

The camera and film combination for this year is a 1920s generic 9x12 folding camera and Fujifilm Instax Wide film. Getting the camera working properly was a bit of a task. I had to disassemble and clean the lenses, and the camera itself also needed a good clean. To use Instax Wide film in the 9x12 film holders I made some plastic mounts cut to the size of the film with little notches to hold the Instax film in place. My tests in December suggested that only the 1/100s speed (and T and B) was working properly, but with the ISO 800 speed of Instax film and a fully functioning aperture that won't really be an issue. In fact I might need to use a neutral density filter to cut the light down a little. 

My first entry for the FFP in January was an outing in Oiã. The three films were a mixed bag: one nicely framed image but overexposed, one perfectly exposed image but badly framed, and one failure as the film wasn't properly loaded in the film holder. I knew the image of the water tower would be overexposed since the meter was suggesting f51 at 1/100s and the smallest aperture on the folder is f36.

I soon discovered that was not easy to frame the images properly since the frame size of the Instax Wide film is so much smaller than that of 9x12, and besides when the Instax film is mounted in the holders it is not centred, so I knew I would need to make an adjustment for that next time. 

A few days later I loaded up three new Instax films and set out to try again in Águas Boas. Unfortunately, when I was putting the folding camera away something started rattling around inside the box. A screw had come loose and the spring holding the lens/bellows tight to the rail had popped off.

I thought that it was going to be difficult to fix, but it was a fifteen minute job. I had to remove the front and rear lenses and shutter assembly so that I could separate the bellows from the front plate and access underneath the rails but it was quite straightforward to repair. 

Weather permitting, my Frugal Film Project was back on track (no pun intended, but it was pretty good) and the next day I headed out to Águas Boas and took some images of my favourite views; the bandstand in the park and a lonely tree that sits in a field raised above the road. Using the light meter app from my smartphone I exposed each for a shutter speed of 1/100s. 

When I processed the images they weren't as successful as the first outing. Again framing was an issue, although exposure was much better. This time I also had some horrible light leaks on two of the frames, which I think was because I did not cover the lens of the Instax Wide camera properly when processing the films.

For my February exposures the first thing I have to remedy how to frame images properly. I have a plan and hopefully this will form the basis of the next post. I also have to remake the film mounts because they're proving to be a little fiddly to use. But this is a year-long project and it's getting off the a good start. I feel I've cleared a hurdle just getting some good, well exposed images. 

Update: I've not really looked at it properly before, but a previous owner of the camera had drawn a frame in indelible ink on the ground glass screen. Mounting an Instax Wide film in the 9x12 film holder and placing the ground glass back over the film holder showed that the drawn frame was in the perfect position and the ideal size for a piece on Instax Wide film. 

I will try a couple of experiments to test how accurate the frame is in landscape and portrait orientation. It's a little inconvenient to always use a tripod and a dark cloth to view and frame a subject so what I'd like to do is make a mark on the viewfinder so that I can frame and use the camera hand held. 

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