A few weeks ago I posted a preliminary image from a new toy camera, found at the local Dollar Store. Since then I’ve taken another roll in the Special Moments Focus Free camera, and while most of the shots have been too underexposed to be a much use, I’ve been happy with a few of the images that have come out this camera. EB I94 is probably my favorite, taken while driving along the freeway during a pouring rainstorm. There’s just something about the line of water running off the wiper blade that appeals to me. Trillium field is another favorite from this batch. Obviously, it was taken while out shooting wildlfowers, and stands in a bit of a contrast to the straight forward, in focus, color digital shots from the same session. This camera displays the unusual characteristic of blurring light sources much more than shadows – which I guess makes some sense if you think about had a bad plastic lens would interact with bright light.
For film I’ve been using Ilford SFX 200. This is a near-infrared film and was used for its epcial effects. Unfortunately, I bought an old, long expired lot off eBay over a year ago, and testing it out the IR effects seem to be gone. Last summer I used it as an ISO 200 B&W film, and it produce some fine images, though perhaps a bit on the grainy and contrasty side. But of the last several months the remaining rolls in this lot seem to have lost even more sensitivity, despite being stored in the deep freeze. Oddly enough, this old film fixes to be quite clear, and does not exhibit the fogging that you usually see with expired film. As with most toy cameras, it really is impossible to control the exposure. With only one shutter and aperture setting, there’s not much that you can do!
Knowing that the film was effectively quite slow, I decided to give it a serious development push, so I developed it in HC110 Dil B for 25minutes at 20 C. This should be enough to produce and effective ISO 800 with SFX, The result was still very thin negatives that required a lot of coaxing and adjusting to bring out any shadow detail (the leaves in Trillium Field are barely visible on the negative.) But with the right processing and adjustment, toy cameras like this one can really sing....
I just saw your website. Awesome bugs! But I really like your B&W photos. I saw that you experimented with a Dollar Store camera using Ilford’s near infrared film. Is this like the famous Diana camera that was the rage about twenty years ago?
Photography students must have bought every last one of them.
I read that you bought some date expired film. I just placed a bet on some of the same film and am wondering if I’m going to have the same problems you did.
Yesterday I read an article on Ilford’s website where apparently they are going to do some batches now and then for this film.
They are also having a Photography contest on prints specifically made with this film. Interesting.
How expired was the film you bought? I see you froze the stock, which is what I plan to do.
Thanks and keep taking B&W.
Comment from: Member
Thanks for the feedback, Avelardo!
Spring time finds me thinking a lot about shooting bugs - mostly because I have so much fun doing it. But I still pack a toy camera of some sort or another at all times - usually a Holga. It may take a while before I get a roll shot, so updates may not be that frequent. (And then there are all those un-successful experiments that never see the light of blog…)
As far as I know, the special moments cameras are not like the Dianas. I think Diana’s were medium format cameras - and the special moments are 35mm boxes.
With regard to expired film - I inherited several rolls of film a few years ago that were several years out of date. These were traditional silver B&W films. I found that with the exception of Kodak HEI they were useable - more prone to fogging, but with the right developer the fogging could be minmize. (Rodinal in particular seemed to produce less fogging.) I’ve had no problems using films a year or so out of dat e- provided they were stored in the freezer and were properly developed. But then, maybe I;m not that fussy - I _do_ scan all film for printing, and you can correct a multitude of problems easily in Photoshop that would be real challenges to handle in a wet darkroom.
Hope this helps….