After spending last Monday running photographic errands, I find myself with a Yashica Lynx and a pile of expired film, and one less Leica (for now).
I started the day with a drive to Longmont, Colo., on the advice of several readers, all of whom recommended Key Camera/Procam Service to repair the mysteriously broken Leica IIIc.
The proprietor, Dave Feely, indicated that something might be jammed in the shutter mechanism. His estimate for a CLA and repair was cheaper than other services I saw online, and required no shipping. My camera should be ready in about three weeks.
Feely was talkative and personable, and I wound up discussing the photographic industry in Colorado with him for half an hour. He told me, too, that his business’ sparse web presence was intentional — he can barely keep up with the work he already has.
I left and poked around old downtown Longmont just long enough to know I’d like to spend a full day exploring it in the future. There are a few historic mansions and churches to tour, a museum, and several blocks of well-preserved late-19th century buildings.
I took about 30 pictures before I realized that my Olympus Trip 35 didn’t have any film in it. First time I’ve done that in years… So I loaded it with fresh Ilford Delta 100, retraced my steps, and recreated some of the photos I thought I’d already taken, plus a few more.
Then I headed south again to check out the supply of expired film at Victory Camera in Lafeyette, Colo.
Piles o’ Film
Victory buys and sells cameras, many of which come in bags or lots that include film from a few years to a few decades old. I made a pretty big score after watching my film stash dwindle since the last time I stocked up in October 2015.
I got 11 rolls of Kodak Portra 160 VC in 220 format that expired in 2007 (two propacks and a loose roll), which I expect good results from. I also got a propack of c. 2005 Tri-X 320 in 220, a half dozen rolls of c. 1997 Plus-X in 220, and another six or eight rolls of miscellaneous 220 film. The only camera I have that handles 220 film is the Pentax 6×7, so I’ll go through this film relatively slowly.
I also got a dozen rolls of 35mm Fujifilm Neopan SS 100 that likely has been well-stored, and expired in 2005. Neopan SS is a classic cubic-grained emulsion, which was discontinued in 2006 and replaced with the now-familiar Neopan 100 Acros — a T-grained film. As a much bigger fan of cubic grain than T-grain, I’m excited to try this out, though most of it will probably go toward testing used cameras.
Also in 35mm, I got some Efke IR 820, a 1977 roll of Kodacolor II, and some other miscellaneous films with 1990s expiration dates.
Lastly, I found a roll of Kodak Super-XX panchromatic film that expired in 1956 — in 616 format! This is definitely going to be in my kit for Expired Film Day on March 15, since it will finally let me test my Kodak Six-16 Brownie Junior. It’s just a bigger box camera, but it’s got a lovely front plate.
I got it cheap, and in need of some repairs. I’ve long wanted wanted to try it out, but the availability of 616 film — discontinued in 1984 — has been a bit of a roadblock. I bought some 3D-printed adapters that allow 120 film spools to be used in a 616 camera, but I haven’t tried them yet.
Super-XX was Kodak’s first high-speed film — meaning it was rated at ASA 100. The Brownie Junior Six-16 probably has the typical Brownie 1/40-second shutter, and it features two apertures: f/11 and f/16. This means it’s liable to overexpose ASA 100 film by 1-2 stops in bright sun, which might be just enough to compensate for the age of the film. It’s worth noting that the manual for the Six-16 recommends against using Super-XX in daylight, advising Verichrome Pan instead.
While the Six-16’s shutter worked, the aperture slide didn’t stop correctly and the viewfinders’ mirrors were just bouncing around inside the front of the box. I opened up the front panel and found a nail that acts as a stop for the aperture slide rolling around the bottom. It was simple enough to replace it in its slot in the sliding bar.
Fixing the mirrors was a little harder, but I managed with a bit of 3M epoxy. I tried to clean the mirrors, but it looks like some mold has grown between the silvering and the glass, knocking away some of the silvering and leaving dull spots. I cleaned the ground glass viewing windows, and while the viewfinders aren’t particularly bright (and might be slightly out of alignment — I didn’t make any Herculean effort to clean off the old adhesive, and aligning the mirrors wasn’t easy), they do at least work now.
I cleaned the lenses, too, and reassembled the front plate. The shutter speed actually feels a little slower than 1/40 second, but I’ll have to check it with my shutter-tester to know for sure before I expose the film with it.
The Six-16 was made from 1934 through 1942, so I’ll be exposing 60-year-old film in a camera that’s about 75 years old — one of the biggest steps into photographic history I’ve ever taken.
Yashica Lynx 1000
Still at Victory, I also found a Yashica Lynx 1000. It’s a 35mm rangefinder camera with a selenium meter and a 45mm f/1.8 lens, and fully manual controls, made between 1960 and 1962.
It’s really in fantastic shape, looking like it’s hardly ever been used. Functionally, it’s all working except for some slower shutter speeds: 1/15 second and slower seem inconsistent, and my guess is that some sticky lubricant is to blame. I may need to figure out how to open up the lens and get a few drops of lighter fluid in the right places before exercising the shutter for a few hundred actuations.
Supporting my lubricant suspicion, the focus ring also is fairly stiff. The rest of the controls function smoothly, and with so many of the high-quality Japanese rangefinders of the 1960s and 1970s being auto-exposure only, fully manual options are quite welcome.
The Lynx also might wind up in my bag on Expired Film Day, but until then it’s on a shelf with the Petri 7 and some other rangefinders. Without slower shutter speeds, it’ll probably need to handle only faster film and/or brighter scenes.