Camera: ca. 1993 Seagull 4A-103 6x6 120 twin lens reflex camera
Film: Rollei Retro 80S
Locale: Central Maryland
You never know where you might get a tip about photography. It can come in the most unexpected of places. Somewhere above the badlands of South Dakota, a lady sitting next to me on a Portland bound Alaska Airlines flight took notice as I began to fill out the header information on the "Exposure Note Sheets" attached to some of my folding cameras, and began to tell me of an analog photography store in the far northeastern section of Portland called "Blue Moon Camera and Machine." Intrigued, I checked out their website and found that they actually had a film in stock that I'd been curious to try, but had always seen as being out of stock at online outlets, or only available in a 5-pack: Rollei Retro 80S. The film is a bit of a pricey one compared to other B/W film stocks, including even Rollei RPX25, but the curiosity to have a chance to try this film won out, and I made my way past this fascinating store during my stay in the Portland area to pick up a roll. It was not until I got back east that I actually elected to use this film, opting to try it on the very camera that got me hooked back into film photography, the Seagull 4A-103. Not only did I think that the film would work well with the Seagull's tendency for softness at the frame edges, but I was admittedly missing the TLR shooting experience.
1 - f/5.6 1/300 - Okay, I now know not to trust the Seagull with the position of the START band on this type of film, as this exposure didn't even make it onto the film itself, but the backing paper in advance of the film. I don't even recall of what I took a photo.
2 - Washington, DC - f/5.6 1/300 - When I saw even just the negative for this first shot, I was amazed at the lack of grain and sharpness. I'm just as impressed after scanning. This Rollei film is off to a great start!
3 - Washington, DC - f/5.6 1/125 - By about this point, I elected I wanted to try this roll of "retro" film on retro type subjects, and this old doorway certainly fit the bill. Love the tonality in the representation.
4 - Silver Spring, MD - f/5.6 1/125 - A diner just a few blocks from my normal commute, but long forgotten by me until recently, proved to be a nice subject matter for the film. Despite many reports of poor shadow detail by this film, I'm actually quite encouraged by this result.
5 - Silver Spring, MD - f/4.9 1/125 - Under some overcast and shadow, some of the detail does get lost, though the rendering of reflective metallic surfaces is quite attractive.
6 - Solomons Island, MD - f/5.6 1/300 - On a rainy day, the film works well with the Seagull, providing focus to a near part of the fence, while nicely muting the backdrop.
7 - Solomons Island, MD - f/8 1/300 - Stopped down just a bit and distant focused, the detail is better than any I'd ever seen represented by the basic Seagull camera.
8 - St. Leonard, MD - f/5.6 1/300 - A lonely barn on a lonely road provides an interesting experiment. However, some tonal loss makes the rendering a little flat.
9 - Ellicott City, MD - f/3.5 1/125 - The sweep of the tracks is what I'd hoped to better convey, but the image would have seen some benefit from a better perspective point and a bit of added exposure.
10 - Ellicott City, MD - f/3.5 1/125 - A through the fence shot does capture the dreariness of a drizzly day.
11 - Ellicott City, MD - f/3.5 1/125 - Given just a bit of added exposure than called for, the film renders this scene really nicely. The fine grain is extremely pleasing.
12 - Ellicott City, MD - f/3.5 1/125 - Shot under shallow depth of field, I'm quite pleased with the results of this image and can not wait to do more such images with this film.
Thoughts: I had thought that RPX 25 was my fine grained film of choice, but after this roll, I'm rethinking that. Though this film is not without its perils of losing shadow detail, I'm in love with the tonality, contrast, and lack of grain that this film provides. I've already picked up more of this film in two formats and am looking to put it to good use!