The Fuji GS645S Professional was a camera I had an interest in ever since it was introduced back in 1984. It was a nice medium format camera that’s ready for anything with its “cow bar” that wrapped around the lens. The camera has a fixed 60mm f/4 lens with rangefinder focusing. Holding the camera normally, the frame is in portrait orientation. The camera has a built-in light meter with simple LED indicators.
35 years later I finally picked one up via eBay. After a couple of test rolls the light meter, rangefinder and shutter seemed accurate, so I took the GS645S along on a trip to Downeast Maine. The coast of Maine is a great place for photography with rugged shores lined with equally rugged pine trees. Schoodic Point, part of Acadia National Park, is a great location because it’s relatively quiet even in the summer since most tourists swarm at Mount Desert Island’s part of Acadia.
I’ve also promised myself I would try out ILFORD’s SFX film with a red filter. It was supposed to give sort of a near-infrared look, with darker skies and greens looking lighter than with conventional film. At the same time, I’ve been reading about monobath film developers and acquired some Cinestill Df96 chemistry.
The idea of a monobath developer is so alien to me. For decades developing film meant being careful not to cross-contaminate the chemicals, keeping the temperature at 68°F (20°F), mixing precise dilutions of developer, and long tedious development times of 11-13 minutes with another ten minutes in fixer. Most film emulsions require the same amount of time in the monobath, so no more looking up time tables for each film. Monobath development takes only about 4 minutes from start to water wash.
The only problem is fighting the guilt over it being so quick and easy. I loaded up the four rolls of 120 film, one of them being the SFX film, in four developing tanks. The first roll was developed for 4 minutes at 75°F (24°C).
After developing the first roll, I poured the used developer back to its original 1-liter bottle, filled the next tank (600ml) and added 15 seconds to the development time as described by the monobath manufacturer. The last roll, this SFX film, was processed for 4:45 minutes. As a result, I banged out 4 rolls of 120 film in record time, with some good looking negatives. Perhaps my imagination, the film seemed to dry less curly than with conventional developers.
As for that “near infra-red look”, well, maybe not that much. I still haven’t decided which film stock to stick with.
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It’s been many decades since my last visit to the Maine coast. I was totally enthralled by the rock formations, the blown leaning trees, and my encounters with the folks who inhabit that part of the world. I’m also excited to read your description of the developer and see the results. Forget the infrared results as you wrote, but the contrast between those wonderful rocks and the rest of the scene, really special. Thanks for sharing this experience.
Your set of photos so captures what the Maine coast is like. There is a beauty to the sand/seascape. My favorite is the windblown, angled trees among the rocks. I can just imagine the light, the wind and the smell of the evergreens that day. Nicely done.
Dan (from up Portland/Middletown way!)
I liked your photographs. I hope you were pleased with the new developing system. Is it a B/W film processing in colour chemicals?
Cinestill Df96 is a Black and White chemistry. Cinestill does make a 2 bath color chemistry.