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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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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