5 Frames of Kodak VISION3 500T 5219 developed in RA-4 chemistry (35mm Format / EI 500 / Lomography Sprocket Rocket) – by Steve Jones
Like many analogue fans the Coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions, which started here in the UK in March, have both created time to fill and the means of filling it. I have been trying out new films and processes and using various old cameras in my collection dating back to the 1880s. Whilst ordering film online I came across the Lomography Sprocket Rocket for sale new at £60; the same as a few rolls of film or a box of Multigrade paper. It looked like a lot of potential fun for little money so I bought one.
The Sprocket Rocket takes 35 mm film, has a 30mm fixed lens, and takes frames 72mm wide and virtually the whole height of the film, which include all the edge markings and — as you might expect from the camera’s name — sprocket holes. A mask is included which will give you frames measuring 72 x 24mm if you wish. Technically sophisticated it is not!
The lens’ aperture choice is f/10.8 (largest) or f/16. The camera has shutter speed options of 1/100 or B. Focus is set via zone focus with options of 0.6 to 1m or 1m to infinity. There is a hot shoe, exposure counter, tripod socket, knobs for both wind and rewind, and an indicator when to stop winding.
I first put a couple of C-41 films through it and then paid a visit to Nik&Trick in Folkestone to get some respooled movie film. These pics were shot on Kodak VISION3 500T which I then home-processed using RA-4 colour print chemistry, as recommended by Nik&Trick.
The Sprocket Rocket was fun to use in the colourful seaside city of Brighton, where visitors to the pier were much depleted due to the virus. It’s certainly no rival to the Hasselblad XPan (available used for £3000+). The centre of the frame is reasonably sharp -– akin to a basic 1960s Instamatic –- but details dissolve very rapidly towards the sides. With only two exposure settings you have to rely on the film’s exposure latitude so in mixed lighting the film comes out with a lot of very thin and very dense frames. This puts expert scanning at a premium – these images were produced on a venerable Epson Perfection V700 after a lot of inexpert fiddling by me. The scans also suffered from the negatives curling on the scanner platen.
The yellow/red edges may be due to inadequate remjet removal from the movie film around the grooves in the spiral. This does not happen with non-Remjet C-41 films, but for me, this sort of randomness is the whole reason for playing around with analogue. If I want perfect predictability I’ll use my Sony A7.
i love my Sprocket Rocket. The only sensible improvements would be another shutter speed around 1/30 and a cable release socket.
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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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