It’s not often I shoot 35mm film these days despite a drawer full of film and twenty-plus 35mm cameras to chose from. However, on a whim, I picked up the Nikon FM2n over the weekend and noticed it had a partially exposed roll of film in. It was also fitted with a Nikon AF 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 D zoom lens I had been sent a while back but not yet tested so I decided to finish the roll.
Nothing formal however, my live-in grandsons were playing in the back yard, in and out of their paddling pool, so I took a few snaps of them first. Harry then decided to pose; composing a fast-moving subject so as to preserve everyone’s modesty was a challenge.
Opening the camera I found I had loaded Rollei Retro 100 in the camera. Why that had been so, I couldn’t decide, and having now seen what the first few frames were I still don’t know why I had a 100-speed film in the camera. I decided on developing it for 13 minutes in Rodinal (1+50).
I had a good range of tones and the negatives were not overly contrasty, so I was confident that they would print well in the darkroom. They also scanned well it turned out. The lens was, to say the least, a little “soft”. Even allowing for the erratic mobility of my subjects, very few of the negatives were crisp which was disappointing but not the fault of the film.
So, frustrations with the now-discarded lens aside, what did I make of the out of date Rollei Retro 100 (also known as Agfa APX 100)?
I liked the “look” of the images from the film, although defining “look” is a futile exercise as it will vary from person to person. The grain is very apparent in these negatives but I don’t mind that at all; as someone who used to regularly shoot Kodak Tri-X at 6400 ISO in the 1970s I’m used to a bit of grain! Purely digital shooters with no history of working with film will probably be horrified at all the “noise” however.
It‘s a thumbs up therefore from me. I shoot mainly 120 film and my emulsions of choice are ILFORD PAN F PLUS and HP5 PLUS but I would not be averse to putting a roll or two through the Bronicas if the subject was right.
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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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