5 Frames… On the Buffalo River with ILFORD HP5 PLUS (35mm Format / EI 400 / Nikon EM + Nikon Series E 50mm F/1.8) – by Chase Taylor

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Having been a Boy Scout for the majority of my life, I have spent a lot of time looking for a capable and lightweight SLR to take camping, hiking, and in this case canoeing. In this article, I have opted to refrain from talking about ILFORD HP5 PLUS extensively, but I will say that it fit the utilitarian requirements of my setup. I would recommend it to anyone considering shooting black and white.

ILFORD HP5 PLUS is my go-to for black and white film, but I don’t have much to say about it that hasn’t been said countless times before. After just a few weeks of searching, I saw a really nice looking Nikon EM at a local camera shop, and it certainly fit the bill. What’s more, it was cheap.

My Nikon EM + Nikon Series E 50mm F/1.8, Chase Taylor

The camera has no mirror lock-up (MLU). There are no manual functions. There is no aperture / depth of field preview, but that’s what I love about the EM. It’s simple. When I bought the camera it came with this little 50mm lens that I have absolutely fallen in love with. This combination made the camera feel almost like a point and shoot with a ton of lens options. I was confident that this was the perfect camera to take on my troop’s next outing, canoeing on the buffalo river.

The night before the canoe trip I carefully wrapped my new camera in a hand towel and stuffed it and one roll of HP5 PLUS in a dry bag to be clipped onto the canoe. I will admit that I was a bit nervous bringing my new to me Nikon EM camera out on the open water, but I set out on the Buffalo River the next day with 17 miles and 36 shots ahead of me.

Here’s a little tip to those of you who decide you want to try canoe photography yourself, load your film on solid ground. Loading film in the rain in a canoe is less than ideal. Another thing I didn’t account for was the immense effect of the rocking of the canoe on the shake of the camera. I had several overly blurry shots because I used shutter speeds around 1/60 of a second according to one of the most fundamental of photography rules.

While this roll only produced a few keepers, I am quite proud of it. When I inevitably find myself out on the river again, you can count on me carrying my trusty little Nikon EM with me.

~ Chase

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4 thoughts on “5 Frames… On the Buffalo River with ILFORD HP5 PLUS (35mm Format / EI 400 / Nikon EM + Nikon Series E 50mm F/1.8) – by Chase Taylor”

  1. From my failing memory, I think the Nikon EM was a budget model designed to bring new photographers into the Nikon fold (all main stream manufacturers did the same with budget models) I think the EM was actually made by Ricoh to keep the costs down, a good basic camera that did what it was designed to do.

  2. I may have missed it in your posting (I read it twice), but it would have added to your posting to tell the readers where the river is located. I assume you were on the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas.


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