Well, it’s been a spell since I wrote anything here so firstly, hello everyone, I’m back for a bit. Well, kind of. I thought I’d write a series of short articles in the 5 Frames flavour as I’ve had an idea and I’ve missed talking about shooting film with strangers on the internet.

If you’re like me, you may have been feeling the pinch when it comes to your budget for shooting film nowadays. Personally, I’ve been really struggling recently to justify the cost of ploughing through as much film as I used to, especially when it comes to buying new stock (please come back Poundland Agfa, all is forgiven), but I have loads of random film in the fridge and freezer that I’ve acquired over the years. Some I have no idea how or where from and others I genuinely didn’t even know that I had in the first place, so I thought….why not shoot some of it? What a unique and completely out-there idea huh?

So that’s what I’ve been doing; rummaging around beneath the fish fingers and digging out whatever I can find, popping it in a camera, and away we go. Now there are some obvious benefits to this; firstly I already own the film so the only expense is getting it developed etc, secondly I already know it’s expired and going to give me weird or unflattering results, so I’m not going to be using it to make memories of important events. But perhaps the best reason is the third; It doesn’t matter what people think or say, the film is going to have degraded, so my truly terrible skills won’t matter at all. (Of course, you shouldn’t care what other people think but we’re only human right?).

So with all that being said let me introduce you to a little friend of mine, Boots Universal ISO 400 35mm film. It describes itself as “Film For All Occasions” on the canister and let me tell you that’s what I’ve used it for, ALL the occasions of being on holiday at the beach.

Now for those of you not from the UK Boots is a chain of pharmacies/drugstores that sell a host of bits and bobs, they even still sell some film (mostly ILFORD and Lomography) in some of their stores and sometimes offer development as well (albeit not on site but by sending it away I believe). Back in the day, they also sold their own branded 35mm film, which is what we have here. Now the reason I say “branded” is because there is no way they made their own film, they’re not a film manufacturer and never have been and also; because the negatives all have green stripes much like Fuji negatives that I’ve had in the past.

Not much of a mystery that this is likely some kind of Fuji stock sold under the Boots name, if I had to guess considering the age maybe some kind of old Superia Xtra. I will reiterate that is a guess, because I have no idea how old this film is, as like a fine limited edition whiskey, it came with no age statement. For the purposes of shooting I took a stab at it being at least ten years expired so did the standard add a stop for every decade and shot it at EI 200.

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I shot all of these with my trusty Olympus OM-1 setup with either the 50mm F.Zuiko f/1.8 or 28mm F.Zuiko Auto-W f/2.8, pictured below in fetching custom blue leatherette.

Anyway, shall we have a look at some actual photographs? I think we should.

I think I acquired this film through an EMULSIVE Secret Santa swap, if it was you thank you and I’m so sorry I don’t remember. I quite like it! I’ve used three rolls of this so far, all on very sunny days in both Corfu and Devon and there’s something pretty noticeable straight away, the images are super-saturated. There’s almost a reddish/brown haze to the colours, muted and muddy, or at least that’s what I can see.

For me, that’s good, I like that aesthetic as I always say if I wanted perfect, then I’d shoot digital, but I can see how it may not be to everyone’s particular tastes. Also if this is how this stuff performs on the sunniest of Sunny 16 days while being pushed from its box speed at the same time then you’ve got to imagine it’s not going to do particularly well in a cloudy setting or indoors. Not exactly “For All Occasions” anymore is it?

I have managed to find some more of this on eBay and picked up a few more rolls as I definitely plan on shooting it again, and I guess if you like that “grainy old not really working very well anymore” look to your photography then maybe you will like it as well. However, I think the important thing to remember here is that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing so make your own judgment. If you like how these look and you find some give it a whirl!

~ Ed

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About the author

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Ed Worthington

Enthusiast of the analogue photography variety with a mild obsession with Italy, its history, culture and football. I'm also really bad at speaking Italian.

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