Doing it on the cheap

Last year, I picked up a cheap plastic camera for 50p – a Sunpet Focus-Free point-and-shoot. The camera has a fixed focus f8 lens and a single shutter speed (probably 1/125, or maybe 1/60 sec). I shot a roll of film through it over the end of last year and the start of January 2017 and, while the results were pretty lo-fi, they did have a certain ‘Lomography’ charm to them, with odd markings on the edge of the frame and distinctly soft edge-focus. The camera did manage to screw up the roll of film though, and the last half-dozen or so shots ended up as a single (not particularly interesting) multiple exposure, and the camera kept on firing and winding even after the counter passed 40 frames(!), so in the end I just re-wound the film and got it processed.

Anyway, here are a few of the better ones…

FILM - Experiments with a cheap plastic camera-3

FILM - Experiments with a cheap plastic camera-2

FILM - Experiments with a cheap plastic camera-10

FILM - Experiments with a cheap plastic camera

Sunpet Focus-Free & Agfa Vista Plus 200.

Taken on various dates, late 2016-early 2017.


Butcher Works

It’s nice to see that, even in a modern city, that there are still signs of its heritage if you keep your eyes peeled, such as these Grade II listed former cutlery and grinding workshops close to the centre of Sheffield.

FILM - Butcher Works

Olympus Trip 35 & Agfa Vista Plus 200

Taken on 6 August 2017


Earlier this year I bought three compact 35mm cameras for a couple of quid each at a camera fair. One of them was the Konica Pop with which I took the photos in today’s post.

The Pop is a pretty bare-bones machine. Essentially the only options you have are altering the film speed setting and deciding whether to manually use flash (it fires automatically if there’s low light, popping up from the top of the camera, hence – I suppose – the name). Mine, however, doesn’t do this as there were a couple of badly corroded batteries in it when I bought it and the electrics no-longer work.

However, after a bit of research, I discovered that it’s possible to shoot it manually using Sunny 16 type guidelines. The camera has a fixed 1/125sec shutter speed, and the lens is fixed focus (at 2.8 metres). The aperture though can be controlled by an odd combination of the film ASA setting and whether the flash is set in it’s up or down position and provides a decent set of apertures to use:

ASA 400 & Flash Down = f/16
ASA 200 & Flash Down = f/11
ASA 100 & Flash Down = f/8
ASA 200 & Flash Up = f/5.6
ASA 100 & Flash Up = f/4

It’s a bit ‘Heath Robinson’, but it works. Based on this, I decided to run a roll of film through it to see what I results I might get. Now, some of the shots were a little underexposed based on my misjudging the light, but on the whole they weren’t too bad, with the Hexanon f/4 lens being pretty decent.

So today’s post features a small selection of the better shots. All were shot on Agfa Vista Plus 200 film, a few of which I converted to black and white in Lightroom. I’ll get around to re-scanning them at some point and hopefully squeeze a bit of extra detail out of the negatives.

FILM - Moo

FILM - Baa

FILM - Curves

FILM - Incoming

FILM - Not for the likes of me

FILM - About to leave for Leeds

FILM - Picadilly

FILM - Discussion

FILM - Awaiting departure

Of all of these, I think the shot of the curved building, and the bottom shot of the people on the railway platforms are my favourites.

A new way of doing things

So, as some of you who read this blog might have noticed, the gaps between posts has gradually gotten larger following the early flurry of activity when I first started. In an attempt to combat this and increase the rate at which I post, I’ve decided to change the way that I update the blog. Instead of posts containing multiple shots, I’m going to cut it back to posts containing a single image (although there may occasionally be multiple shots, and even some of the longer posts every now and again) with a concise description. This will hopefully allow me to post frequently and keep the stream of content moving. It also has the benefit of me being able to mix things up a bit and publish photos from different sessions and rolls as I feel like it, rather than posting a whole bunch of pictures from a single event, trip or location (unless I feel like it, of course!). I’ve got a large-ish backlog of pictures taken since I started the blog, plus a pool of other shots taken beforehand to choose from, so there should be no shortage of content at least. I’ve also started re-scanning some of my earlier photos to get better results (I’m now much more adept at using the scanner and software than I was back then), so some older shots have now become a bit more presentable than they were.

To kick things off, here’s a shot from the first roll I shot when getting back into film photography. It was shot on 23 July last year using my Olympus Trip 35 on Agfa Vista Plus 200 film and re-scanned recently on my Epson V550 flatbed. I’d bought the Trip to replace one I already had (given to me by my dad), but which doesn’t work properly anymore (the red flag doesn’t pop up to indicate bad exposure) and chose the Agfa Vista because it was available for £1 a roll at Poundland and, as this was my first foray back into film shooting in about twenty years, I didn’t want to risk a more expensive brand. The film was developed at a branch of Max Spielman and I was happy enough with the results, but I get the impression that film development is becoming a bit of a lost art at some of these high street outlets these days, and after a couple of subsequent rolls yielded very unsatisfying results, I switched to a pro-lab (Peak Imaging) for all subsequent processing and have been very happy with the results since.

This is the dam in Crookes Valley park, Sheffield, UK where I went with my wife and younger sons. The re-scan is far better than my original version (which was a scan of the actual print instead of the negative). The colours are better and more vivid, plus the image is sharper and has less cropping (the person’s legs at bottom left, and the child at mid-left were not visible in the original version at all).

FILM - Crookes Valley Park

Doors, doors, doors…

I’ve not finished off any rolls in the past week, so this post is from a trawl through my archives (which only really go back to last summer, film-wise).

I’ve noticed that I often take photos of doors, doorways, windows etc. I don’t think I’m alone in this, and there are entire Flickr groups dedicated to just this subject, but I thought it might make a decent subject for a blog post. I’ll limit the post to shots taken on film, and just those where the door is the focal point of the image (or at least a significant part of it) and will give a little background (in so far as my memory allows) on where and, perhaps, why I took each photograph. They’re shown in rough chronological order, oldest first.


First of all, apologies for the quality of this scan. It has loads of dust and marks on it. Partly, no doubt, due to my not doing a great job when scanning it, but mostly because this entire roll came back from being processed in quite a sorry state. Almost every shot had odd marks, smudges, scratches and horrendous blobs of dust-like artifacts on the negatives themselves. It was as though the roll had been fallen down the dusty back of the processing machine and then been scraped back out from underneath with someone’s shoe. Indeed, I’ve never used this particular place for processing since, and now instead use Peak Imaging, who do a marvellous job.

Anyway, this shot was taken at the Lincolnshire seaside town of Mablethorpe – a regular and frequent holiday destination throughout my childhood and teenage years thanks to my grandparents having a caravan nearby – in September 2016 and this house stood out due to the interesting collection or artifacts surrounding the door. The film used was Agfa Vista Plus 200 (converted to B&W in Lightroom) and it was shot on my Olympus 35 RC.

FILM - Public warning not to trespass


This shot was taken in September 2016, again with my Olympus 35 RC. The film used here was an expired roll of Kodak Ultra 400 (which expired around 2004). The film suffered from some additional grain and I think I ought to have overexposed it a little more to compensate (I think I overexposed it by a single stop), but was otherwise ok. I didn’t notice any significant colour shifts or other faults, although I’m by no means the expert on such matters. I still have a few rolls of this expired film left to shoot.

The door in the picture is in Elliot House on Sylvester Street in Sheffield. The building is now converted to apartments, but used to be part of the Joseph Elliot & Sons cutlery works that was based on the same street (although very little now remains, and the cutlery firm closed in 1990).

Fun with expired film - Roll #1, shot 20


Taken in early October 2016, these doors are the main entrance to the central glass house in Sheffield Botanical Gardens. The glass houses are grade II listed structures and were built in 1837-38. They were renovated and re-opened in 2002 which is why the clock above the doors is dated as such.  This is another Olympus 35 RC & Agfa Vista Plus 200 photograph.

FILM - The entry to the glasshouse


This was taken on the same day as the shot above. Same camera, same roll of film. It was taken on a road near the botanical gardens and I liked the autumnal look of the leaves piled up on the path and the encroaching holly bush. It’ll not win any prizes but, hey, it fits the theme of todays’ post.

FILM - Autumn's doorway


Taken in November 2016 at Barrow Hill Roundhouse, Britain’s last surviving functional roundhouse. The venue is closed at present due to National Lottery funded renovation work that is being carried out. I discovered this to my detriment after driving out for a visit earlier this year without checking the website, only to discover it was closed when I arrived (I ended up going to Bolsover Castle instead). While I’m not particularly a rail enthusiast, I do find that museums such as this offer lots of nice photo opportunities, so are well worth a trip. The shot below is, again, on Agfa Vista Plus 200, but this time shot with my Olympus OM-1, which I’d recently acquired. The lens used was a 50mm F Zuiko f/1.8. I like the way red comes out on colour film (see #2 above), so this was an easy shot, helped by the nice light on the day in question. I particularly like the inclusion of the smoker’s bench and associated “fag-ends” bin, although I’m not sure that dropping cigarette ends into what looks like a plastic container is a good idea. I suppose it might’ve been full of water though – I’m sure these things were carefully considered by the good people who keep the roundhouse going!

FILM - Where the smoke break takes place


Guess the film… Yes! It’s Agfa Vista Plus 200 again! This time shot with my Olympus Trip 35, which is a great little camera with a nice, sharp lens. This is in Paradise Square, Sheffield (if only I’d stepped to right slightly, you’d have seen the full street name for yourselves! Oh well…). This was taken in January on one of my first film-only outings following the (mostly digital) 366 project I did through 2016. The light was great and I went out with my Lubitel 166 U and the Trip and shot a full roll through each.

Paradise Square is a cobbled square surrounded by Georgian houses built through the 1700s. Thankfully it survived the bombing raids that ruined or destroyed much of the city’s historic architecture the Second World War. It now seems to be mostly home to a variety of solicitors and accountancy firms.

FILM - The corner of Paradise Square


This is the doorway of St. Peter & St. Paul’s church in Eckington, Derbyshire. The church dates back to the 12th century, although has had modifications in the intervening time. I hadn’t gone out to intentionally photograph the church, but I parked my car right outside and the afternoon light was lovely, so I took a couple of shots, one of which you see below. This is the first ‘true’ black & white shot from this set, being shot on Ilford FP4 Plus with my OM-1.

FILM - The path to redemption-


Another church doorway, this time St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic church at Handsworth, Sheffield. My wife had an appointment on our way out on a shopping trip, so I decided to go for a walk rather than sit in the car, and I liked the look of the tree’s shadows cast upon the church wall. The camera I had to hand was an Olympus Superzoom 105 G, which is a point-and-shoot compact that was produced around the turn of the century. I bought it for £2 at a camera fayre and it had a partially used toll of Kodak Gold 400 still inside. This was one of the shots taken to use up the remaining frames. As the camera used doesn’t have any way to change the film speed setting, the expired film was shot at box speed and as a result came out with considerable grain. As a result, I decided that B&W worked best for this (plus a crop to a square). For the curious, the other shots on the part-used film consisted of several photos of the (presumably) previous owners’ cat in a kitchen, plus a series from trip to Scotland (After a bit of larking around on Google Maps, I was able to place the specific location of several of the Scotland pictures, which was nice).

FILM - Shadows on the church


Another shot from the £2 Superzoom 105 G. This one is on Fomapan 100. The doorway in the picture is set in the side of the Manchester Crown Court building, and is a suitably imposing entrance. This was taken in April 2017 while I was attending a training course nearby.

FILM - Doors


Taken while waiting for the train to Manchester to attend the training course I mentioned above. This entrance to the hidden luxuries of the first-class lounge is on one of the platforms of Sheffield’s Midland Station. Shot on our old chum, Agfa Vista Plus 200, and with a Konica Pop camera (the third of the £2 cheapies I picked up at the camera fayre). The camera still had batteries in when I bought it, but they’d leaked and had corroded the battery terminals enough to prevent the electrics from working. Thankfully, if you like a challenge, you can shoot the camera manually by using Sunny 16 guidelines. Although the lens is fixed focus, and the shutter speed is locked at 1/125 sec, you can alter the aperture between f/4 and f/16 by a combination of the ASA setting switch and whether the flash is in it’s up or down position. I know it all sounds a bit Heath-Robinson, but it works nonetheless!

FILM - Not for the likes of me


Olympus OM-1 again and another B&W conversion on Agfa Vista Plus 200. This is the entrance to Chesterfield town hall. The framing is maybe a little tight on this at the bottom, but I think I might’ve just about gotten away with it.

FILM - Three ways in


Broad Lane, Sheffield. I liked the weathered, graffiti-scrawled look of this particular door. It was taken with a Pentax P30T on (you guessed it!) Agfa Vista Plus 200. I had to stand in the road to get it in shot using the 50mm Rikenon f/2 lens that was attached to the camera.

FILM - Quiet


Not far from the door above, is the next one, not a dissimilar shade of blue, on Trippet Lane. They could almost be related! Again, the weathered look drew my eye, and this one has a nice bit of sticker-art affixed. Same camera, same roll of film.

FILM - Inside Number 9(0)

Well, there you go. This turned out to be a longer post than I expected. Thirteen shots in all (I hope no-one is superstitious!). At the rate I photograph scenes like this I ought to have enough for another bakers’ dozen in about a year’s time!

Victoria Quays part #3

This is the third and (I think) final post regarding last Sunday’s walk around Victoria Quays in Sheffield. The first two parts can be found in the links below.

Part #1

Part #2

The main difference in the shots posted in this piece is that they were shot with a different camera – a Minolta Hi-Matic G2 – and on colour negative film – Agfa Vista Plus 200. I picked the camera up a few months back for £2 when I saw it in a box of compact cameras at a camera fayre. All the items in the box cost £2 each and I ended up with three of them: the Minolta, a Konica Pop, and an Olympus Superzoom 105G. I like to have a camera on me when going out even if not specifically to take photographs, and small compacts like this are ideal for the purpose. I’ve used a number of them over the past six months or so, usually just loading them with a roll of film and then chucking them in a coat pocket to be used in the event that something interesting turns up while I’m out and about.

I always use Agfa Vista Plus 200 as the first film through a newly acquired camera for the simple reason that it can be had for £1 a roll at Poundland (or at least it could, recent developments have revealed that Poundland are to stop stocking the film) and I’d rather that, if the camera turns out to be faulty, I waste a cheap roll of film than some more expensive Tri-X or Portra or something. That said, despite its low-cost, I do like the results the film gives, especially in bright, sunny conditions, and it has a slight magenta tone to it that I think looks nice.

The Minolta is quite a nice little camera. It’s pretty no frills, being a zone-focus camera with little manual control other than setting the focus distance via the lens barrel. It’s very similar to an Olympus Trip 35, but has the advantage of having the distance scale as well as the icons on top of the barrel (the Trip has the icons on the top only, and the distance scale beneath the barrel, which is a little awkward if you’ve not memorized them and can’t remember just how far away the head-and-shoulders icon represents). I also prefer the wind lever on the Minolta to the Trips’ thumb-wheel winder. It’s not as nice looking as the Trip 35 though, but it still has its own charm and it feels nice in the hand. The lens is a 38mm f/2.8 and is nice and sharp. Out of the 25 frames I got from the roll, none is out of focus, a testament to my skill in measuring distances (or perhaps that they were almost all shot in bright conditions and the narrower aperture would’ve covered my mistakes!). The camera’s aperture is set automatically but can be seen through the viewfinder on applying a half-press of the shutter button, giving an idea as to the results you will get from the shot. The camera takes a discontinued 1.35v mercury cell, but mine has a 1.5v inserted and I just compensated by setting the ASA dial two-thirds of a stop slower so that the camera thought I was shooting 125 ASA film rather than the 200 ASA roll that was inside, and the exposures are all pretty much spot on.

These shots were taken after finishing off the roll of Fomapan 200 in the Yashica Mat, and are mostly from the walk away from the canal basin and onto the beginning of the canal proper. I’ll not post every shot I took, but the ones here give a flavour of it and some indication of what this little camera can produce.

The first is of a boat used for cruises up and down the canal – I think they have discos and dining onboard sometimes. I’ve heard of people going on these events but have never done so myself.

FILM - I.B. Hardfeet

The next couple are of the Sheaf Quay building (I also posted a shot of this taken with the Yashica Mat 124 G in part #2).

FILM - Sheaf Quay in colour

FILM - Sheaf Quay in colour-2

Next is a random barge. The shot above was taken from the towpath just in front of this boats’ bows.

FILM - Barge

The next shot is still on Agfa Vista Plus 200, but converted to black & white in Lightroom. I think the contrasts of light and shade suit mono better than the colour original.

FILM - Chimneystack

Just beyond the chimney stack and under the next bridge, I took a couple of shots of other boats, one in the water (I like the wavy, geometric reflections of the building in this shot), and another up on the opposite bank of the canal.

FILM - Planet

FILM - Little Pud

I took a few more shots in this area before walking back to the canal basin and back to the car park. I had to wait for a short time while a man the manually operated swing bridge that joins the north and south parts of the quay. Just on the opposite bank is a bicycle used to advertise a local second-hand shop. Again, I took a similar shot (albeit of a different bike) with the Yashica Mat which can be seen in part #2.

FILM - Emmaus

The final shot of the day was taken as I walked through the car-park back to my car. I liked the way the sunlight was falling on the space between the alternating decks of the car park and so grabbed the shot below. Again, I think this works better in black and white.

FILM - Between levels

All-in-all, the little Minolta is a nice camera. I’m pleased with the results and will likely use it again at some point. I don’t think it really offers anything the Olympus Trip 35 doesn’t also provide, but it’s enjoyable to use. Certainly well worth the £2 I paid for it!

Oddshots #1

Occasionally, I might have a single image to post, maybe something unusual or special, or just an oddment that’s slipped out of a set. Rather than saying nothing about them, I thought they might make for good “quickie” posts.

The shot here is one that was taken a few weeks ago, but which I’ve only just uploaded to Flickr (mainly because I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Yashica Mat). It was taken with a Pentax P30T and Rikenon 50mm f/2 lens combo on Agfa Vista Plus 200 – a film that can usually be bought for £1 a roll [24 exp] in the UK’s Poundland discount store chain. Poundland Agfa (as it seems to be known amongst some ‘togs) may be cheap, but I quite like the results it produces – a little grainy and edging towards the magenta, it can produce particularly nice results in sunny conditions, I  think.

Because it’s so cheap, it makes a good ‘test’ film for new cameras that you don’t want to risk with something more expensive. In this case, it was the first outing for the P30T, a camera I’d bought purely because I had the Pentax K-mount Rikenon 50mm lying around without a body to affix it to. The lens came with a Ricoh KR-10 that I’d bought at a flea market, but the focusing screen was mis-aligned and beyond my current powers to fix. I still have the KR-10, but it seems to have slipped into further disrepair, with the shutter now failing to fire even with fresh batteries. Ah well, at least the lens seems ok.

I took the camera for a walk around town and shot all 24 frames of the Agfa, and was very happy with the results. The P30T (which I use in aperture priority mode), is compact, light, and fits well in my hands, and the images were all nicely sharp and well exposed.

The shot below is of the Soundhouse, a building owned by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Music. It’s an unusual building with a look of a piece of studded furniture. After a bit of tweaking, I decided to convert the shot to black and white as I preferred the look. Apart from a couple of scratches I’ve noticed on the image since uploading it (I might go back and fix those, so don’t worry if you can’t see them!), I like the shot. The building’s unusual shape and its black textured exterior make it stand out nicely in the frame. The composition is maybe a little tight at the bottom though. Oh well.

FILM - Living in a box