Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Southerly transmission

A photo from the archive today, made a couple of years ago back when we were under the first covid lockdown here in the UK. I’m pretty sure I’ve not posted this image before – I searched for the camera, film, and the words “pylon” and “power lines” and nothing showed up, so finger’s crossed.

I was going to post another shot from the curly expired Tri-X, but it was another frame with the odd marks and, given the nature of the scene, I couldn’t photoshop them out to my satisfaction so decided against uploading it.

Southerly transmission

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 27 April 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

The last from the Lipca

A couple more frames made with the Lipca Rollop II. These are most likley the last photographs from this particular camera that I will publish here now that I no longer own it. It’s a nice camera should you ever come across one in good working order.

Leaning tree
Arch obscured

Lipca Rollop II & Fomapan 100. Adox Adonal 1+50 9mins @ 21°.

Taken on 26 September 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Flyover – A lipca Rollop update and first time with Adonal

To the south-east of Sheffield, one of the main routes into and out of the city centre is the A57 road. For a long time, the route took it through a number of suburbs. As car ownership increased, so did conjestion, and eventually the route was altered to create a bypass. As the road gets closer to the edge of the city it needs to cross the Rother Valley. This requires it to span not only the River Rother itself, but also two railway lines and the marshy floodplain itself. To do this a viaduct was constructed.

Bypass viaduct

The viaduct stands around a mile from where I live and the floodplain to the east of the river is accessible to walkers (and also a herd of cows that graze there). Both these shots were taken early one morning as I tested the makeshift repair I’d to the Lipca Rollop II TLR (more about that here and here). Spoiler alert – the repair was a bust and I still ended up with the same light leak on some frames (it’s feintly visible in the middle of the shot above). I’ve now moved the camera on to someone else who may hopefully be able to either repair the problem properly, or just live with the fault – it still makes very nice photographs if you work around the issue.

These photos were made on one of my remaining rolls of bad-batch Fomapan 100. As I was testing the camera I wasn’t too concerened about the spotting issues on the film and there are way too many of them for me to bother to attempt to remove in Lightroom or Photoshop. They’re only apparent when the images are viewed large in any case. I think I’m down to a couple of rolls of this batch of film now, so I’ll likely save them for other camera tests or maybe the Holga – that one will eat up defective film for breakfast! 🙂

This also marked my first foray into a different developer. I’ve used Ilfotec DD-X since I started home-developing B&W film when the Covid-19 lockdown began in the spring. DD-X is very nice (if a little expensive) and I will continue to use it. I dod want a cackup though, so I bought a small 100ml bottle of Adox Adonal (Rodinal in all but name). This roll was my first time using it. I think the results are pretty nice. I think I prefer the DD-X, but the Adonal still looks great, is much cheaper, and will be usefull should I attempt stand developing at some point. It should also last forever without going bad.

Under the flyover

Lipca Rollop II & Fomapan 100. Adox Adonal 1+50 9mins @ 21°.

Taken on 26 September 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Crash! Bang! Rollop! What a Picture! A review and test of the Lipca Rollop II TLR

Lipca Rollop II
The Lipca Rollop II. Portrait by Nikon F80, Sigma 105mm f/2.8 OS HSM, and Ilford HP5+ (@1600asa).

A year or two back I was given a box of old cameras, four in total. These included a Voigtlander Vito B. a couple of Soviet-era rangefinders, and a Lipca Rollop TLR.

I tested the Vito B with a roll of film not long after receiving it, but not a single shot was even close to being in focus, and I suspect someone had attempted to repair it at some point but then not correctly aligned the zone-focus lens when putting it back together. Both the rangefinders had aperture rings that were locked solid, so I passed those on to people who might hopefully be able to repair them and make use of the cameras.

The Lipca though, while a little dirty, looked ok – the only issue that stood out being some rotted light-seals in the film chamber – so I decided to hold onto it and give it a test. In the end it remained in a drawer for the best part of two years until, a couple of weeks ago, when I finally decided to try it out. But before I go into detail on that, here’s a little pen protrait of the camera…

According to, the Lipca company (short for Lippische Camerafabrik Richter & Fischer) was formed in Bartrup, West Germany, in 1947. The owners, Fritz and Charlotte Richter, and Karl Fischer had moved some of their equipment and employees from Tharandt, near Dresden, which was in the Soviet zone as they feared the factory would be expropriated. The new company was fully founded the following year.

The company was a small organisation with around 50 employees working in a close-knit family atmosphere. Their peak output was around 1000 cameras per month.

They produced a number of TLR models, starting with the Flexo in 1948. This was to be re-named the Flexora following a trademark dispute with Franke & Heidecke. There were three variants of the Flexora before a new camera, the Rollop, was introduced – this model using an injection molded aluminium body rather than the sheet metal of the earlier cameras. Three versions were produced between 1954 and 1962. The main difference between models was probably the film transport which started as a knob winder on the Rollop I. A crank winder was introduced on the Rollop II, and this crank was upgraded to also cock the shutter on the Rollop Automatic, the final variant. The Rollop Automatic also featured an Enna Lithagon taking lens, replacing the Enna Ennagon on the previous versions.

When the demand for TLR cameras fell into decline in the early 60s, Lipca tried to gain a foothold on the emerging 35mm market by selling re-branded cameras from King, and Franka. Lipca also manufactured other equipment such as binoculars,slide-viewers, and they carried out some production work in conjunction with Plaubel. After a move to a new site in Bad Nauheim in 1961, all camera production ceased in 1962, and the Lipca name was dissolved in 1972.

The model I have is the Rollop II, a twin lens reflex camera with a 75mm f/3.5 Enna Ennagon taking lens (replicated in the viewing lens). Both lenses have a filter thread. Shutter speeds range from 1sec to 1/300sec with a bulb setting for long exposures. Apertures cover f/3.5 through to f/22. Shutter speed is selected by rotating a toothed wheel mounted around the taking lens, aligning the required speed with a red arrow at the 12 o’clock position on the lens barrel. Aperture is chosen with a lever that rotates around the lower right section of the lens barrel, this needs to be pulled out slightly to change the setting as it latches into the teeth on the shutter speed dial. This latching mechanism means the camera has a simple but effective shutter-priority function. For instance, if the shutter speed is set to 1/125sec and the aperture to f/8, then rotating the shutter speed to 1/300sec will simultaneously change the aperture to f/5.6. Changing shutter speed to 1/60sec would change the aperture to f/11 and so on. The aperture can still be manually set if required.

The shutter cocking mechanism is a lever on the upper-right of the lens barrel, and the shutter lever resides on the lower-right. There is a threaded cable release point just above the shutter lever.

Also on the front of the camera is a sync socket. M and X synchronisation settings are available from a small switch on the upper left of the lens barrel.

The film is advanced by a crank mechanism on the right of the camera. This operates in a forward / return action, rather than full rotation. The handle of the crank is hinged and can be latched to prevent accidental advancement of the film.

The camera viewfinder is a standard ground-glass affair, but with a horizontal split-prism in the centre. A magnifying lens hinges out from the front of the viewfinder housing for fine focusing, and the housing also features a sports-finder.

The left side of the camera houses the focus knob with distance scale, the film reel release knobs, and a small screw that holds the film compartment closed. When partially unscrewed, this is pushed in to pop open the back of the camera. There is also a cold-shoe on this side of the camera.

There are a couple of latches for a camera strap on either side of the body, and the base of the camera has a tripod mounting socket and four small metal feet.

The first thing I did with my Rollop II was to give it a clean. The bodywork is in pretty nice condition, the leatherette is all intact and there are no significant marks anywhere, but it was a little scruffy. A soft cloth and some rubbing alcohol removed most of the surface dust and dirt without trouble. I removed the focus screen housing to give it a better clean and to allow the mirror and inside of the viewing lens to be cleaned with a dust blower and (for the lens) some lens cleaner. Both lenses were cleaned on the outside, and I then cleaned the inside of the taking lens while the camera was in bulb mode.

While the light seals looked in a bit of a state, I decided to leave them alone for the time being (they are partially covered by the film tension plate, and I could see no easy way to remove it to allow access) and just see how the camera would fare with a test roll of film – some Fomapan 100.

In operation, the camera was straightforward to use and gave no unexpected surprises. My only issue being that the focus screen didn’t have a lot of contrast and it was quite difficult to see depending on the light. Using the magnifyer helped though. I found the shutter release to be easy to use and think that this lever-type release is perhaps better for keeping the camera steady than the push-button release on something like a Yashica Mat 124.

I went for a walk around a local nature reserve and shot the full roll. I noticed with some surprise that the camera would still fire even after winding on from the twelth frame, so took another shot for good luck, not really expecting anything from it. I would be surprised…

Testing a Lipka Rollop II
Testing a Lipka Rollop II-2
Testing a Lipka Rollop II-5
Testing a Lipka Rollop II-6

I developed the roll of film in my usual Ilfotec DD-X and was pleased to see a negatives appear. One instant plus was that my extra shot had given me a thirteenth frame! It was right at the very end of the roll, and I ended up having to crop it afterwards because of marks caused when drying the film, but still – a bonus! This pleasant surprise was, sadly, marred a little by the unfortunate fact that around half the frames had very noticeable light leaks.

Testing a Lipka Rollop II - 13 shots on a roll!
The lucky 13th shot. I had to crop it a little, and I’m not sure what has caused the circular mark at top-centre but, hey, beggars can’t be choosers!

While some of the light leaks looked normal given the state of the light seals, many of the affected frames had an odd arc of brightness across the centre of the frame, as can be seen in the three photos below.

Testing a Lipka Rollop II - General light leaks
Testing a Lipka Rollop II - Front standard light leak
Testing a Lipka Rollop II - Front standard light leak

Based on these findings I decided to do what I could to replace the seals. With some degree of fiddlyness, I was able to replace the ones the were partially obscured by the film plate, along with the rest of the more accessible foam.

A few days later I took the camera out again, hopeful that my replacement seals would resolve the problems.

This time, when loading the film, instead of winding the crank four times as stated in the manual, I just wound it on three times hoping I would again be able to squeeze an extra frame from the roll.

Testing a Lipca Rollop II
Testing a Lipca Rollop II-2
Testing a Lipca Rollop II-3
Testing a Lipca Rollop II-4

I again shot all (thirteen!) frames on a single outing, albeit the final bonus frame being a shot of a mug on the kitchen counter taken when I got home.

Bonus frame
The second bonus 13th frame. Maybe not the best shot ever, but again – bonus!

This time, most of the frames were free from light leaks – all except one, again showing the odd arc-shaped mark.

There was also one completely blank frame where I think I accidentally wound the film on without firing the shutter!

I decided to look at the camera more closely, and wondered if the light might be coming from the lens, rather than the film compartment. I shone a bright light at the front of the camera and opened the film compartment. This revealed a feint glow coming from the edge of the taking lens. Further investigation also revealed that the front standard had a very small gap when focused closely (so that it was racked out as far as it would go). This explained why the leak only appeared on certain frames – those where the camera was focussed at or closer to infinity where unaffected as the lens standard was racked back to the body of the camera, closing the gap. Only the shots where I had focussed on closer subjects had the problem.

I don’t have the necessary technical ability to repair this properly, at least not without risking more significant problems or breaking it completely and, as the camera was a freebie (and I already have a working TLR in the form of my Yashica Mat 124G) I don’t really want to pay the price of a professional repair. I think I will give it another test though – I have an idea to attach a skirt of black felt around the racking mechanism using some tape which ought to block the light getting in where it’s not wanted. Maybe not elegant, but hopefully it will work. I guess I’ll find out before too long! 🙂

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Woodland road (and dealing with some spotty Fomapan 100)

A photograph of a woodland road today, taken on one of the rolls of Fomapan 100 that I’ve been having problems with. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (such as this one) I’ve been having issues with white speckles of debris when using this film. I ruled out my development process and chemicals – both worked fine when developing other film stocks. I also tried omitting a chemical stop-bath, replacing it with water, and also adding a pre-wash of the film before developing. Nothing seemed to work and the speckles still stubbornly appeared when I developed each roll of Fomapan 100.

Then, a month or so back, I came across a post on the Photrio forum which seemed to detail someone having the same problem. It turned out that other people suffering the same difficulties all had film form the same production batch. One person in a linked post had contacted Foma themselves and been advised that the cause was a harder than usual anti-halation layer on that run of film and that a specific development process might help. I tried the process myself, but still ended up with the smae spots on the negatives, albeit possibly slightly less pronounced than before.

I decided to contact Foma myself and they replied with some similar instructions, although this time I noticed an additional stage that involved a wash of the developed film in an ethanol / water mixture before the final wetting agent stage. I’ve not tried this process as yet and, I suspect, probably won’t – mostly because ethanol seems quite hard to come by, at least at a price that isn’t prohibitively high. It would likely be cheaper to buy some fresh, unproblematic film, than attempt the ethanol rinse process.

I’m grateful for Foma’s response though, plus they sent me a few rolls of film as a goodwill gesture – two rolls of Fomapan 400, plus a roll of Retropan 320. I’ve never shot Retropan 320 before, so I’m quite looking forward to giving that one a go.

Should anyone else be suffering a similar issue when developing Fomapan 100, the instructions provided to me by Foma are as follows:

In case of your already exposed & processed negatives we recommend to you the following procedure to remove the residues of remaining anti-halo layer:

1) Prepare working solution in minimum with 40% of ethanol (optimally 70%).
2) Put carefully the films into spiral´s developing tank or a spiral with the film into similar transparent container with enough ethanol solution, with emulsion layer inside of the cylinder tank/container.
3) Keep the negatives in this solution approximately 45 minutes and make moderate movement each 4-5 minutes.
4) Wash sheets of the negatives in running water from tap for 2-3 minutes.
5) Make standard drying including wetting agent (FOTONAL).

If you may decide to use also other films from the same emulsion number, we advise you to follow this procedure of processing:

1) Exposed films put inside of the spiral´s developing tank.
2) Pour distilled water or water without minerals into this developing tank and keep the films in this solution for 20-30 minutes. Occasional inversion is convenient. This solution, ca. 600 ml, is possible to use in maximum for 2 rolls.
3) Immediately after pouring the water out you can fill the tank by developing working solution keeping standard conditions of developing, best using more alkaline developer, e.g. FOMADON R09.
4) After developing we recommend to stop process just by water bath, best running filtered water, in minimum for the time of 30 seconds in water´s temperature 12-18° C. Using acidic stop bath like FOMACITRO and others is not convenient in this case, because there are needed alkaline baths to help with dissolving the hardened anti-halo layer.
5) Standard fixing.
6) Wash the strips of the negatives in running water for 20-30 minutes (according to higher or lower temperature).
7) Use ethanol solution and other steps (1-5) as described in previous paragraph.

Forest road
There’s a set of power-lines tucked away in here if you look for them…

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 August 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Horse chestnut tree

Back when I was a boy, horse chestnut trees such as the one pictured here, would have been bracing themselves for the soon-to-arrive annual attack of schoolboys desperate to harvest their fruit of conkers. Here in the UK (and maybe elsewhere, I don’t know), conkers was THE sport of the school playground come autumn-time.

For those unfamiliar with the activity, a conker is a hard, nut-like seed produced by the horse chestnut tree. They fall from the branches around October time. Or, as used to be the case, they would be knocked violently from the branches by thrown sticks and stones or pulled from branches climbed by brave individuals. Each conker would be safely cocooned in a heavy, spiky outer shell that, when ripe, would split to reveal the brown, polished, wood-like ovoid within. If you were lucky you would find a previously undiscovered tree that had dropped it’s fruit on the floor. Such rarity! Such treasures!

The game is played by making a hole through the centre of the conker and threading it with a length of thread – often a shoelace – and securing it at the bottom with a knot. Two opponents would then face off and take in turns to swing their conker with force, bracing the thread tautly across the top of the back of their hand, with the intent of shattering their opponents conker.

Dedicated proponents of the sport would engage a variety of techniques to harden their “team” of conkers to maximum hardness. Baking them in an oven, or pickling them in vinegar were both methods reputed to give a conker a shell that would challenge a diamond on the moh scale. Champion conkers would be given names and attain legendary status in the schoolyard.

These days the horse chestnut is in reprieve, the sport of conkers largely consigned to history by the youngsters of today. Part of this was down to a series of bans issued by schools fearful of children with conker fractured knuckles or missing front teeth, although nowadays it’s probably mostly because of videogames and the internet. Isn’t everything?

Horse chestnut
No longer in high demand

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 August 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Song birds

Eight birds sat on some power lines. When I first arrived at this location there were a lot more of them, and they reminded me of musical notation. Sadly, they flew away before I could get a picture – I think I spooked them setting the camera up – so I moved on to make photos of other things. When I got back some of them had returned, so I got this shot.

Song birds
Swallows or swifts?

Bronica ETRSi, Zenzanon 75mm f/2.8 & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8mins @ 20°

Taken on 23 August 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Artificial flowers. Real shadows.

A shot taken back during full lockdown in April. I’d spotted that this vase of artificial flowers on the windowsill cast a nice shadow on the vertical blinds when one of the lamps was switched on. So, after a few nights of noticing it and thinking there might be a picture to be had, I decided to drag the tripod down into the living room, set up the bronica with a cable release, and make the photograph.

Shadow flowers

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 27 April 2020

35mm · Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

A walk on a wet day

About a month agao I went for a walk on a Saturday morning. I planned my route the evening before and checked the weather, which all my apps informed me would be overcast but dry after some early rain. My path would take me from a place about 20 minutes drive away called Lindrick Dale. It’s a place I’ve walked from once before, albeit when I was a teenager – so over thirty years ago now! That particular walk had been somewhat ill-fated…

Myself and two of my friends had decided to catch the bus there and then walk over to the Chesterfield Canal (we were all into fishing at the time and were curious as to what the canal would be like to fish in. Although I never fished it, it was like some sort of angler’s fantasy with countless huge fish visible in the water!). From there, we would follow the towpath to the town of Worksop and then catch the bus home. It was a hot summer’s day and we were not really prepared to do much other than our planned walk so, when we got to Worksop and discovered that the bus service had stopped running, we were in a pickle. None of us had anyone who could drive out and pick us up, so we ended up having to walk home, hungry and thirsty, for the entire 14-mile distance. I remember the blessed relief when we found a shop that was open – a rarity in the UK on a Sunday afternoon in the 1980s – and were able to buy a can of cold pop each. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a welcome drink (except maybe the one I had when I finally reached home, feet aching and exhausted, later that evening).

On this recent occasion I planned on walking some of the same route again, though with the benefit of knowing I had my car to get me home at the end of the walk. Still, there had to be a degree of ill-fate I suppose, and this time it came in the form of rain. As usual, the 21st century weather forecasting technology let me down. A couple of minutes after leaving the car and beginning to walk, the heavens opened. I continued walking a while longer – I’d worn my waterproof hooded jacket so my top half was nice and dry. Unfortunately my trousers were only water resistant and it soon became apparent that they would get very wet if I didn’t take shelter. So, with a degree of annoyance at the weather forecasters of the world, I hurried back to the car to sit it out.

Eventually the rain eased off and it looked like it might stay that way, so I headed out again. The weather was still gloomy, but there was a pleasant freshness to the air from the heavy rain, laced with the scents of vegetation. Following the narrow road through Lindrick dale led to a footpath that skirts the southern edge of Lindrick golf course and I grabbed a quick photo of one of the greens. I was up a small slope above the green and I might have been better served if I’d gone down to make the photo, but it is what it is.

Four or fore

It’s probably worth noting at this point that most of the photos featured in this post are snaps from my walk taken with my Nikon F80 and 50mm lens. I’m not sure that any of them are great photos, but they serve well enough as illustrations. I also had my Yashica Mat 124G and some of those photos are more, er, artistic (some have been featured on the blog already here and here).

A little further on I stopped to take a photo of the canal feeder stream which winds it’s way through the landscape for a mile or so from the River Ryton until it empties into the Chesterfield canal. I find something interesting about these sorts of man-made waterways – they remind me of some sort of fairground water-ride on a grand scale. I’m not including most of the Yashica photos in this post, but I’ll let this one sneak in as it shows the canal feeder (shot on Fomapan 100 film).

Canal feeder

The path then entered an area of woodland and thankfully it was when I was beneath the shelter of the trees that the rain started again. It absolutely heaved it down and I was forced to loiter in the woods for a good twenty minutes before it stopped enough to venture out again.

The path now took me past an interesting looking farm that I made a mental note of as a possible future photo opportunity (in nicer weather!) and then continued towards a nearby railway line with a pedestian crossing place. Unfortunately, this section of path was bordered by tall grasses which were now saturated with rainwater. It’s remarkable the volume of water that plants can hold on their leaves and stems and my legs were soaked by the time I reached the railway crossing. Thankfully, the other side was an open field leading up to the canal at Turnerwood. There was a nice looking old greenhouse on this section that was also added to the photo-op file of my memory banks.

My plan had been to walk from here to nearby Shireoaks and then back on a long loop around the golf cours. However, my wet trousers forced the decision to take a shorter route back to the car instead. So, from Turnerwood, I walked west along the canal towpath and shortly afterwards made this photo of a moored barge.

Early morning barging

A little further along the path and I saw a curious horse watching me from the other side of the water.

It's that horse again

And, a little further again, some lock gates that were nicely lit by the sun which had peaked through a gap in the cloud.

Lock gates and reflected trees

This section of the canal has a long series of locks and I made a number of photographs with the Yashica Mat. Eventually I reached a bridge over the canal that marked the place where I would lead the towpath and head back towards Lindrick Dale. This involved crossing the railway line once again and then walking up a long, slighty muddy and slippery path through a field of growing crops. Here I took a couple of the photos posted in the blogs linked further up this piece.

A paved farm road at the top of the footpath made for easier walking and I followed it over a railway bridge and past a house stood alone in the countryside. The road dipped downhill and just as it veered right, under a railway bridge, I noticed a field of cows to my left. There was a stream at the foot of the field with a simple wooden bridge. The stream also passed under the railway embankment through a culvert and te next three shots show the scene. The field was laced with cowpats and I was fortunate that my luck held out for once and I didn’t tread in any!

Footbridge from a cow field

An entrance

Another view of the footbridge

Crossing back over the stream and under the railway bridge, I was now on the home stretch back to the car and was soon back on the narrow road through Lindrick Dale. There are some lovely houses here and I expect that they cost a pretty penny.

Past the posh houses

There is some private, manicured land at the bottom of the dale with stretches of lawn, lovely shrubs and trees, and the odd swing set. Colour film, even on this dull day, would have better served me here.

Swings beside the lawn

The final shot of the set, taken just before I got back to my car, is one of the expensive houses perched high on the edge of the dale.

House on the edge

Better conditions might have made for a better walk (and maybe photos too), but it was enjoyable for all its discomforts and I was glad to have taken the time.

Nikon F80, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D & Ilford XP2 Plus.

Taken on 6 June 2020

Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

Sun-dappled monochrome woodland

Making black and white photographs in woodland, or any other place featuring large areas of green foliage, can sometimes be tricky. Without well defined subject matter I find tht such scenes can become a mass of mushy grey textures. Differing shades of green that are easily discernible to the eye merge into less defined shades of varying brightness.

So I think a clearly defined subject is important, either seperated by brightness, contrast or texture, or isolated in some way, such as it’s placement in the composition, or by using a shallow depth of field to add separation.

I think the photo today uses a bit of both techniques. The trunk that is the point of focus is isolated here by the light that falls on it (or rather doesn’t) – there’re splashes of sunlight, but overall it is darker than the background where more light is falling. I also opened the aperture to throw the tree into focus while leaving everything else softer.

I’m happy with how the shot turned out – I have a number of similar photos from other outings that didn’t work as nicely!

in the shady forest

Yashica Mat 124G & Fomapan 100. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 8 mins @ 20°.

Taken on 22 June 2020