Friday, June 19, 2009

Anscoflex II

A couple of weeks ago my first test roll of Walmart-developed 120 film came back blank. I'm assuming it was my fault since I was using a vintage Kodak Brownie box camera with expired slide film. Modern negative film is pretty forgiving and is able to capture some kind of image no matter how far off your exposure is. Slide film, on the other hand, has an extremely tight exposure range. Using slide film in a camera with absolutely no exposure controls was probably a bad idea. Still, I was a bit worried that Walmart might not be the best choice for getting medium format film processed. Today, however, I picked up a roll of 120 film and eleven 3" x 3" prints that came out good enough for me. They're all up on Flickr right now. Included with the prints was a tiny little note that says,

The pictures enclosed are off color because the film used was old or affected by heat or humidity, or left in the camera too long after exposure. X-rays, chemicals, moth balls, or finger nail polish vapors can damage film during storage.

They're right, the prints look a little washed out, but with modern technology, its nothing to fix the images and make them a little more contrasty. I found this particular film frozen within a solid block of ice when defrosting the freezer in my "office." Who knows how it got there or how long ago. Or, the negatives could have just been overexposed. They were taken again with no exposure controls using an Anscoflex II, a camera that deserves recognition, if not for its image making, then for its ingeniously, beautiful design. (I stole the image of the Anscoflex II at right from Friendly Joe, one of my favorite TTV photographers. I highly recommend you check out his flickr stream, especially the Work-A-Day Project.) The point is this: I'm happy with Walmart's film processing. The turnaround, at two weeks, could be a little faster, but the price, $1.56, cannot be beat. Plus, I asked for the film spool to be returned and they actually did return it. If you want to get 120 film developed at Walmart, here's what you do: Ask for some "send out only envelopes." Fill in the top portion with your name as usual. Cross off all the stuff about prints. At the bottom, check the "special instructions" box. Write something like "120 size color negative film. C41 process and print 3" x 3" or whatever size prints you want." If you have slide film write "E6 color slide film." I'm sure they'll do traditional black & white film too. They won't, however, do any cross processing of slide film in regular negative chemicals, so don't even bother to ask. You'll just waste two weeks. Thanks to kennmon at the skateperception forums, where I found out about Walmart's inexpensive 120 processing.

No comments: