It was with almost childlike anticipation that I delivered my first roll of film for development in perhaps two-and-a-half decades. It's been long in the planning since I bought a few rolls of 120 film on impulse on a visit to Dubai a while back. At the time I didn't know which of my vintage cameras I'd be using, but I suspected 120 film should at least fit one of them. As I'd bought all my vintage cameras at bargain prices over time, I wasn't even sure which of them actually still works.
I knew though that a Kodak Brownie of mine is in pristine condition, but unfortunately I learnt that it doesn't shoot 120 film without having to make some changes by rolling the 120 film onto a different spool that fits the brownie. I was not in the mood for this effort and promptly picked an old, beat-up Rolleiflex 3.5F that I bought at an antique shop in Aleppo in 2009. After fixing a stuck top spool mechanism with some tools I keep around (one of the great advantages of high quality analog, metal mechanisms - you can actually fix it!) and cleaning the Rollei, it was ready to go.
Next was trying to figure out how a Rollei works, as I've never used a twin lens reflex camera before. Thankfully Youtube has something for everybody and soon I was equally ready to go. Though the lenses are not in great condition - it looks like the protective coating is gradually coming off - the rest of the mechanisms operated smoothly despite the worse-for-wear look of the old Rollei.
The Rollei went along on a recent trip to Croatia. I was planning on shooting a whole lot more on it than only one roll, but decided instead to first see some results before jumping in nuts'n'all. This first-roll-in-25-years was a Lomography Negative 100 ISO 120 color film. After a week of waiting for development and scanning of the negatives, I can now showcase the results.
I suspect that the Lomography film I used is not the best of quality, but together with the other flaws of the camera, I'm pretty pleased with the results. I downloaded Pocket Light Meter app onto my iPhone, as the Rollei doesn't have a built-in light meter. The app proved to be quite accurate, though I'd like to have seen my exposures to be slightly more underexposed. The images also have a slight green / blue tint, which I like in a retro kind of way. It looks like my focus was acceptably close in most instances, but probably as a result of the damaged lenses, there is a distinct blur around the edges of the images. I notice that this is likely when I shoot at a wide aperture, as a well lit bright daylight scene shot at a small aperture shows much improved clarity all over.
This blurring could be a hindrance under some circumstances, but for me film shooting is a new-found fun activity. I don't mind this excessive "pinhole" blurring and fully intend making the most of this flaw in future film shoots. I have a few more 120 rolls to go, including some black and white. Another short trip is coming up soon - the Rollei will just have to go along again.
It could also be that the scanning was not the best quality and I may consider investing in some way that I can do it myself in future. Most of the "flaws" can obviously be corrected by software, but I've decided to keep the outcome as faithful to the out-of-camera original as possible. Otherwise, what's the point of shooting film? I've only cleaned up all of the images by removing spots and dust (on the negatives at time of scan), slight sharpening (to compensate for the scanning process) and an auto-correction - making sure that the auto-correction doesn't substantially change the image. I did not do any white balance adjustments, as I like the blue / green hue just the way it is.
Looking forward to the next opportunity to take out ye good ol' faithful Rollei ...
See also the prelude to this posting - Dusting off the Rollei for Croatia