Stepping from 35mm to medium format seems like a massive step up in quality. Since the growing popularity of film photography certain cameras have become the standard for quality and therefore sought after by film enthusiasts worldwide. One of those cameras has been the Rolleiflex. Out of reach for most of us the Rolleiflex has given birth to a myriad of “next best things”. The 124g and the Mamiya C330 are probably the two biggest standouts. Take a moment and watch my latest episode as I dive into one of my absolute favourite cameras.
It’s nearing the end of August on Vancouver Island and we have been inundated by smoke from over 150 wildfires raging in British Columbia. Today the winds changed direction and the smoke that once sat thick like fog on the island is travelling back toward the mainland. This wind change provides us with a little reprieve from the toxic levels of smoke that we have been dealing with over the last 8-10 days. However the relief we are experiencing in Nanaimo only means that Others further east, even into Alberta will have to face this reality once again. This image below will stand as a reminder for me of those that are still coping with the scary new reality of wildfires that seem to come every summer in BC. If you are reading this post please pray for those that are in the midst of this struggle.
Nestled amongst a pile of thrift store treasures was an unopened 5 pack of expired Kodak Ultramax 400 film. Snatching up expired film, wether stored well or not is something I can never pass up. I asked thee older gentleman attending the shop how much he would like for the film and he very quickly said “how about a dollar”. How can you say no to a dollar for 5 rolls of film. Even if the film didn’t work the amount of fun that could be had just wandering and shooting would be worth it. As I do whenever I get film, expired or fresh, I quickly transfer it into my dedicated film fridge at home. This is where the Ultramax 400 sat for almost 9 months before I loaded it into my favourite walk around shooter, the Pentax ME.
Expired film is one of those things that people equate with lo-fi, lo-contrast, lo-quality, Lo-mography kind of images. However my experience with expired film stocks has been for the most part pretty favourable. I have no idea how long these rolls of Ultramax were laying on the thrift store junk heap or even if the previous owners had ever refrigerated them (doubtful) but I didn’t care, I decided to shoot it at box speed anyway. The expiration in 2002 which should have told me to shoot it 1 stop slower at ISO 200, but something in me said shoot it at box speed. What did I have to lose, it was only a buck. I shot the below images between 2 locations not far from my home in Nanaimo British Columbia. The first 8 images were shot in a quaint little hippie town called Coombs, known for their goats on the roof market place. The final two images were shot in a beautiful little beach town called Parksville during the world sand castle championships that are held here each year. I think the results really speak for themselves. Kodak colour negative films are almost impossible to over expose and this film renders colours in such a way that bring you back but not too far back, if you know what I mean. For a consumer grade film the grain seemed to be decently fine and although sharpened in Lightroom everything turned out fairly crisp. Over all I get kind of an Ektar vibe from this film and I love Ektar. Will I shoot Ultramax again. Definitely! To be fair, it’s not a pro film but When I compare it to some of its peers like Fuji Superia or Kodak Gold the Ultramax wins by a landslide. If you’ve made it this far in the article leave a comment and let me know what you think of Ultramax and also what your favourite consumer film to shoot is.