Tag Archives: 35mm

To lifesize…and beyond!

Some time ago I bought the 25mm extension tube for my Canon FD system and have been using it somewhat successfully with the 50 and 135 to get closer focusing. It was a cheap, moderately effective but rather fiddly way to get into macro territory.

Way back last spring, I found just how fiddly it was as I lumbered around Happy Hollow Gardens, swapping constantly between the 50/1.4 and 135/2.8 with extension. As usual, just about everything bar the close-ups was shot with the 50mm, which I’ve come to realize is my favorite focal length of the ones I have available.

That outing made me realize that I wanted to have the option of having a useful “walk around” lens with close focusing ability for such occasions. I considered the Canon 100 and 50 mm macro lenses for the FD system and a couple of third party 90mm macros which are highly regarded.

The Canon 100 and 50 macros share the same 52mm filter threads as my other FD lenses, the Vivitar and Tokina macros are larger. All my filters are 52mm. Since this will find use as a general purpose optic when I want to travel light with just one lens yet retain close focusing ability, it would be nice if the filters I already have will fit.

Both the 50 and the 100 will go to half life-size by themselves, but with my existing extension tube the fifty will go to 1:1. If I add that combination to my 2x teleconverter, I get a very slow but serviceable twice lifesize.

The fifty macro is usable as a normal lens, though the focus throw is pretty short from 3 feet to infinity and it’s not optimized for infinity focus. I’ll keep it on the camera for a while to see just how well it handles in day to day shooting.

The 100 would have had a more reasonable close-up working distance. Then again, a 200 macro would be better yet. Those seem rather rare, though.

The best part was the price, just a shade over $50 from KEH Camera. The cheapest 100 macro was almost $100. I took a gamble and went with one in BGN (bargain) condition. I have no clue why it was rated that way, but KEH are known for their quite conservative grading. Based on this lens and their friendly return and warranty policies, I’d have no qualms about buying BGN again.

Anyway, enough blabber. I’ll post examples when I’m done shooting the current roll of film.

Photo USA

Just wanted to give a quick shout out for a local business, Photo USA on Colonial Avenue in Roanoke. I’ve used them for several rolls of color print film developing, and am more than happy with the results and especially their handling of my film. No fingerprints and no scratches or crud on the last half-dozen frames because they know that a 36-exposure roll held at waist level will drag along the ground behind you and therefore refrain from doing that.

At $3/roll plus sales tax for C-41 develop only ($4 for 120 format) at time of writing this, they’re not much more expensive than CVS were, and cheaper than mailing out. They’ll package up my uncut negatives in continuous plastic sleeve which means I can just lay the whole thing out flat on the kitchen table for cutting. Only then do I need to don the creepy white cotton gloves to transfer the strips into archival pages. Much easier to deal with.

I’ll be trying them for some E-6 development soon, once I’ve run a roll of the Fujichrome film I ordered recently through a camera.

If you’re shooting film in the Roanoke Virginia area and want it processed by people who know what they’re doing, I’d recommend Photo USA.

Impressed by CVS

When I started getting back into shooting 35mm film, I was a little worried. Would I be able to get it developed anywhere nearby? Would the quality be any good? Would I stand a good chance of having my negatives trashed by some kid who didn’t know or care what they were doing? Would I have to set myself up to process C-41 at home just to ensure the safety of my film, never mind the quality?

I’ve heard the minilab horror stories, after all. And the pro-lab horror stories too, come to think of it.

Thank you note from CVSTurns out I needn’t have worried, the CVS round the corner from where I work (the Westlake store at Hardy, VA) has me covered. I just processed and scanned my 10th roll since December through them yesterday and was pleased with the results yet again. I’m pretty sure they mostly know me by sight now and this time I even got the film back with a thank you note! Another couple of rolls and I’ll probably be able to rock in there and ask for “the usual, please”! 🙂

The scans are inexpensive and good for printing up to about 5×7 and for proofing and web use. They’re auto-adjusted for levels, which is great if you’re using some sort of flaky point and shoot with marginal exposure control, not so much if you’re using a manual SLR and hoping to learn from your errors! Higher resolution and non-adjusted scans would be great but I haven’t explored that possibility yet, other than being vaguely aware that the Noritsu machine they use can do both. Ideally I’ll have a scanner of my own sometime soon anyway; the net result of that would be that I go process-only at the CVS but end up shooting a whole lot more and sending more rolls their way for processing.

More important in that regard, the processing and handling has been excellent. The only fingerprints on any negatives have been my own before I bought some white cotton gloves to use while working with the negs. I haven’t seen any obvious scratches or dirt either. They’re fine with returning the film uncut, which allows me to cut to the lengths I want (6 frame strips, perfect for the desktop film scanner I don’t yet own).

Sure, I could do my own processing. If I ever get into shooting black and white it makes economic sense to process at home, but for C-41 I can’t buy the chemicals for any less per roll than it costs me to process at CVS and it’s a lot less trouble to just drop the roll(s) off in the morning and pick them up after work.

So, thank you CVS Westlake for doing an excellent job. I really appreciate it.