Nikon F3: The first roll of film

It’s been a while since I just went for a walk about with a camera, so in the name of checking out my new Nikon F3 I did just that. I loaded up a roll of Ilford HP5 and went for a wander around Princess Street gardens in the centre of the city.

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It’s a good time of year for trees (or at least the people who look at them) with lots going on and some great high contrast subjects as leaves fade and branches darken.

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Admittedly I have pushed and pulled these images around a bit in Lightroom after scanning them, although its nothing I wouldn’t have done anyway in the darkroom by dialling in some red filtration on the enlarger and waving my hands about under the lamp a bit.

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I did the processing a bit differently for this roll. Grain becomes a big issue with 35mm ISO 400 or higher film when scanning to larger sizes, but it is possible to help matters by processing the film for longer in a more dilute developer solution. I use Ilford Ifosol 3 liquid developer, and it has times for both 1+9 and 1+14 dilutions, the latter being about twice as long for HP5+ film.

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The post-processing has accentuated the grain, but the negatives scanned much better than my last roll of 400 speed film, so I think this is a good way to go. At 1+14 dilution the film sits for 11 minutes in the developer, but this is no real hardship (and uses less developer) so I think I’ll continue down this route from now on. I like the versatility and look of ISO 400 film (particularly the older Tri-X and HP5+ emulsions) but the grain has always been a little too much for big clean images.

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The camera itself was sublime to use. It handles really well and all the controls are in reach and feel just right, so dialling in exposure compensation or locking the exposure is nice and easy to do. The viewfinder was particularly good as you don’t have to squint through it or jam your eye right up against it to frame the shot. I shot all this in aperture priority using 24mm f2.8 and 50mm f1.8 manual AI-S lenses, swapping back and forth between lenses as required (no sensor dust to worry about here!).

All in all probably the new favourite of all my 35mm film cameras. It’s light and smooth to operate (the lightness of the winding action left me convinced the film hadn’t taken on the spool), takes modern batteries, has an excellent meter driven aperture priority mode and still looks stylish.

I can’t believe I waited so long to get one. It just needs a 50mm F1.2 to complement it now.

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