Thursday, 15 October 2020

Fomapan 200 in the TiTAN pinhole camera

I was out with the TiTAN pinhole camera again.  Can't stop myself - the thing is so light and portable and easy to use it's really quite addictive.  There's a couple of things I wish it had, though.  One would be a built-in framing device, or at least one you could slide onto the cold shoe and get a rough idea of the composition.  Up to now I've been winging it, with mixed results.  I like the 4x5 format so it's a shame to crop it, as I've needed to do a couple of times so far.  Like in this shot, for example, where I simply got too much foreground in.  I ended up cropping to 6x12 (1:2) format.

Ballintoy, looking out to Sheep Island.  Rathlin Island is clearly visible behind and there's even the faintest bit of Bonny Scotland visible to the right. Fomapan 200 on Ilford MGV paper.

As I was saying the other day, the price of Ilford sheet film is about twice that of Foma's offerings, so I bought a couple of boxes of Fomapan 200 to play with.  It's the first time I've used this film, so it was all a bit of an experiment.  As usual, I did no research before I went out.  Given the f/206 aperture of the pinhole I was down around 15 second for this shot.  Now, if I'd been sensible and read up about Fomapan 200 first, I would have been advised to increase this by a factor of 9 (nine!), so 135 seconds or just over two minutes (or open up 3 stops, if you prefer).  Now that is serious reciprocity failure compensation.  But I didn't know that, so I just exposed for the 15 seconds.  I had metered for 100 iso, so one full stop less than box speed.  Either way, once I got home and read up on it I knew I was in a bit of a pickle.

I'd also read that Fompan 200 and ID-11 was an OK combination, so I went for that.  1+2 dilution and instead of the suggested 10 minutes I gave it a an extra 2 minutes which I hoped would go some way to recovering the exposure situation.  I opted not to do my usual rotary drum process but went for tray processing total darkness.  I didn't have high hopes but I was delighted with the negative when it finally emerged from the fix and I could switch the light on.  4x5 negs are so big they are pretty easy to read and I could see detail in the light bits (corresponding to the ground and rocks) and, more importantly, the dark bits (corresponding to the sky).  Result!

When printing, as I said I cropped out the foreground as there wasn't much of interest there.  The sky got a bit extra to bring out the cloud detail and the ground and rock on the right got a bit less - there is more detail than came out in this print but I wasn't unhappy with the result as it stands.  

So, getting back to the camera itself there are a couple of options for a viewfinder.  One would be use a shoe-mounted external finder - I've a 21mm Voigtlander finder for the rangefinder which would come pretty close to the 20mm equivalent focal length of the pinhole but that finder has framelines for 35mm (i.e., 2:3) and not 4x5, so I'm not sure how useful that would be.  Maybe it would be OK - the formats aren't massively different and with a bit of practice it might be fine.  But it's a nice bit of glass which would be easily scratched...the TiTAN camera is ABS and you can chuck it around without worrying too much about it so I'm not sure these two would really be a good match for each other.  Something like a fold flat finder that mounts on the cold shoe might be better, I think - MPP make one, as do Linhof, I understand.  They have a wire frame and a simple viewing sight but while they're not massively expensive they're not pocket-money either.  The other option is to use a phone app, of which there are a few available (some free, some for a couple of pounds).   Not quite sure what I'll end up doing but as I already have the Voigtlander finder I think I'll try that first and maybe see how it compares to one of the free Apps.  

I mentioned there was a couple of things about the camera.  Apart from the viewfinder issue, the use of the pinhole/lens cap to effectively 'open the shutter' is something I'm not yet comfortable with.  The normal method is to first remove the dark slide and then when you're ready to shoot, take the cap off.  It's quite a tight fit (as I'd imagine it would need to be) so there's I always feel like I'm slightly moving the camera as I take it off.  Now given the shutter speeds are always pretty long that's probably not a massive issue but still, it just doesn't feel right.  It is possible to wiggle the cap so that it's nearly off (but hopefully still light-tight) and then it's just a case of gently removing it to expose the film and perhaps that's what needs to be done.   More practice is required!


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