Last year I went along to the "Fox Darkroom" second-hand sale. I went a few years ago too when they last were selling off a heap of their things, and had a lot of fun. This time it was a little more popular, and I was glad I arrived as they opened their doors. Quickly working through the room, I started picking up things I either have had on my wish-list, or were suddenly interesting to me.
One of these items was a bulk film loader. I wasn't sure how much they wanted for it, but a 35mm bulk film loader has been on my wish-list for a while, so figured that unless it was crazy expensive it was coming home with me.
I ended up buying so many things that day; from film to darkroom paper, a paper safe, an enlarger lens and more; I have no idea what I ended up paying for this.
When I got home i was going through all my bits and pieces, and realised that the bulk film loader actually had some film in it. Had I known exactly how one of them worked, I would have realised this earlier based on the dial in the side.
Fast forward to April this year, and I finally decided to figure out exactly what film was in it. I could tell it was black and white, and highly likely ISO 100 of 400.
So I loaded about 12 shots into a reusable 35mm canister I still had in my kit from way back in high school, popped it in an Olympus OM-1 and set the ISO on the camera to 200, and used the internal light meter to help me decide the settings for my shots.
I decided to meter at ISO 200, as a perfect middle-ground between ISO 100 and ISO 400, knowing that I shouldn't be too far off and black and white films generally have a couple of stops latitude, so I knew if the film wasn't cactus, I'd get something on the negatives.
Of course, I could have just cut off a section of film and not bothered to go out and take shots, and just developed this to see what was written on the film, but that is definitely not as fun.
I developed the film in HC-110, and took a guess at the time based on Ilford HP5 at 200 ISO.
The film turned out to be Ilford Delta 400, and had the writing "SAFETY FILM" written along the edges as well.
A bit of research hasn't given me an exact time period on when Ilford included this on their film, but I believe it may have been included up until the very early 2000s, but mostly was phased out in the 90s.
That would mean that the film is over 20 years old!
I've since run another roll of this film through the same Olympus, this time accurately metering and developing it as 400ISO.
Both rolls of film have come out quite grainy, indicating that over time the film has started to deteriorate a bit. Lucky I love grainy films :-)
I don't think there is a lot of film left in the bulk loader, maybe one more roll worth. I'll have to come up with a project to finish it off.
About Madeline Bowser
I've been photographing with film for what seems like forever ... well since the late 90's. I shoot both film and digital, but film is where my heart is and I get the most ongoing enjoyment from and what I enjoy sharing and teaching to others. I also travel the world hunting down old cameras and unique locations to photograph in, and exhibit and sell my travel photographs.
When out shooting film, I often get asked the questions 'can you still buy film?', 'I thought film stopped being made 10 years ago' and 'why would you want to shoot film when you can shoot digital'.
My answers are, 'yes', 'no, it didn't', and 'I also shoot digital, both have their place in my mind'.
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