Tag Archives: DD-X

Exploring Ilford – Part 1 – Ilfotech DD-X

Before working on the camera review (CCR) blogs I had very little experience with Ilford Chemistry, so I made a choice to use only Ilford Films and chemistry over the course of the CCR blogs. So as I come to the end of the first quarter of blogs I figured I would give a review of the first developer I used. Ilfotech DD-X. According to the Ilford website this is a similar developer to Kodak’s TMax developer which I’m a big fan of, so I figured it would be a good place to start. Plus I see a lot of people using it. However for the most part…I wasn’t too happy with the results. For me to be happy with a developer it needs to give solid results across a broad range of films, not just one or two. Which can be hard for a developer to do.

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
Toronto, Ontario – Nikon F4 – DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000
Willamsford, Ontario – Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ – DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C

Now I know that HP5 in 35mm is a very grainy film but DD-X just made the grain super muddy when scanning the film, and not exactly the most pleasing results. The detail and sharpness I would expect out of a developer for T-Grain film, even on a film with a traditional grain structure just wasn’t there, and while the contrast is present and pleasing for my tastes, it just doesn’t work for me.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

So I thought I’d better give it a test using a film that it’s designed for, starting first with Delta 400, and the results even worse, it was just a big muddy grain fest with little contrast. Now Delta 400 isn’t exactly a film known for the nice contrast-y results that I look for in my black & white work, but it was just all grey! I’m not going to give up on the Delta 400 film, I do plan on giving both it and HP5 in 35mm another chance at a slower speed in the different developers as the project continues, and also in medium format as well. But enough with the negative lets get onto more pleasing (at least to me) results.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow Filter) – Ilford FP4+ – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR - Review 6 - Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35 – D.Zuiko f=40mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Ilfotec DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

Next up on the list was Ilford FP4, a favourite film of mine, while not Kodak Plus-X it’s pretty darn close and again I rather liked Plus-X in TMax developer so time to give another traditional grained film a shot! This time I had the chance to try both 35mm and Medium format with the developer. And the results, beautiful! While there’s still not exactly the same contrast I like, the results were much better than HP5 or Delta 400. While the grain is still a little more apparent as I’d like, it wasn’t as bad as the Delta 400! It certainly works for me.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

And finally saving the best for last is Delta 100, like TMax 100 looking amazing in TMax Developer, Delta 100 is the perfect match for DD-X in my view. Sharp, fine grain, the contrast spot on. The blacks were black and the whites, white, and the midtones were dead on. Of course this is only in 35mm and not 120 but I still have some DD-X left over so I’ll give it a shot soon to see if the results are similar or better.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

My final verdict on DD-X, not a developer I would use again anytime soon, I can get more constant good results out of Kodak TMax Developer and at a lower cost. The bottle of DD-X runs about 22$ in change, while TMax developer only costs 15$ in change. While not much of a price difference it’s more the results that matter to me, if DD-X had given better results than TMax it would’ve replaced it in a heartbeat (after I finished off the bottle of TMax developer in my cupboard). So sorry DD-X you’re being voted off the island.

CCR Review 5 – Nikon F2 Photomic

There aren’t many cameras out there that I’ve picked up and loved right off the bat. In fact I could probably count them all on just one hand. Oddly enough they’re all from the Nikon F series. The Nikon F2 Photomic (pronounced Pho-Tom-ick) is one such camera. This workhorse professional camera from the 1970s was the popular update from the original Nikon F, an all mechanical wonder that continued to be produced and sought after even after the electronic replacement Nikon F3 was released, and today remains a popular camera. This camera will take anything you throw at it and give you beautiful photos in return.

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic
The beauty that is the Nikon F2 – Yes, that’s a box of Kodak Film, and yes the lens is dirty, it was out in the rain.

The Dirt
Maker: Nikon
Model: F2 Photomic
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Bayonet, Nikon F-mount (semi-AI support)
Year of Manufacture: 1971-1980

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

The Good
This is an all mechanical camera that will work both with or without batteries making it a great camera to learn on. It’s also still fully repairable! And being a modular system you can easily ‘upgrade’ and replace parts as they need to and there are lots of good working parts out there. And you can still get a lot of really good glass for this camera in pretty much all the early Nikon lenses, Non-AI, AI, and AI-S will all work on this camera. Also this camera was literally love at first grip, it’s well made, and ergonomically sound. The controls are well placed, easy to reach, and while the meter view is a little small, it’s a match needle style so easy to set the camera (providing your meter functions, if not, shoot Sunny-16). And probably my favourite part about the camera is the awesome shutter sound, you know you’ve taken the photo!

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

The Bad
While my camera cost me less than 100$ the F2 remains a highly sought after camera, it can get fairly expensive, especally the ones with the non-metered prisms. Also given their age, often the cameras which were the workhorses of the press through the 1970s have been beaten up. But working ones are still easily found, but could cost a bit. But the non-working ones can be repaired. In addition to that, the glass can get fairly expensive as well since a lot of digital shooters love the old manual focus lenses so the price remains fairly high. But you should be able to get a deal on an older Non-AI lens.

CCR Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

CCR - Review 5 - Nikon F2 Photomic

The Low Down
If you’re looking for a solid all mechanical SLR that has a proven track record, this is the camera for you. I got mine for under 100$ from KEH in their Bargin condition, and it showed just a touch of brassing around the name plate, threw in two batteries the camera lit up and the meter worked perfectly! Also you can still get these cameras serviced thanks to Sover Wong who received all the remaining spare parts from Nikon when they shut down their F2 repair services.

Need More Proof? Rick Paul talked on the F2 in the Film Photography Podcast Episode 85, Mark Dalzell in Episode 103, and Leslie Lazenby in Episode 118!

All Photos shot around Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 4 – Canon AE-1 Program

To start it off, let me just say that I’m a Nikon guy and have very little experience with Canon gear. That being said, I’m rather a big fan of this camera after shooting it. It gives any photographer a very pleasing experience. Easy to handle and easy to use. And while it does require a battery, it makes for a great student camera with full automatic mode and manual settings.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program
The Canon AE-1 Program with an older Breach-Lock 50mm f/1.4 lens that I got with a Canon F-1

The Dirt
Maker: Canon
Model: AE-1 Program
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Interchangeable, Canon FD Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1981

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program

The Good
As I mentioned before this is a very good camera to handle. The program mode makes it super easy to get into film photography without needing a really expensive modern kit. And then there’s the lenses, Canon FD lenses are plentiful and cheap on the used market since the FD mount was abandoned and not easily adaptable to their current EF (EF-S) mount. And despite being mostly Nikon in my film cameras the AE-1 Program was super easy to get started and understanding. Just have to remember everything is opposite from my Nikon kit.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program

The Bad
The battery, it’s a strange size and I had to actually have a fellow photography and friend give me a battery before I could get the thing working. And the battery housing is fairly weak in my view, being mostly plastic and can easily break.

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program

CCR - Review 4 - Canon AE-1 Program

The Low Down
If you don’t want to go full manual and still want to get a great experience out of a manual camera then the AE-1 Program is the one for you, and bang for your buck you really can’t go wrong with the AE-1 Program. The camera makes for the perfect student camera as well in my books, while not as fully mechanical as say a Nikon FM or Pentax K1000 it certainly is a great starter camera for those wanting to get into film photography. It’s a long running favourite of FPP Leader Michael Raso. And while this camera has since been moved out of the collection to a friend who needed a replacement FD mount body, it certainly will get an A+ from me!

All photos shot in Lowville Park (Lowville, Ontario) and the Mattamy National Cycling Centre (Milton, Ontario)
Canon AE-1 Program – Canon FD Lens 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford Delta 400
Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 3 – Rolleiflex 2.8F

This is the ultimate in twin lens cameras, the famous Rolleiflex’s were the very best when it came to fixed lens TLR cameras, and mine is no different. A constant favourite that often gets dragged along on my many travels and adventures and really the only top down cameras that I can use comfortably. To make it even better I’m the second owner of this beauty.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F
The Rolleiflex in all its glory, one of the five cameras that I can say I loved at first use

The Dirt
Maker: Franke & Heidecke
Model: Rolleiflex 2,8F K7F3
Type: 120/220 Twin Lens Reflex
Lens: Fixed, Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8
Year of Manufacture: 1969

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F

The Good
The biggest strength on these cameras is the optics. The Carl Zeiss lens produces an image second only to maybe Leica. And the big 2.8 aperture makes it good for any situation. Secondly the fact you can use this camera with a meter without needing batteries. The meter is selenium based and the one in my camera is dead on, but it also means you can use the camera with an external meter since it is mechanical. The camera, if properly maintained is super quiet which makes it really great for street shooting, and I have used it for such, you just have to be quick about focusing, metering, and shooting before the subject moves out of the way. But mostly the camera cuts a strange enough figure on the street that most people are willing to pay attention to it. And finally the 6×6 format means that when you eventually go to printing your work, you can easily print in landscape or portrait off of one negative.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F

The Bad
And while I have nothing but praise for this camera there are a few things that can throw off someone looking at picking up one of these fine cameras. Like all older cameras the meter is often the weak point. And many of these selenium based meters after many years of being exposed to light (remember, these meters are always on) will begin to loose sensitivity, but don’t let that stop you, the camera will still work. You may need to get a meter app for your smart phone or just get a proper external meter. Using this camera isn’t exactly the easiest either, having to look down, and compose while mentally flipping the image and thus your movements backwards to match up what’s on the screen. And hand-holding isn’t that easy either, you really want to be shooting above 1/125″ if you want to go handheld.

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F

CCR - Review 3 - Rolleiflex 2.8F

The Low Down
This certainly isn’t the cheapest way to get into TLR photography, but personally it’s one of the best. And while I specifically reviewed the 2.8F model, there are plenty of older model Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords that feature the same optics that the 2.8F has. And they will work perfectly as well. And really even if you get one in need of work they really are worth spending that extra cash on getting a clean, lube, adjust (CLA) done to bring it back up to working order. It’s one of those cameras if you’ve used it, you love it.

And one of the best parts, you can still get this camera new through B&H if you have 8,900$ laying around.

All photos shot at Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ (ASA-125) – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 2 – Pentax K1000

Accept no copy, the one the only, the iconic camera that started out life as the bargain model that featured the the new K-Mount (Introduced in 1975), but has since gained greater popularity, and the camera you most likely used in your High School Photography Course, is the Pentax K1000. This all mechanical marvel is the essential student camera and general beater that can be used pretty much anywhere in the world today! The wide range of top quality lenses and ease of use saw it named the Film Photography Project’s Camera of the Year for 2014 and after having several pass in and out of my collection, I finally have one that is going to stay right where it is. This all mechanical beast is probably the best known camera, and with well over three million units sold one of the most prolific cameras out there.

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000
My grandfather’s K1000, now in my ownership with the sleeper SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 lens

The Dirt
Maker: Pentax
Model: K1000
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K-Mount, Manual
Year of Manufacture: 1979-1997

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000

The Good
Probably the best thing about the camera is it’s simplicity. This gives any user a full hands on experience from manual focus to manual exposure (there is a built in light meter). Even setting the exposure is easy, just line up the needle visible in the view finder to the gap by adjusting the shutter speed and aperture. Being a mechanical camera means that to operate the camera itself, you don’t really need to have a battery, as the battery simply powers the light meter, no meter, no problem! Simply use an external meter, even your smart phone with an app on it can do the job, or use the tried and true Sunny-16 rule. And the lens selection is fantastic! The K-mount was used on several non-pentax cameras as a result there’s plenty of solid third-party optics not to mention piles and piles of Pentax optics out there. I would recommend using the SMC Pentax and SMC Pentax A lenses as they work the best on the K1000.

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000

The Bad
If you’re not used to a fully manual camera switching to one might be a bit jarring, there is no automatic mode at all. Which makes it a good learner camera, but often will make you think a little bit more, which isn’t really a bad thing! However you can’t see what you’ve set everything to inside the viewfinder, which makes it a little difficult, you might end up shooting a handheld 1/10th of a second exposure! And the second thing I have an issue with is the lack of a dedicated power switch, which means the meter is always on, as long as you don’t have a lens cap…which is something.

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000

CCR - Review 2 - Pentax K1000

The Low Down
If you’re just getting started in film photography or really want to get a handle on exposure, this is your best and safest bet. It’s not called a student camera for nothing. Plus they last a long time, and on the used market dirt cheap. You can get a decent setup lens, body for 100 dollars or even less. Plus the old manual K-mount lenses will work on modern Pentax digital SLRs.

But don’t just take my word for it, check out what Michael Raso had to say about it as well!

All photos shot along Highway 6 in Ontario, Canada
Pentax K1000 – SMC Pentax 55mm 1:2 – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Ilford DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C