The £5 Cheap Lens Challenge – Part 2

In my vintage lens adventures, I’ve rarely come across any that were truly awful. Indeed many have initially been underdogs on paper, but have then surprised me in use.

So I decided to set myself a challenge that encompassed the two aspects of my 35hunter approach – finding a lens that met certain criteria, then finding some tiny pockets of beauty to photograph with it.

Being something of a cheapskate, I decided to set my spending limit to just £5. Could I find a usable lens for £5 or less, and get some decent results with it?

Read part one, with the MC Sun Zoom 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro here.

Part 2 of this series features the Paragon 300mm f/5.6, in M42 mount.

IMG_3230 This lens I saw looking neglected and forgotten under a pile of ornaments at a car boot sale.

A quick inspection revealed mechanically it was fine, with a preset aperture and lots of aperture blades, but with pretty serious condensation inside one of the rear elements.

I asked the seller what they wanted for it, and they had no clue, so I offered £1. And she accepted immediately. Maybe I should’ve opened at 50p…

Not having used a 300m lens before, I was surprised how light it is. But it is huge in length, even on my not insubstantial Pentax K10D.

IMG_3228The Paragon also has a strange arm attachment (part of which I removed) which I think is to mount it on a tripod.

So, with its cloudy rear elements, slow speed (f/5.6 max remember!) and cumbersome handling, could I possibly get any decent images from it?

Pentax K10D, Paragon 300mm f/5.6 M42 lens

Not too shockingly, yes!

With experience I’ve realised that dust, minor fungus, even serious scratches, don’t have the apparently terrifying impact on images that some people fear.

Pentax K10D, Paragon 300mm f/5.6 M42 lens

True, the haze does make an impact, and the images are quite soft and, well a little hazy.


But for me it makes the photographs romantic somehow, especially with the long focal length giving such shallow depth of field.

Pentax K10D, Paragon 300mm f/5.6 M42 lens

These were all shot handheld too, and mostly wide open. I wonder if a tripod was used a couple of stops down the sharpness would increase.

But that kind of preparation sort of defeats the unique strength of the Paragon, and that is its dreamy romantic charm, from a bygone era.

Pentax K10D, Paragon 300mm f/5.6 M42 lens

For the grand total investment of just £1, the Paragon offers amazing performance per pound.

Given its long focal length (for me!) and the relative difficulty of focusing at f/5.6 with a DLSR and hazy elements, it’s not something I’ll pull out at every opportunity.

But it’s probably worth another play before deciding whether to attempt to dismantle those rear elements and see if they can be cleaned, or to just donate it as is to a local charity shop.

What have been your most pleasing results with very cheap cameras and/or lenses? How do you feel using cheap kit compared with far more expensive?

Please let us know in the comments below.

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Cheap Seats At The Widescreen – The Halina Panorama

My fellow photographer and cheapskate Alan Duncan, who writes at Canny Cameras, challenged me to shoot a roll with a mystery film camera he’d send in the post.

I agreed, always interested in trying a new toys, and eagerly awaited the postman’s arrival with A Leica M series, Contax III or maybe at least a Pentax AF SLR.

What arrived was not Germany or Japan’s finest, but this little beauty made in Thailand, the Halina Panorama.

IMG_3207Told you Alan was a fellow cheapskate…

It actually made me smile, and ironically only a few weeks earlier I’d bought a near identical Miranda Solo Panorama.

The challenge was to shoot a roll of film (kindly supplied with the camera), then share my favourite photographs I shot with it and some thoughts on using it, so Alan could repost on his blog too. 

Halina Panorama, Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 film

What I liked about the Halina Panorama.

It’s very simple.

There are no frills whatsoever, with its fixed focus, fixed aperture (I’d guess at f/8) lens and fixed shutter speed (1/125s would again be a fair guess). You just compose and shoot.

Like that old saying about photography, the only two choices you have are where you stand and when you release the shutter. Arguably as pure as photography gets.

This was really liberating, especially shooting it in between my favoured camera of the moment, a semi pro Pentax DLSR which I’m slowly figuring out using a range of different lenses and modes.

It got me back to the raw essence of composition.

The panoramic perspective.

Cleverly with the Halina, you can remove the panoramic mask very simply. Well I say cleverly, more likely it was cheaper to manufacture this little mask and insert it into a standard plastic full frame 35mm camera mould that already existed. Though I chose not to.

Also cleverly (genuinely this time), the viewfinder is the same widescreen aspect ratio as the film mask, so when you’re composing you can’t help but be looking for the kind of shoots that work well at the apparent 5:2 ratio (as opposed to 3:2 for full frame).

Halina Panorama, Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 film

The shutter button lock.

Yes I know I said it had no frills, but it does have a useful twin function lens cover/ shutter button lock. Slide the cover across the lens and it not only keeps the dust out but also prevents the shutter from being accidentally pushed and a frame of film wasted when in your bag or pocket.

I’ve had a number of far more expensive cameras that don’t have this precious film waste prevention mechanism built in. Neat touch!


Halina Panorama, Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 film

It’s plastic, but good plastic. 

What I mean is has some of the best qualities of plastic – cheap to make, very light (110g), easy to wipe clean, without being so flimsy you feel it will implode at any moment. Like the Superheadz Slim cameras for example. This Halina I happily chucked in a bag without fear of it getting damaged.

The film wind on was surprisingly robust too, again much better than many “lomo” cameras I’ve used. It really wasn’t much different to the wind on wheel of the fantastic Olympus XA series, and if anything quicker to wind on.

Halina Panorama, Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 film


The more time you spend with the HalPan, to give it its little known pet name, the more you realise perhaps first impressions didn’t give it enough credit and in fact for its purpose it is almost perfectly designed.

The ergonomics you’d think would be not existent, essentially a black block of plastic. But the curved cutout for your thumb at the rear (with that thumbwheel to wind on the film ideally placed in the centre), and the subtle but very useful little raised bump on the front of the camera to rest your finger make it surprisingly reassuring to hold and use.

Even the film door has a separate switch to pop it open (and one that works instantly, unlike the Superheadz cameras) and which is far more practical and confidence inspiring that the swift pull up on the rewind crank that the majority of 35mm cameras require.


What I didn’t like.

Annoyingly, there was some debris or hair or something inside the camera which intermittently announced itself in the pictures. This could be avoided on the future with a clean before loading film, and of course could happen with any camera, it wasn’t poor old HalPan’s fault.

Obviously there was no control over exposures. So you had to pick days and scenes where the camera would likely expose ok.

I used my experience of shooting without a lightmeter plus the proven exposure latitude of consumer colour negative film (and the assumption that the camera had an f/8 lens and 1/125s shutter speed, based on using similar cameras previously) to figure out that any sunny day should be fine, as long as I avoided the shadows. Which turn out to be fine for at least 75% of the shots.

Halina Panorama, Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 film

It could have had a wider lens. I estimate it’s maybe 28mm, maybe only 30mm. I’ve had wider cameras that have given a more dramatic result with the kind of widescreen shots the panoramic frame otherwise encourages.

The insanely wide Superheadz clones with their 22mm lenses, the Pentax Espio 24EW (24mm at its widest), Ricoh R1 (24mm with panoramic mask but this can easily be left open so its full frame), and even a Minolta AF50 which is 27mm, all give that extra interest of a more unusual wider perspective compared with the HalPan.

Er, that’s about it.

Halina Panorama, Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 film

In summary

I’m really grateful to Alan for sending me such a simple camera, and with the panoramic option too, something I’d not seriously tried before.

The pictures were probably about as good/bad as I hoped/expected, but of course technically stunning images are never the point of this kind of camera, or experiment.

There’s a somewhat unromantic saying that out of the hundreds of people we meet in our lifetimes, the people you choose to settle down and spend your life with, are not so much the ones you can’t bear to live without, but simply the ones that annoy you least.

And the Halina Panorama is much like that theory.

It’s not amazing, and maybe you wouldn’t consider picking it up at all. But when you do, there’s actually very little that annoys and plenty to like.

Combine that with the challenge of making an image you’re proud of with what’s essentially 130g of plastic with no electronics that probably cost 7 pence to make, and the HP might well be exactly the juicy shot of cheap widescreen thrills your photography (and mine) needs every now and again…

Have you ever used a Halina Panorama or something similarly cheap and plastic?

Please let us know in the comments below.

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Film Photography On A Shoestring

There are still many myths around how much it costs to get set up with film photography.

I want to shoot a few more down.

A while back I wrote about how to start start film photography for £27. Based on at least two of the three rolls of film I’ve just got back from the lab, this amount is hugely generous.

Let’s just look at one set up, a 35mm SLR.

Canon EOS 500, Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 M42 lens, AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film as b/w

The caption above kind of gives away the kit I used, but to elucidate further –

Camera – Canon EOS 500

These are abundant on the auction site online and often in charity shops too. Though I also have a more sophisticated EOS 300v which cost a heady £15, the 500 does everything I need and more. It’s great if you’re coming from a DSLR as it looks and feels similar – like a baby DSLR with no LCD screen on the back, simpler controls and that only weighs 350g. It cost me 99p plus a couple of pounds postage.

Lens – Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 M42 Mount

I bought this from a jumble bin at a camera show. It’s battered, bruised, has lots of dust and a couple of bubbles inside. Plus a dent in the filter rim where it was rapidly encouraged to the floor from a table by a three year old. But it keeps on ticking. The dealer wanted £10, I got it for £7. Try these other three underdogs for equally affordable alternatives.

Canon EOS 500, Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 M42 lens, AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film as b/w

Film – AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200

This rebranded Fuji C200 film is £1 a roll in Poundland. It’s very versatile and I’ve used it extensively to shoot colour, DIY redscale and black and white. Though there are other emulsions I like, this is my Olympian Decathlete film – a fantastic all round champion.

Canon EOS 500, Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 M42 lens, AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film as b/w

Of course the Canon EOS isn’t a native M42 mount body.

So I need an adapter.

I actually have three, as a couple of sellers have included them free when I’ve bought M42 lenses. If you do have to buy one, they start at 99p. With free postage. Mine is a simple all metal adapter with no fancy focus chips. On Aperture Priority (Av) mode on the EOS it works a treat.

Adding it up, this set up cost me about £12, including film.

Obviously the film you can only use once, and there are development costs each time.

But there are no excuses on the grounds of cost in getting started with shooting film (or resuming the passion you retired to the sidelines years ago).

Canon EOS, Helios 44-2, complete with dented filter ring badge of honour

What else does £10 buy you these days?

Are you making excuses about getting started in shooting film? 

Or, like me, do you try to shoot on a shoestring budget?

Please let us know in the comments below.

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Lens Love #4 – Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Sonnar 135mm f/3.5 M42

Lens Love is an ongoing series of posts about the vintage lenses I’ve used and loved most.

The dry technical data and 100% corner crops of brick walls can be found elsewhere. What I’m more interested in is what specifically about a lens makes me love using it, and why I believe you should try one too.

Up today –

Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Sonnar 135mm f/3.5 M42

Pentax K10D, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens

The reason M42 mount are my favourite lenses can be summed up in two words. Takumar and Zeiss. 

Let’s leave Takumars are for a different post (or 10).

On the Zeiss front, in M42 I have the holy trio of the Flektogon 35/2.4, Pancolar 50/1.8 and Sonnar 135/3.5. These three could form my entire lens collection and I would be abundantly equipped to shoot beautiful photographs for the rest of my life.

I recently wrote about my six strong stack of 135s and the Sonnar is as good as any of them.

Indeed if I had to pick just one, based on the results I’ve got so far and the general feel and handling, it would be the Sonnar.


What I love

Final image. The Sonnar has a near perfect balance of sharpness of focus and softness of bokeh, in my view. Despite having six aperture blades, which with some lenses can often lead to abrasive polygons in the background, the Sonnar manages to almost entirely avoid this. And the sharpness is delicious, though not in a sterile or clinical way.

Size and form. This Zeiss is very compact for a 135mm lens, and cleverly uses much of its length as the metal knurled focusing ring. It feels well built, all metal and glass, the focusing is pretty smooth, and the aperture clicks are subtle yet reassuring. It doesn’t feel like a cheap or hastily made object.

Pentax K10D, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens

Close focus. I’ve had a few 135s that have performed very well but the minimum focus has been 2m plus. The Sonnar focus down to a fraction under 1m, which is excellent given the extra reach a 135 lens gives anyway. It makes close ups of flowers, decaying doors, gravestones and the other textures I enjoy very easy and very rewarding.

Pentax K10D, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens

Adaptability. It’s an M42, probably the most adaptable lens mount any ever made. In native M42 mount you have fabulous 35mm film cameras like the Spotmatic and Fujica ranges.

If you prefer a later, more compact Aperture Priority (Av) body, take your pick from Pentax K, Contax, Canon EOS and more, via very simple and cheap adapters. Flip the Sonnar’s A/M switch to M (Manual), stop down to the aperture you wish to use and the camera will select the correct shutter speed for you.

On the digital front the choice is even wider. I’ve used Sony NEX, Sony Alpha and Pentax K DSLRs with M42 lenses, all with fantastic results, and again via cheap plentiful adapters.

Sony α100, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR MC Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens plus LightRoom Preset

What about the downsides? 

No lens is perfect of course. My Sonnar, in near mint condition, cost me £50.

I’ve bought other 135mm lenses for under £15 that have made wonderful pictures.

But since none of them focus as close, or are quite as compact, the Sonnar just about justifies its higher price tag.

You might find one cheaper if you’re patient, lucky or both. But they’re nowhere nearer the plentiful budget end of M42 135s.

My other two Zeiss lenses I mentioned both developed faults with the aperture blades and became stuck open.

I had both services and fixed, at a cost of around £45.

Though the Sonnar feels good quality, I’m always waiting for the day it goes the way of the other Zeiss, and adding another £45 would take my total outlay to near £100. Still a bargain in the grand scheme of things, but if you’re on a tight budget, there are other 135s with as good performance for far less, in M42 mount, Pentax K mount and beyond.

Sony α100, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR MC Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens plus LightRoom Preset

A minor annoyance is the plastic pull out hood.

Zeiss obviously felt it was necessary to have or they wouldn’t have designed it. But if you ignore it, it quite often slides out anyway. And when it is out it doesn’t easily stay in position. A simple turn to lock in place system would have been easy to incorporate and would mean you could leave it extended when in use and not see it sliding in and out.

To be fair this is not an issue exclusive to this lens, I have other brands that are similar, bit it does seem a bit of a flimsy afterthought and doesn’t fit with the otherwise solid all metal body.


The final downside is simple. It’s not a Takumar.

If I’d never had a Takumar I wouldn’t know to compare. But I do have them, and they remain my favourite lenses for their luxurious smoothness and build quality, let alone the fantastic optics.

The later K mount Pentax 135s I’ve had (an SMC Pentax 135/3.5 and a Pentax-M 135/3.5) have also been beautifully smooth and confidence inspiring.

My inner photographic jury is still out as to whether the Sonnar is optically superior to my preset Takumar 135/3.5, as I’ve only had the latter a couple of weeks. The Sonnar retains all the pros outlined above, but just simply isn’t as smooth and reassuring as a Takumar.

Pentax K10D, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR MC Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens

Lastly, a note on variations and naming. 

Whilst I’ve referred throughout this post to the Sonnar as a Sonnar, my version’s full name is the Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Electric MC S 135/3.5. I understand there were periods where disputes between Zeiss companies in East and West Germany meant there were restrictions on the use of various names. Similarly, I have a Tessar which is called simply a Jena T.

So if you find one like mine that only has S 135/3.5, not Sonnar, rest assured it is the same optical formula.

Sony NEX 3N,Carl Zeiss Jena DDR MC Sonnar 135/3.5 M42 lens.

Overall, on the photographs I’ve been able to make alone, the Sonnar comes highly recommended. 

The downsides are relatively minor, and the pluses in abundance. If you like 135s and haven’t tried a Sonnar, I’d definitely suggest you seek one out.

Have you tried a Sonnar 135/3.5? 

Let us know in the comments below.

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A Stack Of 135 (And How To Choose Between Them)


Over the last few years of shooting SLRs, my predominant favourite focal length has been 50 and 55mm.

But after trying a 135mm, I was quickly hooked.

The up close and personal field of view, plus the potential for very shallow depth of field and dreamy bokeh made them instant winners for my style of photography.

I’m at a point now where, although I’ve thinned out my 50s pretty well, I have work to do on the 135 front.

I simply don’t need six!

My gut feeling is I’ll keep three, two in M42 and the one Pentax K mount.

To help myself choose which to keep and which to let go, here’s each one in summary, plus some favourite shots.

Asahi Takumar 135mm f/3.5 (M42)

Beautifully made and feels almost like new, very smooth focus down to 1.5m, preset aperture from f/3.5 to f/22, eight rounded aperture blades. Tiny body, especially for a 135mm. Very similar in use and look to my Takumar 105/2.8, which I love. A class act, a true classic lens, as all Takumars I’ve experienced have been. Being very new to me though, as yet I’ve shot very little with this one.

Jupiter-11 135mm f/4 (M42)

Quirkily shaped Former Soviet Union (FSU) lens, with 12 aperture blades which close down in an almost perfect circle, and preset aperture. Focus is fine but crude compared with the best here. Minimum focus of 1.4m. Capable of lovely images, but not high contrast and punchy, more muted, subtle and vintage.

Sony NEX 3N, Jupiter-11 135/4, LightRoom preset
Sony NEX 3N, Jupiter-11 135/4

Jupiter-37A 135mm f/3.5 (M42) 

Similar to the Jupiter-11, though the body is more regularly shaped and compact. Smooth focus (but not Takumar or SMC smooth) down to 1.2m. Again like the Jupiter-11, 12 very rounded aperture blades, meaning deliciously smooth backgrounds. This one on the optics front performs better than the Jupiter-11 (I think) but physically lacks much of the personality and charm of the slower lens.

Sony a350, Jupiter-37A 135/3.5, LightRoom preset
Sony NEX 3N, Jupiter-37A 135/3.5, LightRoom preset

Carl Zeiss Jena DDR Electric MC S 135 f/3.5 (M42)

A Sonnar, but most (all?) of these lenses from this era just have a solitary “S” marked, due to trademark wrangles between Zeiss East and West at the time. Close focus of just 1m, and my example is very smooth for a Carl Zeiss Jena, but still not Tak/SMC Pentax class. I love the non-nonsense knurled focus ring. Regular aperture click stops, though on mine f/3.5 and f/4 are identical. Alas only six aperture blades, and not especially rounded at f/8 and beyond. Very capable in the final image.

Sony NEX 3N, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR MC Sonnar 135/3.5
Contax 139 Quartz, Carl Zeiss Jena DDR MC Sonnar 135/3.5, Kodak Color Plus 200 expired film

Pentacon Auto 135mm f/2.8 (M42)

Fastest lens here, and the biggest, heaviest and most serious feeling. Focus is smooth enough for a Pentacon, but disappointingly only down to 1.7m. The aperture ring has subtle clicks meaning it’s easy to overshoot the setting you want, if you’re not used to it. Six very straight aperture blades, but interesting on the bokeh front at the wide end.

Sony NEX 3N, Pentacon Auto 135/2.8, LightRoom preset
Sony NEX 3N, Pentacon Auto 135/2.8, LightRoom preset

SMC Pentax 135mm f/3.5 (Pentax K)

One of the original SMC K mount range, before the M series. I had the M 135/3.5 and whilst it’s good, this SMC version I far prefer, is even smoother than the M, and optically is significantly superior.

Pentax K10D, SMC Pentax 135/3.5
Pentax K10D, SMC Pentax 135/3.5

So which to choose? 

All six lenses are very capable, and if I had only one 135mm lens, any one of these would give me lovely results time and time again.

If I had to have just one, based on the results I’ve got so far, plus its minimum focus, it’s probably be the Carl Zeiss MC Sonnar.

But the Jupiter-37A is very very close. And then the Jupiter-11 has far more charm to use than any of the others here, arguably and does make endearingly subtle images.

Then the newest to me, the SMC Pentax, has got off to a flying start with my Pentax K10D, and has already produced enough evidence to become my sole 135. Plus, when used on a  K mount film or digital camera, the open aperture metering is an useful focusing advantage over the rest of the lenses here, which are all M42 and require manually stopping down.

You see the problems I have choosing!

The two least likely to stay are the Takumar and Pentacon.

The former because it’s near identical in look and use to my Takumar 105/2.8 (which I want to keep as it’s unique in its focal length), and the latter because it’s big, heavy and lacking in min focus. But the Takumar may surprise me, and the Pentacon already has made some interesting and different images, that beg further experimentation.

I may post an update in a few weeks, which could just as likely reveal I have a total of 12 135mm lenses as three.

What are your experiences with 135mm as a focal length? What are you favourite 135mm lenses? 

Please let us know in the comments below.

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Redscale Film – How To Make And Shoot Your Own

One of the major reasons I love film is the experiments you can try that have no direct digital equivalent.

Shooting redscale film is an excellent example.

You’ve probably already seen redscale images, that look monochrome, but with a burnt orange red as the base colour rather than white.

Canon T70, Sigma Mini Wide II 28mm f/2.8 lens, Ferrania Solaris 200 DIY redscale film

These photographs are obviously distinctive overall, but redscale remains one of the more unpredictable and exciting aspects of film, along with cross processing (x-pro), shooting expired film and film soups.

But although the photographs appear dramatic, radical, and otherworldly, the process of creating redscale film is actually very simple.

You could go out and buy pre-made redscale film off the shelf, and pay £5-10+ per roll for the privilege. Or you could, like me, ever the cheapskate, make your own from cheap consumer film like AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200, costing £1 a roll at Poundland.

Pentax Espio 120Mi, AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 DIY redscale film

You’ll notice from the above shot also, that redscale doesn’t always have to be those extreme fiery oranges. It can be more subtle graduations too. More on that later, but first, what redscale film is.

Essentially, redscale is regular film that is exposed on the wrong side. So to make your own, you need a canister of film that’s been loaded back to front. Easy.

What you need

A roll of fresh film, a donor film canister, some scissors, some sellotape, a dark room.

How to make the redscale film

First, take your two rolls of film.


The purple roll on the left is the fresh roll of film. The red roll on the right contains just a few inches of film, still attached inside the canister. You can’t pull any more film out than is showing here. This is the donor canister.

The easiest way to get a donor canister is sacrifice a roll of film the first time you try this, by pulling it all out and cutting it off to leave just those three inches or so at the end.

After you’ve done this once, you will then always have a new donor canister at the end of making the redscale film – you won’t need to sacrifice a fresh roll of film every time.

Next, cut the leader from the fresh film so you have a vertical straight edge. Keep the offcut, you’ll need this later.


Then with the fresh film and donor film canisters the same way up, overlap maybe three or four sprocket holes and tape. It helps if you try to keep the film neatly aligned top and bottom.


Notice that one film has its regular side facing us, the other its reverse. This is obvious with any colour negative film – one side is a dark grey, the other brown. Because redscale film is regular film flipped over, it’s essentially we join the films with their opposite sides showing like above.

After the joining, wind in the donor spool (the red one that is currently empty) so the two canisters touch and you can’t see the film.


You can do the next part anywhere that doesn’t have strong light present. If you’re nervous, go to a dark room.

I’ve done this with my arms the wrong way down the sleeves of my jumper in a field on a sunny day, and it’s worked perfectly, so don’t worry too much. Especially if you keep the two canisters close together like the image above, so there’s little chance of light getting in.

Wind the red donor roll in with your finger and thumb until it won’t wind anymore. Then, back in the light, pull a little film out again so you can see it between the two canisters.


Then simply cut down the middle, leaving a few inches on the new donor roll, ie the purple roll that has just been emptied of film. This is then ready to be donor next time.

With the redscale roll (here the red one) which now contains all the film, use the leader you cut off at the start as a template to cut a new leader. The longer part of the leader is always at the top end of the canister where the knob sticks out.

DSC05639Now you have your new freshly rolled roll of redscale film. I find it useful to mark an R on the side to remind me it’s redscale.

DSC05643Pop your other, now empty canister in a pot and write “donor” on it, ready for next time.


How to shoot redscale

As I mentioned at the outset, redscale photographs are typical intensely red and orange.

Canon AE-1, Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens, Kodak 400 Max DIY redscale film

But once the novelty of that vivid effect wears off, you’ll likely want to explore the more subtle graduations. Especially as over exposing redscale film a few stops gives a lovely subtle vintage feel.

Olympus XA2, Fuji C200 DIY redscale film @ISO25

Different films give different intensities of red. AfgaPhoto Vista Plus 200 (which is rebranded Fuji C200) works very well.

At box speed it gives vivid reds and oranges, and over exposed three or four stops gives the kind of tones as above and below. I’d recommend using a camera with manual ISO control, so you have this creative control.

Olympus XA2, Fuji C200 DIY redscale film @ISO25

Ferrania Solaris 200 gives very red results, even if you overexpose it a few stops.

Olympus XA2, Ferrania Solaris 200 DIY redscale @ISO25

Solution VX200 (rebranded Konica VX200) gives very interesting greens and yellows.

Pentax P30T, 55mm f/2 SMC Takumar lens, Solution VX200 DIY Redscale film

Especially when combined with multiple exposures. It’s like autumn in a canister.

Canon AE-1, Solution VX200 DIY redscale, double exposed

Hopefully you found this guide easy to follow and are inspired to try your own redscale, if you haven’t already. It’s a unique, rewarding and often surprising way to make the most of film.

Please share your thoughts, experiences, and any questions, in the comments below.

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Adventures Of The Wide Eyed Wonder #1

My recent return to Pentax K mount has included the rediscovery of the excellent Ricoh Rikenon 50mm f/2 lens.

I featured it as my latest love in the Lens Love series a little while back, and it fared very well against stiff competition from Pentax and Chinon in the recent five way PK 50mm shootout.


In particular the Rikenon’s performance wide open at f/2 has delighted me.

So I got to thinking about a series of adventures and hopefully a few memorable photographs as a result, all shoot close up and wide open.

34389960045_6cd56b3b6c_bThese are the highlights of the first adventure. 


All photographs in this post were made with my Sony NEX 3N with the Rikenon 50/2 at f/2, plus a LightRoom preset.


More adventures of the Wide Eyed Wonder to follow…

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