Released in 2021 by the New Classic Film project, EZ400 is a panchromatic black and white negative 35mm film that delivers what some describe as "retro yet sharp images".
I acquired more Minolta photographic gear during the second year of the global pandemic after buying a used X-700 and MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7 lens in 2020. I bought a used Minolta XD-11, MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2 lens, MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm f/2.8 lens, and other non-Minolta branded lenses. I also bought a used Pentax P3n even though I already had a working Pentax P3 from college. I convinced myself that I needed aperture priority. All of this gear worked, and I enjoyed using them. I had developed some G.A.S.
With poor judgment, I bought two used Minolta XG-1 bodies, one of which the seller told me did not work. I purchased these in person and tested the mechanicals, confirming the seller's claim. I don't remember what I paid, but it was a nominal amount, perhaps $20. One of the camera bodies has a sticky on-off switch. The other camera body had a jammed shutter curtain, but I convinced myself I could fix it.
But soon, I lost my enthusiasm for fixing them and put them on a shelf where they sat until a few weeks ago. At the beginning of the year, I decided to simplify and minimise my film photography. I sold the Pentax P3n and SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/1.8 lens. I sold it after replacing my Fujifilm XF27mmF2.8 lens with the Fujifilm XF27mmF2.8 R LM WR lens. It was time to sell the Minolta XG-1s, as is, for parts. But first, I wanted to see if I could successfully expose some frames. I loaded a New Classic EZ 400 cartridge into the Minolta XG-1 with the sticky on-off switch.
The New Classic EZ 400 is a black and white film that the Chinese company Luckyfilm manufactured for 35mm cameras. Luckyfilm has been producing photographic materials since 1958. The company produces a range of film products for both professional and amateur photographers, and their products are known for their quality and affordability. New Classic EZ 400 was hyped as a good choice for photographers who want a versatile, high-quality film that can be used in various situations.
Of the four cartridges of the New Classic EZ 400 I bought last year, I have used two and given two away. This was the last one of the four. Here's what I wrote after the first time I used New Classic EZ.
I exposed the first roll at box speed at Palmer Square and around my neighbourhood. I sent the cassette off for Boutique Film Lab to develop. Here are some frames scanned with an Epson V600 with my scanning workflow. All film frames were exposed at box speed. The results are okay, nothing spectacular. But EZ 400 is low-price and an excellent alternative black and white film to put in my Minolta. I have four more rolls of EZ400. Maybe it will grow on me.
It did not grow on me.
I'm not too fond of the strong contrast and chunky grain. I've said it before. I'm not too fond of grain. I'm not too fond of this film stock. New Classic EZ 400 is more affordable than most black and white film stock, but Kentmere 400 is just as inexpensive, and I got much better results.
Looking for a new challenge in photography? How about trying out expired film? That's what I did when I got my hands on a roll of Fujichrome Provia 400F that had long surpassed its expiration date.
One of the first rolls of film I exposed from the box of expired 35mm film I received last year is a 36-exposure cartridge of Fujichrome PROVIA 400F Professional [RHP III]. Fujichrome PROVIA 400F was a high-quality colour reversal film manufactured by Fujifilm. It was known for its excellent colour reproduction, fine grain, and sharpness, making it a popular choice among professional photographers. With a sensitivity of ISO 400, this film was ideal for shooting in low light conditions or for capturing fast-moving subjects. The film's advanced emulsion technology was known to produce vibrant colours and accurate skin tones, making it a popular choice for fashion and advertising photography. I did not know what to expect from a 10-year-old cartridge.
I didn't think much about what it means to expose expired 35mm film. My [first, second and third attempts at using expired film stock were disappointing. I loaded the cartridge in my Pentax P3n, and despite the cold weather, I hopped on my e-bike and headed off to Rocky Hill, a nearby borough in New Jersey.
The sun shone brightly overhead, but I could still feel the cold as I set off on Salisbury Road towards the western end of Blue Spring Road. It was still early morning as I pedalled through the quiet residential streets of my neighbourhood. Just before entering the borough of Rocky Hill, I stopped on Princeton Avenue to expose a few frames before continuing along the more scenic route, passing through Van Horne Park.
Rocky Hill was incorporated in 1890 and had a rich history dating back to the colonial era. It was an important transportation hub during the Revolutionary War and was once home to the Van Horne estate, now a public park. Van Horne Park offers a variety of amenities, such as walking paths, playgrounds, sports fields, and picnic areas.
Today, Rocky Hill is a quiet residential community with a small-town feel. It has a few local businesses, including a general store, a post office, and a few restaurants.
After leaving the park, I continued along Washington Road, a long stretch of a historic route that cuts through the heart of Rocky Hill. One of the most distinctive features of Washington Road is its historic homes and buildings. Many houses along the street were built in the 18th and 19th centuries and have been preserved as part of Rocky Hill's history. Some of the most notable buildings along Washington Road include the historic Rocky Hill Inn, which dates back to the early 1700s and now operates as a restaurant, and the Rocky Hill Schoolhouse, which was built in 1865 and is now home to the Rocky Hill Historical Society.
Originally built as a private residence, the Rocky Hill Inn building was converted into a tavern in the 1800s and has since operated as an American gastropub. The inn has been beautifully restored and retains many original features, including wide-plank flooring and exposed brick walls. It is a popular spot for locals, offering a cosy rural, small-town atmosphere, delicious food (my favourite is Fish n’ Chips with a crisp pilsner), and a wide selection of beer and wine.
I turned off Washington Road, arriving at Crescent Avenue, a quiet road I often photograph due to its tree-lined sidewalks and charming historic homes. Many houses on the street were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and have been carefully preserved. The homes' architecture varies, ranging from Victorian and colonial-style homes to more modern designs.
Crescent Avenue turns into River Road at the southeastern border with Montgomery Township. River Road head south toward the historic town of Kingston. It connects to the other end of Blue Spring Road in a loop that takes me back toward my home.
I think the opportunity to take photographs with expired 35mm film was a unique touch of nostalgia and vintage charm.
I exposed the Fujichrome PROVIA 400F at box speed. After I sent the film off for development, I read that the wisdom on the web is that expired film should be exposed at a lower ISO, one-stop every ten years after it expires. The film should also be pulled during development. I understand it just a bit, but I am stumped about what camera ISO or exposure compensation settings I should have used and what instructions to give the development lab.
Do I set the ISO dial at ISO 200 and tell the lab to pull one stop?
It was too late to correct my potential mistake. I sent the cartridge off to Boutique Film Lab and waited. When the slides arrived, I nervously scanned them with VueScan using my Epson Perfection V600. As I watched the previews, my confidence grew. My efforts were not wasted.
I added camera and lens meta-data and imported the images to Adobe Lightroom to finalise things. I was excited when I saw that the scans produced usable photos. I was even more excited when the photos improved further when I adjusted the exposure,contrast, highlights and shadows.
I am so excited. This worked out better than I expected. While the colours are muted, almost all of the images are usable. This post includes the ones I consider the best of the 36 exposures. A few frames are underexposed, but I think that is primarily because of operator error (i.e. me). I have five more cartridges of expired Fujichrome PROVIA 400F, and I am excited to use them all.
It was one of those weekends when I didn’t know what to write. I think it’s because I had something preying on my mind related to my work. Nothing terrible, just something I needed to decide that week that I’m not sure I’m fully prepared for. Usually, I get stressed because I already know what I need to choose, and I hope everything will go just fine, but that doesn’t stop my brain from flipping into anxiety mode. I was focusing on this one thing which meant I did not spend time thinking about a bunch of other things I needed to do (vacation planning), leading to cumulative general anxiety.
The photograph was captured during my foggy day walk around downtown Princeton. After I walked on Witherspoon Street, I circled back around to Spring Street. I was cold, the fog cleared, and I wanted to go home. I exposed a few frames outside Kopp’s Cycles, which thankfully, were the last unexposed frames on the cartridge.