Peter and I decided to start a small project per month called The Power of ONE Challenge. A simple project where we would use one camera with one film for one month. We decided to do this to develop a deeper understanding for some of the cameras we own, as well as enabling us to share and pass on the learning to those who follow. Aside from the cameras, it also allowed us to really get to know some of the film we use too.
My choice of camera for January was the Widelux F7 and I used it in conjunction with some Ilford XP2 400 speed. I was really pleased with the combination and learned a lot along the way. I chose XP2 film because it had a higher ISO rating and would allow me to shoot at higher f stops. Due to it using C41 developing, I was also able to get the filmed processed faster than I would if I were using traditional black and white.
The film was actually lovely to use and responded well in the Widelux, Obviously it loved the natural daylight of outside, but also faired reasonably well indoors too when I tried it. I found it to be a little grainy, which for a black and white film I did not mind. Had it of been colour, I would of probably not been pleased with the grain. All in all, a lovely film and one that I will return too later on with other challenges.
As for the Widelux, it was a complete joy to use, once I got used to the idiosyncrasies it has. Firstly, due to it's lens and nature of the camera, it has a lot of distortion. Sometimes the distortion can work for you depending on subject matter, but there are a few rules of the road. If you are like me and shoot organically, expect to get a lot of distortion as it likes to be kept level. I went back and forth with this and in the end learned to read the subject and zerod in on whether it would distort or not. I found that man-made objects like building and other structural things will display the distortion a lot. As I said, in some cases it can really play to your advantage, but in other instances, it can be a royal pain in the arse.
Next the f-stops, the Widelux has a limited set of f-stops; f2.8 to f11 and if you shoot at lower stops, it produces blurred images unless you have a rock solid tripod and the camera is steady. Even then with the tripod, it will be more blurred than shooting with the F11 setting. I know this is really common sense, but you can easily forget when metering the light and slip back into the lower f-stops.
What I was surprised at is that it produced some really great shots at 1/15 of a second shutter speed. I thought this would result in blurred photographs, but it did not and I was able to get some great indoor results.
The cold weather, for some reason, this camera did not like extreme cold weather. I took it out a couple of times when it snowed and the mechanism jammed a few times, I decided to bring it back in and wait for a warmer day. I found that because I was shooting a lot of film through the camera, that a residue of the film built up on the inside and would sometimes drop down onto the negatives, I learned quickly to give the inside a clean after I had ran a few rolls through it to stop this from happening.
There is also a discrepancy between the viewfinder and what you get. I never really managed to figure this out, but if you decide to use one, be aware that there is both a horizontal and vertical shift the closer you get to the subject. I suppose again, this is blindingly obvious as it is a rangefinder of sorts, but still something to keep in mind. It does come with a lovely set of filters that clip in too, and I used the yellow filter a few times and this really helped with the contrast of the XP2.
Overall a really great combination of film and camera and I already miss using them, but now we are focused on using the Hasselblad 500 series in conjunction with some Kodak Ektar 100, so stay tuned for that post in a month or so....
Please also feel free to join in the challenges and stay tuned on our Instagram page On Roads and Cameras.
Thanks for reading.