TK Roll 2015–14: First Dispatch From the Horn of Plenty (Minolta XE-5, Kodak Ektar 100)

I haven’t been keeping up.

No, that’s not entirely true: I have been keeping up in shooting. I shot a lot of film these past weeks. I have been keeping up in getting them developed. I have been keeping up in scanning them, one by one, bit by bit, into my computer.

I haven’t been keeping up in posting the results. This is me making up for that now.

First up is a roll of test shots from a Minolta XE-5 that I bought as part of one of those eBay grab bags that I bid on from time to time. Maybe you know the kind: there’s an offer up there made up of several items, and one, or maybe two, interest you. But since it usually ends up being cheaper to buy the whole thing, you bid on a lot of maybe two cameras and three lenses, and end up getting it for less than one of those lenses alone would have cost you.

Then, of course, comes decision time: what to do with the rest? I have my lens. Do I just try and use that camera? Do I have it serviced? Or is that money I don’t need to spend? And if I don’t spend the money, do I work on the camera myself? I could replace its light seals, if need be. That wouldn’t cost much. But it would be work. And what about that second lens? Or the third? Would those be worth trying out? Or do I sell them? Or do I try them out intending to sell them… and on and on it goes.

So you pay for getting something cheap with a whole lot of mental energy. I know this happens frequently, and I’m wary of it. Yet, there’s also the fun of the hunt, of not knowing exactly what you’ll get. So do I buy or not buy? That hangs forever in the balance.

The XE-5 was what I had wanted from that bag. Silver and black, in that old school way, I’d heard good things about it. And hey, I already have quite a stable of Minolta lenses. It worked okay at first, but then the meter acted wonky, and I decided I’d take it in for a clean, lubricate and adjust job. That couldn’t be much more than maybe € 50 or € 60, right? Well, it ended up quite a bit more (think in the €200 range), but when I got it back all the gears operated so smoothly that I just wanted to keep advancing film. I shot many a picture just to be able to advance to the next frame. Which sounds insane, but pick up a Minolta XE (or one of its closely related Leica R cousins) and then tell me it doesn’t have that effect on you. Shoot. Advance. Shoot to advance.

This roll is the first test roll I put into the camera after getting it back. I chose Kodak Ektar, on the one hand to make full use of the sharp lenses I had for the camera – a 35mm 2.8 first and foremost among them – and on the other hand to test whether the meter worked okay (Ektar is quite a bit more fussy with exposure than C41 films usually are). I took the camera on a walk across the nearby Severinsbrücke, bridging the two halves of Cologne across the Rhine river. And what I found on the other side was a fair. Colors and movement aplenty! I dove right in.

I went back to the fair several days later. But that’s a story better told in the post for roll 15.

3 thoughts on “TK Roll 2015–14: First Dispatch From the Horn of Plenty (Minolta XE-5, Kodak Ektar 100)

  1. Fantastic, as always. You have a great eye for capturing beautiful or interesting images from the mundane. The parked cars, the kids walking. I don’t know a damned thing about photography–but i enjoy this blog just for the pictures.


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