I am back, at least for the start of 2016. I had a lot of fun doing this in 2015 and managed to finish the year which took some doing as I was in the field quite a bit, including long stretches off the grid entirely. I have no idea what work will bring for me this year, so I am going to launch into a 2016 project and see where it takes me. If I don’t finish, then at least I will be dropping by for a visit and making the occasional post. Once I get started it may well feel wrong to stop.
Both of these rolls of film that I have used for week 1 were shot in 2015, but the second one was not processed or scanned until 2016 and I wanted to hold the first one till I saw the results of the second as I anticipated that two rolls might better help diagnose what was wrong with the camera.
I am having trouble with my Fuji GW690 – the shutter sticks open, but with no discernible pattern. Seeing the first roll where one frame was toast and two adjacent ones had partial overlaps with over exposure I thought it might be operator error and related to not setting the exposure before cocking the shutter. With the second roll, the first four shots were toast and the second four were fine. I find that the shutter sticks open randomly, on different shutter speeds and regardless of the order in which I set the exposure and wind the film. When it sticks open it only closes when I wind the film – it shuts with a mechanical action that is in time to the rate which the lever is advanced. This is different from the way the shutter closes after being opened in “T” mode, which is a rapid self-closing once it is released by advancing the film (or rotating the aperture ring away from “T”). It also seems that the more I examine it (ie wind it forward for another try) the more often the problem crops up, so I have stopped that activity.
EDIT: I have taken the camera in to our local camera repair shop and they were quite discouraging. Fuji parts are now extremely difficult to come by, Fuji Canada and USA are unable to help, and indeed the people they speak to there have not even heard of the camera. This accords with my own experience – I could not get through Fuji’s appalling phone tree to a knowledgeable person and was merely told to ship my camera to Florida and they would have a look and let me know (shipping alone would likely be $50). The Fuji Canada website misdirects one to the wrong part of Fuji USA website, and digging around that website only ends up with ignorant receptionists. My local shop were willing to have a look, but they felt the likelihood was that they would spend a huge amount of time, and my money, probably getting nowhere.
On a brighter note, the repairman suggested that it might just be lubricants stacked up where they shouldn’t be if the camera had been sitting for a long time and that I could try warming up the camera (not too hot!) and see if that fixed the problem. And indeed, when warm, and after a few cycles, the shutter stopped sticking. This also fits with the experience of the last roll of film where it stuck for the first 4 frames and not the last 4. The first four were shot when the camera was chilly after being out of doors or in the car for an hour or so. The last four were shot after the camera had been sitting around the house for a while and had warmed up. So, after these successful tests, I put the camera away overnight. Our house is not kept really warm and in the morning the camera is sticking again, intermittently and usually for only one shot or so, rather like the first time it happened on film. It seems that the lubricants might be the issue, and thus a CLA could be all that it is needed. I will be asking the shop what they think about that when they open after the weekend. For now feel a bit more positive about the future of the camera.
I have put scans of some of the failures in the gallery below if anyone is in a diagnosing mood and wants to check my thinking on this. If you have experience of this problem with a Fuji or similar fixed lens rangefinder and can suggest something I can easily do to fix it, then please let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, it will be going in for a CLA. This is rather disappointing because I have only put half a dozen rolls through the camera which I bought in the fall, with assurances it had been serviced every year by the professional that owned it previously. It is by far (>5x) the most expensive used film camera I have purchased. Perhaps I did set the exposure after advancing the film, and as this is said to potentially cause problems with the linkages in the lens maybe I have made this happen. But since it is intermittent and unpredictable, I think it more likely to be wear and or gunk in the shutter assembly. I am hoping for gunk as worn parts might be pretty hard to replace.
These pictures were taken on expired Ilford film – some are on XP2 400 that expired in April 2000 which I rated at ISO 320 due to its age, and others are on Ilford Delta 3200 that expired in June 2014, metered at ISO 3200. I took the XP2 roll in November and early December, and the Delta on Boxing Day when some of the family had Christmas dinner with my parents.
Some more pictures from the XP2 can be found at my blog post published simultaneously to this one and called Happy Anniversary as it is my parents’ 61st today.
To view a larger version of any image in the gallery below, click or tap it, then navigate to other images.
To view a larger version of any image in the gallery below, click or tap it, then navigate to other images with the arrows or swipes.
Week 1: Fujica GW690, 90/3.5 lens, Ilford XP2 400 exp 4/2000 shot at 320 ISO and Delta 3200 at box speed, developed commercially, scanned with Epson V700