Images shot on AgfaPhoto APX 400 in the Rollei 35
We’ve got a few things to cover in this blog post, which is based around some shots from the Nottingham Christmas market and is being written as a stream of consciousness rather than being anything with much pre-planning behind it.
The APX 400 film that these photographs were taken on, the Rollei 35 camera that I put it through, and the images themselves will all be discussed – particularly in regards to using the available light to get some nicely exposed images.
If that sounds like something you’d want to read, then please carry on reading. I promise I’ll keep it as concise as I can.
Shooting in low light at Nottingham’s Christmas market
As we’ve already established, the photographs on this blog post were taken at Nottingham’s Christmas market and Winter Wonderland, which is held every year on the city’s Old Market Square – a location I explained more about here.
As well as the usual stalls selling mulled wine and German sausages – because nothing says Christmas like a big old bratwurst – there’s some fairground rides and an outdoor skating rink.
I believe it’s a decent family day out, although quite a pricey one too. Personally, I didn’t spend much money there. I was mainly just finishing off the roll of APX 400 that was in my recently-refurbished Rollei 35.
Recently refurbished at a place called Film Furbish who did a great job, by the way. So a shout-out to them.
As you might be able to tell from the shots here, the overcast weather made for some pretty dull and drab light in the afternoon, and even that quickly went away with the early sunset we get on December days in England.
This means two things. First is that the ISO 400 rating of the film came in handy. I would have struggled with anything much lower. Second is that I got – in my opinion at least – better images using artificial light once the sun had gone.
Take a look at these three shots right here. The first two were mainly lit up by the lifeless natural light of the late afternoon and are kind of flat, whereas the third that used the bulbs of the market stall has a lot more contrast to it.
Using available artificial light for your photographs
I’ve shot a few rolls of film in low light, but most of it has been higher ISO than this. Like some CineStill 800T or some Fuji Natura 1600, for example.
It can be done with ISO 400 film too of course, given the right camera settings. A wider aperture or a slower shutter speed to let in more light. Or both at the same time, even.
A few years ago I got some after-dark shots on Ilford Pan 400 with the Canon Sure Shot AF-7 point ‘n’ shoot that came out well enough. You can see them on this post here from Qingdao, China.
So even though this was my first time using the Rollei 35 in low light, I was confident the results would be okay. I just had to trust its light meter, and I have to say it did not let me down.
Shooting film in light conditions like this is not difficult if you keep one thing in mind – that you only need enough light, and doesn’t matter where it’s coming from.
If you point your camera at something being illuminated by an artificial source, even if it’s otherwise surrounded by darkness, your camera and film only care that it’s being lit up enough. They don’t care if it’s sunlight or from a bulb or LED.
It’s that thinking that I used here, and the results show that it works.
Notes on the film and camera I used here
The film I used here – some AgfaPhoto APX 400 – is never going to be my favourite stock. I knew that before I shot it too, because it’s really just some rebranded Kentmere Pan 400 and that’s never going to be a favourite of mine either.
So despite using the available light as well as I could and thinking about my compositions too, the inherent image quality and qualities of the results were never going to blow me away.
As a quick side note here, I am actually quite fond of the ISO 100 version of Kentmere – which is also sold as AgfaPhoto APX 100.
The camera though… The little Rollei 35, with its front-mounted dials and pop-out lens, was a very impressive piece of kit. You have to zone focus when using it, which is fine for me as that’s what I tend to do a lot anyway.
You can read up on how I do that in this guide here.
But the feeling of fun you get whilst using such a tiny camera is brilliant. Especially when you are really just pointing and shooting, zone focusing as I was with plenty of depth of field.
I can tell too from the shots here, from some others taken on this roll in better light, and from some Fomapan 400 that I put through this Rollei 35 also, that the lens on this thing is really good.
I love my Lomo LC-A for the shooting experience you get with it. And some of my results from that – like some of these colour ones from Nottingham – have been better than I’d have expected from the lens it has.
However, just from the first couple of rolls I’ve shot with this Rollei 35, I can already tell it’s a step up from that. The great thing about this is the shooting experience is pretty similar. They’re both very pocketable and discreet when out and about, and are both easily point ‘n’ shooty if you want them to be.
It’s early days for me and this Rollei 35 at the time of writing but I’m excited about using it over the next few years.
Wrapping up from Nottingham’s Christmas market
In the words of (Nottingham) Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
It feels like too long since I published a post on here and I’ve had so much going on personally that I haven’t had time to get anything written. So I just wanted to get something done and out there, really.
I do like to have a stroll around a Christmas market. It gets me into the spirit of things. Maybe next time I go I’ll take some colour film, like some Portra 800 perhaps. Then my photographs might feel a little more festive too.
For this APX 400 film though, there is going to be a review of it on the site soon. Although you can just read the Kentmere Pan 400 one to get the gist of things really.
There’s going to be a Rollei 35 camera review too, and I have a feeling I’ll be gushing about it. It’s a wonderful little piece of engineering and my early impression of it is it feels like if a watchmaker made a camera.
But let’s leave such whimsy for when I’ve put a few more rolls through it – which I’m going to enjoy greatly.
Until then, you – yes, you – keep shooting too. 🙂
If that short account of shooting some APX 400 in the Rollei 35 at Nottingham Christmas market piqued your interest for more essays illustrated with film photography, why not have a look at some of these:
And if you think others will find this post worth a read, help them find it by giving it a share 😀