a week with the LC-Anstax

Back at the end of October 2016, Dan K (@ZDP189) decided to sponsor a competition around the newish Instax Monochrome film, and I decided to throw my hat in, and pulled out the LC-A and Instant Back for a week of testing and playing around to prepare myself to shoot for the competition.

It was fun, and I maybe retract my earlier claims about the Instax and “doing it right” or whatever.

I’ll apologize straight away for the size of the pictures here. “Scanning” with the D7000 and 55mm Micro Nikkor was just too frustrating and I scanned the images with my Canon MG7720, and the resulting files are a paltry ~540×340. Also, I shot 5 packs of Instax, one per day, quite a bit more than I planned, and so I’ve got quite a bit to share.

Monday

I started out planning to test Exposure Compensation via the ISO dial. Due to my tendency to shoot without checking settings, I wasted the first 3 frames, and I had a misfire on frame 5 or 6, and so it felt like a bit of a waste, but I put that out of my mind and just got on with it (as I did for the entire week). At least I got through the exposure compensation test.

From left to right: 400, 200, 100, 50, 25:

Instax film is ISO800. The back of the Instant Back lists ISO 200 as Standard and suggests 100 for a brighter image and 400 for a darker image. If I had the LC-A+, I would have one stop over and 3 under (the ISO wheel on the LC-A+ goes from 100-1600); with the regular LC-A, I had one under and 3 over… Fun times.

I liked the look of the selfy at 100, and I’m in need of a new selfy—the one on social media at present is from 2012, when I was ~60lbs heavier and beardless—so I tried for a new one to finish off this first pack of Instax… Alas, focus shifted in pulling in and out of the bag, so…

I needed a haircut (solved) and a beard cleanup (closer, but not quite), so probably not a suitable selfy anyway, sadly.

Tuesday

Tuesday, I started shooting a bit more seriously. I shot one subject almost every day and I’ll share my results for the lot below, but I got a couple of interesting shots in the evening. I was surprised at how the LC-A exposed these, and thought the shutter misfired again, but the sun got totally solarized in one, and so I think it exposed properly, maybe it’s the exposure latitude on the Instax.

(If you look closely at those, you might notice some artifacts, smears or something. I think this is some sort of a reflection of the scanner, or maybe where the photo touched the glass. Allahu Alim.)

Wednesday

Wednesday, I shot a bunch of long exposures out the office window. The exterior walls have a nice, wide ledge and it’s easy to rest the camera on that and gently hold down the shutter release. I alternated between counting off seconds and letting the camera expose however it wanted. The longest meter-determined exposure was nearly 1 minute 30 seconds; the shortest was about 15 seconds.

I kept getting a red light reflected in the glass. I hunted all over, and then, near the end of the week, realized/remembered the LC-A has two lights in the finder window: one to indicate a failing battery; the other to indicate exposures that might require a tripod (or other stabilizer, like a window ledge). That long exposure lamp stays lit throughout the exposure… Gah. And me without any gaff tape handy.

I tried with my hand, but it introduced camera shake and I got my hand in there, so I grabbed the little zipper case from the B&W C5 headphones (the case that currently houses the 1More Triple Drivers) and used that, but it also covered the meter window…

InshaAllah, when/if I try this again with the Instax Monochrome, I’ll bring a bit of gaff tape along.

Thursday

With the long exposures exhausted, I shot a bit more around the office, but it was mostly errors. (A couple of the shots in this section came from earlier in the week, but in favor of keeping this brief I’m shoving them in here.)

The piece de resistance for the week, or for the first four days of usual, random, shooting around with no real aim  in mind shooting I grabbed on the way to the car one morning. The exposure is spot on, the focus was nailed, the color is great, and I’m very pleased with it…

The only problem: I forgot which way is up on the LC-Anstax… Oh well.

And that was the last pack of film from the 7 packs I bought just after receiving the back last April. I realized I was running low and placed an order for 6 packs from Unique Photo (best price anywhere, by far), and they arrived on Friday morning with free shipping. That’s hard to beat.

Friday

When I finished that last pack on Thursday, I was done. I was out of film, and ready to get back to some (slightly) less expensive film shooting, but then I remembered one more thing I wanted to test, something that I’ve never played with much before…

I was emboldened by my burgeoning understanding of the exposure triangle and all, and so I had a look at my flashes and decided on the little Toshiba 312, a GN 39 flash of unknown vintage that came in a bag with my stepdad’s camera stuff. We were heading out to dinner, and I thought it might be a bit hot for the close quarters of a dining table, so I grabbed a dark grey gel and went for a test. Ends up, it was more or less fine, maybe 1 stop over, at f/11 or f/16 at 2-4 ft.

And so out to dinner we went, to try the El Picante Cafe, a new Halal Mexican restaurant in town. The food was good and the price was right, and I’ve been missing Mexican food, and I’ll go again, but I’ll only give it 3 stars or so. I had fun shooting though, and it was nice to be out and pretending to be confident and happy shooting with flash in a smallish restaurant.

From the flash at dinner, I liked this one the best: it’s like something someone else might shoot…


All in all, that was a fun week of shooting, more fun than I’ve had in awhile, once I relaxed, stopped worrying about wasting it, stopped thinking I was doing it wrong, etc., and just shot. I’m glad I ordered up another 6 packs (there are 5 remaining), and I’m glad I ordered 5 packs of Monochrome too, though they have yet to arrive from Hong Kong.

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