We’ve written several posts and a page about the delights of finding exposed, undeveloped film in the cameras and kit we come across — and here’s another!
Our latest discovery:
It was a Nikon FE 35mm SLR camera — beloved by reviewers, shooters, and me — but from the battered, decaying condition of the carrying case, we expected the worst. However, we were pleasantly surprised upon opening the crumbling case (while cleaning up crumbs falling off it), to find a Nikon FE in excellent condition, with a working battery, and a partially-used roll of film inside!
The film counter was on the 6th exposure, so it seemed there were anywhere from 13-30 exposures remaining (35mm film usually comes in 20, 24 or 36 exposure lengths) to test the camera. From the film box tab visible in the holder on the FE’s back, I assumed the roll inside was Fujicolor 200, and set out to expose the rest of the roll with that in mind. After 8-10 shots, I noticed that the camera’s film speed was actually set to ASA 400 instead of 200 — oops!
Unsure of what was inside the camera, I changed the ASA to 200 for the remaining shots, just in case. When I hit 22 exposures on the counter, the roll was done. This meant it was a 24-exposure roll, and the last user of the camera most likely advanced the film a little too far before closing the back, wasting 2 exposures. And maybe they fired a few blanks (shutter release with lens cap on) to be sure the roll was “really” ready to go, wasting a few more precious inches of emulsion. At that point, I had no idea how many of their exposures would be on the roll, and how many of mine would be properly exposed…
I rewound the roll with my usual feeling of bemused speculation and eager anticipation. After hearing the distinct, familiar sound of the film leader letting go of the take-up reel, followed by the release of tension as it slipped inside the film canister, I opened the back of the Nikon FE. I laughed out loud to discover it was NOT Fujicolor 200 at all, but rather a roll of Kodak MAX 400 color film inside the camera! From experience with Kodacolor and all other non-professional films made by Kodak, as well as processing many rolls of found film over time, my expectations were:
- The camera and roll of film it contained were mostly likely NOT stored in ideal conditions (cool/dry), which would affect the exposure accuracy (old film usually gets pushed 1-2 stops to compensate), and
- The non-professional film emulsion’s dyes would have deteriorated over time, resulting in a color-shift, typically towards the red-pink-purple-green spectrum.
To be honest, the subject/content in each frame of found film is only half the fun of developing it. The other half of the fun is enjoying the unexpected color shifts, light leaks, artifacts of careless storage, and the passage of time. So I sent off this roll to my friends at Nice Film Lab in Brooklyn, to see what was on this roll of Kodak MAX 400. I was not disappointed — it was heavily shifted purple-green, with what appears to be a fogging or light leak from someone opening the camera accidentally — a fabulous result! There were 22 exposures in total, including: 2 by the last camera owner, a few duds, and 8 decent shots by me. Happy to share them with you, in the galleries below!
Two good images on the roll, taken by the original owner (or last user) of the camera:
A gallery of my test shots on the rest of the roll:
Images of this Nikon FE 35mm SLR camera, and selected photos from the film we found inside it, will be posted to the Cameras+Films Instagram feed.
Hope you enjoyed these “found-film” images!
What happens when we find undeveloped film? We develop it, of course!
Here at Cameras+Films, there’s always a piqued-curiosity, vaguely-voyeuristic, thrill-of-discovery moment whenever exposed, undeveloped film is found in an old camera. And, as you can imagine, our discovery is followed by impatient anticipation and speculation when the film is sent out to be developed:
- Will someone out there know anyone in the images we post from the roll?
- Will there be one or more interesting views into one or more lives on the roll?
- Will there be something myopic, historic, epic, simplistic, or even artistic?
- Will there be at least one or two good photographs, a whole roll of bad ones, or nothing at all on the film?
In any case, we always end up asking, “why did they leave the film in this camera without developing it? Did something happen to the photographer, so that the film was never developed? Or did they stop using the camera and simply forget about the film inside it? No way to know for sure, but it’s fun to speculate and wonder…
So, to satisfy your curiosity and ours, we are pleased to share images from any film we find in the vintage cameras we buy/use and sell. When available and relevant, we’ll share information about the camera-owner, the person who most likely exposed the film, and any items of interest which came with the camera…