Film Photography News — September 2021 Recap

Ilford Wins Digital Camera Award (You Can Win Stuff Too), No More Reflex

8 min read by Dmitri.
Published on . Updated on .

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This month, Ilford’s new portable Pop-Up Darkroom wins Digital Camera World Award at The Photography Show 2021 at the NEC, a happening described as a “sweet, SWEET irony” by a prominent film Twitter dweller, Dan K. Meanwhile, I ask for your feedback in exchange to win your own Bolsey Model C 35mm TLR, plus: Lomography explodes in contests of their own. Unfortunately, I also learn of a modern film SLR project, Reflex, reaching its end.

And if that’s not enough, I overview a couple of articles on art and film photography published by The Guardian, as well as ten new essays, reviews, guides, and downloads on Analog.Cafe this month.

Dan K’s Tweet about Ilford’s Digital Camera World Award win.

Ilford’s new portable Pop-Up Darkroom wins Digital Camera World Award.

As Dan and a few others have mentioned, it does seem ironic to see a foldable darkroom meant for making silver gelatin prints at home win “Best in Show” at a venue primarily concerned with digital photography.

One can speculate about the lack of innovation in the digital camera world that’s been concerned with primarily megapixels ever since it became a thing and has rarely strayed from those numbers or the challenges of COVID that stifled production in that sector and thus pushed analogue companies like Ilford up. But I’d rather think positively and acknowledge the simple ability of the company to listen to their customers who have diminished access to public darkrooms, who live in small apartments or places hard to modify yet are yearning to create prints of their own.

Despite the apparent simplicity of Pop-Up Darkroom as a product, it is far from a glorified tent project. Under the sheets of the flexible light-tight material, there are considerations for height, space, and — most importantly — air quality. The Darkroom features two vents that help you pump out potentially harmful chemical fumes while getting clean oxygen in. The construction towers at 2.2m (7’2⅝”) — tall enough to fit most adults and folds into a neat 8kg (~18lb) bag. It’s been featured on MSN and Digital Photography Review; projected to cost around $150 once it becomes available.

Bolsey Model C — for one lucky winner of the survey sweepstakes.

A survey — and your chance to win Bolsey Model C 35mm TLR!

Your opinion matters — a lot.

There are only so many hours in a week that I can spend improving this website, which is why your votes and feedback help me concentrate on things that matter.

So I ask you, dear reader, to please take six minutes of your time to fill out this survey and help me grow this project in the right direction. ❤️

As a small token of my appreciation for your time and your honesty, I will be giving away my favourite TLR: Bolsey Model C to a randomly selected person on January 15, 2022.

The survey is anonymous.

Lomochrome Purple at EI 200. Originally posted in “Shooting Kodak Aerochrome vs. Lomochrome Purple,” I’m considering entering it into one of the Lomography’s award competitions, below.

11 free cameras up for grabs for the Lomography Awards winners — submissions open until Sept 30th.

I really hope it’s not too late by the time you read this letter. Thankfully, given the nature of these contests, it shouldn’t take more than a minute to submit your work — the forms only ask for an image and your email address.

Here are the topics you can submit your work to, each promising a Lomography camera prize for one lucky winner: Street Photography Awards 2021, Everyone One Is Everybody (a spotlight on narratives that celebrate diversity), New Perspectives Award 2021, Travel and Documentary Awards 2021, Now or Never Award 2021 (instant photography), Black and White Photography Award 2021, Nature Photography Awards 2021, Portraiture Award 2021, Action Photography Award 2021, Moving Image Award 2021 (if you shoot movies on film), Experimental Photography Award 2021, and a bonus one — Fresh Perspective — that promises a store discount.

Good luck!

A Skype call with Reflex camera project founder, Laurence Von Thomas.

Reflex, a modern film SLR project reaches its probable end.

Perhaps it’s too early to call it done, but the signs aren’t good. During the Skype call this August, Laurence shared his half-a-decade-long journey towards the world’s only modern film SLR camera.

Having collected £131,964 (182,856USD) from 464 backers in 2017, Reflex promised modern advancements for film photographers that could’ve been if not for the digital revolution. Unfortunately, troubles with the R&D team, the lens and shutter production ultimately led to the funds drying out and a halt in development.

There’s still a chance, as implied by Laurence, that if he’s able to secure additional funding or partnership by the end of 2021, it could breathe new life into Reflex — which is currently “80% complete.”

The Guardian.

I won’t say that I hang on every word that the British newsletter publishes, but I won’t hide how impressed I am with some of their work. Regardless, this large publication occasionally features film photography and other art/history events that I find fascinating. Here’s what I found on their website this month:

Digital is easier and quicker… but the analogue process teaches children to look more carefully and also to be patient, because they have to take a picture without seeing the result instantly. For them, there is something therapeutic and healing about the whole process.

— Serbest Salih, for The Guardian.

“‘Something magical happens’: the cameras helping refugee children to heal.” The article talks of a Syrian photographer who fled violence in 2017 and his work with the local children through film and cameras.

Bulldozer: the underground exhibition that revolutionised Russia's art scene.” A story of an illegal independent exhibition on 15 September 1974 near Belayevo metro station. Staged close to where I lived as a kid (but a decade before my birth), an event that documented the destruction of art that wasn’t sanctioned by the state.

From “Olympus f/2.8 E.Zuiko Auto-S Pancake SLR Lens Review” on Analog.Cafe.

Latest on Analog.Cafe.

This month, I published ten new essays, reviews, guides, and downloads on Analog.Cafe — two more than the average eight. A huge thanks to Danilo Leonardi, Nick Frazier, and Peter Reilly for the effort and talent it took to put together their articles this September. 😍

Travels With Diana: When the 2-Metre Social Distancing Rule Stopped” by Danilo Leonardi is a photo essay that highlights England’s transition from mandated health restrictions and how it affects London’s streets and people who walk them.

How to Remove Dust and Scratches From Film Scans: Using Adobe Photoshop and Spot Healing Tool.” Though imperfections are what often make film photography great, they may sometimes be distracting and unwelcome. Taming them with software-assisted auto-cleanup methods or physical tools may not always be desirable — hence this guide, which introduces techniques for accurate, well-executed digital film restoration.

Sample Damaged + Restored Film Scans is a free downloadable package of full-size PrimeFilm XAs scans with and without the scratches removed — useful for those following the above guide.

Olympus f/2.8 E.Zuiko Auto-S Pancake SLR Lens Review: A 🥞 38mm Lens to Pocket Your Olympus PEN F/FV/FT SLR” — a review of, perhaps, the smallest 35mm film SLR package you can get.

Light and Film: Book Review” — this book is filled with history, technicalities, and tips for film photography. Still (mostly) relevant, despite having been published in 1970.

Shooting Kodak Aerochrome vs. Lomochrome Purple: Field Test Report: False Colour Film Comparison and Recommendations.” This summer, I had the chance to shoot two uniquely colourful film stocks side-by-side at the beautiful Canadian mountain tops. This review includes lots of advice for those who wish to try either of the emulsions.

Sample Aerochrome and Lomochrome Purple Scans — sample files for both film stocks to help those wanting to try them in the future better understand how to manipulate and colour correct the results.

Trafalgar on Deck: May 2021 — London” by Nick Frazier is a photo essay that documents the open and kind youth initiative ran by kids who love to skate.

Pentax Espio 140V Camera Review: Could This Be the Affordable 35mm Point and Shoot You’ve Been Looking For?” With the prices on film cameras going nowhere but up, especially when it comes to the quality point and shoot lenses, this relatively cheap and easily available option may be the one to get.

Snyder Quarry: Granite Aggregate Operations” — Peter Reilly’s account of his visit to the quarry with his Holga 120n and his insights into the process of digging up raw materials that make modern life possible.


I’ve added a coupon for free shipping at Analog.Cafe’s Etsy shop FilmBase here. If you haven’t yet bought yourself a copy of my new book, Moscow Dayze, check it out here. And please remember, all your support, whether it’s your continued interest in this blog, sharing of its posts, buying stuff, submitting your work, or just reaching out to me with an occasional “hi!” is greatly appreciated.