When film photography goes wrong…

A 35mm film canister

What is wrong with this film canister?

A 35mm film canister

Can you spot the problem in this photo?

No?

I may be being a little cruel…

The problem is this canister of Fujifilm Superia X-tra doesn’t contain any film.

It used to.

Let me explain.

Following my review and test of the Canon 7, I decided it was not the rangefinder for me.

It was heavy. The light meter was hard to read, I simply didn’t get on with it.

So I decided to give myself one last attempt at Rangefinder photography and managed to get hold of a Yashica GX 35 Electro in good condition.

I will write about the camera in a future review but had to mention it to give context for today’s events.

I thought it would be ideal to get some cheap (colour) film and shoot a roll to see how I get on with the camera and work out how it performs.

After last weekends shocking film shopping (there was no film available or the prices have leapt up this year), I finally got hold of some FujiFilm Superia X-tra and loaded it into the Yashica.

The weather hasn’t been great. it has been dull and grey but I decided I could head out and find bright everyday objects on this winter’s day to shoot.

I planned to try the rangefinder and familiarizing myself with the zone focusing, shooting from the hip.

I did that and enjoyed my Covid lockdown walk snapping things I would normally pass by. Probably soliciting some odd looks from my neighbours in the process. (I am talking road signs and danger signs, that kind of thing).

I will confess I tend to not believe the frame counter on cameras and had noticed shooting more than a few shots before I got to “2”.

It should be no surprise that when the counter said “35” I should have realised there might be a problem.

I thought there might be another shot left.

I tried to advance the film but the lever would not cock fully.

I then thought about rewinding the film (I was not sure how to do this properly) and it was then as I turned the film spool crank the other way, I felt something give.

However, undaunted I tried the lever again, it cocked and everything seemed fine for the final shot.

It was not until I got home and I tried to rewind the film properly that I realised there was no resistance in the film spool.

I gingerly opened the back of the film and as suspected, the film was not rewinding. Why? It had completely separated from the film canister.

This is the first time that has ever happened to me.

The film must have reached its end shot and my fiddling had caused the film to come away from it’s canister housing.

I quickly closed the back of the Yashica but fully suspect the film has been exposed to light.

I got the darkroom bag out and proceeded to try and feed the film back into the canister. Of course, this didn’t work, the film must have expanded in the canister and I only managed to get a portion of it back in.

Unsure what to do I took to Twitter and contacted my favourite film lab, Kirklees Photographic.

I had several retweets and a few friendly responses. All of which gave similar advice.

I went back to the dark bag (remembering to take off my smartwatch), unravelled the film from the camera and the canister.

Rolled it up tightly. Then put it into a 35mm film jar, putting that in the film box and sealing it with tape.

I am not sure if I have rescued the photos, they are all taped up and in the post to the developers. Only time will tell if I exposed the film too much.

It’s not a big loss as this was a test roll but I would like to see if the camera is working at the very least!

Have you had this happen to you before? It is a first for me.

I do not think it is a fault of the camera, rather a fault of the operator!

I am curious, Yashica is a brand I knew very little about but they seem to have a following. Are you a Yashica owner? What are your thoughts or experiences of these cameras!

Keep everything crossed for this roll of film for me. I will post an update when the photos return from the lab.

6 comments

  1. I have never had this happen. Very odd. I have never shot the Canon rangefinders. The best rangefinder I have used is the Leica M3. It is simple, and just works. The viewfinder is marvelous. That said, it is costly. If you ever get a chance to shoot one, it will change your view on shooting rangefinders. The Canons seem like a good option because of the good glass that is inexpensive. I have shot the 50mm f 1.4 on digital rangefinder, and it has a good vintage rendering. I have to use an adapter to convert it to M Mount. My usual error with film cameras is shooting an entire roll, but having no roll in the camera! I have to remind myself to check for resistance on the take up spool. The other, with rangefinders, is shooting with the lens cap on!

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  2. I was given a Yashica MG-1 but the light meter does not work, so it defaults to 1/500th of a second. I’ll shoot a roll today to see how it gets on. I have used the Electro with interchangeable lenses but it was not for me. I remember buying a battery adapter that was helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have the adapter lenses but cannot get them to fit. I am not sure what I’m doing wrong.

      Let me see your MG1 photos when developed. Sounds interesting.

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      1. Correct. They do screw directly onto the lens but sadly they do not fit. The back of the adapter lens touches the lens of the camera and there isn’t enough space to screen them on.

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