After that first success I wanted to give the HP5+ in Perceptol a try in 120 format too not least because, panoramic cameras aside, I use more 120 film than 35mm. The camera I chose was the Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16 mainly because I had loaded it with a roll of HP5+ a few weeks ago to take with me on a trip out and then never used it (because I forgot to pick it up as I left the house if I’m honest). I only took a short stroll but it encompassed a scene dominated by trees and greenery, some of my usual urban details and a view across the valley. All things I’ve photographed before so I knew what to expect.
After reminding myself how this camera focuses, or more accurately remembering to actually set the focus ring, I made a first exposure thirty yards from my garden gate before heading to Gog Hill to recreate an oft-captured scene. The light in the lane under the trees was too low for me to handhold so I walked further down to a point where the overhead trees are less intrusive and where I could get a shutter speed I was more comfortable with. When I pulled the film out of the developing tank to hang it to dry, this negative (see above) blew me away with its detail and clarity. This camera was made from 1949 until 1957 so is older than myself (one day I will make the effort to narrow down its age more precisely).
Whilst I was making images to test the new-to-me film/developer combination I couldn’t but help to notice how instinctively I was using the Nettar. I haven’t used it since a trip to Liverpool in 2018/2019. Aperture and shutter speed are set around the lens which needs to be cocked before each exposure – it’s like using a large format lens but in miniature. The thing I need to remember to adjust is the focusing ring, hence the slightly off focus above, but I think I only forgot to do that the once.
For the record, this was the second roll of film I had developed in this initial batch of stock Perceptol. Reading the information sheet that Andrew had sent me I noted that development time should be increased by ten percent for the second film so the original thirteen minute development time now became fourteen. The only off-putting thing is going to be development times I suspect but I’m just going to think of the rewards.
So, there you have it. A typically dull day but the negatives are full of detail and texture. I tried a variety of scenes with foliage, brickwork and sky all represented and even let the rather milky sun creep into the top left corner of one image. I was already a convert after one roll but this just consolidates my thoughts. My bulk roll of 35mm HP5+ is due to arrive today and I’m ready for the off.