Out and about with an even older film and camera (Yashica FX-3); a stand development experiment

Sorting through my old photo stuff I found a roll of 35mm HP5 on which I’d written ‘7 expd’ and ’14 expd’. As the leader was still out of the cassette I thought it likely that the film had been left after 14 exposures so decided to put it in another camera older than the film – a Yashica FX-3 made between 1979 and 1984 – and shoot the remainder; as it is black and white I had high hopes that it would be in better shape than the colour neg I shot for my post on 26 Jan. I decided to try the ‘stand development’ technique.

The previously-made exposures were interesting only in that at they enabled me to date them to more than 20 years ago, so the film is pre-1993. They are not reproduced here. The shots above, which can be seen in a slide show by clicking on any one, were made on 2 February 2013.

I took only one lens out on this little expedition, up my village high street – the Yashica 35mm f/2.8 ML, which like all the Yashica MLs is very good (the ML indicates that it is multi-coated; the DSBs are not and not as high quality).

The camera is quite a favourite with people getting back into film from digital for some good reasons:

  • It is entirely mechanical, no need for batteries (except for the exposure indicator which you don’t have to use)
  • It’s pretty rugged and will take some not-too-careful treatment
  • It can take the excellent C/Y Yashica lenses
  • It can take all the Zeiss Contax 35mm SLR lenses
  • It can be picked up very cheaply
  • There is a simple exposure indicator, with just over and under LEDs, if you want it, turned on by a button on the back
Yashica FX-3 fitted with Yashica 35mm f/2.8 ML lens. Simple, foolproof mechanical camera  - and it's cheap

Yashica FX-3 fitted with Yashica 35mm f/2.8 ML lens. Simple, foolproof mechanical camera – and it’s cheap


  • No iris stop-down button to check depth of field
  • No mirror lock up
  • The ‘leather’ covering tends to deteriorate, though it’s easily replaced if cosmetics are important

I also took the opportunity to try something I’ve been meaning to do for some time – stand development. In fact I opted for semi-stand development to get a bit more contrast – development for one hour at 24-22degC (ie started at 24degC but standing at room temperature) in 100:1 RO9 with two inversions at 30 minutes.

I like the result, I like the far more relaxed processing with no worries about precise time or temperature. I’m going to do more of it.

My next project with the FX-3 will be to shoot a film going through all the C/Y lenses I have for it, which range from a 17-28mm zoom to  a 100-300mm zoom, with a few primes in between, including some Zeiss. But before that I’ll renew some of the light seals which are sticky and not 100% effective.