As I mentioned in a previous post, I was recently pulled into the draw of shooting a fully mechanical, meter-less vintage, and somewhat iconic rangefinder, made in the then USSR.  Who wouldn’t want a Leica M rangefinder. I just didn’t want to invest all that much at this moment. It wouldn’t have been a wise move at this point in my life with a family to think about. This is my first roll shot, Agfa/Rollei Retro 400S 400 ISO developed at home.  The FED 2 camera was built in 1955 or thereabouts, the same year my bungalow was built, and I generally have a thing for mid-century style, including my humble little fifties bungalow.

shot with FED 2 rangefinder on Agfa Retro 400 ISO film.

shot with FED 2 rangefinder on Agfa Retro 400 ISO film.

For this first shoot using the FED 2 rangefinder, I have to say there was a bit of getting used to. I’ve owned fixed focus film cameras before and I have owned various SLRs, but never a rangefinder. First off, remembering to set the shutter speed only after advancing the film took a bit of cause to slow down. Second, was getting used to the parallax effect and the rangefinder. The viewfinder has a yellowish tint where the focusing occurs. In the lower light I was in, I had to remember to focus on the target then recompose. The Retro 400s is pretty fun film to work with, and the at-home development process was dead easy, thanks in part to the massive film database iPhone application.

I think I’ll invest in a light meter if I’m going to use this in tricky lighting. An incident meter would have been useful at times.


Audrey on Cadboro Bay Beach on a dreary winter day. FED 2, Agfa Retro 400 ISO film. ‘Sunny 16’ exposure.

For developing, I went with all ILFORD chems. Ilfosol-3, Ilfostop and their fixer. I mixed 1×9 for each and made about 300 mL for the roll. I used to favour the D76 from Kodak, but I’d been hearing great things about the concentrated chems from ILFORD and to be honest I liked the packaging and how compact they are to store on my shelf above the laundry sink.

For the darkroom, I use the ‘cold storage’ room under the concrete entry stairs in our basement. It has a metal outside door with weather seals, and once closed I can’t see a thing. Once I’ve loaded the film into my Paterson tank, I then do the developing in our laundry room. I prefer the sink in there to the sink in our bathroom. However, once final rinse is done, I leave the film in the tank and walk it to the bathroom. I’ve briefly run the shower ahead of the developing, to aid in knocking down dust. I hang the developed film with bulldog clips and/or clothes pegs.

Once dried, usually within an hour’s time, I then cut and store into Print File Archival sheets. Then I scan with my Epson V600 and do a bit of post editing in either Aperture, or PhotoShop, or both.


Audrey with Julia. Agfa Retro 400s, FED 2 rangefinder.


FED 2 rangefinder.


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