John Scarbro, AKA @monobod, is well established in experimenting with film photography, mostly in black and white. He is especially good at shooting with pinhole cameras and developing the negatives himself. John has already tried out the Earl Grey B&W 120 ISO 100 and Potsdam Kino B&W 120 ISO 100 films so we asked him to test out the Babylon Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 13 and compare his results with the other films.
Hello John, please tell us a bit about yourself. What's the appeal and fascination with pinhole photography?
I have always taken photos from a young age with the family cameras way before digital. I was the one with the camera. The first three cameras I owned were all Kodak Instamatics. That's possibly why I still like the square image. Once I got an SLR, a second hand Olympus OM1, I got hooked on producing prints in the darkroom.
I had made a few pinhole cameras with old tins and boxes several years ago with varying success. Having got back into it, I love the whole process of producing pinhole images now. I find that pinhole 'look' very compelling.
What's your favourite pinhole camera/setup?
Visualizing the final image was a challenge to start with because the lack of a viewfinder & my usual low down point of view. My favourite format is 6X6 with my Ondu pocket generally with 100 asa film. I also have an Ondu 135 Panoramic Mk 3. for 35 mm. A Noon Pinhole 612 Multiformat. Holga 120 WPC. Diana F+ and a Diana F+ with the 35 mm film back. Also many homemade pinhole cameras with various tins etc, using both sheet film and paper negatives. It's great fun experimenting.
You shot with three different Lomography films (Babylon, Potsdam and Berlin.) Can you talk us through the differences between shooting these various ISO speed films on a pinhole camera?
I have shot a couple of rolls of Babylon 13 recently. I don't usually use film below 50 asa for my pinhole work but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a lovely smooth grained film and I had some pleasing images using the Ondu 135 Panoramic. It was very curly after I developed it in Rodinal 1-50 for nine minutes. Not a problem with normal scanning but it needed a week under some heavy photo books to get it to lie flat in my DigitaLIZA scanning mask. It was definitely well worth the effort.
I also think it would be an excellent choice for regular photography with my 'normal' cameras. I will certainly be shooting this film again. 100 asa is my preferred film speed for my pinholes so one of my favourites is the superb Potsdam Kino 100 . Taken with the Ondu 6X6 it has lovely grain and the contrast is fabulous. It's just perfect for my pinhole look. I semi-stand develop in Rodinal 1-100 for 60 minutes to get the best out of these negatives. I sometimes shoot 100 at 50 asa depending on the quality of the light and if I want to extend the exposure time to get more movement in the frame.
The Earl Grey B&W 120 ISO 100 film works well for this. This was also semi-stand developed as it was shot at two different speeds. Shot at box speed it is just a lovely everyday film. Pinhole photography has given me a whole new perspective on image making. I would recommend it to anyone to expand their enjoyment of this excellent hobby. You can start with just a tin or box with a pin pushed through and a piece of black tape for the shutter.
Too see more of John's pinhole photography visit his Instagram page.