Film is coming back! No, not really. It’s just still here despite the expectations of the camera industry, and, I dare say, even from the film manufacturers.
Every once in a while I have the urge to shoot film. I really don’t go very far with it but I at least have a couple of film cameras and in the last several years, I have completed exactly one roll that was developed. Meh. Let’s just say it’s a low key level of commitment.
So, a while back (a year or two? Maybe?) I bought an Olympus OMG 35mm SLR. If nothing else, just to have as it was a camera model that I owned once in the early 1990s or so. I bought it then only because I got a good deal on it used with accessories. It was basically a consumer SLR but I kind of liked it and it was a fun camera to shoot, especially with the auto-winder attached. So I probably bought my current one simply for nostalgia’s sake.
It had some issues like needing the light seals replaced right off the bat. Which I did. There was a piece of – something – in the viewfinder and I figured out how to remove the focusing screen, pull out the debris and get it back together. The lens, a 50mm f/1.8 (what else?) Zuiko had some light hazing so I went after it too. I got the lens clean and then couldn’t figure out why the aperture was stuck when I reassembled it. Warning! – watch for small springs and detent balls when you take something apart. So after buying another copy online (see what happened there?) I loaded a roll of Fuji 400 that I bought at Walmart. Ok I get it. This might not be a film fanatics first choice and there are probably better emulsions out there but this stuff was, available locally, and cheap. Thank you. Besides, it was just a test roll to check if the new light seals did their job and if the meter is accurate.
I think it took me about a month or three to shoot all 36 frames. Then, of course, I dropped it back at Walmart for processing. Because it’s cheap. Again I am not looking for anything other than competent processing as a camera test. So I am sure it is good enough for my purposes. I was surprised to find out something though, I knew Walmart didn’t do their own processing anymore and sent it to an outside vendor. I just assumed they sent it to some commercial lab somewhere, likely the low bidder. Fine I am just looking for “good enough” right now. As it turns out they actually send it to FujiFilm for processing. Wow.
I know this because the worker at Walmart (once they located someone who actually knew they did film processing) used the wrong envelope. Fortunately the envelope had my phone number on it. The difference is, that the envelope that was used didn’t have any information about where to send the film back to once it was processed.
Then, A few days later, surprisingly, I got a phone call from a very nice and polite customer service rep called Tasha at FujiFilm wanting to know where I dropped it off so she could send it to processing and send it back to the correct location. First, this was a little bit of the “extra mile” in customer service. If they had not done anything the roll would have been written off as “lost” I’m sure, and I wouldn’t have really had any recourse except maybe spending hours on the phone stuck in automated call loop hell. Then the topper – she gave me the phone number and her personal extension to call back if I hadn’t gotten my film back in about a week. Then actually thanked me for answering my phone!
So – thank you to FujiFilm, and Tasha for the great experience! Just when you think the world has gone completely sideways, somebody restores a little bit of your faith.
Stay safe, see the world your own way.
Thanks for reading.