A brief appearance of the Nikon FG-20

Previously I wrote that the Nikon FG-20 is not a suitable camera for practising photography. I argued that its flawed ergonomics did not make for a pleasant shooting experience and could even be the cause of exposure mistakes. And yet I found myself pulling it out of storage, fitting it with two fresh LR44 batteries, loading a roll of expired Ferrania Solaris 100 into its back, and taking it out to the garden for more pictures of flowers.

I have to say that using the camera was not as bad as expected, perhaps because with the camera fixed on a tripod, I did not have to fiddle its controls, thus avoiding spoilt exposures from accidental changes of settings. But the experience remained underwhelming, mainly due to the small viewfinder, which makes the exposure meter difficult to read.

In retrospect, I think that I needed to be convinced of the FG-20’s shortcomings one last time before putting it away for good, given my particular fondness for its looks and its size.

The pictures from the roll are not great. I was impatient and did not allow the temperature of the chemicals to stabilise before starting the development process. I am also conscious of over-agitating the film tank and potentially causing the negative to be overly developed by doing so. The final images are more grainy than they ought to be from ISO 100 film.

Some people say that the grain gives these photos the “film look”. But a well-exposed negative actually produces very clean images – such as the one below, shot on ISO 400 film.

Several factors must be considered in judging the quality of final pictures: age of the film, age of the development chemicals, accuracy of the exposure, development process, scanning process, and editing. Given my inconsistent results from consistent use of expired film, I think it is right to blame my amateurish development process for any quality shortfall.

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