Film Test: GAF 125 ASA
I picked up a box filled with 17 rolls of GAF 125 ASA black and white 35mm film that expired in June 1976 for $8.00 on eBay back in November of 2016. I had read that it was kept in a freezer for the majority of its life and it was a pretty low risk for me to purchase.
GAF (acronym for General Aniline & Film) was previously known as Ansco (after 1967), the famous camera manufacture. The company manufactured 35mm film, SLR cameras, viewfinder cameras, and rangefinder cameras. The company was eventually purchased in 1978 by the Hong Kong company, Haking.
I used my Canon Rebel 35mm film camera (Salvation Army $10 Special) and a Canon 50mm f1.8 EOS lens for testing. Conditions were pretty bright as it was sunny out and the majority of the environment was frozen ice so the light was reflecting off of everything. I adjusted my aperture between 500 and 700 based on brightness.
I was on a b-roll shoot with DP Mike Schneier for the show Who Do You Think You Are? and spent about twenty minutes at Gray’s Lake Park in Des Moines. I try to make it a point to have a DLSR and a film camera on every show I work on (many producers ask me to take behind the scenes photos).
Thoughts? Well I love this film. I gave three rolls away to my buddy Brent Houzenga as he has taken a recent interest in film photography. I will not be giving any more away. The details on this black and white stock are amazing with some great high contrast. The blacks themselves are a fine grain. On occasion I would adjust the aperture as I am not always 100% sure if I am going to get anything on expired film.
The 125ASA speed was interesting. In the past I have loved shooting slower film stocks as I love how creamy the blacks look. If you look at the photo with the dock that is left justified you will notice some vignette. I did speed up the aperture to something like 600 or 700. The photo of Mike adjusting his camera setup was shot at a shutter speed of 500.
The biggest joy comes from the details of the shadows. I have always found it hard to capture great shadows that can bring out the life in your photo. I prefer shooting black and white for editorial/documentary projects even though most major newspapers say no and require all photos to be color. But I like the disconnect when shooting black and white as it looks more like you have captured a moment in time and you forget you were there.