There were a lot of parcels coming and going at my house last week. Among them, a Jobo CPE-2 and my Rolleiflex returning from a service at Newton Ellis in Liverpool. Following their arrival I had the opportunity to make use of them. I took my Rolleiflex out on Wednesday to start a documentary of abandoned or unattended objects on the Somerset levels.
The camera operated as expected, once I’d worked out how to load the film (harder than I remember!) The only difficulty was making out the dim image projected onto the ground glass screen. It’s also a very difficult job to line the camera up correctly, as I am unused to operating from the hip, and with the image reversed!
I had been somewhat dispirited after my last outing with the Rolleiflex – prior to its service – so I was not expecting much from this first outing subsequently. I’m delighted to say that both Newton Ellis and the CPE-2 did an excellent job of delivering a quality negative – just the right level of density:
The CPE-2 itself took a little getting used to. The magnet had lost its hold on the agitation mechanism, and continually became dislodged. The solution was to wedge it in place with a ring of cardboard (see photo; forgive the state of my kitchen). The Jobo spirals themselves are an acquired taste; quite why they felt the need to produce them without ballbearings I do not know. I managed to load the film onto them eventually – luckily I had a spoiled film to test with. I also had to take into account that the temperature-regulated bath was about 1 degree centigrade higher than it was inside the tank itself – setting the machine to about 40 degrees seemed to do the job. I was also surprised, or perhaps I had forgotten that C41 processing is always conducted over the same timeframe, regardless of the film speed. I had become a little too accustomed to pushing and pulling with black and white!
Overall, the experience of using the CPE-2 was a great deal less stressful than maintaining the temperature with only my wits and a kettle of boiling water. I bought it because I hoped that making processing more automatic would increase the liklihood of my returning to analog; early signs are positive. Yesterday I scanned in the whole film, and you can see the results attached.
One curiosity was the discovery that some of the negs truly were 6x6cm, while some were around 5.6×5.9cm, and the gaps between the frames were also inconsistent. Anyone who can explain this phenomenon, prey do tell.