Expired Ferrania Solaris 200 and a Canon 7 Rangefinder | Colton Allen

Rather than writing a review of either the camera or the film, I thought I would just write a bit about my experiences using my Canon 7 and this particular roll of Ferrania Solaris 200.

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I acquired my Canon 7 earlier this year, and it has since become one of my favorite and most used cameras. The Model 7 (its official designation) was introduced in 1961 as Canon's flagship rangefinder camera. It features a built in Selenium powered light meter, a superb combined viewfinder/rangefinder with user selectable, parallax correcting frame lines for 35mm, 50mm, 85mm 100mm, and 135mm focal lengths, a stainless steel shutter, and a L39 Leica Thread Mount. It is one of the most advanced Leica thread mount cameras ever made, and one of very few cameras made with the special outer bayonet mount made for Canon's legendary 50mm f/0.95 lens. Canon built a ton of them, and they aren't particularly sought after, so nowadays they are plentiful and inexpensive. In my opinion the Canon 7 is one of the best bargains there is in 35mm rangefinder cameras. By now most of the Selenium meters don't work, and the shutter curtains are prone to wrinkle (for the most part, wrinkles in the shutter aren't a problem), but they are very well built cameras, that are very easy to use.

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I bought my Canon 7 on ebay for about $130 shipped from Japan. I would say it's in excellent condition. The chrome has a few minor marks but otherwise it's immaculate. The light meter is dead, but I knew that when I bought it. I taped over the meter cell with black gaffer's tape because I think it looks cool. So far I have shot 9 rolls of film (that's a lot for me) with my Canon 7, and 2 of those rolls I used to publish 2 editions of my photozine Twenty One of 35. For the most the camera has worked flawlessly. When the camera arrived, the Advance/Rewind collar (around the shutter button)  was loose which was odd, but I snugged up the set screws and it hasn't been an issue.  I have mainly used 5 different LTM lenses, 3 of them are old Soviet made lenses, a Voigtlander 35mm, and most recently a fairly uncommon Canon 50mm f/2.2. For this roll I mainly used the Canon 50mm, but I also used a Soviet FED 50/3.5 collapsible that was made sometime before WWII.

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Ferrania Color film is one of my favorite films, but it hasn't been made for over 10 years, so it's difficult to find and when you do find it, it is expired. Shooting expired film can be very hit or miss. Sometimes it's great, and other times you wonder why you even bother. This particular roll I bought on ebay over a year ago. It was one of two rolls from the same listing. I shot the other roll last year, so I have a vague idea how it should come out. That roll was shot using a very good autoexposure P&S though, while this roll was shot using a meterless camera and Sunny 16. I know from the first roll that shooting it at 200 left the shadows pretty muddy looking. I thought about just exposing this roll at 100 but I also know that overexposing Ferrania tends to make it look really flat and you lose those luscious Ferrania colors. In the end I decided to wing it and use either 100ish or 200ish depending on conditions. You can only be somewhat accurate using Sunny 16 anyway.

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I shot the roll over the course of 3  weeks, mostly around town. I keep my camera with me whenever I go out. I can't actually hold a camera and shoot because of my health, so the entire roll was shot with someone helping me holding the camera up to my eye and following my instructions. It is a slow process and doesn't always work perfectly, but my helpers are usually very patient and we usually get the photos I want. I got 26 frames on the roll, and only one photo I took twice because I wasn't sure we got the first one right.

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Overall I'm quite happy with how the roll turned out. Once again the Canon 7 worked flawlessly. The 1930s Soviet FED 50mm has some focusing issues, and being an uncoated lens it is very low contrast, but it actually delivered a few of my favorite images from the roll. The film isn't as good as the fresh Ferrania Color that I've used in the past, but it still has that special Ferrania look. Time to go check ebay for some more...

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Film photographer Colton Allen lives in Talent, Oregon. You can see more of his work on his website, Flickr or follow him on Instagram.