Q. I recently purchased several rolls of Fujichrome film with processing included from a company that advertises in one of the photography magazines. Imagine my surprise to find that they had to be sent to Duesseldorf, Germany, for processing. I sent one roll as directed and found it to be completely unsatisfactory. In addition to the added expense for mailing, the processed film came back in strips, unmounted. Are there any Fuji processing labs in the United States, and would they process my film with the Duesseldorf processing envelope if I re-addressed it?
A. There are Fuji processing labs in America, but they will not take that Duesseldorf processing envelope. You have been dealing with what is called the "gray market." It's not illegal but causes problems. A film supplier can buy film at a great price by watching the international financial exchanges and moving on the best exchange rate. The manufacturer can't be held responsible for the handling or shipping of this material or the conditions under which it's stored. In fact, they won't be held responsible for anything to do with it.
When you buy film, make sure it says "Made for USA" on the box. I suggest you bite the bullet and have the film developed by a local commercial lab.
Q. I have a single-lens reflex camera with a 35-70mm zoom. I keep an ultraviolet filter on the lens at all times. My problem is that I keep misplacing my lens cap. I'm now using the third one, having lost the first two. How do you keep from losing your lens cap?
A. I try to take the cap off with my right hand and put it into my right pocket, but this is at best chancy. There are a couple of ways to attach your lens cap to the camera: Drill a tiny hole in the center of your cap, insert some heavy-duty fishing line into it, tie a knot so it won't slip back through and cover the knot with some clear epoxy. Leave about three inches of line and tie it into the strap ring of your camera.
Another way to go is pick up some Velcro strips at the hardware store. Place a strip on the inside top of your camera bag and a matching piece in the back of your lens cap. When you remove the cap, just press it onto the strip in the bag.
There is a commercial product called Fast Cap that I like. It screws onto your lens and when you want to take a picture, the lens cover flips up out of the way. It snaps back down again when you're done. It's very effective and only costs about $7.
I'M ALWAYS glad to hear of manufacturers' efforts to make photography environmentally safe. The latest is the announcement by Konica Corp. of the immediate availability of a revolutionary new formaldehyde-free color negative super-stabilizer that maintains complete dye stability on all current brands of color print film.
Called Formaldefree, the new product totally eliminates the use of formaldehyde, a key ingredient in color film processing, which has come under increasing scrutiny by health agencies as being both a carcinogen and an otherwise harmful agent that can cause health problems for workers exposed to the gas.
For the time being, Formaldefree will be supplied only to commercial processors, but a product this important I hope will eventually be available to individual consumers.
Write Carl Kramer c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.