Jimmy was very kind in providing one such 8×11 cassette for my personal use; I have loaded it with Agfa APX 100 and it went into a Minox A/IIIs camera. I had no problems whatsoever in slipping it into the film chamber; the cassette went in like butter on bread, smooth and without no grating noises and without any resistance. We’ll see how it fares upon extricating it from within.
No labels or engraving. No fancy-schmancy “get me” message. Just clean, rugged metallic feeling. Durable chrome, brass coated. Period. Made to last. Period. All right, you get the idea…
It resembles very much the old Minox brass cassette. In fact, in looks confusingly similar, until you look very close; and then you see the major difference: durability. The old Minox cassettes were thin brass, and I have used some of them in the past. They were prone to jams and sometimes buckled during my attempts to remove from camera. This Jimmy Li cassette will not buckle; if anything, your fingernail may suffer from trying to remove from camera. But we don’t know yet if it jams; haven’t arrive at that part yet, in my review.
Heavier than the plastic one, definitely. It weighs 48 grams (coffin and cassette together), which may be a tad on the heavy side for some prospective buyers. Nonetheless, durability it’s what we are after, aren’t we? Well, if that’s we’re after, this item is virtually indestructible, in normal (more or less) condition.
Regarding the general dimensions, it is a copy carbon of its plastic counterpart (well, obviously)
From the first, the item appears and feels very solid and sturdy (nay, ETERNAL is the word). One has the feeling that such an item can outlast a Minox camera, which is no small thing, considering. It may outlast even a Minox user, I guess.
The general feeling is that this cassette means business, and that if you get 4 or 5 of these, you can safely say that you won’t need any other cassettes…ever. My opinion, anyways.
While it shows milling work onto the surface, it’s smooth and without any defects. Jimmy or the manufacturer did some sanding (light) of some of the plane surfaces, but it all blends in with the metallic aspect of the item. And to be fair, the surfaces are even and the light sanding gives that “je ne sais quoi” to the whole thing…
Have I told you it’s a bit hefty?…yes, it is. At 48 grams for the coffin and the cassette (unloaded), this shortens your options of traveling with lots of films in your bag. Not to mention the security controls in airports…imagine a situation where you have to explain the presence of 10 metallic containers in your bag. Plastic on the other hand…
But let us not loose focus on the main thing here: a replacement for 8×11 cassettes, which are becoming scarcer than hen’s teeth. A good replacement would benefit everyone in this 8×11 hobby, and supply us with an item which by the looks of it until this moment, will give the plastic cassettes a good run, for what it’s worth.
One of the things I want to check is the light trap on this cassette; it is what makes the difference between a good photo session and a ruined film, in my book. Light or (worse) scratches can deliver a heavy blow to the acceptance of this item in our community. I’ll pay attention and report as found.
So far, it would appear that Jimmy had lined half of the film well of the cassette with some sort of black fabric. Jimmy reports the fabric is actually black fiber material, we shall see how this fares against the film rubbing. I only hope he has chosen a non-abrasive type, and moreover, didn’t glued it using a hard glue (i.e. superglue or similar). This would penetrate the fabric and, upon setting, acting like a cheese grater onto the film emulsion. But the fabric is smooth on touch, not grating my fingertip when going over it.
The caps are solid, and they stay on, even on pressure. They are staying on only by pressure exerted by the cassette film wells.
The one other thing concerning the light traps: are they going to resist repeated washings ? I hope they will; it appears the cassette is perfectly washable, and being chrome with a brass coating, it will not rust (however, it can pit or oxidize, with time). Fabric staying glued on the cassette would be a heavenly thing.
Enough of this introduction; once I have the film done, I will develop and see what’s what. For your information, the cassette has been loaded with Agfa APX 100, factory issue.
End of part I – this will be continued after developing and scanning the film loaded in the cassette. After completion and publishing it here, it will be also available as a standalone download in PDF format for those of you who wish to have it.