Monday, July 25, 2016

Sears TLS

Sure has been a while since I last posted. Yesterday I saw an entry in the 1966 Sears catalog for one of my favorites of the all mechanical SLRs . The camera is the Sears TLS. I wrote about it a few years ago. The $197 price would be equal to $1465 today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Yashica 72-E

A while back I signed up to be notified when certain cameras were offered on Ebay. Now, I haven't bought any cameras off Ebay for a while, however I didn't delete the notifications. One notification I kept was for "Yashica half-frame". Occasionally I still check the notifications out, however I seldom see anything that tempts me. Still when I saw one for a "buy-it-now" for a Yashica 72-E at $12 with free shipping I couldn't pass it up. I think I got a good deal. The camera came in decent cosmetic shape and is fully functioning. Even the selenium meter is working and appears to still be accurate.

Made 1962 the Yashica 72-E was one of many cameras introduced during the 1960's half-frame craze. The idea was to get more pictures on a roll of film back when film, especially color, was seen as expensive. Today I think the appeal of a half-frame is the diptych photos they yield. At least it is for me.

The Yashica 72-E is a fairly simple camera. The shutter speeds go from 1/8 to 1/250. The Yashinon lens stops down to 2.8. The selenium meter will do film speeds from ISO 100-400. One place where the Yashica has other cameras of its type beat is that if the meter fails it still can be used manually. The meter is on top of the camera and gives a reading in EV numbers. To set the exposure you turn a ring on the lens to the number provided by the meter. I compared what exposure setting the built-in meter gave with my hand-held meter and they were accurate. Kinda amazing that this meter should still be working so well after over 50 years.

So far I haven't finished the film that I put into the Yashica 72-E. From past experiences with Yashica and from photos I have seen online I would expect the results to be good. I think the Yashica 72-E certainly compares well with the more popular Olympus half-frames from the same era.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Motorola C2W

The Motorola C2W was made in 1959 at the Motorola Plant in Schaumburg IL. I bought it last week at the yearly Farm Bureau sale for $2. It is in very good condition with the radio and clock working as they should. In the last year or so I have found I have a liking for portable and clock radios from the late 50's to the early 70's. I especially like the last of the tube radios. I don't think I have a lot of competition since I seem to make quite a few good finds which cost very little. Like cameras these radios were once a part of somebodies life. Possibly the Motorola C2W was the first thing that some one heard every morning for many years. The styling and technology of these radios speaks of the tastes and the state of the art of of past years as few things can.  

Being a tube radio the C2W takes a moment to warm up. Now I spent several years of my youth when you had to wait for almost all electronics to warm up. That is because of the use of vacuum tubes.  I even remember once transistors made it possible to avoid this warm up that "instant on" became a big selling point.  Anyway I was pleased that the C2W seems to be working like new. Quite often the tube radios of this vintage have some problem like worn out capacitors. Still I have to admit that I don't really listen to the radio all that much these days. Mostly I just like the way these radios look so I am not much concerned if they work perfectly.

Here is the info for the Motorola C2W at the the Radio Museum

Friday, August 21, 2015

Station 144+27 Bridge

I call this bridge Station 144+27 because that is what it says on a plaque on the bridge. The same plaque also says it was built in 1932. Bridges of this sort were once common in this part of central Illinois. Now almost all have been replaced. The lighter section of the road on the right is an eight foot wide concrete pavement that was probably built around the same time as the bridge. This was a common pavement choice in rural areas when they were first putting in hard roads. Such an arrangement meant that one vehicle would need to yield and get onto the soft part of the road when they met head on. At first the lane to yield on was just dirt or sometimes gravel. Later on that side was paved with asphalt as can be seen on the left side of the photo.

Fairland is the name of the town that the road over the Station 144+27 bridge leads to. The building above is all that is left of Fairland's business district. While I don't think the business district here was ever large, I do seem to remember that there once were a few more buildings in this area. I remember a few years ago I was talking to a guy who worked for the C&EI railroad and he said that he once worked as a station agent in Fairland in the 1950's. So there once must have been a fair amount of business in Fairland to have justified a full-time station agent.

There is a small park across from the brick building. Across the street from the park I saw this old church. I would imagine this church was once an important place in Fairland. Today it doesn't look like there are many more than 100 people living in Fairland. Fairland is located in the northeastern part of Douglas County IL. Probably most of the people who live there work in nearby towns. Fairland would certainly be a ghost town if it had to depend on local jobs. One thing that is striking to me is that for many years the people who lived in small towns like Fairland also had some kinda job right in town. Until there were good roads and cars people didn't commute much to other towns for a job. I imagine that towns like Fairland will keep going on for as long as transportation by car remains affordable.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Hard Road

Since I am running out of inspiration to make enough posts about film cameras to keep this blog going I have decided to expand my subject to a wider range of vintage topics.

Back in 1923 voters in Champaign County Illinois approved a the selling of $2.5 million in bonds to build hard roads. The right-hand lane of the road above is one of the few remaining sections of the original pavement. Back then the idea was to connect all the towns of Champaign County with a nine foot wide concrete pavement. In all 173 miles of such roads were built in Champaign County between 1924 and 1928.  The pavement shown above is the last mile of a ten mile segment that connected Bongard Station to Pesotum.

The map is from some promotional info sent out to explain the bond issue. The red dots mark the section of the pavement that still exists. Bongard Station on the east end of the pavement never became a town. To this day the only thing there is a grain elevator. Pesotum on the other end also began as a station to gather products from local farmers for shipment on the Illinois Central. Today Pesotum is a town with a few hundred residents. Pesotum has managed to keep its depot in good shape.

The reason for only making one concrete lane was that they would get more road for the money. If you occasionally had to pull off to let another car by it would be made up for by being able to make most of your trip "out of the mud".
Today it is hard for most of us to understand how the phrase "getting out of the mud" could have so much appeal. We take for granted being able to travel on roads that are passable almost all the time. However before hard pavement travel could be almost impossible when roads were deep in mud.  And as the vote on the bond issue proved "getting out of the mud" was a popular idea. Not that there wasn't some opposition. Many farmers still used horses and the hard pavement was more difficult for horses. Also many small town merchants believed that they would lose business as people used the new roads to travel to larger towns.The section of road at Pesotum was connected to the larger road network by the new state route 45. And it is true that many people began to use that road to travel more frequently to the larger cities of Champaign and Urbana.

The pavement here is the way I remember the entire road being when I first saw it in the 1960's. By that time an asphalt lane had been added. Still people tended to drive on the concrete lane and would only use the asphalt lane when they had to yield.  The road was still called the "hard road" although by that time almost every road around had a hard surface.

The pavement has held up pretty well considering that it is now 90 years old. The rest of the section was rebuilt into a two-lane highway during the mid-1980's. To my knowledge this short section by Pesotum may be the last segment of the original hard road project in Champaign County that still exists. Up until the 1980's roads like this were still fairly common, however all of the ones that I knew of have since been replaced. Still Champaign County got nearly 60 years of useful pavement out of its investment. And this short segment by Pesotum is still doing well.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time to get your Argus out

Winter and spring are now trading days here in the North. Coats still hang near the door, however soon they will not be needed. Once people in the north headed outdoors for the warm weather and didn't come back inside much until the weather got cold again. Back in the 1930's during winter a warm house and entertainment from the young days of radio was popular. Radios sold well. In summer radios often sat quiet in the hot house and no one was buying a new radio. Now that was a problem for the International Radio Corporation of Ann Arbor MI.  During the cold months there were lots of radios to make and everyone was working and making money. But not in the summer. Now cameras were something people used in the summer so IRC decided to make one. The result, the Argus A, became one of the most popular cameras of the time. IRC changed it's name to Argus Corporation and stopped making radios. The next camera in the line, the C3 became the most successful camera of all time. And all this happened as a result of the seasonable habits and inventiveness of the people of the great industrial north.

Today neither the North nor the seasons have the influence they once did. Argus now exists in Ann Arbor as a museum. Fortunately, today many Argus cameras remain ready to take pictures. So with the warm weather returning to the north the time is right to get an Argus and head outdoors.

The images here were taken with an Argus C4.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rokinon Automatic MC 1:2.8 f=24mm

A while back the external hard drive that I had a lot of my older negative scans stopped working.  Unfortunately, I hadn't gotten around to backing it up. I figured it was just a problem with the case and that the drive was probably okay. Anyway it took me a while to get around to taking the case apart and putting the drive in another case. Fortunately once I did I was able to see the drive again. And this time I backed the files up immediately. Anyway now I have access to some stuff that I hadn't written about before and some images I am revisiting.

I did write about the Rokinon 24mm three years ago.  At the time I had mostly used it on my digital camera. Since then I have used it a few times with film. I found it to be a good performer. Especially for a lens of this focal length that is usually fairly cheap. I remember I got this one for under $10 because the seller said there was a problem with haze. It turned out the haze was just some film from cigarette smoke that was easily cleaned. Even in good condition this lens was selling for around $20 to $30 on Ebay a few years ago. However I did look at recent sales on Ebay and it was selling for between $50 and $77. Not sure what the reason for the increase is other than people are using it on digital. And it does do well on digital where the crop factor can eliminate the edge problems that this lens can have.

So here are some images from the Rokinon 24mm. The B&W are on Legacy Pro 100. The color are Fuji 200. The last image of the Cinema Theater in Urbana IL, is where the late movie critic, Roger Ebert, watched movies when he was growing up. It was called The Princess Theater then. I also made a gallery a while back which mostly has digital images made using and M42 adapter.