Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Meikai 4353 SSN

The Meikai 4353 SSN is one of the most commonly found of the cheap plastic cameras of the 1980's.

Pretty much as far as functionality goes this is the same camera as the Cortland CX-7 that I talked about Monday. The main difference is that at times the film advance in the Meikai is even more erratic than the Cortland.  The two images below are examples.

I kinda like the effect, however it is something unpredictable. It does seem to happen more often after the first few pictures have been taken and maybe the winder is getting tired. It gets particularly noticeable once you get past the limits of the film counter and the film advance continues to work.  

When it is not making images in slices the Meikai can make decent lo-fi images.

In its normal mode the Meikai has reliable vignetting and light leaks at the edges.

 Here is the Meikai 4353 SSN Gallery.

The name Meikai appears on one of the early cheap 35mm cameras which were trying to look like a more expensive camera.  I found some info about a Meikai EL that was first made in 1963.

Here is some interesting information on what the site's author calls Junk Cameras.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cortland CX-7 and Lost Portrait

The Cortland CX-7 is one of the many cheap plastic cameras made in the 80's and often given away as a premium.  Today they inhabit thrift shops and garage sales.  Probably you should never have to pay more that a dollar for a camera of this type.  Notice that the Cortland CX-7 has a Cortland Optical Lens rather than the Color Optical Lens.  It also appears to be one of the cameras that has some lead in it for some added weight.  I suppose it was hoped that extra weight would make the CX-7 seem like a more serious camera.

Now most cameras of this sort are not going to take pictures with much technical quality.  The main hope here is to find one that has interesting flaws. This particular CX-7 has more than a few flaws.  The first is that the film advances in an unpredictable way.  Sometimes it only takes half a frame at at time.

On occasion you will get results like this.  This feature would be more useful if it were more predictable. However if you want predictable results the Cortland CX-7 is a poor choice.

The CX-7 also will vignette most of the time.  The effect happens most frequently at what are supposed to be the smaller aperture settings.  This is most likely because the aperture starts as a round circle at f/5.6 and becomes a small slit at f/16 instead of a smaller circle.

I also have light leaks in this camera.  And instead of just softness at the edges of the image, the Cortland CX-7 tends to be soft all-over. I do believe that the Cortland CX-7 may be the most lo-fi of all the toy 35mm cameras that I have tried so far.  There are a few more images in my Cortland CX-7 Gallery.

I saw this portrait in an antique shop in Tuscola IL.

I think this portrait is interesting because of the white tie.  From what I understand of such things that is extreme formal wear. What exactly it means in the context of this portrait I don't know.  What does seem clear is that when the portrait was made that this person probably had some standing in he community, and was important to his family or to some group.  I would guess when this was made no one involved envisioned that it would end up hanging on pegboard in an antique shop.  Although this isn't a photograph it does to me fall into a similar category as lost film  An image made of someone who probably once was special to someone which has been discarded, lost, or forgotten.

Friday, February 24, 2012

M42 lens mount - Rokinon Automatic MC 1:2.8 f=24mm

Sears TLS with Rokinon Automatic MC 1:2.8 f=24mm

I don't really know much about this lens.  I got it off Ebay because it was going for less than $10.  The seller said it had some haze and at the time I was looking for some lens to take apart to see if I could clean it up.  This looked like a simple lens for a first try and I wouldn't be out much if things didn't work out.  As it turned out the haze was just due a light film on the back element that cleaned up easily with Windex. Other than the easily cleaned haze the lens seemed fine. 

Like I said I haven't been able to find anything about this specific lens.  My guess is that it is the kinda lens people aren't inclined to talk about much.  I don't think it is particularly rare as there are usually one or two for sale on Ebay.  As I am writing this there is one listed on Ebay for $25.49.  So it looks like the Rokinon 24mm doesn't get much respect.

My use of this lens has been mostly with an M42 to EOS adapter.  And to me at least it performs decently.

Wide open at f/2.8

Again at f/2.8

The actual focal length on my Canon T2i is around 38mm.

I haven't used this lens much with film.  The B&W ones in the gallery are from film.  The color images are all digital.
Rokinon Automatic MC 1:2.8 f=24mm Gallery

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

M42 lens mount - Auto Cosinon 50mm f/1.8

If you have been around photography for a while you will be familiar with the M42 lens mount.  Back when I first encountered it in the 70's it was most commonly called the Pentax mount since it was used on the prominent Pentax cameras of the 60's to the mid-70's.  M42 lenses screwed into the camera rather than use some form of bayonet mount.  The M42 mount was not owned by any one camera company so it can be found on many of the cameras made in the 60's and 70's.  Here is more info on the M42 mount if you are interested.

One great thing about the M42 mount is that there were a lot of lenses made for it.  First there was the companies who made these lenses for their own cameras, and then there were the third-party lens makers.  So today there are vast numbers of these lenses and they are mostly affordable.  Now since they were originally made to use with film cameras that may not seem like a big deal in this time of digital dominance.  However it is easy to use this vast supply of often very good quality lenses with almost any digital camera that that can use interchangeable lenses. And with the prices of these lenses still being fairly low it is easy to get a nice assortment of M42 lenses for the same amount of money that a new lens for you digital camera would cost.  At least I know that is the case with the Canon EF lenses.

So if you want to try these lenses it is easy to get started.  First you need to find an adapter that works for your camera.  There are lots of these on Ebay that usually sell somewhere between $10 and $20.  Then find a lens.  Ebay again is one good place to look.  Yard sales, thrift shops, and antique shops are another source.  

The Auto Cosinon f/1.8 50mm was one of the standard lenses offered with the Argus/Cosina STL 1000.

The Argus/Cosina STL 1000 is one of my favorite classic all mechanical SLRs. So I was interested to seen how its lens would work with a digital camera. For the most part I was pleased by the results and will let the images speak to that issue.

The lens at f/1.8

Again at 1.8

I like the way this lens handles color.

If at this point you would like to see more here is a gallery.  The Auto Cosinon f/1.8 50mm is one of the least expensive of what I think are the good quality standard M42 lenses.  They still often sell on Ebay for less than $20.  Although since people have discovered the usability of old lenses with the new digital cameras many of these lenses are seeing a rise in price. 

Monday, February 20, 2012


There aren't many choices when shooting with a Holga. There are two apertures, sunny(f/11), and cloudy(f/8), and two shutter settings, 1/100, and bulb.  There are also some some symbols that can be set for the focusing distance.  The advantage some claim for the Holga is that its simplicity allows a photographer to concentrate on just taking pictures.  The pictures the Holga takes are known for some sharpness at the center that becomes soft at the edges. Also vignetting and light leaks are considered a feature in a Holga.

I am one of those who does like what the Holga can do to an image.  I don't see myself ever using one frequently, however every few weeks I get the urge to see what results I can get.  
 I took the one above last summer holding a yellow filter over the lens.

This one is from one of the few snowfalls here this winter.  While shooting this roll I again learned the lesson of making sure that the shutter setting is on N and not B.  At least on my Holga it is easy to switch the setting to the bulb setting which results in some blurry images.  I remember checking the setting before I started to shoot, however I must have pushed it over by accident and it ruined my first 8 shots.  
You can take either 12 6X6cm images or 16 6X4.5cm images with a Holga. To do the 6X4.5cm you need to add a mask.  The first time that I used color film in the Holga I had the setting to 16 images, however I forgot the mask.  I still liked the results.  
There also is a fish-eye attachment for the Holga.  I don't care for this much and have only used it once.  
Lastly, it is fairly easy to run 35mm film through my Holga.  I can fit a regular 35 container in there and count the turns to get the spacing right.  I forget however many turns I used - so it isn't something I have a lot of enthusiasm for.  Also if you do this you need to tape up the red window and unload the film in the dark.  

So that covers my Holga experience to far.  If you are interested, a search will turn up so much information on the Holga that you could probably spend a day reading about it.  Still since a Holga is cheap probably the best way to satisfy any curiosity would be to get one and take some pictures. 

As usual there is a Gallery.

Friday, February 17, 2012

More Found Film and some World War II History

Since I found some old negatives in a box of film containers I bought a few weeks ago I have been working on doing scans to see what images they hold. The negatives are extremely curled from decades spent wound up in a film container.  It takes some patience to coax the negatives into a film holder so they lay flat enough to scan.  Until you have actually experienced it you might not believe the spring that a strip of coiled up film has.  Because of that the scanning has been slow work.  And if it wasn't that some of the images I have found are very interesting to me I would have little enthusiasm for it. 

The most recent roll that I scanned had an image that helped me better tell when it was taken and also made me feel more connected to that time. 

As I was editing this photo I noticed that there was a Blue Star Flag in the entrance of the house.  You will probably need to click for the larger size to be able to see it.  The Flag is to the left above the soldier's head.  I remember hearing about these from my grandmother, however I had never seen one.  There also is a Gold Star Flag for families who lost a member in the war.  Unfortunately my grandmother became eligible to display both flags. The Blue Star Flag is a flag that families with members in the military can display. There is one star for each family member in the service. Although this started during World War I and continues to this day it was most frequently done during during World War II. The movement to display these flags was started by the Blue Star Mothers of America. This group first organized in March of 1942.  So my speculation is that while it is possible that a Blue Star Flag might be displayed at a later date it is most likely that it was displayed during WWII.  So that would date this picture from somewhere between 1942 and 1945.  The climbing rose in the picture may indicate that the picture was taken in early summer probably June.  At least that is when most of the climbing roses grown at that time tended to bloom.

The Badge on his shoulder appears to be for the Army Air Forces.  The Army Air Forces existed from 1942 until 1947.  So this again points to the likelihood that this picture was taken between 1942 and 1945.  At least that is my best educated guess and I could well be off.  if someone has better information I would be glad to hear it.  I imagine that someone who is familiar with the uniforms of the time could also tell about the wings on the shirt and the meaning of the hat badge. 

Lastly, there is this photo from some that I had uploaded earlier.  While this man resembles the man in the earlier photos, he does look older to me.  I am wondering if this is a brother represented in the other blue star? Although the service ribbons that aren't present in the other pictures could just mean this is a later picture of the same man after the experience of war had aged him more quickly than I would have expected to occur within the likely time frame for these pictures. 

Hopefully one day I may be able to find out more about these pictures instead of speculating about them.  To me it is a wonder that these negatives have survived for around 70 years.  I wonder how many of our digital photos will still be around in that many years.  One difference with these negatives and film found in cameras is that I am pretty sure that the people in these pictures saw and may still have prints made from these negatives.  In most of the film containers there is a little piece of paper with negative numbers that indicates a certain number of prints were made.

The entire gallery is here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Images from Yashica Samurai

I wanted to test the Samurai that I got recently to make sure that it worked while I was within the time range to return it.  The weather here hasn't been ideal for taking pictures, however I did manage to run some Arista.Edu 400 through it.  The camera was surprisingly easy to use once I got used to it.  The viewfinder is fairly large and bright.  And being an SLR the view though the viewfinder is pretty much what you will get in the image.  It is easy to adjust the zoom and shot the picture without taking your eye off the viewfinder.  The auto-focus is pretty fast.  Overall the I found the Samurai to be pleasant to use.  The pictures also satisfied me at least.  Here is the gallery

For anyone that is interested I plan to make posts on Monday,Wednesday, and Friday from now on.  I wanted to start off posting daily to help me get a feel for doing a blog.  Now that I have done a few posts three days a week seems like the best fit for me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Is this the Last Camera I Will Buy?

Yashica Samurai 4.0

The Yashica Samurai may be one of the oddest looking still cameras ever made.  Apparently it was trying to improve on usability by adopting the design of the compact video cameras of the late 80's.  The camera is a fully automatic SLR.  The main attraction of this camera for me is that it is a half-frame.  For no rational reason I have some attraction to that format. I also tend to like things associated with Yashica.  So while it may be hard to anyone with good taste to understand this camera was on my list. 

There seem to be a lot of Samurai 3.0 listed on Ebay.  Still when I watch an  auction they end up being more than I want to pay.  However last week there was a listing for a Samurai 4.0 for a reasonable price.  And I actually preferred to get the 4.0 because while being larger that the 3.0, it has a larger zoom.  So I entered a bid for the most I would pay expecting that I would be outbid.  So I was surprised when I did win the camera.  I received the camera Friday and it appears to be in great shape and has a working battery.  I ran some film through it over the weekend that I will develop soon.

Still the Samurai was the last on the list of cameras that I felt the urge to get.  At least the last that I could reasonably afford. So for now my G.A.S.( Gadget Acquisition Syndrome) may be in remission. Now if I happen to be somewhere and see something nice for a bargain price it might be a different story.

More about the Yashica Samurai 4.0

Friday, February 10, 2012


Before when I had made a panorama I would put the camera on a tripod, take multiple overlapping images, and then stitch them together in Photoshop.  I very seldom wanted to go to that amount of trouble.  Now I have a Sony camera which takes and puts together the panorama all in one shot.  So I have been experimenting with panoramas more than I once was inclined to.  For me I still haven't sorted out the novelty from the potential for creative expression.  Here are a few images I made yesterday. 

View from the front of the Courier Cafe in Urbana, IL.

Valentine display at Schnuck's in Savoy IL.

Outside Urbana Free Library.

Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana IL.  Converted to B&W.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Winter Garden

I have been finding that my photography has been naturally finding its own themes.  The past few months I have been often drawn to the effect that the winter sun, low in the sky, has on the garden landscape. Not much of a post today other than just to point to a gallery with some of what I have seen so far.
Winter Garden

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Useful Photoshop Plugin and More Found Film

At least a couple of my goals with this blog are to give some information that is useful or at least interesting. For useful this morning I am thinking of Nik's Viveza plugin for Photoshop.  Viveza lets me with a click add control points to an image that will adjust things like contrast, brightness, saturation, and so on. In the example below I wanted to get the cat ornament to stand out more from the background.

The one on the left is the before picture.  In the picture on the right I used control points to darken some of the background while leaving the ornament alone.  I also was able to make some adjustments to the ornament without effecting the background.  In the past the main option for making non-global changes like this would be by using selections. And that can be a difficult process.  With Viveza such changes are pretty quick and easy.

I'm not sure if this is the most impressive example of Viveza's capabilities, however it was something I did today that bought Viveza to mind.  I would rate Viveza as one of the most useful plugins for Photoshop.  If you have not heard of it it is worth checking out.

In another development I uploaded a few more images from the negatives that I wrote about finding earlier.

Looks like a visit from a son in the military.
Found Negatives Gallery

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Official Girl Scout Camera

The Herbert George Company made the Official Girl Scout Camera in the 1950's.  I don't know if anyone made an unofficial version. The OGSC is pretty much the same as the Herco Imperial with the exception of the faceplate.  The camera is a simple box type which uses 620 film to make 12 2 1/4 X 2 1/4 images.  There is one shutter speed probably somewhere between 1/30 and 1/60.  The aperture appears to be around f/11.  There are a couple of holes on top of the camera to hold a flash attachment. 

I used some Arista.Edu 100 with the Official Girl Scout Camera to make the gallery below.  I think most of the scratches are from where I used an Bower X camera to wind 120 film onto a 620 spool.  I remember when I was doing the rewinding thinking this is so easy I wonder why I hadn't used this method before.  When I saw the scratches I remembered that I had used that method before.  Hopefully next time I will remember to use a camera that doesn't enjoy scratching film so much.
Official Girl Scout Camera Gallery

Monday, February 6, 2012

Found Film Negatives from the 1940's & 1950's

Image from some of the found negatives.

Saturday I visited a couple of antique shops in St Joseph IL looking for camera stuff.  Didn't find much until I came to a bookshelf piled down with cameras and assorted film items.  Upon a closer look most of the stuff was broken or dirty and priced like the dealer thought his stuff was mint.  The only thing I ended up getting was a box with some old film containers and a 1951 issue of Popular Photography. 

The box with the film containers was wrapped in plastic so I didn't check it out much until I got home.  Once I took a closer look I found that the containers each held at least one roll of developed film.  There also were some rolled-up 35mm film loose in the box.  I also found a few black & white slides which were mostly unmounted. Overall there are probably enough developed film to make a few hundred images.  In the past I have found underdeveloped film in cameras, however this is the first time that I have come across discarded developed film.

Mostly the film is in fair shape.  It has some dust and scratches and some deterioration, however most should be able to give a usable image.  I don't know if these were made by one photographer or by several, or who the people in the images are.  The results I have gotten so far are mostly family type pictures from what I am guessing is the late 40's or 50's. Hopefully, I can get some information about the source of these pictures from the dealer that sold the negatives.  Scanning the negatives looks like it will be a slow process since they have a lot of curling and therefore require some effort to place into the negative holder.  So far I have just scanned a few strips.  A few of the images that were the most interesting to me are in the gallery below.  As I do more of the images and maybe find out more about the source  I will share the results and information with you.
Found Negatives Gallery

Friday, February 3, 2012

Upset Stomach Prevents a Profound Post Today

During the night my stomach was bending me to its will in various unpleasant ways.  I feel better now, however I am low in energy so my plan to reflect on why I decided to do a blog will be put off to another day. Instead I think it is a good day to share a couple of things I have come across in the way of images.

The first is a collection of digital images that the Villa Grove Public library has listed.  Actually the library is called the Camargo Township Library, however I call it Villa Grove because it is in Villa Grove Illinois.  Villa Grove was for a site of maintenance of Steam Engines for the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad. When the age of steam died out in the 1950's the shops in Villa Grove were closed. Some ruins still remain of the roundhouse and a few shop buildings.  The wonderful thing about the images in the Camargo Township collection is that they show the time when the shops were thriving.

Man holding flowers in the C&EI shops. I wish I knew the story behind this image.

I took the image above from the collection and cleaned it up and enhanced it some back when I was learning more about Photoshop.  I was particularly interested in the railroad images because my grandfather worked for the C&EI most of his life.  There also are images for local people, for something called the Pancake Festival, and for reunions of the Villa Grove High School classes.
Digital Images at the Camargo Township Library

I think the Camargo Township Library and its volunteers should be commended for making the effort to put these resources online.

One of my favorite sets of images on Flickr is from Flickr user GaleChicago . The images are from a road trip that she made in 1975 through central Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.  They were taken with a Minolta SRT 101 on Tri-X.  I feel they are wonderfully evocative of the time.  Also the set contains the only photos that I know of for the departed Philo Illinois Dog & Suds.  Viewing these photos was partially an inspiration for me to do B&W film again.
Small Towns, 1975

Gale is also responsible for saving the sign for the Chuck Wagon Diner formerly in Champaign Illinois, now in Princetown, New York.
Chuck Wagon Sign Leaving Chicago For New York

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Minolta Hi-matic 7SII

So far the Minolta Hi-matic 7SII has been my best find in an antique shop.  I got it for $10 last fall.  The camera is in excellent condition and came with a case and flash in the same condition.  I didn't know much about this camera when I saw it, however its condition and obvious quality told me it was worth the $10.  A funny thing is that in the same group of cameras there was a fairly common SLR that looked like it had had its hot shoe pulled off with a pair of pliers. The asking price for that camera was $25.  All I can figure is that the dealer was pricing the cameras by size. 

The Minolta Hi-matic 7SII is a compact and light-weight rangefinder with a sharp 40mm f/1.7 Rokkor lens.  It has a very quiet mechanical copal shutter with speeds from 1/8 to 1/500 and B. The rangefinder on mine is bright and easy to see.  I started out in photography at the time when SLRs were taking over from rangefinders.  I had never actually used a rangefinder until a year or so ago.  Back in the old days my eyesight was much sharper than today and focusing an SLR was easy.  Now with my decreased eyesight I often find the rangefinder easier to focus.  

The Minolta Hi-matic 7SII uses a CdS cell that was originally powered by a 1.35v mercury battery.  Since these batteries are now banned you will have to work out a substitute like one of the Wein Cells. Without the battery the camera will still work fine in manual mode.  With the battery you have the option of using shutter priority auto-exposure.  So far I have been using the camera in manual mode and a hand-held meter, however I just got a battery and plan to test out the auto-exposure soon.  I imagine that in auto-exposure mode that this light weight quiet camera will be very good for things like street photography.  

I have been well-satisfied with the results I have had with this camera and it is definitely a keeper.  In fact it is a camera that I think I would enjoy even if it didn't work just because I like the way it looks.  The B&W photos in the gallery below are Legacy Pro 100.  Fuji 800 is the color film. 
Minolta Hi-matic 7SII Gallery

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Camera Older than Me and Newer Camera

I am getting to an age where I see items that once were a familiar part of my daily life selling in antique shops.  So it is nice to find there are still some collectable things older than me. The camera older than me is an Agfa Sillette. The Sillette was made starting in 1955.  It is a range focusing camera with shutter speeds from 1/25 to 1/200. It also has a B setting. The lens on mine is an Apotar 1:3,5, 45mm. Other versions have an Agnar lens.  These sold for around $40 back in the 1950's.  And considering how many I see on places like Ebay they must have sold a lot of them.  I haven't gotten around to taking a photo of mine yet, however you can see what one looks like here.

The Sillette is a solidly made camera that fits well in my hands.  It also appears to be a good picture taker.  I think the shortcomings in some of the images in the gallery below are more from the photographer than the camera.  I think that if I were to work with this camera more it could produce some excellent images. That being so, here is what I done so far.
Agfa Sillette Gallery

The newer camera is a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7.  It came out in 2010. Since newer versions have come out I got this one for a much reduced price.  What I wanted it for was for a digital camera that was easy to carry around and also could take quality images. So far I have been very satisfied with it.

I took Simon for his shots yesterday. I do think the 25mm lens makes the vet assistant look a little heavier than she is.

One of my favorite features of this camera is iSweep Panorama.  Here you can make a panorama in one go just by picking a starting point and moving the camera across the area you'd like in the panorama.  The images are stitched together in the camera.