Monday, April 30, 2012

Kentmere 400

I have been looking for a cheap black & white film to replace the Legacy Pro films which are no longer available.  I'd like to find something that works well with Rodinal or HC-110 since I like those one-shot developers.  I just tried my first roll of Kentmere 400 and I think it has potential.  I used HC-110 dilution B at 68 for 7 minutes. 

I'm pretty pleased with the results from this first roll.  If I get similar results from the next roll this may be my new day-to-day B&W film.  I took the pictures with a Yashica Electro GSN. 

Kentmere is owned by the company that makes Ilford films.  There has been much speculation about what the source of this film is, however Ilford says it is a new emulsion and not a rebranded version of one of their existing films. Whatever the source it is one of the less expensive films out there.  Right now it is selling for a little less than $30 for a 100 feet at B&H. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Argus CR-1

Probably made in 1975 by Chinon. It was distributed in the US by what was left of the Argus company.

I think I have said before that I have a soft spot for cameras with the name of Argus.  I also have a fondness for the classic mechanical slr.  So it is only natural that I should have this camera.  The Argus CR-1 was not effected by the tendency in the mid-seventies for an slr become smaller and lighter. It may be the heaviest slr that I have. The shutter goes from 1 to 1/1000 along with the B setting.  The viewfinder is reasonably bright. The real surprise in this camera is in the standard Auto Cintar 1:2.0 lens.  It is  quite sharp and contrasty.  Probably is was made by Chinon, however I have seen speculation that it was made by some other company like Tomioka. Whatever the source to me it is one of the better M42 lenses.

I am running short on time for blogging today so I'll leave with the Argus CR-1 Gallery.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blue Deluxe, Kodak S 100 EF, and Vivitar Champion II

No idea who made this camera other than it was made in China.  I got it because I had not seen this design before.  A single shutter speed and aperture camera.

Despite the urgings of my higher self I have developed an affection for the cheap plastic point & shoots of the 1980's and 90's. So a camera like the Blue Deluxe is hard for me to resist.  As its color would suggest, with its 1/125 shutter speed and f/11 aperture, the Blue Deluxe is a camera for sunny days and blue skies.

Many cameras of this sort have the defect of occasionally taking a technically decent image. The Blue Deluxe seems to be free of that defect.

The viewfinder is a problem in this camera.  When originally framed only the door and a small area around it was shown in the viewfinder.  Obviously the camera is taking in a much larger area.

I felt an unexplainable affection for this Kodak S 100 EF when I first saw it at an antique shop this weekend. The only thing I can think of is that it is a reincarnation of a camera that I knew in a previous lifetime. 

The Kodak S 100 EF is a little more advanced than the Blue Deluxe.  It has three apertures and a flash.  It can work without batteries.  Two AA batteries are only needed for the flash to work.  The lens is a doublet.  The camera originally sold for 59.95 and was out from 1989 to 1993. 

The Kodak S 100 EF appears capable of taking images superior to those of the Blue Deluxe - at least from a technical viewpoint.

I don't know much about the Vivitar CHAMPION II.  It appears to have only one aperture and one shutter speed.  These will work without the battery which is needed only for the flash.

I imagine that it would be a challenge to collect all the Vivitar cameras of this type.  Just making a list of all the ones that were made would be a major feat.  The Vivitar CHAMPION II is one of the rare cameras that I was unable to find example pictures for on Flickr. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Holga lens for digital cameras.

The Holga is a cheap plastic film camera that has been made in China since the early 1980's.  The Holga is valued for the dreamy, and somewhat unpredictable images it makes. I have a film Holga and do enjoy using it.  So when I saw that there was an inexpensive Holga lens availiable for Canon digital I had to try it out.

The Holga HL-C is a Holga lens with an adapter for mounting it on your Canon digital camera.                                           
The lens is the same as the film Holga with the exception of the aperture. The aperture on Holga HL-C is made of one center hole surrounded by a ring as smaller holes.

Not the best image, however this is what the aperture looks like.

The ring of holes is there to produce vignetting. The vignetting effect is supposed to work best with a fullframe sensor.  With the APS-C sensor that I use vignetting is inconsistent.  Still even with the APS sensor the Holga HL-C does produce increased softness to the edges and gives images an often lovely diffused glow.

I think the main issue with the Holga HL-C is that due to the small aperture it is difficult to see much through the viewfinder.  I do believe that the effective aperture for this lens is much smaller than f8.  I usually need to use an ISO of 800 even in fairly bright light to get an effective hand-held shutter speed.  Still with practice it is possible to get some nice images with this lens.  One time when I very much like to use this lens is when there is harsh sunlight of the type that we get here in Illinois at mid-day.  The Holga HL-C is effective in diffusing the harsh sunlight and giving a soft glow to bright light.

In actual practice I use the Holga HL-C most often with a fish-eye attachment that I had for use with the film Holga.  Due to the smaller sensor size there is no fish-eye effect, however there is a slight curvature that I like.  Also the wider angle increases vignetting. 

The main thing that I miss with the Holga HL-C when compared to the film Holga is the square format of the film Holga.  However I tend to think that it might be most useful to not compare the two and to learn to use the Holga HL-C as a thing of its own and not as a digital subsitute for a Holga. The Holga HL-C for Canon is usually sold for between $25 and $30. I believe I got mine from HolgaDirect. There also are versions of the Holga lens for Nikon, Pentax and Sony.

Most of the images in the first gallery were taken with the fish-eye attachment.

Holga HL-C Image Gallery

My Flickr set for this lens.
Holga HL-C Set

Friday, April 20, 2012

Popular Photography on Google, Vivitar 24mm lens

From a January 1981 ad in Popular Photography.  Frank's was a hot place for photographers in its glory days. 

I remember the ads for Frank's used to catch my eye.  I think is was because it was the only camera store ad that had pictures of the people that worked there. I wondered if they were still in business and found that they may still be hanging on. They didn't make a transition to digital and appear to be going on with business by selling off their remaining inventory from film days while trying to find a buyer for their store building. I found a mention of the store in a Yelp review from 2010, so they were still open at that time.  They still have a website.
Frank's Highland Park Camera
It looks like the winding down process  has been going on for a while.  Here is a thread from 2005 discussing Frank's.
Good Bye Camera Landmark - Franks' Camera in LA

I made the photo for Frank's ad from an issue of Popular Photography that I found in Google Books.  There are issues there from the 1980's, 1990's, and the 2000's. The issues are searchable and obviously are a useful resource for anyone interested in cameras from that time period.  I hope that some earlier issues become available. 
Issues of Popular Photography on Google Books

Yesterday I developed some test images I took with a Vivitar 24mm 1:2.8 Auto Wide-Angle PK mount lens. I wasn't seeking out this lens, however when I was checking out Sears camera stuff on Ebay I saw this lens offered along with a KS Super camera, a Sears 135 lens, and the standard Sears 50mm 2.0 lens, for a very cheap price.  I won the auction for $14.  I figured it was a good deal since I could probably sell the Vivitar or the Sears 135 for more than that if they were in good shape.  When I got the stuff it was all in good shape.  The Vivitar had front and back caps and the Sears had caps and a carrying case.  There also were a few filters and a nice camera bag.  So I felt like I got my money's worth.

So far I have one picture to offer from the Vivitar.  It is pleasing to me at least. The film is Arista Premium 400 developed in HC-110 for 6 minutes at 68.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vivitar Big View BV35

Lens: 35mm f/5.6
- Motorized film transport.
- Over-sized viewfinder.
- Auto flash-on and off for easy flash operation.
- Motorized film loading, advance and rewind.
Produced: 1996

Seems like there are hundreds of various point & shoot film cameras with the Vivitar name from the 1980's, 1990's, and the first part of the 2000's. I got this one along with three rolls of slightly expired Kodak Ultramax 400 at a church sale for $1.00.  I was more glad to get the film than the camera.  Still I did run some Arista Premium 400 through it.  I do like the big viewfinder.  While it is not quite as large as the view in a slr it is much larger and brighter than in most cameras of this type.  Also it seems pretty accurate in showing what will actually be in the picture.

The picture quality while not being anything to rave about is certainly acceptable.

I wonder how many times I have photographed this shed when testing cameras?

By the standard of being an inexpensive camera by which someone who knew little about photography could take decent photos the Vivitar Big View BV35 does pretty well.  By today's standards it seems to fall into that vast middle-ground between a camera capable of outstanding results and a camera with some quirk that makes them valued by lomo enthusiasts.

Vivitar Big View BV35 Gallery

Monday, April 16, 2012

Imperial Reflex Duo Lens 620

The Imperial Reflex Duo Lens 620 is a pseudo-TLR from the late 1950's or early 1960's. It has one shutter speed, which is probably something like 1/60, and is fixed-focused. The camera was made by the Herbert George Co. of Chicago Illinois.

I imagine the Imperial Reflex would be more popular in lo-fi circles if it didn't require one to spool 120 film onto a 620 spool, or else to buy expensive film where someone else has done the spooling. At least for me this camera is one of the most satisfying of the lo-fi cameras that I have used.  It seems to have a nice amount of vignetting and softness in the right places.

There also are occassional surprises.

The Imperial Reflex Duo Lens 620 does have a bright viewfinder and this has made it a camera that many use for TTV(through the viewfinder) images. 

The most famous thing associated with this camera is that a version of it was used to take some backyard photos of Lee Harvey Oswald with his rifle.
The camera used by Marina Oswald to take the backyard photos

I believe this is part of the Warren Report concerning the camera.

The Imperial Reflex Duo Lens 620 shows up on Ebay fairly often and is generally inexpensive.  So if you don't mind making your own 620 rolls it may be worth a try.
Imperial Reflex Duo Lens 620 Gallery

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stereo Realist, Harold Lloyd, and 3D Crazes

An ad from the December 1945 issue of The Camera.  I believe that the Stereo Realist was not actually available until much later since we were still in the middle of WWII and production of non-essential items was very limited. Still with the end of the war in sight many companies ran ads to prepare people for what they could look forward to when wartime restrictions were removed.

I don't know much about the Stereo Realist camera other than it was popular in the 1950's and made 3D images.  I was more fascinated by the connection of the camera to silent film star Harold Lloyd.  It seems that Lloyd got one of these cameras in 1948 and used it extensively for most of the rest of his life.  He even made ads for the Stereo Realist and is said to have made 300,000 views with this camera.  Some of these were of famous people like Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page.  

I remember enjoying some of Harold Lloyd's silent films.  Lloyd's go-getter anything is possible style was very much in tune with the 1920's making him one of the most popular stars of the late silent movie era. When the Depression started Lloyd's persona fell out of fashion and his movies no longer did well.  Still it looks like Lloyd had managed his finances well and did all right in retirement.  His use of the Stereo Realist was just one of many ways that he kept active and creative.  If you haven't seen Lloyd's work before you might want to take a look at this clip from YouTube from the film "Safety Last". This clip is a somewhat shortened version of the most famous scene from that movie. Also it uses piano music which Lloyd did not care for as a background.  Still I think it can give you some idea of what Lloyd's movies were like.

Harold Lloyd's granddaughter made a book from some of Lloyd's images of famous people called HOLLYWOOD IN BRIEF : 3-D HOLLYWOOD

My own exposure to 3D photographs consists of looking at Viewmaster slides when I was a child.  I remember thinking they were cool, however I have never had a desire to repeat the experience as an adult.  Also there was some kind of ancient contraption at the library in Tuscola IL where you inserted a photo card and saw a 3D image.  I think these were called Stereographs.  They were part of the first 3D craze that seemed to be going the strongest in the last part of the 19th century.  I would guess they were replaced by moving pictures when they became the latest visual wonder.

So it seems that as long as there has been photography there has been an interest in 3D. However that interest so far has not displaced 2D images.  Maybe someday a form of 3D imaging will come along that is as easily viewable as 2D images and people will come to prefer that.  Or maybe there is a limitation on how real people need images to be.

From the 1955 Popular Photography Directory


Stereo still camera; uses standard 35-mm cartridges; up to 29 stereo pairs per loading; f/3.5 David White anastigmat lenses; shutter speeds from 1/150 sec to I sec, T and B; built-in flash synchronization; focusing scale; coupled, split-image rangefinder; centered viewfinder eliminates parallax; double-exposure control; depth-of-field scale; exposure counter. Price, $159. Available accessories include flash filters, lens shades, eveready case, gadget bags, slide cases and files, and viewer.

Below are two PDF files showing the 1955 listings for Stereo Cameras.  There were quite a few of them.

Stereo Camera 1955 Page 1

Stereo Camera 1955 Page 2

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photography Directories, 126 Film SLR etc...

Popular Photography published a yearly special issue about currently available photo equipment.  For all I know they may still do so, however my interest is in the ones from the film era. This one is from 1955. Notice that the man is holding some kind of stereo camera.

I like to find issues of old photography magazines that have lot of information about the cameras that were out at the time the magazine was published.  Usually such issues would come out in December.  I tend to think that I may be one of the few people who are interested in these issues since I am almost always the only person making a bid for one on Ebay. I would guess that some of the issue may be that they often seem to be over-priced.  It takes some patience to find auctions where the prices are more reasonable.  I do find it funny that some dealers on Ebay will keep listing the same item for an unrealistic price over and over again.  I would think that after a while they would get the idea that nobody wants to pay that price.  I suppose this is like the stuff you see setting in an antique store for an unrealistic price every time you go in for what seems like years.

Anyway I find a lot that is interesting to me in these old magazines.  Here is a PDF sample of a page from the 1955 Photography Directory. I particularly find it interesting to see what cameras cost at that time and what options were available for the camera.  Along with the camera listing there are listings for the leading camera accessories of the day.  Here is a PDF file showing some of the listings for flash photography in this time before electronic flash.

Recently I got four Photography Directories from the 1970's for around $12.  The first one is from 1973 and the last is from 1979.  One thing I noticed is how the listings for 126 film cameras decreased during the 1970's.  In 1973 there were two lisings for a SLR using 126 film.  The first was from Kodak.

The second is from Ricoh. 

I imagine these were the nicest 126 cameras made.  I have never used 126 film so I don't know much about it.  I have heard that there were problems with the cartridge that made it impossible to keep the film flat.  And that this problem doomed the format with serious photographers.  With photographers who weren't so serious I would guess that 110 cameras hurt 126 film.  At least at the time I can remember a lot of the people that I knew who used 126 cameras getting 110 cameras instead. That process seems to be reflected in the listings in the camera directories.  By 1979 there are only a few 126 cameras and a lot of 110 cameras.  One of these cameras was the Minolta Zoom 110.

I have one of these and will post some more about it once I get around to taking some pictures with it.  It is a cool looking camera, however it probably points to at least some of what did 110 film in.  The Minolta 110 Zoom is actually bigger than my 35mm Olympus XA.  Actually if it bigger than several of my 35mm cameras.  It seems that once features like zoom lenses were added to 110 cameras that they lost whatever advantage they might have had in size.  So why use a format with reduced image size and quality when you could use a similar sized 35mm camera? 

So that is a little of what I find in these old magazines. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Olympus XA

Lens: 35mm f/2.8 6 elements 5 groups F.Zuiko
Shutter: 10 seconds to 1/500 leaf shutter
Focusing: 0.9m to infinity rangefinder
Exposure: aperture-priority
Battery: 2 LR/SR44
Produced: 1979–1985

I put the film canister in the picture so you can get some idea of how small the XA is. When it was released in 1979 the XA was somewhat of a sensation. It may be the smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made.  Unlike other small cameras of the time the lens on the XA did not need to be extended for picture taking.  I am not going to pretend that I understand the design that made this possible, however it seems that people who know about such things were very impressed. Besides being small the XA takes excellent pictures. It was said to be the camera that professional photographers took on vacation.

When I got my Olympus XA it looked great on the outside, however I found that it had a badly corroded battery.  After a lot of cleaning I put some new batteries in and it appeared to be dead.  So I sat the camera aside and didn't look at it for a couple of days. When I did look I found that the Olympus XA was fully functional. And the XA has worked fine since then.  Why it didn't work at first may have been due to something I have read about called "dry capacitor syndrome".  Looks like somethings just needed to be charged up after being so long without power.  Since then I have found it is a good idea not to give up on a camera if it doesn't power up right away.

The XA is definitely a pocket camera.  I can walk around with it in my shirt pocket all day and barely notice that it is there.  The clam-shell covers the lens so I never have to keep track of a lens cover.  The rangefinder spot is fairly bright and easy to get good focus with.  After having used the XA for nearly a year I can say that it does live up to the hype.  One thing to watch for when using the XA is that the shutter button is very sensitive.  It doesn't take much of a touch to set it off.  This is good for reducing camera shake, however it makes it easy to waste a shot too.  Another thing with this camera that I wonder about is the seemingly flimsy film rewind.  The lever on the XA seems like one from a cheap plastic point and shot.  Although I haven't heard of people having any problem with it breaking.

Once again I don't see any point in repeating more detail for this camera when others have already covered the topic well.  So here are some links.

Almost forgot the link to the Olympus XA Gallery

This site has a review for the XA from when it first came out.
XA - The Original

XA entry from Matt's Classic Cameras

Info about the XA and a little about the other cameras in the XA series.
Olympus XA and XA4 Macro

Friday, April 6, 2012

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2

Type: Auto focus with automatic exposure control
Lens: Minolta 38mm f/2.8 4 elements in 3 groups.
Shutter: Electronic, set automatically from 1/8 to 1/430
Battery: Two AA

I bought this Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 for my parents back in 1981. I wanted them to have an easy to use camera that took quality photos.  And this camera met expectations.  While cameras with auto exposure had been around for a while by 1981, auto focus was fairly new.  I think auto focus was first offered in the Konica C35 AF in 1977.  I do remember that at the time I held all the auto exposure/auto focus stuff in low regard.  I may have even have held the opinion that it would never catch on with real photographers.

Anyway my parents used this camera up until a few years ago.  When I got interesting in film again and saw that they were no longer using it I grabbed it mostly for sentimental reasons.  It took a while before I got around to taking some pictures with it.

When I did I was surprised by how much I like the results.  The lens is pretty sharp with good contrast.  The auto focus works well and the auto exposure is excellent. There is of course the disadvantage that I have no control over any of the settings.  So this isn't the camera to use if I want to have some control over things like depth of field.  Still it is very good for a quick walk-around camera.  Another thing I like about the Minolta AF2 is that it is manual winding instead of the noisy motor-drives that many cameras of this era have.  The resulting quietness and the automatic operation of this camera would likely make it a very good street camera.

Barbershop at the old Illinois Central passenger depot in Champaign IL

The Minolta Hi-matic AF2 also has a built-in electronic flash.  While that is commonplace today it was somewhat of a new thing in 1981. I personally have no idea of how well it works since I am not much for flash photography.

The camera focuses when you press lightly on the shutter with the auto focus zone marks(at the center of the viewfinder) covering the main area of focus.  A symbol lights up to tell you if the focus is close or far. You can pre-set the focus by focusing on your subject and then continuing to press on the shutter while recomposing your picture.  Pretty much this operation should be familiar to anyone who has used auto focus on today's cameras.

I am tending to think that the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 may become one of my first choices for a quick walk-around camera. I think this must have been a very popular camera in its day because there are a lot of them for sale on places like Ebay.  They are pretty inexpensive.  The search I did for completed auctions showed a price range of $2 to $27.  I think the low price reflects an abundant supply rather than a lack of respect from photographers.  Most of what I have read about the Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 has been positive.  It reminds me of the case with the Yashica Electro GSN where another excellent camera sells for very little mostly because there are so many of them.

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 Gallery

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

If you like Pictures of Corn...

Taken with Yashica TL Super with Auto Yashinon DX 50mm 1:1.7. 

I noticed that last summer I took many pictures of corn with several different cameras.  So I decided to make a corn gallery. I haven't got a lot to say about corn.  Around here it is something that is just there in the summer.  At least that is the way it is for me. And until last summer I had never made much of an attempt to engage with corn in a pictorial way.  

Taken with Olympus XA on Legacy Pro 100. 

In the gallery I did include info about which camera took the picture.  And this morning I can't find a lot more to say about photographing corn.  So here is the Corn Gallery

One last thing that isn't related much to corn at all other than you can find info about a lot of farmers from 1940, is a link that I have found helpful in working with the newly released 1940 census data.  The site is helpful in finding the location for the data you may want to find.

Yashica Mat 124G

Monday, April 2, 2012

Yashica 44 LM and 127 film

Type: Twin-lens Reflex
Introduced: 1959
Lens: 4-element Tessar-type 60mm f/3.5 Yashinon
Shutter speeds: 1 second to 1/500
Film: Takes 12 exposures of 4x4 cm on 127 film. 

I have had this camera for about a year now, however I haven't done much with it until recently.  The lack of use was mostly because it uses 127 film, which is limited in selection and more expensive than most film.  When I sent my last batch of film off I had finally finished a roll of Kodak Portra 160 which I first put in the Yashica 44 LM last summer.  The results I got back got me to thinking that I should give this camera a more serious look.

Taken using Kodak Portra 160.  I got this film in a 100 foot bulk roll and reloaded it on the backing paper from a roll of Efke 127 film.

I didn't get all 12 exposures with this roll because I messed up on the film advancing.  It probably does help to read the manual when you are using a unfamiliar camera.  The film advances by a winder on the side which requires that you push a button first.  However if you hold the button down too long it will advance more than one exposure. When the film is loaded you advance it to where the first exposure is visible in the red window on back of the camera.  After that there is a film counter so no more looking at the red window. 

The LM in Yashica 44 LM stands for "light meter".  On mine there is an uncoupled selenium meter that still works and actually seems accurate.  Kinda amazing after 50 years.  I don't use it because the numbers are hard for me to see and using my hand held meter is just about as convenient. Still it is good to know it is there in case I got caught without my handheld.

The Yashica 44 LM is certainly one of those cameras that forces me to slow down.  Having to look down to compose an image and to mentally compensate for the image in the viewfinder being reversed does not make for quick shooting.  Although I imagine that if I did it all the time that it would come to seem more natural.  One nice thing about this camera is that it is smaller than most TLR's and fits in my hands nicely.  Still if it wasn't for that this camera appears to have the potential for some excellent results it wouldn't be worth the trouble to me.  Although it is a nice camera to look at so even without pictures I probably would enjoy having it around. If you would like to see the rest of the pictures they are in the Yashica 44 LM Gallery.

My solution to the 127 film problem involves some work.  I bought a 100 foot roll of bulk 46mm Kodak Portra for around $40.  I figure that is enough film to make 40 to 45 rolls depending on how error free my re-spooling goes. So that could work out to around a dollar per roll.  For my first try at this I cut a string the length required for the 127 roll and used that to guide the length to cut off the bulk roll.  I put a piece of tape on the backing paper to mark where the film should start and used that to tape the film to the paper.  After that if was just a matter of rolling up the film.  Of course I did all this in a dark room.  And while it sounds simple the addition of darkness does add a challenge.  I imagine something like this could be done in a changing bag also.  There is actually a fair amount of discussion on how to do this that you can find with a Google search.

I realize that for a lot of people this would be too much trouble.  Especially if you only rarely use 127.  I have several 127 cameras so the effort seems worth it to me.  I figure that for $40 I can potentially get a number of rolls of film that would have cost over $400 otherwise. 46mm Kodak Portra seems to show up on Ebay regularly.  It usually sells for between $30 to $45. 

Another option would be to buy or make a film slitter to cut 120 film down to 127 size.  Since there is still a lot of types of film made for 120 that would increase the options a lot. 

If you would like to read some more about the Yashica 44 LM here are some links that I thought had good information.

Lots of interesting stuff at this site. 
Yashica 44 LM by Karen Nakamura

Yashica 44LM

Yashica 44 Series