Monday, July 30, 2012

Coming Attractions

Since I started this blog I have had the goal of posting on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Now I have decided to be more spontaneous and no longer will follow a regular schedule.  Although I do plan to make at least a couple of posts a week.  I have some posts in mind, however none are in a finished state.  

I am working on a post about the Sears 28mm f/2.8 m42 mount.  The shot on the left was taken wide-open. This lens was re-branded by Sears and no one seems to know for sure who actually made it.

 Ordered some Xtol this morning to see how that works with the Kentmere 400 film. Also ordered some of a new one-shot liquid developer by Arista.  Will be talking about both of these once I have some results.  The photo on the left is taken with a Zorki 4 using the Jupiter 8 lens.  The film was Kentmere 400 developed in HCC-110 dilution G.

The Photax III is the only French camera that I have.  Hope to do a post on it soon.

I had forgotten that I had this camera until I was looking for pictures of the Photax III and saw this photo.  I seem to remember that it has something not working well with the film winding.  Maybe I can get it working and tell about it.  The camera is a Balda Baldessa 1b.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


The Zorki 4 was made in the USSR from 1956 to 1973. So it was being made from the time I was born almost until the time that I graduated from high school.  And while I enjoyed reading Maxim Gorky during those years I never heard of a Zorki until just a few years ago.

The Zorki 4 in the picture was made in 1969, one year after the Beatles released "Back in the USSR".  Because of the western lettering it was an export model.  The camera came to me in good shape.  About the only problem was with some loosening of the covering in a couple of places.

You may notice a self-timer lever being prominent on the front of the camera.  That reminds me of warning I have heard about not using the self-timer on one of these old cameras until you are sure that everything else related to the shutter works well.   And even then it may not be a good idea. Anyway supposedly a lot of people can't resist setting off the self-timer right away and end up with a jammed shutter.  

Like the FED 2 that I talked about last week the Zorki 4 is another Leica II copy. Unlike the Leica II the Zorki has the rangefinder and the viewfinder in one window.  And the rangefinder in the Zorki 4 is large and bright enough to be useful even in low light.  Like the FED 2 the Zorki has a diopter correction lever beneath the film rewind knob.  The shutter speeds are B, 1 - 1000.  And if you don't remember anything else about this type of camera, remember never to change the shutter speed until the shutter is cocked.  The lens on my Zorki 4 is a Jupiter 8 50mm f/2.  I believe this is the standard lens for the Zorki 4.  The Jupiter 8 is a copy of the Zeiss Sonnar.  In case you don't know the Soviets got a lot of plans and equipment from Zeiss as a part of war repartitions. 

Of the four Soviet era cameras that I have the Zorki 4 made the best first impressions.  For me at least it fit well in my hands and had just the right amount of weight.  Still so far it has worked out that I haven't spent enough time with the Zorki 4 so that I feel I have truly tested it.  It seems like when I pick up the Zorki it inspires weather that is not comfortable for photography.  The latest example is while after enjoying a few days of more moderate temperatures with the FED 2, the heat wave vigorously reasserted itself when I picked up the Zorki 4. Also for some reason I seem more prone to mishaps with film when I have been using the Zorki 4.  And while the weather and the film mishaps are not the fault of the Zorki, the result is a fairly sparse Zorki 4 gallery. Still I do see enough in the pictures that once fair weather returns I plan to spend more time using the Zorki 4.  Hopefully my Zorki 4 is not some mysterious cold war artifact, intended to inflict permanent heat and drought on Central Illinois, that I have inadvertently activated.  

Seems like the heat has inspired me to take a lot of pictures of little wagons lately.  Zorki 4 Gallery

Some more info about the Zorki 4:
Zorki 4 at Matt's Classic Cameras
Zorki 4 Owner's Manual 
A listing of the many Zorki 4 models. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Industar 61 L/D f/2.8 55mm

I wondered what the FED 2 that I talked about last week would be like with a lens that was more pleasant to use that the Industar 10 with it problematic aperture tabs.  So I borrowed an Industar 61 that I had on a FED 3.  The one I have was made in 1983 so the US and the USSR were still going at it.  The L  in the L/D part on the lens means it is Lanthanum coated while the D means it is for a 39mm mount.  

Taken with the Industar 61 at 2.8.

The Russians got a lot of equipment, and plans from the Germans after WWII.  And it appears that they made good use of it.  Many of these lenses are excellent and cost little.  The Industar 61 L/D is supposed to be one of the best.  

Actual click stops for the aperture setting on the Industar 61 is an advantage over the Industar 10. Still the collapsible Industar 10 makes it easy for the FED 2 to be a pocket camera.  

Another one wide-open. 

A hot summer for sitting on park benches. 

INDUSTAR 61L/D F2.8 55MM at Matt's Classic Cameras.

Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 L/D at Ken Rockwells.  I offer this link mostly because his lens is from the same year as mine.   

Friday, July 20, 2012

Some More Black & White

Taken with Sears TLS 50mm f/1.4 on Legacy Pro 100. For a while I had a good thing going with using Rodinal stand development with Legacy Pro 100.  For the most part this combination gave me results that I liked, and with stand development I wasn't waiting around to agitate the film.

Looks like a mild break from the heat wave here today so I plan to be out taking some pictures as much as I can.  Today I am sharing some of the black & white photos which I made that I particularly liked.

Agfa Clack on Fuji Neopan.  The Clack was a popular family camera in Europe in the 1950's.  I held a yellow filter over the lens for this image.  Some Clacks came with a built-in yellow filter.

Canon F1 24mm f/2.8 on Legacy Pro 100.  This old house was at the back of a tent at the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County IN.

Olympus XA on Legacy Pro 100.  One of the things I like about B&W is its timeless quality when combined with certain timeless subjects.

Another one with the Sears TLS 50 f/1.4 on Legacy Pro 100.  This one is with the lens wide open.

Lastly, taken with Alka box camera on Fuji Neopan. This manure spreader has been sitting there for at least twenty years.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Some Black & White Images

Taken with an Argus A-Four on Premium 400.  I got this camera a while back mostly because it is an Argus and I like the name A-Four.  If you want to know more about the Argus A-Four I think it is covered well  here. Some people say that Arista.Edu Premium is actually Tri-X

If you know me well you would know that I tend to be a seasonal person.  I would guess that comes from growing up in the Midwest on a farm.  While I may use Black & White film at any time, my two main seasons for B&W are after Christmas until Spring and Mid-Summer until Fall. I offer no analyses for this  personal inclination.  Instead I am just saying that now is one of my black & white seasons.  And so today I am posting some B&W images from a variety of films and cameras.  Mostly these are cameras that so far haven't sustained my interest enough to make a post or gallery about them. 

Taken with Argus C4 on Kentmere 400.  I probably will do a post on the C4 one day since it is my favorite Argus.  After having tried some inexpensive 400 ISO films I decided to get a bulk roll of Kentmere 400. At times it is a little more grainy than I would like, however I think some of that is working out the best way to develop it .

Taken with Konica C35 AF the first auto focusing camera. It does a decent job, however for me I mostly have it because it was a first of its type and inexpensive to buy.  The film is Legacy Pro 100. I liked Legacy Pro 100 a great deal.  It worked well with Rodinal stand development. I made a mistake in not stocking up on it, thinking it would be available longer than it turned out to be. 

Taken with Minolta Maxxum 5000i on Fomapan 100.  I used the 35-80mm zoom which isn't highly regarded although some of the results weren't bad.  Fomapan 100 is another fairly inexpensive b&w film.

Canon T50 50mm f/1.8 using the reliable classic Kodak Tri-X.

Lastly, Sears 35 motor AF using Arista.Edu 400.  This camera is a typical 80's point & shoot.  Can't find much info on it.   Looks like it had some potential, however it stopped working about mid-way through the first roll.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Fed 2B Type I
Viewfinder: coupled rangefinder
Shutter speeds: B, 1/25-1/500
Lens:  39mm mount Coated 50mm f3.5 Industar-10 Tessar design (4 elements in 3 groups)
Weight: 1 lb 5 oz (604g)
Shutter: double cloth curtain

The best I can tell the FED 2 that I have was made somewhere between 1955 and 1957.  Altogether there were 12 types and 17 sub-types of the FED 2 made during its production run from 1955 to 1970.  Like many photo products made in the USSR the FED 2 suffered from the prejudices that many in the West had against the USSR.  And it didn't help that in an effort to get hard currency the USSR tended to dump large quantities of products on the West which had not been subjected to rigorous quality control. Still I believe that an honest appraisal of the FED 2 would show that it was among the best rangefinders of its time.  I even found one guy who argues that it was the best rangefinder of its time.

Now I don't want to give another account of the merits of the FED compared to other cameras of its type. Nor do I want to repeat the long and sometimes interesting history of the FED series.  Instead I will provide some links to info that I found interesting and after that concentrate on my experience with the FED 2.

FED 2 at Matt's Classic Cameras

I bought my FED 2 last summer, however other than to run a roll of film through it to make sure it was working I hadn't used it much.  I know I remember being impressed by how sharp some of the images were. Lately I decided to spend a little more time with some of the cameras I do have and to stop looking for more at least for a while.  The FED 2 came up first.  One thing that is striking about this camera is that although it is as old ad me it still functions quite well.  The shutter still seems accurate and the controls are fairly smooth.  The FED 2 also feels comfortable in my hands and has enough weight to feel solid but not enough to be a bother.

With the collapsible Industar 10 lens the FED 2 is small enough to easily carry in a pants pocket. Unlike most the other cameras that I have encountered from the USSR the FED 2 has lugs should you decide to attach a camera strap.  Focusing at least in my example is easy with the bright contrasty rangefinder spot. The rangefinder seems to be usable in even fairly dim light.  I have to admit that I am surprised that the rangefinder still seems to be in good alignment after all these years.

Just felt the urge to stick an image in at this point.

There is no lever for the film wind, however the knob turns easily.  To load the film it might be best to get the FED 2 manual and read about the standard way to do it. I didn't do that and came up with a non-standard way to do it that doesn't involve removing the thing that the film winds onto.  I just slide that leader under the thing that appears to be there to hold the film down and then wind.  It seems to work okay for me, however I may discover eventually that there is a benefit to doing it the way it says in the manual. After the film is loaded you need to set the film counter manually.  You want to make sure that the film is fully wound before you set the shutter speed.  That is because winding the film cocks the shutter.  And you never want to mess with the shutter speed unless the shutter is cocked.  It is said that all kind of bad things can happen if you set the shutter speed without the shutter being cocked.  Fortunately I have never found out since the process of winding the film and cocking the shutter before changing the speed seems pretty natural to me.  If you think that might be a problem for you than you might want to avoid the Russian cameras since the cock before setting the shutter speed is common in all of them.

Although I think one of the strong points of the FED 2 with the Industar 10 is its B&W images, this color one is one of my favorites so far from the FED 2.

If you need glasses to read then you will need them to set the controls on the FED 2.  At least I do.  In a pinch I can see the shutter dial, however the aperture settings on the Industar 10 are very difficult for me to see.  One wonderful feature on the FED 2 is the diopter correction lever.  It is located at the base of the film rewind knob and is a godsend if you have less than perfect vision. And speaking of the film rewind knob it is about the only thing that I really don't like on the FED 2.  It is kinda small and hard for me to get a grip on.  Still it does eventually get the job done.

So I definitely would recommend a FED 2 to anyone interested in the classic rangefinders. I am already seeing the benefit from spending more time with my cameras because I think I kinda missed what a fine camera the FED 2 is at my first brief encounter with it.

A good test of if a camera can become a good American is to see what kind of picture it can take of corn.  I think this former commie camera passed that test.

FED 2 Gallery.

Friday, July 13, 2012

KMZ Helios 44-2 58mm F/2

Optical Formula: 6 elements in 4 groups.
Lens Mount: M42
Aperture Range: f/2 - f/16.
Minimum Focusing Distance:  0.5 meter
Aperture Blades: 8

Last summer I went on a small kick for getting cameras and lenses made in the USSR.  The Helios 44-2 is one of those purchases.  Strangely other then when I first got the Helios I haven't used it much.  I say strangely because the quality of the images from this lens is mostly excellent. I rediscovered that when I decided to do a few posts about equipment from the USSR.  I was very impressed by some of the results that I got with the Helios 44-2.  I was also stuck by the idea that it would be best if I spent more time getting to know some of the cameras and lenses that I have gotten in the last year or two and spend less time working to get more.  Seems like I have been in a pattern of testing out the newest thing and then moving on to the next newest thing.  I think my new pattern will be to spend more time with what I already have.  

The Helios 44-2 was the standard lens for many of the Zenit SLRs.  It appears that it was made from the mid-60's to early 80's in the M42 mount. After that is was made, possibly even to the present day, in the K mount.  The Helios 44-2 is copy of the design of the carl zeiss biotar 58mm f2, This design it said to work well in reducing optical aberrations.  The Soviets appear to have done a good job in their use of this design because from my experience and from reviews that I have read the Helios 44-2 seems to be a very good lens.  Probably the main problem you might have is that the Soviets are said not to have been very concerned with quality control. So if you do get a Helios 44-2 and get poor results it is likely that you have been unfortunate in having gotten a clunker.  

The Helios 44-2 is said to have excellent bokah.  I also find that it is pretty sharp wide-open.

Colors seem very natural with the Helios 44-2.  

Because the earlier versions of the Helios 44-2 probably have just a single coating lack of contrast and flare could be a problem under some lighting conditions.  I haven't run into such problems so far although so far I haven't used it much in conditions that might bring out that problem. 

I believe that the Helios is my favorite purchase from the USSR.  Although to some degree I have been pleased with all the items that I bought during my USSR phase.  I also found the Ebay sellers from the former USSR countries to be excellent. Maybe I was just lucky however without an exception their descriptions of their items turned out to be accurate and their packaging and shipping speed was first-rate.  

My plan now is to slow down and get to know some of my cameras better.  I think that next in line is a couple of FEDs and a Zorki.

If you would like to see a little more of the results from this lens here is the KMZ Helios 44-2 58mm F/2 Gallery.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Search of Style

The two posts that I was working on didn't come together today.  Instead here is a link to an article in  the September 1990 issue of Popular Photography about finding your style as a photographer.
In Search of Style

Monday, July 9, 2012

Industar-50-2 50mm f/3.5

Mounted using an M42 adapter.
4 elements in 3 groups
Weight: 65g
Produced: By KMZ from 1968 to 1991.
The Industar 50-2 was produced in large numbers in the old USSR.  The lens is a Tessar design.  

When I heard about the new Canon 40mm pancake lens  I was reminded of the Industar 50-2 pancake lens that I have.  While the Canon lens is considered a deal at around $200, the Industar 50-2 can usually be had for between $15 and $30. Of course the Industar 50-2 doesn't have auto focus and you do have to buy a M42 adapter for use with a digital camera.  From the reviews of the Canon pancake it seems that it is a surprisingly good performer.  I think the same can be said of the Industar 50-2.  On a full frame camera the Industar is very sharp at the center falling off toward the corners.  With a camera with a smaller sensor you will be leaving out a lot of the less sharp parts in return for a reduced focal range.  So for example on the XSi above the lens becomes 80mm instead of 50mm.  

I do have to say that a lens this small makes my slr seem much less visible.  And the reduced weight is a pleasure.  Still this is a lens where you do have to pay attention.  There are no click stops on the aperture ring so it is necessary to look at the front of the lens when you are changing the aperture.  Also since the aperture ring turns freely it is not hard to grab it and think I am turning the focusing ring.  So like I said with this lens you do need to pay attention. And if you don't mind that then the Industar 50-2 can be a rewarding lens. 

I am the sort of photographer who has taken a lot of pictures of sunflowers.  That I took my favorite sunflower picture with the Industar 50-2 adds to my favorable view of the lens. 

Here is the full image from which the crop below comes. 

A crop from the image above when at 100%.

Some more images in the Industar 50-2 Gallery

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vivitar PS25 Focus Free/Motor

Probably made sometime in the late 1980's.  One of a large number of inexpensive point & shoots sold by Vivitar.

Someday I would like to find a listing of all the point & shoot cameras that were made with the Vivitar name from the 1980's up until that brand no longer appeared on film cameras.  The information must exist somewhere and I would guess that the number of models is very large.  Certainly the numbers are very large in comparison to the number of people who would like that data.

The Vivitar PS25 is likely a camera that I picked up at a garage sale for a dollar or so.  It has only one aperture of what looks like f/5.6.  The shutter speed is likely the 1/125 that appears to be the standard for cameras of this type.  The focus is fixed.  It uses DX coding for the built-in flash.  That flash comes on automatically if you need extra light.  A motor advances and rewinds the film.  I'd guess it was sold fairly cheaply in places like Walmart. I tend to think of a camera like the Vivitar PS25 as being in the spirit of the box cameras of the 1940's and 1950's.  A cheap easy to use camera for the masses that took reasonably good photos.  Although I have my doubts that these cameras will ever inspire some of the nostalgia that cameras like the Kodak Brownies do. Still I admit that the looks of some of this type of camera has grown on me.  Fortunately if cameras like the Vivitar PS25 ever become objects of camera collecting desire there should be plenty to go around.  

I could be wrong, however from the few photos I have taken with the PS25 I have a feeling that it has the potential to make some interesting photos.  Still so far I haven't felt motivated to further explore its possibilities.  For now all I have is the images in the Vivitar PS25 Gallery.

Monday, July 2, 2012

An Eight Year-old Shows Interest in Film

I don't have much time for a post today since it is the last day of my brother's visit.  One interesting thing that happened is that my 8 year-old nephew noticed that I had some film laying about.  I was kinda surprised that he even knew what it was.  It turns out that some character in a book he was reading used film.  That made him curious about it so he read some about film online.

Later I asked him if he would like to use a film camera while he was here and he seemed excited about the idea.   So I did a mental inventory of the easy to use cameras that I had and figured that a Nikon Fun Touch 3 might work well for him.  He had fun shooting some pictures of my sister's horses and some other things that kids like to look at.  So today he is going back to North Carolina with some more film and a camera.  Hopefully he will continue to have some enjoyment of film.  It didn't seem to put him off when I told him that he would have to wait to have his film developed before he sees his pictures. 

I suppose this shows that my accumulation of garage sale point & shoots may have some point.  At least they give me a good supply of easy to use cameras for any young person who may have an interest in film.  And who knows maybe in a few of them that might spark a life-long interest in film. 

For the past week the road to the west has been blocked by the building of a new bridge.  It might be hard to tell, however it seems like a large bridge for such a small creek.  Still even in these times there always seems to be money for road projects around here.

This excavator has been doing a lot of the work.