Pacemaker Crown Graphic (1955)

You know the saying, “the first drug is always free?” That’s how my friend Maurice convinced me to experiment with large format. Late last year, he asked me if I would be interested in trying one of his Graflex cameras. He even sweetened the deal by loading some Arista 4×5 film into the film holders, and volunteered to develop them. On a Saturday morning, he gave me hands-on lesson and answered all my questions.

Maurice & Shaun - Photo by Charles Trentelman

Maurice & Shaun – Photo by Charles Trentelman

The Pacemaker Crown Graphic was manufactured from 1947 to 1973 by Graflex Inc. Made of mahogany wood and metal, the Pacemaker has a side-mounted rangefinder focus, but does not have a focal plane shutter like nearly identical Pacemaker Speed Graphic. To give the camera access to a variety of wide-angle lenses, and to reduce the overall weight, it was made without a focal plane shutter. My Pacemaker was manufactured in 1955 and features a lens board with a 135mm Graflex Optar lens, f/4.7 – 32, and shutter speeds 1/400 – 1 sec.

Photographers often describe their satisfaction of shooting film as: it allows me to slow down. Using a large format camera, like a Graflex, takes that same notion and multiplies it. Everything from setting the camera up to the final click of the shutter is a deliberate, leisurely, and enjoyable process.

After shooting the film that Maurice had loaded, I returned the camera and film holders to him. He told me that he was likely going to sell the Pacemaker and offered it to me. A few days later, I returned and bought the camera from him. Maurice also threw in the book,  Graphic Graflex Photography: The Master Book for the Larger Camera (1943), 8 film holders, and a Polaroid 100-series Packfilm holder. Adding to my new large format arsenal, I bought the SP-445 Compact 4×5 Film Processing System, along with New55 Atomic-X and Kodak T-Max film. For me, developing black and white 4×5 sheets are easier than 35 or 120. And it’s exciting to see a large 4×5 negative with so much detail. Compared to a digital camera sensor, a single sheet of 4×5 film provides more “data” than you can possibly imagine. Learning with some additional practice, I plan to create more 4×5 images with better composition and depth of field. However, I am happy with my first attempt with large format photography.

Film Christmas Tree

At Christmas time, we all have family traditions. One of our family traditions is to change our Christmas tree ornaments every other year. For 25 years, we’ve had twelve different Christmas trees. Some have been conventional with colored bulbs, others featured candy canes and gingerbread men. Most of them have been fun for our kids, and they always center around a theme. Some of my favorites have been: Blue’s Clues, Bug’s Life, and PEZ dispensers.

For our 2016 & 2017 Christmas tree, I contacted the crew at Old School Photo Lab in Dover, New Hampshire. They shipped me over one-hundred empty 35mm film cartridges and 120 film backing paper from about 70 rolls. The backing paper is used as garland and wraps around the tree. It was also used in the place of ribbon on the gifts. The branches are decorated with 35mm cartridges of various brands and speeds. The tree is topped with a Kodak Starflash Camera from my friend Maurice.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Filmtastic New Year!

Canon New Sure Shot

The third version of Canon’s Sure Shot made in in 1983 ($150 USD) was sold as the New Sure Shot in the United States, AF35MII in Europe, and the Autoboy 2 in Japan. The New Sure Shot is a simple point and shoot 35mm camera featuring a 38mm f/2.8 – 16 lens. The camera focuses (near, medium, far) with a triangulation system using a near-infrared beam for autofocusing. Pressing the shutter button down halfway accomplishes prefocus. Powered by two AA batteries, the film advance is automatic and the exposure is controlled electronically. To test the camera, I used some expired Kodak Gold 200. The film really achieves that expired look in the blue tones.Canon New Sure Shot (AF35M II) (1983)

Nikon EM & Nikkor-S 50mm 1.4

Nikon EM (1979 - 1982) with Nikkor-S 50mm 1.4

Last year my film-photographer-partner-in-crime, Mike Williams, sent me a Nikon N2000 with Nikkor 50mm lens. Mike had wrapped the camera and lens in several layers of bubble wrap before placing in the box. That however didn’t stop USPS from damaging the contents. When I received the box, one side was damaged to the point that it looked like someone had taken an axe to it. The camera appeared to be fine, but the lens had a noticeable dent where you would thread on a filter. Fast forward eight months, Mike reminds me to test the camera. I hadn’t told him about the damage (because I knew he’d be pissed), but intended to use the camera and lens despite the damage. The N2000 body that appeared to be un-wounded, and working, was now dead. I still wanted to use the lens despite its new dimple, so I mounted it on my Nikon EM. I refer to this camera and lens combination as, “like putting an engine from a Mustang in a Pinto.” The images were shot on FPP High Speed Retrochrome 320 and processed E6. The resulting colorcast is very retro, warm, with medium grain.

The Official Girl Scouts of America Camera

The Official Girls Scouts of America Camera was made in Chicago by The Herbert George Company in 1956. The camera is an Imperial Mark XII Flash camera that’s been re-branded. These plastic-bodied cameras were the first to be manufactured in several colors, and various face plates were installed. They also made the Official Boy Scouts of America Camera and the Official Brownie Scouts of America Camera. I found this camera at a thrift store, in the original box, with the original flash unit, original flash bulbs, original batteries, and one roll of exposed 620 color film.

The Official Girls Scouts of America Camera

The camera features a green plastic body, a fixed focus (about 6 feet – infinity), one shutter speed (about 1/30 – 1/60 sec) and a single aperture (about f/11). Composition is done with an eye-level viewfinder, creating a 6×6 image on 620 film. In a film changing bag, I re-rolled some expired Kodak T-Max 100 120 black & white film onto a 620 spool to test the camera. I developed the film in New55 R5 Monobath. The images make me think the lens is not lined up with the film plane inside the camera because they are blurry on the left side, but in focus on the right. It might be worth investigating and trying another roll of film. If you have some thoughts, please make sure to leave me a comment.

PhotoMemo Photographer’s Memo Book

Mike Padua at has spent the last year creating unique vinyl stickers, patches, and lapel pins that honor traditional film photography. The latest release is the PhotoMemo Photographer’s Memo Book. The book is intended to give film photographers an easy-to-use and inexpensive way to record data. - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

The internal pages of the PhotoMemo is a two-page spread designed as a “roll journal,” with space for photographers to note: roll number, start & end dates, camera & lens used, film type, ISO, subject & location, push or pull x-number of stops, and where the photographer is at with the processing, scanning and archival process of the negatives. – PhotoMemo Photographer’s Memo Book

Each book is 48 pages with 22 two-page spreads, and measures 5.5” x 3.75” (13.9cm x 9.5cm). The cover is 100 lb Neenah Environment Desert Storm (30% post-consumer fiber). The book pages are 60 lb Finch Opaque Smooth Text that are acid-free and archival quality. - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

To give you an idea of the size, and usefulness of the PhotoMemo, let’s compare it to the high-end Galaxy Photo Planner & Handbook. I was an early backer of the Galaxy book on Kickstarter. I was also one of the majority that are somewhat disappointed.

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

The PhotoMemo book costs $9.99 for two, the Galaxy was $37, now $35. The Galaxy is larger, and thicker than the PhotoMemo. The outer design of the Galaxy is a reproduction of a Moleskin notebook, very attractive. The outside design of the PhotoMemo is simple, like any notebook you might find at an office supply store. But really, it’s the inside that counts, right? Unfortunately, the creators of the Galaxy wasted several pages that could have been useful for noting photo data. Instead, they included names and website info for various online camera stores, photo galleries, agents, major photo suppliers, photography media – magazines and publishers. For me, the one main advantage of the PhotoMemo book is the two-page spread that allows you to write the width of the book. The Galaxy book requires you to turn the book ninety degrees to write the same type of data. Why did they do this? The PhotoMemo pages allow enough space for a photographer to record not only the details of the shots, but make additional notes for developing chemistry and darkroom data. The Galaxy book has grouped these pages together, i.e. x-number of pages for recording shot information, x-number of pages for recording darkroom and chemistry details, and even different pages for photographers recording data for large format photos. It makes no sense to me why the Galaxy book was formatted this way.

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Fellow film photographer and host of the Classic Camera Revival Podcast, Alex Luijckx, asked me if the paper thickness would allow him to write with a fountain pen. Not having one of Alex’s fancy fountain pens, I decided to use different types of ink on the paper: a standard Bic pen, Write Dudes 0.7mm pen, Pioneer Albums CD pen with permanent ink, and a classic Sharpie. With the two permanent markers, there was some bleeding through and onto the next page. What you would expect. The 60 lb paper in the PhotoMemo held up better to my two standard pens than they did on the paper in the Galaxy book.

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Galaxy Photographer's Planner & Handbook Vs PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Overall, skip the fancy and expensive notebooks and get a two-pack of PhotoMemo notebooks. You won’t feel guilty about writing an email address on the cover or sketching something over the top of the pre-formatted pages in the PhotoMemo. For the price of a single Moleskin, you could buy eight PhotoMemo notebooks! - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Use the discount code UTAHFILM and save 20% on your PhotoMemo order at While you’re there, get some cool vinyl stickers, camera bag patches, and pins. - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book & Vinyl Stickers

Mike Padua at has been gracious enough to give one lucky Utah Film Photography reader a set of PhotoMemo notebooks. Simply leave a comment below and share what film and camera you would write in your PhotoMemo notebook. A random comment will be selected as the winner on October 31, 2016.


Pentax SP500

A few months ago I received an email that was sent from the donate page here on Utah Film Photography. It was a message from a local named Eric and he had a camera to donate. Fantastic! I sent him an enthusiastic message back and thanked him for his donation. After another round of email exchanges, we setup a day to meet in downtown Salt Lake City. A few days prior to our meeting, I was thinking about Eric and his last name. I haven’t included his last name in this post to keep him anonymous, here’s why. Eric has a unique last name, and it made me curious. I looked for him on Facebook, nope, not there. I looked for him on Google+, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not there, or there, or there, or there. The last place, which should have been the first place to search, was Google. And Google knows everything. I found several online news articles that mentioned Eric and they all had the same detail in common, “Eric [last name], a Special Agent for the FBI in Salt Lake City.” This agent had received special awards and notoriety for a some very high profile cases. A few days later when I met Eric, sure enough, he stepped out of a black SUV with tinted windows. He handed me the camera and told me that his mother’s husband had recently passed away. Eric said the camera looked too nice to throw in the trash, so he decided to find someone local that would use it. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to ask him about his profession, but it was just too interesting to pass up. I asked him, “Are you a Special Agent with the FBI?” He responded, “How did you know?” I told him about my Google search and the newspaper articles I found. Again, Google knows everything. Before we went our separate ways, I thanked him again for the camera and told him it would be put to good use. Thanks Eric for the donation, and thank you for keeping the bad guys off the streets.

The Pentax SP500 was manufactured by Asahi Optical Corporation in 1971. It was made as a budget model after its predecessor, the Pentax SP1000. What’s the difference between the SP1000 and the SP500? Nothing. The shutter speed dial on the SP500 shows the maximum shutter speed as 1/500th of a second. However, if you turn the dial one-click beyond the 500 mark on the dial, you get 1/1000th of second, making it identical to the SP1000. The camera has a match-needle exposure system that is activated by moving the switch on the left side of the camera up. This activates the CdS TTL meter, stops the viewing lens to the set aperture, and gives you a depth of field preview. I tested the SP500 with Kodak Tri-X 400 during an outdoor car show at Peach Days in Brigham City, Utah. The majority of my images were shot with the shutter speed dial set on that extra click. I’ve been told by other photographers that it may not be accurate to 1/1000th like the SP1000, but closer to 1/750th of a second. Like the Spotmatic series, the SP500 uses screwmount M42 lenses. The Super-Takmur 50mm f/2 lens is tact sharp. Overall, a great SLR that’s easy to use.

Miranda G – Part Two

It’s rare that I get a camera, quickly shoot a roll a film, enjoy the camera so much that I immediately move to another roll of film. Again, the Miranda G is such a great camera. Don’t believe me, go read my post from last week. The second roll of film I shot with was some Film Photography Project Edu 200 Black & White. At $3.99, you can’t beat the price. The only drawback is it’s a thin plastic and can be difficult to scan.

The Annual VW “No Show” in Kaysville, Utah, is one of my favorite car shows. Not because I own a Volkswagen, or know much about cars. It’s the people at the show and the variety of photographic opportunities. The car owners are great to talk with. They love to share their knowledge about VW’s, often pointing out specific details of a particular year or model. The show usually consists of about 100+ cars. And it only takes a few hours to see everything and visit with people. Brian Thomson and his fellow VooDoo Kruizerz do an awesome job at hosting a fun show each year. Below are some photos from the VW show, make sure to click on the images and view the whole gallery. And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see some cars from another show.

Miranda G – Part 1

The Orion Camera Company in Japan, later renamed for marketing reasons to the Miranda Camera Company, primarily made SLR cameras between 1955 and 1978. Two unique items that made Miranda different from their competitors were: 1) almost every camera had an interchangeable pentaprism that could easily be changed by the photographer, 2) they never made their own lenses, relying on other manufacturers to produce them. Miranda was the first Japanese company to manufacture an SLR with a removable eye level prism, something that Nikon adapted in 1959 (Nikon F). According to the Miranda Historical Society online, it’s not uncommon to find a seller who has any of knowledge about Miranda cameras or lenses.

The Miranda G was manufactured and sold in 1965. It features an interchangeable pentaprism and focus screen. The interchangeable focus screen were made in 8 types and attracted photographers who were interested in photomicrography (photos taken through a microscope) to astronomical photography (photos taken with a telescope). The camera has shutter speeds of 1 through 1/1000 sec, and bulb mode. The standard lens that this model came with was a Soligor 50mm f/1.9. The Miranda G does not have an internal light meter.

Special thanks to Maurice Greeson for donating this camera. He not only gave me the camera and Soligor 50mm lens, but included: Soligor 28mm f/2.8 lens, Soligor 105mm f/2.8 macro lens, Soligor 80-200 f/2.8 telephoto lens, macro lens reversal ring, chest-level viewfinder, original leather case, and manual. All of these items are in mint condition! I was worried at first because the camera doesn’t have a light meter, but that also eliminates the issue of having the correct battery type. I used my Gossen Luna-Pro to meter about half of the environments I was shooting in. The best way for me to describe using this camera can be done in one word: enjoyable. This camera feels so comfortable in my hands. It has a nice balance with the 50mm lens. I did try the wide 28mm on a few images I’ll share next week, but kept going back to the 50. Maybe it’s more my style, but I found it easier to compose my images. For the roughly short lifespan of the Miranda G, it’s a basic SLR and fun camera to use. Note, the self-timer is permanently stuck in the down position, but an issue this small wouldn’t stop me from using this camera. I really don’t have anything negative say about this camera. The viewfinder, and chest-level viewfinder, are bright and clear. The additional shutter release on the front of the camera seemed odd at first, but somehow the slow squeeze on the front makes more sense than a downward pressing motion.

Ogden High School - Ogden, Utah

In July, my wife and I took a group of Chinese exchange students on a tour of Ogden High School in Ogden, Utah. The school was built in 1937 as part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” a Works Progress Administration project that cost tax payers 1.2 million dollars. It was the first million-dollar school built in the U.S. The design style of the school is Art Deco and matches other Ogden City landmarks like the Ogden City Municipal Building and Peery’s Egyptian Theater. All three historic buildings were designed by the architectural firm Hodgson & McClenahan. In 2006, Ogden City residents voted to fund a $95.3-million-dollar bond to repair, renovate, and update the school. The high school has been the backdrop for several movies and television shows. These images were shot with the Miranda G on Kodak Tri-X 400, metered with a Goseen Luna-Pro S.

Agfa Isolette I

Agfa’s production of the Isolette series spans several decades. Multiple models were made from pre-WWII 1936 up to 1958. The Isolette I is a simple German-made 120 folder that was sold from 1952 to 1960. The camera features an 85mm coated f/4.5 – 32 Agnar lens and a synchronized Vario leaf shutter. Focus is scale-focusing, measured on the lens from 3 feet to infinity.

Agfa Isolette

I purchased the Isolette I for $20 after listening to Episode 143 of the Film Photography Project Podcast. Host Mark O’Brien details many of the features. He also describes the common issues with sticky, or dried lubricant. When I received the Isolette, sure enough, the lens would not focus because the original lubricant had cemented the focus in place. Utah Film Photography friend, Maurice Greeson, put the camera on his workbench, cleaned, lubricated and freed the focus.

My experience with the Isolette was just so-so. I like having a 120 folder that has such a small footprint. However, I found that ultimately I wanted better control over the focus. My ideal 120 folder would have a rangefinder focus. The Isolette I doesn’t have a light meter. For some photographers that might be a deal breaker, but for me it wasn’t an issue. Now that I’ve said that, the majority of my shots were under or over-exposed. I don’t believe this was my fault or the cameras. I think it was the expired Kodak T-Max 100 I was using. I’m not sure how it was stored before it was donated. Will I shoot with the Isolette again? Sure, but with some fresh Kodak Tri-X or Illford HP5.