Nikon F2 Photomic (1971 – 1980)

This post has been in the works for a long time. Why? My friend Mike Williams gave this camera to me almost 6 months ago, Christmas 2017. Mike knew I’d been very happy with the Nikon F and Nikomat FTn. And to this day, Mike says this is his best find at Goodwill. I think he’s right because the F2 Photomic still commands a high price online, especially one in this shape.

The F2 was introduced by Nikon in 1971, and is the successor to the Nikon F. It was discontinued in 1980 when the F3 was released. The original F and F2 cameras look nearly identical with the only difference being the meter mounted atop the camera body. The F2 features shutter speeds of 10s to 1/2000th sec, where the original F was 1 sec – 1/1000th sec. The ISO can be set from 6 to 6400. One item I came to appreciate on F2 Photomic is the meter. It’s activated by the shutter advance. When the advance arm is in its resting position, the meter is active. When pressed in towards the body, the meter turns off. On the F with FTn, you must press a button on the side of the meter to activate it, and then remember to push another button down to turn it off. What does this mean? The F2 Photomic isn’t going to eat batteries because you forgot to turn the meter off. Improvements were also made to the flash sync over the F. The F2 has a flash sync of 1/80th sec, where the original F has a sync of 1/60th sec. Another commonality between the F and the F2 is the weight. The F2 Photomic with lens weighs over 2 lbs!

According to Ken Rockwell, the F2 was “king of newspaper and magazine photography in the 1970’s.” And the development for the camera was driven by NASA for the Apollo and SkyLab missions. I found this comment from Ken Rockwell somewhat humorous: The Nikon F2 is so good that many photographers — including myself — preferred to pay more for used Nikon F2s in the early 1980s after they were discontinued than to pay less for a brand-new Nikon F3 with which Nikon replaced it. The Nikon F3 was electronic, and was not trusted to meet professional demands under all conditions.

The Nikon F2 is simply a great camera. One of the last mechanical shutter camera bodies made before electronic shutters appeared in the 1980’s. The F2 is a solid camera. If you didn’t know any better, you could pound nails with the body. Within a dozen shots taken with this camera, I decided that a telephoto lens would be a nice addition, so I purchased a Nikkor 35 – 200mm, f/3.5 – 4.5.

Camera: Nikon F2 Photomic (1971 – 1980)
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 6:30 @ 27° C
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

Advertisements

Graflex Super Speed Graphic

Maurice's Graflex Collection

Some of Maurice’s Graflex Collection

This post wouldn’t be possible without my good friend, Maurice Greeson. Last winter, I was talking to Maurice about what an interesting camera I thought the Super Speed Graphic was. How you rotate the lens clockwise to cock the shutter, and the built-in electric shutter. Sure enough, Maurice had one and loaned it to me. He even loaded up two film holders for me to try. The camera sat in my office for several months because nothing outside in the winter landscape inspired me. A few weeks ago, I met up with Scott Smith at the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve in Layton, Utah. Scott is deciding whether he should get into large format photography, and he’s been kicking the tires on a Graflex before he buys it, on loan from Maurice.

Super Speed Graphic (1961 -1970)

Super Speed Graphic (1961 -1970)

The Super Speed Graphic was manufactured by Graflex in Rochester, New York, from 1961 -1970. The Super Graphic (1958 – 1973) and Super Speed Graphic would be the very last large format cameras that Graflex would make. These two models are nearly identical. The Super Speed Graphic features a 135mm, 1/1000th Sec Graflex Optar lens. To cock the shutter, the chrome lens hood is twisted clockwise. Using two 22.5 volt flat batteries, the shutter can be triggered by pressing a red button on the left-side of camera above the hand strap. This causes the solenoid built into the Super Graphic lensboard to trip the mechanical shutter. However, the built-in solenoid will only trigger the shutter and will not sync with the flash. A shutter release cable can also be used, connected directly to the lens. I found it very difficult to connect a release cable because there’s no room between the lens and the lensboard for you to twist on/off the cable. On top of the camera is an automatic focusing scale with a flash exposure calculator. The front standard of the camera has the movement features you’d expect to have: rise, tilt and swing. The camera itself is made from cast metal, unlike older Graflex cameras made from wood and metal. Surprisingly, this camera is heavy, 5.29 lbs. I’m comparing this to my Crown Graphic Pacemaker at 4.8 lbs. Overall, not my favorite camera, but I’m grateful to Maurice for letting me try it out. I’m very happy with the photos. All of them were shot at f/16, 1/60th sec.

Camera: Graflex Super Speed Graphic (1961-1970)
Film: Arista EDU Ultra 200
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:00 @ 20° C
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve - Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve – Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve - Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve – Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve - Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve – Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve - Layton, Utah

Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve – Layton, Utah

 


Mechanical Shutter Testing Part 2 & Giveaway

This week I want to share some of my own testing results and summarize the benefits and downsides of this specific shutter testing unit. The camera I selected to test is the Olympus OM-1n MD from 1979. To begin the test, the lens of the camera is removed. The LED must be placed in the center of the lens opening so that light can reach the sensor when the shutter is triggered. I’ve drilled a hole in a 35mm film canister and taped it to the desk, so it won’t move while testing. The curtain sensor is the placed on the back of the open camera. I’ve used a rubber band to keep the sensor in place and tight against the camera. Lastly, the testing unit is powered on and setup for the correct shutter type.

To record my results, I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet. The camera will be set at the fastest shutter speed, tested 10 times, recording each of the results in the spreadsheet. Then the camera will be set to the next slowest shutter speed, tested 10 times, recording the results. This process is repeated all the way to the slowest shutter speed on the camera. In the spreadsheet, I have it create an average speed based on the 10 individual tests.

When I received this unit, I went to my friend Maurice and asked him about industry standards and shutter test tolerances. He explained to me that for speeds 1/125th of a second and faster, there is a 30% tolerance on either side. For speeds slower than 1/125th of a second, shutter speeds can have an acceptable tolerance of 20% on either side.

When testing the OM-1, I could not get the unit to register a speed of 1/1000th. This unit is designed to test up to that speed, and other cameras I’ve tested at this speed have been successful. I’m not sure why the testing unit doesn’t like the OM-1 at this speed. As you can see from the results, at 1/500th of a second, the speed was too high, giving me about 1/910th of a second. As the shutter speeds became slower, the more accurate they became. What does that mean for this camera? It could be sent off for a CLA to have the speed adjusted. Or, I can simply make myself a note that the two highest speeds are a little too fast.

Pros of this unit:
– Small size.
– Easy to operate.
– Easy to read screen.
– Setup is quick.
– Build quality is good for a product that’s not mass produced.
– Price

Cons of this unit:
– Documentation is poor. Trial and error helped me more than trying to understand the documentation. The documentation for the sensor we’re giving away is much better.
– May not be 100% accurate, but close enough to help you make a decision about a camera.
– The unit must be turned off if you decide to make changes to the setup. For example, testing the shutter, then deciding to test the shutter and curtain.
– Navigating the menus with a single button can be difficult.

As I promised last week, let’s give away a shutter testing sensor! This is a sensor that can be used with a computer, tablet or smartphone. You will need to supply your own light source, like an LED flashlight. When you connect the light sensor to your preferred device, you will need (free) audio recording software. For example, Audacity on the PC. The sensor doesn’t record audio, it interprets the light and displays it on your screen. All of this information is detailed in the included instructions.

Rules: One (1) entry per person. Participants must provide email address, full name, shipping address, and country. Giveaway will be open 5/9/2018 through 5/31/2018. A winner will be chosen at random on 6/1/2018 and notified via email. A total number of participants and the winners name will be posted in the comments of this post on 6/1/2018.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

 


Mechanical Shutter Testing – Part 1

Have you ever purchased a used film camera and asked yourself, “I wonder if the shutter speeds are accurate?” Or simply thought, “Sounds good enough.” There are inexpensive methods to test mechanical shutter speeds like mobile apps and do-it-yourself projects found online. When I was doing some research to test my own cameras, I came across Vasile Florin, a Romanian seller on eBay that sells premade shutter testing units. He has several combinations of equipment. For example, some units are made to test shutter speeds beyond 1/1000th, and others are simply a sensor that plug into the mic jack on your computer.

Vasile Florin’s Version 10 Shutter Testing Unit

The tester I’m using is Vasile Florin’s version 10. It includes a main unit that has a 6 row, 14 column LCD display. On the main unit are jacks for an LED light source, a curtain sensor, and a DC input for power. The unit can also be powered by a 9-volt battery. When powering on the main unit, you use the black button below the curtain sensor input jack to make your selections in the testing menus.

Top to bottom: LED light jack, curtain sensor jack, menu selection button, on/off switch.

This unit can perform both a shutter test, or curtain and shutter test. The last menu prompt before testing begins is: focal plane, leaf, diaphragm, or other. This is a nice feature that separates this unit from cheaper ones. The curtain sensor on this model has 5 light sensing photo cells. The middle photo cell can be turned on by itself if you are using the sensor plugged into the mic jack on a computer.

Curtain Sensor with 5 Photo Cells

LED Light Source

Curtain Sensor with 5 Photo Cells – Close Up

Vasile Florin’s Version 10 Shutter Testing Unit

Next week, I’ll continue with part 2 of this post and share some of my own testing results along with some pros and cons of this unit.

Make sure to come back for part 2, because I’ll be giving away a shutter tester that you can use with a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

 


The Negative-Positives-Double-Exposure-Tag-Team-Challenge-O-Rama

I’ve organized a double-exposure 35mm film challenge with Mike Gutterman of the Negative Positives Podcast Film Photography Podcast.

What is a double-exposure challenge? Two photographers shoot and expose the same roll of film. In this challenge, the first photographer will supply the roll of film, shoot the entire roll and pass it along to someone else they’ve been matched with. The second photographer shoots the entire roll, develops, scans the roll, and shares the results.

How can you sign up to participate? Head over The Negative Positives Film Photography Facebook group. Join the group, and look for the link to the registration form.


The Negative Positives Podcast

You can hear yours truly on the latest episode of the Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast hosted by Mike Gutterman and Andre Domingues. You can listen on Podbeam, or search for it on your favorite podcatcher.

 


Film Photography Podcasts

Whether you’re commuting or relaxing in the darkroom, there’s always a film photography related podcast you can listen to:

Analog Talk – A weekly film photography podcast hosted by Chris Bartolucci and Timothy Ditzler. New episodes air each Wednesday. Features specials guests and topics related to film photography.

Classic Camera Revival – Proudly based in Toronto, Canada, a monthly podcast that promotes and reviews traditional photographic equipment and mediums. Hosts Alex Lucyckx, John Meadows, James Lee, Mike Bitaxi, Donna Bitaxi, and Bill Smith.

Film Photography Project – The original film photography podcast (2009) with over 180 episodes. New episodes air on the first and fifteenth of each month. Hosts: Michael Raso, Matt Marrash, Leslie Lazenby, Mark Dalzell, Mark O’Brien, and John Fedele. The shows aims to keep film photography simple by sharing information and encouraging listeners to have fun and experiment with film.

First Person Shooter – Nashville photographer, Wes Bowker, hosts an intermittent podcast on Anchor.fm focused on family, film, and creative process. Wes is a portrait photographer and police officer that shares his thoughts and projects related to film photography.

Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast – Mike Gutterman from Louisville, Kentucky, hosts a “frequent” (sometimes bi-nightly) podcast. Most shows air two or three times early in the week, with co-host Andre Domingues joining Mike on Sunday nights. The podcast is presented with humor and a passion for film, answering listener questions and topics.

Not Afraid of Grain – Justin Holt of Toronto, Canada, hosts a weekly podcast and YouTube channel on his favorite film photography topics, rants, and tips.

Studio C-41 – A bi-weekly podcast hosted by Bill Manning, Steven Wallace, and John Schafer from Atlanta, Georgia. Interviews and topics about the resurgence of film photography.

Sunny 16 Podcast – From the United Kingdom, hosted by Rachel, Ade, and Graeme. A weekly podcast that is “dedicated to mucking around with analogue photography, film cameras, and all that good stuff.” Sunny 16 is another long-running favorite podcast that interviews guests and answers listener questions.

What did I miss? If you have a favorite podcast, make sure to comment and share a link.


Kosmo Foto

In 2017 Stephen Dowling, a Soviet camera aficionado, decided to release his own film called Kosmo Foto Mono. The 35mm film is a 100 ISO black and white stock that is a pre-existing emulsion from a European manufacturer. Since it’s release, there’s been a lot of buzz online about Kosmo Foto being a re-branded this-or-that, blah, blah, blah. Who cares! The majority of the online film community is very supportive and delighted to see a new film, and that’s what really matters.

After shooting my first roll, I consulted the development chart and found that Kodak D-76 was not listed. I remember Alex Luyckx talking about his experience with Kosmo Foto and developers on the Classic Camera Revival Podcast. A quick instant message to Alex on Facebook and he provided me with a developing time. Below are some of my favorite shots that show the impressive balanced contrast and grain. As a plus, this film lays perfectly flat for scanning. I’m looking forward to shooting and using more on this film stock.

Camera: Yashica Electro 35 GS (1970 – 1973)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono – 100 ISO BW
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:00 @ 20° C, Kodak Indicator Stop Bath 1:00, Kodak Fixer 5:00, Kodak Photo-Flo 2:00.
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo


Konica Autoreflex TC

The Konica Autoreflex TC was manufactured and sold from 1976 to 1982. The body was lighter and smaller than previous Konica designs because the camera frame is metal, everything else is plastic. Looking at photos of the camera, you would never know that so much of this camera is plastic. It is however, very sturdy and well built. The Autoreflex features a metal focal plane shutter, shutter speeds of 1/8th – 1/1000th sec & bulb, an ISO range from 25 – 1600, split-image focusing on a microprism ring, and a CdS TTL light meter.

I found this camera in a local pawn shop for $10 and couldn’t pass it up. Why? Instead of the normal 50mm lens seen on most cameras of this age, it has a Hexanon AR 40mm f/1.8 pancake lens. This lens was typically sold with the Konica FS-1 and was eventually packaged with the TC. The lens is f/1.8 to 22 with auto exposure. With the light weight molded plastic body, and smaller lens design, the TC is a great camera for travel. The pancake lens has also achieved some recent popularity as an affordable sharp lens for Sony digital cameras with an adapter for photos and video.

I can see two problems in my images from this camera. One, this was one of my very first rolls in 2017 where I started to process all my own BW film in Kodak D-76. The negatives are spotty and have some residue on them. Second, the camera originally took two PX675 1.3v mercury batteries. I suspect using different batteries in the camera caused some meter discrepancies due to voltage differences.

Camera: Konica Autoreflex TC (1976 – 1982)
Film: FPP EDU 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Europe 2017 on Film

This year will always remain memorable because my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by taking a 3-week trip to Europe. We went with a small group and visited Italy, Switzerland, and France. I took three cameras: Canon 6D, Pentax K1000, and Olypus OM-1MD. I spent most days taking digital shots, but used the two film cameras for early morning walks and evening adventures. Trying not to pack around too much gear each day, I’d swap one of the two film cameras in and out of my bag. Many people have asked us, “What was your favorite place to visit?” There’s no way possible to answer that question. From day-to-day we kept thinking, “Wow, today was fantastic! It can’t get any better than this.” Only to be surprised by the sights and experiences we’d have the very next day.