Author Archives: Shaun Nelson

About Shaun Nelson

Learning to shoot analog in a digital world. UtahFilmPhotography.com is dedicated to sharing information, sharing experience and sharing knowledge about film photography and vintage cameras.

Leica M3 (1959) – Part 1

Over the past few years of buying and shooting vintage cameras, there’s one camera I never thought I’d actually own, and that’s a Leica. Why? A Leica always seemed like a “bucket list camera.” Nice to look at, but too expensive to own. Of course, I had to ask myself, do they live up to the hype? Or do photographers tell themselves they are outstanding cameras to justify spending the money?

About a year ago, my friend Scott Smith purchased this M3 from our mutual friend, Maurice Greeson, who is a Leica collector and expert on all things Leica. Scott decided that after purchasing an M6, he wasn’t using this M3 as much as he used to. It was a hard decision for Scott to sell me the M3 because it’s in beautiful condition, and Maurice had taken excellent care of it. In a small way, I had to convince Scott to sell it to me. However, with all Leica camera owners, I consider myself the “current possessor” of this camera. The build quality will outlive me or any of its future owners. And as a side note, I’ve promised both Scott and Maurice visitation privileges as long as I have the camera.

Leica M3 (1959)

Production of the M3 began in 1954 and was the transition point for Leitz to move from screw-mount lenses to the updated Leica M Mount. The M Mount was able to give new M-series cameras a single viewfinder/rangefinder window. The M3 features a coupled rangefinder with an incredibly bright viewfinder, and a focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/1000th second. Early models of the M3 had a two-throw film advance, meaning you had to move the film advance lever twice to move the film to the next frame. And those early models also had German-based shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, etc. This M3 is a single-throw model and came with a Leicameter MR.

Several version of Leicameter’s were made starting in 1951. The MR was manufactured from 1965-1967 and has CdS cell behind a small lens. The meter mounts to the flash shoe on the camera and is coupled with the shutter dial. A meter reading is taken by pressing the needle release button for 2 seconds, then using the channel scale, you know where to set the correct lens aperture.

When I initially purchased the M3, I didn’t have a lens. Maurice loaned me his 5cm f/2.0 Summicron-M (1956). This lens is the second version of the Summicron 5cm and is a rigid lens, meaning it doesn’t collapse like the original. The updated lens increased the distance between the front lens elements. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of this lens on the camera. All the photos below were shot with the 5cm f/2.0 Summicron-M lens, making this part one of a two-part post. In the next post, I’ll share some images taken with the M3 and the new 7 Artisan’s 50mm f/1.1 lens.

Overall, I’m very happy to have an M3. A few friends have joked with me about becoming a Leica snob, or professing the “Leica lifestyle.” It’s been an ongoing joke with me and Mike Williams. I don’t see myself becoming obsessed with Leica gear. I may have champagne taste, but I’m always on a PBR budget. I’ve never used a rangefinder that has such a big, bright, viewfinder. That’s probably my favorite thing about Leica cameras. And the camera is so quiet to operate, you almost don’t hear the shutter click. And again, I could go on-and-on about the build quality of this camera because it is incredible.

Camera: Leica M3 (1959)
Lens: 50mm 5cm Summicron-M f/2/0 (Rigid/2nd version) (1956)
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:45 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

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Hasselblad 501CM (1997)

Over Memorial Day weekend last month, I rented a Hasselblad 501CM kit from Acme Camera in Sugarhouse, Utah. The camera itself is a medium format SLR and came with an 80mm Planar CFE 2.8 T* lens. The 4lb camera shoots 6×6 images on 120 film and features a leaf shutter with speeds from 1 – 1/500th of a second and bulb mode. The Gliding Mirror System in the body provides you with a full view of your image in the waist level viewfinder, and it’s incredible! It’s bright and clear from edge-to-edge. All of these images were shot on Ultrafine Xtreme 400, a film from Photo Warehouse. I used my Gossen Luna Pro S to meter the light. If I ever decide to buy a Hasselblad, I would want a pentaprism viewfinder with built-in meter. The slap of the mirror when firing the shutter is an incredible sound on this camera. And because this camera is a single-piece, cast aluminum body, it simply feels like a piece of professional gear in your hands. Overall, this camera was enjoyable to use. I’m still undecided on the Ultrafine Xtreme 120 film. It seems a bit grainy compared to other medium format ISO 400 black and white films. Even when trying to darken or lighten the images in Photoshop, I’m not really satisfied.

Some of these photos were part of a family day trip to two ghost towns in Utah. The trip was inspired by Jennifer Jones at The Dead History. The first ghost town we visited was Thistle, Utah, where a large landslide in 1983 blocked the Spanish Fork River. This caused water to engulf the town within 2 days. People moved away and the town was deserted. The next ghost town we visited was Spring Canyon, outside of Helper, Utah, where a town was established in 1912. The main purpose was to mine coal, and they were successful from 1924 – 1942. In 1969, the town was abandoned. Many of the homes and buildings have been torn down, with the exception of the main mining building, where coal still sits in a large bin.

Camera: Hasselblad 501CM
Film: Ultrafine Xtreme 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 14:00 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 


Film Photowalk: Annual ‘No Show’ Air-Cooled VW Show

For the past three years I’ve tried to think of ways to organize a photowalk with other film photographers. The annual VW ‘No Show’ is one of my favorite car shows. Not because I’m a car guy, or a Volkswagen fan. It’s just a fun car show that’s not too big, or too small. The VW owners are fun to talk with, and they enjoy having their cars photographed. Mark your calendar and save the date!

11th Annual VW No Show - Kaysville, Utah

 

13th Annual ‘No Show’ Air-Cooled VW & Vintage Bicycle Gathering

Date: Saturday 18 August 2018

Start Time: 09:00 AM – Meet under the trees on the north-east corner of the park.

Estimated Duration: 2.0 hours

Country: United States

Start: 200 West Main Street (Bishop Field), Kaysville, UT, USA

On this photowalk, we’ll have the opportunity to photograph classic air-cooled Volkswagen’s and vintage bicycles. Please register for this photowalk at PhotoWalk.Me. By registering, you’ll receive updates on the photowalk, and can connect with other photographers to make carpool arrangements. Make sure to bring your favorite film camera(s) (or any camera), tripod, sunscreen, and water. More information on the show can be found on the VooDoo Kruizerz Facebook Page.

 


The Negative Positives Double-Exposure Film Exchange

After being a guest on The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast with Mike and Andre, I offered to help with a double-exposure film exchange. The idea behind a double-exposure film exchange is that one photographer shoots a roll of film, rewinds the film, and then sends it to someone else, who then shoots on the same roll. Listeners of the podcast signed up via a Google form and filled out their preferences to shoot black & white, color, etc. The resulting shots can be anything from artistic to crazy.

The response to the exchange was fantastic, being that it was the first time. Forty-two photographers from around the world signed up, shooting a total of twenty-one rolls of film. Some listeners were so enthusiastic to shoot and share that they signed up twice.

My partner for the Negative Positives Double-Exposure Film Exchange was Dan Cottle from Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Dan provided a roll of Ilford HP5+ black & white film, and shot the roll around his city, including Cadbury World where they produce some of the world’s best chocolate. Dan was even kind enough to send a Cadbury Egg to me with the exposed roll of film, which my wife promptly enjoyed.

After receiving the roll of film from Dan, I set out and exposed it a second time around my part of the world in Utah. Many of my shots included the Utah State Railroad Museum and the Hill Aerospace Museum. While Dan and I planned to line up our shots in the camera, it didn’t quite work out as planned. And from others in The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast Facebook Group, their intentions were the same.

This film roll exchange was a great way to become acquainted with another film photographer. It was also a good exercise at some abstract previsualization. We didn’t set any rules and had no grand expectations. However, our resulting images are interesting, mysterious, and creative.

Photographer #1
Dan Cottle
Birmingham, UK
Camera: Nikon FE

Photographer #2
Shaun Nelson
South Ogden, UT USA
Camera: Nikon F2

Film: Ilford HP5+ 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) @ 20° 13:00 Min
Scanned: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


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

 


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.