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.

Olympus OM-1 MD (1974 – 1979)

Up until last fall I didn’t own a single Olympus camera. Not by choice. They just never seemed to come up on my camera radar as a need to have item. I found someone in the local online classifieds selling an Olympus OM-1 with 50mm lens for $100. The seller indicated she was searching for some other used gear, so I texted her with some items I was willing to trade. When we met and I inspected the OM-1, I found that the film rewind knob had been broken and a poor attempt to fix it was made. And worse, the shutter advance would move, but nothing moved inside the camera. I went ahead with the trade and took it to a local camera shop and learned that the repair was going to be more than the value of the camera. Kind of a disappointment, but with the attitude of nothing to lose, I decided to take it apart and see if there was anything obvious that I could identify as broken. I’m terrible with repairs. I barely know which end of a screwdriver I should be using. And my repairs generally involve a lot of cussing and frustration. This time I surprised myself and managed to get the film advance to work. I took the film rewind knob to my friend Maurice, who has far more patience and repair knowledge than I ever will. He had the knob back together with new parts in no time at all. After everything was working, I cleaned up the outside of the camera and replaced the light seals on the back.


The Olympus OM-1 was released in 1972 as part of the new OM system. Like the Pentax K-1000 and Canon AE-1, the OM-1 has a large following. It’s an all mechanical camera with a full aperture TTL CdS exposure meter that’s represented by a needle visible in the viewfinder. And this camera has a big, bright, beautiful viewfinder. The viewfinder on the OM-1 has made it one of my favorites. It’s a solid camera body, but also compact and lightweight (675g).

To me, the best feature on the OM-1 is where they placed the shutter speed and aperture settings, the lens! At first, this kind of threw me a curve-ball, but the more I use it, the more I like it. With the camera up to your eye, looking through the viewfinder, naturally your left hand is going to be on the lens for focus. Why not put both shutter speed and aperture settings on the lens? You see that you’re under or over exposed with the meter, so using your left hand that’s already on the lens barrel, you can quickly change your shutter speed or f-stop value. My OM-1 is currently paired with a fast 50mm f/1.6 Olympus Zukio lens.

I’m glad I added the OM-1 to the UTFP fleet of cameras. It really is a fantastic SLR. The viewfinder is better than any Nikon, Canon or Pentax camera I have that was made during the same period. The lens is sharp. Moving the aperture control and shutter speed to the barrel was a brilliant move by Olympus. I like having the switch to the meter on top of the body so I don’t forget to power it off. One thing I don’t like on the OM-1 is the film advance. It has a long swing to it, maybe more so than other SLR’s made in the 1970’s.  And if the film advance on this body had issues, it’s likely going to happen again. However, if another one came up in the local classifieds for the right price, I wouldn’t hesitate to get it as a backup or parts body.

It’s probably a good point to note, though I refer to this camera as an OM-1, it’s really an OM-1 MD. Shortly after the OM-1 was manufactured in 1973, Olympus started to quickly add accessories and lenses for the OM System. One new accessory was a Motor Drive. The updated OM-1 MD had the necessary mounting holes in the bottom of the body where the OM-1 had none, this being the only key difference.

These images were shot on Kodak Ektachrome 100 (Expired 2007). This is some of my favorite slide film and I’m looking forward to shooting some more Ektachrome in the OM-1 when Kodak re-releases it later this year!


Tie Fighter Pinhole Camera

A co-worker recently came back from Disneyland and gave me a plastic Star Wars Tie Fighter popcorn bucket that she had purchased. With Worldwide Pinhole Day coming up on April 30th, I thought how cool it would it be to turn this Tie Fighter into a pinhole camera. Now, it’s not as much of a pinhole camera itself as it is a pinhole camera holder. Deep inside the Tie Fighter is a cardboard Sharan 35mm pinhole camera.

The Tie Fighter comes apart in four pieces. The wings come off the center Command Pod which is held together with 6 screws. After taking the Tie Fighter apart, I cut out the hexagon shape (Solar Ionizer Reactor) on the back for the pinhole. My initial plan was to cannibalize parts from a few other pinhole kits, but then decided it would be easier to mount a camera inside. This way I wouldn’t need to modify the Tie Fighter, but know that a camera from a kit worked.

I assembled a Sharan STD-35e pinhole camera that I had purchased a few years ago. The cardboard is pre-cut, sturdy, and the instructions are easy to follow. To make sure the pinhole of the Sharan lines up with the opening on the back of the Tie Fighter, I placed two round Velcro patches on the left and right-hand sides of the camera. And to make sure that the camera doesn’t move, or pop open, I placed a Velcro strap horizontally along the back of the camera. The Sharan fits snug and perfect inside the Tie Fighter, ready to take on any member of the Rebel fleet!

To trigger the shutter, I drilled a small hole in the top of the Tie Fighter and attached a paperclip to the cardboard shutter that covers the pinhole. With the top hatch of the pod closed, the paperclip can be pulled up to let the light pass through the pinhole and expose the film. Because the camera is slightly recessed inside the Tie Fighter, the hexagon shape should create the similar shape on the exposed images adding to the uniqueness.

Advancing the film is done by opening the top hatch of the pod and turning the take-up spool counterclockwise. Loading the film and camera into the pod is not easy. The six screws must be removed so the pod can be taken apart into two pieces. The camera can then be removed to load film, rewind film, remove film, etc.

“Oh, I’m afraid the Tie Fighter Pinhole will be quite operational for Worldwide Pinhole Day.”

Technical Specs:

  • First Order Special Forces Tie Fighter
  • Advance Hyperdrive Engine
  • 2 x Laser Cannons – Turret – Warhead Launcher
  • Two Seat – Pilot & Gunner
  • Pinhole – .16mm
  • Focal Length – 20mm
  • F-Stop – f/130
  • Film Type – 135 (35mm)

2016 Laundromat Project

In late 2015 I decided to do a small personal photographic project for the upcoming year. One subject, one camera, one roll of film. I selected the Pentax Spotmatic and a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400.

Pentax Spotmatic (1964 - 1973)

The subject was to photograph different laundromats in Northern Utah. The locations I selected were: Terrace Laundry in Washington Terrace, Wash Tub in North Ogden, 4th Street Laundromat in Salt Lake City and Hart’s in Roy. The purpose of a personal photographic project is to take you out of your element, try something different, and challenge yourself.

You get a lot of strange looks, questions and questionable looks when you show up at a laundromat with an old camera, not laundry. So, how was this experience? I follow photographers on Twitter that make entire books or zines out of this type of photography. To me, it just felt lazy. I discovered that this type of photography is not my style. If I were to do it again, I would photograph the people in the laundromat, not machines and signs. I learned something about myself, and used this roll to practice developing film at home. Process: D-76 (Stock) 6:45 Min @ 20° C, scanned with an Epson Perfection V600 Photo.

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry - Washington Terrace, Utah

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry – Washington Terrace, Utah

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry - Washington Terrace, Utah

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry – Washington Terrace, Utah

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry - Washington Terrace, Utah

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry – Washington Terrace, Utah

The idea was to photographic inside various laundromat's in Northern Utah.

[2016_01_31] Terrace Laundry – Washington Terrace, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub - North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub – North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub - North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub – North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub - North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub – North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub - North Ogden, Utah

[2016_03_25] Wash Tub – North Ogden, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat - Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat – Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat - Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat – Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat - Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat – Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat - Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_04_29] 4th Street Laundromat – Salt Lake City, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart's - Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart’s – Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart's - Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart’s – Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart's - Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart’s – Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart's - Roy, Utah

[2016_07_10] Hart’s – Roy, Utah


Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

Camera: Graflex Crown Graphic Pacemaker (1955)
Film: Kodak 4×5 T-Max 400 (Expired April 2002)
Process: D-76 (Stock) 6:45 Min @ 20°C
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

Old Warehouse - Salt Lake City, Utah

Old Warehouse – Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Safety Building - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Safety Building – Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Safety Building - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Safety Building – Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Library - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Library – Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Library - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Library – Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Library - Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City Public Library – Salt Lake City, Utah


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 ShootFilmCo.com 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.

ShootFilmCo.com - 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.

ShootFilmCo.com – 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.

ShootFilmCo.com - 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!

ShootFilmCo.com - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book

Use the discount code UTAHFILM and save 20% on your PhotoMemo order at ShootFilmCo.com. While you’re there, get some cool vinyl stickers, camera bag patches, and pins.

ShootFilmCo.com - PhotoMemo Photographer's Memo Book & Vinyl Stickers


WIN A SET OF PHOTOMEMO PHOTOGRAPHER’S MEMO BOOKS
Mike Padua at ShootFilmCo.com 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.