Category Archives: Film Cameras

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

 

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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

 


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.


A First Time for Everything

I came to know Bailey when my wife and I took a trip last summer with a group to Europe. Bailey is a senior in high school and enjoys playing the piano, Harry Potter, boys, and photography. After returning from Europe, I emailed Bailey and asked if she wanted a film camera to try. She quickly replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” I gave Bailey the Olympus OM-1 MD that I took to Europe, provided a short tutorial, presented her with a manual, and a roll of Ilford HP5+ black and white film. A few weeks later, we met and shot the Kulture Krash Car Show in Clearfield, Utah. After the car show, I asked Bailey if she would be interested in developing her roll of film. Again, she gave me another enthusiastic, “Yes!” A few weeks passed, and she came over to the UTFP Worldwide Headquarters (my house). I showed her how to load a Patterson reel, and explained the chemistry we would be using. Since I needed my roll of film from the car show developed, I had Bailey develop mine at the same time. After the final rinse, she took her negatives off the reel to hang up, and her first response was, “Oh cool!” She experienced that feeling film photographers get when they see the final results of something physical they’ve created. Overall, she did fantastic and had a positive experience. Through a Q and A, I asked Bailey if she would share some of her thoughts.

What camera and film did you use?

My first ever film camera and the one I used on this shoot was the Olympus OM-1, with 400 ISO film.

While you were shooting, did anyone ask you about the camera?

This sweet little old man sparked up a conversation about my film camera, asking me what kind of camera it was and telling me about one of his old film cameras.

What did you take photos of?

All of the photos I took were of different cars at the car show in Clearfield, most of them focusing on the cars, but a few with people in them.

What did you like about taking photos with a film camera?

I loved being able to adjust the settings manually and seeing how it affected the photo; I know you can do this on DSLR cameras when put on the manual setting, but most of the time before shooting with my film camera, I just set my DSLR on automatic. Shooting with a film camera makes you adjust the settings and really get familiar with the mechanics of photography.

What did you dislike about taking photos with a film camera?

You really have to take your time with a film camera, making sure you get the exact shot you want, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It makes you better at composing your photos, but there are also times when I like to take lots of photos of the same thing, from slightly different angles or different composures, and then just choose the one I liked later on the computer. Obviously, with a film camera, taking lots of photos of the same thing isn’t very practical as the film does cost a bit and you don’t want to have a roll of film all of the same thing.

What was the easiest part about using this camera?

The easiest part of using the Olympus OM-1 was probably the accessibility of all the settings. Anything I needed to adjust, I could do so with my left hand on the lens, twisting and turning as needed. Another thing that was very helpful was the light meter; I could see how I needed to adjust the settings in order to have optimal lighting.

What was the hardest part about using this camera?

The hardest part of using this camera was getting used to adjusting all the settings by hand and not just having it done for me automatically, but it was, as I said earlier a very rewarding experience to now know how to do that.

What did you learn by taking photos with a film camera?

I learned a lot about lighting, aperture, and how to adjust certain things to make my photos better.

What did you think of the development process?

The development process was actually a lot easier than I expected! I was able to load the film much quicker than I thought I would, and developing the photos themselves is really just a lot of pouring in chemicals and waiting. It was really cool to actually develop the photos, though, rather than just have them printed off. I loved doing it.

Did you think anything was particularly hard or easy about the development process?

The easiest part was definitely just pouring in the chemicals and dumping them out. Once I got the film loaded into the tank, it’s a super simple process from there on out.

What advice would you give other teens about shooting and developing film?

1. Learning about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and all that in my photography class at first seemed confusing, but actually applying while taking my photos made a lot more sense. Don’t be afraid to play around with the settings and try new things out, it really helps you understand how everything works more.
2. Try loading film in the light before you do the actual thing in the dark (obviously with a roll of film you aren’t going to use). It helps.
3. Find someone in the field of film photography to help you out with everything. Ask them questions, have them show you how to do things, etc. Learning things for yourself online is good, but having someone in person to teach you is all the better.

You can see more of Bailey’s photography on her new website. With graduation and moving away to college, I hope Bailey continues to be creative whether it’s through her photography or music. Here are some of Bailey’s favorites from her first roll.

Camera: Olympus OM-1 MD (1974 – 1979)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Nikomat FTn

I found this Nikomat FTn at a local thrift store in October. After purchasing the camera, I searched through the bag it came in, and found that it was purchased in the Tokyo Airport in 1971 by a Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint) missionary returning home to Utah. The camera and lens are in excellent condition, and based on the film that was also in the bag, it likely hasn’t been used since the late 1980’s.

The Nikomat FTn was manufactured and sold by Nikon from 1967 to 1975 in Japan. The FTn was part of the Nikon F and F2 family and was based on the original Nikkomat FT that was commonly used by professional photographers. Nikon marketed the FTn to the consumer and prosumer markets as a cost-effective alternative. The camera came with a card that reads: On the “Nikomat” camera name… The brand name of this camera “NIKOMAT” Is used for the cameras being sold in Japan, while “NIKKORMAT” for the export model only. There is, however, no difference at all between the two in specifications, functions and performance.”

It’s a fantastic camera with all the features and specs you might expect: ISO 12 – 1600, metal focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 sec to 1/1000th, bulb, TTL metering center-weighted average with a CdS cell powered by a 1.3v battery, visible meter in the viewfinder and the top of the camera body. The camera came with a Nikkor SC Auto f/1.4 50mm lens. While the FTn is built like a tank, it’s not as heavy as the Nikon F with FTn Viewfinder.

This is probably the first film camera I’ve reviewed on UTFP that I will be sharing almost the entire test roll. I’m not a “car guy,” but I do enjoy photographing car shows to mainly shoot the details. These images are from the annual Kulture Krash Car Show in Clearfield, Utah. I was accompanied by my friend, Baily, who was shooting film for the very first time. I’ll save that story for another day. For a review of the exported Nikkormat FTn, head over to Jim Grey’s site.

Camera: Nikon Nikomat FTn (1967 – 1975)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

 


Nikon F (1959 – 1973) and FTn Viewfinder

Up to this point, I’ve only ever used one other Nikon film camera, the Nikon EM. After spending a few weeks talking with friends, I decided it was time to get a proper Nikon SLR. Something a little older. A classic Nikon. That’s when I learned that I really didn’t know a lot about Nikon SLR’s. My friend Maurice Greeson suggested I start with the Nikon F. Before I continue, I’m sure a seasoned Nikonian will correct me if I describe something inaccurately. Please do, no offense taken.

Maurice gave me a Nikon FTn viewfinder/exposure meter with a 50mm Nikkor-S f/1.4 lens. All I had to do was find a Nikon F body, which isn’t hard to do. What is slightly hard to do is find one on eBay in acceptable condition. As I was searching, I’d send Maurice an email and ask, “What about this one? Or, this one? This one?” What I didn’t understand is the F was originally sold with a standard prism viewfinder. The eye-level penta-prism can be interchanged with a waist-level viewfinder, as well as the FTn. The FTn is essentially a viewfinder with a built-in light meter. When changing the lens on the camera, the meter coupling pins must be indexed with the lens. To summarize, the FTn needs to know what aperture values are available on the lens you are mounting. This was something entirely new to me, but it makes sense.

The Nikon F was manufactured from March 1959 to October 1973. The F was known in the 1960’s as the camera used by photo journalists, capturing images from Vietnam, the US exploration of Mt. Everest, and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. There were eight types of viewfinder screens available, as well as interchangeable high capacity backs and motor drives. Originally priced at $186 USD (camera and 50mm f/2 lens), that’s about $498 today, the camera attracted both professional and amateur photographers.

According to the serial number on my Nikon F, it was produced between April – July 1970. This camera is a tank! According to kenrockwell.com, the camera and FTn viewfinder alone weigh 1.92 lbs. When you add the lens, it’s easily over 2 pounds. If I were a photojournalist in Vietnam and found myself in a dangerous situation, I think I would have used this camera as a weapon.

The FTn viewfinder and photographic screen both have 100% coverage, giving the photographer a bright viewing area. The camera has a split-image focal screen and a titanium foil focal-plane shutter. The FTn has an ASA range from 6 to 6400, shutter speeds are 1 sec – 1/1000th sec and bulb.

The Nikon F is a classic camera. This camera set the bar for SLR cameras and showed the world that Nikon, and Japanese camera manufactures, were capable of producing exceptional photographic equipment. Special thanks to Maurice Greeson for donating the FTn, lens, and book Nikon F Handbook of Photography (1971 Edition) by Joseph D. Cooper and Joseph C. Abbott.

Camera: Nikon F (with FTn Viewfinder) (1959 – 1984)
Film: Kodak BW400CN
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Kodak Instamatic 300 & Camerhack 135 to 126 Adapter

The Kodak Instamatic is a camera that I recall from my childhood. My parents and grandparents had them before moving to Kodak 110 cameras in the 1970’s. Kodak’s 126 film was introduced in 1963 and was marketed as an easy-load film cartridge. The film itself is 35mm film, paper backed, with a single sprocket hole per frame to allow each 28 x 28mm shot to advance through the camera. It wasn’t until 1987 that Kodak discontinued the format.

Camerhack in Italy has designed and 3-D prints a 135 (35mm) to 126 film adapter kit. The cartridge allows you to load standard 35mm film into a reusable cartridge so it can be used in a classic Kodak Instamatic, or any other camera that used 126 film. Claudio from Camerhack includes a detailed instruction booklet that guides you through the process. And even better, he’s also created a YouTube video that walks you step-by-step through loading, shooting and re-spooling.

 

Here are my tips for using the Camerhack 135 to 126 FAK:

  • Plan to sacrifice a roll of 35mm film. This will help you practice loading the cartridge in the light. When you’re ready to load your favorite film in the adapter, you’ll be ready to do it in the dark.
  • With your sacrificed roll of film, practice advancing the film in the camera. Instamatic cameras have a needle inside that is tripped by a sprocket hole when the film is advanced. You’ll find that each camera does this a little different. For example, my Kodak Instamatic 300 and Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic advanced very differently. Which leads me to the most important tip.
  • Listen for the click. With my Kodak Instamatic 300, I had to press the shutter, take the shot, press the shutter button down (doesn’t actually open the shutter), advance the film until the shutter advance would CLICK. The key for me was holding the camera up to my ear and listening for that click to know that the film had advanced. The click is the key to success!
  • Following Claudio’s instructions, if you decided to roll the film (in the dark) back into a 35mm cartridge to have it processed at a lab, know that the sprocket holes will get a little chewed up by the camera. This is caused by the needle inside that I mentioned earlier. When you roll the film back into the cartridge, wind it slowly.
  • Only use a 24-exposure roll of 35mm film. Keep in mind that the original number of exposures on 126 film cartridges was 12 to 20. Using a 24-exposure roll should give you 16 to 20 images depending on the spacing between each shot. Using a smaller roll will also prevent the film from scratching when you load the film adapter.

Camera: Kodak Instamatic 300 (1963 – 1966)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

Kodak Instamatic 300 (1963 - 1966)


Double Exposure Roll Exchange

Back in the Spring, Mike Williams and I were thinking about something new to shoot, and decided to try a double exposure roll exchange. A tag team roll of Ilford HP5 Plus that each of us would shoot on. Mike was first to shoot on the roll with one of his new favorite cameras, the Minolta X-700 (1981). After he was done, he rewound the roll and shipped it from North Carolina to me in Utah. I wanted to shoot the roll with some sprockets, so I used the FPP Plastic Filmtastic Debonair (1988). After I had finished the roll, it was developed by RepliColor in Salt Lake City, and scanned on my Epson V600. The results are interesting. Should Mike and I try another double exposure roll? What do you think? Leave a comment and tell me what film and cameras we should use.


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!