Category Archives: 135 Film (35mm)

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

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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.


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


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!


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.


Minolta Hi-Matic F

The Hi-Matic series was Minolta’s most popular line of consumer rangefinder cameras. The F was produced in 1972 as an economy model. Not only economic in price, but in size and weight. The Hi-Matic F weighs 350g and measures only 113 x 73 x 54mm.  With a small footprint, the camera does have a nice 38mm, f/2.7 Rokkor coated lens. The CdS meter on the camera automates the aperture and exposure for shutter speeds from 4 to 1/724 sec. On the lens itself, a flash guide number is printed so the photographer can select distance to the subject for flash photography.

While the camera is small enough to carry wherever you go, the absence of any manual controls make it feel like a point-and-shoot. The Hi-Matic F is a great all-purpose camera. It would make a nice addition to a street photographers kit because of its discreet size and shutter sound. My test shots were made with Kodak Tri-X 400, and scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo.