Tag Archives: 135 Film (35mm)

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)

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.


Zorki 4

I have to admit something that every photographer has done at least a dozen times. I coveted my friends Leica cameras. Maybe coveted is too strong of a word, but I’m a sucker for a good rangefinder camera, but also aware that my funds don’t allow me to possess a Leica. However, I can afford a Zorki!

The Zorki 4 was manufactured by KMZ, Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod, from 1956 to 1973 near Moscow in the former USSR. This model was one of the most popular because it was exported from Russia to the western world. The Zorki 4 features a cloth focal plane shutter, with shutter speeds from 1s – 1/1000s. According to some research, there were at least 32 versions of the Zorki 4 released during its 17-year run. All of the changes were cosmetic, either by changing the way the camera name was printed (or engraved) along with anniversary models or commemorative editions. The model that I purchased was manufactured in 1963 (Zorki 4B), indicated by the first two-digits in the serial number. The Zorki 4 uses the old Leica M39 lens screw mount. The cameras were sold with either a Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 or Industar-50 50mm f/3.5 lens. I chose to purchase a model with the Jupiter lens because of the reviews I’ve read and comments from friends.

Overall, this camera is built like a tank, a Russian tank. The camera is easy to focus, and the viewfinder is bright. If I compared it to a pre-war Leica, like most photographers do, I would say that the sound of the shutter, and the feel of the camera are exactly what I’d expect. One disadvantage of the Zorki 4 is the viewfinder. It’s is so big that you don’t know where the edges of your framed shot are, or where they should be. Ideally, it should have been designed like other rangefinders at the time with faint boarder lines in the viewfinder. Image composition is difficult.

I love that this camera is all mechanical, no batteries, and no meter. The Jupiter lens is easy to focus and provides nice depth of field. One of the best pieces of advice I read online before pulling the trigger on eBay was; you get what you pay for with the Zorki. Most are shipped from sellers in Russia and normally the price indicates the condition and functionality of the camera. Of course you always want to check seller feedback, current sold and shipping prices. My test images were shot on Film Photography Project’s Edu 200 BW Film. Currently I have some Svema BW Super Positive ISO .8 BW Film from the Film Photography Project loaded in the Zorki. Russian camera, Russian film, отлично!


Pentax ME Super

Another great thrift store find from 2015 was the Pentax ME Super. I actually bought two of them in one week by accident. The second came from a local pawn shop. I gave it to a friend’s 8-year old son as a gift when our family traveled to Portland, Oregon. I’ve detailed some of the features below, but found that my fellow blogger and film enthusiast, Simon Hawketts, has done a great job detailing the specs on his site.

The Pentax ME Super was manufactured from 1980 to 1986, and is the younger, newer sibling to the Pentax ME and MV models. Both of these prior models are all automatic and have no manual modes. The ME Super has aperture priority, manual, 125X and bulb modes. The ME Super features a focal plane shutter with speeds from f/4 to 1/2000. The exposure meter is an open aperture TTL center weighted type that is displayed in the viewfinder with a series of LED’s. The ISO range is 12 to 1600. The lens paired with my ME Super is a SMC Pentax K bayonet mount, 50mm f/2 lens. Overall, the ME Super is a great camera. At the time, it was Pentax’s smallest and lightest SLR at 440g.

Before I started tracking my cameras loaded with film with the Film Roll app on my iPhone, I had forgotten that my ME Super was loaded. There’s a large gap in time between the first group of shots and the end of the roll. They start in early spring and end of Veteran’s Day. For my testing, I shot a roll of Lomography Color 400.

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Expired, Retired, and Still Fired – Part 2

Camera: Yashica Electro 35 GS (1970 – 1973)
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400 (Expired 6/10) bought at Goodwill for $.99
Process: RepliColor, Salt Lake City, UT
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

 

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Yashica Electro 35 GS

The Electro 35 GS was the third generation of Electro automatic rangefinder cameras made by Yashica from 1970 -1972. The Electro GS features a sharp Yashinon f/1.7 – 16, 45mm lens. A CdS cell on the front-left of the camera detects the amount of light and alerts you on the top of the camera and in the viewfinder. The yellow light on top of the camera, yellow left-arrow in the viewfinder, indicates the image will be under-exposed and requires a slow shutter speed. The red light, red right-arrow in the viewfinder, indicates the image will be over-exposed and requires a faster shutter speed. The camera sensing the light will automatically set the shutter speed, allowing the photographer to set the aperture. Overall, a super easy-to-use aperture priority camera.

The Electro 35 GS was given to me as a gift from my good friend, Mike Williams, in North Carolina. Mike discovered the Electro series and raved about them, so much that he bought himself a second and sent me this camera. I replaced the seals and was anxious to give it a try. Mike was also nice enough to send along a roll of Ilford Delta 100 film. We have an unofficial wager as to what’s the better rangefinder: Minolta Hi-Matic 7S (1966), Yashica Electro 35 GS (1970), or the Canon Canonet G-III QL17 (1972).

To test the Electro, I spent a Saturday morning at the Vee-Dub Club of Northern Utah Air Cooled Volkswagen No Show in Kaysville. It’s the non-show of summer car shows showcasing some of the best, and worst, air cooled Beetle’s, buses, and buggies. I’ve never owned a VW, but it’s a fun show.

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Canon Photura

After I graduated from high school 1989, I went to work at my local Best Products store in Riverdale, Utah. If you don’t remember Best, it was also known by its former name, LaBelle’s. It was a catalog showroom where customers would walk the isles of the store or browse a catalog, find the product they wanted to purchase, write down the product on an order form and bring it to the order desk. If the item was in stock, it would gently roll out on a conveyer belt. Best was known for jewelry, electronics, sporting goods, housewares and toys. I was part of a group that made sure the products were on display in the store. During the five years I worked there, I decorated countless Christmas trees, unpackaged hundreds of TVs, and managed to meet my wife.

In the electronics area of the store were several large glass cases that displayed cameras. Best sold everything from Canon, Nikon, and Pentax. Some entry-level SLRs and numerous point-and-shoot cameras. One of the cameras I loved to play with was the Canon Photura. It looked like a small video camera and had a strange lens cover that also became the flash. Having no money and no interest in photography, I was content to pull it out of the case on occasion to play with it. One day last year my wife and I were reminiscing about dating, working at the same place and all the odd people we encountered. I suddenly remembered the Photura and went to eBay to purchase one.

Made in 1990 by Canon in Japan, some say that the Photura is one of the last truly innovative camera designs that Canon made. It’s an odd cylinder shape, and when the lens cover is opened on its hinge, it becomes a fresnel lens and flash. The Photura is the easiest camera to load by simply dropping in the 35mm canister in a vertical position and closing the camera back. It features a 3-point Smart Focus lens with a near-infrared beam to assist. Shutter speeds are 2 seconds to 1/250th, and shoots ISO 25-3200. The camera has a 35 – 105mm f/2.8 – 6.6 powered zoom lens.

To test my Canon Photura, I used Lomography Color 400 Film. While there is some grain, I like the color. These photos look identical to the photos from my Pentax IQ Zoom that my wife (then girlfriend) gave to me for Christmas in 1990. The flash and its plastic fresnel lens emit a lot of light. More light than any point-and-shoot camera I’ve ever used, digital included.

 


Nikon EM

Nikon EM - 35mm Film (1979 - 1982)

The Nikon EM was produced in Japan from 1979 – 1982. The EM series of cameras was introduced as an entry-level SLR camera for budget minded photographers, $231 (USD). It’s interesting to learn, the EM was designed for, and marketed to, a growing market of female photographers. The camera weighs 16 ounces, has no manual exposure mode, and features a shutter speed from f/1 – 1/1000, bulb, and flash X-sync of 1/90 second. The thought was beginners had not mastered exposure, shutter speeds and f-stops. This section of the market was also moving up from rangefinders and compacts, but were intimidated by traditional SLR features. In the viewfinder is an exposure meter that beeps at the photographer if the exposure is too high or low, very cute. All Nikon F bayonet mount lenses can be used on the EM. To distinguish the EM from other Nikon cameras, the Series E line of lenses were created to differentiate between professional Nikkor ones. I bought this EM at a local pawn shop for $20. It’s the first Nikon product I’ve ever owned. Why? Not because I haven’t wanted to own a Nikon camera. It’s because every time I find a Nikon camera, they never have a lens! There’s nothing more depressing than a box of lensless Nikon cameras. You Nikon fanatics have the ability to hold on to your glass longer than any other camera manufacturer has allowed. I say that jokingly, but I mean it as a sincere compliment. I really enjoy this camera. I like the small footprint and weight. My first roll of film through the EM was 35mm Kodak Hawekeye Super Color, also known as Film Photography Project hand rolled Kodak Hawkeye Traffic Surveillance Film. Unfortunately, as you can see from photos, my EM has a light leak. I’m going to replace the light seals next week.

 

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Pentax Spotmatic

One of my favorite looking classic cameras is the original 1964 Pentax Spotmatic made in Japan by Asahi. The Spotmatic was the first 35mm SLR camera to use TTL (Through the Lens) metering. The meter originally required a 1.35v mercury cell battery and is the only non-mechanical function on the camera. I found this camera at a local pawn shop for $10 and figured I would take a chance. After some research, I found the meter in my Spotmatic works great with a 1.5v silver oxide battery. I like the match-needle meters in the old Pentax cameras (i.e. K-1000 and ME Super) better than LED lights. There’s nothing simpler than matching up your aperture or shutter speed to a needle in the viewfinder. During early production of the Spotmatic, the TTL meter was designed to be a spot meter, hence the name Spotmatic. However, because it was difficult to use, the meter was changed to average. Averagematic? It’s a good thing they kept the original name.

The Spotmatic takes Pentax M42 screw-mount lenses. Many of these lenses can be found at thrift stores, flea markets, and eBay. They’re plentiful, solid, and relatively cheap. Shutter speeds on the Spotmatic are 1 – 1000 and bulb. Camera ISO settings are 20 – 1600.

To test my Spotmatic, I shot a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 BW film and developed the negatives in New55 R3 Monobath Developer. The negatives were scanned with an Epson V600 and finished in Photoshop CC. The results were better than I expected. They’re sharp, and the Ilford film has very fine grain. If I were a college student in a film photography class, it would be difficult to choose between the Spotmatic and the K-1000. The decision would really come down to price because these two cameras have a lot of features in common. Since my initial purchase, I bought another Spotmatic body on eBay, knowing the meter didn’t work. To accompany the camera, I also purchased a pinhole lens cap to do some simple 35mm pinhole photography.

Note: Because the film had been in the camera for a few months, I forgot and cracked the back of the camera open. This created some exposed spacing above and below the film sprockets. Several frames were exposed, but I salvaged what I could. This was before I started using Film Rolls on my iPhone.

 


Canon A-1 & Robots

Working in secret, my wife bought me this camera with the help of my friend Scott Smith. Being a Canon digital photographer for the past eight years, I knew I wanted a 35mm film SLR and at some point mentioned it to my wife. I was very surprised when I opened this gift on Christmas morning in 2013. To ensure the camera worked properly, my wife had Scott buy one from KEH.com. I’ve never purchased anything from KEH Camera, but it’s a great source for used gear because they inspect, test and rate every item in their used inventory so that buyers are aware of cosmetic condition and back it up with a 180-day warranty.

The Canon A-1 was manufactured from 1978 – 1985. It was typically sold with a 28mm or 50mm FD mount lens, but the three most common at the time were: 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/2.8, or 70-210mm f/4. Because the A-1 was commonly sold in a kit, it was always discounted and the price ranged from $375 – $425. My A-1 came with the 28mm f/2.8 lens. It’s a good lens, but a little wide for what I wanted. So I purchased a 50mm f/1.4 on eBay. Over the past year I’ve spoken to several people who have this lens/camera combination and they all make the same comment. Canon had an issue with this particular lens at the time and you either bought a good or a bad copy, no in-between. When I heard this, I was a little hesitant, but the price was right. I must have obtained a good copy because the lens is sharp and fun to use.

The A-1 features both aperture and shutter priority modes. This was the first Canon camera to have sophisticated electronics. At the time it generated a lot of debate among traditional film photographers. The purists believed the computer did too much for the photographer as it was the first camera to have true automatic program modes. Since when have “purist photographers” not debated?

My son, Connor, is really interested in robotics. We decide to attend the 2015 First Tech Challenge at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The FTC robotics competition consists of teenage teams that compete with robots they designed, built and programmed. I took my Canon A-1, 50mm f/1.4, and a roll of Ilford 100 BW film to photograph some of the students with their robots. The challenge was the film speed and the gym lighting. I had to open the lens up to f/1.4 at times and over-expose by +1. I knew I was taking a chance with this combination, but the resulting images have nice detail and contrast. These are some of my favorite images.

 
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