Tag Archives: BW

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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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


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.


Come On Barbie, Let’s Go Party

My 13-year old loves to tease me about using the Barbie camera. When I pull it out of my camera bag, his reaction is a combination of silliness and flamboyance, “Are you shooting with your [high pitched voice] Barbie camera today?”

Barbie Instant Camera (1998)
The Barbie Instant Camera was made in the United Kingdom by Polaroid in 1998. Next to the Tasmanian Devil and Spice Girls camera, it’s one of the more collectible Polaroid cameras made in the 1990’s. Originally, the Barbie Instant Camera came packaged with flower stickers so you could decorate the camera, or your photos. The camera features a pink, purple and lime green plastic body and uses Polaroid (Impossible Project) 600 film. At the time of the release, Polaroid manufactured a matching Barbie-framed instant film. The film matched the flowers on the camera and could be drawn on with a purple magic marker. The plastic lens is 116mm, f/11 single element. The camera also has a close-up lens for shots .6 – 1.2m (2 – 4 feet) that slides out in front the main lens and viewfinder. Exposure is automatic and the shutter speed is about ¼ – 1/200 of a second. Like other plastic body instant cameras made by Polaroid during this period, it has a built-in electronic flash than you can override with the shutter button.

A more difficult camera to write a serious review about than to actually use. Compared to some of the other Polaroid 600 Instant Film cameras I own, the Barbie camera works the best. Probably because it was manufactured more recently. To test the camera, I shot with Impossible Project Black & White, Black Framed, 600 Instant Film. This is some of IP’s first generation film, and had expired two years ago. Even though the film was refrigerated, this is what I expected from gen-1 film. Will I use this camera again? Of course, because it gives me an opportunity to embarrass my son in a crowd of people! When I open the camera, people can’t help but smile and laugh because it’s not often you see a 45-year old man packing around a pink and green Barbie camera.

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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.


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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Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash

One of the most recognizable cameras in history is the Kodak Brownie. They made several models of the Brownie, but the Hawkeye Flash stands out because of its simple square bakelite body. The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash was designed by Arthur H. Crapsey, and manufactured from May 1949 to July 1961. The cost, $5.00 USD for the camera, $7.00 USD with the flash.

This camera is easy to disassemble, clean, and reassemble. Even for a guy like me that barely knows which end of a screwdriver to use. Two screws on the top and two on the front of the camera can be removed to clean the viewfinder and front glass element. Two screws inside remove the entire film chamber giving you access to the shutter mechanism.

Over the course of the production, Kodak made some minor changes to the Brownie Hawkeye Flash. My version has a glass lens, but later models had plastic. The camera has an aperture of f/14.5 – f/16. Shutter speed is about 1/30 sec, along with a bulb mode. Focal length is approximately 75mm and the focal distance is about 5 feet to infinity.

The Brownie Hawkeye Flash uses 620 film. The only difference between 620 and 120 film are the size of the film spools. There are many methods for using 120 film in 620 film cameras depending on the make and model. Instead of re-spooling 120 film, or grinding down plastic 120 spools, I chose to modify the camera. I took a Drummel tool and ground out just enough of the bakelite so a loaded 120 spool would fit. Unfortunately, there’s not enough room in the camera to modify it to use a 120 take-up spool.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to admit I’m happy with the results. The images below were shot on Ilford Pan F Plus 50 BW Film, processed by RepliColor in Salt Lake City, and scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo. It’s not very often that I share an entire roll of images, but I’m going to this time so you can see the accidental double-exposures. The Brownie Hawkeye Flash has a spring loaded shutter, so it’s always cocked and ready to go. My mistakes took place when forgetting to advance the film. Overall, the images are sharp. There’s some slight curving in the images, something I would expect, so it doesn’t surprise me.

You can find various Brownie Hawkeye Flash cameras on eBay. Some are in better condition than others. Some come with the flash attachment and others are a complete boxed kit. I wouldn’t pay more than $15 for this camera. It’s not a rare gem, but certainly fun to use. This camera and its limitations push you to slow down, compose the image, and think. Another benefit of the Brownie Hawkeye Flash is the number of resources available online. Check out the Brownie Camera Page, or Kurt Munger’s site for a detailed breakdown and cleaning guide.

 

 


Canon Canonet G-III QL17

Back in March when I won a Minolta Hi-Matic 7S at the Film Photography Project Walking Workshop, I had been looking to get a 35mm rangefinder camera. Shortly after that, my friend Mike Williams sent me a Yashica Electro 35 GS, another great rangefinder. And now, the Canon Canonet G-III QL17 rangefinder. I actually found the Canonet at a local thrift store for $35 USD. In the past seven months, I’ve had the chance to own and test three of the best consumer rangefinders. This version of the Canonet is the top-end of the series that was manufactured during the 1960’s and 1970’s. My friend Maurice, being a Canon reseller tells me this story from his camera store experience. The President of Canon at the time went to his engineers and asked them to make him a camera. His first requirement, it had to be the smallest rangefinder they could produce, 120 x 75 x 60 mm, 620 g. The second, it had to have the best glass lens that Canon had to offer at the time, 40mm f/1.7 (6 elements in 4 groups). The result was the G-III QL17, selling more than 1.2 million units from 1972 to 1982.

The Canon Canonet G-III QL17 was manufactured from 1972 to 1982, features a 40mm f/1.7 lens, Copal leaf shutter, speeds from 1/4 to 1/500, and flash sync at all speeds. The G-III fit into a new group of high-end rangefinder cameras with lenses faster than f/2. The “QL” part of this model was Canon’s new Quick Loading film feature, making the process of threading 35mm film on to the take-up spool easy and very advanced for the time. The camera has a CdS cell meter that is mounted above the lens and provides shutter-priority, and unmetered manual mode. The location of the CdS cell above the front lens element allows it to take lens filters into account when metering. The exposure indicator needle can be seen in the viewfinder, indicating over/under exposure.

Out of the three 35mm rangefinders I currently own, the Canonet is my favorite. It has the sharpest lens, has the smallest footprint, and has more features that I want compared to the Minolta Hi-Matic 7S and Yashica Electro 35 GS. They’re all great cameras. At one point this past summer, I had all three in my walk around camera bag at the same time. My biggest complaint about all three cameras is they have what I would call a mushy shutter. There’s no solid click. I’ve found when I compose a shot, focus, check exposure, and press the shutter down, down, down some more, down, down, and then there’s a soft click. The images below were shot on Ilford Pan F Plus 50 B&W Film, processed by RepliColor in Salt Lake City, and scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner.

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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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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.