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.
Tag Archives: BW
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
The resurrection of Italy’s Film Ferrania from 2014 is an ongoing process. While preparing for full scale production of their 100 ASA color reversal film products, they’ve released an 80 ISO panchromatic black & white motion picture film for still photography. P30 is based on Ferrania’s high silver content film from the 1960’s. The film was released as an Alpha product in limited quantities, giving Kickstarter backers the option to change their backing to P30 film, wait for the color film, or keep the color film and purchase P30 early at a discount.
I kept my original backing, purchased the max limit of 5 rolls, and decided to develop the film myself. While placing the film on a Patterson reel, the edges of the film at the sprockets cracked, twice. This is what I expect from old film, not new. And though Ferrania has published and updated a data sheet of best practices for developing this film, there still seems to be a bit of guesswork involved. I developed mine in Kodak D-76 with a dilution of 1:1 for 13 minutes at 20° C. After developing, I found that this film scratches very easy. And it’s almost impossible to determine which side of the film is the emulsion side, making scanning difficult. My resulting images are high contrast, like I’ve seen online from other photographers. Keeping that in mind, I knew what I was getting into with an alpha product. These are the best that came from my 36-exposure roll.
Camera: Olympus OM-1N MD (1979)
Film: Ferrania P30 Alpha
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 13:00 @ 20 C
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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?”
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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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.
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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.