Tag Archives: Ilford

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)

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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.


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.

 


Nikon FE & Nikon N8008

This week we’re featuring a guest post from Mike Williams, a film photographer from Hickory, North Carolina. While writing this, Mike confided in me that he was afraid his comments about the Nikon FE would be perceived as negative. Before you jump to that conclusion, read the entire post. I think at some point we’ve all owned a piece of gear that we wanted to love, but just couldn’t get beyond something that simply wasn’t working for us. I appreciate Mike’s honesty and I’m glad he found another Nikon that was a better fit for his photography.

So there I was, looking at the scans from my 5th or 6th roll of film through my Nikon FE. The FE is a super cool looking machine. It’s black and chrome and it just has that “look” of an awesome vintage camera. But as much as I wanted to love this camera and everything about it, I hated it.

Why you ask? Two reasons: First, about 1/3 (at least) of the shots I had taken with it were out of focus. I am still not sure if it was the camera’s focusing screen or maybe my 45 year old eyes, but focusing at f/1.4 just was not happening for me. The second reason was the shutter speeds maxed out at 1/1000. I like the look of Tri-X pushed up a couple of stops, so there was another reason I couldn’t shoot with the lens wide open.

So I decided to find a camera with auto focus and capable of higher shutter speeds. It was eBay time, of course. I didn’t have a specific camera in mind. It just needed to be a Nikon (only because I have a ton of Nikon glass) and I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of cash. I came across a Nikon N8008. I honestly had no clue about this model, so I turned to the expert, Google. I quickly learned that this late 1980’s SLR had the things I wanted; auto focus and shutter speeds up to 1/8000. I bid on it. Turned out I was the only bidder and got it for $10 plus $8 shipping. When I received the camera, it appeared to be in pretty good shape, actually a little better than I had expected. I put in the AA batteries, popped on a 50mm f/1.8 lens, grabbed a roll of Ilford Delta 100, and made my kids model for the test roll. I shot that roll in my favorite little alley downtown Hickory, North Carolina.

The very next day, that roll of Delta 100 was on its way to San Clemente, California, for the guys at TheDarkroom.com to process and scan. It was only a few days but it seemed like an eternity before I got the email that my scans were ready. I logged on, checked them out, and I was thrilled! The auto focus was perfect and the meter was dead on. The only bad images were the ones that I screwed up with poor composition.

Now my Nikon N8008 is one of my favorite cameras to shoot. And I was able to overcome wanting to shoot the “cool” camera and realize all that matters to me is the end product. I love the images I have been getting from the N8008. Images that I personally just wasn’t capable of getting from the FE.

Here are a few images from my first roll with the Nikon N8008.

 

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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.

 
This Post Sponsored by:

B&H Photo – The Professional’s Source – B&H has an excellent selection of black and film from Ilford, including HP5, Delta, Pan F Plus, FP4 Plus and more! B&H has been serving professional and amateur film photographers for more than 40 years.