Monday, July 29, 2013

About town with a Rollei 35TE

My good friend and mentor Bill Brudon invited over to his place ten years ago, and asked me to pick from two Rollei 35 cameras that he had. I chose the later one made in Singapore, a 35TE, figuring he wanted the German-made model.  Bill was always giving me cameras, and I still miss having our occasional chats about photography and stories about his career.  He may have passed on, but I keep using the gear that he gave me.

The Rollei 35TE is a compact metal-bodied 35mm camera from Rollei.  It features a collapsible lens tube, leaf shutter with speeds from B- 1/500 sec, a high-albada brightline viewfinder, a 40mm f3.5 Tessar lens, metering with indicator LEDs, a hotshoe (on the bottom), and threaded cable release and tripod socket. Mike Elek has a good page on the web about it. The 35TE model was made from 1979 to 1981. It takes a 5.6V mercury battery, which I happen to have several of.   It's a great camera to carry along, and if you don't mind using the zone focus guestimation, it is a pretty decent street camera due to its small size.  It fits into most trouser pockets as well. I hadn't used mine in several years, so I took out out a few weeks ago and shot a roll of Polypan-F with it.  I walked around the Ann Arbor Art Fair for a bit and shot most of the roll there.  In use, it's easy to prefocus at the hyperfocal distance for f/11or f/16, and just point and shoot of you have the shutter speed set already.    On a sunny day, it's easy.  Everything about this camera seems well-made, and it is fun to carry around with a wrist strap to keep it ready for action.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Plastic but Practical Pentax P30T

Last week I picked up a Pentax P30T on the big auction site. It came with a Pentax K1000, an old (but nice) Pentax Takumar 135 f/3.5, a flash, and some other accessories for a Nikon.  As a bunch of stuff goes, I felt that the $14.00+ shipping was a decent deal.  I had gotten rid of ALL my K-mount gear last year, but every now and then I make an impulse buy.  This particular P30T has seen some use, but it appears to work just fine. I know how some people bemoan the onslaught of polycarbonate-bodied cameras, but unless seriously abused, they hold up pretty well.  The Pentax P30T was sold from 1990-97, and is a manual focus, manual advance 35mm SLR.  I like the clean lines and unobtrusive controls on the top deck of the body.  As far as inexpensive SLRs go, this model features Aperture-priority and metered Manual control, a self-timer, depth-of-field preview, remote shutter port, DX film speed detection, metering lock, hotshoe, and shutter speeds from B, 1-1/1000 sec with flash sync at 1/100 sec.  The only big minus appears to be the lack of manually setting the ISO, and if you use a cassette without the DX code, the default ISO is 100.  Oh, and exposure compensation would also be nice, too.  However, given the market that the P30T aimed it, most of those users probably didn't miss those features.  The camera came with a SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2.0 lens.
 As you can see from the photos, the camera does have a nice clean design with a bit of a grip.  Because there are few protruding controls, I'd give it high marks for being easily carried around.  The eyepiece viewing is adequate, and the focus screen has a diagonally aligned central focus spot.  The metering readings in the viewfinder are easy to see, and when not in A mode, an M shows up.

Shooting with the camera was comfortable, and the lightweight body is easily carried and handled.  The film advance lever moves smoothly and has a relatively short travel distance.

The film reminder window allows you to see what film you have loaded, which is handy for those of us that use so many cameras and films, that it is easy to forget what is in the camera.

Overall, this camera has a lot of pluses, and just a couple of minuses. Of course, I did not pay much for it, either. However, it is a more capable camera that a Nikon EM, and more similar in the feature set to the much earlier Nikon FE.

 I shot a roll of somewhat expired Kodak Gold 100, and the film was developed and scanned at Huron Camera in Dexter.  The first two shots of flowers were taken with a "Pro Optic" 70-300 K-mount lens that I picked up at Recycle/Reuse for $5. The rest of the photos were taken with the 50mm f/2 lens that came with the camera.
This camera certainly is a sturdy and reliable compact SLR, regardless of the plastic body.  While maybe not in the classic status of the Pentax ME or ME Super, it still is worth considering.

line of sight

Lunch break

UM Power Center

The beautiful Kerrytown Concert House

Venus on the sidewalk

Monday, July 22, 2013

Beachcombing with a camera.

I was pretty busy in June, and through the course of two trips to the Upper Peninsula and back, went through hundreds of exposures on digital and film (some of which I have yet to process). The first trip to Drummond Island and back allowed me to do some shooting along the N shore of Lake Huron in Chippewa County.  In many places, limestone boulders jut out of the sand, and in others, rocky outcrops with sandy infills are part of the shore.  Luckily, some of the more interesting spots are accessible from the road.  All of the shots shown here were taken at the shore near the rest stop on M-134 W of Detour State Forest Campground.  I had not even looked at these images on the computer until this evening, so I was really pleased with what I captured from the beach.
I really had a blast with the D90 set to b&w mode, as I wanted to capture the forms, textures, and abstract quality of the rocks along the shore.  Sometimes the rocks looked like some kind of ancient ruins, crumbling back into the earth, while others looked like fossil creatures.  I could have easily spent hours there, but we were on our way home.  The light was soft, and that avoided harsh shadows, which really aided in showing texture.

I'd like to visit again, and camp at the State Forest Campground, which looked great for rustic camping.  Of course, I'd also like to shoot the rocks on film, too.   This last photograph was taken in color, and the orange lichen gives the illusion that it is a false-color photo.  Isn't nature grand?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meyer Optik Dompilan 50mm f/2.8 in M42 mount

I bought this lens at the local Recycle-Reuse store for a buck.  It's an M-42 version of the lens that was on my very first SLR, an Exa1a.  The Meyer-Optik Domiplan 50mm f/2.8 is a Cooke Triplet design, with a minimum aperture of f/22, and a close focus distance of only 75cm.  Relatively easy to find, it is a low-cost lens in M42 and Exakta mount.  Now, I shot many rolls of film with my Exa back in the 1970s, and the Domiplan 50mm was all that I had at the time.  Is it a great lens?  No, but on average, stopped down it is still pretty darn good.  Besides, if all lenses were absolutely perfect, the world would be a boring place.

After I purchased this lens I realized that the aperture was stuck open.  Hmm.  Maybe some sticky oil?  I merely whacked the base of the lens flat against a cushioned pad, and the diaphragm blades came unstuck. Since I paid only a buck fior the lens, I had nothing to lose.  The Domiplan aperture control ring is on the very front of the an Argus Cintar.  It's also automatic aperture control only, so the aperture pin need to be engaged for stop-down metering, depth of field examination, etc.  Not necessarily the easiest lens to use, but I got around fine with it when I was a teenager.

I attached the Dompilan to my Mamiya 1000DTL M-42 camera.  To make it easier to adjust the aperture AND use a light shade, I attached an old 49mm metal lens shade and it works perfectly. It's not a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, but it will do.  I loaded up a roll of Eastman Kodak Hwakeye 400 ISO color film and shot away with it while I was on Drummond Island back in mid-June. The results were fine, and this cheap lens certainly did the job.

Comparing the two lenses - one on the Exa 1a, and the other on the Mamiya, the only difference is the shutter control button on the Exakta-mount lens. This is not the Exa 1a that I was given in 1973.  That one was sold long ago after I got seriously back into photography.  This one is a display model that I picked up cheaply on eBay.  I have no desire to go back to shooting with a crappy-waist-level 35mm viewfinder...
Sunset on Drummond Island with Ultrafine 125 BW film
odd angles
An unusual triangular building at Point Detour.
Edwin - a cemetery on Drummond Island

The Tee Pee -- a landmark on Drummond Island.

On the Maxton Plains alvar.

A cozy place.  I love photographing these small rural POs.   Looks like a small light leak somewhere

Friday, July 12, 2013

Film shots from the straits of Mackinac

A few weeks ago, my buddy Marc Akemann and I were on a road trip to Photostock and then to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I have already posted a few digital shots on the previous post, but I haven't said much about shooting the film cameras.  We had some great fog conditions for photographing the Mackinac Bridge, which is itself a marvel.  It's 5 miles long, and the main towers are 552 feet above the water.  Prior to its opening in 1957, one had to take a car ferry across the straits, and the Upper and Lower peninsulas were certainly separated economically and culturally as well as physically.  The Mighty Mac changed all that, as the UP became more of a tourist destination, and not just a place for hunters and fishermen to visit. You can see many of the old places along US-2 that have survived from the late 1950s-early 60s.  That is another project someday-- before its too late-- to document the tourist-oriented business along US-2 between St. Ignace and Manistique.

Marc and I had the opportunity to photograph the Mackinac Bridge from several vantage points NW and SW of the bridge, and I have already photographed it numerous times from the NE and SE side.  This time though, we had the added attraction of some foggy weather over the straits, and it resulted in some different shots for me.

capturing the bridge
It seems that cellphones have replaced point and shoots for most people.  Nikon N2000 with 35mm f/2 lens. That 35 has become my carry-around lens now.
fogged straits
I haven't been using my Pentax 6x7 as much as I should be, but when I do, I am almost always pleased with my results.  This was taken with Ilford XP-2 film. I probably had at least one filter on the lens -- a red filter.
Big rocks, Mighty Mac
Taken with my Nikon FM2N, 50mm 1.4 lens, on Arista 100 film.  Funny thing is that I brought the FM2N as a backup to my N2000 and N90s.  I finished up the roll that was on it, which turned out to be the trip from December 31 that Marc and I took along the Raisin River!  Maybe I have too many cameras...

Taken from the NW side of the bridge which gives a pretty good viewpoint. A tern was hunting in front of me and kept diving into the lake to catch fish. You can see it on the left side of the photo.  This was Fuji 400 ISO color film, arguably not the best choice for this subject.  A finer-grained film such as Kodak Ektar would be a better choice.

Film drying.  I shot quite a bit of Polypan-F on the trip, and am really pleased with the negatives I got from it.  I'll have another entry about shooting at Fayette State Park, which I highly recommend as a photo destination!