Sunday, November 27, 2016

Konica Autoreflex TC...again.

You would think that by now I would be able to see a lonely orphaned camera in a thrift shop without bringing it home.  I guess I am not there yet, if the price is right.  Yesterday I was at the Ann Arbor Recycle/Reuse Center (where I also purchased a like-new pair of Realistic Solo-1 speakers), and saw this dirty, yet working Konica Autoreflex TC for $10.  It had the wonderful 40mm 1.8 Hexanon AR lens.  I opened it up, and the inside was clean, the shutter speeds worked, so I figured I would buy it. Over the years, I have acquired a few of these cameras, and have donated them to the Film Photography Project. A few years ago, I had a bag full of Konica SLRs, and have since divested myself of all of them.  Yet, once again, a lonely, unloved Konica TC turns up.

before cleaning

Today, I cleaned the camera up.  It was filthy on the outside, but the glass on the lens is excellent, and the insides are clean.  My cleanup kit consists of a used soft toothbrush, industrial cotton swabs (the ones on a stick), an old t-shirt, lens tissue, and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol.  That usually handles just about everything, but sometimes a bit of Windex or Naptha is needed for stubborn dirt or sticky residue.  I removed the old camera strap, which was a custom one with the name of the former owner embroidered on it.  Although the Autoreflex TC originally required 2 PX-13 1.35V mercury cells, two 625A 1.5 cells will work fine, and you may not need to compensate via the ISO wheel.   I put in the 625As, and checked the metering against my Nikon N6006, and the reading in the TC was the same at ISO 400. Note -- you do not need batteries for the TC to function, except for the auto-exposure and metering.  If the batteries fail, you can use an external meter or sunny-16, and you adjust aperture and shutter speed manually. Otherwise, just set the lens to AE and set the shutter speed, and the camera will choose the aperture.  In other words, it is a Shutter-Priority and Manual camera.

One of the things I find when rehabilitating old cameras is that the light seals and mirror-bumper  usually need replacing. In the Autoreflex TC, I cannot see the mirror bumper, as there is a thin plastic or metal shield at the top behind the lens.  The light seals on the back seemed to be good enough to at least shoot a test roll.
after cleanup!

Using the Autoreflex TC
I look at the TC as being a compact Autoreflex T, hence the TC.  It's definitely lighter than a Autoreflex T, T2, etc., and is smaller than a Pentax K1000.  Plastic components obviously keep the weight down.  While the TC has a limited range of shutter speeds from B, 1/8- 1/1000 sec., it's a good street camera.    The camera has a standard hot shoe and PC socket for flashes, with a 1/125 sec sync speed.  In other words, while it's not everything you might need in a small SLR, it has what you will need in most situations.  In fact, it's a pretty decent "student camera."  One other tip on using the camera -- do not try to pull up on the film rewind to insert a new roll of film. The bottom is cut out a bit so a roll just fits right in. The rewind knob only rotates to rewind the film, and there is no vertical movement. The meter turns on when you move the wind lever away from the body. A button below it sets the lever back against the body, locks the shutter release, and turns off the meter.  Of course, if you need a manual, our friend Butkus has one. Be sure to donate some $ to his site to keep those manuals available.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What to buy for the film photographer?

Well, as I sit here on a rainy Thanksgiving morning, I am thinking about the coming buying avalanche that the stores are waiting for.  Adrienne and I now just exchange small gifts at Christmas, because we really, really, don't buy into the "go buy shit" for the holidays, and we also really don't need anything.    Booze and socks are always useful, but what does one buy for a film photographer? It's not like there are inexpensive items they can use except for film, right? And, hell, where does one even buy film?

Film photographers love to show that they love film, sort of like sticking up a certain finger to the all-digital crowd.    So, we love t-shirts, hats, pins, stickers, etc. to show off our passion about film.  I have put together a short list of small businesses that cater to EXACTLY people like me. And you, if you are another analog camera user.
Asilda has cute pins

I am a fan of the Asilda Store, as the small enamel pins sold featuring cameras and slogans are really well-made, subtle, and classy.  The pins are wonderful small gifts for any photographer. They look good on a lapel, camera strap, or hat.  Asilda also sells photography-themed patches.   I found their prices to be very reasonable, so check them out!

from ShootFilmCo
Mike Padua, owner of ShootFilmCo, has a wonderful array of patches, stickers, and other items for the photographer. You may want to check out his photo memo books, which are a recent addition to his store. I have several of his stickers on my car, and I love the smart designs he comes up with. The patches are well-made, too. The photo memo books are ideal for recording your exposures, notes, etc. while out shooting.  It may be a chore for some to write this stuff down, but if you want to know what you did on frame x,  they will prove to be quite helpful after you process your film and wonder what you did shooting away all day.

Nick Mayo, out in western Michigan, started up  Two Stops Apparel this year. I like his choice of items, and I am sure that he will continue to produce humorous and well-appreciated t-shirts, etc. for us folks.  As illustrated by T. Paul Wrobel, if you wear this shirt, you will never forget the order in which to process your roll of film.
T. Paul with a shirt from Two Stops Apparel

The Film Photography Project Store also has a number of stickers, as well as a classy T-shirt that photographers will like -- and their prices are very good.  You may also want to check out some of the films and other items that are offered.  Nothing beats a few rolls of film in the stocking!

Of course, there are other on-line places like Photo Jojo that cater to all photographers, and you will find something if you just Google it!    I like to support these smaller businesses, and they produce quality products, and their niche fits in with those of us already in a niche - analog photography.

As for me, I pretty much have all I need, except for that Bronica SQA. Okay I don't really need it, but you know how it is.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pretty In Pink...FPP's Infrachrome Film

UM's Ingalls Mall with Rackham in the background, 2014.
I have been scanning in some slides from the summer's shooting, and realized that although I have shot a number of rolls of Infrachrome Film from the Film Photography Project Store, I haven't previously posted about it.   Before I start, here are some answers to questions I get about the film.

Q: What is FPP Infrachrome film?
A: It is most likely Aerochrome (E-6) film from Eastman Kodak.  I can't think of any other manufacturer that would have made such a distinctive film.

Q: Why shoot it?  Nothing looks real.
A: That is the point entirely.  You see an altered color landscape, and in bright sun, you get red and pink tones of green foliage, and other color shifts.  Blue sky tends to stay blue.  It's obviously not a film for every-day use.

Q: What filtration do I need for those quirky colors?
A: I suggest a yellow filter (K12) and a polarizer to get the best results.   You can experiment with a deep yellow or light orange and see what differences you get.

Q: What conditions are best for IR film?
A: Any infrared film works best under full sun conditions, whether it's B&W infrared or color infrared.  You need the sun to provide adequate infrared reflectance from the foliage.  Shadows tend to be very dark, as they are not reflecting IR.  IR is the opposite end of the spectrum from ultraviolet, or UV.  UV rays are very short wavelengths, and the longer wavelengths of IR basically gets to the level of heat.  Obviously, not a winter film!

Q: What 35 mm cameras work best for Infrachrome?
A:  Stay away from cameras that have a film cassette window on the back, and if they use IR inside for figuring out frame counts, like the Canon EOS cameras.  Time to go back to basics, and use something like a Pentax K1000, Nikon FM2N, Canon FTb, Minolta X700, etc.  You definitely want the camera to do the metering.  Of course, you could also use a rangefinder camera.

Q: Where do I send it to be developed?
A: Unless you are doing your own E-6 developing, the only place I recommend is in California.  They are used to dealing with it, and after I sent a couple rolls to another lab with awful results, I wish I had sent them to The Darkroom.   The film isn't cheap, so don't mess it up.

Every time I shoot a roll of this film I am amazed by the results. It's also a learning process, as every time, the conditions, subject,  and time of day give me results that are often surprising.   What really work -- strong afternoon sunlight, lots of vegetation, and a few clouds really add to the image.

Here are a few examples form the FPP Infrachrome film.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Binders Full of Memories

I have spent some time this past week doing a lot of decluttering and cleaning of my spaces where I work at home.  Upstairs, where I do some of my scientific work -- identifying insect specimens and writing-- didn't take too long because it's pretty well organized, but the cleanup sure did make a difference, and allowed me to be more focused on projects that I have been delaying.  Downstairs, though, is where most of my photography-related activities and storage take place.  It's amazing how things can get out of hand after a while.  I had put off inserting my Print-File pages of negatives into the binder for this year, and it looks like I will be going well over 100 rolls of film shot/developed for 2016. That's a fair amount of negatives. Some of course, are test rolls in "new" cameras, or are test rolls of films I had not shot before.  However, the majority of the images are certainly pretty worthy stuff.

The thing I want to stress here is that these are physical objects, not files on a hard drive or CD. I am able to hold the sheet up to the light and immediately know what I am looking at.  It would be easy to have 5000 images on a drive somewhere and never look at them again, or at least forget about.  Not so with binders full of negatives, or boxes of photographs.

As I was decluttering and moving things around,  and tossing some stuff into the garbage, and putting other items into a box for recycling/donations, I thought about the binder after binder with 35 mm slides that were on the shelves.  At one point, I took one binder off the shelf and most of the slide pages fell out, forcing me to look them over for a bit.  Another binder had slides that I used in a presentation in the early 1980s.  Since all of them were reproductions of line art from publications (remember the blue  "diazo" slides?), they went into the trash.   I went back to the pile of pages that had fallen out from the first binder, and set them aside for working on later.  I'll need to re-examine them closely, and determine the ones are worth saving.  Most of them are from the early 1980s, and are documenting the Botanical Gardens collections.  A few are probably worth scanning and putting online.  A bunch will be tossed because frankly, my photographs were not that good.  Transparency film does not tolerate bad exposures. As I have gone over some of my old files of transparencies, I have also realized that it's only in the past 10 years that I would say that I have become a pretty decent photographer.  Not about technique (improved, certainly) so much as it is about subject and motivation.  I know I see better now, and I don't mean my eyesight.  That translates to more images that have something to say.
old slides in vinyl sleeves, not archival

Back to my cleaning up. Keeping images secure and findable is important.  It is a problem when you have piles of negatives and haven't properly stored them.  If you are spending the time and money to photograph, take the time to at least store your negatives or slides in the Print-File archival pages, label them with at least the date and place they were taken. Adding the camera/lens/developer info is nice but not necessary.

I can go to the shelf and pull out a binder of negatives back to 2000, when I started doing b&w seriously and developing my own film. I cringe a bit at some of those sheets, but I am glad that I have them, as they document my growth as a photographer.  Yes, I still have negatives that go back to 1973, and the subjects I chose are not so different from what I shoot now, but 40+ years later, I think I better understand the why I shoot what I do.
Canon EOS Rebel 2000 - look at the time!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Sharp and Silent - The Ricoh 500G

There are some camera form factors that are appealing, and despite there being "better" options, many of the  1970s 35 mm compact range-finder cameras are really quite good, and especially the models produced by Riken Optical in Japan, better known by the name Ricoh.  I was first turned onto the compact RF cameras by Steven Gandy's Camera Quest pages.  He's done all the home work, so take a look at his information. Over the years I have owned/used a variety of compact RF cameras, ranging from the Rollei 35 to the Canon QL17.  When you go compact, there are compromises that have to be made.  In the case of the Rollei, it's really a guess-focus camera, but the lens quality and build is superb.  The Canon QL17 is a great compact rangefinder, so long as the electronics work.  Otherwise, it's a doorstop.  In between are Olympus models,  such as the Olympus RC and SP, which are very well-made, have excellent optics, and are very classic in their styling.  There are also the very compact Konica C35, the highly-regarded Konica Auto S3, and the Ricoh 500G and 500GX cameras.  The Chinon 35EE is very similar to the Ricoh 500G, and whether it's because of shared manufacturing, copying, or other reasons, there has always seemed to be similar models of Ricoh and Chinon cameras, as well as Cosina, with their Compact 35E.  I'll leave those for the reader to look up, as chasing the information online is a lot of fun.

I have owned a Konica C35, and I feel it's one of those under-rated cameras that produce better images than they should.  Most of the models listed here have 38-42 mm lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. B, and a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 sec.  No built-in flash, but the do have a hot shoe, and flash sync at most speeds.  A few even have a pc socket for flash.  My perfect "camera" has either shutter or aperture priority with manual over-ride, a decent rangefinder, self-timer, cable-release socket, tripod socket, and B mode.  The camera that fits that specification is the Ricoh 500G.

The Ricoh 500G dates from 1971-75, and features the typical CdS exposure metering in the rim around the lens, which enables the use of filters and accurate metering.  The camera focuses from just under a meter to infinity, so yes, it can do portraits. It has a 40mm f/2.8 Rikenon lens, shutter speeds from B, and 1/8 to 1/500 sec.  It can be shutter priority exposure or completely manual (and an M shows in the viewfinder). Aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/16, and can be manually set or chosen by the camera under "A" mode.    The front filter ring takes 46 mm filters. It operates VERY quietly, as one would expect from a non-motorized manual RF from the 1970s.  I happened to have a case of GAS a few years ago (no, it's not the only time!) and after seeing an all-black 500G, I found one on eBay that was at a decent price (The chrome model is more common).  I had to redo all of the foam on the film door, but it was worth the effort, as the camera operates beautifully and I am happy with the images.   You can find these cameras on eBay for between $25-$75.

What is so great about these cameras is that they are well-made, metal-bodied, and have no quirks in operation.  I don't use my 500G a lot, but it has a place in my camera bag, and easily fits into a jacket pocket.

Here are a few images from the camera.
November, 2014 - Clinton, MI
Wall of money, Quickie Burger

I was sitting inside Quickie Burger. 

Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Gene Simmons?

Fostoria, OH, April 2016

Fostoria, OH 

Huron River, Feb. 2015

Fostoria, OH