Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

still life

A friend gave me this Mamiya C330. It is a unique twin lens reflex with interchangeable lenses backed by a bellows. The standard lens is a Mamiya-Sekor f2.8 80mm. I also have the 180mm. A bit of a beast, but a fine performer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bald Eagle

Pentax Spotmatic
Mamiya/Sekor f2.8 135mm
Chinon Auto Tele Converter 2X
Kodak B&W 400

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finetta IV D

The Finetta is a simple, but full featured 35mm camera. While the name may sound vaguely Italian, the camera was made in Germany in about 1950 at the Finetta Werk in Goslar. Features of the camera include a bakelite body with fabric or leather covering, an f:4/43mm Finetar lens with stops to f22, shutter speeds from 1/25 to 1/100 plus "B", double-exposure prevention, combined shutter cocking and film advance, flash synch, and frame counter. The leaf shutter under the front plate has a construction similar to many old box cameras and early folders with sliding levers and a lobed cam.

A manual for the Finetta IVD is available on line at CJ's Classic Cameras.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Certo Dolly Super-Sport

The German Certo Company made folding cameras in a variety of formats before and after the Second World War. The top of their line was the Certo 6 which brings a substantial price today from collectors. My first pre-war Dolly Supersport was not in the Certo 6 league, but it was solidly made with an attractively tooled leather covering and sturdy leather bellows. The big, old Compur shutter had speeds from 1 to 1/250 seconds; it was a little noisy because of the size, but reliable and accurate. The lens was an uncoated 75mm f2.9 Meyer Görlitz Trioplan; it was subject to flare if pointed anywere near the sun, but capable of very good sharpness if properly used.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Argus C3

I got my first Argus C3 in about 1958 when the camera still had eight years left in its amazing production run, which started in 1939. Mine was used when I bought it, and I selected it like most other C3 owners because it fit my budget as a recent highschool grad. It also conveyed something of the glamorous aura of 35mm photography at the time when Life Magazine was still the preeminent purveyor of images. People today call it "The Brick" for good reason, but the C3 was one of the boldest and most successful designs in camera history.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ansco Shur-Shot Jr.

Judging from the nicks and rust on the metal trim, this Ansco box camera saw a lot of use since it was built around 1948. The camera was conceived to meet the modest objectives of family snapshot shooters, and that is reflected in the materials from which it is made, mostly sheetmetal, paper and plastic for the winding knob.  However, when you open the camera and remove the film-holding frame a somewhat different picture emerges. The simple materials are put together with origami-like precision, and the insides of the camera still look much as they must have when the camera was newly displayed in a camera shop's window.

The basic construction is very similar to 120 rollfilm cameras which first appeared a half-century earlier. The glass meniscus lens is located behind the shutter and aperture to obtain the optimal performance from a simple lens design. There is only one aperture and one shutter speed available, no cable release socket, and no tripod mount. Film advance is purely manual with the use of a ruby window on the back door. The features that give away the post-WWII origin of the camera are the bold, sans-serif lettering on the front, the bakelite winding knob, and the brilliant viewfinders which give a much nicer preview of the image than the earlier ground glass type.

I don't recall now what inspired me to purchase this ultra-simple box camera. I had it sitting in a china cabinet for a long time before I got around to putting a roll of film through it. My expectations for it were not high, even though I had gotten rather nice results from some of my other box cameras. When I closely examined the scans of the negatives, however, I was astounded at the resolution obtained from the camera's simple lens as shown in the two images below. The first is a full-frame shot of our former home in a valley north of Las Cruces. The second is a small crop showing the barbwire fence that was about fifty yards from the camera, and the house which is another 150 to 200 yards.

I haven't shot another roll of film with the Shur-Shot Jr. and don't know if I'll do so again, but the results I got from it have been a source inspiration for me to continue using simple cameras.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The photos above were made with my newly acquired and restored Argus AF.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ansco Folding Buster Brown No.1, Model B

The patent date on the inside of this Ansco Buster Brown is Sept. 20, 1910. At around the same time, several companies were making very similar horizontal-style folding cameras with wooden bodies, including Kodak, Blair, and the Boston Camera Company.

The lens on my camera is a nicely ground and mounted, single-element menisicus which is located behind the shutter and aperture. The shutter, with options for "T,B and I", was probably manufactured by Wollensak. The aperture offers Universal System choices of "8,16,32 and 64", which correspond to the f-stops, f11, f16, f22 and f32.

The release for the latch that permits opening the back is on the inside-front of the camera, just above the back of the bellows. Pressing the release allows the back to detach completely. Two long, polished leaf springs provide adequately for film flatness and tension. The wooden film spool is for 120-format film, still available today.

My camera came to me in pretty good shape considering its age. I glued down a few loose edges of the black exterior covering, and I soaked the shutter overnight in lighter fluid to get it operating properly. The "Instant" setting appears to be about 1/25th of a second.

My inspiration for acquiring the Buster Brown was the photo below of my grandmother, taken as she sat in a canoe on a Wisconsin pond, possibly before the birth of my mother in 1917. 

Looking at the proportions of her camera, I think it was probably not the same 120-format as mine, but rather one of the larger, now obsolete formats which yielded post-card size contact prints.  

More photos from the Buster Brown:

Early Ansco cameras (Butkus) 

Monday, February 08, 2010

Agfa Clack

From the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s the Agfa Clack was the pre-eminent family camera for many Europeans. The camera occupied a niche which in the U.S. was dominated by the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash. Both of these simple box cameras were exceedingly well designed to appeal to their markets, and they produced images of approximately equal quality.

While I have great affection for the Hawkeye Flash, I have to admit that in several ways, the Clack is the better camera. The Agfa camera's eye-level viewfinder is easier to use in bright daylight. A single lever allows both aperture and distance adjustment. There is a tripod mount on the Clack to go along with the B shutter setting and the cable release fitting. And, finally, the efficient curved film path yields both a very compact, ergonomic design and excellent edge-to-edge image sharpness from a single-element meniscus lens. The Clack produced eight big 6x9 frames per 120 film roll, while the Hawkeye Flash yielded twelve 6x6 frames on 620-format film. One use for which I definitely prefer the Kodak box to the Agfa is for portrait work. I discussed the reasons for that along with some other technical considerations in a thread on's Classic Cameras Forum.

Pictures from the Clack: