Monday, January 30, 2012


The last time I used my Olympus Infinity Stylus (mju ) the shutter release was not working properly.  It often required several presses of the button to fire -- not what you want in a small camera.

When I got home I checked the battery voltage, but it was still at 3 volts even after about a year of use.  Leaving the battery out, I dribbled a little Radio Shack electrical cleaner around the edges of the shutter button.  I let the camera dry out for a couple hours and then replaced the battery.  The action of the shutter release was much improved, though still not perfect.  I may try another round of the electrical cleaner.  I'll also not pass up the next five-dollar mju I come across at a thrift store.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

custom car

I picked up a copy of Salman Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence at a yard sale down the street. This VW was parked at the entrance.

Here's the explanation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning to be a photographer

From the Ceiling Lamp Series -- Cole Thompson

I recently  came across the work of Cole Thompson in an interview which appeared on Aline Smithson's LENSCRATCH.  Thompson shoots and processes his images digitally, but only shows black and white as a final product and his work is clearly informed by a great depth of knowledge of and appreciation for photography's long history.  The photographer is also a gifted writer, and he is very generous in sharing information about his techniques and the sources of his inspiration.  I've added a link to Cole Thompson's blog over in the right-hand column, and I'll be following his work closely from now on.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kodak Duo Six-20

The Kodak Duo Six-20 is perhaps the most elegant of the company's medium-format folding cameras; it was made in the NagelWerk factory in Stuttgart. This Series II model has a Compur-Rapid shutter with speeds from 1 sec. to 1/500. The lens is a unit-focus f3.5/75mm Anastigmat. The camera was built to accomodate 620 roll film and yields 16 frames in 6x4.5 format. The flip-up  finder provides a bright view of the subject.

San Felipe de Neri Church, built 1793

The materials and construction quality of the camera is first-rate throughout.  The lens and shutter at this point in time may need light cleaning, but the camera's basic simplicity makes serious problems unlikely.  Aside from the need to re-roll 120 film onto 620 spools, about the only problem that is likely to arise is with the long mechanical linkage of the shutter release.  Extending the lens to the closest focusing position may push the shutter release lever beyond the reach of the linking lever and lead to additional alignment problems.  On my camera, I have also found that I need to avoid closing the front door with the shutter cocked as the cocking lever may get hung up on the door latch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 35

I found my little Ikonta 35 in a Las Cruces pawn shop about nine years ago. Its small size along with many of its features make it well-suited to travel and street photography. A very large number of these cameras were sold in military post exchanges in Europe in the '50s. Most had the three-element Novar, but this one is fitted with a front-focus, four-element Tessar. The Synchro-Compur shutter has speeds from 1-second to 1/500; the f-2.8 Tessar will stop down to f-22. The camera's size makes it unobtrusive, and the strap lugs make it possible to hang it around your neck for hip shooting.

Las Cruces Street Fair, September 2003
Once you get used to the camera, the Ikonta 35 is a good-handling, quick shooter.  Unlike the Kodak Retinas from the same period, the Ikonta does not require the lens to be set back to the infinity focus position before closing.  So, you can preset focus, speed and aperture; if you also wind on after each shot, then getting to the shooting position means just flipping open the front and cocking the shutter.  Like most of the compact cameras of the time the Ikonta has a very small viewfinder window compared to any modern camera, but that is something one gets accustomed to with use.

The following pictures were made recently  on Albuquerque streets.

There is quite a lot of film and TV production going on in and around the city. There is a large studio complex south of town and these big trucks are often found supporting location shooting in Albuquerque neighborhoods.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


The only Kodak Ektar lens in my collection is attached to a rather modest camera, the compact folding Retina I.

Kodak used the Ektar name to designate a whole class of professional-level lenses of the highest quality, all of them featuring unit focusing. The simplest of the line was probably the 3.5/50mm lens on my Retina I, basically a Tessar type with four elements in three groups. Ektar lenses with more complex designs were standard on the medium format Medalist, the Signet 35, and the Bantam Special which used 828 roll film.

I haven't made a habit of New Year's resolutions in the past, but this year I am determined to more fully explore the potential of some of the fine cameras in my collection which have not got the attention they deserve. Consider this post a first installment on that proposal.