Monday, January 30, 2017

Albuquerque Color

The Olympus XA2 is a curious little camera with a unique set of features.  Shutter speed and aperture are automatic with no manual over-ride.  There is manual scale focus with the middle range as the default.  The viewfinder is quite bright.  The 35mm 4-element D-Zuiko lens is very sharp.  Somehow, all of those things together help to capture moments of my world view better than most of my other cameras.

My XA2 has a tendency to under-expose outdoor shots.  On a morning walk downtown I set the ASA to 100, a stop lower then what the film is rated at.  That worked mostly ok, but the camera's metering was still a bit erratic.  I may have to look for another example of this camera as I really like the pictures it makes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winter Flowers

I look forward every year to the winter blooming of the African Forest Lily in the Mediterranean Conservatory at Albuquerque's Botanic Garden.  I have photographed them before with several of my old cameras, usually with black and white film as I like the way it renders the forms and tones of the blossoms.  This year, I decided to document the flower's colors with my Pentax Spotmatic.

The character of the flower clusters changes as they mature, so I will try to get back to photograph them again in a week or two.

Some other stuff at the garden today:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Before and After

I generally value functionality over appearance in my old cameras.  Sometimes, however, the two overlap.  For instance, the engraved or machined lettering and numerals on shutters get hard to see as the paint wears away over the years.  The shutter markings on my old-model Kodak Duo Six-20 looked pretty good when I got it, but I managed to nearly erase them in the process of cleaning the shutter with lighter fluid.

Luckily, improving the visibility of shutter markings is a task that can be easily accomplished.  I just dabbed a little black acrylic paint over the letters and numerals and then wiped away the excess with a tissue.

Here are the before and after pictures:

While I used acrylic craft paint it is possible that enamel could work a little better.

The effectiveness of the repainting will vary with the depth and sharpness of the markings.  The white paint I used on the aperture markings made a less dramatic improvement in their appearance.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Getting back to the Welta Perle

I found this Welta Perle a year and half ago and shot just two rolls of film in it.  It made some ok photos, but needed a focus adjustment which I only recently completed.

Shooting 6x4.5 cameras takes a little getting used to because the long axis of the camera is 90 degrees rotated from what might be expected.  I like the 6x4.5 format a lot because it yields a negative much larger than 35mm but still allows 16 exposures on a roll of 120 film.

My Perle is one of the best preserved old cameras I have come across.  It shows little surface wear, and the bellows had not a single pinhole.  The camera lacks a top-deck shutter release, but has a nice viewfinder which snaps into place as the lens is extended.  Like other similar folders from the same era, the front focus lens does not offer any easy way to attach a lens hood.  That is a bit of a weak point of this type of camera as the sharp but uncoated Tessar lens is rather low in contrast and has a tendency to flare in bright light conditions.  Still, one can learn to take those limitations into consideration when making pictures with the Perle and it can produce excellent results.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why deny it?

I like cheap cameras, cheap film and cheap wine.

Looking back through my blog posts I see that I've been shooting this Olympus Infinity Stylus for about eight years and that I paid two bucks for it at an Albuquerque thrift store.  That is a little less than the cost of the the Fuji 200 color film that I usually shoot in it.  Since I do my own color processing, that adds about another buck to the cost per roll.  I'd guess my Infinity Stylus has traveled more miles in my pocket than most of my other cameras put together.

I'll get to the wine later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This is the Sporti

The Ilford Sporti is a '50s product of West Germany.  It is a simple, but well-made medium format camera with a focusable lens, two aperture settings and flash synch.  This one had a lazy shutter, gummed up with half a century of dust and dried lubricant.

I dabbed a little lighter fluid on the back of the shutter from the inside, but that only freed it up momentarily.  Getting at the shutter's innards from the front proved an easy task.  Removing two small screws in the silver ring with the focal scale on it allowed removal of that piece.  Underneath that was the lens mount held in place by three more screws; removing those allowed access to the front of the box-camera-type shutter.

I scrubbed the face of the shutter with a q-tip moistened with Ronsonal which got things working better.  I then added a a dash of powered graphite to the lighter fluid and painted that on all the moving surfaces.  That got the shutter running reliably at about 1/25th of a second.

I decided to test the results with some expired Velvia 100 slide film that arrived with the camera.  Not having any E6 chemistry on hand, that meant I had to cross process the exposed film with my Unicolor C-41 kit.  The results were interesting, though not a fair test of the camera's capabilities.

I have some film on order now, so I'll try to run something through the camera soon that gives it a better chance to show what it can do.

A free manual for the Sporti is available on line at Central Manuals.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Good Luck, Good Friend, Good Camera, and a cat

I picked up this Olympus Infinity Stylus recently for a buck at a thrift store.  It was the first time in a long while that I have come across such a bargain.  There are a few scuffs on the case, but the battery was good and the camera looked and sounded like it was going to make pictures.

Just two more things needed -- some film and a subject.  As luck would have it, a friend showed up at my house with a box of expired film including two rolls of Kodak BW400CN, a chromogenic black and white film that can be processed in C-41 chemistry.  I used to shoot a lot of the stuff before Kodak discontinued making it a couple years ago.

Teddy, the neighbor's cat, volunteered modeling services.  She spends much of her day lounging on our deck, so the gig was not a big imposition.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

An image from the Patent Etui

I got a roll of Tri-X through my Patent Etui plate camera after considerable effort.  This one of a sculpture in the art museum courtyard was the only one I liked.

The Trioplan lens easily lived up to my expectations.  The focus adjustment and the Rollex film back gave me some problems that are yet to be fully resolved.

Friday, January 06, 2017

A Little Snow

A little snow goes a long way in Albuquerque. We got about a half inch last night. This morning, university offices and all the public schools closed for the day.

Most of my spare time lately has been devoted to getting my plate camera ready to make pictures.  When I've taken a break from that project and gone for a walk around the neighborhood, I've carried along my little Olympus 35rc.  It is a marvelous little rangefinder designed by the incomparable Maitani.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

A Brace of Patent Etuis

I found another KW Patent Etui plate camera on ebay. It has had quite a lot more use than my other one judging from the worn condition of the covering, but the shutter, the lens and the bellows are all in shootable condition.

The first-acquired camera on the right came in nearly faultless condition and produced excellent quality images.  It has a 120mm Tessar lens.

The recently acquired camera to the left is equipped with a 105mm Meyer-Gorlitz Trioplan.  That is a three-element design rather than the four of the Tessar, but I always liked the images I got from the Trioplan on my Certo Dolly Super-Sport and I'm looking forward to seeing what this one will do.