Saturday, December 30, 2017

Industar 50

I have most often used my Zorki 2-C with the collapsible Industar 22; it is nicely sharp, and when pushed in to the resting position the whole thing will slip easily into a jacket pocket.  The rigid Industar 50 makes a bulkier outfit, but it is just as sharp and likely has the same lens design as the collapsible I-22.

Zorki 2-C, Industar 50, silver and black

One nice thing about the Industar 50 is that it is extremely easy to service.  The focusing movement of the black one was very rough, so I recently re-lubed it.  There are some useful links available to help getting that job done.  The tomtiger site features very good illustrations of the lens disassembly, though it shows much more than is needed for just a lube job.  The text-only Nickfed article at rangefinderforum says everything needed to get the job done.  I will only add that it is a very good idea when unscrewing the front element to mark the release point  on the lens as the multiple start points on the thread can make reassembly quite challenging.

I started a roll of Kentmere 100 in the 2-C with the silver Industar 50 on a walk to Old Town, and finished it the next day at the Botanic Garden.

Trash Day Panorama

Backstreet Grill

Farolitos Extinguidos



Thursday, December 28, 2017

Eight Minutes

I'm getting interesting results with Kentmere 100 in PMK Pyro, though not yet exactly what I am looking for. This last batch was processed for eight minutes at 20C, and I omitted the pre-soak and post-fix immersion in the exhausted developer. I got some spotting on the negatives that makes me think I should go back to a minute or two of pre-soaking. The highlights were easier to control with eight minutes, but I seemed to be losing a bit of shadow detail. I did come across some suggested processing times for 100-speed film in the form of a photo class handout based on the book by the PMK originator, Gordon Hutchings. The suggested 10.5 minutes at 70F(21C) is pretty close to my first trial at 12 minutes and 20C. So, I'll probably go for eleven minutes at 20C in the next round.


I started off shooting this last roll of Kentmere 100 on a neighborhood walk with my Kiev IIa with the Sonnar-copy Jupiter 8.  The next day I shot mostly with the 35mm Biogon-copy Jupiter 12 in the course of a short road trip up State Highway 14, known as the Turquoise Trail, which goes from east of Albuquerque up to Santa Fe.  It is a great two-lane, winding through some of New Mexico's nicest hill country.  Makes me wish I still had a motorcycle.

Turquoise Trail

I went as far as Cerrillos where I stopped to photograph the church and then the old cemetery just outside of town.

St. Joseph Parish Church, Cerrillos

Campo Santo, Cerrillos

On the way home I stopped in Cedar Crest for lunch and made the mistake of visiting the nearby thrift store where a sign announced that everything in the place was half off.

So, sixty bucks later I've got a Nikon F2 and a couple lenses.  I don't know if I'll get the meter working , but the shutter is perfect and I'm looking forward to finding a waist-level finder for the camera.  The 35-85 Sigma Mini-Zoom has something rattling around inside, but the Nikkor-P 2.8 105mm is a beautiful lens and has a good rep as a portrait shooter.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

PMK Pyro

I have been a long-time admirer of the work of the New Zealander, Rick Drawbridge, in part because of his consistently excellent black and white work which features a large variety of films which are all processed in PMK Pyro.  Most interesting for me are his pictures made with Kentmere 100 which is one of the cheapest available black and white films.  So, I got a bottle of PMK Pyro from Freestyle along with some TF-4 fixer.  I shot a roll of Kentmere in the Nikon FE and got ready to process it as directed by the included instruction sheet.

I loaded my exposed film in a Paterson tank and mixed up the chemicals  as indicated.  However, the directions in the package contained no time and temp information for Kentmere 100, so I got on line to search for that crucial data.  Well, developing time and temp for Kentmere 100 was nowhere to be found.  I came up with one reference for 400-speed Kentmere in the Massive Dev Chart and quite a few examples of other films in combination with various pyro formulations, but no Kentmere 100. 

So, I was on my own regarding a choice for time and temperature.  After looking at everything I could find about processing various 100-speed films in PMK, I decided to go with 12 minutes and 20C and recommended agitation at 15-second intervals.  Judging from the amount of adjustment I had to make in my scanned images, 12 minutes seems to be excessive.  I probably should have stopped at eight or ten minutes.

In spite of some degree of misjudgement regarding the processing I was not real unhappy with the results.  The images show good sharpness, nice contrast and little grain.  Still, they were not better than what I can sometimes get from other developers which I often use, including HC-110 and Rodinal.  So unless I come up with some reliable info on using Kentmere 100 with PMK elsewhere, I'm going to try eight minutes in the developer in the next round.

I still have seven rolls of Kentmere 100 to experiment with, so it seems likely I should eventually get the processing right.  I'll probably also try some other films for which there is good time and temp information including Acros.  Chris Crawford's site has a good chart of developing times for PMK Pyro using ten film types.  Sandy King, who developed the Pyrocat-HD formulation, has a very through treatment on his site about the history and use of pyro staining developers.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Making room for one more

This Nikon FE showed up at my door recently looking for a new home.  I'm not exactly short of old film cameras, but who could turn away a perfectly preserved and working classic Nikon slr?  This one came with a Nikkor f1.8 50mm.  It has some sophisticated electronics including aperture-priority auto-exposure, but also allows full manual control of f-stops and shutter speeds.  Judging by the serial number this FE seems likely to have been manufactured mid-way through the camera's 1978-1983 production run.  So, this is one of the newest cameras in my collection.  I could tell from the smooth movements and sounds that there was likely nothing amiss with the camera, but of course I had to pop in a roll of Tri-X to give it a quick trial run.

To say that I've had an on-again/off-again relationship with Nikons is something of an understatement.  My first was a Nikon S rangefinder which I picked up around 1963; it had a fabulous lens, but that didn't stop me from selling it for a song in a fit of stupidity after shooting it a couple years.  I then skipped over Nikon development for the next couple decades before buying one of the company's early CoolPix digitals.  I kept that one just a couple years too; it wasn't a bad camera, but it became quickly obsolete and I gave it away to a neighbor.  A Nikon EM that I found a couple years ago at a yard sale performed erratically and likely won't see much use.  Now, I'm really pleased to have another shot at getting familiar with one of Nikon's great cameras from the film era.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pentax ME

This is a delightful little single lens reflex camera.  Pentax excelled in ergonomic design and the ME represents one of their best efforts; the ME fits your hands like a pair of expertly tailored gloves, and it can even be stuffed into a jacket pocket.

The standard K-mount SMC 1.7 50mm lens is unbeatable.  The viewfinder is exceptionally bright and easy to focus. Accurate exposures are ensured by the electronic auto-exposure feature; you pick the f-stop and the camera adjusts the speed and shows it to you with an led display in the viewfinder.
     Aperture-priority exposure automation has always seemed a great enhancement to the picture making experience to me.  I have appreciated it in the past with a couple of my rangefinder cameras such as the XA.  Aside from the convenience, automating that one aspect of the process also seems to encourage a more adventurous approach to photography, and I find myself more ready to attempt pictures in challenging lighting than I might with fully manual film cameras.  On my first outing with the camera I did not even get out the door before I started snapping pictures.

This camera came to me with a few small issues.  I put a roll of Fuji 200 film into the ME to try it out and the back popped open on about the third exposure.  I thought I had likely not securely closed the camera after loading it, but half-way through the roll it happened again.  The latching mechanism has a couple little hooks that are supposed to mesh together; one shows some wear and may just need a little discreet bending to work properly.  Until I get that figured out I decided to just apply a couple of strips of black tape to secure the back and that worked fine for a second go with a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Before I had loaded any film in the camera, I attempted to adjust the ASA dial to the 200 value and found that it would not budge.

I removed the rewind assembly from the camera, but could not see a way to fully disassemble the ASA dial.  I tried wiggling the adjusting lever, but felt some metal fatigue threatening to break the tab, so I just put the whole thing together again and replaced it in the camera.  Luckily, the ME features a two-stop under and over exposure compensation on the ASA dial, so having the setting stuck at 100 ASA actually permits using any film in the 25 to 400 ASA range.

Somehow, I neglected to take the lens off the camera before shooting the first roll.  When I did that I was shocked to see that the mirror was speckled with black dust and there was also some on the rear lens element.

The source of the dust was easy to identify; the narrow black foam mirror bumper just above the ground-glass screen was very deteriorated.  I brushed off the loose pieces and that left enough in place to do the dampening job for the mirror, but replacement of the foam is clearly in order.
     It turns out that one can easily find spare parts for the ME on ebay.  Eight or ten dollars will get about any part needed, and whole parts cameras are even available at the same price.  With a bit of luck, working examples of the ME can be found for not much more.

Given the ME's popularity, there is no shortage of good information about the camera on line.  I was particularly impressed with the quality of work done with the ME which is on display in the Flickr Pentax ME/ME Super group.  Among the laudatory articles on the ME I turned up were accounts of experiences with the camera by two of my favorite photo bloggers, JR Smith at Fogdog, and Jim Grey at Down the Road.

Friday, December 15, 2017

New Territory

Thanks to some generous loans and donations of equipment I have recently been able to get acquainted with some film cameras that I likely would not have gotten to otherwise.  First up is the Minolta SRT 202

The SRT 202 is big and heavy for a 35mm camera, but it is also very well built.  This one shows few signs of use, works perfectly, and it seems likely it could go on serving the needs of film photographers for a couple more generations.

The camera offers full manual control along with through-the-lens metering at full aperture.  The shutter has a 1/1000 top speed with an ASA range going up to 6400.  A depth of focus preview button is perfectly positioned for quick access.  The bayonet-style lens mount allows quick lens changes.

The standard lens for the SRT 102 was the MD Rokkor-X  1:1.4 f=50mm.  This fine six-element design is beautifully coated and very sharp at full aperture.  Minolta made all their own lenses in a wide variety of focal lengths and they are generally available at reasonable prices today.

My only experiences with Minolta cameras before was with earlier models.  I picked up a Minoltina AL-s rangefinder at an El Paso junk store for ten bucks many years ago.  I unstuck the shutter and adjusted the infinity focus and found that the Rokkor 40mm f1.8 lens was really excellent.  I was less impressed with an even-earlier Autocord tlr which I only kept for a short time.

There is quite a lot of good information about Minolta cameras available on line.  The Rokkor Files site has an excellent history of the whole SRT series which stretched form 1966 to 1981.

While browsing the Minolta SR Series group at Flickr I came across a reference to the use of the Minolta SRT 101 by W. Eugene Smith.  It turns out that Smith's Minamata photo essay was done with the Minolta.  Smith's assistant, Takeshi Ishikawa, wrote a book many years later about Smith's making of the great story and the Minamata survivors which was reviewed in the New York Times Lens feature.  The slide show includes a couple shots made by Ishikawa of Smith using the SRT 101; in one he has two of the big cameras on straps around his neck.

The slightly expired Kodak Color Plus 200 used here was also a generous gift. Judging by the multi-lingual labeling the film is likely intended primarily for overseas distribution, though it can be had in the U.S. through several on line sources including Walmart which sells it for less than $3 per roll. The film works particularly well with the Unicolor C-41 developing kit, yielding nice color and showing no spots or blotches which sometimes plague other films.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

East Meets West

My combination of Soviet lenses with a classic German Leica IIIa has worked out pretty well; I am expecting it will be more successful than the infamous 1939 German-Soviet Pact which lasted just over a year.

The Industar 22 and the Jupiter 12 lenses seem to be performing equally well, though I have mostly shot them so far in bright light conditions and at small apertures.

The last roll of film I put through the camera was Kentmere 100 which I processed in Rodinal at 1:50 dilution.  I'm looking forward to trying some other films and developers, including some PMK Pyro.

I have ordered a replacement beam-splitter mirror for the Leica.  It turns out that the mirror coatings used on the Soviet Leica copies was actually superior to that used by Leitz in the Barnack-style cameras, and my IIIa has no better rf contrast than most of my other cameras from the same era.  If the surgery goes as hoped I'm expecting I'll have more confidence in using the Leica in low light, and that should provide a more significant challenge for the German-Soviet alliance.

I check the lens listings on ebay every once in a while, but the chances of finding a good Leica lens at a reasonable price remain slim.  In any case, I'm happy enough with the experience so far, and it is nice to have an excuse to get back to using all my rangefinder cameras more.