Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Twin Trouble

I took my Yashica-Mat twin-lens reflex to Chaco about a year ago hoping to do some pictures of the ruins, but the film advance jammed on the first shot.  I tried another roll recently on a walk through Albuquerque's Old Town and found that it still has a problem with the shutter release and the film advance.  I was able to get past the problem with some jiggling of the focus control, but a good cleaning and adjustment is clearly called for.  I found a good service guide on the web, so will try to motivate myself to tackle the job some time in the future.  I have several good tlr cameras in addition to the Yashica-Mat, but the Lumaxar lens on the Yashica is a stellar performer.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Brightening the View

I pulled the prism out of a junker Minolta XG 1 and installed it in my Retina Reflex.  Chris Sherlock's web site and his YouTube videos on servicing the Retina Reflex cameras are good guides.  It looks like he can get the top off and install the prism in under twenty minutes.  It took me longer trying to figure out the proper positioning of the shutter release components, and I also spent quite a while crawling around on the floor looking for a little coil spring. Everything did fit back together eventually, and the result is a much more usable camera.  The view is not quite as bright as some of my other slr cameras, but it is a big improvement over the cloudy image through the old desilvered prism.

I loaded some Kentmere 100 into the camera and took it down to the river to test the results of my efforts.

The Retina Reflex, Type 025 was the first slr produced by Kodak in 1957.  The design is very similar to that of the IIIc rangefinder with which it has many parts in common, including the bayonet mount for the front lens group.  I probably won't bother to get the accessory wide-angle and telephoto lenses, but I do have a Series VI adapter and a 2X close-up lens (which I used to shoot the gutted X-1).

Friday, October 19, 2018

on the trail

I walked for an hour up into the foothills of the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque with my Pentax Spotmatic SP.

The white speck just above center in the shot below is the tramway car riding the wire up to the summit.

My walk got me about half way up the Domingo Baca Canyon Trail which ends near the 1955 crash site of TWA Flight 260.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

More from the X-700

We are having cool, cloudy weather that provides some interesting light for photography.

Friday, October 12, 2018


I took a bike ride down Old Town Road one sunny day recently.  I was riding along enjoying the passing scenery when suddenly a wind gust or a bump in the road caused my bike to veer sharply left into a driveway.  I found myself suddenly in the middle of a yard sale.  Then, as if by magic, I was peering into an old camera bag containing a Minolta X-700 single lens reflex.  The camera still had an inspection sticker on the top deck, and it looked like it had not seen more than a couple rolls of film.  While the seller demonstrated the camera's operation he came down five bucks on the price with no prompting from me.  At that point, of course, there was no choice available other than to fork over a twenty.

Besides the camera, the bag contained an interesting accessory I had not encountered before, a Vivitar 2X Macro Focusing Teleconverter.  With the prime lens and the converter set to the infinity positions, the result is a doubling of the focal length to 100 mm and continuous focal adjustment from close-up to infinity.  By adjusting the converter, however, one is able to focus down to a few inches with a 1 to 1 correspondence of image to subject size.

The continuously wide focal range of the teleconverter provides a lot of versatility in shooting.  As with all such accessories, however, there is a two-stop aperture or speed penalty, and a corresponding reduction in depth of focus.  That means that hand-held shots are really only feasible in bright light conditions.  While the camera's aperture priority auto-exposure features made the use of the teleconverter pretty transparent, you do have to pay attention to the shutter speed that is being selected as well being attentive to the very narrow depth of field with ultra-closeups.  In practice, I found these restrictions to be less a problem and more of an opportunity to see my subjects in unaccustomed ways.

I used up a roll of Kodak Gold 200 shooting the Minolta with the Teleconverter at the Botanic Garden.  Since I had not carried along a tripod I did not make full use of the extreme close-up capability of the teleconverter, but I was pleased with the over-all quality of the images.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Retina Redux

A brief shutter cleaning for my Retina Reflex got the aperture stop-down mechanism operating properly and allowed the nice qualities  the Xenon lens to come through in the camera's images.  I still have a bit of work to do on the film advance, and it would be really nice to find a replacement for the clouded prism.  That is not a difficult repair, but I keep getting outbid on ebay for junker donor cameras because I'm not willing to spend much on spare parts.

The last shot is Joe Van Cleave showing his marvelously crafted handmade cameras to the New Mexico Film Photographers Group.  He has posted an excellent series of videos about film photography on YouTube.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

The Bridge

This recently completed pedestrian and bicycle bridge parallels I-40 where it crosses the Rio Grande, giving access to Albuquerque's West Side.  I photographed it this week during a bike ride with my Zorki 2-C and the Jupiter 12 35mm lens.  The film is KosmoFoto 100 processed in Rodinal 1:50.

Monday, October 01, 2018

A Sentimental Favorite

My Contaflex I was an early acquisition and one of only two of my film cameras that I have sent away for repair.  The other was my Kiev IIa which was restored by Oleg Khalyavin.  As it turned out, the repair of the Contaflex did not work and I ended up tearing it down myself to fix the sticky aperture stop-down mechanism.  The repair was not terribly difficult, but it did take considerable research on the web to find the proper techniques for disassembly and adjustment of the leaf shutter slr.  My success with the camera likely included a good dose of luck; I think if I were to be faced with the same situation today I would likely send off the camera to someone with real expertise such as Chris Sherlock.

Zeiss Ikon pioneered the design of the leaf-shutter single lens reflex camera with the first Contaflex which came to the market in 1953.  The company brought some radically new thinking in camera construction to the task which seems likely to have been inspired by the work of Hubert Nerwin.  Although Nerwin was long gone to America by 1953, there are many aspects of the Contaflex design which echo his innovative thinking as it was manifested in the Contax II, the Contessa 35, and espcially in the little Ikonta 35.  As shown in the comparison below, the Contaflex was significantly smaller than the contemporary Kodak Retina Reflex or the much later focal plane shutter models like the Pentax K1000.

Aside from the appealing compactness of the Contaflex, the camera's real strength as a picture maker was the superlative f:2.8/45mm coated Tessar lens.  I had some familiarity with the lens design in earlier 35mm and medium format cameras and the prospect of actually viewing the world through a Tessar on an slr was compelling.  These many years later I don't have a camera which inspires more confidence in operation than the Contaflex. I proved that to myself again in the past week when I took the camera out on walks in the neighborhood and along the river.

Visiting the Past in the Plaza Vieja

Fairlane 500

In 1957 the Contaflex was still in production.

plastic and stucco

Proxar 0.5 accessory close-up lens

ocra at f:2.8

Roxie at the River
The Contaflex I Manual is at the Butkus site.