Monthly Archives: August 2013

LOST & FOUND

AGFA Box Camera

I was sorting through my camera collect in search of a camera to put some 120 film through and pulled this out, the AGFA Synchro Box [I think].

I was give this by a props master, who a friend of mine worked with, upon finding out I collected all kinds if photography… ‘tat’. I was grateful of the donation but not having a project or use for it at the time it sadly worked it’s way to the bottom of a box to be forgotten.

However, upon it’s rediscovery I found it contained a fully exposed film which I couldn’t resist but to have it developed. Now, I have considered it to be a little strange to have a film developed; origin unknown and that proceed to publish the photographs of complete strangers on the internet. But, it might be even stranger to just not do anything with them and although the results are incredibly underwhelming, who knows they may hold a hidden story..?

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I have no idea who these people are [or canine] nevertheless,  I do know the camera most probably originated from the North East [of England] and from the clothes people are wearing the photos where probably taken at some point in the 70’s. So, after 40 odd years sat in a camera the colours have come out quite nicely. It’s a shame that the photographer was a little too close in most of the shots and it would appear had their fingers over the lens in the photo of the dog.

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This discovery also got thinking how perfectly useful, relevant and exciting old cameras remain to be. Cameras such as this box camera pretty much have the same functionality of any more recently manufactured ‘lomo’ type camera and most people have said cameras sat around collecting dust.

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This has inspired me to start a new blog thread to find and use retired and forgotten cameras that in my humble opinion still have creative functionality and maybe hold a few surprises. By doing this I hope I might inspire some of my readers to search out old film cameras, ask parents, grandparents, neighbours to see if they have any forgotten film cameras hidden away. AGFA_11-sml

I already have a number of car-boot and e-bay bought cameras that I plan showcase here over the next few weeks and months. I will also do some detective work and maybe I’ll find out more about these photo’s

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Bob

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MKii: progress with DIY pinhole camera

Thought I would post a very quick update on how far I’ve got to with the MKii.

I drove around for ages looking for somewhere to shoot before I ended up almost back at home at the local church. I set up in front of the spire took a couple of shots before heading around the back into the grave yard. All going very promisingly but then…it broke!

It was the weakest element of the construction that went too. What seems to have happened is the milliput epoxy putty that connected the wooden peg to the advance mechanism failed to grip and therefore started to rotate freely when I’ve been advancing the spool. That is why I have got so many double exposures going on.

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Then, tension has somehow built up between the two spools and the wooden peg broke in two. So, I think I’m going to rebuild it in metal!

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On the positive: The light meter apps and exposure charts that I am using although still involve a little guess work and luck are generally working. At least you can see things with tone and detail.  You can clearly see the church spire and a tree in the above shot. Also in the shot below you can just about make out a grave stone in the left have of the photo. I will hopefully review how I light meter my shots when I’ve had some more success and a little more savvy with the camera.

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Not too exciting but it’s progress. I aim to fix it over the weekend so please check back soon for more results.

If you’re interested to read more about the construction and other result with the sardine tin camera, it all here and here!

Thanks for reading!

Bob

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Sardine Tin Camera: MKii

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My first attempt at making a camera from a sardine tin worked as well as I could have hoped, but there was plenty of room for improvement.

Read more about my first attempt here

One of the shortcomings of the original design [mk1] was that I was only getting around 25 exposures from a 36 exposure film. This I believe, is to do with the width of the ‘exposure chamber’. [might have just made that name up?] By this I mean each section of film had to travel quite a distance between the [light tight] unexposed film roll and the [relatively light tight\] take-up spool. This could  potentially leave the film open to light from subsequent exposures hitting the previous exposure before reaching the take-up spool. To remedy this I added a screen / flap between the ‘exposure chamber’ and the take up spool that will hopefully protect the exposed film and the take up spool from said light leaks. This also means I’ve had to move the aperture slightly off centre.

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The biggest and most exciting modification I’ve made is to the take_up spool. However, I must now confess that although my principal intention was to build a camera from things easily found around the house I have started to stray from this with a few of my modifications. My first attempt of a functioning  take-up spool broke half way through it’s maiden voyage and subsequently some of the film ripped. Also, the design of the take-up spool encouraged further light leaks that aren’t always desired.

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The first advance in design was to replace the former sewing thread spool with a proper 35mm spool and make wooden holders for the spool to sit in.

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Then I made a wooden peg [above] that slots inside the spool hub, allowing it to turn. Into one end of the peg I glued a piece of 5mm K&S brass tubing. This can be bought from most model shops where model train enthusiasts hang out. I found a brass radiator/ central heating key for the advance, as the beer top was a little clumsy which a piece of K&S brass tubing fit perfectly.

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In order to then connect the radiator key to the 5mm tube in the wooden peg I soldered a smaller 4mm piece of K&S brass tubing. I used silver solder as that’s what I had but lead solder that plumbers use is easier to get hold of from DIY shops and is much cheaper. Silver solder is much stronger too. This modification should hopefully make the camera completely light tight.

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Once it came to attaching the film to the take up spool I could have just taped it, like you do with the Holga. However, 35mm spools have a clever little hook thing on the inside of the spool hub which holds it in place. I thought I’d try to be clever and attempt to recreate this by punching a hole in the beginning of the roll…

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…but soon realised that the hole is a little off centre. I punched more holes in the film but made a right pigs ear of the job so just tapped the factory cut attachment from the old roll to my film.

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This time I’ve loaded the camera with 100 ISO film which will make the exposure time around 1.7 seconds.

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All in all I’m pretty happy with the modifications and the advance spool works perfectly. All I need to do now is expose the film, so please check back soon for my results.

Bob

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SLIM-WIDE: a summer romance

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The slim-wide is modest and understated but a true backyard shooter. It’s the reincarnation of the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, which has a huge cult following but is now made by the guys at Superheadz.

At first it was quite easy to be underwhelmed by this modest little camera but is simplicity is what makes it so special; it does one job and it does it beautifully well. It partly to do with the lens which is pretty wide at 22mm, which considering fisheye lenses start at around 15mm and our own angle of view is somewhere between 35 – 50mm [relative to 35mm film] you can squeeze a lot in. It means that the angle of view is around 90 degrees or in other words, if you have your fingers to close to the lens then there’s a good chance your fingers will feature in the shot.

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However, the wide angle isn’t it’s only trick. The Vivitar was know for producing lens flare, sharp and vivid shorts and heavy vignetting. I think this reincarnation delivers on all three. This was my first roll of film through the slim wide and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with the outcome. When put into perspective I don’t think a similar priced digital camera could produce shots anywhere as pleasing. It’s also important to bear in mind that like it’s contemporaries at Lomography there’s little quality control on these plastic lenses so each one will have it’s own personality. Some may give more lens flare and vignetting but I think this one’s hit it just about right.

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Nevertheless, I think I underestimated the wide angle slightly and I possibly could have got a little closer to my subjects. For example, with the photo below I possibly could have stood where the drain cover is and still got the building, phone boxes and bloke on the phone in shot. Or better still, just the guy and the phone boxes would have made a much better photo.

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I think this really highlights why I continue use and get excited to use cameras such as this. Primarily for the level of chance or imminent failure when using ‘toy’ cameras that often leads to many a happy accident. But secondly to reenforce the fundamentals of photography. Cameras with such limits of functionality [like the slim wide, if not all toy cameras] the strongest tool we have in our toy camera box is composition. Since there’s no way of influencing the exposure you just have to keep you eyes pealed for that killer moment, aim to be in the right place at the right time with the knowledge your slim-wide is instantly ready to go [as long as you’ve advance the roll!] I think that purity is something to embrace.

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Finally, I think it’s important to know what conditions the slim wide performs best in [same with all toy cameras] and thus play to it’s strengths. The slim wide is a true backyard shooter that loves the sun. So take it to the beach or to a festival. Don’t worry if you get sun lotion on it or spill a bit of beer over it and most of all encourage lens flare because that’s what it wants. So now you know it loves the sun and how wide the lens is so I implore you to use this to it’s full potential. If you’re after hipster status then you might find the slim wide a little underwhelming. But if you want to bring your photography back to basics then I think the slim wide is a great addition to your quiver.

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HAPPY ACCIDENT

Bob – pinbox

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GOLDEN HALF: roll one

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Yep, just another toy camera but this one makes me so very happy. It’s a half frame camera meaning it cuts a regular 35mm frame in half, so a 36 exposure film gives you 72 half frame photos.

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See full set here

It pays attention to the details; it looks cool, it’s small, the viewing frame is directly above the lens making framing adjustment a little easier and it’s got a hot shoe. However, best of all it’s got two apertures: f/11 for sunny days and f/8.5 for cloudy days. Although it only has the one fixed shutter speed [1/100th of a second] the two aperture settings give you that extra bit of tolerance to keep shooting in lower light conditions [EV12-13]. This means that if you’re using ISO 100 film you should potentially still get a decent exposure on overcast days and push a evening sunset shots with ISO 400. It coped well on a dull winters day [above] and produced some lovely colours.

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The start of a great night in Amsterdam

But the real charm of the camera is the dialogue and discourse that is generated by the two little half-frame photo’s per print. Having two shots of the same subject or moment offers up a conversation and if you happen to leave your camera a few weeks half way through a roll of film you may get some interesting conversations going on. A great example in black & white here from the dude on the bike.

This was my first roll through the Golden Half and there is plenty of scope for creativity and experiment now I know what it can do.

If you want to see more from the set just go here

Bob – pinbox

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