I have slowed my camera collecting recently and have even de-accessioned pieces which I don’t care about. This spring I spent a few weeks watching a Craigslist ad for a Mamiyaflex C2, and when it didn’t move I gave the owner a call. I have heard great things about Mamiya TLRs.
At first blush I was nonplussed. The Mamiyaflex is bigger and heavier than either of my Yashica TLRs. Its primary distinguishing feature is the ability to change lenses. I only have the stock 80mm portrait lens, so this didn’t mean much to me. I shot a roll then set both the camera and the film aside for later.
This week I finally got around to developing it, and wow!
I know that the camera is only partially responsible, but this is one of the best images I have made in quite a while. I need to find time to print this. The rest of the roll was also very good.
It’s eight degrees and there is over 2 feet of snow on my flat roof with more expected tonight. I really should be out shoveling. Instead I’m catching up with my blogs.
For this week’s roll, I chose the Ansco Clipper.
I don’t remember where or when I got my Clipper. It’s a folding box camera manufactured from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. Pre-WWII versions were marketed as Agfa-Ansco, so I know my version dates from 1945 or later. It features a simple lens and shutter mounted on a telescoping lens board. There are no adjustments; one aperture, one shutter speed. It is designed to use 116 film which is no longer available, but 120 film can be adapted to fit using a simple styrofoam packing peanut.
In use, the red window is no longer an accurate measure of film advance. I guessed at proper spacing which resulted in gaps between the images on the film. I guess this is better than overlapping them. 120 film is smaller than 116, so part of the image is cropped. It just means you need to frame accordingly.
I enjoyed shooting my Clipper. It is a very solid feeling camera which folds to easily fit in a coat pocket. You can see the results over at 52 Rolls.
For this week, something slightly different. Located in the center above is my 1947 Graflex 2×3 Pacemaker Speed Graphic. (Pictured either side are the Pacemaker Crown Graphic 4×5 and a Nikon FM2 for size comparison.) I purchased it on Craigslist a year or so ago. From the description, I initially thought it was another 4×5 camera, but it turned out to be the smaller 2×3″ version.
These cameras are less desired by collectors as 2×3 film is no longer available. Mine has the standard, non-graflock back, so fitting other film is difficult. I have obtained and fitted a Singer Graflex 120 roll film back. This required a semi-permanent removal of the ground glass focusing screen.
My Speed Graphic features a rear curtain shutter with speeds up to 1/1000. The front standard carries an Ektar 101mm f4 lens in a 1/400 shutter. It is fitted with a Kalart rangefinder which is currently not working.
I loaded it with Tri-X and took it on a photo walk this weekend at the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill. I had a lot of fun using it and can’t wait to get it outdoors in better light. Unfortunately I mis-wound the curtain shutter and managed to ruin all but the first three shots on my roll.
Those three were worth the effort, though.
More photos from the museum will be coming as I develop the rest of my film.
Wikipedia reports that the Holga was originally designed as an inexpensive family camera for the Chinese masses. The company envisioned a sort of Asian Kodak recording family vacations and events.
Things may not have worked out as originally intended, but I found my Holga perfectly suited to the task when we took it on a recent trip to Six Flags. Its light weight meant I could hang it around my neck and forget it, while its simple construction and lack of electronics meant I could take it places I would never dare take most of my collection.
This week’s images were shot on Portra 400 and developed at home.
The Holga 120N was my entry into medium format. Prior to my return to film about 2 years ago, I knew nothing of things larger than 35mm. The Holga was an inexpensive way to learn. It features a zone focus plastic lens with symbols for Portrait, Single Person, Group, and Landscape. A switch selects different apertures for sunny or shaded, and the single speed shutter can be switched to bulb mode if you wish. Film advance is via a knob on top with a red window on the back of the camera.
I’ve found it works best with 400 ASA film, so I’ve loaded a roll of Portra 400 for the week.
Summer is here with all its attendant craziness. I've still been shooting, but finding the time to develop, scan, and write has been difficult.
For this past week I chose the Yashicamat LM, a TLR from 1958-1964. I wrote a post of first impressions with it before I'd started 52 Cameras. I loaded it with a roll of Lomography 400 ASA color and took it to a family barbecue.
I like the Duaflex. I've called it a pseudo-TLR before, but I've decided to drop that appellation. It has two lenses and a reflex mirror. By definition, this makes it a Twin Lens Reflex. As I experiment with more cameras, the line between TLR and pseudo- becomes harder to define.
My Duaflex has character. The leatherette is peeling in a couple of the corners, and it has a dent on the front. The mirror and viewing lens are clear and provide a large, bright image. Unfortunately the shutter only opens part way, and at a varying speed.
Todd Schlemmer’s P6*6 3D printed pinhole camera is tons of fun. I’m continually amazed that it sprang from his mind though an I/O device into reality. We truly live in an amazing world.
3D printing lends itself to continuous improvement. One of Todd’s first additions was a clip to better secure the camera’s top plate. Prior to this it was prone to popping open when dropped. The extra thickness of the clip led to the creation of a counterbalancing shoe, so the camera can sit steadily on a flat surface. More recently he has developed a wide angle version of the lens barrel as well.
The original design suffered from one flaw though. The printed winding mechanism, a simple plastic paddle attached to a knob, was prone to failure if the film bound. Todd thoughtfully provides spares if you order the kit from him.
Predictably, I broke mine. Also predictably, I lost the spare parts.
I understand Todd’s desire to print as much of the camera as possible, but I felt something more robust was in order. Behold, the P6*6 (Mosquito Hill Variant):
The knob is a simple Radio Shack item. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles for around $1.99/pair. I chose a knurled Aluminum version with a 1/4″ shaft.
The film advance paddle began its life as a 1/4-20 thumb screw from the hardware store. I used my hobby mill to shrink it to the proper size, but you could achieve the same result with hand tools and patience. For that matter, you could grind and file a similar item from a plain bolt if you were sufficiently motivated. A simple rubber washer acts as a light seal on the shaft.
The entire conversion cost approximately $2.50 and took 10 minutes of my time. I think I spent more time chucking the bolt in the mill than I did on the rest of the project combined. I won’t say it will never break again, but I suspect I’ll break lots of other things first.