Here is a quick tip list
on letters for the HELP! desk:
Please confine yourself to only one question per letter. Both postal
letters and e-mails are fine, although we prefer e-mail as the most
efficient form of communication. Send your e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
with Help in the subject header. Although we make every effort, we cannot
promise to answer every HELP! letter.
When sending a response or suggestion that refers to a published letter
please include the month and page of the original question.
All postal letters to HELP! must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed
envelope to be considered for reply. We will respond to e-mail queries
with an e-mail.
Manual Plus Bulb
Q. I am a US soldier stationed in Germany. I am looking for an old manual
camera to practice long-time exposures with. I want manual everything.
What models that I could find in German stores might be good? I am looking
for one that is $100-$150. You can buy a brand-new manual camera for
$180 on the Internet but I am hoping to spend half that.
problem with suggesting specific cameras is sometimes the model name
is different outside the U.S.A. If the camera brand is the same it may
have a different model name in Germany or elsewhere. You don't
say whether you want an SLR camera that takes interchangeable lenses,
or just a fixed lens camera. There are literally hundreds of cameras
that fit your needs, but I'll confine my suggestions to a few
I have personal experience with.
Older models of compact (non-interchangeable lens cameras) probably
will not have a zoom lens, but will have a 40-50mm lens. Look for one
with "B" bulb capability for your long-time exposure subjects.
This means the shutter will stay open as long as you press the shutter
release, or better yet, hold down a flexible cable release, which will
minimize any camera movement. One really nice compact that was introduced
about 30 years ago was the Canon QL-17. I have one and it's still
a capable camera. It has a 40mm f/1.7 lens. The similar QL-28 model
has a slightly slower f/2.8 lens.
If you want an SLR that accepts interchangeable lenses, then one that
takes the old 42mm screw-in lenses should be readily available. The
various old models of Asahi Pentax or one of the East German Praktica
cameras that take screw-in lenses should do. Later Pentax K1000 cameras
take a bayonet mount lens. Other SLRs you might look for are the Canon
TLB, AE-1, or F1. The Minolta SR-7 or XD-7 also should do well. Most
any of these older model cameras should be available for well under
$100 US over there. Hope this gives you an idea of what to look for
in the German camera stores.
The stores I have seen when attending photokina in Cologne tended to
be well stocked with older cameras as well as newer, more expensive,
models. Compact cameras of recent vintage all tend to have fully automatic
exposure and zoom lenses, so might not be suitable for the long-time
exposure photography you want to try.
Flash And Super Graphic
Q. If I use a Stroboflash head, with pigtail, on my Graflite battery
case, could I use the button on the case to trip the shutter on my Super
Graphic for off-camera flash? I understand that I need a Y Cord to do
this, which I have. I saw a Stroboflash head at a swap meet a few years
ago, but didn't need it then. If I can do this, then I'll
advertise in Shutterbug for a strobe head.
St. Louis, MO
As you have discovered, syncing an old Super Graphic for use with flash
is tedious. These cameras were made from 1958-1973 when electronic flash
was still relatively new and flash bulbs were still the main source
of synchronized artificial lighting. First, check the shutter on your
camera lens. Does it have an M-X sync switch? If so, it can be adapted
for use with either flash bulbs (M) or electronic flash (X).
Next, does the shutter have a single PC flash contact, or a two-prong
contact? If you have a newer Graphic lensboard it will have an internal
contact mechanism with two flat contact points at the top edge of the
lensboard that make contact with two spring tabs at the top of the camera
body (visible with the lensboard removed). With this type of internal
contact, you will need a special flash cord that plugs into the three
sockets on the lower right side of the camera body (just below the bottom
flash bracket on the right side). If I remember correctly, this cord
has a standard two-prong household electrical contact at the other end,
which plugged into a Heiland or Graflex flash gun.
Where you can locate this specialized sync cord today, I don't
know. I got one with my Super Graphic over 20 years ago, but have no
idea where it is today. If your camera's shutter has external
PC sync flash contacts, you can simply plug your electronic flash into
the PC contact, and trip the shutter to fire the flash. Since this is
a blade shutter, you can sync at any shutter speed. You would trip the
shutter by either touching the button on the shutter, or by placing
a cable release into the shutter. There is an internal electric shutter
release (once again, that works only if you have the lensboard with
internal contacts) that fires the shutter when the red button on the
upper left of the body (just above the hand strap) is pressed in. But,
to use this internal shutter release you have to install two batteries
in the compartment at the top right side of the camera back. The rectangular
battery looks like today's 9v battery with two terminals on one
end, but is different. It's an M-215 (or equivalent) 22.5v battery
with a contact on each end. You might be able to order one through RadioShack
as they often can get older, hard-to-find batteries today. Hope this
helps you get your venerable Super Graphic operational with any flash.
Digital And Film
Q. Is it safe for my digital camera and additional SmartCards to go
through the x-ray machines at the airport? I will also have my SLR and
35mm film. Any advice you have will be appreciated.
is my understanding that neither digital cameras nor digital memory
cards used for capturing images are affected by airport security machines.
But, films can be adversely affected. Films faster than ISO 400 are
particularly vulnerable and repeatedly passing them through security
(as might happen when you change planes several times) can be accumulative
and build up fogging on any speed film. I always place my extra film
in a see-through, zip-open type food storage bag so I can pull them
all out of my gadget bag in one group and then request a hand check
of the film. They might want to open one or more of the film boxes,
but I have never been refused when asking for hand checking of film
outside the security machines.
Film Loading Problem
Q. I loaded a 35mm film, but it went in at an angle. I tried to ease
it out, but some of the film unwound (about 5-6 pictures worth). I rewound
it straight away, but I was in a light room. Will the whole 36 exposures
be damaged, even if only a little bit of the film came out? Any help
would be appreciated!
No, the film that remained inside the film cassette should not have
been adversely affected by the light and you should be able to use the
remainder of the 36-exposure roll safely. Just reload the film normally
and be sure to advance the film to frame 8 or 10 to wind a bit past
the leader end that got fogged when you had to open the camera back
in a lighted room. I'm assuming your camera has conventional winding
that pulls the film from the cassette and has to be rewound back into
the cassette after exposing the last picture. If you have one of the
cameras that uses film pre-wind (that is, the film is advanced to the
end of the roll before taking the first picture, and is safely back
inside the cassette immediately after exposing the last picture) there
might be more harmful fogging of the unexposed film on the take-up spool
when the back was accidentally opened. But, if only a short bit of film
leader was visible when you had to open the back, then the rest of the
roll of film should be OK to use.
Q. I am writing to you because I have an old 8mm camera from 1964. I
would like to know if you know what its value is today. I have sent
you a few pictures of it, including a picture of the label that has
the date on it. Hope to hear from you soon! Thank you.
Pentvelas, Puerto Rico
DeJur Citation 8mm spool camera with an interchangeable single lens
mount, was actually introduced in 1950. My 11th Edition of McKeown's
Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras, 2001-2002 shows a price
of $20-$30 for your camera. Mass produced 8mm cameras just are not particularly
collectable today, thus the relatively low pricing.
Q. Someone I know is looking for DFR bulbs for an old EK Cavalcade projector.
I'm sure he doesn't want to update/transfer his lectures
because he has many, many of them already installed in the clips and
trays and the equipment is now like an old shoe! I was able to supply
him with a large number of trays and clips, but he says the bulbs (and
of course, the projector) are most difficult to find.
First, I want to ask if I remembered correctly a Shutterbug advertiser
who sold old (unused, of course!) bulbs? Does anyone know of a "new"
replacement bulb for the DFR? I did look in a "bulb" catalog,
but my first real query is to Shutterbug.
Jean M. Grant, Photographer
Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago
I found the DFR bulb listed in my Photo and AV Lamp catalog from Bulbman.
Your friend can contact Bulbman at (800) 648-1163 to order this replacement
bulb for his old Kodak Cavalcade slide projector. They have six stores,
mostly west of the Mississippi, but the toll-free 800 number is the
easiest way to order any of their replacement lamps and bulbs. In addition
to the AV bulbs, they also list many flash tubes, video lights, and
photofloods. An AV lamp cross-reference lists the product name and the
bulb needed for that unit. I don't know if this was the advertiser
you had seen, but it's a prime source for replacement lamps for
older products today.
(Editor's Note: As we went to press we were notified that Kodak
will no longer be producing slide projectors, and that their servicing
of present projectors will be available through 2011.)