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 email@example.com with Help in the subject header and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. 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.
Since publishing my reply to Herb Koehler in the March 2005 issue, I have heard about two additional wireless units that can be used to fire a broad range of cameras without need of bothersome connecting cords. Quantum Instruments offers the new Quantum Radio Slave 4i (plus several earlier versions). Among the features I learned about this unit on their website (www.qtm.com) are this unit has an extended 350 foot range, line of sight to receiver is not required, and it can be attached either to a hot shoe or with touch fasteners. Motor drive cords are listed to use this radio slave unit with a wide variety of different brands and formats of cameras. In addition, a reader wrote to tell me about the Minolta IR1 remote shutter release, a unit that works in a 150 foot range with any camera having a threaded cable release socket. Either of these two devices should provide the remote firing capability that reader Koehler was seeking. We will pass this additional data on to him.
I just read the letter from S.E. in the February 2005 issue regarding those plastic aprons used for home developing, and it brought back warm memories. I still use the aprons given to me by my father more than 35 years ago when I was taking a photo course in high school here in Queens. I wish I could help S.E., but my aprons are 120 format size, and I would never part with them, nor should anyone doing any home developing who wants error-proof results. They are, far and away, the best product ever made for this purpose, far superior to any of the stainless reels or those frustrating plastic "ratchet" reels being sold nowadays. Using an apron, instead of a reel, guaranteed that the film would never "double up," as can happen with a reel, causing emulsion to acetate contact during developing. One never had to worry about creasing the film while trying to move it with one's thumbs during reel loading in the dark. One didn't have to use dummy rolls of film in order to "practice" loading film in the darkroom. Even a child could load film into an apron, in total darkness, on the first attempt. It is truly unfortunate that our craft has found it necessary to make even the simplest of tasks more complicated than they need to be. I wish S.E. lots of luck in finding his aprons (and those beautiful, multicolored Kodak developing tanks that they were made for) in his 35mm size. He might do well to forget the camera stores and try some local garage sales.
Thanks for your comments about the wavy edge plastic film processing aprons. I agree emphatically that they were the easiest method of processing roll film other than simply holding each end of a roll of 120 film with each hand (35mm was too long to do this) and manually allowing it to bow down into a tray of developer while alternately raising and lowering the film in a seesaw manner. I remember having to teach a fellow photo student how to load a Nikkor stainless steel processing reel so I could shoot a demo movie on how to load a film reel while in college 50 years ago. I should have sought out a person who had done this task before, but she was good looking, so I chose her as the model/demonstrator. This was a difficult short film to produce. After having loaded literally hundreds of both 35mm and 120 Nikkor reels, I still would have the film buckle now and then. Like you said, a photo swap meet or garage sale might be a good place to look to find a processing apron today.
Rollei Lens Adaptation
Q. I have a Rolleiflex 35mm camera with three excellent lenses: a Zeiss 85mm and two Schneider Kreuznach, 35mm and 50mm. The camera has become unpredictable, but the lenses are super sharp. Is there any way I can adapt these lenses to fit another camera? I'm reluctant to buy another old Rolleiflex for fear it won't be any better than what I've got. I'm told this is impossible but I thought I'd rather hear it from an expert.
A. You don't say which Rolleiflex 35mm SLR you have, the original SL35 of 1970-76 vintage, or the later boxy SL2000F with a waist-level viewfinder and interchangeable backs. Both cameras accept a wide range of QBM bayonet mount lenses ranging from 15-200mm focal length for the earlier SL35 camera and ranging from 16mm way up to 1000mm prime plus several zoom models for the later SL2000F camera. I'm not aware of any other camera body these QBM mount lenses are compatible with. If any Rollei fans can provide more information or suggestions and write us we will pass the data along. Sorry I cannot be of more immediate assistance.
APS Expiration Date
Q. Is there any way, by using the cartridge number on Kodak APS film, to determine the expiration date of a particular Kodak APS cartridge? I recently had a roll of APS film developed and the pictures turned out very faded. The processing lab noted on the envelope that perhaps the film was old. Before I go back and complain about the quality of the prints, I would like to find out if there is any way to determine what the expiration date was on that particular roll of film. I store my film in the refrigerator and use film at about the same rate over the course of a year and have never had this problem with the prints before. Any leads would be greatly appreciated.
A. Since each roll of APS film has a unique six-digit code number, I would think there would be a chart somewhere that could be used to determine the age of that particular roll. However, I just spoke to experts at the Kodak hotline (800-242-2424) about your question and they told me they could date the film by looking at the actual negative, but to do this you would have to send the roll of APS film into Kodak for them to determine the date. If there is such a serial number chart, it's not available to the general public. Since you refrigerate your film prior to using it, it should have a good extended shelf life. I have lots of different brands and types of film in my upright freezer that is years past date and have never had any age-related problems when I eventually use it. The only film that does not keep long-term when frozen is ultra-fast ISO 800 and faster film, which should be used by the printed expiration date for best results. I would still take the prints back to the lab, point out the problem, and request reprints. All reputable labs will accommodate customers this way, especially if you are a regular customer of that particular lab.
Q. I have a Yashica Samurai Z half-frame 35mm autofocus camera. I'd like to find someone who can do repair work on it. I'm not sure, but think there is a short in the system.
Bernard W. Johnson
A. Skimming through the Shutterbug Service Directory in a recent issue I found several listings of firms that say they work on Yashica products. Here are two such companies: Photo Tech Repair Service, Inc., 110 East 13th St., New York, NY 10003, (212) 673-8400, www.phototech.com; and Camera Repair Japan, 3435 Breckinridge Blvd., Ste. 110, Duluth, GA 30096, (888) 226-6678, www.camera repairjapan.com. Another company you might want to try is Camera Wiz, 169B Pleasant Hill Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22801, (800) 471-8133, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; they specialize in "no longer repairable" work. One West Coast firm that claims "repair when parts are no longer available" that you might also want to check out is Photography On Bald Mountain, 113 Bald Mountain, Davenport, CA 95017, (831) 423-4465, http://home.pacbell.net/baldmtn. As always, when seeking repair of older equipment, contact the firm(s) and explain the problem and get a cost estimate before actually sending the equipment to them. I hope one or more of these firms can fix your camera satisfactorily.
Got A Super 8 Projector?
Q. I am looking for a Super 8 movie projector. Any idea where I could find one?
A. As you undoubtedly know, there are no Super 8 movie products
made today. However, I'm sure there are still lots of used projectors
available. I believe I have several somewhere myself. One firm that advertises
in the Shutterbug Service Directory is Kx Camera, 17321/2 Grand Ave., Santa
Barbara, CA 93103, (805) 963-5625, www.kxcamera.com; they repair projectors
and might have a used one for sale. In addition, you might want to check with
Pro8mm (formerly Super8 Sound), 2805 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505, (818)
848-5522, www.pro8mm.com. This is one of the few dealers I know of today that
specializes in movie items.