sorcadmin's picture

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 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.
George Schaub

Film Aprons Found
In the February 2005 issue S.E. inquired about plastic aprons for use in film developing and in the June 2005 issue Jeffrey Abdale replied that they are unavailable. Never having seen or used these things I have no idea just how close Freestyle's aprons are, but perhaps your readers would be interested in knowing that a similar product is available. The latest Freestyle Photographic Supplies catalog (Fall 2005, Volume 5, Issue 3) on page 43 lists Arista E-Z developing tanks, which they describe as: "Remember the old Kodakraft developing tanks with film aprons? Well, we found something so close you'll have flashbacks to 20 years ago!" Readers can contact Freestyle for a catalog by calling (800) 292-6137 or visiting their website at:
via Internet

Glad to learn a similar "apron" for drastically easier loading of exposed film for developing is still available. This type of product is especially helpful for those just starting to develop conventional film for the first time. Aprons are much easier to use in darkroom situations than either plastic or metal spiral reels, that's for sure. Thanks for writing.

Speed Graphic Info
In the September 2005 issue, R.B. Young requested information on the Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera. One source of handy information is the website
Steven Winter

Thanks for your excellent suggestion. This website has the stated purpose of being "dedicated to promoting the use and preservation of Graflex Speed Graphics and other classic and large format cameras." It would be a good place to visit for any type of Graflex product reference data. I looked it over and there are links to informative data on various models of this workhorse large format camera.

Prestige Paper Mark
Q. Three years ago, when our daughter graduated from high school, my husband took pictures and had the film developed somewhere (we don't know where) that used Prestige paper--that is on the back of the pictures. The pictures were 4" prints and have a white frame around the image. We love these pictures but cannot find any business in our area that develops pictures like this. We want the white frame around the picture. Can you help us?
Steve and Daisy Carter
via Internet

The Prestige imprint on photographic papers was formerly used on a line of direct positive papers made by Kodak for making color prints from color slides--not prints from color negatives as is the case with most photofinishing today. I just spoke with a contact at Kodak and found out the Prestige line of color papers was discontinued in 1991. Possibly somebody else is now using this imprint on papers, but I have no idea who. The prints with white borders are the way nearly all prints were produced many decades ago when enlargements were made one at a time and processed individually. Although professional photo labs still make prints this way, the sheer bulk of photofinishing is done on automated machines that enlarge the color negative image onto a roll of continuous paper 4" wide by hundreds of feet long--all with no borders as the image goes right out to the edge of the paper. Some labs might attempt to set their work apart from the competition by making prints with white borders today, but, unfortunately, I have no leads to direct you to that type of lab. I'm sure the borders were a result of the way the lab made the prints. I know this does not really answer your question, but you might want to check with some professional labs in your area to ask if they can make prints with borders, but be forewarned, this could be much more expensive than conventional minilab finishing or reprinting.

Name That Lens
Q. I was the successful bidder of a lot of five old lenses at an auction. One lens was not familiar to me. It had the marking "YS-FTb." It does not fit my EOS cameras, however, it does fit my Canon AE-1 camera. I shot some film with it and the printed results appeared to be wide angled. I was told that the "S" in "YS" stood for Sigma, so I e-mailed Sigma several months ago and I have not heard back. I don't know the purpose of the lens, its focal length, and all that good stuff. Can you help me? I have attached five photos, of the lens that is not familiar to me, for your reference.
Richard J. Thompson
via Internet

The photos included with your e-mail were helpful, but still did not allow me to positively identify your recent lens acquisition. It's obviously f/2.8 in speed, small in size, and a prime (single focal length). Thus, it's probably 50mm or shorter, probably a 24 or 28mm wide angle. The identification ring on the front that usually surrounds the lens itself, which typically has this data, is missing. Since it fits your older Canon AE-1 SLR it's obviously a Canon FD bayonet lens mount. It does have something I don't remember ever seeing before, the round data on the side of the lens saying "Flash" and an arrow and the word "Auto" below that. I imagine this is a movable control to lock in a primitive flash automation capability that would adjust the lens aperture as you focused the lens to give the proper flash exposure at different distances. I have dozens of FD mount lenses, from Canon, Samyang, and Vivitar, but have never seen this information or control on a FD lens before. I have no idea what the "YS-FTb" refers to except that FTb was a line of SLR cameras made mostly by Canon, though some cameras had the Bell & Howell name on them. They came out in the early 1970s when I worked for Bell & Howell. I believe some of these cameras were also made for Sears and would have the Tower brand name on them. Sorry I cannot specifically identify the lens focal length for you or name the lens brand. Any ideas from readers?

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archp2008's picture
Starblitz 3300DTS

I have one of those flashes on the desk in front of me at this moment. Used it for several years on my old Canon AE-1 before the plastic hot shoe mount got damaged in a fall during a wedding. On the switch, white is manual, green is low power (set aperture to 2.8 for auto range of 3 to 17 feet at ISO 100), red is high power (set aperture to 5.6 for auto range of 4.5 to 35 feet). The flash has a guide number of approx 100 at ISO 100 in manual. In front of the flash the 0 is for top flash, 1 is for both fill and top flashes. Mine was dedicated to work with the AE-1 (forced shutter speed to 1/60).