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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.
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Toned Monochrome On Color Paper
In the May 2006 issue a reader wrote you asking how to make "brown tone" photographs. It is simply a matter of adjusting the filtration in the color head of the enlarger (assuming we are talking about using the Kodak RA-4 color process printing). I have used several combinations but the last one I used was 52Y and 60M. He will want to make some test strips to get the precise shade he wants.
Thanks for your suggestion on the filtration to make "brown tone" prints on color enlarging paper.
Q. I am looking for a camera insurance company to insure my equipment here in the US and for traveling.
A. If you have homeowners insurance you can ask your insurance agent to add a separate camera equipment floater to cover your itemized list of equipment. If you use your photo equipment for business purposes you might also want to add liability coverage just in case some accident happens while you are out using the equipment for producing pictures for sale. If you just use your equipment as a hobby the rates will be less than that used for business purposes. Just call your local insurance agent handling the coverage you now have and tell him what type of coverage you seek. Or check the Yellow Pages for insurance firms in your town and ask one or more of them for a camera insurance quote.
Needs 70mm Magazines For Pentax 645
Q. Our company develops and manufactures products for the military market. Recently we acquired a project involved with medium format Pentax cameras, 645 series, and we cannot find the 70mm film magazine, which is no longer in production. I turned to Pentax's website and your magazine is mentioned as a good source for information concerning old products. Therefore I appeal to you for assistance in finding a source that might supply Pentax 70mm film holders. For immediate use I need two units but am considering buying 5-10 if someone has them in stock.
Hod Hasharon, Israel
A. I checked with my contacts at Pentax Imaging and was told they did discontinue the 70mm rollfilm back for the Pentax 645 cameras two years ago. But, this was done after they learned that both Kodak and Fuji were discontinuing offering 70mm film in pre-loaded cartridges containing 15-foot long rolls of film. Since film would not be available they saw no need to offer the 70mm film backs. Since you are located outside the U.S.A. you might have access to 70mm film from other firms and thus still need these backs. You might want to place a want ad in our magazine for the Pentax 70mm backs you need. If any readers/dealers read this reply, and have several of these 70mm backs for sale, we will put them in touch with you.
Nikon S For Contax Cameras?
Q. I currently own Zeiss Contax IIa and IIIa cameras. Lenses for these cameras are difficult to find, but it seems to me that I've heard that Nikon S lenses will work OK. Is this true or are they both optically and mechanically incompatible?
William H. Wilson
A. I'm not sure whether you can use an old Nikon lens on your old Contax camera bodies. I do know of a German firm that offers adapters so that one brand of lens can be used on another make of camera body. I suggest you contact them to determine the lens/body compatibility and availability. Because they offer a wide array of options and configurations, they only keep a limited supply of in-stock items in the U.S.A. Thus lead times to fill orders can run 2-5 weeks, depending on the product. You can call or write them at: Zörk Film & Phototechnic, US, 2508 Park Forest Dr., Eugene, OR 97405; (971) 222-3513; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.zoerk.com.
Ni-MH Vs. Alkaline
Q. I recently purchased a motor drive for my Minolta Maxxum 9000. I was not aware of the voltage difference between Ni-MH and regular AA batteries. Now I find out that there is an alkaline rechargeable that has the full voltage, but their life span is less than the Ni-MH batteries. I've heard that Ni-MH can be recharged about 1000 times, which is probably hype. About how long will the alkakines last by comparison? The motor drive requires 12 AAs so the voltage difference is quite a bit.
A. I posed your question to my contacts at Panasonic Battery. They say alkaline rechargeable AA-size batteries don't exist on the market anymore. In addition, it's difficult to predict what's best without knowing exactly how the performance of different types of batteries will be in your motor drive without having actually seen the motor. If it does not require lots of power, the alkaline battery may last OK, but if it's a high-performance motor, then the Ni-MH rechargeables might be better. The Ni-MH are good batteries that can be recharged hundreds of times. Their voltage is 1.2 vs. 1.5 in a standard alkaline. I guess it boils down to how hard you plan to use the motor drive on your old Maxxum 9000 AF SLR, which predates most of the types of rechargeable batteries currently available. Data you might find published in instructions for your motor drive probably would not apply to today's rechargeables since they have been improved in recent years.
Color Temperature Meter
Q. I have come by an ancient-looking Eastman Color Temperature Meter, and am looking for any possible reference that might have a hint on how to use it. It is about 3 1/2" in diameter with a small viewing lens, split vertically, with colors showing on both sides. The colors vary as the dial with color temps on it is rotated. No model number, pat. pend., and a serial of 1102. Any ideas on how to get some use out of this thing will be greatly appreciated.
Thomas E. Chipp
A. I've been searching off and on for months to try to find a reference book mentioning the Eastman Color Temperature Meter, but have been unable to find any reference to it. Several 50 plus-year-old books (Photography Its Materials and Processes by C. B. Neblette, A Half Century of Color by Louis Walton Sipley, and other books) did not provide anything. If any alert readers can offer some ideas on how to use this old meter and write us, we will pass the information to you. I wonder if it might have been used for motion picture illumination metering rather than for still photography?
Speed Graphic Provenance?
Q. I have a miniature Speed Graphic Graflex camera (serial #287868). Can you tell me when this unit was manufactured?
Ted H. Welch Sr., Pastor
A. My copy of The All-American Cameras: A Review of Graflex by Richard P. Paine shows the miniature (21¼4x31¼4) Speed Graphic was produced from 1938-'43, but does not give any breakdown by serial number for the exact year. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002 gives the inclusive dates of 1938-'47. The indicated price is $125-$250 today. You might glean additional data about your camera on the web at: www.graflex.org or www.cameraquest.com.
Q. I have a huge magnifying-type lens from an estate sale marked "Charles Beseler Company, East Orange, NJ USA, 18" E.F., Series 3." What is this and how old is it? It weighs a ton.
A. Sorry, I have no idea what the lens is, or what it was used for. Beseler is one of several U.S.A. firms that makes enlargers and I believe some accessories used for copying documents. It might have been used in either an enlarger or for copying. You didn't supply measurements of the lens. The 18" E.F. probably refers to the "effective focal length" of the lens. If any of our readers can identify this lens, and get back to me, we will forward the information to you.