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 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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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.
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 31¼2" 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 (2¼x3¼) 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.
4x5 Darkroom Supplies
Q. Is this a pretty dead issue, or are there still people out there shooting and processing their own 4x5 film? Are there still suppliers with processing equipment? I am searching for some products. Can you direct me to reliable sources of darkroom supplies for 4x5, or am I looking for a dinosaur?
A. There are several retail firms who should be able to assist you on your quest to get back into processing and printing your 4x5 images. Several dealers who quickly come to mind are Freestyle Photographic Supplies (www.freestylephoto.biz), Porter's Camera Store (www.porters.com), and Calumet Photographic (www.calumetphoto graphic.com), all of whom list darkroom accessories. In addition, B&H Photo (www.bhphotovideo.com) and Adorama (www.adorama.com) both show darkroom supplies in their ads in each issue of Shutterbug. Manufacturers such as OmegaSatter (www.omegasatter.com) for Omega enlargers and accessories and Tiffen (www.tiffen.com) for Saunders easels still list darkroom items. I don't know what specific items you need, but one or more of these firms will have everything you need.
Q. My wife recently inherited an old Eastman Kodak camera from her father. The tag says it's a Six-16 Kodak. The lens and the viewfinder pull out from the body of the camera like an accordion. The label on the inside says to use Verichrome V616 or 616 film. Does this type of film still exist and, if so, where would we find it?
A. There is one firm I know of who respools film for use in several old and long discontinued film sizes, including 616 and 620. You can obtain more information by contacting Dick Haviland at Film for Classics (PO Box 486, Honeoye Falls, NY 11472; (585) 624-4945; www.filmforclassics.com). I believe they also offer processing and printing for some, if not all, of the older size films they handle.
Q. I own a Minolta Maxxum 70 and also a Nikon N4004s and I need a flash that I can use for both. Is this possible?
A. Your Maxxum 70 SLR has the typical Minolta split-shoe hot shoe on top of the camera body, but no PC cord contact. There was a flash shoe adapter, the FS 1100, that evidently slides into the Minolta split-shoe so you could use other flash units with the Maxxum body. I could not find out if this adapter has just a PC contact or a regular shoe on the top to accept a conventional flash unit with a center contact and no split-rails.
I would think you could purchase a flash unit having a built-in auto sensor for adjusting the flash that could be used with both your Maxxum (with this adapter, if you can obtain one) and your Nikon N4004s. You would have to use both cameras set manually to the f/stop indicated on the flash unit for the ISO film loaded into the cameras, and probably set the shutter speed to the suggested sync speed as well. This would bypass the simpler dedicated TTL flash metering both cameras offer, and would be a bit slower to use. But you could use one auto sensor flash unit with both cameras in this manner. I have no idea where you could locate the FS 1100 adapter, though. Try one of our full-line advertisers.
Q. While rummaging about in the basement I found 20 old prepaid Kodak processing and printing mailers for 24 and 36 exposure 35mm film. Are these still good? Where can I send them today?
A. I called Kodak's lab hotline (800-345-6973) and found that there is a Kodak lab in Texas that still honors them. They process both color transparency film, which is mounted and returned as slides, and color negative film, which of course will be printed. So both types of prepaid Kodak mailers can be used. You can mail your 35mm film in one of these mailers to: Kodak Film Processing, 6300 Cedar Springs Rd., Dallas, TX 75235. I would take the first one to the post office for weighing and you will then know what the proper postage will be today.