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.
In Praise Of Kievs
Mr. Tom Beckett, in the February 2007 issue, talks about Kiev lenses and warned us to "avoid the Kiev bodies." Oh, the humanity! There are a great number of us who do not wish to spend the large bucks necessary to collect German-made Contax cameras, but who are perfectly happy with our Kiev bodies. Readers interested in these cameras and lenses (a.k.a. photographic masochists) should check out www.kievaholic.com. In addition to the medium format Kiev cameras, 35mm Kievs are also featured. Actually, the 35mm Kiev, like the Sonnar and Tessar copy lenses, were largely built with the actual prewar Contax factory equipment, taken back to the Ukrainian SSR as war reparations after 1945. The earliest Kiev bodies were made with actual Contax parts. And in the very beginning, the Kievs were sometimes made by German workers who were brought to Kiev to set up the factory and train personnel. Some Kievs actually have Contax front plates where the original Contax name was stamped out and re-engraved with the Kiev logo. The "contamination" of "real" Contaxes with Ukrainian parts is discussed, among many other fine points at www.zeisscamera.com. The real problem is not with the design so much as it was with the rather lackadaisical concern with quality control and the quality of the raw materials used. There are probably hundreds, perhaps thousands, of old Kievs now rebadged as Contaxes, just as old FEDs and Zorkis show up in Leica livery (often in gold and lizard skin with Hermann Goering presentation inscriptions!).
Since I have no personal experience with Kiev products I'll pass on your comments gleaned from your extensive personal experience. I was not aware these products were originally made on Contax factory machinery and parts. Live and learn. Thanks for sharing your expertise with our readers.
Regarding the request from P. Bucy in the February 2007 issue asking what model of Contax Ansel Adams owned. It was a Contax IIa. He apparently used it for personal photos. I saw a note about it in a book of Adams' letters compiled by, I think, John Szarkowski. There is also a copy of one of his contact sheets printed in the book. I don't believe that he would have used 35mm for his pictorial and commercial work as his philosophy was, "Use as large a camera as you can carry." I don't know what Leica model Henri Cartier-Bresson might have used in the 1930s. There were only two or three models available at that time. It would have probably been the more expensive one as it would have the slow speed dial.
Thanks for writing to let our reader know that it was a model Contax IIa that Ansel Adams owned. As you commented, I doubt that he used a 35mm for anything other than personal image making since he was so well-known for use of large format equipment. There were only a few Leica models in the 1930s so our reader should be able to narrow down the probable camera Henri Cartier-Bresson used by checking one of the many Leica websites such as www.lhsa.org, the Leica Historical Society of America.
Luna Pro Meter Batteries
Replacement batteries for the old PX 13/PX 625 are 1.5v, which causes older Luna Pro meters to read wrong. Gossen makes a Voltage Reducer Kit to fit old Luna Pros and it works perfectly. It uses two IEC/SR44 1.55v, or two Varta V76PS, or Duracell D 357H batteries. The part number is #4145 and is available from Bogen Imaging Inc. (the US distributor) or local Bogen dealers. The price was under $40 from Bogen, sometimes less from local dealers.
J. T. Chapin
Thanks for sharing your experience in finding the proper battery plus the adapter kit needed to keep older models of Luna Pro light meters operating correctly. Several readers had inquired about this, as the replacement batteries now available for discontinued sizes of mercury batteries sometimes don't have the correct voltage to make the older equipment work properly.
Sync Voltage Query
Q. I recently upgraded to medium format. I acquired a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. My problem is the use of a flash. I have both a Sunpak 522 and 544. The problem is I have no idea what the sync voltage is from the flashes. The Mamiya handbook states very clearly it must be less then 12v. I have sent numerous e-mails to Sunpak and even asked their representatives at Photo Expo, but I got no reply on the e-mails and the reps were unsure of the sync voltage.
A. I just spoke with a Mamiya tech at MAC, the firm that sells Mamiya products in the U.S.A. He said they recommend using a "Safe Sync Adapter" with any flash used on the Mamiya RZ67 to control any accidental voltage surge. He said they are offered by Wein and Paramount Cable and most larger firms should have them available. Truthfully, I had never heard of this type of device before. But, he further stated that since the RZ67 is not as highly electronic internally or as computerized in operation as Canon and Nikon SLR cameras, you should be able to use most flash units without any problem, even without the adapter.
Hanimex Fit Lenses?
Q. I recently acquired a Hanimex DR-1 camera with a telephoto lens. I would like to purchase other lenses for the camera. What brand of lenses would be compatible with this camera? Any information would be most valuable.
A. I have checked several of my camera reference books and although a few different models of Hanimex cameras are listed, I found nothing on the DR-1 camera you own. If it is an SLR with interchangeable lenses, it might accept the 42mm screw thread lenses that older models of Praktica and Pentax cameras use. If this is the case, there are lots of lenses that should work with your Hanimex body. If you are looking for instructions, try contacting either: John S. Craig (PO Box 1637, Torrington, CT 06790; (860) 496-9791; www.craigcamera.com/ib_a.htm) or Finger Lakes Photo Books (PO Box 1002, Elbridge, NY 13060; (315) 491-1188; www.photobooksonline.com).
Tech Info On Ektar
Q. I have a problem with a Wide Field Ektar 100mm f/6.3 from 1951. The outer glass element of the rear group is loose due to a missing spacer. My question: Where can I find detailed technical information or drawings of that lens? Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany.
A. That's a very old lens and it might be difficult to locate the part you seek. Ironically, I have an 80mm f/6.3 Kodak Wide Field Ektar that I have never used on any of my 4x5 view cameras because I don't have the right recessed lensboard. I have a couple of firms in my files that do work on older view cameras and lenses. You might want to contact them and explain your problem. The one firm that I just recently learned about from another reader is S.K. Grimes (The Photographer's Machinist), 32 Mechanic Ave., Unit 222, Woonsocket, RI 02895; (401) 762-0857; www.skgrimes.com. He not only works on large format lenses but can custom produce lens adapters. Others are: Ken Hough Photographic Repair Service (8091/2 Oak St., Valparaiso, IN 46383; (219) 462-0281) and Deardorff Photographic Products International (58 West Lincolnway, Valparaiso, IN 46383); they work mostly on view cameras but might know of someone who can work on your lens.
- Watch Ansel Adams’ Son Discuss How His Father Made His Most Famous Photo (VIDEO)
- FilmToaster Scanner Review
- Always Remember to Take a Good Look: How to See What’s Right in Front of You as a Photographer
- Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens Review
- Hasselblad Launches World’s First Compact Mirrorless Digital Medium Format Camera: the 50MP X1D