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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.

YS-FTb Lens Responses
In regard to Richard J. Thompson's inquiry about a "YS-FTb" lens in the January 2006 issue of Shutterbug. I have not seen an image of the lens, so I may be wrong, but back in the 1960s ('62-'66?) Vivitar, Sigma, and a few other non-OEM lens manufacturers made a system of lenses called the "YS" system. The lenses all had a common thread mount, which accepted various YS adapters (kind of super T mounts) that enabled the lens to tie into the camera metering and auto-diaphragm system, just like the OEM lens. I don't know who got more out of the system, the photographers who could buy a single lens and use it on several cameras (simply by buying a relatively inexpensive adapter) or the camera dealers, who could sell the same relatively high-markup lens to just about anyone who purchased an SLR. I owned a Vivitar 70-210mm zoom in the YS system, and had mounts for my Canon F-1 Pellix, Minolta SRT-101, and Nikkormat. I hope this helps you answer Mr. Thompson's question.
Martin "Marty" Coyne
via Internet

Richard J. Thompson wrote about a lens he got marked "YS-FTb." Someone probably has already answered the question as to what YS means, but here is a link that explains it best: I have many YS lenses from 18-500mm. Both the 18mm and 500mm are Sigmas. I have adapters for M42 and Nikon. One of them is a huge Chinon 55-300mm f/4.5! I don't know how many different mounts existed, but they were for most SLRs in the 1960s to '70s.
Scott Robb
Dale City, VA

Re: YS-FTb mount. I happen to own a couple of these lenses. They have interchangeable mounts like the T-mount lenses. Most of these lenses were made by Sigma, but few others like Sun and Spiratone also marketed them. The mount can be removed (just screw off) and a different mount can be used for different cameras. By using a YS-ES (screwmount) or YS-AI (Nikon mount), I am able to use these lenses on my Canon EOS 10D digital SLR with the M42-EOS or AI-EOS adapters. They can only be used in stopped-down metering mode, but so far it has worked out well for me. The quality of these old lenses are also very acceptable.
Yu-Lin Chan
via Internet

Thanks to these readers and others who wrote to explain the YS-FTb interchangeable lens mount system. I know of "T" mounts, but not this one. It sure sounds practical for individuals who owned several SLR cameras of different makes and of course incompatible lens mounts. One lens adaptable to different cameras sure makes sense to me.

"Bordered" Prints
In the January 2006 issue of Shutterbug, Steve and Daisy Carter wrote in about having images made with borders (just like the good old days). There are several pro labs that do it but I suspect that they don't want to mess with amateur images. Color Inc. ( in Grandville, Michigan, is one as is Natural Color Lab ( in Stoughton, Massachusetts. There is a work-around if the readers are the least bit computer savvy. Most minilabs (most notably Costco and Sam's Club) will scan images when they are printing them since they no longer print analog. The scan price is cheap (under $7). There is an incredible piece of freeware known as IrfanView ( The program has some powerful batch options, including the ability to set canvas size. With this option, the user needs only to have their images proofed and scanned. Then, using IrfanView, create a bordered image and have it reprinted. Reprints are cheap at the minilabs now.
Fred Levine
via Internet

Thanks for writing to offer some ideas on making prints with white borders today. We have heard from more than six readers who said they still get their pictures printed this way. Evidently the large chain of Ritz Camera stores will do this (at no extra charge) when requested. Evidently it is still popular around the country. Times and tastes change through the years.

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