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.
I read in the June issue of Shutterbug the letter from Mr. Chapin re: substitutes for old 1.35v mercury batteries. There is an excellent and easily available solution for a wide variety of older cameras and light meters. Any interested person should contact C.R.I.S. at www.criscam.com. They make a few types of battery adapters which work very well at reducing easily available PX 28-type 1.5v batteries to 1.35v, and are exactly the right size to fit equipment using PX 13 or 625 sized cells. The 1.5v cell just drops into a small metal jacket containing the necessary circuitry (I assume a Zener Diode), which drops the voltage to exactly 1.35v. They can be stacked as well. This adapter is model MR-9. They also have an adapter (VP27PX) which uses four type 386 batteries to replace the PX 27 cells used by Rollei 35 cameras and some others. Old light meters and cameras in my collection fitted with these are right on the button for exposure. Another possible alternative is to use correctly sized zinc-air cells, which generate 1.35v, but do not last anywhere near as long as lithium or silver-oxide cells.
By the way, they also repair cameras. Here is their info: C.R.I.S. Camera Services, 250 North 54th St., Chandler, AZ 85226; (480) 940-1103.
Stephen D. Smith, Ph.D.
I'm aware of the C.R.I.S. battery replacement products but have never used any myself. This sounds like a reasonable solution to keep old equipment functioning properly when 1.35v mercury batteries are no longer available. Thanks for writing and sharing your personal experience with them.
Q. Jon Muller's letter about Kievs on page 184 of the June issue reminded me of a small quest I have been on for 35 years or so. At either the 1970 or '72 photokina there was a prototype of a 75mm f/1.4 Pancolar that would have replaced the 75mm f/1.5 Biotar. Ever since, I have wondered whether this lens was ever produced. Has anyone ever seen one?
A. Sorry, I've never heard of a 75mm f/1.4 Pancolar lens. I have dozens of camera reference books but few give any listings of interchangeable lenses, so I cannot attempt to look up this particular lens to determine if it ever got beyond the prototype state. We will run your question just in case an alert reader might know of this particular lens. I have one rather odd, similar focal length lens in my collection. While on active duty with the Air Force in Japan in the early 1950s, after I bought my Leica IIIf rangefinder at a military exchange I purchased an 85mm f/2 Nikkor-P in Leica screwmount. Not as fast or unusual as the lens you inquired about, but still a bit different having Nikkor optic in Leica mount. We will get back to you if any reader knows more about the Pancolar lens.
Obit For Minolta?
Q. Perhaps I missed it but I don't recall any sort of "obituary" for Minolta. I've been a Minolta devotee since 1971 and have more cameras, lenses, and associated accessories than I care to admit. I'm also curious as to whether Minolta memorabilia, especially that from the disastrous pre-Konica merger, might become valuable with the passing of time. I'm talking about XD-11 lighters, Minolta key chains, 50th anniversary desk clocks, anything with the Minolta logo.
A. Some Minolta digital camera products are now being sold under the Sony brand name. Konica Minolta copiers and business equipment still use this same name though. At this point in time, just a year or so after the Minolta-branded photo products were discontinued, it's difficult to tell what value might be placed on the many novelty items having the Minolta name/logo. I, too, have many Minolta cameras and lenses and miss seeing the brand when I cover the PMA trade show every year. I guess this is like the discontinuing of longtime car brands in recent years such as Plymouth and Oldsmobile.
Q. I am looking for a window bracket or clamp to hold a camera as I sit in a car. It's safer in the car than out when taking lightning pictures. Enjoy your magazine very much and it is most useful.
A. There are several camera support products that can be attached onto car windows that are partially rolled down. The OSN Camera Pod is a small, plastic ball socket that will support a small camera when clamped on a window. It lists for $10. The Porter's catalog shows the Ultra Clamp #100755 for $33 that clamps onto car windows or tubes or pipes up to 1.5" in diameter; it has a 180Þ swivel top. Their Car Window Mount #160108 ($35) is cast metal and will hold larger cameras, such as an SLR. It has rubber-cushioned clamp jaws that open up to 3/4" and has a conventional twist handle for both pan-and-tilt movements.
In the BKA catalog I found the Pedco UltraClamp PD05020 that lists for $32 for use on windows or other objects up to 1.5" thick. It has a locking dual-ball tilt top. Another possibility would be to use a beanbag type of support lying on the top of the car door ledge when the window is fully retracted. Bogen Imaging Inc. offers several versions (sizes) of The Pod, a weighted bag that has a 1/4-20 screw protruding from the top.
Glad to hear you like what we publish in Shutterbug and I hope these suggestions provide you with some ideas on camera supports to use inside your car. From practical experience I would like to suggest you do this when you have people in the car with you that can stay still when you have the shutter open on timed exposures. I found our car would bounce too much when our kids were younger and were constantly moving about in the back seat when watching fireworks.