Help! Page 2
A. Unfortunately, both of your old Kodak cameras have minimal value today. The Cine camera with a three-lens turret is of 1959 vintage and has a current value of $12-$20 in US dollars. The Instamatic 300, with coupled selenium meter and pop-up flash, was made in the U.S.A., England, and Canada from 1963-1966 and has a current value of $5-$15. These are the price ranges shown in the 11th edition of McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras, 2001-2002, which is considered one of the most authoritative current price references for older photo equipment. They probably would make nice conversation pieces to display in your home, but the current value is nil.
Film Expiration Date
Q. After taking up photography just over a year ago, I have this question: Is the expiration date on film important? I have found some Kodak film--ISO 400 and 800--three or more years old that has not been exposed. Also, can slide film be used if it is that old?
A. Yes, the printed expiration date on film is important. With all color films (slide and color negative) the expiration date should be adhered to, but black and white films are more tolerant and can be successfully used some years beyond this date. But, there are several other factors besides the date to consider. First, how was the film stored? If it was kept at room temperature for the years you had the film, the sensitivity of the film, and color balance, may have deteriorated. But, if the film was in the refrigerator, or better yet, frozen, there is a good chance the color film is still OK. I always freeze film samples and have successfully used many brands of all types of color films many years after the printed expiration date. One potential problem with decades-old frozen color negative films is they might not be compatible with the processing and printing procedures used by photofinishers today. In addition, the faster films, that is ISO 800 and faster, tend to deteriorate by the expiration date while slower speed films often can be successfully used months past the printed date. Slide films, like black and white films, generally tend to keep better than color negative films.
Q. I would like to bulk load 35mm film and want to examine specs covering the Alden #74 but can't locate its website. Can you help?
A. There are not many different models of bulk-loading devices offered today. The two you see most often are the Lloyd and Watson loaders. In looking through some catalogs I did see the Alden #74 advertised and it looks very similar to the Watson loader, which has been around for decades. Bulk loaders are advertised in Porter's and Freestyle Camera catalogs, but they don't provide much data about these products.
Lens Switch On Speed Graphic
Q. I really enjoy your HELP! department, even more so recently as the attention of most magazines and publications are focusing on digital photography. I recently acquired a Super Speed Graphic in the original box with the instruction booklet. Particularly nice are the rangefinder focusing and the lighter weight compared to the metal Toyo field camera that I have been using. My question is: Can the 135mm Rodenstock lens (c. 1957 according to the lens serial number) be changed to a modern 135--Nikon or Schnieder--without affecting the focusing by the rangefinder focusing mechanism? Or are other factors at play?
A. Swapping the lens on your Super Speed Graphic with another lens of identical focal length might work properly with the existing rangefinder--and it might not. It would depend on how the new lens mounts onto the same (or new) lensboard and if the new lens would then couple properly with the camera's rangefinder. A simple test would be to mount the new lens onto a lensboard then use rangefinder focusing on a distant object and then check the focus on the ground glass. Note the indicated distance on the track focusing scale with rangefinder focusing, then visually refocus the infinity subject using only the ground glass and see if the scale points to the same place. Try this rangefinder vs. ground-glass focusing check with subjects at about 4 ft and again about 10 ft. If the results show the same scale position with both rangefinder and ground glass, the focusing cam is working OK with the new lens. This would be a rudimentary check, but fairly reliable. I doubt if you could obtain a new focusing cam for the new lens today for this decades-old camera. Of course, you could always use just ground-glass focusing when using the camera, but in the field this might be inconvenient. I have a Super Graphic but only use it inside with ground-glass focusing because I normally use a 180mm Schneider Symmar lens (mid-1950s vintage) and my only rangefinder cam is for the original 135mm Graflex Optar lens. Hope this helps solve your problem. Thanks for your favorable comments about the department. We know lots of readers still prefer the older equipment and want to keep it working properly in today's ever-increasing digital equipment age.