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. 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.
George Schaub

Focusing Problem
Q. This may be beyond the scope of your department but hopefully you can point me in the right direction. I received a vintage Super Ricohflex TLR camera during the holidays that appears to be in very good condition. However, after running a roll of film through it, I noticed that shots taken with a wide aperture were out of focus. I think that the viewing and taking lenses are not properly synchronized because the images had appeared sharp on the ground glass. (They are synchronized via external gears.) Being the industrious guy that I am and not having anything to lose, I decided to tackle the problem myself rather than try to find a shop that would work on it. I cut a piece of diffusion gel, wound it onto a couple of film spools and put it in the camera so I could see the image that was projected on the film plane when I held the shutter open. My plan was to focus the lenses separately then replace the gears so the two lenses would at least be focusing close to each other. What I discovered, however, was that the taking lens (three-element Anastigmat) did not appear to change focus regardless of how much or which direction it was turned. In other words, it would not focus on the film plane no matter how close or far the moving glass was from the fixed glass. Stopping down obviously hid the problem but didn't fix it. I realize that this is an old camera that isn't up to modern/professional specs but I don't understand how this could be happening. I appreciate any help you may be able to offer.
Joel Gardner
via Internet

A. I looked up a picture of your 1955 vintage Super Ricohflex TLR camera and it appears to have a rotary gear drive between the taking and viewing lenses for focusing. I don't know if the focusing is accomplished by physically moving the lens from front to back, or some other method. You did what I have done in the past to check the focus of a TLR, but I just used a piece of transparent wax paper flattened to the film plane when no film was in the camera. As to why there is no change in focus, I cannot imagine. Possibly the lenses are not rotating properly. Does the focus seem to change on the viewing screen? If it changes, I would think it would also change on the lower taking lens. The common price for this camera today is $30-$60, so it probably would not be worth trying to repair, even if you could find a place that could fix it today. Sorry I cannot be of more direct assistance.

Early Rewind
Q. I am having problems with my Minolta Maxxum 3000i camera. I cannot locate anyone near me to repair the problem. Can you please tell me where it can be repaired or how I can repair it? The problem is that when I load film I never know how many pictures I can take before the camera will start the automatic rewind process that happens when the film is out. It may be five pictures or it can be 15--I never know when it will happen and I am wasting a lot of film. Please help! Thanks.
via Internet

A. Sounds like an internal sensor is detecting film resistance (as normally occurs at the end of a roll of film) and prematurely starts the automatic rewind in your Maxxum 3000i. This might be caused by excessive pressure imparted by the pad used to keep the film flat against the film plane opening. I don't have any personal experience with the following firms, but they advertise in Shutterbug as being repair firms for many major camera brands, so they might be able to help you with your Minolta problem: Roman Camera Repair, 1021 Paterson Plank Rd., North Bergen, NJ 07047; (201) 866-4673;
e-mail: and Photo Tech Repair Service, Inc., 110 East 13th St., New York, NY 10003; (212) 673-8400; e-mail: As when sending any product for repair, I would contact them first to describe the problem to see if they believe they can fix the camera and get a verbal estimate prior to actually sending the camera to them. Good luck.

Dual Freedom Part
Q. I have a customer who has a Minolta 35mm Dual Freedom camera. She needs to replace the black button you use to snap the picture. How can she go about finding this item? She said she called the Minolta camera company and they told her this item is no longer made. The camera was made in 1989. They also told her to get a Shutterbug magazine to look up the part to order. I work at
Wal-Mart in the photo center and we do not carry that magazine. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you.
Lisa Buettner
via Internet

A. I don't know how easy it would be for an individual to replace the shutter release button on a compact 35mm camera. Since she checked with Minolta and they could not help, you might want to check with these firms that advertise in Shutterbug as being repair firms for major camera brands. They might be able to help you with your customer's Minolta problem. The firms: Roman Camera Repair, 1021 Paterson Plank Rd., North Bergen, NJ 07047; (201) 866-4673; e-mail: and Photo Tech Repair Service, Inc., 110 East 13th St., New York, NY 10003; (212) 673-8400; e-mail: Possibly they will know if the button could be easily replaced.

Half-Frame Mounting
Q. When my parents died, I found about 15 rolls of 35mm half frame mostly Kodachrome slide film shot and processed in the late 1940s. The quality of the film and color is still excellent on some shots. It is still in strips, and I'd like to get it mounted. Any suggestions as to where this could be done? Local labs haven't been helpful so far. Thanks.
Alan Carter
Birmingham, AL

A. My reference files show several labs that can process and print half-frame images, so possibly they could also mount the rolls of old half-frame Kodachrome slides you found. If they cannot assist you, give Kodak's toll-free hotline (800-242-2424) a call and ask them. Or you might purchase some half-frame slide mounts and mount them yourself. It's not too difficult to do. Check with Rocky Mountain Film Lab, 560 Geneva St., Aurora, CO 80010; (303) 364-6444; or Sundance Photo, Industrial Dr., Jackson, WI 53037; (414) 677-2233. Kodak's hotline recently told me these labs process and print half-frame color negatives: Photobition, 132 W. 31st St., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001; (212) 594-4800 and the Kodak processing lab in Minneapolis at 1201 W. Broadway, Minneapolis, MN 55411; (800) 377-7861.

Ektar 125 Film Processing...For Minox
Q. I am not sure this rates the exclamation point, but it is an aggravation and maybe you will know the answer: I am a Minox subminiature buff. Over a decade ago, a friend and I bought a supply of custom-loaded Minox film from the now-defunct Microtec Industries of San Diego, California. Unfortunately, I can't locate them now. I'd like to because I have two cartridges of a film they labeled "Kodak Ektar 125"--and now do not have the slightest idea what the heck it is, other than a quality film with an ISO of 125. I tried clicking around on the Kodak site but found nothing which suggested an answer to this question. In fact, I couldn't determine anything that would lead me to a live human somewhere in Kodak who might help. And then my copy of Shutterbug arrived. So, do you have an inkling of what this film might be and how I can process it in my little Minox tank? Thanks for your help--and patience!
via Internet

A. Your reloaded Kodak Ektar 125 is a fine-grained color negative film Kodak introduced 10-15 years ago when the usual consumer color negative films were called Kodacolor. This film had a much finer grain and I shot some very nice images on it in 35mm format. In fact, I still have a few rolls with an expiration date of 05/92 that are frozen and inert just in case I want to use it again someday. It takes standard C-41 color negative processing, so it's compatible with today's chemistry. The subminiature lab you normally use should be able to process it. You can obtain C-41 chemistry for home processing also. Don't know why it had the rather unusual ISO speed of 125. Several years after the 125 came out they changed it to 100 and also introduced some faster speeds. You can talk to a human at Kodak by calling their information hot line at (800)
242-2424. I did this to verify that your Ektar film used standard
C-41 chemicals. Hope you like the results from this excellent film.

Shutter Speed Testing Meter
Q. I recall seeing in your magazine an article on a light meter that has shutter speed testing capability. I have lots of old leaf-shutter lenses with imperfect shutters, and need to expose transparencies accurately. Can you refresh my memory as to what meter this is?
Rob Powell
via Internet

A. I don't remember the particular article you mentioned. But, I did see the prototype of a device for checking the shutter speeds of various types of camera shutters at a PMA trade show. You can contact the firm to get further information at: ZTS, Inc., 6749 Bramble Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45227; (888) 796-2777; They might have just what you are looking for.

Lens Instruction Booklet
Q. Does anyone have the instruction manual for the following lens: MC Rokkor 50mm f/1.7?
Erika Vrabel
via Internet

A. There are two firms I typically refer readers to for locating instructions for older photo equipment, but I recently learned of another online site which is If they cannot assist you then try these: John S. Craig, Box 1637, Torrington, CT 06790; (860) 496-9791; or try Finger Lakes Photo Books, PO Box 1002, Elbridge, NY 13060; (315) 491-1188; I believe your MC Rokkor lens is one intended for the earlier series of Minolta SLR manual focus cameras prior to the Maxxum autofocus line of SLRs.

Yashica Mat 124 Adapters
Q. I am a camera collector/photographer from the "old days." I love to shoot black and white and I like to use filters. I go to photo stores and ask for lens hoods and adapters for filters and I get a blank look. One particular camera I have is a Yashica Mat 124 in mint condition. As you know it requires a bayonet base similar to a Rollei but I am told different. In the old days we all had Spiratone to fall back on for those hard-to-find goodies. What do we do now? Is anyone manufacturing after-market lens hoods and filter adapters?
via Internet

A. Adapters to fit filters to older cameras are becoming difficult to find these days. Two I have in my reference files are: The Camera People, PO Box 1069, Bayfield, CO 81122; phone/fax: (970) 884-6045 and Dave Bellmoff, Damar Photo Supplies, 486 Apache Trail, Chatsworth, GA 30705; (706) 695-8933. Possibly one or both of them will have what you seek for your Yashica Mat 124 TLR. I have not had any address for Spiratone since they moved from New York City to the Pittsburgh area many years ago. If anybody has a current address for Spiratone, or knows if they are still in business, I sure would appreciate receiving it for my files as many other readers ask about them and their interesting assortment of photographic gadgets and accessories.

127 Film Source
Q. Is there a source for 127 film? Just purchased a beautiful, mint Yashica 44 and haven't found film for it. Is any sort of adapter available to use other size film? Have read Shutterbug since its inception. Thanks.
Sandy Schoenstein
Peoria, AZ

A. One of our advertisers--B&H Photo--often carries fresh films for old formats such as 110, 126, 127, 620, 828, etc. Another good source for old film sizes, and processing of same, is: Dick Haviland, Film for Classics, PO Box 486, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472; (585) 624-4945; I am not aware of any adapter that would permit using any other film in a 127-format camera. Truthfully, I don't know of any film close in size to 127. The 120/620 films are close but they have non-compatible spools. We appreciate your continued interest in Shutterbug.

Lost Leader
Q. My "photography advisor" said that if you want to change film mid roll, you can roll it up just enough so a little still sticks out, then be able to reuse it later. My question: is there any trick to getting the film out of the canister if I rolled it all the way up by accident? Thanks!
Heather W.
via Internet

A. There is a thin metal device that can be gently slipped into the felt light trap where film comes out of a 35mm cassette to extract the film leader. I have one, but I don't know where you can locate one as it has been years since I got mine. Besides, it's tedious to remove a partially exposed roll of 35mm film (many of today's cameras automatically fully wind the entire roll of film completely into the cassette when you trigger a rewind button). If you have a manually operated film rewind camera, you can stop winding immediately when you feel the resistance stop--and thus leave the leader protruding. Then when you reload the partially exposed roll of film into the camera you will have to advance the film to at least several extra frames beyond where you stopped the first time. That is, if you exposed 10 frames, wind the film to about frame #12 before starting to expose the remainder of the end of the roll. In addition, you will have to block the lens so no light comes into the camera while you wind and trip the camera for the 12 frames to get to the first usable frame at the end of the roll. If you don't block the lens you will double expose and ruin the original images. The best bet is to switch the exposure to manual, set a fast shutter speed, and click and wind with the lens cap on in a dark room.

Big Prints From APS?
Q. I hope this isn't the dumb question for the day, but can APS photos be enlarged? More correctly asked: rather than getting regular sized reprints of pictures, could they be developed larger (e.g., 15x20" or larger)? I've taken some pictures that would make great posters, in my opinion. In order to show them at a local gallery, I would need larger pictures. Thanks.
Jennifer Freedman
via Internet

A. You can have any size negative or positive film image enlarged, but few local one hour (or minilabs) will have this capability. You usually have to take your original to a professional lab to have really large enlargements made. I have had a number of my APS negatives enlarged to excellent 10x12" prints. In addition, when APS first was introduced about seven years ago, I saw beautiful 16x20" prints made from the relatively small 24mm wide APS negatives. When you consider these films have been improved at least twice since then, and the cameras have evolved also, I'm sure you can get some really nice enlargements produced from your APS negatives. Check the labs advertising in our monthly Photo Lab Showcase for classified ads of labs that can produce the type of prints you seek, then contact them and ask if they can produce them from your APS negatives. I'm sure that most of these advertisers can assist you. For posters, you might want to have the prints mounted onto a matte board for easier display, so ask about that capability, too, before you send out your APS cassette containing the negatives.

Chinar Lens Mount
Q. I just purchased a Chinar 135mm f/2.8 lens (serial #80536884) at a flea market. Probably not a smart move to make, as I use all Minolta SRT equipment and the mount on this lens is not Minolta. Is there any way to determine the type mount on this lens? Chinon no longer supports this type of equipment, and if I am able to determine the type of mount, is it possible to obtain an adapter from this mount to Minolta? Thanks.
Frank Richards
via Internet

A. Sorry, I don't have any idea what SLR mount your Chinar 135mm telephoto lens has. Chinon used to make cameras for several different firms. I believe the firm now makes most of the cameras for Kodak. Even if you could get an adapter for your Minolta SRT SLR, this would add extra space between the lens and camera body with the end result that the lens could not be focused to infinity--but would be usable for close-ups and moderate distance subjects. Hope you did not pay too much for the lens, as it probably is fairly useless without the proper SLR body to attach it to.

Lighting Lesson Needs
Q. I'm still a novice in the field; I've taken pictures for fun only over the past 10 years. In September the individual who took pictures for all the local recreational sports leagues moved across country. Now I've been asked to take the team pictures. The market is more than established, and I'm just trying to get myself more organized in this area. I have my pictures developed by an online service that allows me to view the frames and pick the one I like best for my customer. Most of the time the 8x10s come out really clear. About 25 percent of the time they come out grainy. I take team pictures outside (cloudy and sunny) and inside (home lighting and cafeteria or gym lighting). I was told by my local camera store to use 400 speed film if doing enlargements (800 speed will look grainy and 200 isn't as flexible with lighting). I have two big photo shoots coming up, one outside with over 100 kids and one inside with over 300 kids (in cafeteria lighting). Is there a higher quality film that professionals who do portraits use? I have a Nikon N70 (which stills works great!) and a Nikon N90 that I've been getting used to over the last couple of months. I have used the various settings (e.g., auto mode) and tried various manual modes. I know I still have a lot to learn, but if there is better film that will help self-correct or provide a better chance of clarity, would you please let me know? I've used Kodak, Kodak Gold, and Fuji. Thanks for your time!
via Internet

A. It's difficult to diagnosis your problem without actually seeing an example of the 8x10 prints and the graininess you believe is a problem. I have been using 200 and 400 speed films for most all of my shooting in recent years and find the grain to be very satisfactory for 8x10 prints. I don't believe a different so-called "professional" film is the answer. You don't mention what type of lighting you are using. Are the photos mostly outdoors in daylight? If so, are you using any synchro sun fill flash to help cut the shadows? Even the built-in flash on your camera can help some, if the subjects are not too far away for the limited flash range. You said one shoot coming up will be inside with 300 people in a cafeteria lighting situation. Without using some powerful studio flash units (probably at least two light heads on stands 10 or so feet on either side of the cameras) you will have some serious lighting problems. If you try shooting by existing light (probably fluorescent, which produces greenish flesh tones, or tungsten lights, which will give overly reddish flesh tones) I can assure neither you nor your clients will like the color rendition of their faces in the prints. I believe you should research lighting techniques for large groups and plan to purchase more auxiliary flash lighting equipment (at least two powerful battery powered or AC powered flash units, light stands to hold them in place, and the proper cords to sync them with your camera) if you want to do this as an income-producing venture. You probably will have to also purchase a flash meter to determine the proper exposure to use for these large groups and use the camera on manual when you set both the lens aperture and shutter speed yourself. This only touches on some possible answers to your problem, but it's all we can do in this type of short reply HELP! format.

Light Source Disparity
Q. As a person with two degrees in the physical sciences and over 25 years experience teaching photography courses and workshops, I can neither find nor concoct an answer to this question: Why do we project slides at 3200Þ Kelvin but view them on "daylight" viewers balanced for 5600Þ Kelvin? I have placed an 80A daylight correction filter over my slide projector lens to see if the conversion to daylight improved the image. You guessed it--everything had a very pronounced blue cast. This oxymoron has been driving me crazy for years--hope you can "HELP!"
Ed Barry
New Jersey

A. I must admit this was an intriguing question that I had never thought of, nor did I know the answer. So, I remembered to ask this question when I saw knowledgeable old friends at PMA in March. The gist of the answer I obtained is you are looking at each individual image when it is projected and are not trying to compare images side by side to check color balance under identical illumination as you would do on a large "daylight" color corrected illuminator. Hope this is the answer you seek.

Pentax Repair Shops In NYC
Q. I have several older SLRs. One is a nice Pentax Spotmatic II. Its on-board light meter no longer functions. Pentax told me about your magazine and said you would have info on repair shops in New York City (Manhattan). Does anyone at your end know of a good place to take my camera to here in the City? Any help with this would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Joan Gramatte
via Internet

A. I found several New York City area repair facilities listed in our Service Directory who indicate that they work on Pentax products. For example, Photo Tech Repair Service, Inc., 110 East 13th St., New York, NY 10003; (212) 673-8400; Another is just west of Manhattan in New Jersey: Roman Camera Repair, 1021 Paterson Plank Rd., North Bergen, NJ 07047; (201) 866-4673; e-mail: We hope this helps you get your older cameras and Pentax meter operational again.

Sunrise, Sunset...
Q. Recently I started to photograph sunsets and sunrises using 100 and 200 speed film and long exposures (2-15 seconds sometimes 30 seconds) with the aperture at f/22-32 to try and keep the foreground in focus. Usually I have the photos converted to CD. It seems the longer the exposure, the lower the light and the more the color saturation, the more the photo appears excessively grainy. Can you offer any suggestions on how to correct this problem? Does converting the photos to CD have anything to do with it? I shoot the photos with a Canon Elan 7 and a 75-210mm or 28-105mm zoom on a tripod.
Andy Ciucio
via Internet

A. You should be getting quite decent fine grain if the films you use are ISO 100 and 200. How are you determining the exposure? The camera's internal metering might be confused by the unusual sunset/sunrise lighting and thus is not setting the proper exposure. I assume you are using a really sturdy tripod so even a slight bit of camera movement is not being confused with larger grain. You did not indicate whether you were using color negative film or transparency film. If you are using color negative, and the exposures are not producing good printable quality negatives, the grain might be accentuated when printed, or transferred to CD format.