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

Yashica Mat 124 Query Response
In connection with the Yashica Mat 124 adapters question on page 234, November 2003, perhaps I can help, as a long-time and current user of Rolleiflexes. The Yashica Mat 124 takes what Rollei calls a Bayonet 1 filter (fits on the inner mount), and lens hood (fits on the outer mount). The Bay 1 accessories fit the 3.5 Tessar and Xenar lenses, Rolleiflexes with those lenses, the Rolleicords (Xenar and Triotar lenses only), and, of course, all Yashica Mats with bayonet mounts. The Bay 2 accessories fit the Rolleiflex 3.5 Xenotar and 3.5 Planar equipped cameras only, while the Bay 3 accessories fit the 2.8 Xenotar and 2.8 Planar equipped cameras only. I believe that you, in a prior HELP! response, had suggested that Yashicas took Bay 2 accessories--that is not so. The best place in my experience to find Rollei (and Yashica) TLR accessory filters is on eBay; there are quite a lot of TLR accessories for sale and the prices, as well as the condition, can be quite reasonable. That is where I have bought all my TLRs and TLR equipment over the past several years. Your HELP! column is the first place I go to when I receive my monthly Shutterbug and it's always the most interesting. (Needless to say, I'm having a hard time getting into digital photography because I haven't found the reasons to do so very persuasive, yet!)
Jim Somberg
via Internet

Thanks for sending your comments clarifying the size of lens adapters suitable for use with Yashica Mat 124 TLR cameras. I only have personal experience with the Rolleicord IV with 75mm f/3.5 lenses (I have had mine since purchasing it new in 1954), which takes the Bayonet 1 filter. I knew the 80mm f/2.8 lenses on some models of Rolleiflex take a larger bayonet filter. We appreciate your kind comments about our publication. I know exactly what you mean about digital photography not being overly persuasive. Although I have been using several different brands of digital cameras for well over a year, I still find them tedious to operate with the multitude of multipurpose controls. I also find the delay time from when you fully press down the shutter release and when the camera gets around to actually making the picture just too slow. I guess 50 plus years working with film cameras has made this old dog resistant to learning new tricks.

Thumbs Off!
Re: Early rewind on Maxxum in November HELP! replies. Tell your reader to get their left thumb off the camera back when holding the camera. The most likely cause is that the extra pressure on the back is pinching the film between the pressure plate and guide rails.
via Internet

Thanks for your input. This sounds like a possible solution to the reader's early rewind problem with her Minolta Maxxum 3000i SLR. Sometimes we tend to grip a camera too tightly, which could very easily put excessive drag on the pressure pad and film transport mechanism. We will forward this to her.

Kaleidoscopic View
Q. I could use your assistance with a technical problem. I have a wide variety of intricate and expensive kaleidoscopes and, try as I may, I can't seem to come up with the proper combination of optics in order to be able to photograph the image that I see inside. I've tried wide angle lenses, a variety of macros including a macro zoom, extension tubes, bellows, etc. I'm stumped but I have to believe that there is a solution here. Do you have any suggestions?
Mark R. McCloskey
via Internet

A. Your question intrigued me since I have never attempted photographing through a kaleidoscope. So I borrowed a friend's kaleidoscope to determine how it might be done. I found that a prime 50 or 60mm macro lens used at about 1/2 life-size magnification would permit placing the camera's lens so it was actually touching the eye port of the device. I could then focus to get a clear image of the various patterns in sharp detail. But, I still detected a bit of vignetting (darkening) at the four corners in the viewfinder that probably would be even more visible on a negative or slide. Both of my normal focal length, prime macro lenses have deeply recessed lenses so I could not position the taking lens within about an inch of the viewing lens of the kaleidoscope, even though the front of the macro lens was actually touching the end of the kaleidoscope.
My 50mm Canon FD mount and 60mm Mamiya/Sekor 42mm screwmount macro lenses are both decades old and a newer macro lens might not be recessed as deeply. I would imagine you could determine exposure using the camera's internal metering system, but I would recommend making some bracketed exposures (by about one full f/stop +/-) on the first roll of film. You could easily use a small lens aperture and a slow shutter speed if the camera is on a tripod. Be sure to balance the film with the light that is coming into the kaleidoscope. You might want to drape some soft, light-tight material or shield of some sort around the lens where it touches the eyepiece end of the kaleidoscope to minimize any stray light entering. If any readers write us with their suggestions on a better method of photographing this type of subject, we will forward their reply to you. I hope that this gets you closer to your goal.

Flash For Pentax
Q. I was wondering if you could recommend a decent (not quite professional grade) flash for a Pentax SLR. I would like to buy one with an LCD for around $100-$200 if at all possible.
Jenni Jones
via Internet

A. There are a number of independent brands of flash units that should work fine with your Pentax SLR. Some of the brands with more moderate (under $200) prices include different models from Achiever, Metz, Phoenix, Promaster, Sunpak, and Vivitar. Since each firm often offers a dozen or more different units, it's difficult to recommend any specific units. Have you looked at our 2003 Shutterbug's Photography Buyer's Guide? (Note: The 2004 Buyer's Guide will be available on newsstands this fall.) You can look over the charts I compiled on portable flash units to better determine which model might suit your needs and budget. I did not always include information about whether the unit has an LCD read-out unless this fact was prominent in their release information, but you can determine other product specifications. Just be sure to check in the "Dedication" column to determine whether the unit is available for use with "P" Pentax cameras.

Lifetime Warranty Expired?
Q. I have a GE PR2 light meter (yes, it is quite old!) which was supposed to have a lifetime warranty. It is sluggish and I am sure inaccurate. Do you suppose there is any way under the sun I can have it serviced under the warranty?
Woodrow West
via Internet

A. I seriously doubt that you will find anybody who can repair your old GE PR2 exposure meter. I assume any lifetime warranty would expire if the firm no longer produces the product and I believe it has been decades since GE meters were offered. I do have several firms listed in my files that repair some brands of meters. You might want to contact them. Be sure to inquire first before actually sending your meter to them, or anybody else, for repair. Also, be aware the repair or recalibration cost (if it can be done at all) may be more than the old GE meter is worth today. These are old contacts, so the area code and addresses might have changed. Good luck! Quality Light Metric, 7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite #415, Hollywood, CA 90028, (323) 467-2265; Weston Repairs, International Camera, 231 S. Jefferson St., Chicago, IL 60606, (312) 876-1530; and Exposure Meter Service, 124 Briar Hills Circle, Springfield, NJ 07081, (201) 376-2781.

Stuck On Glass
Q. Is there a way to remove a photo that is stuck to the glass in a picture frame without damaging the emulsion? There is no negative and this is the only photo. Can you help me?
via Internet

A. I checked with several area photo studios that also do lots of framing. They said they don't attempt to do this as the emulsion might be damaged during removal. They recommend the person soak the glass with the stuck photo completely immersed in warm water in a tray, probably overnight. Hopefully, the photo will loosen and easily come off the glass. If there is some damage to a one-of-a-kind print, they can copy the print and do digital restoration to bring back the image. I personally believe using a wetting agent in the water might help loosen the sticking photo. This liquid is normally used as a dip just prior to drying a wet roll of film after hand processing film and should be available in most photo stores. If the print is on RC paper it will air-dry relatively flat. But if the print is more than 20 years old, it probably will be on fiber base and might curl some when air-dried after removing it from the glass. Good luck. I hope this helps a bit.

Battery Query
Q. I have several cameras and other photographic items that require the use of 1.35v button batteries like the PX13. Would you be able to guide me to where I could buy these or a proper replacement?
Jeff Flannery
via Internet

A. You might want to check into the CRIS adapters for your older cameras that use hard-to-find 1.35v button batteries. According to these folks they are indeed adapters and they do not produce voltage. The adapters (MR-9) use micro circuitry to lower the voltage of a 386-size 1.55v battery to 1.35v. The circuit only operates while a load is being applied--this keeps the battery from draining when not in use. The adapter is a one-time purchase and it is recommended the inserted .battery be changed yearly. The adapters normally stocked can be seen at this link: Or you can purchase this size battery from Scherer Supplies, Box 250, Ewing, VA 24248; (276) 733-2615; fax: (276) 733-2073. They are zinc-air batteries with no mercury or cadmium. The MX625 replaces PX625 and PX13; MX675 replaces PX675.

ROM Described
Q. Recent Leica SLR lenses are ROM type. These lenses have additional electronic contacts. Can you tell me what the letters ROM stand for? I understand some German, if that is the language involved. The ROM lenses started before I considered replacing my Canon A-1, so I missed reading about them in Shutterbug.
Ben Bodewitz
via Internet

A. I called my technical contact at Leica to get an accurate answer for you. ROM stands for "Read Only Memory" just as it does for computer applications. While ROM lenses will work with any R-series Leica (R3 to R9) their electrical contacts only transmit information between the lens and camera on the newer Leica R8 and R9 cameras. They are mainly helpful when using flash with these newer cameras as they let the flash electrically communicate with the lens so it will know the lens focal length and can adjust the flash coverage to match. You can obtain information about Leica products by calling them toll free at (800) 222-0118 and speaking with the technical representative.

Polaroid Back Instructions?
Q. I purchased an NPC Polaroid Back for the Bronica SQ-A but apparently I loaded the back wrong and so ruined an entire pack of film. NPC does not actually have a set of instructions available. The operation seemed simple. Do you have instructions available?
via Internet

A. Have you tried contacting Polaroid for suggestions on the proper insertion and use of their various types and sizes of pack films? They tend to work closely with NPC and should be able to assist you in the proper loading of your Polaroid pack film back. You can contact Polaroid at or access their technical assistance people at (800) 343-5000. You did not mention which size Polaroid pack film you use, so I cannot accurately answer myself. I assume you inserted the new film pack (with the black light-tight paper covering the sensitive film/paper inside) with the paper facing the back of the NPC back instead of toward the front.