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

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.