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

Manual Plus Bulb
Q. I am a US soldier stationed in Germany. I am looking for an old manual camera to practice long-time exposures with. I want manual everything. What models that I could find in German stores might be good? I am looking for one that is $100-$150. You can buy a brand-new manual camera for $180 on the Internet but I am hoping to spend half that.
Stanley Maynard
via Internet

A. The problem with suggesting specific cameras is sometimes the model name is different outside the U.S.A. If the camera brand is the same it may have a different model name in Germany or elsewhere. You don't say whether you want an SLR camera that takes interchangeable lenses, or just a fixed lens camera. There are literally hundreds of cameras that fit your needs, but I'll confine my suggestions to a few I have personal experience with.

Older models of compact (non-interchangeable lens cameras) probably will not have a zoom lens, but will have a 40-50mm lens. Look for one with "B" bulb capability for your long-time exposure subjects. This means the shutter will stay open as long as you press the shutter release, or better yet, hold down a flexible cable release, which will minimize any camera movement. One really nice compact that was introduced about 30 years ago was the Canon QL-17. I have one and it's still a capable camera. It has a 40mm f/1.7 lens. The similar QL-28 model has a slightly slower f/2.8 lens.

If you want an SLR that accepts interchangeable lenses, then one that takes the old 42mm screw-in lenses should be readily available. The various old models of Asahi Pentax or one of the East German Praktica cameras that take screw-in lenses should do. Later Pentax K1000 cameras take a bayonet mount lens. Other SLRs you might look for are the Canon TLB, AE-1, or F1. The Minolta SR-7 or XD-7 also should do well. Most any of these older model cameras should be available for well under $100 US over there. Hope this gives you an idea of what to look for in the German camera stores.

The stores I have seen when attending photokina in Cologne tended to be well stocked with older cameras as well as newer, more expensive, models. Compact cameras of recent vintage all tend to have fully automatic exposure and zoom lenses, so might not be suitable for the long-time exposure photography you want to try.

Flash And Super Graphic
Q. If I use a Stroboflash head, with pigtail, on my Graflite battery case, could I use the button on the case to trip the shutter on my Super Graphic for off-camera flash? I understand that I need a Y Cord to do this, which I have. I saw a Stroboflash head at a swap meet a few years ago, but didn't need it then. If I can do this, then I'll advertise in Shutterbug for a strobe head.
Please advise.
Bob Tonn
St. Louis, MO

A. As you have discovered, syncing an old Super Graphic for use with flash is tedious. These cameras were made from 1958-1973 when electronic flash was still relatively new and flash bulbs were still the main source of synchronized artificial lighting. First, check the shutter on your camera lens. Does it have an M-X sync switch? If so, it can be adapted for use with either flash bulbs (M) or electronic flash (X).

Next, does the shutter have a single PC flash contact, or a two-prong contact? If you have a newer Graphic lensboard it will have an internal contact mechanism with two flat contact points at the top edge of the lensboard that make contact with two spring tabs at the top of the camera body (visible with the lensboard removed). With this type of internal contact, you will need a special flash cord that plugs into the three sockets on the lower right side of the camera body (just below the bottom flash bracket on the right side). If I remember correctly, this cord has a standard two-prong household electrical contact at the other end, which plugged into a Heiland or Graflex flash gun.

Where you can locate this specialized sync cord today, I don't know. I got one with my Super Graphic over 20 years ago, but have no idea where it is today. If your camera's shutter has external PC sync flash contacts, you can simply plug your electronic flash into the PC contact, and trip the shutter to fire the flash. Since this is a blade shutter, you can sync at any shutter speed. You would trip the shutter by either touching the button on the shutter, or by placing a cable release into the shutter. There is an internal electric shutter release (once again, that works only if you have the lensboard with internal contacts) that fires the shutter when the red button on the upper left of the body (just above the hand strap) is pressed in. But, to use this internal shutter release you have to install two batteries in the compartment at the top right side of the camera back. The rectangular battery looks like today's 9v battery with two terminals on one end, but is different. It's an M-215 (or equivalent) 22.5v battery with a contact on each end. You might be able to order one through RadioShack as they often can get older, hard-to-find batteries today. Hope this helps you get your venerable Super Graphic operational with any flash.

Digital And Film Through Security?
Q. Is it safe for my digital camera and additional SmartCards to go through the x-ray machines at the airport? I will also have my SLR and 35mm film. Any advice you have will be appreciated.
Angela Lowery
via Internet

A. It is my understanding that neither digital cameras nor digital memory cards used for capturing images are affected by airport security machines. But, films can be adversely affected. Films faster than ISO 400 are particularly vulnerable and repeatedly passing them through security (as might happen when you change planes several times) can be accumulative and build up fogging on any speed film. I always place my extra film in a see-through, zip-open type food storage bag so I can pull them all out of my gadget bag in one group and then request a hand check of the film. They might want to open one or more of the film boxes, but I have never been refused when asking for hand checking of film outside the security machines.

Film Loading Problem
Q. I loaded a 35mm film, but it went in at an angle. I tried to ease it out, but some of the film unwound (about 5-6 pictures worth). I rewound it straight away, but I was in a light room. Will the whole 36 exposures be damaged, even if only a little bit of the film came out? Any help would be appreciated!
via Internet

A. No, the film that remained inside the film cassette should not have been adversely affected by the light and you should be able to use the remainder of the 36-exposure roll safely. Just reload the film normally and be sure to advance the film to frame 8 or 10 to wind a bit past the leader end that got fogged when you had to open the camera back in a lighted room. I'm assuming your camera has conventional winding that pulls the film from the cassette and has to be rewound back into the cassette after exposing the last picture. If you have one of the cameras that uses film pre-wind (that is, the film is advanced to the end of the roll before taking the first picture, and is safely back inside the cassette immediately after exposing the last picture) there might be more harmful fogging of the unexposed film on the take-up spool when the back was accidentally opened. But, if only a short bit of film leader was visible when you had to open the back, then the rest of the roll of film should be OK to use.

8mm Value?
Q. I am writing to you because I have an old 8mm camera from 1964. I would like to know if you know what its value is today. I have sent you a few pictures of it, including a picture of the label that has the date on it. Hope to hear from you soon! Thank you.
Jose Oliveras
Pentvelas, Puerto Rico

A. Your DeJur Citation 8mm spool camera with an interchangeable single lens mount, was actually introduced in 1950. My 11th Edition of McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras, 2001-2002 shows a price of $20-$30 for your camera. Mass produced 8mm cameras just are not particularly collectable today, thus the relatively low pricing.

Projector Bulbs
Q. Someone I know is looking for DFR bulbs for an old EK Cavalcade projector. I'm sure he doesn't want to update/transfer his lectures because he has many, many of them already installed in the clips and trays and the equipment is now like an old shoe! I was able to supply him with a large number of trays and clips, but he says the bulbs (and of course, the projector) are most difficult to find.

First, I want to ask if I remembered correctly a Shutterbug advertiser who sold old (unused, of course!) bulbs? Does anyone know of a "new" replacement bulb for the DFR? I did look in a "bulb" catalog, but my first real query is to Shutterbug.
Jean M. Grant, Photographer
Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago

A. I found the DFR bulb listed in my Photo and AV Lamp catalog from Bulbman. Your friend can contact Bulbman at (800) 648-1163 to order this replacement bulb for his old Kodak Cavalcade slide projector. They have six stores, mostly west of the Mississippi, but the toll-free 800 number is the easiest way to order any of their replacement lamps and bulbs. In addition to the AV bulbs, they also list many flash tubes, video lights, and photofloods. An AV lamp cross-reference lists the product name and the bulb needed for that unit. I don't know if this was the advertiser you had seen, but it's a prime source for replacement lamps for older products today.

(Editor's Note: As we went to press we were notified that Kodak will no longer be producing slide projectors, and that their servicing of present projectors will be available through 2011.)