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 and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. 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.

Grip And Pack
Q. I have a Pentax *ist DL D-SLR camera and an AF540FGZ flash unit. What I wanted help with is finding a battery grip for the camera and an external battery pack for the flash unit. Pentax says they have or are working on an external battery pack but I can't find out any information as to where I could get one. I have tried both Norman and Quantum photographic equipment suppliers with no luck. I hope you can help.
via Internet

A. If you could not get further information from Pentax about a battery grip for your Pentax *ist DL camera or the Pentax AF540FGZ flash I would assume they don't have either of these two items available. You indicate you have checked with Norman and Quantum as to their offerings. There are two other firms that make accessory battery packs for their own flash units, some of which can be also used with other brands of flashes. They are: Dyna-Lite, Inc. (1050 Commerce Ave., Union, NJ 07083; (908) 687-8800; and Lumedyne Inc. (6010 Wall St., Port Richey, FL 34668; (800) 586-3396; You might want to check their websites or contact them directly to determine whether they have a rechargeable external battery pack suitable for use with your Pentax AF540FGZ. You might also want to keep checking the Pentax website to find out if they introduce the items you are looking for. In case you don't have their current contact information it's Pentax Imaging Company, 600 12th St., Ste. 300, Golden, CO 80401; (800) 877-0155;

Nodal Point Location
Q. With all the interest in panoramic photos these days, how about some information on how to locate the nodal point on a lens or camera? Or perhaps you can refer me to a source of information on this subject.
Carl L. Strodtman
via Internet

A. On a Google Internet search I found the following website: The article is titled "Finding the Nodal Point of a Lens: What is the Nodal Point and Why is it Important?" It's too long to excerpt for this column, but there I found out why locating the nodal point of a lens is necessary for proper panoramic photography. This eliminates parallax problems due to overlapping images where two images are stitched together. The use of an adjustable mounting bracket, which can alter the pivot point of the camera, is a needed accessory. This website had lots of helpful information on this subject along with descriptive images and suggestions on how to determine the nodal point location of any lens. I believe this website will greatly assist you in
your quest.

Search For Ilfochrome
Q. I have 5 liters of Ilford's Classic P3.5 kit and can find no Ilfochrome paper. I have tried Ilford's US number and just get the runaround. I prefer Ilford's 11x14 Classic Deluxe medium contrast enlarging paper but will settle for anything that can use their chemicals. B&H told me it was no longer available and removed over a year ago. Do you know where I might find some?
June Agur
via Internet

A. I just checked the websites for both B&H and Adorama. B&H does list a number of sheet and roll sizes of Ilfochrome paper though they do indicate that several are out of stock or require special order. At, under "Photo Enlarging Paper," they show two kinds of 11x14 Ilfochrome paper in 25- and 50-sheet packages, plus larger sizes. You might want to recheck to see if they can get this paper for you. I checked the web listings for some other dealers that offer darkroom supplies, but found no Ilfochrome listed on them.

Flash Find
Q. I was sorting through an old box of stuff and came across a new Phoenix 80DZA, a Sunpak Auto321, a Sunpak auto zoom 333 Thyristor, and an Albinar 120MDT-TZ. If I can get any of these to work will they work with my film Canon T2 or my digital Canon Rebel XTi? I know you have to watch for voltage and things. Can you tell me if I can use any of these without harming my cameras?
Tedra Towne
via Internet

A. Older hot shoe flash units can be safely used with newer digital and film cameras when you add a connector between the flash shoe and the camera's hot shoe. OmegaSatter offers the Wein SSHSHS (Safe Synch Hot Shoe to Hot Shoe) adapter for this purpose that also has a PC contact so you can use the camera with other types of flash units that don't have a hot shoe. It lists for under $70. You can look it up on OmegaSatter's website at: In the Search box on the left put in SSHSHS to locate the item. This particular unit is said to reduce any electronic flash source from up to 400v down to a safe 6v going to the camera's sync input. This would be the safer method of using your older flashes with newer equipment.