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

1950s Kodaks
Q. Members of my family are in possession of two antique Kodak cameras--Kodak Pony II and Six-20 Brownie E. I would appreciate if you could let me know of any interest that people might have in acquiring these cameras.
Ramesh Daga
Chennai, India

A. My 11th edition of McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras, 2001-2002 shows your Six-20 Brownie E is a box camera made from 1946-1953. It is a metal camera that uses 620 film and has vertical stripes on the front by the lens and finder windows. It also should have flash contacts for plugging in an external flash. The value is $12-$20. The Bakelite-body Pony II was made from 1957-1962 and has an identical current value.

Half-Frame Repairs
Q. I'm hoping that you can help me with a problem. Many of our members use the Yashica "Samurai" and we were told by Yashica that none of the repair departments are doing any servicing of this camera now. This is a real blow. I've tried many outlets in the UK, Europe, and U.S.A., but nothing has come up. Please, have you any repairman in the U.S.A. who can service, etc., our "Samurai" cameras? Thanks for the "plugs" you have given us.
Fred and Pam Adcock
The Half Frame Group
Gloucester, England

A. I just spoke with a person at Kyocera, the importer of Yashica/Contax products in the U.S.A. Although they do have some Samurai parts, they do not do repairs. But, they told me this firm does: Nippon Photo Clinic, 920 Broadway, Suite 703, New York, NY 10010; (212) 982-3177. You might want to contact them to determine if they can fix your members' half-frame cameras.

Tri-X Modern Developing Times
Q. Has Kodak gone mad? They've changed Tri-X 400 to a new version "400TX," with changed processing that doesn't work. The development chart wrapped around the film canister tells us to develop with HC-110 Dilution B, at 20ÞC for only 33/4 minutes, down from 71/2, which had been my old reliable for decades. I did as instructed, meticulously as usual, and lo and behold, weak negatives--drastically, grossly underdeveloped! To say I am outraged is speaking mildly. Those shots were treasures of my 3-year-old granddaughter and her kitten and are totally unusable. Kodak suggested, in print so tiny I needed a magnifying glass to read it, that development less than 5 minutes might be unsatisfactory. Gee, thanks Kodak. Then what business do they have recommending 33/4 minutes in their published chart? I think this is egregious irresponsibility on their part. They suggest we do our own testing to find a usable development time that might be satisfactory. Why should we have to do their work for them? It will cost us good money for the test film and chemicals, not to mention the time needed, none of which should be necessary whatsoever. And how to go about this? I have never seen in myriad photo books and three college courses any instructions on finding your own developing time. Well, I have vented my disgust and wonder if you have received other complaints. For me, it is enraging to look at that strip of 24 useless almost negatives and think of the lost expense, time, and effort in getting good shots for the family albums, shots that cannot be recalled, with more time and expense ahead.
Frank Lewis
Roque Bluffs, ME

A. I sympathize with you but this just helps drive home the point that before you undertake first use of any new product, be extra careful to read the small print. And in this instance, even better, actually process a roll of non-critical film prior to processing something that's not replaceable. It does seem that Kodak is expecting quite a bit of experimentation on the user's part instead of providing a good benchmark processing time to try on the product instruction label. I suggest you give Kodak's information hotline, (800) 242-2424, a call and explain your problem to them. Hopefully, they can give you better, more accurate, time/temperature suggestions to use in the future with their new 400TX in HC-110 developer.

Depth Of Field Query
Q. Recently I took some wildflower pictures here in Texas. I used my Rebel 2000 and the 28-90mm lens that came with it. I swear I shot 98 percent of my pictures at f/8, f/11, or f/22. But when I developed them, there was an obvious plane of focus in the pictures and everything out of this plane was out of focus. I know I used an aperture with a lot of depth of field (I set it manually myself) so what happened? Would my problems be solved if I buy the 200mm f/2.8 lens? HELP! I need lots of depth of field for projects. Thanks.
Matthew Schott
San Antonio, TX

A. First, the depth of field will be considerably less if you switched to a 200mm medium telephoto prime lens (or a zoom lens including 200mm focal length), so I don't believe that would help at all. If you were taking your wildflower pictures at apertures of f/8 to f/22 you should have a good depth of field, especially at f/22. Were you shooting in aperture priority mode when you set the aperture yourself, then the camera selected the correct shutter speed? This would be preferable to using program automatic mode when a wider open aperture is often chosen. Try using aperture priority at f/16 or f/22, and also switch over to manual focus and manually set the focus for a plane about 1/3 back from the nearest and furthest points you want in sharp focus, to get the greatest depth. If the shutter speed the camera selects is not suitable for handheld exposures (typically 1/125 sec or faster), then use a tripod. You could also activate the depth of field preview on the camera to see an approximation of depth of field before you shoot. The obvious plane of sharp focus you obtained is typically a result of shooting with the lens about wide-open, probably f/3.5 or f/4 on your zoom lens. I'm puzzled that this happened at the small apertures you said you were using.

TLR Film Wind
Q. I have a technical question I want to ask. I have a vintage Ciro-flex with my TLR. The old-style film for this camera isn't made anymore. My question is, with modern film how many turns of the film advance knob is required to advance the film for the next exposure?
Arthur De Cesare
via Internet

A. Boy, that's a difficult TLR question to answer. I really don't have any idea how many turns it would take to advance the film the proper distance for the next exposure as I have never used this TLR and my Rolleicord IV has internal measuring of the film advance distance. Your older camera should allow you to advance the film with the camera back open. If so, you could load an expendable roll of film and then make a pencil mark on the paper backing at the bottom of the mask opening. Now wind the film forward until it just clears the top of the opening. Keep track of how many turns of the winding knob it takes to advance the film past the mask. Just to be safe, you might want to add a half turn extra. This might give you only 9 or 10 exposures per roll, instead of the normal 12 square exposures, but at least you should not have any overlapping. If any reader has a better technique or method of estimating the number of turns and lets us know, we will pass on the suggestion to you.