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.

Film To DVD?
Q. Apparently equipment/software exists with the capability to transfer 8mm/Super 8mm film on a reel to DVDs (digital format). Please advise where these systems can be purchased.
Dan Bonfig
Cottonwood, AZ

A. Sorry, I have been unable to locate any equipment or software needed to transfer 8mm/Super 8 film to DVDs. I did a Yahoo! search for “converting film movies to DVD” and found many firms listed offering this service at prices ranging from 12¢ per foot to $10 per reel.

Sunpak On 40D?
Q. I have two Sunpak flashes, a 611 and a 522. Can these be used safely on a Canon EOS 40D?
via e-mail

A. I called the Sunpak product manager and he said both of these older Sunpak products have a 190v trigger voltage, which could damage your Canon digital camera. You could use them safely if you get a hot shoe such as the Wein Safe-Sync model, which attaches to your camera’s hot shoe and sits between the shoe and the flash. This $70 device reduces the flash voltage from up to 400v down to a safe 6v, which won’t damage the camera.

Shutter Set
Q. I recently purchased a 4x5 Crown Graphic classic camera equipped with the following lens: Steinheil Munchen Culinar, Synchro-Compur-P, 1:4.5 - F -135mm VL. S - B-500 f- 4.5-32. Can you please give me a breakdown on the operation of this lens, especially on how to set the lens shutter to remain open while focusing the camera?
via e-mail

The M/X Synchro-Compur shutter on my 55-year-old 180mm Schneider Symmar lens is probably similar to your shutter. At the top edge of the rim of the shutter (near the white index mark used to set the shutter speed) there is an elongated, small, flattened button that can only be pushed in when the shutter is cocked. This opens the shutter for ground-glass focusing. When done, just trip the shutter as you would normally to fire it to close the shutter. This can be done with the shutter set for any speed. If your shutter does not have this press-focus button, you probably will have to adjust the rim set shutter speed dial to the B setting, then reset the speed you want to use after focusing. On the B setting, you first cock the shutter, then hold the shutter release lever down for as long as you want, then when you release it, it will close. Since this is an older shutter, the lens diaphragm will not open when you open the shutter, so you will also have to manually adjust the aperture setting to wide-open (f/4.5) to obtain a brighter image on the ground glass. You don’t indicate whether your shutter also has a “T” position. If it does, the T setting will make the shutter open after you cock it and press the shutter release, then will close when you press the shutter release a second time. This would be easier to do than using the B setting.

Old Canon Lenses On Canon D-SLRs?
Q. I have an old Canon F-1 with several lenses. Is there a digital Canon body on which those lenses can be used?
Dale Olson
via e-mail

A. I asked my contact at Canon and here’s what he said: While it is technically possible to use older FD-mount Canon lenses on Canon EOS Digital Rebel cameras with an adapter, he does not recommend it for several reasons. The lens would have to be focused manually and the lens diaphragm would also have to be used manually if using the camera’s internal metering, so the lens would be stopped down for taking the picture, resulting in a dimmer viewfinder image. Then the lens would have to be opened wide again to refocus for the next picture and stopped down again to take that picture. The adapters that are available are not made by Canon so Canon could not guarantee their performance. In addition, the generic FD-EOS converters tend to degrade the image quality of the lens and they also increase the effective lens focal length by a factor of about 30 percent. In short, it just does not seem to be worth the trouble to purchase an adapter. Here is the website for a generic FD-EOS converter if interested: