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.

Vest Pocket Camera Value
Q. Could you help me price a camera I received from my grandfather, an Ansco Vest Pocket No. 1 Helicoide?
Sydnie St. Micheal
via e-mail

A. The Ansco Vest Pocket No. 1 is vintage 1915-’19 and produces 6x9cm images, probably on 120-size roll film. The value today is $25-$40, according to the 11th Edition, McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. Some other, slightly older, pricing guides had a bit lower price. It’s a nice-looking old folder with interesting four metal extension struts that position the lens when it’s opened. Most folders simply have a cover that folds down, then the lens assembly is pulled out to the operating position. Providing a picture was very helpful.

Dust Away?
Q. I have a Canon EF-S 17-55mm Ultrasonic lens that seems to have accumulated specks of dust on the inside of the lens, which in turn shows up on my pictures. Is there any way of cleaning this lens?
Abe Saludo
via e-mail

A. Dust inside a lens usually shows up on images as a small blob because it is so far from the focus point. Lenses should only be repaired by a competent repair person as disassembling and reassembling a lens correctly is precise and tedious. I recommend contacting Canon about this problem. Here is their info: Canon U.S.A., Inc., One Canon Plaza, Lake Success, NY 11042; (800) 828-4040; If they cannot assist you, then check with one or more of the firms that indicate they work on Canon cameras listed in the Shutterbug Service Directory in each issue.

Dust Vacuum
Q. I need to find a small vacuum to clear my Nikon D3X and D3 of dust; can you help? Whatever company sells such should be advertising.
Dick Renn
via e-mail

A. There is a wide array of sensor brushes, swabs, cleaning cloths and solutions alone or in kits. At, under Cameras, then Camera Accessories, I found the following small vacuums intended for cleaning digital sensors: Delkin’s Digital Duster Cleaning Kit lists for under $50 and includes a small vacuum, the SensorVac. Delkin’s SensorScope 2 Cleaning Kit lists for under $110 and also includes a SensorVac. The Green Clean kit that lists for under $40 has a mini-vac but it’s only available at their New York City store as it cannot be shipped due to shipping restrictions. Other dealers undoubtedly will offer the Delkin and Green Clean brand items as they offer many other digital-related accessories. You might be able to purchase one of the vacuums by itself if that’s all you need.

Pony 135
Q. I just bought a Kodak Pony 135 Model B at a garage sale for $1. There is no manual. Is there an all-purpose setting for this camera? I have several digital cameras, but would really like to use an older camera and just see what the difference would be.
Katherine Torkelson
via e-mail

A. Your Kodak Pony 135 Model B is vintage 1953-’55. The image you sent is a bit soft, but the lens should be a Kodak Anaston f/4.5 or f/3.5 in a focusing mount. The current value is $8-$15. If you want an instruction book you should be able to obtain one from either John S. Craig (PO Box 1637, Torrington, CT 06790; (877) 572-3686 (US only), (860) 496-9791; or Finger Lakes Photo Books (PO Box 1002, Elbridge, NY 13060; (315) 491-1188;

Strobonar Repair
Q. Is there a flash repair facility that handles the Honeywell Strobonar 202?
Joe Van Mill
via e-mail

A. Here are a couple you can contact: Essex Camera Services, Inc. (100 Amor Ave., Carlstadt, NJ 07072; (201) 933-7272; and Holly Enterprises (15848 Rayen St., North Hills, CA 91343; (818) 988-7111). Be sure to explain your problem and ask for an estimate prior to sending the flash to any repair facility. If the problem is with the battery, you might want to contact House of Batteries (10910 Talbert Ave., Fountain Valley, CA 92708; (800) 432-3385;

Macro Settings
Q. I have a Canon EF-S 17-85mm lens. In addition to the zoom ring, it has another ring with a little window that shows a scale going from Macro to infinity. What is this for and how do I use it? I am interested in purchasing a dedicated macro lens, but am confused by what the 1-5x means on Canon’s MP-E 65mm f/2.8 lens and what difference the focal length makes. I would like to take photos of objects about the size of a dime and have them fill the full size of the sensor on my EOS 50D camera with the lens front a reasonable distance away.
Bob Jones
via e-mail

A. You can obtain detailed information about all Canon products on their website at: The window you inquired about covers the scale indicating the focus setting that was adjusted and set by this autofocusing lens. The ring that turns it is used only when the autofocusing is disabled for manual focusing. The Canon MP-E 65mm lens has a slightly longer 65mm focal length so you don’t have to be quite as close to a small subject as with a shorter normal focal-length macro lens such as a 50mm. This lens was designed exclusively for macro shooting of small subjects to produce images between life size (1x) and five times larger than life size (5x) so it is not suitable for conventional subjects. At the 5x magnification you can fill a 35mm frame with a subject as small as a grain of rice. So, you should be able to easily take photos of objects the size as a dime with this lens. It can focus as close as 0.8 ft.

Long Tele To IS Body
Q. For bird photography, I would like to attach my T-mount long telephoto lens to a new stabilized digital body. Would a Sony or Pentax digital body reliably stabilize my film-era lens?
Neil Walden
via e-mail

A. I’m just finishing compiling an article on the compatibility of older film camera interchangeable lenses with new D-SLR camera bodies. I had not delved into the use of any Image Stabilization capability with this type of old/new combination, so I asked my contact at Pentax to comment since Pentax D-SLRs seem to provide some of the best and easiest compatibility with older non-digital lenses. Naturally he could only comment on Pentax D-SLRs and they don’t test with any non-Pentax lenses. He believes you should be able to do this satisfactorily with your T-mount long telephoto and the appropriate adapter to fit the Pentax D-SLR mount. Then, in general, you will have to manually select a focal length in the Input Focal Length menu on the camera. This setting should match the actual focal length of the lens (this does not have to be based on the 1.5x crop factor of the camera sensor). When using an older manual focus zoom lens the optimum setting would be the actual focal length in use, but for convenience, a mid-point focal length can be set. That is, if using a 100-300mm zoom, select 200mm on the Input Focal Length menu.

Steady Tripod
Q. I have been wanting to take some shots that will require long exposures. I usually don’t do this so I wanted to check my tripod to see if it would stabilize my Canon EOS 40D with the lenses that I use. My tripod is very light and inexpensive. I placed a container with a printed label about 25 ft away from the tripod-mounted camera and took two shots. The first was a control photo at 1⁄250 sec. The shot was very clear with the zoom lens set at 135mm. Next I took shots with the exposure time set at 1 second. I was not able to produce the same clarity even with the mirror locked up to eliminate the vibration of the movement and my camera bag hung to the center post for additional weight. I am now looking for a good tripod that I can use on trips. I want one that will give me very good stability. I am capable of carrying one that has enough weight to do the job. Will a Manfrotto 055XPROB meet such a challenge? If not, can you suggest a solution to my problem?
Bernard F. Spada Jr.
California, PA

A. As you have discovered—the hard way—lightweight and inexpensive tripods just don’t provide the steady support needed for moderately heavy D-SLR cameras, especially when used with large tele-zoom lenses. Even adding a stabilizing weight below the center of a light tripod still does not offer the firm sturdiness required. I’m not personally familiar with the specific tripod you suggested, but Manfrotto is an excellent brand. I suggest you read the tripod coverage starting on page 101 of the July 2009 issue of Shutterbug. These are new products seen by one of our editors at the spring PMA trade show. Therein you will get some ideas on new models that by now should be readily available in both stores and mail-order firms. If you want to keep the tripod weight down slightly, a carbon-fiber model should be considered, but they will cost a bit more than metal versions. I strongly recommend visiting a dealer with a good stock of various brands of tripod models to actually try several with your own equipment attached. You mention having used shooting mirror-up to minimize vibration during exposure, which is a good technique. Have you tried combining this with an electronic remote shutter release so you don’t even have to touch the camera at all?