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Time Travel - Back to the '70s


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#21 nfoto

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 22:20

Oh well, let's indulge in some decent lens porn, shall we? With such a restricted line-up as that of '73, it's easy to parade each and every one as they come into use for this thread.

So, first out is the 15 mm f/5.6. This is the original item I acquired in 1973 so it has followed me for 4 decades by now. Focusing is still buttery smooth and apertures click positively into position. The AI kit to make the 15 mm compatible with newer cameras was again sourced from Pacific Rim Camera. The satin black finish on the built-in lens hood is just unbelievably smooth.

Here it is, front and rear views, with my D40X. Because of its CPU modification it functions flawlessly also with this not-very-high-end model.

15mmDSC_2571.jpg

15mmDSC_2573.jpg
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#22 nfoto

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:21

Now, "the Dog" aka 43-86 mm f/3.5 Zoom-Nikkor. Undoubtedly the most frowned-upon of any Nikkor lens. However, as I quickly learned, a true chick magnet at that time. Give the girl friends my Nikon F Photomic with the 43-86 for shooting on our travels and they all fell in love with it and found it "cute". When I explained they could just turn the aperture ring, watch the metering needle and snap the picture when it stood straight up, plus racking the lens in and out, they nearly swooned. Such was the impression made by cutting-edge technology at that time. Good on me.

Here, a girl friend with the F Photomic and the 43-86 on a journey through the Aegean Sea early '70s. (by the look of it probably taken with my 24/2.8 more or less wide open).

43-86_Aegean_SEA0983024.jpg

Same journey, a portrait of yours truly taken with the 43-86. You can see the curving-out of the building a tell-tale sign the lens had been racked fully out. The 43-86 was infamous for its geometric distortion but at that time nobody bothered much about it of course. Which probably is a sane attitude in the grander scheme of things. I'm showing off my beaten-up Nikon F and its equally worn 24/2.8 Nikkor, by the way.

43-86Sifnos033413.jpg

Now, a few recent depictions of the 43-86. As I already has communicated, the current 43-86 is newer than the ones used in the '70s, since one of them was given away (the girl friend accepted the lens but nothing further developed) and the other was stolen. Late '70s (probably '78) I got the last optical version in AI livery. This is the lens depicted below.

43-86DSC_2577.jpg

After its CPU-modification, it became more useful and now sees regular use on D40x. D200, and Fuji S3.

43-86DSC_2575.jpg
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#23 jramskov

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:19

This is going to be a fantastic journey to follow (seriously enjoyed reading what you have posted until now). Thanks for sharing your time travel.
Joergen Ramskov
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#24 Anthony

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 14:37

I like the stories around the old lenses. I was touring the Aegean in the early '70s, with a Nikkormat. I wonder if we were ever on the same ship.

#25 Akira

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 16:40

It is indeed a very interesting thread! It is like comparing older recordings with the latest ones of a musician who has been around for decades: there are certain character and taste in common even between the works decades apart from each other. The colors and geometry are definitely the common factor in your case.

Thanks for sharing, Bjørn. I look forward to the further development of the thread!
"The eye is blind if the mind is absent." - Confucius

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#26 Wannabe

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 20:51

I will be following this project with great interest! I have my own mint condition 80-200mm f4.5 Nikkor -- circa 1970, with factory installed AI ring -- that I purchased at auction for less then the cost of a decent filter.

Edited by Wannabe, 12 January 2013 - 00:28 .


#27 nfoto

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 21:08

As I initially commented in this thread, for the '73 stage of the project, using IR would be very important. Since I no longer use any film whatsoever, digital IR will have to replace the old silver halide technologies. So, is this entirely feasible or must my approach be adjusted? Remember I'm bound to using only the specified lens kit from '73 as outlined in the first post. This is a deliberate constraint and not something I can or will change later.

Back in the early '70s, Infrared Ektachrome (IE 2443 if memory serves) and it was developed in the elusive and rather expensive E-4 process few labs could offer. So I had to send the exposed films away and wait for weeks before the rolls re-appeared with - hopefully - something of value impressed upon them. Keeping track of how one shot necessitated making notes, a habit I had never the inclination to pursue or patience enough to implement, thus adding to the unpredictability of IE which was part of its attraction anyway.

I may have tried out the HIE Kodak black-and-white IR film a few times, but moved at that time quickly away from b/w so have no memories or results to share at present.

The first attempts at IR with these old lenses on the digital IR-modified cameras went very well and I got surprisingly sharp images. Remember I true to the old tradition used hand-held thus getting sharp results was not entirely expected.

Emulating IE to give "false-colour infrared" is fairly easy with my Fuji S3 Pro (UVIR Limited Edition) and a major reason for my keeping that by now outdated and quaint DSLR. The 43-86 works well enough on the Fuji, as seen here. Focus is where it should be and image sharpness is great for such a vintage lens.

43-86_Winterforest_IE_emulation11824.jpg

However, the 80-200 mm f/4.5 did not fare well at all giving gross CA and quite unsharp images. I cannot be absolutely certain it worked better with IE in the film days but my hunch is it did. So I have either to confine the 80-200 to ordinary shots in the visible range, or use a dense IR filter to make b/w IR captures with it.
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#28 nfoto

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 21:29

I spent a few days trying to unearth some of the old pictures, and in fact managed to come up with many more than I had expected. The material is very uneven in quality as well as in themes, not surprising since most of these were preserved by random events. So taken as a whole they present what I did back then in a skewed fashion, for the better or worse of it.

What I found most fascinating is the flashback to times I thought long forgotten. With the pictures comes the ambience, the music, friends, and the general setting of my life at that time. It simply is amazing what a picture can conjure up of memories from the past.

I put up a few here to illustrate what those Nikkors were brought to bear on back in the early '70s.

Whale slaughterhouse. Iceland, with the 80-200 and Nikon F.
80Z_Whales_0777004.jpg

Immediately when the image screened on my big monitors, the sensation of the immensely heavy foul stench of this activity hit my senses like a hammer. I reeked days after the shoot. However, to this day I'm very fond of whale meat as it is unbelievable tender and delicious. Back home, whale meat was a common stable throughout the '50s and '60s but the become scarce (and expensive) later.

Bridge. Nikon F with the 24/2.8
24_Bridge0711240.jpg

Cannot recreate the steps taken to arrive at this final result, but presumably it involved lith film that I had a fling with at that time.

Iceland Thyme on black lava. The Hekla volcano as a backdrop. Nikon F with 15/5.6 Nikkor
15_Hekla0715560IS.jpg

This is straight off camera using the standard technique for getting "saturated" Kodachromes, meaning a severe underexposure leading to near unprintable slides later. Those slides proved to be nearly impossible to scan some years further along the time axis, when the digital era commenced and I wanted every picture into my archives as a digital record. End result basically was many of them went straight into the bin.

Here is a coastal scene at nightfall, set in a lighter mood

Gull. Nikon F with 80-200.
80ZGull0715372.jpg
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#29 nfoto

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 22:44

Now, back to something of the old days I do recall, and in fairly great detail as well.

This was one of my first "projects" meaning the ideas were worked out beforehand Thus even the lens to be used was decided before shooting commenced.

Girl friend at that time was of the introvert kind so we discussed the greater aspects of life, read books that probably went way over our heads, and of course we listened to a lot of great music. In this case, "Blows against the Empire" (Paul Kantner & Jefferson Starship) and "Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones, from "Let it bleed") played more or less continously while we made the layouts.

Alienation of Modern Man (Nikon F with 15 mm f/5.6 Nikkor)
Høvik1503877.jpg

Today, I visited the exact spot bringing the venerable 15 mm lens with me. Weather as cold as 40 years earlier. My former model no longer is reachable so I had to make do on my own and came up with this UV-capture (D3200).

Ghosts of Times Gone (Nikon D3200 UV, 15 mm f/5.6 Nikkor)
15mm_E1301140132.jpg
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#30 Anthony

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 23:15

You are absolutely correct about the way in which old photos bring back memories, flavours, scents, relationships, thoughts, feelings etc.

I look forward to more of this project.

#31 jramskov

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 08:51

I'm ready to vote for this as "thread of the year" (if any such vote existed).

Really like the winter forest picture and I keep going back to look at that bridge shot!

Thanks again.
Joergen Ramskov
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. [Douglas Adams]

#32 wildoat

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 09:46

Fascinating insight Bjorn, thanks for sharing. :)
 

 

 

 

 

 

Moose says " if you have a very expensive lens and you have a very cheap tripod, you're nuts"  




 


#33 Fons Baerken

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:07

"Blow against the empire"
i had that album

#34 Rags

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 16:20

Good stuff Bjorn, keep 'em coming...

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#35 nfoto

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 23:42

I had to wait for spare parts from Nikon (contact blocks) before I could CPU-modify two of the lenses from the '73 kit. These were the 35/2.8 and 55/3.5 Micro, both of which now can tell my modern cameras all sorts of electronic dreams. I modified these two lenses this week.

My 55 mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor is of the old-fashioned compensating type produced in the mid '60s. Nikon made them with a mechanically-based clever compensating feature so effective aperture wouldn't change when you focused closer, just like the modern Micro-Nikkors but these of course do the adaptation electronically. Just like the modern versions, the compensating 55 could only keep its designated aperture when stopped down from the wide open setting. The drop in effective aperture if the 55 is operated wide open is neatly engraved into the lens barrel. One scale for the naked lens and another when used in combination with the M/M2 extension tube. It was fascinating to see the aperture blades slowly opening when you focused closer, and set to f/5.6 (actually, f/5.3) at infinity the aperture would be a perfect open circle at 1:2 (naked lens) or 1:1 (lens+M/M2). If you set the aperture to any smaller value, say f/8 or f/11, aperture blades would still be visible at the closest focus to demonstrate the compensating feature indeed was working.

I purchased the lens back in '67 and it has been with me since then, still focusing as buttery smooth as it did when I first put it on my Nikon F all those years ago. I got it mainly for close-ups, since my intention at that time was to become a botanist, and such strange people needed this kind of lens in order to document the interesting but not always pretty flowers encountered in the field. I doubt many of them would appeal to me today, but I was young and enthusiastic back then.

Her is one of the few remaining old pictures taken with the 55/3.5.

Fossilised fern fronds, 1:2 (Nikon F, 55/3.5, Kodachrome II).

NG_TimeTravel_55_Fossil5510424.jpg

Yesterday, I put the old-timer 55 on my D40x and made this documentation of a Santa Claus decoration.

Modern Santa (Nikon D40X, 55/3.5)

NG_Time_travel_55J1301185215.jpg
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Bjørn

#36 Gardenerbob

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 22:49

Ho, Ho, Ho.
This is a great read.
Can you please elaborate on the 'lith film' you mentioned with the Bridge image?
TIA
Bob

#37 nfoto

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 23:29

Basically it was meant to make masks for printing negatives. Thus, gradation was so steep that you either get a black or a clear area on the developed sheet of film. You then contact copied the negative with the mask. When working from a "small format" 24x36 negative or slide, one usually made an inter-negative on 4x5" sheet film first.

In its time, lith film was popular for creating special effects amongst these the solarisation or sabbatier effect.
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#38 nfoto

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 23:42

More captures with these old lenses from today. Weather dull overcast, with occasional cloud break-up.

The 200/4 Nikkor-Q, the longest lens at my disposal in '73 was given a spin today. It is not a bad performer at all, but pales of course in comparison to the 80-200/4.5 Zoom-Nikkor. whether or not acceptable results are obtained depends on accurate focusing. I found by trial and error that it needed significant focus shift when used for IR with my D40X, so using the lens for grab shots like this one below gives a lot of trouble and off-the-mark focus.

Joyride (Nikkor-Q 200 mm f/4, Nikon D40X)
73NG_200_J1301205230.jpg

The 55 mm f/3.5 Nikkor on the other hand behaves in an exemplary fashion and the focus shift is so small it is more or less accommodated by the internal IR filter of the D40X. This is a darned sharp lens as readily apparent even when one does hand-held shooting at questionable exposure times like I did today. Of course it is as perfect for close-ups today as it was 40years ago.

Ice face (Micro-Nikkor 55 mm f73.5 Compensating, D40X)
73 NG_55_ICE_J1301205254.jpg
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#39 jramskov

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:10

Ice face of an alien? :)
Joergen Ramskov
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#40 Lars Hansen

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 18:13

.. or Dovregubben staring at you in an IR nightmare.




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