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This is a club for those who love to shoot film, including 35mm, medium and large formats. Discussions should be centred around gear, techniques, darkroom, printing, etc. Everything analog!

  1. What's new in this club
  2. Indeed I could, however I'll need to find a shutter that fits this lens at the right price, or get some ND gel filters (the lens appears to have a 59 or 60mm filter thread, for which I have been unable to find any commercially made filters) as the 1.6 ISO speed of the paper negative material would render an exposure outdoors in sunlight of around ¼ sec at f/8-5.6, or about ⅛ sec wide open. Using the lens cap as a shutter is not possible at such a speed without shaking the camera's non-too-sturdy front standard, so realistically such experimentation will have to wait until a good used Copal #3 shutter pops up on ebay - as far as I can figure the lens should be a straight screw-in fit for that shutter's 62mm thread. I have a big 1920's half-plate studio stand camera in my studio which has a Voigtländer 4,5/240mm uncoated lens which gives interesting results, where 2,000w/s of flash about 2½ feet away from the subject just gets just enough exposure at f/4.5, and I have been tempted to get someone to pose using the Tessar on that camera, but the distance to out-of-focus background is limited, plus I don't have all the fussy 19th Century-type props to get the full effect by cluttering up the background. The studio camera has a universal iris-type lens mount which will accept the Tessar, and I have thought of comparing the two lenses, but previous use of that Voigtländer lens has shown it to be excellent (it's from the same era as the Tessar, and is a legitimate Heliar lens - the sort that brings big bucks these days ), so maybe that comparison would be inconsequential.
  3. How does this old film camera fair when it comes to wide aperture "bokeh" photos? I would image you could get extremely narrow DOF and creamy background blurs with it.
  4. Thanks, Chris. I started from an almost zero skills base as well, but these days there's a wealth of knowledge, how-to tutorials and videos and FaceBook communities all sharing just about anything one needs to know, resources that I admit to having used heavily. I did have a small residual skill-set in basic things learned from my mechanic Father when I was growing up, but the rest has been perseverance, heaps of mistakes and Internet help, and I'm still far from being expert. At the moment I'm adapting a Kiev-60 metering prism to fit my Pentacon Six TL bodies. The Pentacon prism, aside from being totally ugly, is awfully expensive as an accessory purchase on ebay, and then you are in the lap of the gods as to whether what you get either works or is accurate. I have a nice Kiev-60 prism from a rubbish body I bought "totally rebuilt" from ARAX in Ukraine which never wound on properly and to which they said to "send the camera back" for a refund, but I would have lost all my postage money and ended up with no camera - a replacement wasn't offered, just an unspecified "refund". Thanks, ARAX, but no thanks. As I have two Pentacon Six TL bodies, adapting the prism I already have that works to a camera that I see no reason for it not to work just fine on seems perfectly logical. Again, something you just cannot even contemplate with modern digital equipment! As it turns out the wind mechanism failed completely about six months after their warranty expired anyway, so I an now re-purposing bits and pieces of it for other purposes and spare parts - my next project will be to fit the mirror to fit my Omega grain-focusing device in the darkroom, the front-silvered mirror of which has become all-but unusable after 40 years of handling in a work situation. Probably making a new mount for the mirror on the device will be the way to go - cutting the mirror to fit might require better tools and skills than I have at present. A replacement mirror would cost nearly as much as the ARAX camera body cost, so between these two re-purposings I'll actually be financially ahead, as well as picking up more skills in the process. Not to mention that I am finding this a helluva lot of fun at the same time!
  5. Fantastic Alan! I would so much love to do this but I have zero of the required skills and knowledge ... Maybe I get old enough that I can dig into that once my work-life ended ...
  6. I finally got 5 minutes without much wind and almost full sunshine (through upper-level cloud), and dashed out the back gate, set the camera up and took one shot with the Tessar lens and one with the Thornton Pickard's original lens (6 seconds between f/32-45), processed the paper negs and breathed a sigh of relief that I did not, in fact, waste my money on that 1935 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar. As it turns out, the TP lens is not the 8¼"/210mm I thought it to be, but more like 9½"/240mm, so the 50% enlargement sections of the 2,400dpi 165 megapixel scans don't exactly match each other for comparison, but close enough to confirm that the TP lens is well below par in image quality, as I had expected. First the full frame of the TP lens & enlargement (vignette at top left caused by focusing cloth hanging a bit too low when fashioned as an impromptu lens hood), then the Zeiss Tessar with enlargements to the same degree as one another following. All exposures, processing, scanning and computer post processing identical to each other. Point of focus was the star picket at left, and the leaves of tree moved in a breeze in the Tessar shot as well. Resizing for Web does mess things around a bit, but in reality the Zeiss lens result is visually far better even without enlargement. The final photo would print without resampling at 106cm x 79cm at an Epson printer's native resolution of 360dpi. This section is of the point of focus enlarged (without resampling) to that size. Apart from my elderly Epson V700 scanner busting a blood vessel trying to scan this at 2400ppi (I didn't have the two weeks to wait for it to scan at its full resolution), and it left a lot of little artefacts in the process. It's pretty clear that these paper negatives are for all intents and purposes completely grainless even at that sort of an enlargement were they to be properly drum-scanned. Not perfectly sharp at that size, but this is a 1935 lens that has had a hard life after all, hence the low price. And just to add - the reason for me buying the CZJ lens after suspecting all was not well with the Thornton-Pickard lens is absolutely confirmed in the full photograph - the focus falloff increasing towards the right and upper right is very visible, particularly when compared to the same area of the CZJ Tessar's image - both at the same initial focus point and both at the same f/ stop. Thornton-Pickard Rapid f/8 Rectilinear lens: CZJ 4,5/210 lens: Section TP lens: Section CZJ 4,5/210 lens: Section at point of focus for print at 360dpi, native resolution (106cm x 79cm / 42" x 31") :
  7. Not really a problem - granted there might theoretically be a slight loss in definition owing to diffraction, but the large format (half plate, 6½x4¾") means that my maximum intended enlargement of 16½x22¾" (so only 3.5x) would be very hard pressed to show that. Not that I'll make a habit of going to that extreme, however f/45 will have to be used on bright, sunny days with the subject in full sunlight as I'm trapped with using the lens cap as a shutter and need at least 3 seconds exposure to make sure any residual vibrations caused by sliding the lens cap off the lens won't affect the image overly. Luckily the rear mount thread of the lens is effectively M62x0.75mm (even though the lens is stamped N60), and that is the thread of a Copal #3 shutter, so when I find one at the right price I'll see if that can be made to work with the lens for shorter times and wider apertures without vignetting - the shutter is designed to sit in between the front and rear element groups so it may very well affect the image circle, hence the remark "at the right price". Unfortunately I missed a working shutter for $60 on ebay last week when I was still unsure of the actual lens mount thread as I hadn't received this lens yet, and wasn't willing to take a guess as I'm simply not into gambling. For shallow DOF I do have an old 1920's ½ plate Görlitzer Camera Werke studio stand camera with a rather large 240mm f/4.5 Voigtländer lens that can only be used in the studio, although my maximum flash output of 2,000w/s at 1 metre distance only gets me to f/5.6 with the Ilford Multigrade paper I use for my negative material, so I'm currently missing out on all the middle apertures in the situations I'm shooting in, inside and out. 3 ISO is an exercise in patience and good humour, believe me! Whilst it's challenging, I can however see the day where I'll probably surrender and buy a 4x5" camera again and shoot film, if only for the ability to use my 4x5 Durst enlarger and do proper silver enlargements rather than digitising the paper ½ plate negs, inverting to positive and printing them on my inkjet printer. I do like using the antique cameras, though, and while I could adapt a 4x5 back to either, I equally prefer to shoot the format they were originally built for.
  8. Wow, beautiful camera. I see the lens goes to f/64. Any thoughts of shooting it at that aperture?
  9. As am I looking forward to the weather for taking them - this is Tasmania, after all, one season every hour. When I wrote the above it was still and sunny, perfect for what I had in mind. By the time I loaded the negative material it was cold, cloudy and windy, and 10 minutes later it was raining.
  10. Rediscovering the thing that went missing with digital as far as modifying and re-hashing the actual equipment is concerned, the old cameras really do enable a hands-on ability to shape things the way you want without having to have a degree in computer science or electronics. Whilst it was fun using the Thornton Pickard with the f/8 lens that came with it (even though the shutter was there just for looks rather than functionality as both the main spring and shutter curtain had disintegrated), the f/8 aperture was a bit dim as far as focusing went, and it was subject to some strange fall-off behaviour which suggested out-of-alignment elements. Luckily I recently found a 210mm f/4.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar (dated 1935) for US$40 delivered on ebay. As it is a classic design from Carl Zeiss and still being used in some modern lenses today, and as these 210/4.5 lenses usually sell for around US$150-$200 plus postage I took a chance as the photos of it didn't show any scratches or bad flaws. Some time involved with stripping and cleaning the lens and re-lubricating the aperture control, then manufacturing a new lens board from 6mm marine ply, and cobbling up a mount from an old Hasselblad filter adapting ring (for the lens mount) and a brass lens flange of unknown prior use (to be used as a spacer), plus some routing and inletting work, gluing and a few screws, and the lens is now able to be mounted or removed and interchanged with the original without having to have altered the original lens board. Already the brighter image is apparent on the ground glass viewing screen which will aid focusing greatly, and I'll try it all out today and tomorrow to see if this has also fixed the focus falloff problems as well. It should also have a better image circle which will enable more camera back and front standard movements without vignetting. Photos: new lens first, then with the old one re-fitted - a 5-second job 😁 .
  11. This shot looks like it could be album art for a prog rock band. Good job, Alan.
  12. Thanks, guys, I admit to being more lucky than skilful here, although driving this mob up to that end of the rape paddock without completely spooking the sheep so that I could get the old house ruin into the shot as well was almost as amusing as the repertoire of sounds I issued to keep most of the herd transfixed for the four seconds. Also, even on a big screen that one beast takes a good second look to figure that it is facing towards, rather than away from the camera. Lots of luck was involved here. I really only shot this to test the lens for that focus falloff I had been noticing, and thought that rather than just waste the paper neg on some boring still-life I might at least try to get something a bit more unusual. Strong focus falloff at bottom left and top right was confirmed, as well as a narrow run up the left side, hence the decision to blow another $40 US on the Zeiss lens, which was an unusually cheap bargain for what ebay has usually become these days. It looks to be in fine order as well, the drawbacks being no retaining ring or caps, the lens cap in particular may be problematic as that is my 'shutter' these days. Used ones for the rare ~61mm slip-on fit are more expensive than the lens itself was, and even if I can ever get the Thornton Pickard behind-lens roller blind shutter working again, this new lens will be far to large in diameter for it to fit.
  13. Considering the inherent difficulty of photographing moving subjects with four seconds of exposure, you have done remarkably well!
  14. Keeping cows still is quite an achievement, unless your objective is to move them! On the small screen I’m currently looking on, the headless cow ( second from right in the main group) just looks like it is facing away and showing its backside.
  15. This was perhaps being overly optimistic, but it worked rather well in the end, I thought. Thornton Pickard half plate camera, using Ilford Multigrade IV paper as a negative, 3 ISO, 4 second exposure whilst I was making all sorts of noises to keep the cattle looking at the camera without moving (a few failed the test, though, one having lost its head altogether) The lens on this camera is the original 8" f/8 Rapid Rectilinear brass item that isn't so rectilinear any longer - it has a very definite focus falloff on two diagonally opposite corners so I'm guessing the elements have either lost their alignment through age and handling, or were never correct in the first place. I have a 1950's Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 4,5/210 in the mail to me from an ebayer in Japan which I'll try to adapt to the camera to cure that problem as well as give me a substantially brighter ground glass image to focus on. This, therefore, might be the last 'authentic' Thornton-Pickard photo I have taken.
  16. I am not entirely familiar with the processes for old view cameras, but I must say I am really impressed with both sets of images. Aside from the light leak of the second house image these are magnificent.
  17. Very interesting. I think I prefer the older style, more contrasty look of the newer pair of pictures, but that may just be due to the limitations of the little screen I'm viewing on.
  18. Two pairs of photographs, taken 30 years apart. When first contemplating a move to Tasmania, I visited in September 1989 and stayed at a newly opened accommodation business in one of New Norfolk's oldest surviving homes at Tynwald Estate, which was built on the back of an entrepreneurial gamble of building a water race, water wheel and flour mill quite a distance up river from Hobart in 1819 (Hobart was first set up as a convict camp under 23 year old Lt Bowen, R.N. in 1803). While the later addition of the grand Victorian facade, tower and ornate cast-iron decorated verandas belie the mansion's more humble origins, the ruins of the original burnt-out old mill stand as testament to a founding business of the area. I took the first pair of 1989 photographs with a Toyo View 45A field camera, 65mm f/5.6 Rodenstock Grandagon lens and T-Max 100 film, and last week, 30 years later, I thought I may as well test a couple of dark slide film holders I managed to find on ebay to fit my 1908 Thornton Pickard half plate camera for light-tightness, and that the old mansion and ruin were as good as any subject given the 30 year gap that has elapsed. Using ordinary Ilford Multigrade IV Glossy photographic paper cut to 6½x4¾" size loaded into film sheaths designed to fit into the dark slides where glass plates were originally used (@2 ISO!), and tilting the lens front and back standards beyond the coverage of the original 8"/210mm f/8 Rapid Rectilinear uncoated lens to straighten the verticals somewhat (being aware of the vignette that would cause, but deciding it would add to, rather than detract from the end result), I took a head-on photo of the mansion. I think the ground level has been raised and levelled somewhat during those 30 years or that 65mm lens on the 5x4 camera was a lot wider than I remembered it to be. I then took another of the mill from a different viewpoint as the original position had been obscured by trees and other garden plantings. The paper negatives are of course blue and blue-green light sensitive only, thus rendering the sky white and yellows and reds (such as the stone in the mill) very dark in the final print in true early plate photography fashion, and the uncoated lens has a propensity to flare around highlights that is pretty epic as well as it being near impossible to check focus in the corners with that dim f/8 aperture and roughly sand-blasted ground glass, even when ensconced under my double-layered velvet focusing cloth. As well, the focus falloff of the lens in the corners is as dramatic as the flare, even at the f/32 aperture I shot these at, but I didn't care about this either, other than to yet again admire the 19th and early 20th Century photographers with their portable darkrooms and glass plates, trekking all this primitive and fragile equipment into wild and unexplored places in order to take large format photographs of places and things unseen previously by European eyes. 1989: 2019: (The streak of light top left in the second mansion shot is a light leak from a corner joint of one of the wooden dark slides, and a less obvious one below that is from the bottom edge of the actual slide not sitting all the way home in its slot at the base of the unit, so the exercise was worth the effort in finding these before they ruined an irreplaceable shot. The corner leak is an easy fix, but the slide is causing a bit more thought on how to best accomplish a fix without disassembling the whole bottom of the casing).
  19. Yes, I sprayed it into the glass part lid of a large Moccona freeze dried coffee jar. These things are the best small hold-alls ever invented - invert the lid and detach the cupped plastic seal, and you have a glass bowl and a smaller plastic bowl, or you can press the plastic inner lid back and it becomes a small jar. I have many of them (and an indictment on my caffeine addiction). The glass part with its turned-in lip is also great for holding small screws, springs and the like when repairing lenses - they can't accidentally roll of the bench, yet they're easily picked up out of the bowl with a magnetic jewellers screwdriver when needed.
  20. It turns out that I already have some of the INOX-MR6 grease left over from a food mixer repair, but the WD40 White Lithium grease that I see at Repco is only available in a spray can. Did you just spray some onto say a piece of plastic or glass sheet and then get a little of the grease from there once the propellant dispersed or is it available in a non-spray version? TIA.
  21. No worries, Hugh - my info is colloquial at best, though, just me improvising on the side of logic and a bit of thrift over some idealistic and expensive standard. I've already been stung something like $30 earlier for a tiny 1ml of "Swiss watch oil" when I tried (but failed) to clean the clockwork mechanism of the first Pentacon Six I bought, and I really thought "WTF" when it arrived in its tiny glass vial - it looked and smelled like any light mineral machine oil. Maybe it has magical properties when used with the tiny, high precision gears in a watch, but seriously, the clockwork gears of the Pentacon Six are large, relatively coarse and any light machine oil with adhering properties would likely have done the job for almost zero cost for the one or two drops required. Likewise, helicoid channels are relatively wide, and while they are a precision fit, they will turn without binding when assembled cleaned but totally dry, so any lubrication is a bonus rather than an essential necessity I would have thought. Sure it will reduce wear over a long period, but realistically the focus ring is mostly turned very slowly and not all that often through its full travel either, so for an individual user to wear the helicoid out in shooting film in a non-commercial environment is highly unlikely. Besides, I figured if I had pulled the lens down myself and reassembled it OK, repeating the exercise shouldn't be all that difficult should it start to feel as though it is dry or it starts squeaking. So far I have used this WD40 white lithium and before that Inox-mx6 Premium Machinery Grease (fully synthetic/food grade), and none of the lenses so treated have shown any adverse signs at all. I found the white lithium easier to spread and easier to get coverage into sharp corners, whereas the Inox was harder to apply smoothly and seemed a bit resistant to sticking to the surface of the metal, leaving dry patches here and there. I haven't counted up the cost of the 120 kit I've assembled, but all up, including the dud cameras and the hefty postage charges , I doubt it would have been much more than US $1,500 (AUD ~$2,200), if indeed even that much. To me that is a whopping bargain when I consider that would have been about the cost of my Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 LM OIS WR lens on its own.
  22. Alan, thank you for the information on the lithium grease. In pricing grease for lens helicoids from the US, Micro-Tools want a huge $US32.52 for 8ml of their helicoid greases (available in three grades), whilst over on Amazon, MicroLubrol Helimax-XP Camera Telescope Optical Instrument Focusing Helicoid Grease w/ PTFE 1oz 28g is selling for $US12.95 for 28ml. Add postage on top of either of these two sources and suddenly one is paying a whopingly huge lot of dough! I have a Nikon 55mm f/2.8 AiS Micro Nikkor whose helicoid grease has like many of these lenses transmuted itself into an oily goo and I am facing up to the task of pulling it down and thoroughly cleaning the diaphragm mechanism and completely replacing the helicoid grease, so your input has been valuable to me. Many thanks.
  23. Hugh, I'm very careful with my selection of lenses before hitting the 'buy now' button, which is why it's taken so long to get the set. The condition of the glass is always at the top of my pass/fail list. I'm also being frugal with my film consumption - in other words I'm getting back to the shooting discipline of thinking, evaluating and either dismissing or accepting before pressing the shutter button, so I'm still getting through frozen stocks on hand. I'll be having to buy 400 ISO from now on, but with winter over and the equinox fast approaching, I'll be using more and more of the 100, 50 and even some Agfa 25 ISO film, of which I have numerous rolls. I even have five rolls of Tech Pan, which these days is worth its weight in gold to die-hards and collectors, I believe. As for the lithium grease - I'm just using what I can easily get (WD40 White Lithium), but applying it very sparingly, dispensing it first into a small container and then wiping it on by following the threads with a cotton bud, then wiping any excess off with a lint-free cloth after first thoroughly cleaning the threads with a toothbrush and isopropyl. I now also have the confidence to unscrew and reseat helicoids so that I get the indexing right and don't have to spend hours assembling, disassembling and trying again to find the correct entrance thread alignment as I did with my first effort, so replacing the grease (should that ever be necessary) will not be a problem. Like many things, I think internet advice might be a bit overly pedantic on grease - the thickness with which the original grease was caked on defies belief and in hardening with age it literally gummed up the threads. It was also prone to migrating due to the excess which is what causes the aperture blades to bind. I don't apply anywhere near that thickness of lithium grease as they applied the original grease, so there's not enough to migrate even if it were prone to that, and it is formulated not to dry out so that, too, shouldn't be a problem. The difference doing this to the lenses has to be felt to be believed - my oldest lens, a late 1950's CZJ 2,8/80 was so stiff it was nearly impossible to focus properly while hand-holding the camera; it is now as smooth as silk, very light to turn with no backlash or creep, and I reckon it's better than it was when new. As well there was haze under the front element which was removed easily with isopropyl alcohol. The lens only cost me around US$75 because of all this as well as a stuck-open aperture - this I managed to fix without having to remove the aperture blades simply by removing the element groups and flushing the aperture assembly repeatedly with lighter fluid, then alcohol while the lens was apart to re-grease the helicoid. Six months later it is still working fine, so until it gets stuck again, I'll consider it fixed. I've also learned to use only original rear caps (not cheap aftermarket slip-ons) as they provide enough clearance for the stop-down pin which allows the aperture to be fully closed when capped - so I always fully close the aperture when removing the lens, and likewise if I'm storing the camera with a lens attached I always leave it uncocked so the aperture is in its closed state - that stops things getting stuck wide-open (the P6 works backwards to many auto-stop-down cameras in that it holds the aperture wide open with pressure for focusing which is released at moment of exposure to stop down the lens rather than the other way around). As I noted, the Pentacon Six does have its idiosyncratic operating rules, and I'll admit to having learned most through trial and error (mostly error), but once it knocks you into shape in fine Teutonic tradition, it is an absolute delight to use - it's one of the best handling medium format cameras I've ever used, and it leaves abominations like the RB/RZ Mamiyas in the dust in that regard. It's even nicer to use than my Hasselblads were, which isn't surprising as its design post dates the 'blad concept by nearly a decade. Pentacon obviously decided that an enlarged Pentacon F 35mm camera was a safer bet than the awkward-to-hold box shape of the 'blad, and I think they may well have been right. However, as there were only serial numbers into the mid-200,000's used, the supply of these things will become increasingly rare, particularly as broken ones are by necessity fixed with parts from other badly-broken ones. Fingers crossed that my pair will last a long time, but I will probably buy one more for insurance if a good one comes up at the right price, but the prices have doubled in two years, so that might be a forlorn hope.
  24. My word Alan, your lenses look pristine. Worth removing the caps for this image. Where do you source the white lithium grease you use and did you need different grades for different lengths of helicoids (as I understand to be the case)? (BTW, have you any film still left in your deep freeze? )
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