Tuesday, January 13, 2009

016-0306-000 C-30 Series Camera Adaptor Kit...

...for Tektronix 400 Series Oscilloscopes with 8x10 (0.8/DIV) Max Display, with C-30A Camera and C-30 Series Camera Pack Film Back.

Ummm...yeah. What he said. What did he say? Basically, this:

I grabbed this nifty piece of industrial technology for a scant 99 cents on eBay. It was super dirty, but underneath the grime I found a minty camera! So what exactly is this camera for? Well, oscilloscopes, of course.
So lemme go grab my oscilloscope and hook this baby up. Oh, what? I don't have an oscilloscope? Hmmm...so what good is this thing? Lots of good...lots. of. good. As it turns out. See, the interesting thing about this camera is that it is built to take photos of a screen that is seemingly microns away from the front of the camera. This means that it takes pictures of things really close to the front of the camera...anything that is super close to the camera. Close= macro. So I have a 99 cent macro Polaroid camera! Nice.
Anyway, let's check out the camera. I'll break it down for you. First of all, this thing is big and heavy. All that blue? Top-grade cast metal. Total machine shop quality gear here...straight outta shop class in high school. Compared to the Colorpack III, it's like Frankenstein's monster.

No plans to strap this around my neck and ride around on my bike. But plans change, baby. Okay, so it's huge and heavy. How does is work? You can see it has a Polaroid back on it...

The back comes apart from the rest of the camera. (Doh! I totally had film in the camera when I opened this up. Dumbass.)

Interesting to note the cast for the Polaroid back includes an indentation where a shutter button would normally go.

The camera body is made up of a few different sections. The back end obviously hooks to the Polaroid back, and has a locking mechanism (or latch) on top, and a tripod mount below.

Fun to see the inspection date. Probably the last time it was used, as well? There was a dried-up pack of Type 107 in the camera when I got it. Dried-up as in didn't work. But I get excited even if I get a pack of non-working film. It's old film! Can't help it!
So there are two sets of bellows. The shutter itself is in the middle of the body, not the end. The front of the camera is just a large open area, where you would attach it to an oscilloscope.

The shutter has both f-stop and shutter speed settings. The aperture goes from 2.8 to 16... so it opens quite wide. You can also see the shutter release and a spot for a release cable.

The shutter speeds range from Bulb to 60.

In the above shot you see the other features of the camera. There are two separate bellows. The rear bellow is for magnification, and the front bellow is for focus (with a focus lock to prevent drift). The magnification settings are from .7 to 1.5, with a diamond shape between .8 and .9, which seems to be the point at which the edge of the camera isn't visible in the shot. I would imagine that the numbers mean exactly what they say...that .7 is 30 percent smaller than the actual image, while 1.5 is 150 percent larger. The focus makes less sense to me. The numbers are from 1 to 10. But when you have the focus set at farthest away from the image (bellows short), it sits at 7, and fully extended, the knob turns a couple times around. So I have no real frame of reference for what these mean. It's even tough to say "I had the focus set at 8," because there is 8, and then there is 8 again when you turn the knob around past 7 again. So I basically use a bit of guesswork and intuition when focusing. It's not all that important anyway, for reasons I will explain when I show some output images.
Here is the camera at lowest magnification and closest focus...

And highest magnification and furthest focus...

And, just because, here is the bottom with some mystery port.

Okay, so how do you use this camera? I thought that I would have to waste a bunch of film trying to figure out how it works. I figured I would have a bunch of outta-focus photos. I discovered in one shot that you pretty much just have to make sure that whatever you are shooting has to be somewhere within about half an inch from the front window on the camera. This was my first shot, using Fuji FP-100C. I set the shutter speed at 60 and the f-stop at 8.

Wow, loverly! Some massive depth there. Nice pinpoint focusing on the leaf tops and then it just fades in the distance. I made a serious attempt to keep track of my magnification and focus settings for all of my experiment shots, but it got really difficult with the odd focus numbers. Here is one shot at the smallest magnification (.7) and the furthest focus (the 7 that is 'point zero').

What you are seeing is the metal frame in the shot. But it most definitely has a wider focal depth. On the magnification bar, there is a diamond shape between .8 and .9. This seems to be the point at which the metal frame isn't visible in your shot (though if you pull the focus all the way back, you can see a bit of it). I really wanted to tell you the settings, but in the end I don't think it really matters. The results are generally similar regardless of magnification, outside of the two extremes. Here is magnification set at 'diamond' and focus furthest away.

And focus at maximum.

Other than the frame edge, it's really hard to tell the difference. There are so many variables, particularly with how far you actually are from the objects. And because the camera is open on the end, stuff like leaves and such can actually sit inside the camera. I found the best results generally came from setting the camera at 'diamond' and the focus at 7-8 the second time around (I guess you could call it 1.7 or 1.8). It's hard to 'mess up' a picture. If it's somewhere near the front, it will be in focus. Everything else will be blur. A couple more shots with the Fuji FP-100C.

And one shot of me. I just held the camera up to my face.

Neat shot, but it illustrates one of the main problems with the camera. It's so big and the lens is set back so far that it tends to block the available light. I had to try and position the camera so the light was shining from behind and to the side, or all would be in darkness.
I tried some Fuji FP-3000B, as well. I think that those that take photos of oscilloscopes mostly use 3000 speed film. It was a lot tougher to use than the 100 film because of the limited aperture and speed settings, which are mostly slow and wide. I just found it a lot less forgiving and the balance between under- and overexposure was pretty slim. Pretty much anything I shot outside was overexposed. Here are a couple attempts with indoor lighting.

I also threw in a pack of ID-UV and wasted a couple shots. Nice tones, for sure.

So a neat camera, eh? How I use it in the future remains to be seen. I've never been a huge fan of macro. There is some interesting stuff, but, really, how many shots of leaves and flowers do I want to do? So I need to think about how to use it without falling into the usual cliches. A leaf or flower shot every now and then is okay, maybe a bug if i can get one, but I want to maybe be a bit more original. The rusty gears are grinding away.
Just because, here are some different oscilloscope Polaroid cameras. All of these images were nabbed from eBay, just so you can see some design variations. The roll film back is interesting.

What's next? Well, I did a little comparison between my two high-end Polaroid cameras, the 180 and 195.

The results were less than surprising, but still somewhat interesting. More on that later. I also picked up a Fuji Instax 200, which is wide-angle integral film. The camera is built like a Fisher Price camera for adult hands...huge and goofy looking. But it might be fun.

Also got a Polaroid SLR 680 SE to talk about....see how it compares to the SX-70. All that and more, soon! Later, doodz.


  1. Anonymous2:26 PM

    I wonder if it's possible to use this in combination with 120 film.

  2. I'd love to get my hands on some ID-UV one day...

    The larger format Instax is fantastic for landscape shots. The wide angle really helps!

  3. Posts like these are great! When I found your weblog some months ago, I just keps reading and reading :-)

  4. Anonymous12:12 AM

    Hi, I was looking at a Tektronix C-59 Oscilloscope camera on ebay and was wondering what type of film it takes. The film back on your camera says c-30 series but the one Im looking at says c-50/c-70. I wasnt sure if it made a difference with the type of film or not.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Thanks for the article Moominstuff. I just hacked a Tektronix version with a more sleek packfilm back--like the kind used for the 600SE.

    I removed the front bellows and frame so it is now possible to get close without blocking the light.

    I then pulled out and reversed the right hand telescoping rod. With an added o-ring for friction, it slides in and out easily, but will hold a set position. With a loop held up to a sheet of ground glass taped into a film back front and snapped into the camera back to confirm focus, I then drew a ring with a black Sharpie around the rod for each magnification setting's exact focus distance. So, I can now pull the rod to a marked focus point (to match the magnification set), move the camera to that distance from the camera, retract the rod, and shoot!

  7. I have 2 units that take the Polaroid film packs. 1 is a Shackman 7000 and the other is a Wavetek C-1. Both are made in England and both have the osciliscope hood on them. If anyone is interested shoot me an email. jeephead@gmail.com

  8. I'm waiting to get that first photo of the photo's you snagged from ebay the small one with the c-50 back. I was planning on using the back on a conversion, I'm a newbie and thought it might take 100 film, I still haven't Googled it to find out.

  9. If it looks like that in the photo, it's a Type 100 back. As long as it's not a roll film back like that last, they are probably for the most part 100 backs. Though there may be a Type 80 back on one out there somewhere.

  10. Anonymous12:06 AM

    I found an oscilloscope camera made by the same company tektronix and honestly I know very little about photography. Mine is a model c50/c70. It has a shutter but it seems like the shutter needs some kind of power input to work as it sits on a board with all kinds of knobs and buttons controlling shutter speed (sec) 4 to 60,aperture (f) 1.2 to 11, film speed 50 to 12800, it has a focus knob, a mode knob which includes (pwr off, norm, bulb, time, single sweep) then it has a plug in for what I assume is a optic fiber cable and three sync plug holes reading remote, no and nc.

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