Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ЧА...ЧА...ЧАЙКА 3!

Yes, that's what I said! What did I say? Chaika 3, I guess!

Chaika 3 means Seagull 3 in Russian, a half-frame camera produced by BeLOMO from 1971 to 1973, though mine is a "type 2" according to this site, produced in 1972 and 1973, though I'm not sure how the winding mechanism would work on a type 1. As the name implies, this is the third camera in a series, after Chaika, Chaika-2 and Chaika 2M (wait, isn't that already 3 cameras?). I chose 3 just because it looked cooler and kind of crappier than the others. It is all metal and is quite heavy for its size.

The winding mechanism and counter are on the bottom of the camera...or the side? After using it, and realizing how it doesn't really make sense that all of your shots are vertical, maybe the camera was designed to be easy to use held sideways. Maybe. The film counter is also on the bottom. The shutter advance is actually pretty easy to access (as in, it doesn't feel strange), but turning it over to see the counter is kind of a burden. Though, with 72 shots, it's not like you need to worry about running out of film quickly.

You can see the smaller frame inside the camera. Loading film was as simple as any 35mm camera. Through the entire roll, I was expecting to open it up at the end and find that the film hadn't advanced at all (especially 5 photos after the counter stopped at 72, and I decided to just stop shooting). But, it worked. No problems.

On top we see the main difference between this model and the earlier models, aside from design. This camera has a light meter, and it still works. You just turn it to match the bar in the window with the meter thing. If that makes sense. You can also, I think, set the film speed. I just now noticed this. 30, 60, 125 and 250 are the choices. I had it set at 60 (as I didn't even know this part turned). My shots were a bit overexposed, so I'll have to try a bit of messing about with it.
It also takes a flash, and the lens supposedly comes off (I haven't tried), but no other lenses fit the camera. Someone supposed that maybe they were planning for other lenses, but it never happened.
Okay, so how does it shoot? Well, I have to say...72 photos is just too many damn photos. I was seriously just aiming at whatever while driving down the street for half the roll just so I could get through it to find out what kind of output I would get. Next time I use it, I'm going for a smaller roll. The negative is pretty amazing...just the endless roll of tiny photos, one after another. That being said, it's a decent (crappy) camera. Grainy? You bet. The edges are nice and ragged (cuz I likes me photo edges). This is my 9th roll of film through the Nova home developer kit. The film was a new roll of Kodak Portra 400VC.

See? Tiny, grainy photos. Not that I expected anything less! The other thing you can do, since you have all these tiny photos, is to scan them together.

I've seen a few nice panoramics done with the camera. It might also be fun to tell a story.
Ladies and gentlemen...Chaika 3! For your viewing pleasure.
Next time, I'll probably cover using 220 film in place of 120 film in your cameras. If the mood comes up and slaps me in the a pleasurably painful kinda way, of course.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Diana + (huh?) (Diana PLUS what?)

Looks like it's true...the Diana is making a return. Not a whole lot is known at this point, but there are some very nice shots on this Korean blog, possibly a camera tester (or a THIEF! Go thief!). This shot is from the site (I wish I had one in my hands to test out).

I'm guessing it is a Lomo thing, from the blurry Lomo logo in the background of one of the shots, and a flickr group started by Lomo's internet marketing guy.
It looks to have some interesting new features. The ability to switch between 12 and 16 shots, like a Holga. A pinhole can actually twist off the front lens! A seemingly complete absence of lightleaks (hmmm...undecided about that one). So like a Diana, but not. I'm guessing they didn't even have to buy the name or design from anyone. There are already tons of Diana clones out there...and who really owns the Diana copyright? Great Wall Camera Company? I'm not even sure that has been absolutely verified as the original build company. Who knows. Not me. Still, it looks like a fun addition to a toy camera collection. A big question is the price. I'm thinking something similar to the Holga package...around $75. The original is worth anywhere from $5 to $120, depending on where you find it and how much you are willing to pay. $60 is the most I've paid for one, the others were around $30-$35. So I guess it might be worth the price for the extra features and just because, hey, it's something new to mess around with. I was dubious when I first heard rumors about it. I'm not particularly anti-Lomography. They do what they do, and people can buy from them or not. But this new Diana+ does look pretty cool. I'm looking forward to it. Won't ever replace my Snappy, but I'll let it share my camera bag.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Imperial Mark XII Flash!!!!! (!!!)

Fancy name for a crappy plastic camera. The Imperial Mark XII Flash (!!! added for extra oomph) was made by Herbert-George Co. sometime in the middle to late 1950s.

Like the Valiant previously talked about, the Mark XII came in many colors: light blue, brown, mint green, black, and a few others. There are also two different logos on the front...the circle seen here and another with a kind of square shape. I'm not sure exactly who these cameras were marketed to. The multiple colors make it seem kind of like a children's camera. Maybe women and children. It certainly couldn't be much more basic. Another funny-shaped box camera, really. Load, wind and shoot. This also has the same type of flash bracket as the Valiant. Again, I don't have the flash. I think the only (old) camera that I have an exterior flash for is my Argoflex Seventy-Five, but I haven't use it. They use those big flash bulbs that will probably blow up and kill someone.

The "Imperial" name actually shows up on different cameras from the same company...all 620 or 127, I believe. This camera takes 620 film. I've had this camera for a couple years, but it's such a pain in the ass to load that I never bothered using it until recently. The spool brackets move and the spools come out while you are trying to put the back on. Really annoying...but not as much as when I tried a few years ago. I guess I have a lot more experience loading difficult cameras (like my Snappy, with the spool brackets not even attached to the camera anymore).
So how does it shoot? My first roll was Kodak Verichrome, expired April 1962. Same as my first roll through the Valiant.

Looks like a toy camera! Takes a nice shot. It's got vignette and blur, but it's still sharp in the middle. The frames are so close that they often overlap. Oh, and very wobbly along the edges. The proof is in the pudding...if only it wasn't such a pain to load.
My next roll through was color. I rerolled Vericolor HC, expired May 1995, onto a 620 spool. For some reason, I had an incredibly difficult time spooling it to develop, and managed to crinkle the hell out of it. That's what happens after 15 minutes of sweaty anger in a dark bathroom. Owell. So this roll has green spirits all over it. And this is my sixth roll through my expired Nova color developer. My seventh roll was Kodak T400CN black and white film. Turned out very nice, I'll post shots later.

Kind of boring roll, but more of the same, except in color! Funny looking little camera, takes funny little pictures...well, funny big pictures. Another hit!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Valiant effort.

Get it, cuz the camera is called Valiant. Ha. Okay. Well, this camera is called Valiant "620", also known as a Sabre "620", when it has Sabre "620" on the front instead of Valiant "620". On the front. Ummm...anyway.

The camera was made by Shaw-Harrison Corporation, somewhere around 1957-1959. Both the Valiant and Sabre came in many different, brown, green, blue, red, probably some others. Some have a black handle and knob, some white. The Sabre seems to be more common than the Valiant model, but they are worth about the same: $10 to $30, depending on the condition.
A very basic box camera that takes 620 film (like it says...on the front). The back hooks on only one place, at the bottom. The films winds from bottom to top.

Because of this, the back is a bit loose at the top, allowing for some light leaks. Not much else to say about the camera! It's looks cool. Very 1950s. Has a kitchen quality too it. Other than that, it's so basic that it defies description. Load the film, wind and shoot. It does have a flash mount, but I don't have the flash. I don't use a flash much, anyway. Oh, and the viewfinder is very, very small. I assumed it would show less than what's exposed on the film, but I didn't realize to what extent. I mean, seriously, I would keep something halfway off the bottom of the viewfinder frame, and that object would be 1/3 up from the bottom of the shot on the negative.
It was also kind of a pain to load the film. The spool wouldn't sit properly in the camera, so it kept binding. I just screwed around with it a few times and it eventually slipped into place. I did drop it, too. Slipped on a trail, bashed my knee, scraped the hell out of a Diana. Only a few very minor dings on the Valiant. The, the back is all scraped up. I'll talk about that later. Suffice to say, I was looking for a Diana to tear apart...this will probably be the one. Still works (still has a roll in it, in fact). Anyway, some pictures from my Valiant adventure. The film is Kodak Verichrome, expired March 1963. Said it before, I'll say it again: an old camera needs old film. Not sure why the border text is backwards.

I guess it's also worth mentioning that it scratches film. Lots of scratches. But, hey, scratches build character. I really dig the output. Nice amount of blur, nice leaks. Decent vignette. This will most definitely see some more use. My new friend, Valiant "620".

Future posts? Need to talk about the Imperial Mark XII. Also picked up a ЧАЙКА 3. Whatthewhatthehey? A Russian half-frame Belomo camera. If I can manage to shoot 72 shots through it, I'll be blogging all about it. And the Meteor camera. Maybe a few more. Seeya later, tatertot.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lost Phoenix, found...

Had jury duty today and was lucky enough to be let out after only an hour and a half. Since I was downtown, I decided to drive around just south and shoot some pictures. It's an interesting area. Pretty trashy, but it's a mix of barrio, art galleries, railways, industrial complexes, abandoned houses (and houses that look like they should be abandoned but aren't), and lots of dust and palm trees. I like to go down there when I can, but there are some areas I don't think I would walk through. There are a few areas that probably aren't all that safe to drive through, but seem to be less dangerous than some of the areas in south Chicago I've been through...but maybe that's because the sun is always shining. I took my very best camera with me. Well, my very best panoramic camera. Well, my only panoramic camera. It's called...well, it doesn't even have a name. I bought it at Goodwill for a couple bucks. I'm guessing it probably cost less from the Dollar Store it came from originally.

Your basic "Made in China" point-and-shoot. It is fancy enough that you have to have the shutter open or it won't fire. And it is quite sturdy...built better than some cheap-o cameras I've seen. You can see by the back view that all it really does is block off the top and bottom of a 35mm frame, giving you a really tiny, long, grainy shot. I love it. Though I must be stupid, or really out of practice with cameras that don't have a barrel, because my thumb or finger ended up in almost half the shots. I vote for the latter, but I'm sure some think the former. I didn't bother scanning any of those. Enough talk, more pictures!

This part of town is right along the flight path for Sky Harbor, so I shot a bunch of airplane photos. I stuck some of the together. Figured it made them a little less boring. Lotsa flare...though might need more flare.

So that's it! A nice little crappy camera! You can find a pile of these things at most thrift stores. I may pick a few more someday and see if I can pull them apart and do something fun with them.
Heading back up north in a few days...with a bunch of cameras, of course. Need to figure out what I'm going to do, though, so I don't just end up with 100 more shots of the desert and forests. At least it should be cooler!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Diana Dissection

Just a quicky post today. Found a couple photos from last year of my Snappy/Diana in the midst of repair (cracked barrel). If you've ever wanted to see the guts of a Diana, here it be:

Saturday, August 04, 2007

My Holga swings...

Lens swapping. You like the softness of the Diana, but you also like the vignette on the Holga. What to do? Mix and match, baby. I've already swapped the lens mounts between my Banner (Diana clone) and my Holga, but didn't really care for the results. The barrels are different lengths and shapes, and the focal length is too difficult to control. This time around I decided to swap the actual lenses, leaving the original barrels. Successful? Not particularly, but it was mostly an exercise for information. I didn't even make much of an attempt to be creative, in case it was a total bomb. Just went out in the desert and took some shots.
The first task was to take both cameras apart and remove the lenses. My Banner is already in pieces, as I've used the lens in my Fujipet (very successful endeavor, actually). The Banner lens has a larger diameter than the Fujipet, and the Holga as it turns out. I had sanded it down to fit the Pet and it ended up fitting the Holga mount perfectly. So...job done. I just needed to take my Holga apart. There are a few good sites that show you how to do this, so I'll just do the simplified version. First you need to get the front of the camera off. This is done by removing two screws from the inside. The top screw on mine was striped (it is just cheap plastic), but it came out easy and still holds.

The front just falls off. If you have a flash, you don't want to cut those wires. Also, the shutter button just falls out, but it's easy to drop back in place. There is one screw on the back of the mount that holds the barrel in place. Remove it and the barrel unscrews from the shutter mount.

The barrel has a few parts. The plastic back is glued in place...I just used a knife to cut it out. Then there is a piece that holds the lens in place that has the aperture, the lens, and two washers that go in front of the lens. The aperture has a small plastic ring to make it smaller. I removed this. Just because. I think this increases the aperture from f8 to about f6.

Here we see the difference between the Holga lens and the Banner lens.

The Holga lens is a bubble, while the Banner lens is flatter. Now, the interesting thing about the Banner lens is that it is different than a true Diana lens, which is also shaped more like a bubble. I'm not sure why this is different, when the focal lengths of Diana and all of her clones should be the same. It would be interesting to swap a Banner and Diana lens sometime, or use a true Diana lens in a Holga. But I'm not yet willing to pull apart one of my true Dianas. I can't quite chance destroying something that could be sold on Ebay for $65. The Banners only cost me around $15. Maybe someday I'll find a broken Diana I can disassemble.
So both cameras are apart and all I need to do is switch the lenses and put them back together. And shoot.

I used black and white film in the Holga (my last roll, believe it or not). Went out in the desert and blew through the roll. The results were...interesting. I had an idea of what to expect from putting the lens in my Fujipet. I knew it would be very soft. I wasn't expecting the big fuzzy spiral in the center.

It also creates a very wide angle shot. I was very close to those bottle and they look much farther away. So this didn't turn out too bad. Maybe if I flip the lens it will bring the center in focus and blur the edges. The closer I focus, the larger the blur was, so the focal length must be shorter in the Banner. Flipping the lens and keeping the focus to maximum distance (so it's closest to the film plane) may help.

Next up is the Banner with the Holga lens. I used color film, and this is my fifth roll trhough the expired color Nova developer. The lens is slightly smaller, so I used some rubber cement to hold it in place. It wasn't quite centered, so there is a darker side on every shot. And that other problem...

Blurry! Outta focus. Waaaay outta focus. You would think that, because the Holga was able to mostly handle the Banner lens that the same would be true in reverse. Guess not. I knew this was the main hurdle to overcome when swapping lenses (the Fujipet and Banner must have the exact same focal length). I'm just not sure how to fix this with the Banner. I assume that the lens is too close to the film plane. But every shot looks the same no matter how I focused. If I can build something that holds the lens a bit further from the barrel it might work. But I'm not sure if it is worth it. The Holga vignette is gone. Will I just get a sharper Diana shot? When I do this kind of stuff, I want better, or at least different. I want the additive effect of multiple camera characteristics, or something completely new (and not crappy in a bad way). Hmmm...
So, this begs another question. How much is a result of the camera, and how much is a result of the lens? I think it depends on the camera and the lens. With the Holga, it seems to mostly be the camera. The vignette is the camera. Even the image doubling on the lower right corner is the camera (thought for sure that was a lens effect). With the Diana, I think it is mostly the lens. Other than the shape of the frame and the overall build of the camera, the lens seems to control the magic (the blur). The Diana with a better lens is just camera.
So what's the next step? I'll have to think about that. Ouch! Thinking hurts.