Feb 23 2020

Canon FX

I admit I went a little crazy with shallow depth of field when I used the Canon FX but I blame it on the camera and the Canon FL 50mm f1.4 lens. You see the lens is such a substantial lump of glass that it seemed a waste not to shoot it wide open. And the split image focus with a fresnel matte screen in the large viewfinder is so clear and precise that it makes focusing on the thinnest things effortless. So as you can see I had no choice. The FX has a meter but the Cds sensor is not in the optical path and isn’t coupled to the exposure settings of the camera anyway. So when shooting it now its probably not worth bothering with the meter, which originally took a 1.3V mercury cell anyway. The FX weighs around 900g with a lens which is a good thing because the shutter and the mirror make some dramatic thwacks that would shake a lesser camera like a leaf in the wind. Despite being over 55 years old the Canon FX is a great looking and operating camera although with mine I discovered the shutter timing is off for 1/1000 of a second rendering some images black on the right hand side.

Feb 8 2020

Found images.

I sometimes wonder about all the photographs and where they end up.  This curiosity can be sharply brought to the fore when I encounter discarded images from someone else’s archive.  These mostly take the form of slides because how do you stumble across the work of a digital photographer that never printed.  There is a melancholy attached to discoveries like this.  Who was the photographer?  Were they proud of their work?  Does their work matter, does mine?  Looking at my binders of negatives I have to consider ‘what if they all were destroyed’. The fact is the world would go on none the wiser and no worse off.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoy photography, it is just in this image saturated time,  I need to keep what I am doing in perspective.  I am not changing the world.

So it was with these slides that I came across in a thrift store piled in a shoe box. Each roll carefully noted by the well travelled photographer.  I chose one slide box marked from Paris and left the rest for others to discover.   

There is a flip side to this and that is that as time passes even otherwise mundane photographs  take on significance through the weight of time.  The ‘Fragments of Vancouver’ archive of images I am going through is a prime example of this.  People frozen in time 70 years ago as they walked passed a Vancouver street photography company photographer.  The way they dressed the way they responded to the photographers presence stored on rolls of film like a time capsule to be opened at a later time or lost forever depending on chance. 

So I will continue to photograph and sometimes print because its meaningful to me at least in this moment.  And someday maybe someone will come across one of my images and question if it matters.

Feb 4 2020

Pentax AF360 Flash fix

Just a quick and somewhat incomplete guide to fixing a misbehaving Pentax AF360 Flash. The problem started out of the blue without warning. When mounted on a camera and powered up the internal zoom mechanism would just continuously struggle against itself. I thought perhaps some mechanical fault had happened such as a gear slipping or something coming apart. As it turned out during the diagnostics it was none of these.

The first thing you want to do is remove the batteries or discharge the flash and then remove them to limit the potential for receiving a shock. After that you need to take the flash apart. As I write this I can no longer remember all the screw locations but in general if something is not coming apart easily do not force it its more likely that you have missed a screw hiding under something.

Once I had it apart I did power it up so that I could see what was happening if you do this be very careful and perhaps wear insulating gloves just to once again limit the chances of a shock.

What I discovered was that everything mechanical was working properly but the flash was not registering when it had reached the end of its zoom so just kept on trying. The zoom position is determined electronically by a series of small contacts running along a printed circuit board.

The fix was as simple as gentally cleaning the contacts and traces on the board with electronics cleaner. (any fast drying solvent that doesn’t leave a residue would work)

And after reassembly I had a fully functional flash once again. So if you experience a similar fault with a zooming Pentax flash and your even a little handy its worth a try.

Feb 1 2020

Zeiss Ikonta M

If you can look past the flaking paint I think this Zeiss Ikonta M is an attractive camera. Or maybe it’s because of the flaking paint. But that’s just the body any camera systems defining feature is its lens or lenses if they are changeable. The 75mm Novar Anastigmat is constructed using 3 elements so it is a simple design but at f3.5 is reasonably fast for its day. It’s also quite sharp even wide open with the caveat that that is true primarily at the center and has more distortion in the corners

Ikonta M 75mm f3.5
Center Crop from above image

You can see from the center crop above that even when shot wide open at 75mm the center area in focus has a lot of detail. The situation isn’t quite as good at infinity focus but then atmosphere and other factors come into play.

Zeiss Ikonta M (aperture not recorded but likely f11)
Zeiss Ikonta M center crop

You can see that at a 1×1 viewing level the scan lacks the sort of sharpness and detail you would get from a digital file but the roughly 5000×5000 image has plenty of detail for a certain level of enlarging

Composing images for square format is a little different and is a nice change that can help a photographer to see things in a new way. I recommend trying it even if you don’t use a camera like this to do it.