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Read our web comic Magpie of Space approximately weekly here on Space Pilot Comics.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Birthday Camera

My brother came up with a brilliant birthday present this year: a Petri 7S rangefinder, one of those wonderfully sophisticated Japanese cameras from the 1960s. It has metering visible in the viewfinder and not a battery in sight. So you use it like and SLR while having the immediacy and quiet operation of the rangefinder.

Great wee camera and great results too.









Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Into the Tiny World of 110 Cameras

 I found my old Dolphin Sirius underwater camera and decided to give it a run with some film. The Dolphin Sirius is a 110 camera that takes tiny little film cartidges and produces teensy negatives that make 35mm negatives look like posters.



Fortunately the nice people at Lomography make good quality 110 film and I bought a panchromatic Orca cartridge and popped it into the Sirius. Taking the pictures was a simple affair. The flash which came with the camera no longer functions, so my choices were between sunny exposure or cloudy exposure. No focussing allowed.




One thing that is clear from the resulting pictures is that the camera's fixed focus is not set up for landscapes. This makes sense for an underwater camera as visibilty for snorkelling is usually only 10 to 20 feet.

The real trick was developing the film. 110 film is only 16mm wide and so doesn't fit in the usual 135 or 120 spirals that come with developing tanks. However I managed to find an old West German movie developing tank which, of course can take 16mm movie film. The 110 film fitted perfectly in there.



Before getting it into the spiral I had to get it out of the cartridge. There is a popular trick you'll find online which advises you to stop winding the film on once you've got to the Xs on the backing paper (which shows through a wee window in the cartridge and on the camera). You can tweak the film out (in total darkness) with tweasers because this leaves a little film poking out under the backing paper. However, as you pull the film out, it tightens on the take-up spool inside the cartridge and mine would go no further with only 10 of my 24 shots pulled out of the cartridge.

BUT.... the good folk at Lomography are ahead of the game. On closer inspection I discovered that their 110 cartridge pops open if you just pull the top up. So - back to the darkroom and all the film came out easily and went into my 16mm movie spiral. They also provide nice clear instructions on their website about developer concentrations and development times for their film. :-)




You get some interesting and unpredictable images when using the Dolphin for snapshots. I think I may keep it for underwater use only though. In the meantime I have procured a Minolta Autopak 450E and some more Lomography Orca film. So there are more 110 adventures ahead.

Check out my Lomography Home.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Film Test: FED 5V

 Well, I ran a film through the old FED 5V and got to know it a lot better. The film of choice was Kosmo Foto Mono, a nice 100 ISO black and white film with an appropriate Soviet aesthetic. I developed this with Ultrafin at 20°C, with a 10+1 dilution for 6 minutes. I add this detail because Kosmo Foto films aren't listed on the Massive Dev Chart Film Development pages.

So what were the results? Well I had some difficulty actually passing the film through the camera. At first there was no movement on the film counter and the odd fairly chunky film advance but this got easier with use. I think this camera has been in a drawer or an attic for a couple of decades and it is needing to work out some solidifying lubricants. I think sitting and winding and firing this for a few hours before I put in another film will be a good idea.

The pictures aren't bad. There were some misfires where the exposure is clearly not good enough but they may reduce after I've worked the stiffness out of the mechanisms. The ones that worked are nicely exposed although there is a general softness to the images. I think I may need to fine tune the rangefinder on this one.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures, which have a nice grainy vintage look to them. Maybe this should be my lomography camera ...








Friday, 18 June 2021

Another Old New Camera

 I managed to find another vintage rangefinder, or is it? This one is a FED-5V designed in the 1970s. However it has a very late serial number and may well be one of the last models built in the mid-1990s.

Anyway, it all works mechanically and the rangefinder appears to be accurate. So I'm running a film through it to see whether it is light tight and whether the lens is functioning well. I'll post my progress here.





Thursday, 17 June 2021

Busy Exploring with a New Camera

 Oops - looks like I missed posting for the past month. That's because I've been out and about testing and setting up an old 1960s Minolta A5 rangefinder camera.


I've had mixed results with rangefinders; a lot of these mid-60s Japanese cameras come with some electronics which means finding replacement batteries and then dealing with shutter mechanisms that are intimately involved with the light meter. No such problems with the Minolta A5 as it has no light meter and no electronics.

There isn't a lot of info on this camera online as regards making adjustments to get it ready for photography and there were some issues with aligning the rangefinder mechanism on this one. However the top shell comes off fairly easily (once you remove the film winders and a small screw; make sure you don't lose the shutter button which drops out) and then there is a mini optics bench clearly exposed which holds the main mirror of the rangefinder. There are five screws to play with; two adjust the rangefinder distance setting and three support the mirror and can be used to alter the up and down setting.

Once aligned and ready I put some film in and went in search of photographs to take. You need to carry a light meter for exposure (or look at the sky and apply the sunny 16 rules) and the rangefinder mechanism takes care of getting a pin-sharp focus.


The first shots looked good, very sharp and nicely exposed. So it was time to adopt this ideal street photography camera and go and take some real photos.

The nice thing about an old 60s rangefinder is that it is so self-contained. You get the one standard lens that it is permanently fitted with, in this case a Minolta Rokkor 45mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, and no zoom. So you get yourself into a good position for your shot and snap away. Not having a built-in lightmeter reduces the fuss over exposure. Take a good reading at the start, set up the camera, and get on with composing and taking your shots.

Here are a few shots from the first rolls. I'll post some more later.






Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Easter Monday on the Crichton Campus, Dumfries

We had another beautiful spring day yesterday and missed the cold snap and snow that struck the east side of Scotland. Some fantastic spring colours were to be found amongst the wonderful old buildings that Elizabeth Crichton gifted to our town.

The first two photos are of the more industrial buildings. The fancy rooftop is on the School of Multidisciplinary Studies. The trees seemd to be just showing off in the amazing spring light.

All of these were taken with my trusty Pentax K-7, equipped with a Ricoh 35-70mm f/3.4 vintage zoom lens. 







Saturday, 13 March 2021

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Magpie of Space: Contagion - Episode 13

Magpie of Space: Contagion - Episode 13:  Dr Trope makes her way to the Bridge, eager to hear news of the miniaturised away team. Have they managed to access the Space Station charg...

New episode now available.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Other Health Issues Still Arise

The global pandemic doesn't have a monopoly on human health and this winter we've had our problems here in Space Pilot HQ. My wife is undergoing cancer treatment and so I haven't been around the blog or web comics very regularly.

I hope to come back to these things later but other priorities are more pressing for us for now.

Thanks for your interest in my work. I do have the last parts of the Magpie Contagion story and I will draw them for you soon.

Saturday, 26 December 2020

A Happy Christmas to all our Readers



It's been quite a year. I hope you can all have a peaceful time this Christmas and recharge for the year ahead.

Nollaig Chridheil!

Mark

Sunday, 13 December 2020

More Magpie of Space

 The Magpie is back! Lt Hazard has been lost in teensiness somewhere in the Engineering Lab and now we know what has happened to him. Read all about it in The Magpie of Space.