Half Frame Club

I’m finding from my journey into film photography this year that I’m developing a real passion for half frame photography.

In previous blogs I’ve spoken about a couple of the Olympus Half Frame Camera’s I own and the results of the photos I’ve taken with them.

Through Instagram, I’ve discovered that I’m not the only person with a love of half frame photography and it was great to see so many other people also loving half frame cameras and seeing what photo’s they’ve taken.

It was via Instagram that I stumbled upon a website called #HalfFrameClub – Half Frame Camera and Photography Club.

I’ve got to admit it was a website I wish I had invented but since I’ve only recently discovered half frame photography it was understandable that somebody would have thought of this idea first and I’m really happy to see they came up with a website dedicated to it.

It’s an online community for half frame 35mm film photography and cameras which is curated by @danmar_photos. The website ‘does what it says on the tin’. It’s a community for half frame camera enthusiasts to discover and look at photos taken by half frame cameras.

On instagram myself and other people are able to tag #halfframeclub onto our photos that were taken with a half frame 35mm camera and the curator will feature various ones on a daily basis, which is great to see. There are also themes such as ‘Monochrome Monday’.

The website itself is concise and clear and really easy to navigate. On the home page you are greeted with photos taken on half frame cameras and if you click on each photo, it will take you to a link in instagram where you can find out more about the person who took the photo and look at their other work.

This website and their instagram page certainly does provide a lot of inspiration for people who like to take photos with 35mm half frame camera’s.

The website releases a Zine every season and will ask for submissions for this from the half frame community. They’re currently looking for submissions for their Summer Zine until August 15th.

I love the fact that you can easily click onto the submission page and a theme is brought up for the type of photos they would like submitted for that particular zine issue which is great and gets the photographer to have more thought into the type of photos they would like to submit (and possibly inspire them to go out and take further photos to meet the theme).

The website also has a section for reviews of cameras and film. The curator encourages fellow members of the half frame community to contribute to this which is great.

Lastly there are links to websites for General Photography and another one specifically for Half Frame Photography and the types of Half Frame Cameras which is very informative.

Here is the link to the website which I encourage all half frame photography enthusiasts to check out:

www.halfframeclub.com

 

Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera

As a newbie to film photography this year (please see the first blog I wrote for more information on this), I’ve only recently discovered the Lomography company and the ‘toy camera’s’ they do so have been buying and trying them as you can pick some of them up quite cheaply (either never used or hardly used second hand).

I had seen photos on Flickr and Instagram that had sprocket holes on them which I think looked really cool. I knew that some of the sprocket hole effects were achieved by just scanning the whole negative but I was fascinated by how some of them had the whole picture over the sprocket hole.

Once I had discovered the Lomography company I found that they produced a camera called the Sprocket Rocket Panorama Camera which has been specially developed to take pictures with the sprocket holes on them.

As with most of the Lomography camera’s they are very lightweight because they are made out of plastic.

It has a 30mm lens and produces a standard image size of 72 x 33mm (panoramic images including sprocket holes).  There is an optional frame insert that can be put into the camera that produce 72 x 24mm (”ordinary” panoramic images) but personally I think that defeats the whole object of this camera as I would want the sprocket holes to be shown.

The focusing on the camera is 0.6m to infinity which you focus on front of the lens by estimating how far you are standing away from the image you want to take since the viewfinder isn’t linked to the lens. There are 2 x shutter speeds (1/100, Bulb). There are 2 x aperture options (f/10.8, f/16). It takes 35mm film and is best suited to an ISO speed of 400. Another feature that I really love about the camera is that it has a white dot film stopping mechanism to enable you to take multiple exposures.

I initially was hoping to find a second hand one of these cameras as they retail at £69 for the black one and £79 if you wanted a different colour one. Thankfully I actually prefer the black colour.

Whilst looking for a second hand one, I found that not many of them seem to come up for sale like some of the other Lomography cameras and when I recently found a second hand used one for sale without its original box or instruction pamphlets, it ended up selling on eBay  in a bid only auction for over £50 (not including postage). I decided at that point that I’d sooner just pay the full retail price and buy a brand new one directly from the Lomography shop.

Thankfully at the time on deciding this I was actually going to London for the day for a Lomography workshop (blog to follow about this) so I was able to find some time to pop into the Lomography shop in Soho and buy one.

I was also lucky enough to buy the last few rolls the shop had of the LomoChrome Purple film as I wanted to see how this would look on the camera.

Once I took a closer look at the camera when I got it home, I discovered that it’s design was based on the vintage Dick Tracy Camera of the Seymore Products Co in Chicago circa 1947 combined with Lomography’s own design.

I loved how simple it was to load the 35mm film and the fact that it really does encourage multiple exposures as it has a simple operating system of 2 x winding knobs at each end of the camera at the top for moving the film forward and backwards. The white dot stopping mechanism window at the top of the camera enables you to see if you’ve wound on the film to the right spot so multiple exposures match on the same frame.

This camera also does the opposite of the half frame camera in the fact that if you have a 36 exposure 35mm film, you will only get 18 super-wide angle shots on this camera so this means in the long run you would use a lot more film.

On the bottom of the camera is a tripod strap screw which can be removed to enable you to place the camera on a tripod to take long exposed shots in bulb mode.

The shutter button is actually on the side of the lens rather than on the top of the camera and you have to be careful when the camera is in your bag etc not to accidentally knock the shutter button as you could take an unwanted photo!

There is a plastic lens cap included with this camera which you have to remember to move because the viewfinder is not linked to the lens so you could end up happily snapping away and find all your pictures come out black.

The aperture lever is underneath the lens and you can move it to the ‘sunny’ (f/16) or ‘cloudy’ (f/10.8) option.

My first impression of this camera is that it felt cheap and plastic and I wondered how the price could be justified for something that quite frankly didn’t feel like it had any quality to it. I also worried about it melting if I had it out on a hot sunny day!

However, from my research, I couldn’t find any quality vintage camera that could produce the same effect with the sprocket holes so I had to accept the price for what it was if I wanted to produce that type of photograph.

I’ll be completely honest, since I’ve been quite spoilt with my decent quality camera collection where I have the choice of interchangeable lenses and hard metal casing with a variety of apertures and shutter speeds to choose from, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the camera and in some ways was ‘dreading’ if I had completely wasted my money on this purchase and the photos would be rubbish as I wouldn’t be able to focus the picture how I wanted etc.

I know with lomography cameras that the photo’s aren’t about perfection as quite frankly you wouldn’t be using them if that’s the style of photo what you wanted.

I decided that for my first roll of film I shot, I would get it developed at the Lomography lab (which was around £17 for development and scanned copies only plus postage of the film recorded delivery to Lomography in London).

Here are some of the results:

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I also decided to experiment with the multiple exposure option on this camera because it was so easy to do and here are the results:

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One particular shot I wasn’t happy with was where the sprocket holes go directly across the top of my husband’s head which I didn’t like so I now know for future reference I will need to bear this in mind when taking photographs and change the angle of the shot slightly to take this into consideration:

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Overall, I was really happy with the results. I managed to produce images with this camera that I wanted to achieve and I love the colour the purple chrome film produces. I definitely love the artistic/experimental photos I can create by using this camera.

The main drawback is the cost of getting the photos developed every time which could end up being very expensive due to only having the 18 shots on the film and you would question how regularly you could afford to use it.

However, because I’m taking so many photos with different cameras right now, I’ve been able to justify purchasing my own film scanner (which I’m currently awaiting delivery of) so in the long run I will save money. Plus I get to have more control of the quality/colour/shade etc of the image that I’m scanning from the negative.

I’ve since taken some normal colour photos with this camera which I got developed at my local photo lab for £5 (and will be scanning them in myself once I receive my scanner).

In view of this, I will definitely be taking a lot more pictures using this camera and feel that the purchase for me and the use I will get out of the camera is worth every penny.

I’m going to be loading this camera with 400 ISO black and white film next as I’m really interested to see how the sprocket hole effect will look in monochrome.

UPDATE: I’ve since discovered that this camera has now sold out on the Lomography website (and they only had a couple in the shop when I bought mine) so I’m really happy I managed to get one when I did. Fingers crossed for anybody else out there looking to buy one that Lomography will hopefully get new stock of it soon.

Olympus Pen EE

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a few days off work and on one of the days we decided to have a walk around the lanes in Brighton with our dog.

I needed to pop to one of our local shops, Zoing Image in Sydney Street as I was after some Cinestill 800 film to practice some night time shots using my Pentax K1000 (blog to follow on this).

As well as the unusual film selection that Zoing Image stock, they also sell a selection of second hand cameras. Every time I visit, there are always a new selection of secondhand cameras to choose from so I love to browse.

Whilst my husband isn’t really into photography, he always takes a keen interest in any camera I buy and was extremely fascinated by my Olympus Pen FT half frame camera and the quality of images it produces.

I think this is what led him to noticing the Olympus Pen EE Camera in the cabinet for sale.

He told me he was instantly drawn to the size and grey colour of the camera. Once I explained to him it was an automatic half frame camera he wanted to have a look at it in more detail. He absolutely loved the tiny viewfinder window and the feel of it in his hands so we bought it along with some Kodak Colour Plus 200 35mm film and loaded it in the shop there and then so we could take some photos of our day around Brighton.

In some ways, this camera is similar to the Olympus Trip where a red flasher will pop up in the viewfinder if the image is too bright or dull and won’t expose correctly. This took some getting use to for my husband as he tried to take several shots where this happened.

The film number counts back from 72 to 0. The lens is a D Zuiko f/3.5 (4 element) with a focal length of 28mm.

I already knew the lens would be of good quality from my experience of using Zuiko lenses on my Olympus Pen FT.

A great edition to this camera in the shop was the fact it also came with a UV lens which screwed into the middle of the camera:

The shutter was quite small so could be hard find by feel when taking a picture:

I solved this problem when I got home by adding a metal shutter button which definitely made taking pictures easier:

The camera also came with an Olympus lens cap although I don’t think it’s the original as I think they have EE written on them.

The camera unfortunately didn’t come with the original case or wrist strap but the shop were kind enough to provide me with a small black case which was in great condition. Also I know that the original olympus cases for this camera can deteriorate over time as the plastic outer coating of the case tends to flake off. Thankfully I had a grey wrist strap at home which had originally been for my Panasonic TZ70 digital camera which I’d never used as I prefer to use a leather neck strap with that particular camera. Personally, I would never use a neck strap with the Olympus Pen EE due to it being so lightweight (12.5 ounces).

I’ve also since purchased a skylight filter for the camera which I picked up for a couple of pounds on eBay.

I was surprised how quickly my husband and I were able to get through 72 frames over two days but with a point and shoot style camera I don’t really think so much about the image since it’s automatically focused (unlike my Olympus Pen FT where I spend much more time thinking about the image I’m taking and what lens to use etc).

Here is a little selection of pictures we took:

I got the film developed at Moorfields Photographic in Liverpool as they have the half frame developing equipment which means that each image is exposed correctly rather than a compromise of exposure between two images as would occur at a normal lab with standard 35mm equipment.

Overall I was happy with the quality of the images and was what I expected from the Zuiko lens. I also liked the vintage feel of the photos. The sharpness was a little hit and miss at times since it’s automatic with only one lens type.

I will always prefer my Olympus Pen FT because of the gorgeous crispness I get with that camera along with the variety of lenses I can use for a particular shot.

However, if out and about in a rush and if I’ve only got a little handbag on me during the daytime then I would happily put this little camera in my bag and use it for the day.

It’s also handy for my husband to use when we’re out and about as he’s not so keen on all the time that can be spent perfecting a shot using a heavier SLR Camera 📷

Olympus Pen FT Half Frame Camera

I first discovered this camera when I was reading the Tokyo Camera Style book by John Sypal.

I initially fell in love with the design of the camera but was also very intrigued when I discovered on the internet that it’s a half frame camera.

Half frame camera’s were popular before I was born so I wasn’t sure what this type of camera was.

After further research I discovered that a half frame camera uses twice as many frames at half the normal frame width on a 35mm negative to an ordinary film camera. For instance, if I loaded this camera with a 36 exposure film, I would be able to get 72 images instead of 36. This was because developing pictures back in the 1950s/60s was quite expensive so this was a great way to get twice as many photos developed for the same price. As development of photos got cheaper in subsequent years, the half frame camera became less popular.

I found this highly fascinating and immediately knew I would love to add a half frame camera to my collection.

After further research I found lots of half frame cameras had been released into the market over the years. Initially Olympus had released the Olympus Pen F camera and some of these camera’s have a cool F design on the front of the camera (like the lens cap design in my picture) but these didn’t include a self timer. Olympus also released other types of half frame camera’s as well as these Pen SLR camera’s.

I also discovered that Canon released a half frame version too. In the end I decided that the Olympus Pen FT was the camera I really wanted to own and use. The main reason being that it had a self-timer.

Unfortunately my local second hand camera shops didn’t have any in stock and although they’re not rare, they are not as readily available as perhaps an Olympus Trip 35 and they also come at a higher price tag.

I’d already decided that I was willing to pay more for a nicer condition one as I prefer to have my cameras in great condition, especially if I’m going to use them regularly.

Initially I found that most of these cameras are available for sale on eBay but are mainly for sale in Japan. Ideally I wanted to purchase mine from a UK seller so knew I had to be patient as they are few and far between.

After several months of searching and checking in with my local second hand camera shops to see if they miraculously had one come into their shop I finally found the one I wanted on Etsy.

I bought it from a gentleman in Scotland who is a professional photographer and refurbishes vintage camera’s as a hobby. He mainly finds his vintage camera’s in charity shops and he told me a lot of them are a complete write off and beyond repair but every now and again, he’ll find a camera in amazing condition or which he’s able to easily repair and cosmetically it’s in great condition.

This camera was one he had discovered in immaculate condition and only needed some slight refurbishment. He had personally owned the camera for over a year but found due to other photography commitments, it wasn’t getting the use it truly deserved so reluctantly he decided to sell it.

The camera came with it’s original leather case and the Zuiko 40mm f1.4 lens. The Olympus Pen FT camera was in production from 1966 to 1972 and what I loved even more was that the camera came with the original receipt which showed that it was purchased on 11th June 1972 and written on the receipt was the serial number of the camera and the serial number of the lens which matched my camera and lens.

The shutter speeds on this camera are B/1 to 1/500 and it has a unique rotating disc design that syncs with the flash at all speeds. The aperture is from f1.4 to f16. It has a light meter reading in the viewfinder which is numbered with a needle rather than a needle which you aim to point to the centre which I found unusual but was easy to understand. Basically the needle in the viewfinder will point to a number (ranging from 0 – 7) and you’ll match the number on front of the lens to make sure you get the right exposure. You can adjust the shutter speed to change this number if you need to.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed when I received and started using this camera. It’s an SLR and has interchangeable lenses. I also loved the half frame viewfinder and how I had to think a bit differently when shooting an image in comparison to taking pictures with a normal camera.

It’s a much smaller camera in comparison to my Pentax K1000 so I can literally pop it into my handbag which is great.

Here are some photos I’ve taken using the 40mm lens. I took the film for development to my local film development shop called Colourstream in Brighton. They told me they could only develop the film on a normal frame width which means that there would be two photos on the frame with a black border. They also informed me that the exposure would be a compromise between the two images rather than each individual one.

I was keen to get my first film developed asap so was happy for them to develop the film this way and was interested to see how two photos would turn out printed together.

Here are some of the results which I shot on a Kodak Colour Plus 200 (36 exposure) film:

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I also experimented using the self-timer which was great fun. However, one of my friends who is a photographer and has a lot of knowledge on vintage camera’s since informed me that I was taking a great risk in using the self-timer option as vintage camera’s are notorious for having the mechanics of the camera break on you if you use this because they are old and fragile. I therefore haven’t risked using it anymore but below is an image on the left where I used the self-timer:

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Dark Room Photography Part 1

When I was a teenager, I was fortunate enough to have a friend who’s parents had a dark room in the basement of their house.

The enlarger was from around the 1960s and was all chrome and dome shaped which looked really cool.

The dryer was a rack with a cream canvas which was discoloured due to it’s age and the chemicals it had been covered with.

I have fond memories of spending hours down there with my friend developing black and white photographs we had taken. Her parents had shown her how it all worked and in turn, she taught me the developing process which I found great fun at the time.

Now I’m rediscovering film photography again, I really wanted to get back into a dark room to see how much I could remember of what I’d learnt many years ago and also if I still enjoyed the developing process.

I found an adult education course in black and white photography at Varndean College in Brighton which is for a 5 week period on a Thursday evening from 7pm – 9pm.

I attended my first lesson yesterday evening and absolutely loved it!

I was given the basic introduction to the dark room and aside from the enlarger and timer being a lot more modern version to the one I had previously used, I was surprised at how much I still remember from those days. The timer I would be using on this course was digital whereas I’d previously used a manual timer.

There was a massive clock on the wall so I was able to count the minutes for the developing process.

The dryer was also completely different as it was a roller version in which the photo was slotted in one end wet and came out the other end of the machine dry. The tutor informed me that they had to order the drying machine all the way from Japan as they were unable to get hold of one in the UK.

In this initial lesson it was assumed we hadn’t yet shot a 35mm black and white film (although I’ve actually shot several over the past few months) so we therefore created camera-less photograms using objects around us to get a feel of how the enlarger works and how we transfer the image onto paper which we then develop.

I had never done a camera-less photogram before so this was all very new and exciting to me. We also had an introduction to basic camera technique so I only managed to do two photos but I was extremely happy with the results which are shown below:

 

 

 

Pentax K1000

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In previous posts I mentioned that my Zeiss-Ikon camera no longer worked and I needed to find a replacement.

After much research I finally decided on the Pentax K1000 SLR camera. I know that I wanted an SLR 35mm camera and I also knew that I wanted it to be as manual as possible so I could learn the basics of photography on it.

There is plenty of information on the internet regarding this camera and I heard from people I had spoken to that it was a good ‘student camera’ to learn on. I had also read that it is a good robust quality camera.

This camera has a shutter speed of 1 /1000th to 1 second and a centre-needle metering in the viewfinder. There is a battery that is required for the centre-needle metering system. However, what is great about this camera is that it’s still fully functional if the battery runs out. This means you’d have to work out the exposure yourself (you can’t go too wrong with the ‘sunny 16’ rule) or alternatively use an external light meter. This is one of the main reasons I picked the Pentax K1000 over the Canon AE-1 because if the battery dies on the Canon AE-1, the mirror will lock up so no more photos can be taken until the battery is replaced.

I really liked the fact that the Pentax K1000 was manufactured from 1976 to 1997 which made me think it must be a good camera if it was in production for 21 years.

Whilst in production, from what I’ve read, it was initially manufactured in Japan and then in other countries. The earlier models state Asahi Pentax on them where as the later models only state Pentax which again, from what I’ve read, the quality of the materials produced on the later models isn’t always as good quality.

I therefore decided that I wanted an earlier ‘Asahi Pentax’ version. Thanks to the timespan of manufacturing of these cameras, they are very easy to get hold of but they are going up in price every year.

I decided that I wanted my camera to be in an excellent condition and was willing to pay a little extra for this. After much searching in my local camera shops and online I finally managed to find an older style ‘Asahi Pentax’ that was cosmetically in beautiful condition, fully working with the light meter working correctly and the light seals newly replaced on eBay from a reputable camera dealer with an SMC Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens (Asahi Optical Co.) included. What was also lovely was that the camera came with it’s original case which again was in immaculate condition and also the original cool 70’s  blue and white embroidered strap. I find the strap extremely comfortable to wear when using the camera.

I think the pictures do come out really nice on this camera (will show examples in a later blog) and I’ve learnt a lot about shutter speeds and aperture since using this camera.

It is a proper solid, well built camera and I’ve certainly not regretted my purchase and have had much joy in using it.

When I started using the camera I did feel rather restricted in the lens I was using so decided that I wanted to purchase some further lenses, ideally for wider shots and a zoom type lens for closer shots of wildlife when I’m on the beach etc.

I managed to find a copy of the ‘Complete Pentax user’s guide K1000’ by David Kilpatrick on eBay. This gives great information regarding the mechanics/use of the camera and also the types of lenses available.

I visited my local camera shop, Clock Tower cameras in Brighton (www.clocktowercameras.co.uk) where I was able to purchase two of the lenses I was after.

The first one was the SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8 28mm lens (Asahi Opt. Co. Japan) which I was able to pick up for less than £60 and is in excellent condition and gives wider angle shots.

The second lens I purchased from there was the SMC Pentax-M zoom 1:4 75-150mm lens (Asahi Opt. Co. Japan) which again was in excellent condition and cost around £30. The zoom is quite a good general zoom lens but if you wanted really detailed shots, you definitely need a larger zoom. For me though I was happy enough with this purchase.

I learnt from my local camera shop that the wider angle lenses are more costly than the zoom lenses for this camera. They told me this was because people don’t always want the bulk of carrying the zoom lenses around so they’re ultimately not as popular.

The main lens I use the most out of the three I currently own is the 28mm lens because of the coverage I can get in a shot. If I was taking a picture of something closer up (such as a portrait) then I would opt for the 50mm lens. When I need to zoom in then I obviously use my zoom lens.

I use this camera a lot and I’m currently trying different films, both in colour and black and white, to see what types of pictures each film produces.

 

 

 

Vintage Camera Manuals

When I decided to use my Zeiss-Ikon camera again (before I realised it no longer worked) I couldn’t quite remember all the functions because it had been a while since I last used it.

When I originally purchased the camera from a vintage camera shop in Arundel there was never a manual included and the owner at the shop had given me a basic run through at the time of how to use it.

I therefore looked on the internet to see if I could find a copy of the original manual.

I came across this fantastic website which has been invaluable to me for other film cameras (and vintage flashes) I have since acquired.

The website is http://www.cameramanuals.org

The gentleman who runs the website, M Butkus recommends a donation of $3 (which can be done via PayPal) if you find any manual you download useful.

I personally make a donation every time I download a manual from him as I think it’s only fair as it has helped me understand my vintage film camera’s, especially when I’m unable to find an out of print hard copy of the manual.