Mid-week Camera Review … Week 14 / Ansco Speedex 4.5 “Special”

Ansco 6x6 special 01

The Ansco Speedex 4.5 “Special” is basically an Agfa Isolette (German camera) but with an Ansco trademark for the North American market.
Like its Agfa twin, the Speedex 4.5 “Special” was aimed to the advanced amateur. It allowed for variable focus and an extended range of exposure settings. In 1955 its advertised price was $47.50 with a leather case for $5 more.

The Ansco Speedex is considered a medium format pocket folder Ansco, (originally Anthony & Scovill) merged with Argus in the early 1938.

A manual for the Ansco 4.5 Speedex.

The Shutter speed settings on the Ansco – B, 1sec, 1/2, 1/5th, 1/10th, 1/25th, 1/50th, 1/100th, 1/300th
The aperture settings = f/4.5, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32

I have always enjoyed shooting with the medium format folding cameras. They are very portable when folded and work great. I’m a big fan of the medium format & like the finished negative in the square format. It’s not a complicated camera, which also makes it fun to use.

A cool feature on this Ansco Speedex is that it has a PC sync, so I was able to shoot in the studio with studio lights.

I’ve been asked by many how I know the correct exposure since there is no meter in many of the cameras I use. Well, I have two ways of figuring out my correct exposure …
1) use my DSLR camera, I take a similar picture and cross reference to the Ansco the shutter speed setting & aperture.
2) I bought. Light eter pro APP on my iPhone. It works great. I can dial the ISO setting & shutter speed setting and it gives me the correct aperture. Easy!

Right side view

Right side view

The rear view, also showing the window to show the film count.

The rear view, also showing the window to show the film count.

The left side view.

The left side view.

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Ansco 6x6 special 06

The rear door opened showing a a roll of exposed film in the take up tray.

The rear door opened showing a a roll of exposed film in the take up tray.

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There once was a time that one was only suppose to use Ansco film in this camera.

There once was a time that one was only suppose to use Ansco film in this camera.

I hope to process the film ASAP and show some examples …

Next up is the Nikon FE 35mm camera.

Mid-week Camera Review … Week 13 / Seneca 5×7

Seneca 5×7 6B circa 1902

How did I acquire this camera?
About 2-3 years ago I was contacted by an elderly friend, he brought me 2 boxes of camera’s in a sizes. He told some stories about some of the cameras. As he left, he said I could do anything I wanted with all the cameras but asked that I keep the Seneca 5×7. He told me how it was his fathers and how it had been a special camera to him.

I could give you all the information (in layman’s terms) but this is the best description from Historic Camera I found on the web (they know a lot about these cameras) :

“The Seneca Camera Number 6 was manufactured in circa 1902. This camera was made in two styles. Style A is fitted with the Uno Shutter and Seneca rapid rectilinear lens and style B is fitted with the Duo Double Valve (dust proof) shutter for a wider range of work. Constructed with dovetail corners and covered with walrus grain leather. a solid Mahogany bed with ebony finish. Nickel plated brass and highly polished metal parts. Black Russian leather bellows lined with gossamer cloth. Rising and falling front with rack and pinion focusing, removable lens board and a revolving reversible back with spring actuated ground glass panel for focusing. A brilliant view finder, spirit level and one tripod socket. Came with a carry case, plate holder and manual of photography instruction book. Available in 4 x 5, 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 (postcard), 4 1/4 x 6 1/2, or 5 x 7 inch sizes. Priced from $15.00 to $20.00.”

The info above can be viewed here

I’m fascinated about the photographer that would buy this camera in the early 1900’s. It stated the difference between the A & B was the shutter for a wider range of “WORK”. This camera was not cheap back in the day. I did a quick inflation calculator search on the web and this camera would be about $540 in 2013. One hundred and eleven years later it’s a little beat up around its edges and everything is not working to it’s finest abilities but it still works. The Black Russian leather bellows is in great condition.
The rack & pinion focusing gear works great.

The lens, shutter & aperture is Seneca Rapid Rectilinear 5×7 (f8-f256) in Seneca Duo Dustproof shutter (T, B, 1-1/100), made by Wollensack, Rochester, NY

In the several times I shot with the camera so far this week, I’ve had to learn my way around this camera. The aperture does not work the best on the higher end of the shutter scale and actually lags open even in the slower scale, so I have to shoot it on Bulb, which is not a problem when you shoot at an aperture of f/256. That’s right … the aperture range is f8, f/16, f/32, f/64, f128, f/256 > they are in two stop increments.

The revolving revolving back & ground glass will not lock properly in all four corners, so in order for me to be able to use the camera and take pictures, I used some gaffers tape on the edges to hold the back to the camera body. Could it hinder the quality of the camera? Yes, I suppose but I’d much rather be able to use the camera and get beautiful results from the 5×7 negatives than having it sit on my shelf collecting dust.

It was a good week with great results. I was pleased to find that the bellows is light tight with no stray light. I had a great time shooting with the 5×7 camera. It was not the easiest to shoot with, I had to take my time in the process of photographing.
Sadly, the scanner was not big enough to scan the entire 5×7 negative BUT I plan on making 5×7 contact prints of all the negs I shot.

5x7 stoney creek

5x7 cassie creek

I’m amazed with the f/128 depth of field of inside Stoney Creek! AMAZING!

Mid-week Camera Review … Week 12 / Argus C3

The Argus C3 was manufactured in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1939-1957.
There were several variations to the C3 cameras, not so much in design and appearance but rather features on the camera. The predecessor to the C3 was the C2.

Among all the Argus C cameras is the 50mm f/3.5 – 16 with standard aperture settings.
The shutter speed settings were 1/10th, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/300th.

I have enjoyed shooting with this camera but not nearly as much as other vintage 35mm cameras. There was a reason is was given the name “The Brick” back in the day for a reason. It is not particularly an easy camera to hold and it is heavy. Every dial, button and knob has its spot on the camera but they seem to be in separate locations around the camera. The shutter advance is on the front right of the camera while the film advance is on the top left. To advance the film, you have to release the film catch (top center) and advance the film by turning the winding knob. Being careful to hold down the film catch only a quarter turn so that you do not advance the film to far and miss a frame. It’s a process, and it’s not the most manageable. The shutter speed dial is on the front top left of the camera while the aperture settings are on the face of the lens and the focus dial is on front right opposite the shutter speed dial.

Argus C3 01

The shutter advance is on the left of the camera.

The shutter advance (black knob) is on the left of the
camera.

Argus C3 03

The film advance on the the top left of the camera.

The film advance on the the top left of the camera.

Argus C3 06

A solid hinged rear door.

A solid hinged rear door.

Argus C3 08

Nice secure leather case.

Nice secure leather case.

Though the camera may have been a great price back in the day, I suspect there were other brands that were more user friendly.

I look forward to seeing the results on film to give a better idea of the accuracy shutter speeds and focus.

UPDATE …
I am happy with the consistent results from the Argus C3! It took awhile after loading the film that I realized that I had to push the Film Release switch. After figuring that out, I was able to take the rest of the 36 exp roll. I ruined the first 2-3 images by ripping out the sides. I also messed up the last two images with my self portraits … which ended up working out pretty neat. The focus was OK but was not all that consistent.

I did not have the opportunity to scan the negs in with a scanner BUT I have an APP on my iPad called NegativeViewer, I took a picture of the neg with my iPhone and then downloaded it to my computer & inverted the image in PhotoShop. It would have been a lot easier to find a negative scanner and go it the right way!

Mid-week Camera Review … Week 11 / Kodak Signet 40

The Kodak Signet 40 is a rangefinder camera produced by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York from 1956 to 1959. It was produced five years after the popular and more expensive Kodak Signet 35.
It has a nice 46mm Kodak Ektanon f/3.5 – 22 lens with a Kodak Synchro 400 shutter. The shutter ranges from B, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 400.

The camera comes with an easy focus knob under the lens with distance guides, but you can also focus by looking through the viewfinder window and bringing the 2 faint images together into focus.

The original price was $65 intended for hobbyists to create crisp color slides.
Manual for the Signet 40 http://pdf.textfiles.com/manuals/CAMERAS/VINTAGE/kodak_signet_40.pdf

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You advance the film with 3 strokes with the film advance lever. The Signet is a true totally manual camera with no meter and no battery required.

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Loading film into the camera is super easy, with opening the camera to loading the film the film into the back, to attaching the film tongue to the take-up reel. After closing the door, you advance the film until it stops and your ready to take your first shot.

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I have really enjoyed shooting with the Signet 40, it is an all around fun camera to shoot. I plan on keeping the camera in my arsenal of cameras I regularly shoot with.

UPDATE …
I am super happy with the camera focus and the consistent shutter & aperture … specifically the results.
Below are a few images that I shot with the Kodak Signet 40. It was fun walking around the Greene County Fair with the Signet 40 and taking pictures. I did not have the opportunity to scan the negs in with a scanner BUT I have an APP on my iPad called NegativeViewer, I took a picture of the neg with my iPhone and then downloaded it to my computer & inverted the image in PhotoShop. It would have been a lot easier to find a negative scanner and go it the right way!

Mid-week Camera Review … Week 5 (a week late)

Summer Weekly Camera Challenge … week 5, the Crown Graphic 4×5 field camera

Manufactured By Graflex, INC. Rochester, New York

To the best of my knowledge and limited research, this Crown Graphic is a Pacemaker Speed Graphic built from 1947-1970.
For some further reading and detail on the Pacemaker Speed Graphic
http://www.graflex.org/speed-graphic/pacemaker-speed-graphic.html

Some basic details about this camera …
Serial Number – 989558
Wollensak / Graflex Optar 127mm lens.
shutter speed settings – T, B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 400
aperture settings – f/4.5, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32

I’ve had this camera for many years now. I actually traded it for a studio Cambo monorail 4×5 camera I had. I rarely used the Cambo and I knew that I would use the Crown Graphic more since it was portable, lightweight and fairly easy to use. I take it off the shelf once or twice a year. I’ve had so much fun with this camera this week and I’ve been so happy with the results. I plan to keep it off the shelf, very close and have it in my camera arsenal.

You can’t be in a hurry when you use the crown graphic or any large format camera. On the Crown Graphic you have to have the shutter cocked to be able to open up the aperture to view the subject. After focusing on the subject, you have to close the aperture so that when you load the film and pull the dark slide you won’t expose the film.

What a beautifully built camera.

What a beautifully built camera.

A closeup view of the Graphlock back which accepts 4x5 sheets film holders & Polaroid 545 film holders.

A closeup view of the Graphlock back which accepts 4×5 sheets film holders & Polaroid 545 film holders.

Rear shade opened for viewing the image on the ground glass.

Rear shade opened for viewing the image on the ground glass.

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Nice leather handle.

Nice leather handle.

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crown graphic 4x5 details 006

Two steps to open the camera - 1. Press the covered button to release and open the rail.

Two steps to open the camera – 1. Press the covered button to release and open the rail.

2. Release the latch to pull out the lens & bellows on the rail.

2. Release the latch to pull out the lens & bellows on the rail.

Ready to shoot.

Ready to shoot.

Whats unbelievable to me is that the Crown Graphic was used by press & news photographers back in the day, I can’t wrap my head around that.

Here are a few of the images I shot …

Mid-week Camera Review … Week 3

Yashica Electro 35 GSN 35mm
The GSN model was one of the the most popular Electro 35’s made in Japan. It was made from 1971-77. It was built as a consumer camera, it
has an all metal body, it was designed as an aperture priority camera.

I really have enjoyed shooting with the camera, it has a nice clean square body with a large 45mm f/1.7 lens. It sports a standard
aperture sequence of f/1.7, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.
I had a hard time letting (allowing) the camera control the exposure since I was only able to set the aperture. It was also hard setting the aperture to f/2 or 1.7 without “really” focusing the camera but using the rangefinder indicator. I guess I’ll see how it all worked out when I process the film. I know I’m done with the camera on Sunday (with this project) BUT I’m really considering saving a few exposures to shoot in the studio with the PC sync and seeing how that works.

Yashica Electro 35 01

Yashica Electro 35 02

Easy to load 35mm film.

Easy to load 35mm film.

There is a Slow & Over indicator light to assist in setting the aperture.

There is a Slow & Over indicator light to assist in setting the aperture.

Battery Check - and doubles as a flash light if needed.

Battery Check – and doubles as a flash light if needed.

ISO indicator & shutter lock.

ISO indicator & shutter lock.

It has a PC sync.

It has a PC sync.

Color - Yashinon DX 1:1.7 1 = 45mm

Color – Yashinon DX 1:1.7 1 = 45mm

Yashica Electro 35 06

Fantastic old school camera strap.

Fantastic old school camera strap.

With exception to shooting these images on a DSLR, I’ve not used my DSLR camera the whole week! I’ve been on vacation this week and it’s been very freeing just shooting with the Yashica analog camera … and my iPhone (of course). As I said at the start, I’ve really enjoyed shooting with this camera. I am excited to see what results I get from the camera.

A much more thorough detailed review can be found here: http://www.kenrockwell.com/yashica/electro-35.htm

Mid-Week Camera Review … Week 2

Argus Argoflex E TLR

photo

The Argoflex is a medium format TLR (twin lens reflex) waist level camera. From my research, the Argus Argoflex E was made American made from 1940-48. The suggested film is the old school 620. The only difference between 620 film & 120 film is the film reel on the 620 is much smaller. Most 120 rolls will not fit in 620 cameras. The good news is that the loading area and takeup area in the Argoflex will allow (has room for) a roll of 120 film. I’m glad I did not have to re-roll 120 film onto a 620 reel. It’s possible, but not easy. I have another 620 camera I’ll be shooting later in the summer. Stay tuned.

The Argoflex I have has a nice fairly clean brown leather case. The case can remain attached on the camera while shooting since it has a hole opening for the film advance knob & a hole opening to view for when you advance the film to the next number.

Ansco brown leather case.

Ansco brown leather case.

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The camera has a simple easy to use shutter speed & aperture. The aperture goes from f4.5, 6.3, 9, 12.7, 18 … yes kind of odd if you ask me, so much for the standard aperture settings. The shutter speeds range from 1/10th, 25, 50, 100, 1/300th, B & T. The lens is a Argus Varex 75mm f/4.5 Anastigmat.

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The waist level viewer does not work properly, it seems like a spring is not set correctly. It does not hinder the shooting part of the camera, just the fine tune focusing. I will also have to say that it is a bit awkward focusing with your left hand and clicking the shutter with the right hand while holding the camera. It is possible to do, just takes some getting used to or at least through 12 exposures.

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Focusing area not working properly.

Focusing area not working properly.

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6x6 (2 1/4 sqr) film size.

6×6 (2 1/4 sqr) film size.

Loading Arista EDU 120 film into the camera.

Loading Arista EDU 120 film into the camera.

The 620 takeup reel.

The 620 takeup reel.

A small broken edge on the back enclosure. After loading the film and closing the enclosure, I used duct tape to seal the leak. The leather case helped.

A small broken edge on the back enclosure. After loading the film and closing the enclosure, I used duct tape to seal the leak. The leather case helped.

I’m really interested in seeing the results of shooting with the Argoflex, I enjoy shooting with the larger 120 film and processing the film in the darkroom. The 120 film is much bigger than the 35mm film.

Vacation is happening next week, so I am not sure when I’ll get to processing the film. I will however, be shooting with another camera next week.

Come back Monday to see what I’m shooting next week and the results from the Argoflex.