Showing posts from May, 2015

Obsessed, it seems.

Well... yeah. I am out of control.

I bought yet another camera off of Etsy- a 16mm Bell & Howell 240 Electric Eye (from 1957). I went back and forth on getting this particular model, but I figured it was inexpensive ($40) and I didn't think I would be changing out lenses. It has a 20mm (which is like a 40mm on a 35mm camera) and a battery operated aperture... though you can still use it manually. It is not a reflex camera, but I am getting used to the fact of actually having to measure my subject with a measuring tape.  The other thing is that the seller told me this thing is virtually unused. He's convinced it sat in a closet for decades. That could be good or bad, but either way, I'm committed.

Another reason I bought it (silly as it is, but nerdy cool at the same time) is that this particular model (but not this particular camera) was used by Orson Welles when he filmed the documentary "The Land of Don Quixote" in 1962. Welles' camera went to auction a…

Pleased as Punch

I got the Minolta XL401 as well as the Argus/Cosina 708 in the mail on the same day! I am pleased to report that both cameras are amazing- for different reasons.

The Minolta XL401 is fantastic. I want to shoot my first film short with this (noticed I said "film" then "short"? Yep- a short film made on FILM). While the highest frame rate is only 18fps, the 220 degree shutter and the f1.2 lens will make shooting at night possible- especially if I use Kodak Vision 500T film. I want to shoot in low available outdoor light at night. I think it has a unique look and it will suit the cyberpunk short perfectly.

The Argus/Cosina is also in great shape, it does shoot 24fps. I was a little worried about the auto exposure... it doesn't seem like it's working with a new Wein Cell Zinc photocell battery- but I am able to change the exposure manually. It's a little feisty, but it is possible. The difference in ergonomics is very apparent in the seven year difference …

Rolling along

The Revere Ranger 8mm camera came today. It works perfectly, but smells musty. I believe it was stored in a very wet environment. I think it will dry out here in our Utah dry air, but still, not the most pleasant smell. The lens is also dirty- just waiting to find something good to clean it with.  Other than that it runs great.

The Bell & Howell Microstar Z XL came yesterday. It is in mint condition- looks like it has never been used or is dusty. And to be honest, this was probably a cheap camera back in the day. Very few controls- or indicators. The exposure is fully automatic. It has an auto/manual zoom that works when the film motor trigger is working. And the crazy part- it takes 4 AAA batteries! Also, it has a fast lens (which is what attracted me to it) at f1.2. I'm not sure how sharp of a focus I can get with it, but I think it would make a good backup/casual camera.

After one month, I have finally worked out a deal with that seller on Etsy. I am going to get a Minolta…

One Ring to Fix the Zoom

I was a little disappointed when I got my Minolta Autopak-8 k11 a couple of weeks ago. It worked, but marginally. Cosmetically it looked good, but there was a ring at the base of the lens that seemed to jam the auto zoom mechanism and the zoom lever was missing. It took a bit of brute strength to change the lens angle... which all but made the camera useless.

I got to fiddling with the dang thing yesterday. I popped the ring off with a small screwdriver and managed to re-mount it on the lens base correctly. It took care of the jam—now the auto zoom and zoom lever work freely and the camera functions exactly like it should. I shot some footage with it on some Kodak Tri-X. I'm waiting to expose the other roll with the BH Microstar Z I'm getting later this week, and then I'll send them in together and compare. Hopefully all will work great.

After fixing the zoom, I detailed it. The camera was dirty with finger smudges and some old grime. It's a solid piece of work- made …

lo-fi mofo

Man, I've got to tell you... I'm having a hell of a time trying to find something decent when it comes to this old format. I've had nothing but problems with marginally working or broken cameras. On top of that, I still haven't seen the items from the Leicina seller. I even cut $50 off my order to accommodate him. It's frustrating. Luckily he's been patient with me, and he told me that he has a lot of cameras. I gave him a list of what I'm looking for, hopefully he has something!

I should be getting the Revere Ranger very soon. I almost cancelled the order, but luckily everything was in the order and if anything they're good, solid cameras. Whether or not I am ever able to shoot with anything is up in the air. I'm just waiting for BHphotovideo to get more Fomapan 8mm film.

I have been asking lots of questions with many of the Etsy sellers. I'm finding that most of which are severely marked up on that site. So, I did what so many people have done…


It seems as if the replacement Leicina isn't panning out. I decided just to use my credit to get some smaller items that add up to what I spent to begin with. It's fine. I'll get a nice little Kodak Automatic 8 which looks to be in good condition and might come in handy. I'll also get some good d-mount lenses to use on the Revere 88 and Ranger, and a flash for my 35mm slr.

It's not a let down. I was also worried about the other Leicina especially when I had read that many people seem to have problems with them. They have beautiful glass, but can have a tendency not to be very sturdy.

In any case, and in the end, I want to try to get some filming done and I want better control of the image- the same sort of control I am used to with an SLR- exposure and focus. I also don't want to be relying on batteries. Crazy, right? But I love the idea of wind-up cameras. No worries about batteries dying. The trade off is limiting a shot to about 15-20 seconds at 24fps.

Clockwork: Camera

Regular 8, Standard 8, Dual 8, 2x8mm... they're all the same thing. I'm not going to rehash Wikipedia's entry on Standard 8mm film- you can read about it there if you want to know exactly what it is.

There is a plethora of Super 8 cameras and stock out there. That's great- I love Super 8. In my experience, it's harder to find a functioning camera- there's so much that can go wrong and often times the little DC Micromotors bite the dust rather easily.

Enter Regular 8mm. Most of these were made between the 30s to mid 60s. That's 30 years of consumer dominance. Ebay and Etsy are a testament to that- you can find hundred, if not thousands of old spool loading, wind-up clockwork driven cast iron or aluminum cameras.

Many of them had d-mount lenses which allowed manual exposure but were mostly fixed focus. Some of the more deluxe models allowed focusing- which required using a measuring tape (or guesswork!) to the subject and a corresponding dialing of the lens. …

Getting Set Up

ANOTHER thrift store find- this one I am extremely excited about! It's a Keystone Automatic 98 projector in near mint condition. It's a little dusty but it fired up like a charm. It even has the original take-up reel which stores on the bottom. And the best part? It was only $15.

This projector is for Regular 8mm film. That's fine as I have my trusty old Revere 88 and I'll soon be getting the replacement camera from the non-working Leicina Super I sent back. I'll be getting another Leicina, the 8sv.

It's a Regular 8mm, the only power functions are the motor. Focus and zoom are manual. Hopefully this will cut down on the amount of problems I found with the Super.

The thing that most excites me about this is the Leitz Wetzlar Leicina Vario 7.5-35 mm f/1.8 Wide Angle to Telephoto zoom lens. I'm counting on a sharp picture with this.

So, my only concern now is trying to find stock. There are a few places that sell it— though it feels like at a premium. It'…