Italian Rectaflex 35mm SLR film camera and lens, front view
You don’t see Italian cameras and especially Italian Single Lens Reflex cameras very often. We inherited this Rectaflex 35mm SLR film camera from Lynn’s Grandfather. Camerapedia has some information on the brand. They were introduced in 1949, and the company went out of business by 1955. It was one of the first SLRs to have a pentaprism.
Italian Rectaflex 35mm SLR film camera and lens, top view
Judging by the serial number, this particular one was probably made in 1953 or 4. It came to us in a leather case with accessories including extra lenses, extension tubes, and a flash unit.
Italian Rectaflex 35mm film camera lenses, extension tubes, cases
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to run any film through it. The shutter’s inoperative and repairing it would probably be an expensive custom rebuild job. But it looks good sitting on the shelf!
I think it’s fascinating to look at these older cameras to see how things worked WBD (way before digital).
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Again in 2011, I’ve been blessed with a huge amount of photo opportunities. The 2011 folder on my hard drive takes up about 178 GB of space. Wow – good thing storage is so cheap now days! I’m still using the following system to rate my photos. The numbers in parentheses are the counts for 2011 .
1 star – The photo is interesting (262)
2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others (400)
3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) any given photo shoot (81)
4 stars – My favorite photo of a year (1)
5 stars – My favorite photo ever (none, I’m not done making photos yet!)
Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I usually keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. I’ve been using this system consistently, and it seems to work for me. I’ve reviewed my 2011 photos and selected what I think are my best. Of course, this is all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve picked.
Here we go. I have 3 mammals, 3 birds, 2 landscapes, and 3 miscellaneous subjects …
November: Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve. I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild before, but I’ve never been able to take a good photo of one. We saw this one resting up on a branch and it posed for a while. In this image, I think it was trying to figure out how to get through the crowd of humans at the base of the tree. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/11/24/landscapes-and-bobcat-at-the-circle-b-bar-reserve/
July: Baby mountain goat, Mt. Evans summit, Colorado. There were several families of mountain goats on the way up and at the summit. This little one posed for me so I could frame him against the out of focus mountains in the background. It’s amazing to watch them scramble from rock to rock and never slip. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/07/10/mount-evans-redux/
March: Tomb of the unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. I’d never been to Arlington before this trip. As a US Navy Veteran and a patriot, I have to admit it made a huge impression on me. More info: https://edrosack.com/2011/03/19/washington-dc/
I acquired another “new” camera. This one is an Olympus Pen FT, from the late 1960s. These cameras are “half frame” meaning they use standard 35mm film, but make two exposures in the space of a single 35mm frame. Modern Olympus micro 4/3 digital cameras are also half frame (actually the 4/3 sensor size is ~1/4 of a full frame camera). You can buy adapters to use lenses like the 40mm f/1.4 that came with this camera on digital 4/3 system cameras. They’ll be manual focus and there’s no electronic coupling with the body. But f/1.4 is nice.
Aside from a few scratches on the body, this camera’s in pretty good shape. The lens is clear and the focus and diaphragm work correctly. The body is relatively clean too and the shutter and exposure counter work. The self timer is a bit dodgy, but that’s OK. The FT model has a built-in light meter, but it uses a mercury based battery which is supposed to be hard to get in the US. I haven’t even tried to get a battery, so I don’t know if the meter works or not. It’s surprisingly heavy (all metal construction) and very well made – it lasted for 45 years so far and still works. Do you think today’s cameras will still work in 2056?
I did run some black and white film through it. And I re-discovered that manual focus can be a bit tricky, especially if you shoot at f/1.4 with a relatively dim view finder, like this one. Here’s a couple of sample images:
My first photography teacher – Mr. Dove, had an Olympus Pen. I don’t remember if it was an F or an FT model. Someone stole it from him while he was teaching us and he really missed it. I wonder if he ever recovered it or replaced it.
Not all of your photo ops need to be outdoors and wildlife or nature related. In fact, there’s some wildlife that probably shouldn’t be photographed. And what if you can’t get out because the weather’s bad, or you stubbed or broke a toe? Well, you can look for a photo-op closer to or even inside your home. Here’s a set of photos I made to document a watch passed down to me from my Uncle.
This is my Granddad’s Elgin pocket watch. The model number (marked inside the front cover) is “Wadsworth Referee 20 year 5069868”. Based on the movement serial number, it was made in 1921. We don’t really know the history on this watch, but we do have some documents from my Grandparents’ wedding and think that my Grandmother gave this to him on their 10th wedding anniversary.
1921 Elgin ” Wadsworth Referee 20 year” 5069868, Serial number 25010969
We’re also not completely sure about the spelling used to engrave his name. It could be that this was an accepted alternate before Rosack was standardized with the “ck” ending. It’s more likely a mistake, in which case I bet my Grandmother wasn’t too happy about it.
Inside back case, with engraving
Here’s what the movement looks like. When thinking about how to show this, I wanted to do something more than a straight on standard macro photo. So I positioned the watch movement at an angle to catch its reflection in the back case and made the final image using Helicon Focus software and the techniques I described here.
Movement macro-photograph (click on this image to get to a larger version on Flickr)
We wanted a nice case to display the watch and found this one. One issue with making this photograph was dealing with reflections in the glass. I was able to reduce them by using a polarizing filter, making multiple exposures and moving the lighting between some of them. Then I combined the results in Photoshop to get this final image. I like the way the lighting places the emphasis on the watch, but lets you see what the case is like.
We did take the watch into a local watch repair place (not this one, the place we took it didn’t have such a nice sign). They cleaned and repaired it and it now works fine. The only problem seems to be a weak spring – it keeps great time, but not for a whole day. The repair cost was about equal to the watch’s resale value, but to us of course the watch is worth much more.
Elgin watch jeweler sign – it’s fun to watch for related photos while you’re out and about
It was fun learning about this watch, getting it working and making these images. Do you have something similar you could document?
I was out with Lynn last weekend and she saw an antique store that she wanted to browse through. I went in with her, and we noticed this wooden 8×10 view camera from around 1910. Well … I’ve always wanted one and couldn’t resist.
Having some fun with my new toy – a Rochester View Camera, circa 1910.
Although it doesn’t have a name plate, because of markings on the film holders I think this one was made by the Rochester Camera Company. I’m not entirely sure what model it is although it strongly resembles this one. It did come with a tripod, case, and several backs including the ground glass and film holders. The Goerz Dacor f/6.8 Series III No. 4 lens appears in Rochester catalogs from the time and so is probably original with this camera. The lens is clear and the shutter seems to work fine too, although the rubber pneumatic shutter release has hardened over the years. All in all, the whole kit looks to be in very good shape given its age, and I might experiment a bit more with it.
Looking it over, it’s hard to imagine carting something like this all over and even climbing mountains to make photographs with it. It’s huge, heavy and very primitive compared to what we’re used to today. And once you exposed the image you still had to deal with developing and printing it. Given all this, it’s amazing how good the results are from back then. Or is it maybe that only the best photographs survived all this time?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog – now go make some photos!
Sorry about not updating my Blog last weekend. We were on vacation and didn’t get back home until late on Sunday. Having to be at work all week, starting on Monday morning has really interfered with my photographic activities.
The convention was held and we stayed at the Aztar Casino Hotel in downtown Evansville – right on the Ohio River. I enjoyed the parts of the convention that I attended – it’s amazing how knowledgeable people are. But I also used some time while Lynn was busy with trivet things to explore the area looking for photo ops. Here’s a couple of views from the Casino area:
Sunset at the Aztar Casino, looking southwest over the Ohio River
Night time Ohio River at Evansville
Evansville has a very nice river walk and they’ve done quite a bit of flower gardening along the way. Here are some examples of what it looks like:
The Evansville, Indiana visitor’s center
Evansville also has a museum with a transportation center showcasing several rail cars and railroad equipment.
The USS LST-325 Ship Memorial in Evansville is the home of the only remaining operational Landing Ship Tank (LST) in the world. The LST-325 has quite a history and is a very lucky ship. She made 44 trips between England and France during the WW II invasion of Normandy. Here is an interesting account of how the ship was acquired, repaired and sailed across the Atlantic by a crew of US Navy Veterans in 2000.
By the way, all of the photos I made of the ship were with a Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR lens, combined with auto ISO on my D-700 DSLR. The lens VR combined with setting the minimum shutter speed to 1/15 sec and the ISO range of 200 – 1600 allowed me to shoot without flash in the dim interior of the ship. I also was able to make sharp hand held photos down to a shutter speed of 1/8 sec, when the light was even dimmer.
On the second day of the convention auction, I left the hotel early to visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, which is a little over 3 hours away from Evansville. It was worth the time, although I didn’t stay very long due to the heat.
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
I’m sure there are many other photo ops in the area that I didn’t have time to explore. For instance there is a zoo and botanical gardens in the city, and several caves within driving distance. The PITCA convention will probably return to Evansville next year, so I may get a chance to continue my search.
Four of us from the Photography Interest Group rolled out before dawn this morning to visit “The crown jewel of bird watching in Lake County”, Emeralda Marsh. It’s a little over an hour drive on mostly rural roads from our normal meeting place in Oviedo through Central Florida to Tavares. “Donuts” found this place on the web and it sounds really good. He called ahead to ask about it and learned that the driving route through the marsh is only open from February through May – but we still decided to go ahead and explore it. While up there, we also drove to and walked around Sawgrass Island Preserve.
It’s difficult to judge any place based on just one visit. Even at the best known and consistent locations we occasionally have a hard time getting photos of wildlife. Sometimes you just have to be patient and really work for your photos. Today was one of those times – especially since we were in an area we weren’t familiar with. [4/16/11 update: Here is a new post on Emeralda Marsh based on our return visit]
It’s disappointing that the Emeralda Marsh Interpretive Drive isn’t open all year. I’m certain that would’ve made our trip much more successful. As it was, we had to park and hike looking for scenic places and wildlife and we weren’t able to cover as much ground. The end result was that for wildlife, today was somewhat of a bust. We talked about returning next February when the driving route is open.
Over several hikes, we saw quite a lot of Florida scrub land and very few birds or other wildlife. But photographers are resourceful and we did see many things worth taking photos of. My photos seemed to develop a theme of “Things in people’s yards”, also known as TIPY. I’ve created of a set of thirteen of these photos on Flickr (set, slideshow), and I’ve posted a few below. If you go to the set on Flickr, you can see things like llamas, dogs, additional old farm equipment and a flower. See the captions for details.
Old plow and horse. It doesn’t look too much like a plow horse to me.
Old Blue Truck – We came across several old trucks this morning and this was the last one we found. Since it was blue, it completed my full spectrum RGB set. You can see the Red and Green trucks on my Flickr Feed.
Cattle Egret and Horse
Dragonfly in flight – I was waiting in the car for the rest of the group and noticed some dragonflies that were moving past the window. I decided to try to capture one in flight.
At the end of the trip, we found a close by Cracker Barrel restaurant and stopped to eat. Today, we had fun. We had breakfast. We made some photos worth posting. And we confirmed that even though you don’t always get what you want, if you try sometimes you find – you get what you need*.
A little bit of background. I’ve been seriously interested in photography for a long time. I owned several film SLRs before I switched to a digital camera at Christmas time in 2000. It took me a while to change over, since I wasn’t convinced that digital quality matched film. Once I did switch, I haven’t looked back (until now), and I’ve been happily shooting digital ever since.
When I used film, I always wanted a pro level Nikon camera and could never afford it. This started with my first SLR, which was a Yashica entry level model (I don’t remember which one). The best film camera I ever had was my last one, a Nikon 6006. I bought this sometime in the 1980s and it was a great camera, but it wasn’t a “pro” model.
So recently, I was browsing eBay and ran across a listing for a Nikon F4. This tank of a camera was introduced in 1988 and was Nikon’s top of the line film camera until maybe 1996 when the F5 was introduced. To make a long story short, I couldn’t resist.
This particular one is an F4S and is in great shape for a camera this old. It comes with an MB-21 auto-winder: can you imagine ripping through almost 6 frames of film a second with this puppy? A whole role of 36 gone in 6 seconds! Another feature that’s really nice is that this one can meter / focus with all Nikon lenses, including the newer G series (although you can’t control the aperture directly). For more information on the camera, you can look at the Nikonians website article on the F4 or visit Ken Rockwell’s site, where he talks about it. Also, a Google search will reveal several places on the web where you can download a PDF file of the camera manual.
After the frost. Tri-X film, Nikon F4S, 60mm f/2.8 macro lens
When the camera arrived, I went to my local drug store to buy some film. To my surprise, they carried Kodak Tri-x B&W ISO 400 film! This is the first film I ever used in my rangefinder and SLR cameras and I used to load my own 35mm photo canisters from 50ft. rolls of film and do all of my own development. So … of course I bought a roll to run through my “new” camera. 24 exposures later, I brought it back to get developed. “Do you develop Tri-X black and white film?” I asked. [Photo clerk looking at film canister] “Of course we do. Do you need it back in an hour?” “No, I said” [Thinking to myself – ‘this is amazing’], “I’ll come back later tonight to pick it up.” So I leave and on my way home, I get a call from the clerk: “Uh, sir, we can’t develop this film.” Apparently they can develop B&W film that’s designed for color print film chemistry, but not good old Tri-X. Anyway, my local camera store (Colonial Photo and Hobby) does develop Tri-X and can also scan it to CD for you as part of the process. I also ran some color print film through the camera, and ended up shooting a total of three rolls.
Weeds. Kodak Ultra Max Color Print film, Nikon F4S, 60mm f/2.8 macro lens
The camera works pretty well. The focus and exposure seem good. So what else did my tests reveal? How was the experience? What impressions did the Nikon F4S make? Did I finally fulfill my desire for a pro film camera? Will I give up digital and go back to film?
First of all, the controls were very familiar, so I didn’t have any problem using the camera. The locks were annoying to me – I’m not used to having to unlock the on/off switch. One thing that using the F4 emphasized is that film cameras are simpler to operate than modern digital cameras. Most of this is because on a digital camera, you not only have to control the camera, you also have to control / adjust the sensor response. Loading your film into a film camera determines the white balance, ISO, color profile, etc. for you.
Second, this is the heaviest camera I’ve ever used. An F4S weighs 45 oz. vs 37 oz. for a D700 or 25 oz. for a D90. That’s a big difference. Maybe I’m glad I didn’t have to carry this around all the time.
Third, I shot three different kinds of ISO 400 film: Tri-X, Ultra Max, and Black and White (CN 400). Grain is apparent in all of the shots although much less so in the CN 400. In fact, the grain is much more apparent than noise in either a D-90 or D-700 shot at ISO 400.
Orchid. Kodak Black and White (CN 400) film, Nikon F4S, 60mm f/2.8 macro lens
Fourth, having 24 or 36 exposures to work with instead of hundreds is quite different too. There’s much less experimentation and more ‘get it right the first time’. Even though I was only testing this camera and not on a serious shoot, I still found myself conserving film instead of shooting with abandon.
Fifth: Chimping is really handy! With a film camera, you can’t tell if you got the shot until much later. There’s a lot more “trust the camera” and “trust your skills” involved. I remember a trip to Germany in the early ’80s with many rolls of slide film and its narrow exposure range. I felt a lot of anxiety then until I got the processed slides back.
So, am I going to abandon my digital tools and revert to the good old days of Film? Absolutely not. It was fun to play with the camera and it brought back a lot of memories. But we’ve come a long way and the F4S is going on my shelf to look at. I won’t be looking through it too often.
You can click on any of the photos above to view them on Flickr. You can see the rest of my test shots here.
Lynn wanted to take Christmas cards to the Christmas, Florida post office to be postmarked. So we drove over there this morning and dropped them off.
On the way back, we stopped for a few minutes at the Fort Christmas Historical Park. Here’s a few of the photos I made while we were there. We’ll have to re-visit this place when we have more time. There’s definitely some interesting photo opportunities lurking about, and I’ll report on them once I have a chance to explore.
The laundry area on the porch
A shed out behind an old cabin. Animal hides hanging on the walls.
A bedroom in one of the cabins.
I also took this photo of Crepe Myrtle berries and leaves this morning before we left. There’s so little fall color in Florida, that this caught our eyes.
Unless you’ve investigated the links to Lynn’s blog and web page over on the right, you may not know that my lovely and intelligent wife is quite an expert and author on collectible trivets, stands, and sad irons. I was the "photographer in residence" for her A-Z Guide to Collecting Trivets published in 2004, and have helped her with various collectible photos since. She has a second book in the works and I only have a few more photos that I owe her (although it seems that more trivets arrive in the mail all the time).
She has also written several articles in various other magazines that I’ve done the photos for, so I’ve had my photos published with her words several times before.
Recently, she was interviewed by Melody Amsel-Areili for the monthly magazine, Collectors News and the article appears as the July 2009 cover story. You can download a PDF of the article from their site. Lynn provided 8 of my photos for them to use with the article. They used three, and I was very pleasantly surprised yesterday when she showed me her copy of the magazine with one more of my photos used as the cover image!
This particular photo is one that I took in February of 2003 with a Minolta DiMAGE 7H i camera. In looking at it again after more than 6 years, I’m impressed by the quality of the output. It does have quite a bit more noise than my modern cameras, but it’s easily handled in Lightroom. I remember the 7Hi very fondly: 5MP, with very SLR like controls, including a manual zoom ring and even raw output. I tried using the raw files but the work flow tools were still pretty primitive back then, so I shot in jpg format. I still have the camera, although I haven’t used it in quite a while. This particular photo was of one of the walls in our home where Lynn had displayed a number of her trivets and stands. We made it to include in her first book, but ended up using a different version that showed a larger portion of the wall. I’m really glad this one eventually found such a nice use!