PHSC Spring Fair May 28, 2017

PHSC Spring Fair Poster

Toronto. Have you heard the news? It’s fair time again and we are hosting “The Big One” at Trident hall on Sunday,  May 28th, 2017 in the west end of Toronto.

Click here or on the little poster icon at left for details.

Save your questions for the dealers and come on out to add to your collection or dip your toes into the new niche area of film photography – or the growing area of digital photography.

Film, books, cameras, lenses, darkroom, and all things photographic. Join in as we begin our 43rd year!

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Zeiss Anastigmat Series V Lens

An 1891 Zeiss Anastigmat Series V Lens (Later known as a Protar). Series V means an extreme wide angle (90 degree coverage) full plate lens (about 2 inches diameter).

Toronto. One of the very first lenses a young Paul Rudolph designed for Zeiss was its Anastigmat series. The series V is a super wide angle lens offering a 90 degree angle on a full plate (8.5 x 6.5 inches). This is about equal to a 22mm focal length 35mm camera lens.

My lens was made by Bausch and Lomb in Rochester. The most recent patent engraved on it is January 30th, 1891. The aperture covers f/20 to f/256. The name Anastigmat referred to the fact that the design was free of astigmatism along the film plane. The lens was also free of any curvature at the film plane. Continue reading

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Focussing Aids in the 1800s

Brass magnifiers to aid in focussing view cameras in wet & dry plate era.

Toronto. Those of us who predate digital cameras and smartphones may recall a nifty little 8x magnifier, the Agfa Lupe. It was used to look at 35mm negatives and slides on a light table. Instead, you could use the 5x magnification of the LVFOO vertical magnifier Leitz made for its screw mount series mirror boxes and focoslides.

Similar little gadgets came on the photography scene in the mid 1800s – long before 35mm film – or film of any sort.

Here I show two brass and glass magnifiers, one (right) by C.P.Goerz of Berlin and the other a no-name variety. They were used on the view cameras of the day to aid the photographer in creating a sharp image in the desired plane of the subject. The base of the magnifier was  placed on the ground glass over the desired plane and the camera focussing was slightly adjusted to bring the ground glass image into sharp focus to the eye looking down the little brass magnifier.

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Elmarit 28mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Lens

Leica M 28mm Elmarit with Hood

Toronto. A Toronto Star ad by Len MacNeil sent me off to Scarborough in quest of Leica M lenses. When I arrived, Len had sold most of his lenses but he had a beautiful 28mm Elmarit left. This lens was designed in Wetzlar where a few were manufactured and labelled.

The lens manufacture moved to Midland, Ontario where my lens was made and clearly labelled (contrary to both Dennis Laney and Gianni Rogliatti). The lens was made in 1966 and uses a massive cell that fits deep into the camera body – too deep to mount on my Sony NEX cameras since it just touches the sensor mount. On my M4, the lens was free of the distortion that made the Angenieux 28mm on my Exakta so troublesome to use.

Two later lens designs were made eliminating this deep penetration into the Leica body. The 2nd design was made in Midland by Dr Walter Mandler who joined Leitz Canada when the little company was first founded after the second world war. Leitz Canada originally set up shop in the Midland Curling Rink, a spot Bell Canada used much later to assemble radio telephone equipment and gear that I helped install around the Georgian Bay area one summer.

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Hektor 2.8cm f/6.3 Leitz Screw Mount Lens

Leitz Hektor 28mm lens 1937 for screw mount Leica

Toronto. On a sunny April day in 1982, I met Alex Thomas at a restaurant in North York. He had a few things to show me including this example of a 28mm Hektor wide angle lens for screw mount Leicas. At the time the lens was first offered (1935) it was in response to the Zeiss Tessar 2.8cm f/8 lens offered for the competing Contax 35mm camera.

The tiny lens was sold for two decades. My example (I did buy it) was made in 1937. It is still in pristine condition. The lens is almost the same focal length as the screw mount camera’s film to flange distance of 28.8 mm meaning it can focus to infinity on the leica body without resorting to the severely distorting retrofocus design used by companies like Angenieux. According to Dennis Laney, some 9,694 lenses were made in the two decades it was offered. The four best years in term of volume of manufacture were 1936, 7, 8 and 9. 1937 saw 1,720 of them made. The second war interceded and post war demand was decimated.

The lens consists of five elements – a single element surrounded by two cemented pairs. Post war lenses were coated before being sold. This was the very first 28mm lens ever made by Leitz for its Leica camera.


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Pierre Angenieux Paris R11 Lens

Angenieux 28mm Retrofocus R11 on an Exakta Varex VX camera

Toronto. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I extended my Exakta Varex IIa camera with a 135m and a 28mm lens. I chose an Angenieux pre-set Retrofocus R11 lens for the 28mm as it focussed under 2 feet and was f/3.5 wide open. Unfortunately it used a retrofocus design. Unless you were perfectly level, the images it took had massive barrel distortion and vertical and horizontal lines went wildly off at odd angles.

I had no idea that a retrofocus design had such obvious geometric distortion before I owned such a design. To accommodate the Exakta mirror, even a normal lens had to be slightly retrofocus. It wasn’t until I owned a few Leica screw and bayonet mount 28mm lenses that I realized the short focal length lens could create a distortion free image after all IF the design could be made non-retrofocus… Continue reading

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Miniature Camera Work

Toronto. May 12, 1982 I picked up this book used from Edwards Books on Queen Street near Spadina. The bookstore was selling off a massive collection of photographic books. This book was a 1938 first edition by Morgan & Lester of  Leica Manual fame. The cover was a full colour engraving by Beck Engraving Co. of Philadelphia with branches in Springfield and NYC. It was created from a Kodachrome slide taken by Nickolas Murray. Kodachrome 35mm had recently been offered by Eastman Kodak in Rochester.

The attraction of this book was its focus on miniature cameras including the Leicas of the day, its extensive catalogue section, and its generous dollop of technical information for amateur darkrooms of the late 1930s. The choice of photographs told an unintentional story of the fashions and beliefs of the day. Continue reading

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Steinheil Optical Institute

Steinheil Quinar 135mm f/2.8 lens in Exakta mount

Toronto. In the late 1950s I bought my first Exakta. Months later I wanted to expand the camera with added lenses. Naively, I felt 35mm and 90mm were too similar to my standard lens of 55mm so I opted for 28mm and 135mm lenses. I chose an f/2.8 135mm Steinheil Quinar for my long lens as I had a 55mm Auto-Quinon standard lens and quite liked the quality of construction. This pre-set lens was a beauty and in later years showed to have the best resolution of my three Exakta lenses. Much later, I realized that both the standard lens and 28mm wide angle were marvels of design. Both were modified retrofocus designs created in the days before computers. Retrofocus meant that the lenses have a physically longer distance from the lens centre to the film plane than the actual focal length of  each lens. This distance is needed to clear the mirror of the Exakta, especially at the infinity setting. Unfortunately in the mid last century such designs had significant graphical distortion (pin cushion and barrel). In contrast, the Leica 35mm and 28mm lenses were extremely low in the degree of graphical distortion. Continue reading

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Ilfobrom Photographic Paper

Ilford Test Strip Holder

Toronto. As I learned more about photography I gravitated to Ilford products. The icon at left shows the Ilford Test Strip Holder.

To save on the cost of paper and chemistry, it was common practice to do a series of test exposures before using full size sheets of paper and their associated chemistry. This little gadget let you expose the same portion of a negative at four different times for comparison.

One of the cotton tail kits my daughter kept

Continue reading

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The Need for a Shutter in the 1890s

My c1895 POCO 4×5 camera with a UNICUM shutter and a RR Lens

Toronto. I have a POCO 4×5 made by Rochester Camera Co. in the 1890s. This camera uses the dry plates that led to the early success of George Eastman. When Richard Maddox of England invented a successful dry plate formula in 1871, it led to the so-called instantaneous or sub-second photograph. Until the dry plate and later film became popular it was customary to use a lens cap or even a hat as a “shutter” since most photographs took a few seconds or more in broad daylight for a decent exposure.

With the advent of rapid dry plates, a formal shutter became necessary. My camera uses a Bausch and Lomb UNICUM shutter surrounding a rapid rectilinear lens. The dainty device  allows a photographer to set his shutter speed to 1, 1/2, 1/5, 1/25, 1/60, or 1/100 of a second plus T and B (Time and Bulb). Focussing is by bellows and a ground (frosted) glass plate viewed without a dry plate inserted, shutter set to B and held or set to T, and the camera’s back opened. The camera has a waist level viewfinder with a tiny ball to level the camera on a tripod.

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Photography and Stamps

A War Effort Stamp

Toronto. George Dunbar has searched out some more vintage camera ads including one on how we once printed sheets of postage stamps.

Do you remember when stamps were made from famous art or photos? This has been going on for many years.

In fact, Popular Photography dated September 1944 in NYC, had an advertisement for the way Canada Post (the Royal Mail in those days) created a stamp to help our war effort. Have look here or click the stamp icon.

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