Eaton’s – Cameras & Photographic Supplies

Eaton’s Cameras & Photographic Supplies c1910

Toronto. When I was a kid and a young adult Eaton’s was the store in Canada. Eaton’s and Simpson’s were on either side of Queen West at Yonge Street. The new Eaton’s College Street blocks north on Yonge never caught on due to the depression but the Carlu room – and the restaurant – were scrumptious.

In the early days of the last century, Eaton’s tried to be the store for everyone with its catalogue. Missing were cameras and supplies. To that end, Eaton’s offered a separate catalogue of Cameras & Photographic Supplies.  The original catalogue belongs  to Robert Wilson who loaned it to the PHSC to have copies made and included in a 25th anniversary issue of Photographic Canadiana back in 1999.

My thanks to our treasurer, John Morden who generously photocopied the booklet and offered it for inclusion on our web site. The pdf includes a reference to the history of the stores and this catalogue. Browse through the little booklet to see the variety of cameras and darkroom material offered over a century ago by one of Canada’s most famous businesses.

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everyone’s a photographer

Everyone’s a Photographer – PM Justin Trudeau in MacLean’s

Toronto. Realizing the massive shift in photography today, I found this image from George Dunbar speaks volumes. When Justin Trudeau became our Prime Minister, he was enthusiastically received world-wide.

In this picture, he is walking along a building inside its columns. Throngs of people are cheering – and photographing him. MacLean’s magazine recorded the event showing hundred’s of people snapping a picture – and all you notice is a sea of smartphones…

Today, we look back at cameras and processes over a century old. Tomorrow, someone will look back and think of digital images and smartphones!

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Richard Avedon at Hot Docs next Month

Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light

Toronto. Rita Godlevskis of PhotoEd magazine sent me a nice email the other day. In it she highlights various photographic items such as the next issue of her magazine, PhotoEd, out next week.

One item is the Hot Docs presentation called “The Great Photographers: Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light” on Sunday November 5th.

If you enjoy or emulate this famous photographer’s portraits, be sure to see this film at the  Ted Rogers Cinema.

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and who made your camera?

Camera Module

Toronto. You do know don’t you? No? I thought so! Photography has a long history of camera makers, lens makers, film manufacturers, paper makers, etc. In the 1930s to 1950s photographers argued heatedly about Zeiss and Leitz and who made the best camera and the best lenses. Whether “minicams” like the Leica could make decent fine grain prints or should one use a 4×5 Graphic instead? Is a tripod necessary or are there other ways to hold a camera steady? Can flash augment the light or should photo floods be used?

In the last century a camera maker might buy shutters, or lenses, or timers, or rangefinders or exposure meters from another source specializing in those items. Even Leitz used other suppliers –  a Swiss company made the slow speed module and a German company (Metrawatt) made the exposure meters, both selenium cell and CdS cell versions.  Zeiss lenses where used on many different cameras. My Exakta used lenses from Zeiss and many other suppliers like Steinheil and Angenieux. Continue reading

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awash in ink 1896 – from photos and sketches

1896 – Launching of the SS Corona in Toronto Harbour

Toronto. My thanks once again to George Dunbar for this century plus drawing in the Toronto Public Library (TPL) archives. It is a wash drawing made from photos and sketches by William  Thomson Freeland. The drawing shows the launching of the SS Corona at the foot of Portland St. in 1896.

On the back of the drawing, the TPL notes, “In ink, former mount vso (piece bearing inscription in Accession File): This picture is a wash-drawing made from photos and sketches by Wm Thomson Freeland, oldest son of the late Robert Freeland who with his brother Wm were owners of the Yonge St Wharf, now (1915) owned by “Canada Steamship Lines”- said Wm and Robert being sons of Peter Freeland founder of the wharf and who previously used the property for soap and candle manufacturing.

“Inscribed in opaque white, l.l. (lower left): -Wm. Thomson Freeland, -1896-; Looking e. from Queen’s Wharf, foot of Bathurst St., to launching at Bertram Engine Works Co. wharf, foot of Portland St. Shows ferry ‘Primrose’ at right; hull of ‘Cibola’ at left behind ‘Corona’; steamer ‘Chippewa’ in front of Northern Railway Wharf elevator.”

The sketches made up for the slow film speed of the day which would have missed the spectacular launching wave and possibly other details of the drawing like perhaps clouds and smoke.

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those were the days.

M2 – George Dunbar

Toronto. In 1958 Leitz came out with the Leica M2 shown at left. This was four years after the popular M3 and following tradition, the M2 was less expensive with fewer features than the M3.

But most importantly, it had a more practical viewfinder. A user could use any 35mm lens without the special bug-eyes needed for use on the M3, foregoing the 135mm frame guide instead. The viewfinder was .7x rather than the M3’s nearly life size .9x.

The picture is that of George Dunbar and the IBM Canada Leica M2. The 50mm lens would focus to about 1. An attached SDPOO accessory (there is one on the camera in the auction next month) had a pair of rangefinder lenses allowing a near focus of about 19 inches.

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1949 Leica Ad

Toronto. Leitz NY published this ad for Leica cameras in the March 1949 issue of Popular Photography as they tried to capture the magic  these little cameras had before the war intervened. My friend George Dunbar sent along this wonderful old ad.

The Leicas offered were actually very old designs, The IIc and IIIc were  late 1930s while the standard dated back even earlier -to 1930. Standard referred to the standard film to lens flange distance and ability to interchange lenses.

The IIIc series used a casting for the spacing box between the shutter and the lens flange and was slightly longer from side to side than the IIIa series. The IIIb and IIId series didn’t sell very well for some reason. Both are much rarer today.

Models like those offered in 1949 opened the door for the Japanese rangefinders and SLRs. The IIIf series came out a few years later followed by the vastly superior and more successful M3 series.

The M series was initially better than the SLRs of the day (i.e the Exaktas). But the SLRs took over when better quality zooms came out along with SLRs that had auto diaphragms and mirrors that returned  on their own.

The quality of the Leica kept it going for many years. I bought my M4 in 1972 because my Exakta was just too hard to focus with my aging eyes, especially indoors and at the time of day I preferred to shoot – evening and early night-time.

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float like a butterfly …

BBC on  University of Tokyo high speed video camera

Toronto. My friend Russ Forfar dropped me a note the other day. Russ found refence on a BBC web page about a camera capable of shooting 1,000 frames a second making a fast moving object seem to be stationary to the eye.

The BBC article refers to a project at the University of Tokyo in Japan. The ultra fast camera is tied to a computer to make the background move while the object appears stationary.

This got me thinking. Modern sensors exceed 25,600 ISO. What if the frame speed could be made faster so a strong light and the fastest ISO would make for ultra slow motion video letting the eye see what was once too fast – like Edgerton’s famous high speed flash shots.

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New Diana F+ camera celebrates a decade.

Diana F+ celebrates ten years

Toronto. The folks at Lomography are rightly pleased that their rendition of the 1960s classic Diana camera as the Diana F+ ten years ago is still popular with thousands of photos sent in since the little camera was first offered.

The camera details are given in the pdf news release.

Congratulations to Lomography for reaching the first decade birthday of their Diana F+ (the original  Diana cameras were offered at various PHSC fairs and meetings over the years past).

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at home with monsters – AGO exhibit

AGO del Toro exhibit

Toronto. You may have read in the recent PHSC News that the AGO is hosting filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and his cabinet of curiosities. The exhibit is called “At Home with Monsters“.

With Halloween fast approaching, this exhibit, which opened in January of this year, is more that appropriate. Take a look and be scared, really scared!

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