Thursday, October 28, 2010


The Tools and Ingredients of the Magic Caffenol

The Tools and Ingredients of the Magic Caffenol  © Dirk HR Spennemann 2009, All Rights Reserved

Yes, I know this blog is about classic cameras but, as you already know, I like to use them.
I also like to do some experimentation.

I have a very dear friend, down under, Dirk aka Heritagefutures, who is a keen experimentalist. I especially admire is TTV work and the Caffenol-C processing that he have been perfecting.
You can see his set in Flickr it's great.
He also, graciously, granted me permission to use his photos and research in this post.

As you, for sure, have already guessed I had my first successful experiment with Caffenol-C.

I followed Dirk directions:

Standard receipe, taken from various sources on the net.
Instant Coffee (not decaf)
Washing Soda (Sodium carbonate)
Ascorbic Acid Powder (Vitamin C)
Dishwashing liquid
12oz water
5 teaspoons Instant Coffee
3 1/2 teaspoons washing soda
1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid
Premix solutions can be set up. But do not premix the whole developer as it a short shelf-life (less than 1 hour). For ease, create premix solutions of required strength for each of three developer ingredients so that in the end all that needs to be done is to mix equal amounts of each of the three premixes
Strength for premixes:
Instant Coffee: 10 teaspoons / 12 oz
Washing Soda: 7 teaspoons / 12 oz
Ascorbic acid:1 teaspoons / 12 oz
when ready to develop, mix required quantity in three even parts.
Small Patterson Tank
120mm roll film requires 550 ml (20 oz)--ie 3 x 7 oz for the development of a roll of 120 film (which gives 21 oz, but makes life easier).
SET UP for 120 roll:
Premix 21 oz developer
Premix 20 oz fixer
Premix 20 oz final wash (with one drop of dishwashing liquid)
Developing 12 mins (work with this, later films all use 15-16mins)
Continuous agitation first minute
thereafter agitate 3 x / minute
3 rinse baths @ 6 x agitation each (first bath can contain some vinegar to act as stop bath)
5 mins @ 3 agitation /minute
Final Rinse
Fill, agitate 3x
Refill, agitate 6x
Refill, agitate 12x
Refill with soapy water, agitate slowly 24x

The above directions are the original ones from Dirk.
I only translated it into metrical:

Strength for premixes:
Instant Coffee: 50ml / water: 350ml
Sodium carbonate: 35ml / water: 350ml
Ascorbic acid: 5ml / Water: 350ml

Magic Coffee...enough Ingredients to develop ten rolls of 120 film..

Magic Coffee...enough Ingredients to develop ten rolls of 120 film.. © Dirk HR Spennemann 2009, All Rights Reserved

As I processed a 35mm film in a small Paterson tank, I needed 290ml of solution, to simplify I made 300ml, 100ml of each of the premixed solutions.

The film I processed was a Kodak Portra 160, Expired 2002-05 and these are some of the results:

201010 ExaktaVarexIIa Portra 160 - 029

201010 ExaktaVarexIIa Portra 160 - 13

201010 ExaktaVarexIIa Portra 160 - 04


Don't forget to visit Dirk's set. I leave here some of his shots to tease you:

Holden EK, Rose Street, Collingwood

Sitka Falcon

Soaring Heavenwards Italianate Style

Stay tuned (o;

Monday, October 25, 2010

Yashica 635

Yashica 635 (1)
Yashica 635 in black leather case

I have already told you in a older post, "A camera for the case", about how and why I bought this camera.
Now I intend to make a light review of it.

This camera is able to use 120 roll film or 135 cartridge film.
That's why it has a profusion of controls, dedicated to the advance of one or the other kind of film.
In order to use the 135 cartridge film there is a dedicated adapter kit.

Yashica 635 and 35mm adapter kit
The 35mm adapter kit

If we are using 120 roll film we use the right side of the camera to control it's advance.

Yashica 635 (6)
Right side

The knob on the top left controls the advance of the 120 roll film.
The film is loaded and advanced until the start mark is aligned with the arrows in the film path, back closed, turn clockwise the knob until it stops and you see the number 1 in that small window, top right.
To advance to the next exposure you have to press the button in the centre of the knob to release it and once again turn it CW until it stops. Repeat that all the way to the 12th exposure.

The scale around the knob is a ASA/DIN reminder.

The other knob is the focus control, being the above scale for depth of field control.

Yashica 635 (2)
Left side

On the left side we have another set of controls, most dedicated to the advance of the 135 cartridge film. Although the big knob, top right, where we can read "35mm only" and the one with the red arrow, on the bottom, are used to secure the 120 roll film also.

The drill is the same, on this side to control de advance of the 135 cartridge film.
The film is loaded using the adapter after the back is closed we have to press the 35mm stop/release button, that isolated silver button, and wind CCW the "35mm film only" knob.
We have to repeat this operation three times to advance the exposed film, during loading, after that we have to turn the exposure counter, the scale around the knob, in the arrow direction and align the 1 with the index dot.
After that all we have to do is, after every exposure, press the 35mm film stop/release and advance to the next frame.

The small knob with the engraved red R is pulled out and turned, to release the sprocket axle and allow the rewinding of the film, performed turning the bottom knob in the arrow direction.

Yashica 635 loading 120 film
Loaded with 120 film

The 120 film loading is quite simple, as I explained above, like in most TLR cameras of this kind.

Using 35mm is a little more tricky but it isn't rocket science.

Yashica 635 loading 35mm film

To secure the 35mm cartridge, first we have to screw the spacer ring, left, then insert the cartridge with the spool stud adapter in the other end.

In the above picture I have already installed the film frame also.

Yashica 635 loading 35mm film

In the above picture I've inserted the film leader in the 35mm take-up spool.

Yashica 635 loading 35mm film

After make sure that the sprocket holes are engaged in the sprocket teeth it's time to set the pressure plate and close the camera.
Advance three exposures, reset the counter and we have a film to burn.

I have to confess that, although I've taken several 120 films with it, I've not yet tried it with this kit.

Yashica 635 and cased 35mm adapter kit
Yashica 635 and cased 35mm adapter kit

Yashica 635 with sport finder mask 35mm
35mm mask for sports finder on display

In the previous post about this camera, I told you that when I bought it the 35mm mask for the sports finder was missing. I didn't have the leather case either.
I found a kit missing the spacer ring and the spool stud adapter, at a flea market, paid  four Euro for it, and completed my kit.

I can't say this is the most simple or intuitive camera but it's not a challenge also. It's a bit awkward but I like very much all kind of waist level finder cameras.
This one has the advantage of a big brilliant viewfinder and the ability of using 35mm film, that taking advantage of the 80mm Yashinon lens must be very good for portraits. When I try it that way I'll come back to it.

With 120 film it is a perfectly capable shooter as you can see in the following shots.

TLR man
"TLR Man" by RaúlM.

Back in the tunnel
"Back in the tunnel" by RaúlM.

Stay tuned (o;

Monday, October 18, 2010


Nikkormat FTN
Nikkormat FTN circa 1967

The Nikkormat is one of those iconic cameras that always comes to my mind when I think of a SLR, and when I see a Nikkormat the first image that crosses my mind is Dennis Hopper, as the photojournalist, in an "Apocalypse Now", covered with Nikkormats, that greets the Captain Benjamin L.Willard (Martin Sheen) on his arrival to the hideout of the Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

APOCALYPSE NOW, Dennis Hopper, 1979. © United Artists/ Courtesy: Everett Collection  

The Nikkormat was intended as a back-up camera for professionals and also a more affordable camera, than her sisters the F and F2, for the serious amateurs.

This series of cameras were manufactured from 1965 to 1978 by Nippon Kogaku K. K., that later became Nikon Corporation.
The chronological line was FT, FS, FTN, FT2, FT3, EL and ELW.
The different models corresponded to an evolution in features, except for the FS, that was a FT striped of the light meter.

My example is a FTN from around 1967, the later production models had plastic coverings of the film advance and self timer levers.

Nikkormat FTN

It was named Nikomat in Japan but, due to copyright claims from Zeis Ikon, in other markets, like Europe and the United States, they used the name Nikkormat.

The same happened with the name of the lenses, that even today, are Nikkor.

All the materials on this camera are metal. It's completely mechanical. The batteries are only necessary to power the match needle light meter.

Contrary to all other Nikon cameras the shutter speed selector is located on a ring behind the lens, and not in a knob on the top plate, as you can see on the above picture.

The shutter is a metal blade focal plane shutter, travelling vertically.
The speed range goes from 1/1/1000" and B.
The ISO range goes from 12 to 1600.
The metering system is of the centre-weighted, through-the-lens, type, 60/40 percent.

There are two flash sync sockets, one to electronic flashes, max. shutter speed 1/125", and another to flash bulbs the shutter speed, in this case, depends on the type of bulb.

The cold flash shoe is optional and mounted using the viewfinder ring to secure it.
In my opinion it ruins the looks of the camera. I never use it.

Nikkormat FTN

These cameras had a fixed prism and focusing screen with a 4mm microprism circle, surrounded by a 12mm matte focusing surface, the rest is a Fresnel lens.

It uses al the Ai and non Ai lenses from Nikon. If the lens has the prong to couple with the pin on the camera it can be used with it.

After installing the lens it's mandatory to turn it to the minimum aperture, larger f number, then turn it to the maximum aperture, lower f number, in order to perform the indexing of the maximum aperture of the lens.
That means to let the camera know what the maximum aperture of the lens is.

Nikkormat FTN

Some pictures taken with it:

Me and my Nikkormat FTN
Me and Nikkormat FTN with Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8 by RaúlM.

Wig shop
Wig shop by RaúlM.

Weston Master
Weston Master by RaúlM.

Stay tuned (o;

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to shoot 35mm film with a box camera

First the camera:

Any box camera will do.

Kodak Brownie No.2 Model B

I used a Kodak Brownie No.2 Model B, from around 1911, made in Rochester, N.Y., USA.
This camera has a very basic meniscus lens, the aperture must be 11, with a kidney hole flip-flop shutter. The shutter speed is 1/30(ish) or you can lift a small flap on the top of the camera for a T(ime) exposure.
The construction consists on a block of wood where the lens is fixed and so are the shutter and both prism viewfinders, one for landscape and the other for portrait orientation.
The box is made of cardboard covered with leatherette.
Using, the now defunct, Kodak 116 film, one would get 70x110mm exposures.
Using 35mm film the exposures are 35x110mm, including sprocket holes.


Using some scrap film I measured how many holes corresponded to the length of the negative.
In the present case 11cm = 26 holes, including spacing.
Then I needed a way of counting them, the best way is by ear.
For that purpose I taped a ring, from one of those large plastic binding combs, to the film canister, in a way that the pointing end of the ring was in the path of the sprocket holes.
When one turns the advancing knob, the hole passes in the end of the ring and a loud click is heard, just count them.


The film: a Fujicolor 100 ISO, well expired.

I taped a generous piece of used film to the end of the film I was going to use, as a leader, placed the cartridge dead centre, under the metal flap, used to tension the 116 film, very handy in this case.
If your camera is different you may use pieces of Styrofoam, cardboard,... use your ingenuity.
Then I taped the film to the centre of the empty take-up 116 spool.

DSC_7098  DSC_7099

The film circuit was ready.

A very important step:

DSC_7100  DSC_7103

Cover the red window, on the back of the camera, with black gaffer tape, both inside and out, to avoid film fogging.

I closed the box advanced the 26 clicks of the length of the exposure and 20 more for safekeeping.

Then I went out shooting.

The results:

20101009 Brownie 2B Fujicolor 100 - 001

20101009 Brownie 2B Fujicolor 100 - 008

20101009 Brownie 2B Fujicolor 100 - 009

I let you judge them.

Stay tuned (o;

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yashica Mat-124

When I took this step forward, back to film, I wanted something more than what I could get from 35mm.
So I started looking at medium format cameras.
The Yashica Mat-124 was one of the first medium format cameras that I got, a birthday present from my wife.

Yashica Mat-124 (5)

Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124 (7)

The Yashica Mat-124 is a twin lens reflex (TLR) waist level finder medium format camera.
This is a Rolleiflex clone, maybe the optics are not in the same league, but I'm very pleased with the results that the four elements in three groups, 80mm 1:3.5, Yashinon lens delivers.
In the lens-board it has the viewing, top, and taking, bottom, lenses.
The shutter speed and aperture controls, round dials on each side of the lenses.
The flash socket, top right and flash synchronizer lever, the yellow dot behind the aperture control dial.
The red dot, at five o'clock of the taking lens is the delayed shutter release lever.
On the bottom left there is the shutter release and lock lever, in lock position.

Above the lens-board, to the right of the embossed brand and model, that round "eye" is the window of the CdS light meter, powered by a defunct PX625 mercury battery.
I solved the problem, in this and other cameras with an adapter to zinc-air batteries, used in hearing aid devices.

Yashica Mat-124 (2)

That big round knob is the focus control, turning it makes the lens-board go back or forth allowing the user to control the focus on the ground glass.
On this kind of cameras the focus achieved in the ground glass is the same of the taking lens, at full aperture, due to the solidary movement of the lenses. One has to be careful with the parallax error, at close range, caused by the distance between the lenses.
The distance scale is engraved on the outer rim opposite the depth of field scale engraved on the chrome plate.
The two smaller knobs, top right and bottom left are the spool locking knobs.
On the bottom right is the battery compartment with its chrome lid.
Probably you have already noticed something missing on the top left. I removed the accessory shoe, for two reasons: one, I don't plan to use a flash with this camera and two, the camera doesn't fit the case with it on place.

Yashica Mat-124 (3)

The big film wind crank, that doubles its function cocking the shutter, dominates the scene on this side.
When its winded all the way clockwise it winds the film to the next exposure.
Winding it back, CCW, it sets the shutter.
I love that "taka-taka-taka..." sound.
The window over the crank shows the type of film being used 12ex (120) or 24ex (220).
The window on the top right shows the number of exposures taken.
The loading process of the rollfilm avoids the use of a red window by aligning the start marking of the film with an arrow on the film path, in the camera. From there all we have to do is wind the film to the next frame.

Yashica Mat-124

Here it is with its beautiful brown leather case, with a story of its own

Yashica Mat-124 (6)Yashica Mat-124 (4)

You can see it with the hood opened, ready for action, inside it there is a 3x loupe, that can be flipped up, for critical focusing.

Peeking through the sports finder
There is also this sports finder, for fast action photography. It's a great asset, you know what I mean if you ever used a waist level finder camera before. In the finder one gets a left-right inverted image, that can be puzzling if you're not used to it and are trying to follow a moving subject.

The light meter is quite accurate but gives a too wide reading.
For critical readings demands for proximity or ingenuity.

This is a very nice and usable camera, if you don't mind to be stopped by people on the street that want to admire your camera, and also if you don't bother to carry more than a kilogram worth of camera.

I think it pays...


Caged colours

Money makes the world go around

If you liked these I have more on this set


Type: Twin-lens reflex camera

Lens: YASHINON 80 1:3.5 lens, 4 elements in 3 groups

Shutter: COPAL-SV shutter, speeds 1 to 1/500" and B
Delayed timer; M or X flash synchronizer selector.

Finder: YASHINON 80 mm 1:2.8 viewing lens.
Fresnel field lens for corner to-corner brightness, 3X magnifying lens for critical focusing.
Eye-level sports-finder frame incorporated in the viewfinder hoodrg

Exposure meter: Built-in match-needle CdS type
Film speed range 25 to 400 ISO
Meter on when the viewfinder hood is open
Powered by 1,3 V, PX 625, mercury battery

Film advance: Crank-handle film advance with automatic film stop, simultaneously sets the shutter for the next exposure
Automatic resetting exposure counter displays the number of exposed frames.

Focusing: Extra-large knob extends or retracts the front panel to secure focus on the subject
Distance scale calibrated in both feet and meters (3.3 ft to infinity; 1 m to infinity).

Film: 120 (12 exposures) or 220 (24 exposures)

Other features: Aperture scale from F3,5 to F32.
Adjustable film pressure plate for use with with both 12 and 24 exposure film
Exposure load reminder window
Tthreaded cable release socket
Bay-1 filter mount (Rollei compatible) for 30 mm filters.

Dimensions: 77 x 148 x 101 mm

Weight: 1,100 Kg

Stay tuned (o;

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New boxes in the house

I already had some box cameras, like the Kodak Duaflex

Kodak Duaflex (3)

and these twins

German Twins

The Vredeborch Vrede Box and Slomexa and also this

Coronet Diadem Box N.º 2

Coronet Diadem Box N.º 2

Today I went to Classic cars show and found an antique dealer, that was packing to go home, he was planing to travel light and was making a sale. He had some box cameras in there, six to be precise, he asked me ten Euro for each I made him a counteroffer: fifty Euro for the lot. He accepted so these boxes came home with me


Four of them are Kodak


Brownie No. 2A, Model B

DSC_7055 DSC_7056

Cartridge Hauk-Eye No. 2, Model B

DSC_7059 DSC_7061
DSC_7063 DSC_7064

Hawk-Eye Major  Six-20

DSC_7067 DSC_7065
DSC_7068 DSC_7070

Brownie Six-20, Portrait model 4-6ft

DSC_7073 DSC_7071
DSC_7075 DSC_7079

Then an Agfa Box 50

DSC_7081 DSC_7080
DSC_7083 DSC_7084

And the mystery camera

DSC_7088 DSC_7086

It hasn't any marking, I'm not, by far, a box camera expert, so I count on you my readers to identify this camera.

Stay tuned (o;