Saturday, 30 January 2010

Week 5 - Olympus Ecru

Olympus Ecru
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

With ten or so exposures left, I've transferred the film to a third camera. Time will tell if the rewinding and reloading has caused a lot of scratches or light leaks. I've taken 5 pictures today, so another few to go then I'll get it processed mid-week.

Friday, 29 January 2010

New Arrival

This Agat 18k arrived in the post on Wednesday. Made in the former Soviet Union, it's a half-frame camera taking 72 exposures on a standard 35mm film. The build quality is not great, it has a brittle plasticy feel to it, but the 28mm Industar lens is supposed to be quite good (I suspect it is the same as the 28mm lens on the Horizon 202 swing-lens panoramic camera). The lens focuses down to 90cm and stops down to f16, the shutter and aperture are coupled, and adjusted using a symbol system, having first set the ISO film speed.
The range is from 1/60 sec at f2.8 to 1/500 sec at f16, or thereabouts.
I will probably have a half-frame theme at some point.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

through the Brownie viewfinder

through the Brownie viewfinder
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

It will be at least a week before I have any more film shots to upload, but in the meantime I've been playing with the Brownie I bought last week. This is a photo of the viewfinder taken with my Panasonic TZ6 point and shoot digital camera, I used a small length of black plastic pipe to reduce reflections, but it was all hand held, no fancy contraptions on this occasion.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Week 4 - Ilford Advocate

Ilford Advocate
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

This is one of the series 1 Advocates that went on sale in 1949 and was superseded by the series 2 in 1953 (both models look almost identical, the later model having an f3.5 lens and flash synchronisation).
This is an extract form the British Journal Photographic Almanac of 1950 (taken from

The 'Advocate' is a landmark in British camera construction. As pleasing in appearance as it is accurate in construction, it brings the precision miniature into the medium price class and gives the lie to the assertion that we cannot hope in this country to compete in the miniature market. The body is a pressure die-casting of aluminium silicon alloy, finished in hard-stoved ivory enamel finish which is delightful to handle, extremely resistant to scratching and wear, and absolutely incapable of picking up dirt. The lens, too, is out-standing. It is a bloomed Dallmeyer British made f/4.5 of only 35-mm. focal length, a wide angle coverage which, at f/4.5 on so short a focus, gives a depth of field that renders a rangefinder unnecessary for the great majority of work: for portraiture and other work in which a smaller angle may be appropriate the perfection of the Dallmeyer lens permits of adequate definition by enlargement from rather less than the whole frame.

I took 15 frames in last week's camera, and have transferred the film to the Advocate today. The current plan is to take about 10 frames this week, before finishing the film off in week 5 in the Olympus Ecru.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

new acquisition

At £2.50 in a charity shop, I couldn't resist this one. Although I've already got several similar cameras, this one is in very good condition, with nice clean viewfinders. I plan to do some ttv (through the viewfinder) work with this, there are some examples here:
I might also try using it for 'film plane' photos, a technique I've not yet tried, where a piece of ground glass (or more likey a piece of plastic milk carton!) is placed in the film plane, the shutter is kept open using the 'B' setting, and the image is photographed with another (usually digital) camera.
I might even put a film in it at some point!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


The next two cameras looks as if they may be distant cousins. The Ilford Advocate dates from 1953 and is all metal with a cream/ivory finish. The Olympus Ecru from 1991 is a deliberately retro styled camera aimed at the collectors market, it is in fact one of the Stylus range of auto-focus cameras (I think it's the "Infinity") which has been housed in a designer casing. The colour and the curves of the two cameras have something in common, and they both have 35mm lenses.

Thinking Ahead

I've decided that I'll plan my camera use in blocks of three or four weeks, with a loose theme to each group. The first three were 35mm SLRs, the next three are full-frame 35mm cameras which have lenses on the 'short' side, that is less then the 'standard' 50mm. First up is the Ilford Advocate, which, together with week 5's camera, an Olympus Ecru, has a 35mm lens. In week 6 I'll be using a LOMO 135BC, which has a 40mm lens, and a clockwork motor drive built in!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Week 3 - Sigma Mark 1

Sigma Mark 1
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

This week I'm using another SLR, but then I'm going to move on to some other types of camera. This was the first (and only) 35mm SLR I ever bought new, if memory serves, it cost £103 in 1974, and came with a 39-80mm zoom lens. It has coupled TTL metering, but the shutter is entirely mechanical, and no batteries are needed other than for the meter. I haven't had a film in it for probably 25 years, but it all seems to work OK, and the shutter speeds look and feel accurate. Even more surprising is that the exposure meter battery still works, it may even be the original, but it's certainly at least quarter of a century old!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Week 2 self portrait

self portrait with Exa 1 camera
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

There were only 4 usable exposures left on the film that I started in the Zenit-B. I decided I would try to take a reflected self portrait with each of the cameras, some more obvious than others (you have to look carefully to see me in the shop window reflection with the Zenit-B).
This photo shows two anomalies, the Newton's rings caused by contact with the scanner bed, and torn sprocket holes seen at the bottom right, when the film reached the end, it was still possible to wind on, and the last few sprocket holes were torn.
I don't think this camera has had a fair bite of the cherry this week, and I'll probably use it again sometime outwith the 52 cameras project.

week 1.5!

double exposed giraffe
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

Rewinding and reloading is not an exact science, and double exposures are a risk, though I was planning to do some deliberate doubles at some point. This one wasn't planned, it consists of my reflection in a shop window in Liverpool, with the Zenit-B held up to my eye, the giraffe is part of the childrens' play area in my local park, and was taken with the week 2 camera, an Exa 1 from the early 1960s.

final week 1 photo

metal giraffe
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

another photo from week 1

The Beatles Experience
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

The Mersey ferry terminal at Pier Head in Liverpool. The snow, which is very unusual in Liverpool, looks almost like sand on a beach.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

First photos from Week 1

Royal Liver Building contact sheet
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

I took the first film to my local supermarket minilab today, where they processed it and returned it un-cut for me to scan at home. These are 12 consecutive frames of the Royal Liver Building, Pier Head, Liverpool. I took them with a view to scanning the negatives and making a "contact print" joiner. Although it was a colour film, I think it looks better in black and white, as the yellow and red markings on the film edges were a bit distracting. I've been meaning to try this technique for a while, and will try a bigger (and possibly more accurate) version later on in the project.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Week 2 - Exa 1

Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

There were only a few frames left on the film from last week's Zenit-B, confirming my suspicion that the wind on mechanism is faulty, there will probably be a few blank frames and some uneven spacing when I get it processed.
The film is now in this Exa 1, a camera made by Ihagee of Dresden in the early 1960s, this one has the name plate missing, but I'm pretty sure it's the model "1". The lens is a fully manual Meritar 50mm f2.9. I only expect to get a handful of frames out of it, so hopefully will get the film developed later this week.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

New Arrival

This novelty plastic robot camera arrived in the post from Korea yesterday. It has 3 lenses and takes 3 images in quick succession, one wide image and two smaller ones. It cost £7.51 including p&p and will join my collection of novelty plastic cameras. Some time this year maybe I'll do a month of these lo-fi toys, probably when there's a bit more daylight around.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Trip to Liverpool today to take my daughter back to university. Very picturesque going over the Pennines on the M62, proudly announcing itself as England's highest motorway. The streets in Liverpool hadn't been gritted, and as a consequence it took me an hour to walk down to waterfront, it usually takes about 20 minutes!
I took the Zenit-B with me, and soon found out that it's not as reliable as I thought, sometimes it winds the film on without cocking the shutter, but I took several photos of the "Three Graces" - The Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, putting it in the same league as the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Great Barrier Reef, to name but three.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Helios-44 lens

plastic parrot
Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

It will be a couple of weeks before I can post any photos taken on film, but in the meantime, to satisfy the craving for instant gratification brought on by digital photography, I've attached the lens from the Zenit-B to my DSLR. The adaptor I've got won't allow infinity focussing, but is ideal for close-ups, this one was taken at full aperture, and shows the very narrow depth of field that results.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Week 1 - Zenit-B

Originally uploaded by pho-Tony

So, I've put a film in my first camera of the year, and taken a couple of pictures in the local park. This is a Russian Zenit B SLR, made in the 1970s and still going strong, it's entirely manual, and I also used a Leningrad 4 exposure meter, another piece of soviet era kit. This camera is very similar to the first SLR I ever used at school, the Zenit E. The lens is the 58mm f2 Helios, which is on the long side for a "standard lens".

Happy New Year

I've never blogged before, and though I decided on my 52 camera project a few weeks ago, it only occurred to me last night to link it to a blog, so here goes.
Over the years I've acquired a number of cameras, mostly from boot sales and charity shops, but a few are more up market, and one or two were even new when I bought them!
Photography is a long standing hobby, but it was the advent of affordable digital photography that got me back into it, and paradoxically led me back to film. Last year I shot around 40 rolls of 35mm film, the most I've used for decades.
It's cheap, I buy film from Poundland, or else use recently expired film at a cut down price. My local supermarket minilab develops the film for £1, and I then scan it at home.
No doubt the 52 cameras project will evolve, but the plan is to use a different camera each week for a year. I'll select the cameras a couple of weeks before I use them, and make sure they are in working order, then either start a new roll of film or carefully transfer a partially used film from the previous week's camera, so it could be three to four weeks before a given set gets developed.
It's a cold, crisp winter's day today, so time to load the first film...