Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Recommended reading


Every Saturday I share with you the posts I liked best from the blogs I follow.

It’s tale of termites, identical-twin neighbor girls, and home demolition. Mark Evanier tells a charming story of his boyhood. Read Tales of My Childhood #12

I posted to my software blog this week about realizing I have a great network that I have not maintained — and how it’s time to change that. It includes a story about a CEO who liked to have meetings in the men’s room. Read Renewing the network

I don’t dance. I don’t understand dancing. When it comes to dancing, I’ve got nothing. But when Amy Reese wrote about the effect of the dance instructor telling everyone to let their hair down — well, that resonated with me. I think it will with you, too. Read Dancing with my Hair Down

Captured: School arch


School arch

This arch, of which I’ve written before, once admitted students to one of the oldest schools in Indianapolis. Students have been educated at this site on the Michigan Road in northwest Marion County, Indiana, since 1837. The building formerly attached to this arch was built in about 1916 and razed in 1983. The school that stands on this ground now, Crooked Creek Elementary School, was built in stages from the 1960s through the 1980s.

On Monday I’m going to share some urban decay photos from this part of Michigan Road. But I wanted to lead with this photo, as the school is a bright spot in this neighborhood — the neighborhood in which I live. I shot it early last year with my Yashica-D on Kodak E100G slide film.


Canon EOS 630, Canon EF 35-80mm f/4-5.6, Arista Premium 400

Canon EOS 630


After shooting the Nikon F2 all last year, I’ve become…Canon curious.

It’s not like I haven’t shot Canon before. My main camera is the wonderful Canon S95. But it’s a point-and-shoot digital camera, not a film SLR.

And I have shot two Canon film SLRs, first an AE-1 Program, which I liked, and then an FT QL, which I didn’t. But I’d yet to shoot a camera from Canon’s EOS line, the bodies and lenses of which were designed from the ground up for automatic exposure and focus. Where Nikon has stuck doggedly with its lens mount that dates to 1959, Canon started with a clean sheet in 1987 with EOS. So I went looking for an early example, and came up with this EOS 630.

Canon EOS 630

Canon introduced the tall and bulky EOS 630 in 1989. It’s long specification list (see it here) can be boiled down to this: it has several autoexposure modes including full program, a shutter that operates from 30 sec to 1/2000 sec, and autofocus. Like most early all-electronic SLRs, there’s no mode dial; to change settings, you press buttons and look at the LCD panel.

Canon EOS 630

This EOS 630 came to me with a plastic-bodied, nearly weightless f/4-5.6 35-80mm lens. I was surprised that this lens tips the camera forward, because the EOS 630 is kind of heavy. That’s surprising given how much plastic is in it.

Despite the EOS 630’s various modes, this camera really wants you to just set it in Program and shoot mindlessly. So that’s what I did, after loading a roll of Arista Premium 400. Film loading is as easy as it gets: insert the film, draw the leader across to the red mark, and shut the door. The 630 automatically rewinds the film after the last frame.

Even though an f/4 lens doesn’t exactly scream “available light photography” I tried shooting a few things around the house. My mother’s grandfather — or was it her great grandfather? — made these duck decoys. They haven’t fooled any ducks in at least a half century.


Except for the blown-out area at the top of the lamp, this shot shows that the 35-80 is capable of capturing rich tones on the Arista Premium film. I shot handheld, so you might notice a little camera shake in the shots above and below, especially at larger sizes. And yes, I have a tripod lamp. I think it’s cool.

Chairside table and lamp

I shoot this trio of trees frequently, as they’re convenient: on the golf course behind my house. The sun was bright and the shadows were crisp, but the contrast in this photo is just so-so, even after boosting it as much as I dared in Photoshop.

Golf course trees

Meet my next-door neighbor’s new puppy. I kind of miss having a dog, but I surely enjoy the freedom to come and go as I please. I think the EOS 630 is meant for candid, casual shots like this — aim at the subject, press the button, let the camera make zip-zap noises while it focuses, get the picture.

Neighbor's new pup

I figured I might as well take advantage of the zoom lens, so I took a walk along Michigan Road near my home and photographed the surroundings. I’ve been meaning to do it for years. I’ll share more of those photos in an upcoming post, but for now, here’s a dinosaur in front of a child care.


Despite being big and bulky, the EOS 630 handled fine on my walk. A construction company bought a vacant factory on Michigan Road for its headquarters and renovated it, including putting in this fence. Looks like the company overextended itself and folded, and this property is again vacant.


To see more photos, check out my EOS 630 gallery.

I hoped for more contrast and sharpness in these photographs. To be fair, my lens is defective — on my first shot, the front element fell off. Plop. I fitted it back in as tightly as I could and hoped for the best. Perhaps a non-broken lens would have performed better. But I feel like I won’t know what the EOS system is capable of until I shoot with a 50mm prime.

Shortly after buying this EOS 630, I caught a terrific bargain (one dollar!) on a working EOS 650, the very first EOS camera from 1987. I’m thinking about picking up a 50mm f/1.8 lens and giving it a try on the 650.

But I’ll be listing this EOS 630 and its challenged lens on eBay shortly. I’m glad I experienced it, but I never need to shoot it again. To be fair, I felt similarly about my Nikon N65, which has much the same mission as a point-and-shoot SLR. Both cameras work, and I suppose if I applied myself I could create some art with either of them. But I just felt no joy in using these cameras.

Do you like old cameras? Then check out all of my reviews.

1932 Standard Station

1932 Standard station
iPhone 5

I’m planning our Spring Break vacation, so I’ve been thinking about past trips, like the one we took in 2013 along Route 66.


Vintage TV: 1950s commercials for Ansco cameras and films


Pacific Rim Camera photo

Do you remember Ansco cameras and films?

For many decades, Ansco was second only to Kodak in the United States. Headquartered in Binghamton, New York, the company’s history stretched back to 1841. But its peak years were probably the 1950s, when it routinely manufactured two million cameras a year.

Ansco Shur Shot

My Ansco Shur Shot

Ansco manufactured simple cameras that anyone could operate, like my Ansco Shur Shot box camera.

Ansco also imported more fully featured cameras from other makers around the world, including Agfa, Ricoh, and Minolta, and rebadged them as Anscos.

During the 1950s, Ansco advertised its cameras and films on television. Many of its commercials were shot on film, and survive.

Here’s a short spot for Ansco films with a simple jingle. Don’t those harmonies just scream 1950s?

Here’s a spot for three Ansco cameras that took 127 film. Ansco manufactured the two Cadet cameras, but imported the Lancer from a German maker. I had a Lancer in my childhood collection. I never put film into it because its weak latch kept popping open, which would have spoiled the film. I hear that this was a common problem with Lancers.

This spot for Anscochrome color slide film mentions its “big extra margin of sensitivity” that makes up for challenging lighting. It also mentions making prints from slides using the Printon process. You can see a Printon print here, which shows that Anscochrome was a capable film.

If you have boxes full of Anscochrome slides, you’re going to want to project them. So you’ll need an Anscomatic projector!

It cracks me up how formally everybody dressed in these commercials. In the 1950s, did friends really gather casually in each others’ homes wearing suits?

Whatever happened to Ansco? Well, in 1967 it began to favor using the name of its parent, General Aniline and Film, or GAF. As GAF, it stopped making cameras, instead selling GAF-branded cameras that other companies made. By the late 1970s, the Ansco brand name was sold to a Chinese camera maker. You could buy Chinese Ansco film cameras through the 1990s.

Vintage TV is an occasional series. See all of my Vintage TV posts here.


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