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Happy Saturday, Roadies, and welcome to my weekly roundup of blog posts I enjoyed all week.

116 film, not manufactured since the 80s, has a “widescreen” aspect ratio that seems right in this era of televisions as wide as movie screens. Nicholas Middleton shoots a 90-year-old 116 camera with some expired 116 film and some fresh 120 film respooled onto 116 spools. Read 116 Day

Heather Munro walks us (literally) through how she experiments with a subject to find just the right composition. Read Photoshop with your feet

By the time you read this, Britain will have decided whether to stay in the EU. Gerald Greenwood made, days in advance, a cogent plea for remaining in. Read Love Not Leave

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Cameras, Photography

Minolta AF-Sv (Talker)

Check distance! Too dark, use flash! Load film! This camera barks orders and warnings at you when you’re about to screw up. It’s the Minolta AF-Sv, also sold as the Minolta Talker.

Minolta AF-Sv "Talker"

Produced in about 1983-85, it was the first camera to include a voice chip. It called you out when there was no film in the camera, when you needed to turn on the flash, and when the subject was too far away to be lit by the flash. Its voice is female, quick, clipped; I can’t place its accent. It’s supposed to say the three things I listed in my opening paragraph, but “Too dahk! Use flash!” is all I could make it say. And then it let me take the picture anyway.

Minolta AF-Sv "Talker"

This is a pretty reasonably specified 35mm point-and-shoot camera, beginning with its 35mm, f2.8 lens. It takes film from ISO 25 to 1000, which you set by rotating a dial around the lens. It includes a pop-up flash and self-timer, as well as a lens/body cap attached to the bottom by a cord. It winds and rewinds the film automatically. It’s all powered by a common AA battery.

Minolta AF-Sv "Talker"

I loaded some good old Fujicolor 200 to test this camera that talks with a sharp accent.

And I was impressed with the results. Sharp! Colorful! But dark. Some of that might be because every time I shot it, I was on an evening walk. But even in full sun, there was a darkness about the images. Fortunately, easy adjustments in Photoshop brought out the shadow details and deepened the colors. Wowee wow!

Golden fence

Just look at how this camera resolved the light and shaded areas in this photograph! Yes, the shaded area was darker before I processed the scan, but the shadow detail was all there.

Fairway

Autofocus worked great. Whatever I aimed it at within its autofocus range, it resolved perfectly. I gather that the AF-Sv has three focus settings, and it uses phase detection to determine which zone to use. It’s fast and silent — so much so, you might mistakenly think the AF-Sv is a fixed-focus camera.

Flowers

Close shots suffered from my point-and-shoot pet peeve: a viewfinder that shows less than what the lens sees. For this shot of the crying angel, I cropped out the top and side to get what I remember seeing when I framed this.

Crying angel

I never wandered far from home with the AF-Sv. This is the golf course behind my house.

Cart path

And here’s the chapel on the cemetery grounds near my house. I found it open and deserted this evening.

In the chapel

And here’s the church on the main road across from my subdivision. Everywhere I aimed this camera, it returned good color and clarity and sensitive resolution of both light and dark areas. My only complaint is that highlights were sometimes a little blown out.

Eastern Star Church

I reach the cemetery by walking through the church’s parking lot; the two are adjacent. A replica of the Liberty Bell is on the cemetery grounds, under this housing.

Bell housing

See more from my test roll in my Minolta AF-Sv gallery.

The AF-Sv performs impressively. I think it gives the most satisfying results of any of the point-and-shoot cameras I’ve reviewed. I see qualities in these photos that I’m used to from my Minolta Hi-Matic 7 and from the fine lenses for my Minolta SLRs.

But nuts to the AF-Sv’s useless voice. Fortunately, there’s a switch on the back that shushes it.


Do you like old cameras? Then check out all my vintage gear reviews!

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Hood ornament

Hood ornament
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Tri-X
2016

Old cars, Photography
Image
Preservation

Touring the former Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Indianapolis

First Church of Christ, Scientist

It was built on the Old Northside of Indianapolis in 1912 to serve as Second Church of Christ, Scientist. In 1968, the Christian Scientists moved out and a Baptist congregation moved in for about 10 years before yielding to Jehovah’s Witnesses. And then this year the Witnesses sold this striking, even imposing building to a large multi-site Christian Church from central Indiana, which is now preparing to use it as its Downtown campus.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

This is the same large multi-site Christian Church where Margaret is Director of Facilities. She had been issued a key. We went in to look about.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The place was immaculate and looked freshly painted. Carpets, seats, and other wear items all looked like new. Jehovah’s Witnesses took very good care of the property. So good that Margaret’s church will have to do very little to this space to begin to worship here.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

The Witnesses left quite a bit behind, far more than just these knick-knacks on the foyer fireplaces. The lower level is full of tables and chairs, all set up and ready for a large crowd to come for a meal. Closets are full of cleaning supplies, including a dozen or so vacuum cleaners. A mixing board was left in the sound booth. And there are three furnished apartments in this building, with bedrooms and kitchens and living rooms. The kitchen drawers are full of cookware and tableware!

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Remember the split-level homes so popular in the 1970s? Well, this is a split-level church. You go up a half level into the auditorium or down a half level into the fellowship area.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

This is a formal structure, inside and out, befitting a building built in the neoclassical revival style. It was designed by Spencer Solon Beman, an architect from Chicago.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

What I liked most about the auditorium is how well lit it was on this bright day. We didn’t turn on a light anywhere.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Most of the rest of the building was unremarkable, so I didn’t photograph much beyond the foyer and the auditorium. And being such a clean, classical design, there weren’t many details to focus on. But I did capture this light in the balcony.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

And I photographed this window, as this pattern was a theme in all of the windows visible from the street and in many of the external visual details.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

I love how the light diffuses through these windows and leaves a gentle reflection. The foyer and auditorium make pleasing use of natural outside light everywhere. It makes for a lovely worship space.

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Chrysler Airflow

Chrysler Airflow
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Tri-X
2016

Old cars, Photography
Image
Photography

Kodak Six-20 Brownie

Somebody gave me this box camera, a Kodak Six-20 Brownie with an Art-Deco-inspired faceplate, a few years ago. The timing was bad: I had just decided to swear off 620 film and cameras. I had neither the patience to spool 120 film onto 620 spools, nor the willingness to spend 12 bucks and up for pre-respooled film. But a couple months ago I discovered a pile of eBay Bucks near expiration. And then I found a roll of Verichrome Pan in 620, expired in 1982, that those Bucks paid for. Free film!! So I dug out this old box.

Kodak Six-20 Brownie

Kodak puked out box Brownies by the legion during the first half of the last century. This model was made from 1933 to 1941. Original price: $2.50. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s equivalent to $46 in 2016.

Kodak Six-20 Brownie

As box Brownies go, this one had some unusual features. Almost all the box cameras I’ve known come apart at the back for film loading and unloading. This one comes apart at the front. You pull out the winding knob, pull up on the knob that anchors the carry strap’s front end, and tug on the camera’s face.

The Six-20 Brownie has two apertures, controlled by the tab atop the faceplate. Down selects the larger aperture; use it for most shots. Up selects the smaller aperture; use it for extremely bright conditions such as beach or snow scenes. The camera also offers a single shutter speed plus timed exposures. The tab on the faceplate’s side controls it; pull it out for timed shots. I’m guessing that the shutter operates at somewhere between 1/30 and 1/60 sec., and the two apertures are something like f/8 and f/16.

And while the camera’s lens (a simple meniscus) is inside the box, an external lens focuses the camera for shots at beyond 10 feet. For shots from five to 10 feet, move the lever below the lens opening to move the external lens out of the way. Release the lever and the external lens springs back into place.

This camera was filthy when I got it, so I cleaned it up as best I could. The pitted faceplate was beyond help. The viewfinders had gone opaque with crud, so I dismantled them and cleaned them. One of the mirrors was loose, so I superglued it back into place. Then I spooled in the Verichrome Pan.

The best shot on the whole roll is of my sons. That kills me, because it’s long been my policy not to show photos of them here. I should write in detail about why someday; a couple of principles are involved. And it’s the only shot I took with the front lens moved out of the way. Darn.

But here’s the second best shot on the roll. I don’t know how this Verichrome Pan was stored, but it sure behaved like fresh film. This was the only shot affected by light leak. I wonder if it might have happened while I removed the film from the camera, as I fumbled it a bit and the end of the roll came a little loose for a half second. This was the last photo on the roll.

Mass Ave and a light leak

I don’t know why I persist in using box cameras to photograph distant subjects. They’re meant to take photos of Aunt Martha and the nephews at closer range. When I framed this, the main part of Leon’s filled the viewfinder. But I shot it from across the street. Oh, and by the way, I recently bought a suit from Leon’s. It was a great experience.

Leon's

I had the Brownie along one day when I took my son to dinner at an outdoor mall in Noblesville. Sharpness and contrast are pretty good here, despite a little haze in the sky around the tree branches.

Parked at the outdoor mall

A couple photos were pretty muddy. I worked them over pretty good in Photoshop to improve contrast. Here’s one of them, of the mural is on the back of the Indianapolis Public Schools administration building Downtown.

IPS mural

This was the muddiest photo of them all, of the three trees on the golf course behind my house. The front ash tree has been dead for at least a year; the bark is starting to fall off. Anyway, Photoshop restored reasonable contrast to this scene. At full scanned resolution, a little motion blur becomes apparent, convicting me of moving the camera slightly as I made this exposure. But at print size, you’d probably never notice it.

Golf course trees

To see more photos from this roll, check out my Kodak Six-20 Brownie gallery.

It’s charming to shoot with simple cameras like this Six-20 Brownie. Even when the results are so-so, it still always pleases me that I got images at all. It’s easy to forget that a light-tight box and the simplest of lenses — even a pinhole — will make an image. And these turned out pretty well. You’d never guess that I used film expired for more than 30 years.


Do you like old cameras? Then check out all my vintage gear reviews!

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