Cameras, Photography

Argus C3

The third time, as they say, was a charm. I didn’t get on well with my first two Argus C3s. The first one chewed up my film pretty badly. I had trouble getting accurate focus with the second and something was wrong with my film. Meet my third C3, with which everything finally went well.

Argus C3

Argus manufactured C3s from 1939 to 1966, taking a couple years off during the war. The state of the camera art changed a lot during those 27 years, but demand remained for a capable and relatively inexpensive 35mm camera. So Argus kept on, but made little changes here and there over the years. The features and trim bits present and absent on mine say it’s an early postwar camera, but the serial number (187019) pins it down to 1947. More here if you’re interested.

Argus C3

Using a C3 is just nonstandard enough that I’ll explain it. Film loads right to left. To wind you have to move that little hexagonal knob to the left, start turning the winder, release the knob, and then wind until it stops. You set aperture on the lens barrel by pressing your finger into one of the two pips and rotating the dial. My C3 has an accessory lever fitted to make that easier. To set shutter speed, turn the dial on the camera face next to the viewfinder. To focus, look through the rangefinder, which is the round hole on the right. It’s a split screen; turn the lens barrel until the subject lines up in the top and bottom windows. Then you move your eye to the left hole, the viewfinder, to frame. Push down the black lever on the front to cock the shutter, and then press the shutter button.

Argus C3

My C3 has seven shutter speeds from 1/10 to 1/300 sec., copuled with a 50mm f/3.5 Argus Coated Cintar lens. It uses the standard f/3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 aperture scale. One of the things I didn’t like about my first C3, just a year older than this one, was its odd scale that moved from f/5.6 to f/9, 12.7, and 18. My light meter didn’t support those f stops, so I had to do some guessing. It was nice not to have to mess with that on this C3.

I loaded some Fujicolor 200 into the C3 and metered with an app on my iPhone. Quickly I discovered that ISO 200 film was a little too fast for the blazingly bright day on which I shot this roll, given that the fastest shutter speed and minimum aperture are 1/300 sec. at f/16. You’d think that’d be right enough given the Sunny 16 rule, but my meter kept wanting me to close down one more stop. Fortunately my film’s exposure latitude was wide enough that it didn’t matter much that I was slightly overexposing. The shots were usable as scanned, but I made them all a little better by reducing exposure by a half stop in Photoshop.

Scratch Kitchen

The C3 handled as C3s do, which is to say clumsily. Focusing is stiff. The rangefinder is tiny and hard to see through. The viewfinder is pretty tiny, too, but at least it’s bright. The camera’s strong spot is its strong, sure shutter, which fires with a crisp snap and a ping.

Flowers

I take a lot of photos now of downtown Fishers, Indiana, since that’s where I work. Just five years ago downtown wasn’t much: a few older buildings plus a lot of little houses. The houses are systematically being demolished in favor of apartments, office buildings, and shops. Come, modern urban density. For the time being, the old Nickel Plate tracks pass through Fishers. The city wants to tear them out and make a trail out of the railbed.

Xing

I shot this from the balcony of the building in which I work. A little house used to stand where the mound of dirt is. I hear an apartment building is going up there and will soon block the view of the restaurant beyond.

Parking Lot

I guess they’re going to build right onto what is now our parking lot, and we will all have to park in this garage.

Garage Under Construction

Honestly, given my poor experience with my previous C3s I didn’t expect much from this one and didn’t take great care in choosing or framing subjects. So naturally, the shots all look great.

Fire Station

I did take the C3 into the shade to see what I would get. That let me back off f/16, though not by much, just down to f/8.

Patio

I even tried one quick throwaway shot at my desk, inside. I don’t remember what my exposure settings were but I’ll bet they were something like 1/30 sec. at f/3.5. It reveals a tiny bit of creamy bokeh in the background.

At my desk

The coated Cintar surprised me with the subtlety and detail it can capture. I’ve seen it in photos others have shot with their C3s, but there’s just something about experiencing it yourself.

Back yard late light

To see more photos from all the C3s I’ve owned, check out my Argus C3 gallery.

Now that I’ve had a positive experience with a C3, I see why these were popular. It was a lot of camera for the money. Once you got past its quirky usage, you could take lovely photographs. I imagine these were heavily used to make color slides back in the day. The Cintar lens probably made slide film just sing.

Even though I’m happy to finally have had a good experience with a C3, I’m not in love. If I shoot this camera again I’ll try ISO 100 film, or even ISO 50. But more likely, I’ll sell it and the other two C3s I still own.

To see the rest of my camera collection, click here
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Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis

Ghostly church
Kodak Six-20
Kodak Plus-X
2010

The first time I photographed Second Presbyterian I was shooting my folding Kodak Six-20 and some Plus-X that I bought pre-respooled as 620 from B&H. The entire roll came back looking like this, to my disappointment.

I came across the negatives recently and they look normal. My wife bought me a new flatbed film scanner for my birthday, and it takes medium-format film, so I may try scanning the negs myself when I get moved and settled.

I’ve reviewed the Kodak Six-20 twice: here and here.

Photography

single frame: Ghostly church

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Photography, Preservation

Favorite subjects: Second Presbyterian Church

This is a favorite subject that I haven’t shot very much. It’s truly a favorite subject in that I really enjoy it. I wish I made it over there more often for photography! It’s striking, a “whoa!” moment the first time you come upon it while driving north on Meridian Street in Indianapolis.

Second Presbyterian

Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2017

It reminds me of Westminster Abbey a little. The architect must have been going for that style.

SecondPres.PNG

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

But this building is not Westminster Abbey’s contemporary: it was completed in 1960 on Indianapolis’s Far Northside. Surprised? But the congregation dates to 1837, making it one of the oldest in the city. It’s also one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the United States.

Second Presbyterian is perhaps best known for hosting the 1990 funeral of Ryan White, a boy who contracted AIDS via blood transfusion at a time when this disease was ill-understood and greatly feared. His fight to attend school in his hometown of Russiaville, about 45 minutes north of here, made the national news and was instrumental in helping our nation understand that AIDS was not just a “gay disease.”

Over 1,500 people attended White’s funeral, including then-First Lady Barbara Bush, Michael Jackson, and Elton John.

Since then Second Pres has led a lower profile. Here’s hoping I’m raising it ever so slightly today, because this building is just lovely. I’ve photographed it over and over.

Second Pres

Minolta Hi-Matic 7, Fujicolor 200, 2011

Second Presbyterian

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015

Second Presbyterian

Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot), Fujicolor 200, 2011

Second Presbyterian Church

Kodak Monitor Six-20, Kodak Ektachrome E100G, 2011

A handful of times I’ve shot some of the building’s details.

Second Presbyterian

Pentax KM, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2017

Second Presbyterian

Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot), Fujicolor 200, 2011

Second Presbyterian

Nikon F2AS, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Arista 100 EDU (expired), 2015

At Second Presbyterian Church

Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Kodak Gold 400, 2017

At Second Presbyterian Church

Pentax K1000, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax, Kodak Gold 400, 2017

Even though I love this beautiful building, I just haven’t figured out how to shoot it. There have got to be more interesting details, more dramatic angles, but I struggle to find them.

Second Presbyterian

Canon AF35ML (Super Sure Shot), Fujicolor 200, 2011

So I keep shooting it straight on. Fortunately, it looks great that way.

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Photography

Favorite subjects: Washington Park North

It’s funny how easily you don’t notice the things you see every day. For most of the last 22 years I’ve lived near Washington Park North, a cemetery on Indianapolis’s Northwestside. At some point its entrance moved about three quarters of a mile down the road. I have no memory of this. How did I miss it? I drive by this cemetery pretty much every day!

WPN_1941

Washington Park North in 1941. Courtesy MapIndy, http://maps.indy.gov/MapIndy/

Washington Park North has been here since about 1930, when this part of the county was farms as far as the eye could see. It was called Glen Haven then, but it got its current name in 1955 when the Washington Park Cemetery Association bought it. They’ve expanded it over the years to cover about 150 acres and even built a funeral center on the grounds. Along the way, absent my notice, they moved the entrance. According to MapIndy’s historic imagery, it happened in 2000.

WPN_2017

Washington Park North, 2017. Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

The main reason this cemetery is a favorite subject is because it’s so close to my home. See the Eastern Star Church in the upper left corner of the map image above? My subdivision is directly across the street from it, to the west, outside the image. It’s a quick walk for some easy shooting, especially since the church was constructed and I can just cut through its parking lot to get there. Before I had to walk Cooper and Kessler to get there, about three quarters of a mile to the entrance. The new entrance, that is; the old one was another three quarters of a mile down the road!

Let’s start in the parking lot, where one autumn I got supernatural color on Fujifilm Velvia 50.

Red tree parking lot *EXPLORED*

Nikon F2, Fujifilm Velvia 50, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, 2014

An iron fence used to surround the property, but at some point it was taken down west of the funeral center. Yet the stone posts and this structure, on the corner of Kessler and Cooper, remain. I’ve always wondered what this structure is for.

Along Kessler Blvd.

Pentax ME, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

But I’ve spent most of my time photographing inside the cemetery. For a while I was fixated on a replica of the Liberty Bell on the grounds. Why does a cemetery have a Liberty Bell replica? I don’t get it. Yet camera after camera, angle after angle, I shot it a dozen times.

Pass and Stow

Miranda Sensorex II 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Bell

Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Liberty Bell replica

Olympus XA, Kodak T-Max 400, 2016

The little structure that houses the bell has found itself in my lens many times, too.

Bell Gazebo

Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Bell housing

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Bell Monument

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

You’ll find nary a hill, nary a dale inside Washington Park North. Landscape photos offer lots of depth.

Swans and Fountain

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

Stone bridge

Yashica-D, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016

Pond

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Schwinn Collegiate

Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

Several mausoleums and a couple chapels dot the grounds.

Chapel

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

In the chapel

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

I’ve photographed few grave markers here because, frankly, most of them are uninteresting. I prefer the grave markers in much older cemeteries.

Crying angel

Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

Markers

Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Finally, here are just a few more photos I count as favorites from Washington Park North.

Flowers

Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Foggy angel

Argus A2B, Fomapan 100, 2016

Thingy

Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

I really enjoy some of my favorite subjects, while others I call favorite mostly because they’re convenient and I shoot them a lot. Washington Park North falls into the latter category. When I’m shooting a new-to-me old camera, this is commonly where I go to finish the test roll! “Aw, just five more shots on this roll. I’ll just walk over to the cemetery and finish it so I can send it off for processing.”

But after I move to Zionsville, I’m sure I’m going to wish I could just walk over to the cemetery for some easy shooting.

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Schwinn Collegiate

Schwinn Collegiate
Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2015

This is my 1986 Schwinn Collegiate 3-speed bicycle. It’s a Taiwan Schwinn, meaning purists look down their nose a little. But it’s sturdy and of good quality. I bet if I compared it part by part with my 1973 Chicago-made Schwinn Collegiate 5 speed, I wouldn’t detect significant quality differences.

I photographed the bike at Washington Park North Cemetery. I use cemeteries as backdrops a lot. I’ve made many portraits of my sons in them, and I shot a series of my bicycles in Washington Park North. I usually don’t show the cemetery bits in shots like those. But tomorrow I’ll share lots of photos from this cemetery. It’s a favorite subject because it’s within walking distance of my home.

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Photography

single frame: Schwinn Collegiate

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Photography

Where can you still get film developed? (Freshly updated for 2017)

Just a few years ago you could get film processed almost anywhere: Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, Costco, Meijer. No more.

Digital photography did them all in. It also led Kodak and Fujifilm to kill several film stocks. But film has survived its long dark night. People born into the digital age are discovering what we longtime film shooters have always known: film is special.

And so I see more people starting film-photography blogs, sharing their film shots on Instagram, and scouring thrift stores and eBay for that next camera to try. And astonishingly, several new films are being introduced this year, including Kosmo Foto Mono, JCH Street Pan 400, Ferrania P30, and even a reborn Kodak Ektachrome. It’s a great time to shoot film!

But where to get it processed? If your town has a camera store, it might process film. I live in Indianapolis, where Roberts Camera still processes 35mm color negative film. I never order prints, just scans, which Roberts burns to CD. The scans are generous, 3130×2075 pixels at 72 dpi. I like generous scans! And the price is right, at about $8. And they turn orders around within two business days.

But what if you aren’t close to a camera store? Or if you shoot film they can’t handle, like black-and-white film or medium-format (120) film, or an uncommon format like 110 or 127? That’s when I turn to one of several by-mail labs around the United States. I’m going to recommend the ones I use. I’d love it if you’d share the ones you use in the comments, especially if you live outside the United States.

Old School Photo Lab

I’ve used Old School Photo Lab of Dover, NH, the most. Their Web site is oldschoolphotolab.com. They proces, print, and scan 35mm, 120/620, 110, 126, 127, 828, APS, and 4×5 sheet films. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

You order through their Web site. Processing a roll of 35mm or 120 color negative film and getting their standard scans costs $16 shipped both ways. (You can print a prepaid shipping label on their site.) Prices for other formats vary. They give discounts if you send several rolls at once.

I love OSPL because their standard JPEG scans are a generous 3072×2048 pixels at 72 dpi. You can order even larger scans, at 6774×4492 pixels at 72 dpi, for an extra $7 for JPEG or $17 for TIFF.

When your scans are ready, they email you a link to where you can download them. If you want a CD of the scans, it’s 3 bucks extra and you have to wait longer to get them. OSPL prints digitally. I occasionally order 4×6 prints and they’re fine.

I love OSPL’s service. I’ve gotten scans in as fast as four days after mailing them film! But it normally takes about a week. Quality is consistent and good. The owner personally responds when you contact them. The lab is active on Twitter and the feed is often a hoot.

Dwayne’s Photo

Dwayne’s in Parsons, KS, is perhaps the granddaddy of all by-mail labs. Their Web site is dwaynesphoto.com. Dwayne’s processes, prints, and scans 35mm, 120/620, 220, 127, 110, 126, Disc, and APS films. They process color and b/w negative and color slide films.

Dwayne’s is great, except that ordering is complicated. You have to print a paper order form from their site, the right one for the kind of film you’re sending, and fill it out. When you send them more than one kind of film, you have to fill out multiple order forms.

Processing and scanning a roll of 35mm color film costs $14 including return shipping. Other services’ prices vary. They don’t offer a prepaid label to mail your film to them. But if you send more than one roll of film, they steeply discount shipping.

Their scans are 2740×1830 pixels at 72 dpi. You can choose to download your scans or have them mailed to you on CD; the price is the same for either service. I’ve not ordered prints from Dwayne’s.

Dwayne’s pretty consistently emails me a link to my scans within a week. Quality is consistent and good. And I’ve had good, if impersonal, experience with Dwayne’s customer service.

Willow Photo Lab

Willow Photo Lab of Willow Springs, MO, is far and away the price leader. Their Web site is willowphotolab.com. They offer processing, printing, and scanning of 35mm, 120/620, and APS negative films, in color and black-and white, through their Web site. They process b/w film by hand!

With your first order they’ll include a list of all of their services, which includes 220 and 4×5 sheet films, the ability to specify D-76 or T-Max developer for b/w film, and discounts for large orders. When I order from this list, I pay directly through PayPal, print the receipt, write on it what I want, and mail it to them with my film. They always figure it out.

Processing and scanning one roll of 35mm costs just $7. Other services are similarly inexpensive but prices vary widely. Shipping costs depend on how far away from Missouri you are; most of my orders have been $3. They don’t offer prepaid mailing labels.

Scans are skinty at 1536×1024 at 72 dpi, sent to you on a CD. The last time I ordered their higher resolution scans, 3089×2048 pixels at 72 dpi, it cost me an extra buck. But that’s available only on their full service list. Willow still does wet-process printing on light-sensitive photo paper.

Willow is a small lab of just a few technicians. Send them film when time is not of the essence — they try hard to turn orders around within a week, but it can take longer. I hate to say it, because I really like Willow, but quality is uneven. I’m giving them extra chances because early this year a lightning storm took out a lot of their equipment, and it’s taken them time to get everything back the way they want it.

When you email them with questions, the owner responds cheerfully, personally, and promptly. A couple times we’ve struck up long email conversations about lab life and film photography, which is fun.

The Darkroom

The Darkroom, of San Clemente, CA, is the SEO king of by-mail labs. Google “film processing” and see where they show up! Their Web site is thedarkroom.com. They process, scan, and print 35mm, 120, 126, 110, APS, single-use cameras, and 4×5, 5×7, and 8×10 sheet film. They handle color and b/w negative and color slide films.

The Darkroom offers online ordering and payment. You can download a prepaid shipping label from their Web site, or they will send you a prepaid mailer if you ask.

Processing, standard scans, the scan CD, and shipping both ways for a roll of 35mm color film costs about $17. Prices for other formats are similar. Scans come with every order, both via download link and CD.

The Darkroom’s standard scans are puny, 1536×1024 pixels at 72 dpi. You can order larger scans, 3072×2048 and a whopping 6774×4492 pixels, for an extra $4 or $9 per roll, respectively. I’ve never ordered prints from The Darkroom.

Scans are usually ready about 7 days after I drop the film into the mail. It takes up to a week longer for my negatives and the CD to arrive, but I expect that they’d arrive faster if I lived closer to California. I’ve never needed to contact The Darkroom for customer service.

Film Rescue International

Any lab can process expired b/w or C-41 color film. But sometimes you’ll find some very old, very expired film in a camera. That film can be fragile. Or perhaps the expired film is newer, but it’s crucial you get the best possible quality images from it. Send it straight to Film Rescue International. They process any film, no matter how old, and use creative darkroom and Photoshop techniques to coax the best possible images from it. Their Web site is filmrescue.com. They’re expensive, and they’re not fast, but they do outstanding work.

I’ve used Film Rescue just once, for a roll of Verichrome Pan I found in a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. That film had been in the camera for more than 40 years in unknown conditions, so I was afraid it might have deteriorated badly. They got good, high-contrast images from that film. They lacked “that Verichrome Pan look” but were crisp and clean.

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