Cameras, Photography

Repaired: Certo Super Sport Dolly

Certo Super Sport DollyWoot! Woot woot woot! I’ve licked all of the problems with my Certo Super Sport Dolly.

First it was a broken element in the focusing system. And then there was a pesky light leak. I’ve vanquished both.

The light leak was caused by some tiny holes in the bellows where it attaches to the body. A little black fabric paint closed those holes.

And so I dropped in some Kodak Tri-X 400…and then did nothing with the camera for weeks. I chose Tri-X because we were in a stretch of lousy weather, and I figured a fast film would work fine in the gloomy light. But the very moment I loaded the roll, the sun came out and blazed bright for days. Does Tri-X control the weather? Given the camera’s 1/250 sec. top shutter speed, my exposure options would be strictly limited.

When I had to drive up to Burlington for a meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association, I decided to heck with it and took the SSD with me. I shot two thirds of the roll on the Michigan Road at the minimum aperture, f/22, and fastest shutter speed, 1/250 sec., and even that overexposed the film by a stop. But Tri-X is resilient.

Burlington, IN

After the meeting we toured the 1848 “American House,” which is being restored and will eventually be a museum and maybe a B&B. Boy, the house is in rough condition inside.

The 1848

I drove up to Michigantown, where this tidy Christian Church lurked on a side street.

Christian Church

And of course I stopped in Kirklin. It might just be my favorite little town on all of the Michigan Road. I’ve photographed this building many times.

Truck Parked

I wanted to see how the camera performed in light better suited to the film. As dawn broke one morning, I stepped onto my porch to photograph my garden. There was scarcely enough light; the in-focus patch was narrow.

Front Garden

A little past sunrise, the sky overcast and gray, I photographed my car just beyond my blooming peonies.

Ford Among the Peonies

Many thanks to Mike Connealy for his assistance making this Super Sport Dolly work again!

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Church bus

Church bus
Nikon N8008, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor
Kodak Tri-X 400
2017

I went on my first of three mission trips to Mexico 13 years ago, riding this bus nonstop from Indiana. We even slept, badly, on its cramped seats. But now this bus is discarded, moldering in a field.

Hazelwood church is in farm country about a half hour west of Indianapolis and a few minutes south of US 40. It’s a surprisingly large and active church for being so rural.

Photography

Photo: Church bus.

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Cameras, Photography

Nikon N8008

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I did not need another auto-everything 35mm SLR. But in what is probably my greatest guilty pleasure, which says something about my buttoned-down life, I really enjoy them. I’m no less devoted to my first love: all-manual, all-metal SLRs! Yet I was deeply tempted when I came upon this Nikon N8008 body at KEH for $13.

Nikon N8008

I resisted. But that afternoon KEH emailed me an offer of 12% off used gear and I was a goner. Twenty dollars shipped for a body that cost $857 new. Pennies on the original dollar! Now is the time to buy these higher-end auto-everything film SLRs. And the N8008 (known as the F-801 in most of the rest of the world) was higher end, as it rested just below the pro-grade F4 in Nikon’s pecking order.

Nikon N8008

Befitting its station, its specs are solid. They begin with a big, bright, high-eyepoint viewfinder, which means you can see through it perfectly even when you’re wearing glasses. It offers both matrix and 75% center-weighted metering. Its shutter operates from 30 seconds to 1/8000 second and it takes film from ISO 6 to 6400 (and it reads the film’s DX coding). It syncs with flash at 1/250 second. And common AA batteries power it all.

Nikon N8008

It offers all of the modern modes: manual, programmed, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority. But as you can see, it was designed before the mode wheel became idiom. You expect that from a camera made from 1988 to 1990. To set mode, you have to repeatedly press the Mode button and look at the LCD. It works fine and isn’t cumbersome. It just takes a minute to adjust to it.

The N8008 also offers depth-of-field preview, allows multiple exposures, and boasts a self timer that can take two shots in succession. And its focusing screens exchange. Three screens are available, including the matte Type B screen that shipped with the N8008. You could also get the gridded Type E screen and the microprism Type J screen.

This camera also takes most F-mount lenses. Nikon lens compatibility requires a secret decoder ring (Ken Rockwell keeps his up to date) but with a few exceptions and caveats (pre-AI lenses won’t mount, AF-S lenses won’t automatically focus, AF-G lenses work only in programmed or shutter-priority mode, the latest AF-P lenses won’t focus) you can use your legacy lenses on the N8008.

I considered mounting my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor to this camera just to test that compatibility. The moment passed quickly, a fleeting shadow. I reached instead for my 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor, a “gelded” lens that has no aperture ring. The N8008 drives this lens beautifully in P (program) or S (shutter-priority) modes. Even though Nikon shipped this lens with bajillions of its entry-level film SLRs, don’t underestimate this solid performer.

I loaded some fresh Kodak Tri-X and went to work at home, right next to my easy chair. I’d just finished a finger of whiskey. Photograph drunk, Photoshop sober?

Empty whiskey glass

I stepped back and zoomed out, revealing this lens’s one major fault: barrel distortion at the wide end. I reduced the effect in Photoshop.

Illuminated whiskey glass

These well-made auto-everything SLRs appeal to me, I think, because I can get high-quality images with almost zero thinking. That’s not to say I don’t like thinking. I get full joy from shooting my manual-exposure, manual-focus cameras. But sometimes it feels good to let the camera do all the work for you, all the while leaving you confident of good results. And with the N8008, I could have full control if I wanted it.

I never wanted it on this test roll. Good thing, as the gelded lens sharply limited my options. But on a stroll down Zionsville’s Main Street I didn’t much care. I twisted in my zoom level, pressed the button halfway to focus, and then pressed the button the rest of the way to get the shot. With a loud zip, the camera wound to the next frame and I was ready to go again.

Black Dog Books

I did, however, fall pray to one pitfall of easy-peasy shooting: I shot indiscriminately. Lots of uninteresting photos was the predictable result. This post shares almost all of the photos I think have any merit from this 36-exposure roll.

Brick Street Inn

Here Margaret stands between our two Fords in the parking lot at work. I used to work not far from her workplace, a large suburban church where she’s in charge of buildings and grounds. She wears dresses on Mondays to remind her co-workers that she’s a woman after all, as otherwise it’s jeans and T-shirts because a Director of Facilities never knows when she’ll find herself cleaning up after a sick child or crawling around a failed baptistry heater.

Margaret on Dress Monday

My sons have always been curious about my cameras. When they were very small I used to get the boxes down from my closet and we’d play with them together, cameras strewn across the living room. As I got serious about my collection again in my 40s and began to shoot my cameras more, my sons often asked if they could shoot them too. Frankly, I wasn’t always thrilled to say yes. They showed no real interest in exposure and focus, so explaining it to them got us nowhere. I took to setting the camera for them, but they were often impatient as I read the light and guessed distance and all. But a camera like the N8008 is perfect for kid use, even if that kid just turned 18. It requires no explanation beyond “press the button halfway so it can focus and then the rest of the way to get the shot.” My son did that perfectly while we waited for dinner at a Perkins one evening.

Me, taken by my son

Finally, I took the N8008 along the day I visited this abandoned bridge. It’s the one that cemented my love of exploring the old roads, because finding abandoned infrastructure is strangely exciting.

Abandoned US 40 bridge near Plainfield, IN

The N8008 is not without its flaws. It’s a little heavy for all-day use. The loud winder was annoying. Autofocus is slower than on a modern camera. But so bloody what? I don’t shoot sports anyway. This camera worked great, full stop.

But I still own a Nikon N90s, also a wonderful auto-everything 35mm SLR. One does not need both cameras. One does not need a hundred cameras stuffed into every nook and cranny of one’s house, either, but that’s where one is despite ongoing efforts to thin the herd.

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Foggy trees

Foggy trees
Nikon N8008, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor
Kodak Tri-X 400
2017

I used to pass a sprawling school on my way to work. These trees are on its grounds. One foggy morning when I had a camera with me, they looked like this.

Photography

Photo: Foggy trees.

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Photography

Very expired Tri-X of unknown provenance on Expired Film Day

March 15 was Expired Film Day. I prefer my film to be fresh. But when fellow photoblogger (and EFD instigator) Daniel Schneider sent me two rolls of expired Tri-X to shoot that day, I went all in.

Daniel hand-rolled this Tri-X from a 100-foot box he came upon. He didn’t know how old it was and expressed concern about how it had been stored, so he recommended shooting this ISO 400 film at at ISO 100 or maybe even ISO 50. That said a lot — Tri-X is a mighty resilient film. Stored at room temperature, well-usable images can be made from it for decades. Stored cold, it behaves like new virtually forever.

I made time on Expired Film Day to shoot just one of the rolls. I used my Nikon F3 and my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens, which is a great combo for walking around and photographing whatever I find, which is what I did. I still worked in Zionsville then, so I went over to Lions Park and photographed the Little League practice diamond. This is my favorite photo from the roll.

Home Plate

I shot this roll at ISO 100. Every photo was underexposed. When I shoot the other roll, I’ll shoot it at ISO 50.

Hoop

Still, I like the dystopian look of these photographs.

Lion

I also walked through the Village in downtown Zionsville as I burned through this roll.

Closed

Ooo, a little sprocket ghosting in this photo of Main Street.

Zionsville

This photo’s composition is terrible, but I love the way the light plays across the building. MOBI was my previous employer; I left there late in March to join a new company as Director of Engineering.

MOBI

I finished the roll with a couple quick shots at my desk. I seem always to have a couple rolls of film here either waiting to go into a camera or waiting to be mailed to the lab.

Film cans

One last shot, of the lamp next to my monitor. I love the ragged edge at the bottom, an artifact of this being the last shot on the roll.

Lamp at the tail

I’ll be back for Expired Film Day in 2018. Maybe I’ll find something off-the-rails expired, like Ansco All-Weather Film from 1965 or Kodak Vericolor III from 1982.

 

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Sleeping angel

Sleeping angel
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80
Kodak Tri-X 400
2017

Another frequent photographic haunt is the cemetery at Bethel United Methodist Church, which was founded in the 1830s in Pike Township, Indianapolis.

Photography

Photo: Sleeping angel in Bethel Cemetery

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