2009 Meetings

January 10, 2009

1. Tony brought a medium format Mamiya 7ii, with what he says is a very sharp 80mm lens. The system is very light and handy - lighter and smaller than most pro-level DSLRs. Right now he is using an NPC Polaroid back for filmpacks to get familiar with the picture-taking possibilities of this format. The Polaroid is almost full coverage for the 6x7.

Next he showed us a small, very handy Manfrotto tripod, touted as "tabletop", but gives the studio pro a different perspective to consider when used near floor/ground level.

2. Al showed off a "Zorki-Yura" and discussed whether the commemorative to Yuri Gagarin's flight into space is real or a fake. There are currently many "fakes" on the market, usually identified fairly easily: wrong lens (not an unnamed Industar 22 of 50mm f/3.5), incorrect s/n on the lens (should be same no. as the camera); incorrect finish - any bright chrome parts, other than the bottom plate holding pin, including all screws; lens cover not exactly same finish as the camera body; obvious remarkings (bad stamping, bad/sloppy engravings, wrong colors in the engravings); and the donor camera is not a Zorki 1d in all details. As to whether the "real" Yuras are themselves "fake", or illegitimate products, is yet to be determined. This particular example is no. 086, correct in all details, fully-working, external metal parts are all "champagne-toned" plating. I tend to believe the City of Stars "souvenir shop" did indeed, contract to KMZ for some few hundred (maybe up to 250) examples for sale in 1961-62. Why not use the Zorki 4? It's production run was already spoken for; the 1d was a more appropriate vintage sample - a perfect example of another "first"; the 1d seems a finer sample of camera-making. You decide, maybe we'll know some day...

3. Lowell brought along several examples of the proposals from GE to NASA for the ERTS (Earth Resources Terrestrial Satellite) and a space telescope (competitor for the Hubble system). He showed a color print from the ERTS satellite of Cape Cod, in "false color" - greenery is red, as would be shown when using a color infrared film.

4. Curtis showed us a Bolsey B in red leatherette. The case is stamped "CAROL ANN MODEL".

Question is whether this is a legit factory model, or some aftermarket modification? He also brought along an ANSCO memo stamped "ANSCO Testing Lab", wondering what it's use was. Next up was an ANSCO Autoset; the same model  as modified by NASA for John Glenn on his first flight in the Mercury capsule. This one is apparently an unused item - in exc+ condition, in the box and case, along with impressive literature from ANSCO, documenting the camera Glenn actually used on his Mercury mission.

6. Charlie: Started his presentation on "Space Cameras" by discussing the ANSCO Autoset NASA modified:
    - the camera was mounted on a round "grip" - upside down with a frame finder for use with gloves;
    - a problem was the lightmetering. Since the camera was fully automatic it tended to overexpose everything. Only a small number of photos were usable;
    - when changing film, it seems Glenn lost one cassette, never found... (is it still trapped somewhere inside the capsule, at the Air and Space Museum of The Smithsonian?)
    - another part of the story (from the NASA historical archive) is that the particular camera used by Glenn (there was only one, it was an afterthought to the mission) was purchased "at a local drug store", then hastily modified by technicians. It was not expected that the astronaut would even get any usable photos; they didn't know whether he could even see in space! - or swallow in zero gravity.
7. To cut down the the problems the astronauts had, NASA next tried the motor-driven Robot with a single 10 meter long roll back; based on the Recorder 24, using a wire-frame finder. All the astronaut had to do was push down on one button; aperture and shutter speed were manually set by the ground crew before take off.
8. Alan Shepard said he wanted to use a Hasselblad (he had a personal camera, he really liked). Accepting up on his suggestion, NASA took a 500c body, with 80mm f/2.8 Zeiss Planar lens and developed various modifications for space use: remove all extraneous parts (mirror, side accessory shoe, leatherette covering, etc.); increase the size of lens controls with large "flippers" for glove use; attach the dark slide to the body with stainless steel cable; and some others.  Out of 29 photos taken, he got 29 good exposures - so after that NASA standardized on the Hasselblad.
9. Kodak was enlisted to develop a thinner film to allow for more exposures without reloading. All were 70mm, removing the possibility of problems with the paper backing and tape. The film used for the Apollo missions was black & white an color transparency (including one of ASA 16,000).
10. On to the Gemini (2-person capsule). The first EVA astronaut was Ed white using a Zeiss Contarex, technical model, without viewfinder. It is shown in several published photos attached atop the handheld nitrogen jet "maneuvering unit" White used for the first "space walk" by man.
11. The Russian Cosmonaut Leonov's EVA used a Kiev 10 35mm slr. No pictures have been seen from this exercise. The speculated reason? He couldn't reach the camera on his hip. His spacesuit was pressurized but inflated too large - blown up like the Michelin Man - limiting arm movement. He actually had to manually deflate the suit and hold his breath to get back into the Voskhod vehicle airlock.
12. Then, we were shown a Nikon long-roll back, specially made for the NASA-modified F3, using 15ft cassettes, from the Shuttle program.  The system no. prefix is SED (as far as we know, there was no SEA), SEB was the prefix used for the Apollo missions, and SEC was for the SpaceLab.
13. Next came an absolute collector's jewel: a fully-modified Hasselblad 500EL, prefix SEB from the Apollo program, with reseau plate at the focus plane (originally developed for terrestrial photogrammetry). The camera body has a standard Hasselblad s/n at the image plane of the back. Since the reseau plate affects the optical properties, acting as another lens element, the lenses were "recalculated". The lenses used were a 100mm and the 60mm Biogon, with the glass surfaces modified to make up for the reseau plate. The 500EL used standard Varta batteries. Obviously, this particular sample was not used on one of the lunar flights, but may have been used for training and test purposes. Every camera system that actually made a space flight is the sole property of the Smithsonian Institute. Also, to save weight, all the Lunar Hasselblad bodies were left on the moon.
14. On the moon NASA wanted to use a wide angle on a motorized body - not possible with the Hasselblad SWC+38mm Biogon, so they came up with the 60mm Biogon for space use. Only used 70mm backs of different lengths; probably modified by Century of Hollywood.
15. Next, we were shown a Zeiss 250 f/5.6 Sonnar, modified for the NASA Hasselblad and intended for "tele" shots of far-off lands.
16. Next was a fantastic lens: the 30mm f/3.5 Distagon T*, a "fisheye", with channels for use in the vacuum of space, to allow the lens to depressure.  As far as we know there were 6 built, but only 4 known delivered. The other 2 are where?
17. Another special NASA lens: 250/5.6 Sonnar "Superchromat" (not the same as the one shown earlier). One expert quoted as saying this is/was "most accurate lens made" - in terms of optical properties.
Next time will be "Space Cameras - Part 2", concentrating on Russia space cameras.

Now, some photos of equipment from various meeting in 2009:

These photos are kindly from the Japanese Nikon collectors website and show the "prize" available in the 'GLICO' candy packet. These are very detailed miniatures of the Nikon F, lenses and flash, and even includes the 500/8 mirror! I'm not sure how many candy boxes you'd have to open to amass such a collection. - Now if only CrackerJacks would do something similar...
This photo shows the size comparison between the Glico miniatures and the full-size cameras and lenses they are modelled after.

As you can see these things are incredibly small - and detailed! The lenses mount - using a miniature Nikon-F bayonet mount. And, the pentaprism is removable. Actually not mounted, but sitting on top of the black body, is the awesome 35mm f/4.5 Macro Nikkor, designed especially for ultimate resolution of very small scale objects.

Leica IIIf
Here is a pristine (at least in very good condition) Leica model IIIf, black dial.

Printex 2x3
Here we have fairly rare Printex "press camera". the body is an almost unbreakable aluminum casting. The shutter is obviously a Kodak synchro, mounting a Xenar 105mm f/3.5 lens. Focus is by means of the super-sturdy rack and pinion at the bottom. Image format is 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 (called 2x3) on standard film holders. Notice the complete lack of rangefinder, or focus interlocking. The harried photojournalist was expected to preset the lens and shutter and then guess focus with the small linear scale on top of the barrel. Simple, hardy, fast to use for the experienced photog.

Voigtlander meter
This is the easily recognized - and widely wished for - Voigtlander CDS meter in chrome. Setting is simple and quick: adjust the shutter and or aperature dials to light up the center LED. Transfer these to the camera and shoot. It is supposedly a quite accurate meter, some say as good as, or better than the vaunted  Leica external meter. These are very desirable, especially in the black chrome, seen below.

Voigtlander in black.

45 and 23 Printex
And here we have the 4x5 and 2x3 Printex press cameras side by side. The 4x5 was not light, but built for very "rough" usage by newspaper people not accustomed to treating their camera gear with much care. Again, no ragefinder; the photographer guessed the distance and set the scale.

Hassy and Bronica comparo
As part of the historical review of 6x6 single lens reflex cameras, we have a side-by-side  comparison of the Hasselblad 1000F and the Bronica S2.

Bronica S and C
A side view of the Bronica Model S (removable back) and the Model C (fixed back). To change film in the "C" the phototgrapher has to wind through the entire roll, open the back door and change out the insert, or load in a new roll of 120 film.
Bronica C2
This is the second version of the Model C, the Model C2 Professional. Top speed is now 1,000th of a sec. The winding gear is a little more robust.

Bronica S and S2
Now, we've advanced up to the Model S2, compared with the Model S. Notice the differences: inner and outer lens mounting, new outer focus ring, capability for using 120 and 220 rolls of film, for up to 24 exposures on a single roll. In addition, the S2 added an even more robust winding mechanism, using a lever crank on the large aluminum knob. Zensz Bronica maintained system-wide compatibility for backs, inserts, lenses and finders.

S2 focus
A little better view of the difference in the lens mount and focus rings between the S and S2.

Bronica S2A
And then we have an example of what many consider the best Bronica mechanical camera made. They are sturdy, fairly rugged, quick, all mechanical - no batteries required - can be used in almost any circumstance. The backs were easily interchanged and a large range of lenses were available, including the pen-ultimate Nikkor "Super Telephoto" long lenses, of 400, 600, 800 and 1200mm focal length; all via an interchangable focus mount; all you have to do is change the head. These lenses can be moved over to use on a Nikon, using the Nikon focus mount.

Bronica inside
Thanks to a clear cover, we can see the internal mechanism of the S2A

EC300 lens
This is the EC-300 telephoto lens, as mounted on the Bronica EC-TL.

flash sync Nikkor
For the wedding photographer (and indoor studio use), we have the 105mm Nikkor with its own shutter, providing flash sync up to 1/250 sec.

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