Imperial Flash Mark XII Test Roll

Imperial Flash Mark XIIWhen I first bought this camera from the antique mall some eight years ago, I didn’t own any other 620 cameras — and even if I’d had an extra couple of 620 spools handy, it hadn’t even occurred to me to try respooling 120 film onto a 620 spool. I managed to run two rolls of 35mm through the camera to try some sprocket photography, but couldn’t quite get the film plane flat. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I now have enough extra 620 spools to run a real test roll through this cute little camera.

It’s a box camera: there are no settings. Not only that, but my particular camera is missing the rear element on the viewfinder, so the image is teeny tiny and only really usable as a guesstimate unless I squint reeeeally hard.

Other fun features of this camera that I discovered upon seeing the test roll: First, there’s something stuck in the camera (I assume) that’s causing a black triangle shape to appear in the bottom right of almost all the images. (Edit: I’d applied some gaffer’s tape inside the camera to eliminate some emulsion scratches on my sprocket photography rolls, and that was coming off. Mystery solved!) Second, I have what some would consider an enviably kitschy mint green light leak in the bottom center of nearly every image. I’m not keen on it myself, especially since the camera actually makes some decent, otherwise usable images with vignetting and blur at the edges.



Pickwik Reflex Test Roll

Pickwik Reflex with Cat I picked up the Pickwik Reflex at a garage sale for $4. As I recall, the woman assumed a camera that old (circa 1940) would only be good for decoration; she was surprised when I told her it looked like it would actually work.

It’s a pseudo-TLR box camera that takes half-frame photos on 127 film (aka Brownie film). No settings other than Instant / Time (Bulb) for long exposures. Online reviewers of this camera generally mention that the half-frames tend to overlap, and that the focus is iffy. Given the heads-up, I was able to wind the film so that the “A” exposure was at the very leading edge and the “B” was at the very trailing edge, so I only got two instances of overlap: the very first four exposures, which were my test of winding the film “correctly” versus intentionally overcorrecting.

As far as the iffy focus, I’m convinced it’s a film plane issue. Each of my exposures were out of focus in one place or another, and they weren’t consistent — not like other toy cameras that have specific sweet spots.


Kodak Brownie Bulls-Eye Test Roll

Brownie BullseyeI picked up the Brownie Bullseye at a garage sale at the Old West End Festival a couple of years back for $3 or $4, boxed, with the flash attachment. After letting it sit in its box on top of my camera display shelf for a year or two, I finally got around to running a test roll through it this past May.

The Bullseye takes 620 film, and doesn’t accept 120 spools, so this was my first attempt at respooling 120 film onto a 620 spool. Honestly, it’s not that big of a deal: I sat on my basement stairs in the dark and wound the film onto one 620 spool, then back onto another 620 spool. I’m sure I’ll get quicker at it once I develop the muscle memory.

Surprisingly, I only had a couple of very minor streaks and light leaks thanks to my respooling attempt; for the most part, I really liked the pictures that came from this test roll.

At the Park


Diana Mini Test Roll #2

Before this past April, the only time I’d used the Diana Mini that my husband gifted me was immediately afterward, when I took it to the family Christmas gathering and took some square photos. Those were mostly indoors, long exposures steadied against a table, and they came out well enough for a toy camera.

I decided to run another roll through the Diana Mini this past April, to try out some different conditions and to use the half-frame feature, since I took square photos last time.

World Tai Chi Day 2015

[Taken 25 April 2015 | f/cloudy | ISO 400]

General impressions: It’s a plastic novelty camera. To expect anything more of it is unreasonable. It’s super cute, hides in a pocket, and is the perfect size for my four-year-old to play with (sans film). It doesn’t have a very sharp focus even in the best of situations, and creates some fascinating lens flare effects in the right (or wrong) light.  (more…)

Canon AE-1 Test Roll

This camera had been on-deck and forgotten for probably a year when the photography bug bit me again. I just needed some new batteries for it, which I ordered from Amazon (not because they were hard-to-find, but for the sake of convenience). The day the batteries arrived, I loaded it up and started shooting.

[Taken 27 March 2015]


Aaron With Iced Coffee and iPhone

Aaron With Iced Coffee and iPhone
[Taken 9 July 2011 | exposure unrecorded | ISO 200 | 50mm]

I took some test photos with my new-to-me Praktica Super TL1000 during the beginning of July. Thanks to a massive (read: not artistic in the slightest) light leak that rendered many of the photos unusable, this was one of the best images that came out of the 24 exposures. I suspect that it had something to do with the failing sealant foam; I may try some camera surgery in the future to see if I can manage the light leak without resorting to mummifying the camera in gaffer’s tape, a la my Holgamod.

Apart from the light leak, I really do like the look of the photos that come from this camera. I seem to have cleaned the camera well enough, despite feeling super sketchy (almost naughty, even) about actually touching its interior. After scanning the images, I couldn’t tell what dust was from the camera and what was from my scanner, which tells me I must have done OK. (Hope I didn’t cause the light leak during cleaning…!)

My Praktica will definitely stay in the collection for a while — someday I’ll come back to it and fix its light leak(s) and take it for another spin.

Update: I found a topic in the Praktica group on Flickr that details where the light leak is coming from. I was right: I did inadvertently cause it (or make it worse) during cleaning, when I scraped some old foam off of the back hinge. Once I replace that foam, my East German axe should be right as rain.

The Anthony Wayne Bridge

Anthony Wayne Bridge
[Taken 24 Feb 2011 | ISO 400 | 50mm | Kodak 110 film]

A.K.A. The “High-Level Bridge,” downtown Toledo. Another shot from my Pentax Auto 110.

While researching this camera online, I’ve learned something important: since the manufacture of 110 film cartridges was never standardized, film manufacturers could choose whether or not to remove a notch on the cartridge that some cameras (including this one) used to identify film speed. Since the camera misreads the 400 speed that I use, and exposes it like 100 speed, all my photos are slightly overexposed.

When I test my wide-angle lens, I plan to manually remove the notch on the film cartridge and see if that makes a difference in the exposure.