analog Tag

I hesitated to use the term " Old School " in the header as it is overused these days - everything from hot rods to casserole recipes is referred to in these terms. The most frustrating thing about it is the fact that often the items  presented have very little to do with previous designs. It's like seeing " retro " used in the electronics section of the department store on modern internet music players. Some of us who went to the old schools...

As a dental student in the late 60's I had to buy loads of expensive gear that the University Of WA Dental School refused to provide. I initially thought that was mean of them, but came to realise that it was just their weary experience of dental students making off with things. My own instruments were marked with a registered number at the start of the year but could be found in everyone else's cabinets within two weeks...

The heading image of this column is as dull a picture as you could want - a silver and black box on a cardboard carton. It has none of the snap and pizazz of a new camera or lens - none of the technical wizardry of a new studio strobe light. It's not even hand-stitched or bespoke. And you can get it right now instead of pre-ordering it or subscribing to Kickstarter...

They may be famous for it, but I assure you - the city is in Saxony. And it was the home of the Ihagee camera factory - makers of the little gem you see in the heading image. I first encountered the Exakta cameras through advertisements in Popular Photography in 1965. Oldens in New York were selling them for about $ 79.00 US at the time and it has always rankled with me that I did not send off my money and get a brand new one. To give you a comparison, a new Asahi Pentax Sv camera with a CdS meter was selling for $ 99 US at the time. It was a time of Elvis, dinosaurs, and the 70¢ malted milk in every drug store. The Exakta was the first really successful SLR, and despite the factory being bombed flat and the Soviets stealing everything that was not nailed down, the company did come back for a number of years after WW2 to make these cameras. They are fine machines, if somewhat quirky. I was never able to get my head...

I was idly standing around in the Camera Electronic Murray Street Shop when my eye beheld a very old sight. No, it was not Domenic. He is actually quite young, despite his appearance. Nor was it a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It was the oldest product in the place - Rodinal developer. Oh, it isn't called Rodinal any more - after Agfa went bust they sold off a lot of their patents and formulae and the Adox people got this prize - the right to make Rodinal. They have renamed it Adonal, but the colouration and shape of the container, plus the chemical information on the label assure us that it's the good old stuff. It was first made in 1891, and is a compound of 4-aminophenol. It's not a fine-grain developer - best used with Pan For FP4 on medium and large-format films. It makes for very sharp silver grains and a very high edge sharpness. See the neg that I've scanned from my Linhof days. You dilute it dramatically  - 1+25, 1+50, or 1+1-00 are common dilutions and some have even...

Otherwise known as The Menu Blues. Every digital camera has a menu. It is generally accessed with a button on the back of the camera, although on the Flapoflex Digital Royale Special you wake the camera up by swearing at it. You can choose which language you do this in: Teenager, Longshoreman, or Streetwalker. Flapoflex have always staggered to the beat of a different drummer...

No apologies for the inches, children. It is what the adults use to measure photographic surfaces. Even if we do give in to buying inkjet paper in A4, A3 and A2 sizes, we still get boxes of 6 x 4 and 5 x 7 from Ilford. And we measure print sizes in 8 x 10, 11 x 14, 10, 12, and 20 x 24 as well - it must put the wind up to the bureaucrats in the EU standards Department something chronic. We also measure one of the standard sizes in the industry for sheet film as 4 x 5 inches. Europeans tried for years to make this into 10 x 12 centimetres but it never really took off - people still think of 5 x 4 or 4 x 5. 20 square inches of sensitive emulsion to put into the new Ilford Obscure pinhole camera - for good or ill. There is a 10-sheet box of it included with the kit - Ilford Delta 100 - a tabular grain film of excellent tonality. Note: you can also get Ilford HP 5...

Do you have an abbey window handy? Do you have a top hat? Do you have a new Ilford Obscura pinhole camera kit? Well you too can be Henry Fox Talbot and be the envy of your friends at the camera club. Okay, it is not quite the same as using glass lenses in one of HFT's famous 'mousetrap ' cameras and your finished product is not going to be made on salted paper but the procedure is similar and if you choose historical subjects you can give yourself a feeling for the past that digital work just does not provide. Sure, computer manipulation and plug-ins will deliver the calotype look, but actually going out there and doing a very long exposure provides the experience as well. Just be prepared for foolish abuse if you opt to do it in Victorian clothing. Perth is not as sophisticated as it likes to think. Trust me on this...

 There are times when you just have to let yourself go. You have to go out and go mad. Office Christmas parties and federal elections come to mind, though the snacks are better at the latter than the former...