About Me

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I take pictures of things. Mostly with film. Mostly with cameras. I am an engineer by trade. What really makes me happy, though, is to find an old camera at a swap meet or antique store and bring it back into working order with a few hours at the workbench. I then like to take them out and shoot some film. This blog is in large part the result of that activity.

Friday, July 15, 2011


In October of 2010 I started looking for old Pentax SLRs at the local flea market.  I started out a Pentax guy because my father had Pentaxes and when I was given my first SLR it was a Pentax K1000, a fully manual 35mm.  My digital SLR was a Pentax as well, and I had accumulated a small collection of lenses for it.  I read somewhere about scanning film, and that scanned film can yield a higher resolution image than even the most advanced digital SLR.  I was also getting frustrated trying to focus manual focus lenses on my DSLR.  The viewfinders on modern autofocus DSLRs are not optimal for manual focusing.  They are tiny and dark and they don't have nice focus aids like split prisms.   I still had the K1000 but I wanted to try some of the other film Pentaxes that I'd never been able to afford when they were new.  I figured I'd scan the negatives and get images just a nice as my digital.  The first Pentax I found at the flea market was an ME Super, complete with motor drive and 50mm f1.4 lens for $20.00.  I didn't know if it worked, but I was hooked.

I went back the next month looking for Pentaxes and found a Spotmatic with an 85mm f1.9 for, yes, $20.00.  I should mention that the 85 is a very desirable portrait lens and this one seemed to be in great shape.  As it turns out, the rear element had come unscrewed slightly so it wasn't possible to get infinity focus, but a few minutes at the workbench cleared that right up.  Also, cameras which have been sitting in closets for 30 years tend to have very gummy light seals and that Spotmatic sure did, so I learned how to replace those and did that job on each camera that I added to my rapidly growing collection.

The next month I went back specifically looking for an MX.  The Pentax MX is a tiny, fully manual 35mm slr with a huge viewfinder.  Kind of like my K1000 left in a dryer but better. Believe it or not, I found one.  It had been dropped with a flash attached so the flash shoe was a little bent and it had a sticker on it that said "mirror hangs" but it was twenty bucks and I figured I could fix it.

I brought home and cleaned it, replaced the light seals and threw a roll of film in it.  Now, I was just starting out shooting film again.  The first rolls I had put through the MESuper were left overs from the nineties and that showed when I had it developed.  Old film has a particular look.  I would call it "bad".  I saw some film I had never seen before at the drugstore and bought a roll.  It was chromogenic black and white, Kodak BW400CN, which I was to learn is essentially color film, but the only color is black.  The local mini-lab can develop it, so I thought that was great.

Equipped with my new Pentax MX and a roll of fake color black and white I took advantage of my family's good nature and snapped away at them.  The beautiful young woman in the above photo is my oldest daughter, Megan,  patiently letting me photograph her.  My family is now used to me sticking a camera in their face at just about every opportunity.  Over time I'll feature all of them in one place or another.

Incidentally, that MX mirror hasn't hung up on me yet, not once.

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