Cousin Margaret was awesome enough to send me a box of antique cameras few years ago, and there’s one sitting on my shelf that I’ve been meaning to load up with film since then. I haven’t really been shooting much of anything over the last couple of years, but I’ve been thinking that we need some updated family portraits. What’s been stopping me is the film loading method for this camera, which is much different than the Rollei and my current Yashica; there are no guides or arrows for starting the counter—there’s no counter on this camera at all, actually. I did a little digging and YouTube delivered, yet again: this nice man explains the difference between what I’m used to and the simplicity of how they did things in 1938.
His camera has a counter, but it’s the little window at the bottom which tells you where your film is and when to shoot; there’s no mechanical assist with the shutter button on mine. Good to know.
I’ve got a pair of decommissioned video cameras sitting here at the house, and it occurred to me that I could use them for recording things like working on the Scout or on the bus, or other projects. Having a record of how I pulled the radiator out of the truck, or a long capture of installing cabinets in the bus would be handy.
The first camera is Dad’s Canon Vixia HF R300, a consumer-grade handycam meant for shooting Junior’s chorus recital or walking around Disneyworld. He left it to me with a bunch of aftermarket batteries, two chargers and a good-sized memory card. It’s 10 years old, and works just fine; it even has a touchscreen fold-out display. That’s better than my 5-year old Fuji mirrorless.
The second camera is the Canon XF100 from work, a pro-grade camera made in 2010 that has two XLR inputs for sound, 2 Compact Flash slots, and a host of other professional options that cost a premium when it was manufactured. Both of these cameras shoot HD-quality video but not true 1080p or 4K video. It means they’re not fit for use at work anymore, but I can use them for B-roll or other stuff that’s not mission critical. The question is: which one is worth using? I figured I’d do a comparison.
I charged up both batteries and sat them side by side on the copier, then ran them both together aimed at the same thing. I let them run for a minute, downloaded the footage, and synced up the video in Final Cut to see how the quality compares.
As I might have expected, the consumer model can’t compare to the pro model. The Vixia has a smeared image and a weaker sensor. The pro lens is wider, and captures a cleaner, crisper picture, with better contrast and color fidelity. Plus, I’ve got an AC adapter for the XF100, and it’s built to record for hours on end, so it’s just a matter of getting a new battery for remote situations and two larger Compact Flash cards.
Last night I filled a box with four carefully wrapped, priceless reels of our family history and got it ready to ship to Kodak for transfer to digital video. In all, there’s about 100-110 minutes of footage spread across each of them. They’re going to return a couple of thumb drives and a download link along with my reels, and I’m hoping the money spent will be worth it. I have no idea what quality to expect, but I’m hoping the result will be better than anything I can do myself. Dad tried transferring stuff to VHS back in the day but we all know how that technology made out; I’d rather have this digital so I can update the format if I ever need to.
After busting my ass in the heat painting the house, I did some organizing on Sunday to go through all of my camping gear and figure out what we’ve got and what we might need. It’s all been spread out across the basement and garage since we went last time, so I feel a lot better about having most of it in one place, ready to go. This time I’m dealing with teens who have been glued to their screens for two years, so it’s going to be a much trickier situation to navigate. Just as I’ve gotten them to detox and see the beauty of real world, it’ll be time to throw all our shit back in the truck and head home. I hope they don’t band together and kill me; my safety is dependent on the fact that they can’t drive a stick.
As I was working all weekend, I found that I needed to keep pulling my glasses on and off to focus on small details, and I finally got fed up with it. It’s been an issue more and more, and while part of me is still too vain to admit I need bifocals, the time has come. When I do the bus renovation with Brian, I’m going to need a set of safety glasses, so I thought I’d be smart and have a set of progressive lenses built in to them to avoid this issue. But that means I need a prescription. I’ve got an appointment today to have an eye doctor test my reading vision, and I’ve found a place online that will cut me safety glasses for less than a fancy set of designer frames. So we’ll see if I can wear a set of bifocals without throwing up all over myself.
Some shiny things that caught my eye this week: An article that goes through the do’s and don’ts of buying antique Soviet film cameras. I’ve read different things about how awesome and how faulty they can be so it’s nice to have someone detail the pros and cons of various models and lenses. I still need to try putting film through the Zeiss TLR I’ve got sitting on the shelf to see if I can get it to work, so the chances of me buying one of these is zero.
Also, I’ve had a search set up through WatchPatrol for months for a cheap WW2/Korean vintage A17 field watch that would alert me when a working example came up for sale. Given the amount that were issued I would have thought there were barrels of them in a warehouse somewhere, available for $30 each. Apparently not. Vaer watches has designed an updated quartz version of the traditional Korean War-era vintage A17 in a 36mm case, which is the perfect size for my wrist. They’re quality movements, so they don’t come cheap, but if I had $200 laying around I’d grab one.
I wasn’t aware of this, but the password manager I’ve been paying for over the last (7?) years was purchased by a private equity firm at some point in the past year. Surprisingly, they have suddenly gotten a lot more bitchy about their free service. Most of what I’ve read suggests moving to LogMeIn or Bitwarden as an alternative, which I’ll have to consider if/when they try to monetize me further.
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I can be vain like everyone else, and so I must embed this portrait of Nox that Jen took yesterday.
When we were up at Mom’s house, I finished a roll of 120 film that had been sitting in the Yashica since 2017, and I sent them out to be developed last week. From the results I see here, it’s pretty clear I can’t leave film in the camera for that long.
That having been said, some of the defects in these photos are kind of cool.
I can easily photoshop out the two dark spots around Zachary’s head.
This one is from the winter of 2017 when Jen was making galettes with Finn.
This is the last shot on the roll, from up at Mom’s house.
While I was in New York, I fully intended to load up the Ikoflex with film and shoot more. But looking across the internet I found a bunch of conflicting information about how to load it, what film to use, and what film it was designed for. The big issue is loading the film into the camera and aligning it so that the frames align up with the shutter. The Rollieflex and Yashica have two arrows on the back that align with markers on the film. The Ikoflex doesn’t have that set of arrows.
Further investigation is obviously required. I’ve got a couple of rolls of ooooooold film that came from the Mildew House along with the Yashica, so there is some sacrificial film I can use to practice.