a Mercury II landed in Scotland..


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       I had one of these a few years back and I was very impressed with it. I checked out the history of the Univex company in the USA – there is a lot of it and most of it can be found online. There is also an excellent (by all accounts) book but I haven’t read that.
       I think the Mercury CC had a 1/1,500th top shutter speed but it used non-standard film that was made (by Agfa?) in Belgium and when war broke out in Europe the supply dried up. The Mercury II (or at least this one) used standard (“Kodak”) 35mm film canisters and has a 1/1,000th speed. The shutter is rotary – design borrowed from the increasingly interesting world of cine cameras – and was consistently more accurate than Contax or Leica focal plane shutters in tests. It’s not rocket science – a disc with slits cut into it rotates and allows a measured amount of light to reach the film plane.
The different film size of the Mercury II dictated a slightly larger body – same design but bigger.
       My original Mercury II did not operate properly so I followed an online video and cleaned it up and lubricated it. A very satisfying result – a nice whirring shutter! It doesn’t sound like any other camera I’ve ever owned. Just a beautiful, simple piece of machinery.
The Mercury kept its lustre due to the aluminium alloy that they used in the manufacturing of the body. The Mercury II uses a different aluminium alloy that tarnishes and so needs to be polished. Lenses are interchangeable screw thread – but not M39 (smaller). Generally f3.5 but there is a f2.7 lens too (as here).
       When I bought this one it came with the original box, hang tags, instructions, a small muslin bag to send the film back to Univex for processing, a flash exposure calculator and a letter from the company to the then owner, plus other bits and pieces. Here are some pictures.
     It was dirty but working. It has been polished. It is of course a half frame camera so my big mistake of putting a 36 exposure film in it means that I have to take 64 photos (I think that’s the right number – it’s not 72 that much I do know) before I can get it processed! I think it’s about 20 used so far.
     The camera has to be fully wound before setting the shutter speed. It handles really well. It feels “right” and is not awkward. It is reassuringly weighty without being too heavy. If anything needed changing it was the aperture setting indicator line. It’s very difficult to see – this applies to a lot of the numbers on the camera. Not designed for old guys!
     The depth of field scale is on “the hump”. On the back is what can only be described as a star chart. The most complicated and difficult to see exposure calculator on Earth.
     So it’s everything I like in a camera. It’s well made but simple. Quirky without being ridiculous. Capable – but it’s no Hasselblad! It draws a lot of attention. It’s small enough to use for “street” photography without being immediately noticed, however. It is innovative – check out other firsts from Univex online. Rick Oleson has a good piece on the Mercury story.
Hope you enjoy looking at it.
     The camera, and the American makers, probably never suspected it would end up still taking pictures in Scotland 70 years after it came out of the factory.
Gordon Christie



In motion..


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Cine equipment always fascinated me. I started buying home cine cameras and projectors first. At some point I was buying cine & still cameras and gradually only still cameras. I am not a collector, I am a user and cine film is too expensive. I have kept three cine cameras, three projectors and some cine gadgets I am fond of.

KBAPU 1x8c-2_1446818695202

Kbapu 1x8c-2

The Kbapu 1x8c-2 is a metal clockwork SLR super-8 camera which takes super-8 cartridge. The lens is a zoom Meteor-8m-1 1.8/9-38. It has auto or manual exposure mode, TTL meter, backlight compensation, daylight or tungsten film filter, speeds of 9-12-18-24-32fps and single frame and the viewfinder can be short sight adjusted.

It takes 46mm filters and only uses two LR44 batteries for the lightmeter.

KBAPU 2x8c-3_1446818719606

Kbapu 2x8c-3 

The Kbapu 2x8c-3 is a metal clockwork SLR double super-8 (DS8) camera which takes super-8 film on spools. The lens is a Meteor-8m 1.8/9-38. It has an uncoupled selenium light meter which still responds, speeds of 12-18-24-36fps and single frame, adjustable viewfinder and backwind capability for special effects. It also takes 46mm filters.


The DS8 film spool has 7.5m or 10m of film with super-8 perforations. It is called DS8 because it is 16mm wide and not in a cartridge but on… spool. The procedure is the same as in 8mm. You load the film through the path and the film gate to the take up spool and when the film ends, you flip the spools and re-feed. Thus you expose twice but on different sides occupying the whole 16mm width of the film. Then after development, the film is dried, slitted in half and joined. Of course you loose some from exposure to light were you flipped the spools. For the home enthusiast there is a lovely little slitter available…


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Keystone A12

The Keystone A12 is a clockwork 16mm camera which takes 100′ foot double perforated 16mm spools. It uses c-mount lenses in a turret mode, turning the turret also changes the viewfinder. It has the Wollensak 1inch f1.9 cine raptar as normal (there is a viewfinder option for a 17mm also) and the Taylor-Hobson Cooke Kinic Anastigmat 2inch f3.5 . The tele viewfinder has framelines for a 1, 2 and 3 inch lenses. Speeds are 10-16-24-64fps, 3 more intermediate speeds and single frame.

None of the three have audio capability… (there were super-8 models with a microphone, mostly Japanese, I had a Chinon, and if you had a sound super-8 cartridge you could record sound… and the camera’s moteur working. An 8mm camera with audio capability was build from Fairchild Corp.)

I find the old all metal cine cameras the most fascinating. The same goes for the projectors. My Sankyo sound 700 can project super-8 & single-8 film and can reproduce optical sound if it’s on film and also can do audio overdub! But the looks can’t compare with the metal Specto model A 16mm from the 40’s or the Kodak Brownie 500 8mm from the 60’s…


I really like the details on the Specto…



Ready (maybe)… and… some action!

June 2004 in Paros, a Greek island. I had the Kbapu 1x8c-2 with some fresh Kodachrome 40 Super-8 cartridges with me. Kodachrome 40 was still available and after exposure you had to sent it to Switzerland to be processed by Kodak. You only paid the postage, the process and return postage was included in the buying price. These were the last Kodachromes I shot. After some years the factory closed and Kodachrome was only processed in the United States until its final production days.

I used to digitize my cine films by projecting to a white screen and record with a digital camera. Then I would transfer to a PC for arhive or edit. I never managed the outcome on the computer to match what I was seeing on the screen. Nowadays with HD frame scanning I imagine the results will be better.

Kbapu 1x8c-2 / Kodachrome40 shot at 48fps (low resolution video extract) :

For those who do not know, Super-8 is being projected at 18fps, that is why the 48fps is slow motion. The motion effects on cine were mostly being made while shooting.

From time to time I would buy B&W Double Super-8 (DS8) expired cine film and experiment with the Kbapu 2x8c-3 (low resolution video extract) :

A lot of jerking movement, because of the close up lenses and the motor… still, these images would fit to an art instalation of some kind…

I had two Kodak TriX 16mm reversal given to me. I loaded one to a Krasnogorsk 3 16mm reflex camera. Sent it for process and upon receiving it I fed it to the Specto. Started the projector, opened the lamp and almost screamed… I was seeing what I had shot and there were also images upside down & reversed… the film was shot and never developed. And because it was not labeled as shot, it got forgotten and assumed fresh.

Snapshot 1 (2-4-2019 5-10 PM)

still frame from a double exposed Kodak TriX 16mm on a Krasnogorsk 3

But how?

16mm cine film was at first double perforated. Later there was also single perforated in order to add a sound track or shoot Super 16mm. A not labeled as used double perforated cine film inside it’s can with the tape to seal it, can easily be mistaken as unused because you will feed it to the camera with no problem. A used single perforated film will be spooled to the take up spool in a way that you will notice it if you try to load it in a camera. Also most B&W cine films are reversal films, that means that the process ends up with a positive image on the actual film used. You project the film you shot. Colour cine films are negative and the processed film is printed to another negative to get a positive for projection. That means the lab did not messed up.

The second TriX was in the fridge along with some expired Svema DS8. The mystery whether or not the second 16mm was unused and the home process itch forced me (like I did not want to) to by a Morse G3 Developer Tank.


The Morse G3 can handle 8,16 and 35mm film. It has a window for reversal process and a drain for the chemicals… It’s method is to continually move the film from the one spool to the other with the tank full of the required solution.

Most b&w cine films are reversal. That means that in the development process you develop, bleach, expose to light (with a light bulb through the window of the Morse G3 tank), re-develop and fix. The result is a positive film ready for projection.

I don’t get along with bleach so I decided to skip the bleach part and end up with a negative. I would then invert the image on the PC. In theory correct… but in practise no, because the reversal cine film has a layer that will not dissolve without the bleach part and the final negative is very dense and light passes through with great difficulty.        (low resolution video extract) :

(Recently I read of another method using Hydrogen Peroxide 3% and white vinegar for the bleach solution. Maybe in the future if I decide to get some expired cine film…)

The true enthusiast or the then home amateur would use a viewer and an editor to edit films, not a computer. That’s the complete experience!

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Craig Projecto Editor with Kodak senior 16mm splicer

There were a plethora of viewers/editors for 8mm, super-8mm, 16mm. The simple ones silent of course and usually came with an editor attached for simple editing.


Craig Projecto Editor main film guide

The sprockets in the main film guide match the perforation and upon movement the guide interconnects with a prism inside and gives you the movement effect like watching the movie…(low resolution video extract) :

The Kodak senior splicer is all you need to edit your film… some will get furious to see what it takes to make a single edit… (low resolution video extract) :


A simple button push will not cut it. No, not in the film era.



Nasos Papathanasiou

The weather and Politics – what could be more British?


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       If someone tries to tell me that there is no climate change I may have to ask him to come and live here.
       For a week now we have high winds, torrents of rain and dark skies. The forecast is just more of it. I can’t remember weather like this. It’s supposed to be early Spring. Right now it is pouring down and 70k wind gusts. If London was getting it, there would be a National Emergency but it’s “up North” so no one cares. They think it rains every day in Scotland anyway and we are all made of rubber so it doesn’t matter. We are supposed to be planting stuff but the fields have all turned into lakes.
       Down there all they think about is Brexit where everyone has very entrenched and definite views based on absolutely no knowledge.
They keep interviewing people. “What do you think?”
“I think this.”
“Why do you think that?”
“I just do”
“What about counter-argument A, B or C”
“I don’t know”
You can substitute the above for just about every TV interview they show us.
But back to the weather… Some friends are in Tavira, Portugal where it is sunny and 24 degrees. They keep sending us photos of them lying on the beach drinking cocktails, by the hotel pool etc. I’m going to close my WhatsApp account.
       I think soon the whole of the world’s population that has not drowned already or been blown away will be huddled between the Tropics and sticking to high ground. I’m thinking of digging out my Bible and making a start on an Ark. I won’t be doing any of that 2 of every animal thing. It’ll be a 2 seater Ark with a camera cupboard. Someone else can do the Animals.
      When we get to Mount Ararat I’ll come and visit you – it’s just a bit North of Greece. Look out for a dove when the Flood subsides. That was really good thinking getting the Nikonos Underwater Camera. Why didn’t I think of that?……………
Something just went crash in the back garden. Another plant pot blown over.
It’s the Apocalypse……how many cms are there in 15 cubits? Why is the Bible not converted to metric sizes? I don’t think I have any sailcloth- we will just have to let the current take us to Ararat. Where is my (European) passport?
      Here is my TV interview –
Will Britain still be in Europe when you park the Ark on the mountain, Mr Christie?
Yes we definitely will be in Europe.
What about the 29th March exit date?
Oh, I don’t know anything about that, I just think we will still be in Europe but I don’t have any real knowledge of the facts….
Where is Mount Ararat, is it in Georgia or Turkey? Do you know? Are those countries in Europe or not?
Geography isn’t a good subject for me. Or History, or Politics, or current affairs, or anything really. But I have very definite views.
See you soon,
Noah 2.

Taking the P6 route…


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      So……I know this camera is not well-liked in the Photographic community.
Big, heavy, badly made and prone to many faults. Frame overlaps, curtain issues, shutter speeds slow, mirror freeze etc. I even sent a txt to a friend in England – he used to have the use of one (it belonged to his uncle) and he sent back dire warnings.
Do not buy. Dreadful.
He is a straight-talking ex-pro Photographer who always says what he thinks. He does not spare feelings!
     So I found a page on Flickr dedicated to it and there I found a guy making some of the best images I’ve seen in a long time.
I love to see pin sharp images but I do think they are more about the capabilities of a lens – it is not really representative of what we see with our imperfect eyes. I can’t see horizons that are pin sharp so it’s not an exact representation of what I see before me. But I do like that type of photograph too.
However, I’ve always liked slightly ethereal – dare I say “Artistic” – photography in much the same way that I like Impressionist Art. For me everything tends to be about what I feel when I see a photograph. This is what his photography seems to be about.
     So, of course, against my own good sense and against good advice from a friend, I bought one. It comes already with a couple of small issues that (I tell myself) I will fix and it has no lens. It was £26.51. Not expensive!
The lens seems to be what gives the images that certain look that I cannot describe in words. Pictures taken with other lenses on this body do not have that look as far as I can tell.
     So I scour the auction site and find one that is in reasonable condition as to glass. The exterior is a little scruffy but that has never bothered me, providing it has not been trashed. Make me an offer says the seller. Oh, and it comes with an EOS adapter – I have a Canon digital camera. A bonus!
I make an offer and it is accepted.
So I am currently waiting for the delivery of a (very unreliable?) Pentacon Six TL and a Carl Zeiss Biometar 80mm lens plus adapter (for occasional digital comparisons).
      I am convinced it will transform my photography. I have a Hasselblad in the same format with a £1,000 40mm FLE lens. Don’t get me wrong – I love it, but I think I love having it more than using it?
This one I think I will love using if the results look anything like the images I’ve seen online.
Time will tell………..
Gordon Christie

Climbing the ladder


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The shallow depth of field on close ups is something I liked very much from the start. I imagine it was the basic reason I mostly used “normal” and small (and big) telephoto lenses (over the years, the 35mm view grew up on me and now I tend to prefer focal lenghts from normal to wide). A little reading about shallow depth of field brought up the will to dive deeper into medium and large format. I say ‘deeper’ because the Kodak box cameras I had, the Ensign ful vue and some other medium format cameras (except the Lubitel) could not give me the package I was after. I wanted ground glass focusing, lenses, backs. An excuse to look into and buy more cameras.

I had my eyes on a big tlr, an slr and a view camera. I swapped 6 cameras for a Mamiya C330, I lusted for a Hasselblad but bought a Salyut, got a Graflex Century Graphic and made a big box to use two cut film 8×10” holders and a 10” lens. The ladder nearly fell over from the weight…

I bought a “work” handbook titled: “Photographic Cameras and Accessories – comprising how to make cameras, dark slides, shutters and stands” by Paul N. Hasluck, written in 1901 and reprinted by Lindsay Publications Inc. In order to build a camera like the ones described in the book, you need to have the tools and be a qualified handyman and precise person. I don’t have the tools and even as a handyman I’m not that precise. So the DIY “proper” view camera did not even start. But the chapter on Ferrotype cameras gave me an idea: A simple matchbox like camera. Mount a lens to the bigger front box and a cut film holder to the smaller sliding back box.


8×10”       (Sony DSC-P32)

Went to a local glass shop and had a frosted glass cut to mount on the back for ground glass focusing…

8x10 BACK

8×10”        (Sony DSC-P32)

The lens was a Wollensak 10” f8 Tasope and I had 2 8×10” kodak wooden cut film holders that I had bought extremely cheap… (I figured it out when I sold them).


Wollensak 10” f8 Tasope lens     (Pentax istDL)

The price of 8×10” sheet film was (and still is), too high to waste (?) on a camera like this so I used photographic printing paper. You load the paper in the cut film holder, expose and develop in darkroom tanks like you would if you printed it using a darkroom enlarger. The negative you end up with, can be contact printed (as long as the paper is plain on the back side and not with brand logo) or scanned/digitally photographed and reversed to get a positive.


Specto model A 16mm projector      (8×10 inch, Wollensak Tasope)


The Mamiya C330 is a beast. I still love it’s shape, the ability to change lenses and it is one of my favourite cameras to see. I had the normal 80mm and the 180mm telephoto lens. A great camera but if you want a tlr and just a normal lens, perhaps you are better with a smaller lighter camera. You can’t walk around for long with a Mamiya C330 on the shoulder. Depends on the shoulder of course…

varkiza slide 3

a morning      (Mamiya C330/Mamiya-sekor 80mm/Fujichrome sensia 100)


The Graflex Century Graphic 2×3” is a folding view camera. Its lens was a Graflex Trioptar 103mm f4.5. A three element lens with nice rendering. Many consider the three element lenses junk. I disagree.


Graflex Century Graphic 2×3”       (Pentax istDL)

A lovely bakelite and metal construction, with some movements, very light for a 2×3” but a camera you can’t use without a tripod (unless it has a rangefinder). I only shot one roll of Ilford fp4+ with the Century Graphic, my 4 year old then nephew. I don’t post photos of children on the internet. The images came out great.

When you have the camera virus, you look at cameras and say: “I wish I had a Hasselblad or a Rolleiflex or a Leica… etc. But they are too expensive and I can’t afford to buy one.”  You are right, the cost is high -not like it used to, thanks digital- but still is. The camera buying virus is the one playing the joke here, because when you add what you have spent on your small collection, you realize that actually, you could buy one. But you still don’t learn. And why learn? As Antonis (my companion on the photographic journey) so wisely said: “nobody escaped… eventually you will buy a Hassy or a Rolleiflex or a Leica, maybe one of each… That does not mean you will be a better photographer though…”


Salyut with Industar-29      (Pentax istDL)

I did not get a Hasselblad back then. I got a Salyut. An early 60’s model that worked as it should.

triumph bonneville

The Bonnie                                       (Saluyt/Industar-29/Ilford fp4+/cropped)

Soon I found myself with the chimney finder, the nc2 prism, macro rings, the Mir-3 65mm f3.5, the Tair-33 300mm f4.5, the Vega-12V 90mm f2.8, the MC Telear 5V 250mm f5.6 and my first camera backpack to fit them all in. Then I lifted it up. I never left the house with it all.

m151 a1 detail

M151 A1       (Salyut/Industar-29/Ilford fp4+)

a view

vacation        (Salyut/Industar-29/Fuji100/cropped)

m151a1 sunset

on vacation with a M151A1    (Salyut/Mir-3/Fuji100)

The only extra lens I should have for the Salyut had to be the Mir-3. The normal and the wide angle was enough. Maybe then I would have kept it.

Before I parted with the Salyut, I had traded the Mamiya C330. It was one of my famous ‘how to lose money’ moves. I had open matters with large format (or so I thought) and I gave the C330 to get a Calumet CC400 4×5” monorail. I had issues dragging the Mamiya around and I got the Calumet… go figure…

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Calumet CC400 with the Wollensak 10” f8 Tasope lens   (Pentax istDL)

I still laugh when I think about it. I made some exposures on the Calumet basically on photographic printing paper and one almost successful on Fomapan 100 sheet film.

211109 vouliagmeni

Calumet CC400    (Sony Ericsson W350i)

vouliagmeni nov 2009

Vouliagmeni     (Calumet CC400/Wollensak Tasope 10”/Fomapan100/cropped)

I had some good time with it but it did not last long. It was not the Calumet’s fault. A very steady, built to outlast us camera with a USN sticker… I was too “young” for it and for developing 4×5” on an FFR tank…

pos 02_

the guitar                                                                              (Calumet CC400/Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar/paper)

pos 06

Ica    (Calumet CC400/Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar/paper)


Calumet CC400      (Pentax istDL)

pos a couple yashica yashinon f5.6 1 sec

pair   (Calumet CC400/Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar/paper)


All these years I usually try more than one camera before deciding if I want to go further with a format. Before I parted with the Calumet, I had bought another 4×5” of a more “portable” design.  A Burke & James Press 4×5”. A nicely build camera with a rotating spring type back like the Calumet. A folding view 4×5” camera, capable if you care to get into it. Most prefer the Graflex Speed Graphic, or a Crown Graphic or an MPP in this price range (the Linhof and the others go up scale). For me, the Speed Graphic, though heavier, is more versatile because you can also use barrel lenses. But it was more expensive, the B&J was a bargain -if you live outside the US you have to take into account the shipping & import cost also.

BURKE AND JAMES PRESS 4x5_1446817835908

B&J Press 4×5”    (Pentax istDL)

As the Mamiya C330, the B&J also did not get the time it deserved, for different reasons. The two major drawbacks for me and 4×5” were the cost & developing of sheet film and the necessity of the tripod. The tripod is something I rarely use even now. As for developing, I wasn’t aware of the more easy ‘Taco’ method to try, I had no luck with the FFR developing tank and a Nikkor 4×5” tank was too expensive. I was even less experienced in developing, and for 4×5” to show its potential you have to be very very precise and give it the time and attention it needs both in shooting and in developing.


The Calumet CC400 and the Burke & James Press 4×5 were sold along with the lenses the FFR tank and rest 4×5 stuff. Needed to make room and build a cash amount for other cameras. The last to go, were some Fidelity 4×5” holders and a red dark cloth for the focusing aim on the ground glass. These were bought by Antonis, an experienced amateur photographer who became a good friend and companion to this ongoing photography journey.

The last 4×5” camera I bought  -and gave to Antonis as a present- was a Graflex RB 4×5” . An slr 4×5”.  I love the Graflex slr’s. That’s a future musing.


I wish 2019 to be a better year than the one we left behind.


Nasos Papathanasiou







A fellowship gathering.


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So there I was with my father’s Yashica J as my only photo camera and I wanted more and a Single Lens Reflex was the first target. But I had a keen interest in cine cameras and projectors also (I still do, but…) and while on a trip to the US, I figured to add some formats to the super8 camera and projector I already had…

I bought a Cronica-8ET turret 8mm, a Kodak Brownie 500 8mm projector and I was given a Keystone A12 16mm camera with two old Kodak trix 16mm films (more on the cine films in the future) plus a gorgeous Craig projecto viewer with a Kodak Senior splicer for editing 16mm at home. A home moviola.

KODAK BROWNIE_1446818760338

                                       Kodak Brownie 500 8mm projector                                                     (Pentax istDL)

The Kodak Brownie 500 8mm projector is a basic model, but it has great looks, a huge torpido- shaped 500w lamp and costed next to nothing.

KEYSTONE A12_1446818737345

         Keystone A12 16mm camera               (Pentax istDL) 

The Keystone A12 is a clockwork 16mm cine camera from the late ’40s. It is a C mount camera that takes 100ft (30m) film spools and the lenses on mine are a Wollensak 1inch f1.9 cine raptar and a 2inch f3.5 Taylor Hobson Cooke Kinic Anastigmat.


Wollensak 1inch f1.9 cine raptar       (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)


             Keystone A12 16mm camera              (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)

Speeds are low 10, normal 16, sound 24, three intermediate speeds of 32,40,48 and slow motion 64fps. It can also take single frames like almost every cine camera.


          Keystone A12 speed selector                         (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)

“… a very usefull and patented feature of the Keystone camera is the audible film register with which it is equipped. Each time about one and one-half feet of film becomes used a soft signal rings and reminds the operator to shoot the proper film footage for the scene. This eliminates the necessity of stoping the camera to see how much film has been used on the scene.”  (Keystone manual)


Keystone A12 film feet indicator   (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)

The Craig Projecto Editor is a great object to own even if you don’t plan to edit.

CRAIG PROJECTO_1458293348700

16mm Craig Projecto Editor with Kodak Senior splicer  (Sony dsc-p32)

The basic operation is moving the film from the left reel (feed) through the guides and the light gate towards the right reel (take up). The main guide has teeth to snap to the film perforation. While you turn the take up reel the film turns the main guide which inside is connected with a prism, thus the image on the ground glass has a projection-like motion.


16mm Craig Projecto Editor main guide     (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)

If you want to make an edit you use the Kodak Senior splicer located in front of the viewer.


                     Kodak Senior 16mm Splicer                              (Pentax istDL)


          Kodak Senior 16mm Splicer                    (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)


                                  Kodak Senior 16mm Splicer                                              (Pentax K7 smc pentax-m macro f4 100mm)

All you need is some film cement to join the film after you made a cut. In a future writing I may explain its operation with the appropriate pictures.

A “brutal” method -when a viewer & splicer are not available- is looking the film in the light and have a pair of scissors on the table… some old movies were edited that way…


                                                    16mm film on reel                                                        (Pentax istDL)


That same period, a Sunday morning found me strolling in a flea market… the table I stopped at, was full of cameras but the amount of money in my pocket was enough only for a small section to explore… the Soviet section…

The groundglass image on the prism of an SLR is addictive (to this day) and I opted for  a Zenit E. My first Single Lens Reflex camera.


Zenit E Helios44-2 58mm f2 Fuji sensia 200

The Zenit E is one of the most mass produced SLRs of all time. It has the common M42 lens mount and usually it is sold with the Helios 44-2 f:2 58mm lens. It has a selenium light meter and basic shutter speed options.

paros sunset net rocks blur

Zenit E Helios 44-2 58mm f2 Fuji sensia 200

I had the urge to try many photographic routes and did not care much on the camera’s quirks and my limited knowledge on exposure and lens characteristics. I was free. I just took photos.


Zenit E MTO-A 550mm f8.5 Fuji sensia 100

jonathan 2

Zenit E Photax-Paragon 200mm f3.5 Fuji sensia 200

flowers can hurt too

Zenit E Helios 44-2 58mm f2 macro bellows Fuji sensia 200

Most will say that a Soviet camera operates harsh, like a tank. Most will say that a Soviet camera is useless, mainly because of the poor quality control and bad design. At least many will agree that there are some Soviet lenses that are worth using.

amp lamp

Zenit E Helios 44-2 58mm f2 macro bellows Kodak gold 200

I had a blast with the Zenit E. But the time came when traces of light managed to enter from the lightmeter window on top and some shutter mulfactions occured. It was time to let it go as I was not free anymore, I was hooked, more cameras were present now in the room, both cine and still. Years later, the E’s m42 mount went to a good friend who used it for his diy 6×9.

A Zenit I liked and should have used more, was the Zenit 3.

ZENIT 3_1446818231728

Zenit 3  (Pentax istDL)

A m39 mount bottom loading slr camera with a Helios 44 58mm f2 with 13 iris blades.

sea varkiza

Zenit 3 Helios 44 Ilford fp4+

gata ydra

Zenit 3 Helios 44 Ilford fp4+

donkey ydra

Zenit 3 Helios 44 Ilford fp4+

I got some m39 macro rings for the Zenit 3 and experimented photographing new additions…


portrait hawkeye

             Kodak portrait hawkeye                                                      (Zenit 3 Helios 44 58mm f2 macro rings Ilford fp4+)

















                                 Lubitel                                                     (Zenit 3 Helios 44 58mm f2 macro rings Ilford fp4+)

A Praktica LTL3 found its place next to the Zenit E, and got most of the action cause I had all these m42 lenses float around.

meteora 1

Praktica LTL3 Industar 61LZ 50mm f2.8 Kodak tmax100

meteora 3

Praktica LTL3 Photax-Paragon 200mm f3.5 Kodak tmax100

meteora 11

Praktica LTL3 Industar 61LZ 50mm f2.8 Kodak tmax100

The Praktica LTL3, a m42 mount slr, had a vertical focal plane metal blade shutter with speeds from 1sec to 1/1000, a ttl cds meter powered from a px625 battery and was a joy to use.

peter r26

Praktica LTL3 Photax-Paragon 200mm f3.5 Kodak 125 px

poseidon temple middle

Praktica LTL3 MC Zenitar 16mm f2.8 fisheye Kodak 125 px


      pnasium    (Praktica LTL3 parts lens Ilford fp4+)

Then came a period of mostly buying and selling, sometimes without using… the small collection consisted of :

still cameras… Zenit E, Zenit 3, Praktica LTL3, Polaroid automatic 100, Ihagee Exa, Asahi Pentax S1a, Ensign ful vue, Lubitel, Kodak Portrait Hawkeye, Kodak Browie 2c, Kodak duo 620, Ihagee ultrix simplex (gift), Yashica J (my father’s), Kodak Brownie Haykeye flash model (my grandmother’s), Argus C3

cine cameras… Kodak xl33, Cronica 8et, Kbapu 2, Minolta zoom 8, Agfa movexoom 3000, Chinon 60 smxl, Krasnogorsk 3, Wittnauer 400, Kodak cine model 8, Keystone A12, Kbapu 1x8c2

cine projectors… Sankyo sound 700, Kodak Brownie 500 and Specto model A.

collective shelf

A Fellowship Gathering                                                                                           (Praktica LTL3 Industar 61LZ 50mm f2.8 Agfa apx 400)

When you get the itch and start scatching, you keep on going. Few months later I felt the need to clear up a notch and step up …


Nasos Papathanasiou



Hello From Scotland II


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“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion”

Robert Burns.

It would be good to find out how we are seen by others. It might prevent a few mistakes and stop us from having a high opinion of ourselves.

The strange thing about the old Scots “tongue” or language is that it is acceptable to use it when reciting Burns’ poetry round about the end of January, but in general it is looked down on at any other time. The verb to give is restricted – to gie (pronounced “gee” with a hard g as in Greece). But if you ask someone to gie you a cup of tea it is now thought of as common and lazy speech. Similarly if we now use wad (as in bad) instead of would or talk about gifties when we mean gifts, that is frowned upon. The language has moved on, as any language will. Those words are still there but they seem coarse and the user will be seen as uneducated. It’s not “proper English”.

So strangely, we now have a “foolish notion”  – a high opinion – of ourselves as a nation that should not use the form of the English language that developed in Scotland.  An analogy might be Romanian where the language is said to be the closest to Latin. But no-one suggests that Romanian is coarse and they should speak “proper Latin”.

But I spoke of a potential character flaw in the last post. I promised to reveal it if it existed. It is perhaps bound up with foolish notions.

My Gundlach-Manhattan Criterion View (Greek kritērion ‘means of judging’, from kritēs (see critic).) that I mentioned was stripped, cleaned, had small splits in wood repaired, reassembled and repaired.


Gundlach-Manhattan Criterion

It took a long time; months. I researched, I discussed on Forum websites, I was sometimes taken to task by people with more experience who disagreed with my methods or disapproved of my aims. I found missing parts and was sometimes heavily overcharged for them – caveat emptor. I realised that there is not too much love out there in the Photographic community – not enough anyway. The Forums are full of people who are quick to criticise and slow to praise, help, encourage. I gained the impression that they are mostly men, elderly, from the “New World” and who bring with them the problems of old age. Impatience being the major fault and an idea that no-one does it like them. I saw them telling people – not me so this is not sour grapes – to leave the website for daring to say something or for putting an alternative point of view. It’s my way or the highway was the overall impression.

So I stopped using them. I said in my first post that a shared interest in Photography does not always mean a meeting of minds and that was prompted by my experience on Forum websites.

So my foolish notion of myself was as a repairer and collector of old film cameras. I have some credentials as a repairer. I have brought several cameras back to life. Sold as “for spares or repairs”, completely jammed, shutter not working. Bellows have holes/bellows are dust etc.

I have some credentials as a collector. Right now there are about 25 cameras in the house.

When I fix them, I get a great feeling of satisfaction and they are raised in my estimation. I have better feelings about my Contaflex – the very complicated shutter was a mess when I got it but it now works perfectly – than I do about another Contaflex that was sold to me as having an inoperative shutter but which worked perfectly when it arrived! I was actually disappointed that it needed no work! The same is true of my “English Leica” Corfield – needed no work but sold as spares/repairs. Disappointed.

So, with all this talk about love and satisfaction you might say “How is the Gundlach?”. “How is the beautiful Century Grand that you spent months on? You know, the one where you first discovered that those craftsmen that made it actually filed each tiny screw individually so that when the screws were all correctly tightened, the slots all faced in the same direction? The one where you cut up your old, much-prized leather jacket because the grain matched the grain on the leather that was still visible on the case, and re-covered it just so that it could look as it did when it was new?”

Maybe next post!

Gordon Christie


The Early Taste…



There was a period when the curiosity about the Sankyo Super 8 projector and Dad’s little Yashica J rangefinder camera barely existed… Childhood was over and the teenage period filled the day with sports, games, hangouts, music, the brutal reading and waking up early in the morning… and not a worry in our minds… (except love stories…)

My own first camera was a present from my Godfather. A Fujica MF. A fixed f8 lens, single speed camera with manual film advance and onboard flash which you could disable. This small light plastic camera snapped school memories, new house memories and basically got the itch rolling in a non rolling period.

(Fujica MF Agfa hdc100)

This is one of the most significant photos for me. It is in a period of the end of an era. I am on the train going up north, near the border, to my unit, going through my obligatory military duty. I love those still trees far away, the window reflection and the movement.


(Fujica MF Orwocolour qrs100)

(Fujica MF Orwocolour qrs100)

(Fujica MF Orwocolour qrs100)

The end of that period marked the start of a new era. Studies, work and the full entry in the production period. About that time the little Fujica MF gave up.

The old Yaschica J returned from the closet, demanded a place in the room and brought together the Sankyo Super 8 projector and the Chinon 60 SMXL Super 8 camera.

This created a will to explore both cine and photography equipment. The following years saw me strolling in flea markets, in used camera stores and the net, for cine & photography goodies. See it, buy it, find info on it, accessorise it, use it.

The first was a Russian SLR.

Nasos Papathanasiou

The trigger…


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“The picture made by the camera is a more or less faithfull representation of what a single eye might have seen, and from the patches of light and shade in the positive photographic print the eye and the mind working together can arrive at a reasonably accurate interpretation of the form and nature of the objects portrayed.”

Ilford manual of photography, Chapter I, The mechanism of image formation


“Well, it would be nice if it went to Greece…” Gordon replied to my query. That led to conversations on cameras, our countries, people, the world. Also led to this series of musings that will be hosted here. Gordon Christie, a Scotsman. Nasos Papathanasiou, a Greek. Both on a camera bug.

The same object will have a different appeal photographed in Scotland and in Greece due to diverse light conditions. The blue sky of Greece Gordon wishes for, is a beautifull sight. However the sun is strong and direct, this translates to harsch shadows and colours. Scotland on the other hand, may have way less sunny days but the sun is almost always in angle. This makes up for friendlier shadows and saturated colours- a remark from Antonis, a good friend, a good photographer and photowalk companion.

You win some, you lose some…

But, enough with the light. The light was not “the trigger”.

As I was growing up, a distinctive sound was bringing a sense of joy and triggered my curiosity. A Sankyo sound 700 super/single8 projector was sending light through celluloid, forming moving images of my childhood on a Perfecta screen. I still have them, as I also have my father’s small metal rangefinder camera, his Yashica J.

I believe most of the scratches on the Yashica’s front element were made by me, wiping it, a common mistake. Eventually I grew up, and the triggered bug came to life.

Nasos Papathanasiou





Hello From Scotland


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I “met” Nasos electronically on a well known auction site.
A shared interest, in our case Photography, does not always mean a meeting of minds, but in this case I think it may mean that.
Whether that is true or not,
I’m delighted that he is allowing me to write on his website / blog.
I’m Gordon Christie, born in the Scottish capital city, Edinburgh but now living 10 miles west of Glasgow near the mouth of the river Clyde, one of several rivers in central southern Scotland. The other main river, the Forth, has dominated my life until I moved recently. The abundance of water shapes the Scots as much as it does the landscape. The word whisky comes from Gaelic uisge-beatha – the water of life. In this respect we differ from the people who inhabit Southern Europe.
When I think of that river, merging as it does in a wide estuary with the North Sea,
it is as a steel grey, vast body of water sliding silently west to east in its valley between the counties of Fife to the north and Lothian to the south. Sometimes of course it is blue but mostly it is grey. The history that goes with that river – there are Roman remains under the water at Cramond to the north of Edinburgh – is astonishing but the subject for a different blog than this.
The light in my part of the world is an unlikely catalyst (from Greek katalysis) for an interest in Photography – that word is also taken from the Greek for “drawing with light” – but the weather is so unpredictable and changeable that our landscape can be magically transformed in minutes. So it is arguably better light for landscapes than for example unremitting blue skies.
Many of us Scottish Photographers would probably trade some of our weather for some more unremitting blue skies however! Sometimes that is achieved by holidays in warmer places, like Greece.
Camera – from Latin. French – chambre; English – chamber. I used to wonder when I was younger and heard that a judge would hear evidence “in camera”, how that meant that it was in secret, away from the jury. Of course it means in (his) chamber or room.
So a camera is, strangely, a light tight chamber. No light enters unless a lens is attached. No evidence escapes unless deliberately allowed to.
I could begin by telling you about my first camera, a Halina as it turned out, or about our family camera, a Box Brownie, which had its own smell like warm cardboard and sported a mysterious red window. It was only brought out for Summer holidays on the Fife coast after an exciting journey by steam train over the magnificent Forth Rail Bridge or less often to places like Ayr. It seemed that a long roll of paper was put in, with great difficulty, then it was removed and taken to the Chemist and after a two week wait 3 or 4 unspoiled photos emerged in black and white.
Maybe starting at the beginning is a bit predictable, however.
I love cameras. I admire the design skills, the engineering, the ingenuity,
the look……just about everything. When did this start? I don’t really know.
Maybe I’ll start in the middle. Already well “into” cameras and Photography I made an impulse buy from America. A Gundlach-Manhattan Criterion half plate in a terrible state of disrepair. Gundlach history is pretty well documented on the net.
The Korona was a bigger seller. Even now you won’t see many Criterion examples but there are always Koronas kicking about.
The bellows were mostly dust but had been very thin leather. The mahogany wasn’t too bad but very dirty after years in a loft. The brass rack and pinion focus system was a carpet of oil and compacted dust and hair, accumulated over 100 years. It was jammed.
It neither racked nor pinioned!
The lens was black. Brass – but black. The glass was in reasonable condition. I can’t now remember what the focus screen was like. I need to go back to the photos that I took.
I needed a project having recently taken early retirement from a Corporate Taxation job with an International Life Assurance and Pensions Company that I did not like but which paid the mortgage. This was a project!
I painstakingly measured, sketched, recorded and dismantled the camera. I cleaned and polished the brass. I cleaned the wood. I researched and eventually found myself making replacement bellows. That was a journey in itself. They are made from 2 pieces of material with thin card strips between them like a sandwich. The measuring and cutting of the card stiffeners is crucial as is the folding and the placement of the seam.
Each stage was documented as much to remind myself where to put things when rebuilding as for any other reason.
I ended up making several versions of the bellows. Different materials were tried as well as thicknesses of card inserts.
This process however revealed something about me that I didn’t know. Something in my psyche – Greek again! – that was unsuspected. “Is it a flaw in my character?” I wondered.
I found the answer to that question.
I’ll share it with you in the next Episode (Greek epeisodion).


Gordon Christie