By on August 20, 2014

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Let’s start this off with a caveat. I make no pretensions to being a photographer. At best I can compose and frame a decent snapshot. Years ago I realized that if I wanted to get more serious about photography I’d have to start learning a bunch of technical things like depth of field and f-stops and I already had enough hobbies. As a result, I have a great deal of respect for professional and serious amateur photographers and cinematographers. That respect has grown since I started writing about cars, as that gig often requires taking photographs to accompany my words.

Last Wednesday, Derek Kreindler and I worked together to make sure that The Truth About Cars had someone to cover the Dodge Charger Hellcat reveal on-site at the event, which wrapped up around noon. We managed to get almost 100 high definition color photographs of the event and the car picked out, cropped and up on this site by mid-afternoon. We also decided that the reveal, and subsequent Woodward Dream Cruise, would be a great opportunity to show you how long you would have had to wait to see color photos of an event back in the pre-digital era.

We live in an age of miracles and wonders. At the celebration of my Bar Mitzvah I received actual paper telegrams via Western Union. Nowadays, I can be walking down the street in suburban Detroit and my brother, who lives in Jerusalem, Israel, can send me a photograph on my phone and then call me about it, and because of flat rate cellphone service, neither one of us is actually paying very much for that communication. Far less, I’m sure, in both real or inflated dollars, than those telegrams cost my parents’ friends and relatives in 1967. Come to think of it, my brother taking and sending me that photo via SMS was also a lot cheaper than it used to cost to take and process a photograph and mail it to someone halfway around the world.

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My mom, I’m also sure, has those telegrams somewhere in her house. As the saying goes, may she live to 120. Three quarters of the way there, though, she’s showing some signs of age and recently moved into a nice apartment at a senior assisted living facility. My sisters also live out of town so it’s up to me to go through mom’s house. My late father started taking photographs, color slides and home movies before I was born. He had three 8mm movie cameras that I’ve found while cleaning and since there are a couple of rolls of 16mm movies in the box of home movies, he must have at least had access to a 16mm movie camera way back when. As far as still photography was concerned, the camera of my father’s with which I’m most familiar is his Konica Autoreflex T2 35mm single lens reflex he bought when I was in high school. He had another Konica before that but when the T2 came out he traded up.

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That’s the camera that I personally used taking photos of my family as my own kids grew, the camera that I took on vacations and camping trips to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. However, before the Konicas, and before a series of Polaroids going back to the black and white days when you had to wipe the “finished” print with a pad soaked with fixer, my dad had an Argus C3.

Argus was a company in Ann Arbor, Michigan that can be said to have popularized the 35mm photographic format in America. Charles A. Verschoor had a company that produced radio receivers, International Radio Corporation. On a trip to Europe he noticed the costly Leica cameras being made to use Kodak’s then new daylight loading 35mm film cartridges and resolved to make a similar camera, but one that could be affordable, costing just $10. Starting in 1936 with the Model A, Argus would go on to sell millions of cameras over the next three decades. Argus cameras were so popular that they even affected how people talk. The title of Alan Funt’s Candid Camera television show was taken from a phrase popularized by Argus.

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With the success of the Model A camera, the company was renamed Argus, after the mythological creature with 1,000 eyes. The cameras were almost entirely made in Ann Arbor, where the company was a major employer. Even the lenses, which were said to rival Leica’s lenses in optical if not manufacturing quality, were made in-house. The Argus C3, affectionately called “The Brick” by collectors, sold over 3 million units in the 1950s and 1960s. However, like the Michigan based car companies a decade later, as it entered the 1960s Argus didn’t recognize what a competitive threat Japanese companies could be and today the only thing left of Argus in Ann Arbor is a museum devoted to the company and its role in American culture.

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I checked out the mechanical functions on my father’s C3. The aperture opened and closed, the shutter worked and so did the shutter timing mechanism, it seemed. I did have to clean accumulated dust from the lens, viewfinder and rangefinder. What’s a rangefinder? Before digital let everyone see what the main lens was seeing via sensors and viewscreens, there were SLRs. That stands for single lens reflex. Photography buffs can correct me if I’m wrong, but the “single lens” part is in contradistinction to older twin lens reflex (TLR) cameras that had one lens for the shutter/film and another for the photographer’s viewfinder. The two lenses worked in tandem so the photographer would know when things were in focus. SLRs’ viewfinders were able to see through the main lens via an internal mirror setup that retracts just before the shutter opens.

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Before SLRs became popular professional photographers, the kinds who would be covering something like the introduction of a new car, as well as serious photography enthusiasts, would be using a TLR. Members of the general public were more likely to be using  simple fixed focus viewfinder cameras. Photography buffs on a budget, though, had the option of a rangefinder camera. Rangefinder cameras had lenses that could be focused based on distance to the subject. There are two optical ports in the back of a rangefinder camera, one to frame the shot, and the other to determine distance to the subject. The rangefinder port gives a split image from the viewfinder and from the rangefinder. Since there is a parallax between the two image sources, when the two are lined up, that will correspond to the right distance. The knob that adjusts the rangefinder is ganged via a gear to the lens focusing ring. Alternatively, you can just set the distance using a scale on the knob.

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To shoot with a rangefinder camera, you first have to frame the shot with the main viewfinder, then check the focus with the rangefinder, then go back to the main view to take the photo. Of course, since just about everything else on the Argus C3 is manually set, that’s just the last step, almost, in the process of taking a photo.

First you have to set the aperture, how large the shutter opening will be, and the shutter speed, based on some kind of chart that references those two settings relative to the ASA speed of the film (how sensitive to light it is) that you are using. Ah, but don’t think you’re ready to shoot just because you’ve set the camera. First you have to cock the shutter mechanism with a small lever on the front of the camera. Then you have to make sure that you move your fingers out of the way because if you don’t, the lever will hit your finger when the shutter releases, causing motion blur in your photo, as you can see in the first roll that I shot with the Argus at the Charger reveal.

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Once you’re done taking the photo, you have to advance the film by winding it, but first you have to press on a little film release button for the first 1/4 turn, then wind to the next shot. If you hold the button down too long, you skip past a frame and waste a shot on the roll. If you forget to advance the film, there is nothing to prevent you from double exposing (or triple exposing for the matter) a frame. Some of you may never have seen a double exposure before. I know you can use a photo editor to reproduce the look from two separate shots but is it even possible to natively shoot a double exposure with a digital camera?

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My dad’s Argus was made in 1957. I believe that the Konica T2 came out in 1971. The Autoreflex from Konica was the first “through the lens” metering SLR and it can shoot in full automatic mode. Well, full automatic mode circa 1971. You just set the film speed and the shutter speed and the camera will auto-expose and set the aperture itself. There’s a handy light meter inside the viewfinder that lets you know when you’re out of range, or how changing the shutter speed will affect the aperture. It also has mechanisms that prevent double exposures and missed shots. The film won’t advance unless you’ve triggered the shutter and once you’ve triggered it, it won’t release again without advancing the film.

When I took the cameras to the Charger Hellcat reveal, I had to use the Konica in full manual mode because the batteries were dead and you have to go to a camera shop to get the air-zinc batteries from Wein that replace the old stable-voltage mercury batteries that were specified when the camera was made. Still, even in full manual mode the Konica was much easier to use and not just because of its simpler focusing.

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Since I was playing around with a camera that was already 10 years old at the time of my Bar Mitzvah (the serial # indicates it was made in 1957) I didn’t want to throw money at the idea. Before I spent money on film, I decided to try out both cameras with some unexposed (but out of date) Kodak Gold film in an ASA speed of 200 I’d found in the house. Checking with film photography sites online (it’s had a bit of a revival in part because hipsters have embraced film) I found that if it isn’t frozen (which preserves film for a long, long time) old film will be slower, i.e. less sensitive to light, the colors might be off and the results might be grainy, but you’ll likely still get some kind of image on the film.

With that in mind, along with what rudimentary photography skills that I have, and my dad’s old pocket Kodak photography guide to help with the settings, I used the two film cameras at the Hellcat event. I also used them at some Woodward Dream Cruise events as well as at the regional annual American Motors club meet in Livonia and the huge Mustang Memories show held at Ford headquarters. The idea was to show just how long you would have had to wait to see color photos of a car event back then.

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While I could have taken the film to a chain drugstore with one-hour photo processing, that seemed a bit anachronistic since when both of those cameras were new, there was no one-hour film processing, at least with color film, and not at all for consumers. They didn’t have film processing machines in drugstores then, you had to send the film off for processing at an out of town lab. Photographers shooting news would likely have access to a darkroom, either their own or one belonging to their employer, but they would have been shooting black and white. Color, at least as far as the news industry was concerned, was reserved for monthly publications (it’s worth pointing out that daily newspapers didn’t print in color until the 1980s). Autoweek might have had a color photograph on the cover, but inside it was mostly black and white.

It usually took at least a week, sometimes two, to get your color negatives and prints back.

We’ve gained speed, but we’ve lost the anticipation that came with traditional chemical photography. Did they come out? Which ones came out? Which ones could have been better? Which shots had our thumbs over the lens?

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Film back then was also expensive. You paid for the film and processing no matter if you got any usable shots or not. The fact that a family spent money on photography meant that getting a permanent record of their memories was important. It wasn’t cheap to do so. I remember my dad looking for combination film/processing deals and buying bulk 35mm movie film loaded into cartridges. Speaking of movies, movie film was even more expensive and could be an even bigger pain to use. I found an unexposed “double roll” of 8mm Kodachrome II movie film. The double part meant that it was 16mm stock, you’d shoot half (after having to load spooled film in dim light so you didn’t expose it and fog the film), then have to flip around the spools so you could shoot the other half. After developing, the processor would slit the film down the middle into two 8mm strips and then splice them end to end.

Since I wasn’t sure the film would process and develop, I figured that it made more sense to have it done at a camera shop with their own processing lab than to trust a technician working for a contractor to Rite Aid or CVS. Woodward Camera had graciously sold me some batteries for the Konica when they were actually closed for the Dream Cruise and hosting a Daughters of the American Revolution event. Since they were nice to me, I took the film to be processed there. By the way, if you happen to shoot film, before having it done at a drugstore, check your local camera shop. Woodward Camera was actually about 20% cheaper than Rite Aid. They also processed the film in less than a day. As a result, you’re seeing the photos now instead of next week.

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I also wanted to use my dad’s old Revere 8mm movie camera. It’s got a turret with a couple of lenses and it’s build like a fine watch. More important, since I’m writing what is essentially a piece about old cameras for a car site, Revere started out in the automotive business, making radiators. That little movie camera is a jewel. It will work mechanically long after we’re all dead. However, it takes a film magazine and there weren’t any unexposed 8mm magazines that I could find in mom’s house. I ended up using dad’s Kodak Brownie movie camera, whose build quality showed what a mass-market consumer item it was compared to the Revere. Still, it seemed to function okay.

Later on there were battery operated movie cameras but when “home movies” were really big, you had to wind up a spring for the clockwork mechanism. Since the mechanism is similar to how a movie projector works, an old home movie camera makes the same sorts of noises. They’re hard not to notice. While shooting movies at the Charger reveal, a young man asked me, “Are you shooting tape?”. Tape??!!

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I’d show you the “video” results but after I shot it I found out that nobody does Kodachrome II movie film processing anymore, at least not in color.

While the old age of the film that I shot at the Charger Hellcat reveal made the results unacceptable for publication if I wasn’t trying to make a point, most of the prints still came out, more or less, but the differences in results clearly showed how much easier the Konica was to use. Out of 24 exposures, the Konica produced 22 shots that would have been usable with new film. Out of 12 exposures with the Argus, only one came without motion blur, double exposures, or just a blank frame because I advanced the film without taking a shot. Everything that could have gone wrong did, another reason why I like digital photography.

I hadn’t really planned on doing more than shooting those two rolls of old film but when I was checking out processing prices, I noticed that Rite Aid was selling four packs of their house brand 35mm film in ASA 400 for $14.99 and there was a buy one get one free deal for loyal customers, of which I am one. That works out to less than $2/roll. It said it was made in Japan and with so few companies making film these days, that almost certainly means that it’s made for Rite Aid by Fuji.

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Though I still managed to double expose a shot with both a Dodge Power Wagon and vintage Fiat 500s at the Dodge display on Woodward, by then I knew to keep my finger out of the way of the cocking lever when it springs back into position. The rest of the new film shot on the Argus at the AMC and Mustang shows came out fine.

There was a 1962 Rambler American convertible at the AMC show. My dad owned a 1961 Rambler American sedan, so it seemed appropriate to use the camera he owned back then to shoot little ragtop car. As you can see, the results weren’t too bad. The shots that I took of the 1963 Mustang II concept and Larry Shinoda’s personal Boss 302 prototype at the Mustang Memories show also came out well. I was a bit concerned that the Argus might not be “light tight” because the simple spring-metal catch for the back has lost some tension over the years and has to be bent back out to hold the back on tight, but the results show that the 57 year old camera can still take fine phototgraphs.

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It may work fine, but it was meant to work fine in a different era. In the time that it takes to compose, frame, focus, set aperture and shutter speed to take a single photograph with the Argus, I can take an entire series of photos, most with better focus and exposure, in 3D yet, and get them cropped and uploaded so that you can be enjoying them while I’m still on my way to the camera store to get that film developed.

A note about the scanned photos. I wasn’t happy with the results from scanning the prints with my flat bed scanner, which I should probably replace. In addition to scanning the prints, I also used the inexpensive slide scanner that I have to scan the original negatives. Those results were better and in much higher resolution, though there were some issues with dust particles in that scanner. Also, the scanner software picked some curious defaults for color selections and I’m not adept at color correction. The actual prints from the new film in the Argus actually came out rather well, with very vivid and true to life hues. On the shots taken with the Konica at the Charger Hellcat reveal, I played with the software to boost the exposure to make a second set.

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While that Rite Aid / Fuji film was inexpensive, and while both the Argus and Konica cameras still work pretty well, processing and printing runs about $10 for a 24 exposure roll. Right now at MicroCenter you can buy a 16 gigabyte SD card for that same ten bucks. The 8 megapixel Canon SD850s digital cameras in my still photography 3D rig can put between 900 and 1,000 images on the 4 GB memory cards that I use. For the same cost as shooting one roll of color film, I can shoot thousands of digital photos, but then with digital I can transfer those photos to my desktop computer (or the cloud) and shoot thousands more photos on the same media. Getting high resolution color photos to other people almost instantaneously isn’t the only reason to use digital photography.

For more on the history of Argus and their cameras, this article at Shutterbug.com is a good start. The Argus Collectors Group site has manuals if you have a “Brick” in the attic and want to use it. The Ann Arbor District Library also has a comprehensive sub-site devoted to Argus. If you’re in Ann Arbor, the Argus Museum is located in one of the company’s former buildings at 525 West William Street, on the second floor.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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38 Comments on “Worth The Wait? Old School Coverage Of Dodge’s Newest Hellcat...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    FYI, nobody processes Kodachrome at all anymore, movie film or otherwise. It takes a unique process and special equipment to do the work, and the last lab that did it closed down their Kodachrome line a couple years ago.

  • avatar
    kefkafloyd

    “Some of you may never have seen a double exposure before. I know you can use a photo editor to reproduce the look from two separate shots but is it even possible to natively shoot a double exposure with a digital camera?”

    Nerd moment, but yes. Many cameras can now do in-camera HDR, where multiple shots of varying exposures are taken and then blended together into one photo. However, Nikon did have “double exposure” mode in some of their earlier SLRs, though it didn’t have any HDR blending going on. Pretty sure this feature is still around on Nikons, just with a lot more settings. Long exposure noise reduction techniques (like dark frame subtraction) are also a form of in-camera double exposure.

    It’s far better to do exposure blending on a computer (or, back in the bad old days, the darkroom) where you have much more control over the process and can experiment with the effects. Doing it in the camera is just a crapshoot.

  • avatar
    319583076

    The Boss 302 is a monster. Great read, Ronnie.

    I took a photography class in 6th grade where we learned to process our film in a darkroom. It was a neat experience, but as you point out, digital is a far superior medium.

  • avatar
    banjopanther

    Film is not just for hipsters. Photographers know that film has better color rendition and higher resolution than the majority of digital cameras. You can get it developed with high quality at Costco, and they will digitize it for you on a DVD. And, although an individual picture may cost more, if you factor in the relatively higher cost of a digital camera, they are actually much cheaper (unless you need to shoot thousands of pictures). An old TLR uses 120mm film, and although you can’t get that developed in one hour, the resolution is far beyond almost any consumer digital camera, about 100 megapixels. Of course, digital cameras come with all sorts of automation that help most people take better pictures. But if you know what you’re doing, film is still superior.

    • 0 avatar

      The color on the Rite Aid / Fuji film (Woodward Camera uses Fuji paper) that I shot with the Argus was outstanding. The scans don’t do it justice.

      That being said, and I say this as someone whose home stereo has at least one component with tubes, the digital vs analog debate in photography parallels the same debate with audio. Analog audio enthusiasts talk about realism and warmth.

      I’ve asked a bunch of pro photographers and they unanimously vote for digital. Of course the pro photographers that I know work in journalism or shoot weddings so they are in that group that shoots thousands of photos.

      Murilee has spoken of his usual sequence of shots of a car. I take a minimum of eight exterior shots, all the 3/4 views plus side, front and back views. It’s not unusual for me to fill one 4 gig card and part of another at a big show, 1,400-1,600 photo pairs.

      Speaking of which, one question I ask pro photographers is do they take more photos now, because the cost per shot is low, or do they take fewer, because they check each shot on the screen and know they got it and don’t have to shoot five exposures to get one good shot. Think of the way fashion photographers would use a motor drive. All in all, though, because of the proliferation of digital consumer cameras, I think a lot more photos and video are shot than back in the days of 120 film and 8mm home movies.

      When I was shooting 35mm, I might take 300-400 exposures on a camping trip with my family that lasted days. Media is just so much cheaper these days. Even when I started shooting 8mm video, the cassettes weren’t cheap, particularly since for most home movies they’re used once and not recorded over.

      Just like analog audio, I don’t think film photography will ever completely go away and I still wonder if there isn’t some art and technique lost in the switch to digital photography/video.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Sometimes I think the manual vs. automatic transmission debate parallels the film vs. digital, vinyl vs. CD debates. Time and technology marches on, no matter how vociferous the arguments about how the old way was “better”.

        I have a Canon AE-1, Canon A-1, and Olympus OM-1 all sitting on a shelf here next to me as I type. Their batteries are dead, the light seals are blown, and I don’t have any film around the house. Much as I enjoyed shooting with those cameras thirty years ago, I am ever grateful for the remarkable technology in today’s digital cameras. I just look at the old SLRs and smile with fondness, memories of a time gone by.

        That was great article Ronnie!

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Must respectfully disagree LeeK. Driving a manual doesn’t require loading the car with some archaic consumable that can barely be found, and once found is very expensive, and once used cannot be developed. An MT car only requires knowledge of a complimentary motor skill.

          • 0 avatar
            LeeK

            Oh, Dave! The point is that the skills required that Ronnie so elegantly describes of taking a photo back in the film days has been replaced by automation and technological advancement. Film speed, color balance, shutter speed, aperture size, frame advancement, and even focusing is now done automatically by even the simplest point-and-shoot cameras and cell phones. With an iPod or cell phone, one no longer has to mount the vinyl disc, clean it with a Discwasher pad (remember those?), clean the dust off the stylus, set the turntable RPM speed, and gently place the tone arm on the spot of the record in the general direction of the song you want to hear. Now it’s a few presses of a touch screen without the pops, clicks, and hiss of vinyl record playback.

            A manual transmission also requires the user to master some skills that automation replaces, such as clutch engagement, gear selection, and most importantly situational awareness of when to shift up, when to shift down, when to shift into neutral, and what gear is best to utilize in different driving conditions. Automatics take those skills away from the driver and do it for them. A compromise to be sure, but usually better than what most can do.

            The manual transmission is diminishing to be sure. I know auto enthusiasts don’t want to hear it (C&D’s Save the Manuals! campaign), but the writing is on the wall. In the next decades we’ll still see the occasional niche market for manuals, just like you can still buy vinyl records and film cameras. But the world moves on — this is the point I’m trying to make.

  • avatar
    April

    From 1989 to 2005ish I shot Kodachrome K64 reversal (slide) film. Literately thousands of exposures run through two Pentax K1000 bodies (everything manual except for the light meter) with the standard 50mm lens. Since there were times I only had time for one or two exposures it forced me to run exposure settings and pre-envision each shot through my brain.

    From about 1985 to 1988 I ran regular photographic film through a half-way decent point and shoot camera. Those shots are pretty much worthless as snapshots are not fine-grain enough for publication (for a time I would submit news photos to several specialty magazines).

    As far as my slides are concerned, as long as I keep the slides in a climate controlled environment (no light, low humidity with stable temperatures) the images should remain stable for up to 50 years.

    Right now I use a cheapo digital camera but thinking about pulling the trigger on a mid range digital camera with exchangeable lens.

    • 0 avatar

      I just got a K1000 with a 50mm lens. Eager to start shooting.

      • 0 avatar

        My dad’s Konica T2 has a 52mm Konica Hexanon lens for general purpose, a 28mm wide angle Vivitar, and a 135mm Konica telephoto. Like I said, I’m no photographer but I was able to get some good shots of my kids and stuff like Upper Peninsula waterfalls with it. Built like a tank. If I ever decide to get back into film, it’s pretty much all I’d need.

        One thing I didn’t mention in the article is how heavy those old cameras are. The Argus weighs more than my 3D rig with two Canon Powershots. At the AMC and Mustang shows, I used a rolling cart. Actually, I may switch to that permanently, I feel beat up coming home from big events.

        I also didn’t mention having to find a camera shop in the UP to save a roll that I overwound and pulled out of the cartridge, or needing special processing because important, once in a lifetime shots were taken at the wrong settings. Stuff can go wrong with digital too. The trigger switch on my 3D still rig failed just as I asked Paul Elio to pose in front of his car at the Dream Cruise. Good thing my new (to me) JVC GS-TD1 can shoot stills (though in lower resolution and quality than the Canon rig).

        One thing digital does do is give more people access to touch up and special effects tools. I’ve been scanning my dad’s slides and with some iffy exposures I can make them look better than they ever did. The same can be true of stereo photos in the Keystone View archive. Keystone sold millions of stereo cards in the late 19th and early 20th century. The pairs were aligned as good as the geometries on the cameras were, and when they printed the cards, it was a mass production thing so sometimes everything wasn’t as squared up as it could have been. I can use the alignment tools in Stereo Photo Maker to improve the 3D. Hell, if I knew more about 3D I could probably play with the Z axis and make things really pop.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      A Pentax K-1000 is also what Dad purchased for me when he decided I had outgrown the Kodak X-15; though since I liked to shoot pictures at airshows, I also bought a zoom lens. I still have mine packed away.

      Dad later regretted steering us towards slide film. While the colors and resolution are very good, and with proper care can last a long time; it is getting increasingly difficult to find a slide projector, and they are more difficult to digitize, espeically a large collection like yours and his.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        Yes, it is a pain to digitize slides but I think it is worth the trouble for any real “keepers” in ones collection. In my former life I mainly shot railroad subjects so not everything is important at the moment. Right now I’m gathering some interesting views of graffiti on rail cars to convert to digital. Anyway, I do know there are several models of higher end scanners for the home that have a way to scan slides.

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          I have thousands of slides but they were mostly shot on Ektachrome (it was cheaper and faster), which I understand is much less stable long term. One of these days I have to digitize those slides, else those memories will be gone forever.

          • 0 avatar
            360joules

            Better hurry up. My suggestion is to pay someone else to do it. I bought a Nikon Coolscan 5000 for 35 mm stuff and a flatbed with ICE for my 120 film years ago and have hardly used them. The money would have been better spent paying someone to do it and the project would be complete. The bugaboo with film scanning is learning an efficient workflow and the post scan processing. The only upside is the Nikon scanner has doubled in value.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I also shot a lot of film (not slides, however) through a Pentax K1000 with the standard lens, from about 1989 to about 2004. I still have the camera (I think it dates from 1977), but quit using it when the advance mechanism jammed. That’s when I went to digital. Years later, the mechanism in the K1000 seems to have freed up.

      I miss the utter freedom of the K1000; neither my former Olympus nor Canon are as flexible. But what today’s digital photography loses in character, it makes up in quality and value.

      Ronnie – Once again, another great entry that brought back many memories. You must be the only person shooting this new car with such a camera.

    • 0 avatar
      Cameron Miquelon

      My last digital camera was a Konica-Minolta ZiMAGE Z3, which was unceremoniously retired when I got into a fight with a vagrant back in Louisville. I used it as a weapon, it was yanked away, and I have the scars for it.

      My new camera is a Canon AE-1 Program. I picked it up at a camera shop in Seattle not too long ago. Aside from missing caps for the body and PC sync, along with a strap, it’s ready to go. I have a roll each of Kodak Tri-X 400 and Portra 400 negative film for my first photos.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    Thanks for inspiring to show my kids how we used to do it by cranking a roll of film through my Nikon FM that I bought in high school.
    I have seen and handled an Argus C3 and thought it was kind of crude compared to early 70s Japanese rangefinder cameras like the Canonet, Minolta, Konica, etc. and even a Kodak Retina. The nice thing about these cameras is that like the Leica M they combine the rangefinder with the viewfinder so you only need to use one window and most of them integrate the light meter as well. Regardless, film and manual exposure and focus still make you think more about what you are doing. BTW my Nikon has a button to allow you to make a deliberate double exposure in camera, which I did actually use for some school projects.

    Belated extra thought, since you like 3D and film, have you ever considered getting an old Stereo Realist 35mm 3D camera or another more modern 35mm stereo camera?

    • 0 avatar

      I recently bought a JVC GS-TD1 3D HD camcorder from George Themelis, who repairs Stereo Realists. If I came across one at a garage sale cheap enough I’d consider it. George charges about $125-$150 for one in good operating condition. http://www.drt3d.com/

      Since a major focus of my 3D stuff is so that when the time comes in a few years and you can buy an autostereo (glasses-free) television set I’ll already have the 3D content, digital does everything I need for stereo.

      Upgrading my video rig was a higher priority than getting a new (well, old) toy to play with. My 3D video setup was very crude, not electronically synced. The JVC is a better camera in general too and can shoot for hours on one battery and the 64 gigs of internal memory.

      During the 1950s Cadillac and Oldsmobile (and I was recently informed that Nash also did something similar) distributed sets called “Three Dimensional Theater”. They included a Stereo Realist slide viewer and stereo slide sets showing the cars (and in the case of Olds, the Lansing factory building them). Unfortunately, nobody’s yet scanned a complete set and as collectibles they’re about $500 a set, beyond my means.

      http://cadillacdatabase.com/Dbas_txt/Flm_strp.htm

  • avatar
    olddavid

    When my photographer wife spent uber money on a Canon 1D and a printer, I thought she had lost her mind. Now, she’s the one everyone comes to for advice and help because she was so far ahead of her peers with the digital format. I hadn’t seen that particular tone in a photo since I was a young father, putting my finger over the lens while also moving the camera simultaneously. If we didn’t have a pro in the family, our record of kids growing up would be strictly word of mouth. I always appreciate your articles, Ronnie, as it seems like a conversation with a friend. Dignity and professionalism. Now, if you could just help me with the 3D thing?

  • avatar
    jhefner

    Thank you for another great article, Ron.

    I didn’t know the name of the camera my late Dad used when I was very young in the 1960s; but I am pretty sure now it was an Argus, now that I see these pictures. Besides Kodachrome film, I don’t think you can get those flash bulbs anymore; I remember them very well. (That is another area digitial can be superior to film is in low light situations; it takes less light to create a digital image than it does to expose film, and you don’t have to fiddle with long exposures.)

    Dad encouraged us all to take pictures growing up; my first camera was a Kodak X-15. But his biggest regret was steering us towards slide film; he realized too late that the slide projectors would not be around forever, and slides are difficult to digitize well. Not to mention the pain of having to set up a screen and projector every time you wanted to see them.

    A surprise Christmas gift from my brother last year was a wireless flash drive containing all of the digital pictures from Dad’s old computer. Besides the pictures from Dad’s digital camera, it also had some of the old pictures from their photo albums that Dad had scanned to create a new print, or for Mom’s funeral. It is a cherished gift; I carefully renamed the folders on it, and merged them with my families’ photo collection.

    In comparing the cost of digital v.s. film; most of my digital images stay digital; but there is the cost of printing them if you decide you want a hardcopy.

    Digital storage is fairly cheap; but still, the amount of digital storage space needed now that everything has a digital camera in it has mushroomed. We had a digital camera from work that I played around with, but we finally got our own camera in December of 2002. From then until December of 2010, when we all had digital cameras on our phones for our trip to Disneyworld, we took 12 GB of pictures. Since that time, we have taken 13 GB of pictures and video with our various devices. Keeping enough space on at least two devices (one being a backup) will be a challenge in the future; unless we decide to go with cloud storage as the backup.

    • 0 avatar

      You can buy a 1 TB hard drive for less than $50. I bought a new computer when I started working with video. Video is the real memory hog. When I filled the hard drive about a year later, I added a 2 TB hard drive. I figure at this rate I still have a couple of years to before I fill it. To begin with, shooting in 3D means twice as much data to store and by the time I get done with editing and format changes needed to upload to YouTube, there are multiple copies on the hard drive.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    My former accordion teacher worked for decades at Argus (his day job) before it went under. Nice to know someone is still using their cameras. I have never even seen one!

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Argus C3 – I still have my dad’s C3. I was a young aspiring photographer in the ’60s using Dad’s C3 and shooting Tri-X B&W stills and Ektrachrome-X for slides. Great and simple camera (I needed a hand-held light meter to use it well). I replaced it with a Honeywell Pentax H1a in ’69. I could go from shooting to finished prints/slides in about 4-hours in my basement darkroom. Today with digital photography these 35mm film cameras are close to being the buggy-whips of the 21st Century. But, like tube-amplifiers and analog stereo turntables, the old film pictures appear much more warm, deep and real-life than digital photos.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    My Fujifilm X-E2 has a multiple exposure in-camera function. Pretty gimicky and I think I used it once.

    Nice article and photos, I found it interesting.

    It may have changed, but a few years ago I would get film processed at Sam’s club and order a CD of the images – reasonable quality, enough to figure out if any of them are worth a drum scan and an expensive print.

    I haven’t run any film through my cameras for a while and I sold my first and only rangefinder (a Leica M3) in favor of a Canon 1D so I could shoot sports in 2007.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Great article, Ronnie. It is easy to romanticize the past but there is no comparison between the ease of photography today vs. 30 years ago. High quality images can be created, viewed, then stored, printed or sent to anybody anywhere at virtually no cost. That is beyond remarkable.

    Compare that to as recently as 1990: including the price of wasted/bad/unusable shots it cost about $1 per decent developed/printed picture. You really did not know if the picture you took was any good until you got it back from a developer (which could be a day or weeks later, depending on when you took the roll of film for processing). Cameras were bulky, expensive, complex and performed one function. Now your still picture camera also shoots video, and is incidentally a high power computer and communications device that fits in your pocket.

    • 0 avatar

      Dedicated gear will still work better than a phone. That being said, the photos that are taken with phones are better exposed than most of the snapshots people used to take. 35mm may have better resolution than a high megapixel digital camera, but most consumers didn’t shoot 35mm. They were more likely to be using some kind of Instamatic. I’m guessing that there was a big drop in snapshot quality when the 126 format cartridge cameras came out. Think about how big the negatives were in the old 110 or 120 format box cameras and how tiny the 126 image is.

      On the other hand, there’s a guy who has figured out how to hook up a machine vision camera to an 8mm projector, with electronics to slow the fps down for scanning, and the results are very impressive.

      • 0 avatar
        tkmedia

        actually 126 is pretty darn good at 28x28mm (compared to 24x36mm for 135 film), it’s 110 that’s small at 13x17mm. There were a few good 126 cameras, even 110 had some decent SLR’s but indeed most were crap. Dont get me started on ridiculous small disk film negs!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Imagine the investigative value of the Zapruder film if it had been recorded in HD. But it wouldn’t have any monetary value, since everything is recorded these days.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Count me amongst the fans of digital. With film cameras I couldn’t take a decent picture to save my life. Once I got my first digital back in ’99 or 2000 (Nikon Coolpix 950) I was hooked and lo and behold I was taking some great pics. Because I liked to shoot airshows and car shows, I quickly outgrew that camera and moved on to DSLRs. I do miss the form-factor of that Coolpix though. Too bad Nikon didn’t stick with it and improve it to be more competitive.

  • avatar
    tkmedia

    I’m a ‘digital’ guy so some say. But also ‘analog’, as I love film. I use both often. For me it’s not digital or film photography, it’s which one for what situation. I tend to use film for more personal work for my own enjoyment, even use it for walkaround snaps, but digital for “work”. I just don’t find digital all too much fun. I find… I tend to take much more boring and more numerous photos with a digital camera, just because I can.

    I like the fully manual nature of some of the film cameras, but I also like semi assisted and fully assisted automatic film and digital cameras.

    Fully manual film can be exhausting sometimes for impromptu street photography, with calculating exposure based on available light and fixed ISO, setting the aperture and shutter speed to a setting based on a possible subject coming into the frame. Possible variations based on direction of the sun, cuz old glass might have different flare properties. Calculate distance of subject for focus, and if they are in the hyperfocal focus range of the particular lens you mounted, compose, all within 2 seconds of snapping a photo.

    I don’t do a lot of colour film but usually it’s under $5 for develop, I dont usually have use for machine prints until after development. I do my own black and white film processing, mostly shoot 120 roll film, with small amounts of 35mm and sheet film. I still buy enthusiast level digital camera equipment often enough, but still buy used film cameras all the time.

  • avatar
    tkmedia

    actually 126 is pretty darn good at 28x28mm (compared to 24x36mm for 135 film), it’s 110 that’s small at 13x17mm. There were a few good 126 cameras, even 110 had some decent SLR’s but indeed most were crap. Dont get me started on ridiculous small disk film negs!

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