Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy 620 Day !

June 20th, otherwise known among certain circles as “620 Day,” is the one day each when some of us (who can remember) have an excellent excuse (as if we needed one) to dedicate ourselves to enjoying the pleasures of shooting 620 film on any one of literally millions of excellent classic cameras designed for this specific film format.

The one I chose to shoot this year is the Kodak Duaflex IV pictured above. I picked up this very nice little camera for only a few bucks at Goodwill. It has a single shutter speed estimated to be about 1/30th of a second but offers three apertures, f8, f11, & f16 and has a zone focus dial. Considerably more complex than a simple box camera it looks and works like a twin lens reflex camera (TLR) although not nearly as sophisticated as a true TLR.

The 620 film format was introduced by Kodak in 1931 as an alternative to the 120 film format and probably intended to help them capture more market share by using this “proprietary” film format in all their subsequent medium format “roll film cameras.” Kodak stopped making cameras for the very popular 120 film format and started making only 620 film cameras. Although used mainly by Kodak cameras, it became very popular and remained in production until 1995 when it was discontinued. The 620 format is essentially the same film as the 120 format film but on a thinner and narrower all-metal spool. 120 film was rolled onto a wooden spool at the time.

In the battle of the medium format films, 120 eventually won out and remains “The” medium format film today but only after 620 had a very successful 60+ year run at it. Dedicated mainly to simple box cameras and a few noteworthy exceptions that were designed for the professional or serious amateur photographer, this film is now only available from the Film Photography Project, Blue Moon Camera and perhaps a few others as re-spooled or otherwise modified 120 film. That is, 120 film that has been re-spooled onto 620 film spools or had the 120 spool modified to fit 620 film cameras.

The Film Photography Project (FPP) actually has brand new 620 film spools manufactured and uses them to re-spool their 120 film onto them for resale as 620 film. They currently offer nearly two dozen film stocks available for sale in the online FPP store. They also sell the 620 film spools for those who want to re-spool their own film. All profit from FPP sales goes to support the FPP’s mission to promote traditional film photography. You can check them out at

While images from 620 film cameras are frequently not quite up to par with images from 120 film cameras it is not because of the film. Most 620 film cameras are simple box cameras and do not have high quality optics but a similar camera using 120 film will yield exactly the same kind of results. Still, like the 127 and 828 cameras used for millions of family snapshots over several generations these 620 box cameras provide photographs that have a unique look and are absolutely beautiful.

Next week I will have the film back from this little 620 gem and will be able to let you know how the pictures came out. If experience is any guide I’m betting they will be excellent indeed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Holga HPL-P (Pinhole) for Pentax DSLR?

I explained what this gadget is in my last blog post (essentially a pinhole mounted in a plastic Pentax K-Mount lens barrel instead of an actual lens which can be used on Pentax SLR’s & DSLR’s) and noted that it was actually designed to be used with a Pentax crop frame (APS-C) DSLR sensor rather than a full frame or 35mm DSLR or film camera.

In the image above I used a Pentax istDL DSLR and we see that the image fills the frame completely. There is some slight vignetting but what we have here is pretty typical of pinholes in general unlike the severe effect seen in my last post in the picture shot with a 35mm SLR.

This image was shot at ISO 800 using a ½ second shutter speed and the same estimated f133 aperture. In post processing I brightened it up and tweaked the color balance a little. I also had to go in and remove the black spots that resulted from dust on the sensor.

Apparently this is a common problem when using pinholes on digital cameras.  Since the pinhole has an infinite depth of field and renders everything in focus from the sensor itself to infinity even the dust on the sensor shows up in the image. This isn’t a problem with a lens because the depth of field of the lens does not include the sensor.

The results here using a crop frame DSLR are a little better than with the 35mm camera noted in my last blog post but I am still a bit disappointed in the overall performance of this little gadget.  Nothing I have done with it so far comes close to the image quality of any of my other pinholes. Even the little Home-made 35mm cardboard pinhole camera creates better images.

Well, I am still on the quest for a better (than my little cardboard) 35mm pinhole camera so my next experiment may just have to be to make my own pinhole, mount it in a body cap and see how that works on one of my SLR’s. Stay tuned!