June 22, 2014

Hyack Festival 2014 with Olympus Pen-F and Konica Auto S3

There are those days I eagerly await during the year. The Vancouver Camera Show and Swap-Meet is one. Another is the Hyack Festival.

For the last eight years I have documented the Hyack Parade. Attracted by the costumes and the idea of catching participants before the parade begins, I set out hours before the official start of the event to take portraits as they are marshaled.

This year I shot with two recent purchases: the Olympus Pen-F and the Konica Auto S3. With both cameras I used a cheap Vivitar 16M manual flash. It just flashes. It has auto nothing.

I used rolls of Kodak 200 (Olympus in the half-frame) and Fuji 400 (Konica in full-frame). Both were expired.

March 29, 2014

Bonus Nikon L35AF door swap mod, actually it's for the L35AF 2 aka Nikon One•Touch

The cool part of finally biting the bullet and cannibalizing a broken Nikon L35AF is it offers an opportunity to improve all my other Pikaichi's.

My first L35AF was actually the One Touch, the scan above.

Though both versions of the L35AF have plastic shells, the Nikon One•Touch also sported a plastic film door. Unfortunately, mine started to bow outwards. I worried about light leaks and I pretty much mothballed the camera.

But last night, after fixing an on/off switch on one of my L35AF's, I decided to switch the plastic Nikon One•Touch for a nice, straight METAL film door from a donor version one Pikaichi.

It may not seem like a big deal but I'm surprised how much the film door acts as a spine for the whole camera.

The body feels more rigid. When closed. There is a hitch. The hinges between the two models are different. The door, when opened, kind slide on the hinge pin. But once it's closed, it snaps tight and firm. Far better than taping down old plastic door, which is what I used to do.

As for the donor camera, this is what it looks like now.

The lens on the donor is still a peach. It's a tiny thing and I'm going to find a way to mount it on another body.

Nikon L35AF shutter release and on/off switch repairs

If you visit Flickr's Nikon L35AF group, you will find lots of discussion about the camera malfunction.

One of the most common malfunctions is a stuck shutter release or a loose on/off switch.

Here's how I fixed these problems in one of my cameras. You do have to open the camera up. But don't try to remove any of the shells until all the screws are out. Follow all three steps before attempting to pull it apart.

BEFORE beginning, I recommend you setting the ASA/ISO dial to the highest setting. It will be either 400 on earlier models and 1000 on later ones. This will make putting things back together easier.

1.BACK/SIDE SHELL FIRST.  I started with the back panel. It is held with by four screws. They are different lengths. I recommend you lay them in an orderly way on a cleared table so you can get the right ones in the right place.

2. FRONT/BOTTOM SHELL. You will find three obvious screws on the bottom. They too are of different lengths. Take note.

3. BUT WAIT. There are also four MORE screws inside the film chamber. And ONE under the front's flash-side rubber grip. See the next three images below. They too must be removed.

There are two screws on the cannister side.

There are two more deep inside the film take-up side. They are hard to get to and you will need a long thin Phillips screwdriver.
There is only one screw to loosen on the front (yellow circle). On some cameras a lower screw may be visible. Do not attempt unscrew it. It is an adjustment screw and does not fasten the front panel.

4. Phew. The back panel is easy to remove. The front panel holds the troublesome shutter release. Take care in taking it off as a stuck shutter may mean it is fouled with mechanical components. Gentle.

5. If your problem is a stuck shutter, find the shutter release shaft (yellow arrow) which moves up and down through the centre of the on/off cam (ie the part that turns). Often, a stuck shutter is caused by a fatigued, less-springy return spring. But I haven't attempted to replace the spring. Instead I added the smallest amount of lubricant to the shaft. That worked for me. See below.

6. LOOSE ON/OFF SWITCH. If that's your problem, you will have to take another step. See the pink arrow pointing to the silvery C washer? Remove it by prying it. I used an Exacto to lift it and then a tweezer to pull it. Don't bend it or break. You'll need it. Once off you'll be able to take out the on/off cam. We're nearly there.

7. LOCKING SPRINGS. They are made with very thing strips of metal (see above). If you are lucky, they won't be overly fatigued and you can reshape them so they have a bit more bite into the cam. Not too much or you will have difficulty turning it off and on. Mine simply crumbled when I took it out to bend it. I had salvage parts to swap in. You may have to fashion a spring.

If I had to do that, I would use the soft silvery metal from a spent Fuji Instant Film case. I would cut the strip with box cutter to the appropriate width. Then snip the right length with scissors and then shape a new spring with the edge of a ruler or even pliers.

And that's it. Good luck.

March 19, 2014

Big find! Olympus Pen FT

Nearly too good to be true.

I had come to the point that I needed a half-frame camera.

I mean NEED. I had a vision of producing images not created by individual frames but continuous images unrolling from a single piece of film.

I had decided the images needed to be produced with the portrait orientation of the half-frame camera. The vertical proportions spoke to me of humanism (the same way that Classical or Renaissance columns do) and even the 3X3 grid found in comic books (especially The Watchmen and lots of Kirby).

I had this idea of vertical figures unspooling from a continuous sheet along a gallery wall...a parade of people. One frame but not one frame like a Chinese figurative scroll painting.

I needed a half-frame. Or so I told myself.

And today, I found it!

February 10, 2014

Unkind rewind of the Nikon L35AF series

Last week I purchased a Nikon  L35 AW AF aka Action Touch. It is the underwater version of the L35AF Pikaichi.

I love the series but it has a consistent problem that pops up: malfunctioning rewinds and frame counters.

A good part of the discussion at Flickr's L35AF group focuses on jams.

Well, my latest L35 indeed have a related problem. The film advanced and rewound BUT the film counter remained at 36 and would not reset back to 1 or "S."

Good news, and this is a consistent part of how to bring an L35AF back to life, I was able to fiddle with it to get the gear back into good order.

There are important pointers on how to get the L35AF back into alignment.

Film advance won't work, shutter release stuck, rewind button jammed, counter not counting??? Fear not. An L35AF CAN BE FIXED through simply fiddling without opening up the camera OR sending in for repair.

You only need three things to get started:

  • good batteries
  • a roll of film which you are able to pull out of the cassette
  • a paper clip to push down some of the sensor pins in the film chamber (I didn't need to this time but it's good to have)
  • patience

Like many point and shoots, good functioning relies on a number operations to take place in the correct order. WHEN you turn on a camera, when you put in the batteries, whether you put the film in the camera when it is ON or OFF, can sometimes have an impact on the start up of your camera. Often, jams occur when it falls out of sequence as was the case in my stuck film counter.

I'm happy to say it is fixed.

What I did but note film rewinding can't occur without film in the camera:

  1. Started with the camera off.
  2. Removed the batteries.
  3. With the camera OFF, put the batteries back in.
  4. Turned ON the camera.
  5. Loaded the camera with the back door open but with the pressure plate down (this is unique to the L35 AW AF).
  6. Exposed frames with the film door open. This prevented the film counter from advancing.
  7. Closed the film door.
  8. Rewound the film, the counter counted down to 1 but would not go to "S".
  9. Pulled out the film from the cassette to get some lead and put it in the camera.
  10. Turned the camera OFF.
  11. Rewound the film again. It rolled to "S."
All this to say, don't give up on your camera in a jam. The camera just has to reset and will simply function again. It's just a matter of undoing all the dry fires and misuse the camera suffers while in the hands of less caring individuals.

I've done this three times with three different models of the L35 series (original L35, the One Touch, and the Action Touch aka L35 AW AF) and have brought all the cameras back to life.

So keep trying.

They're worth it...

February 9, 2014

Nikon L35 AW AF is the point and shoot that the Nikon L35 AF wanted to be

People who know this site know that I shoot with the Nikon L35AF a lot.

Along with the Konica TC-X with a 40mm F1.8 Hexanon, the Yashica 635 twin lens reflex, and the Nikon D40 with a whole slew of lenses, the L35AF (aka the Pikaichi) is one of my go-to cameras for a lot of endearing reasons.

Also, I'm superstitious. If a camera tends to take the pictures I like best, for whatever reason, I tend to go back to it. Well, that's the Nikon L35AF for me.

But one should note, it's not a perfect camera: the flash pops up on its own if it deems there's not enough light; like most point and shoots you don't get to pick the aperture; uh, really freaking noisy (lovably so).

There are work-arounds amply discussed at the Flickr discussion group. The reason to put up with all the fuss and muss is because of the lens. It is charming and has a je ne sais quoi. It just has it.

So, I've put up with its quirks and go out of my way to collect versions and models of the L35 mark.

Until this week, I had never found a Nikon L35 AW AF in decent enough condition. Now that I have my hands on one, I believe this version of the L35 (called the Nikon ActionTouch in the US), with its all-weather/ underwater design, does away with some of the more irky quirks of the original L35.

1. The L35 AW AF is not NOISY. This is because of all the heavy rubber gaskets. The film advance screech is mellowed to a gentle whir.

2. Underwater cameras can't use the auto focus. With this model one can pre-set the focus with the dial on the top.

3. The flash doesn't pop-up unless you want it to. This allows a user to take advantage of the lovely f2.8 aperture and the slowest shutter time of 2 seconds (despite what the manual specs say - which say 1/8 sec).

4. And, you can do the opposite, if you like force flashing. Just  flip the switch and it's on no matter how bright it is outside. I used to have to trigger the flash by sticking it inside a bag and take a light reading.

There are a few problems though with this version too: can't manually set the ASA though one can circumvent the encoder with a bit of tape on the film cassette in which case the camera defaults to 100 ASA providing two-stops over-exposure on a roll of 400 ASA black and white;

...there is no lens filter thread while on the original L35AF  offers a 46mm thread on which I usually slap on a YK2 when shooting black and white.

These are just initial thoughts on the camera. Loading it soon and will let you know how it does.

If you need the manual, kiss my BUTKUS.