Documents Project: Photography

Our Home Page A History of Photography: The 2000s A Tedious Explanation of the f/stop

I have linked to some documents related to photography to clean out my filing cabinet of the accumulated detritus of decades in this hobby and because some people might be interested. Enjoy!

Nikon SLR Guides, because Photography Used to be Harder to Learn

In the early 1980s Nikon published a guide to using your new SLR (Nikon FM, FE or the consumer-oriented EM most likely). It went over the controls on the camera and suggested taking out a friend and a 36-exposure roll of film and taking specific photos to help illustrate the effects of shutter speed, f/stop and things like camera angle. In the 1982 version, on-camera flash was barely mentioned. In 2000, Nikon published an updated version which went through much the same exercise only with better-looking models and in color this time. Also, by this time Nikon had the FE2 and many other advanced cameras out with through-the-lens flash control, so they talk about on-camera flash in this one. Do these guides still have relevance? Yeah, they do. Shutter speeds and f/stops still work the same way, the basic ideas of composition still matter, and if you are new to photography it's a worthwhile exercise. Otherwise, it's a look back to a time when SLRs were first making their way from enthusiast nerds (like, ahem, me) into consumer markets.

The Coolest Camera System: The Mamiya 6

The Mamiya 6 medium format rangefinder was one of the coolest little camera systems ever made. It was simple; a collapsing rangefinder body taking 120 or 220 film, three lenses (50, 75 and 150mm) and that's about it. Apparently Mamiya introduced these in 1989 but I only found out about them in 1992 (why was I not informed?). I bought a Mamiya 6 with the 50 and 75mm lenses. It was expensive; this was about $3,000 and in 1992 dollars too. Many years later I'd add the 150mm lens used off eBay. What a spectacular camera. It was a highly portable 6X6 rangefinder, solid, dependable and a joy to use. Nothing whizzy about it, deceptively simple but providing exquisite images if you paid attention and assuming your skills were up to par. I used the M6 (as I referred to it, even though that's a Leica camera model) as my main snapshot camera through the 1990s and into the early 2000s. The cost of processing and printing 120 film kept rising and I deferred increasingly back to 35mm and then later digital as time went on, but I keep this camera and still roll it out for the sheer joy of using it. I have links to brochures for the Mamiya 6 and later Mamiya 6 MF models. I also the New Mamiya 6 Handy Pocket Guide. This hilarious little laminated publication came with my M6. I particularly like the little camera icons running from rain, shivering in the cold, sweltering in the heat. I don't know how big the intersection was between people blowing three grand on a medium format rangefinder and those needing a laminated guide with cartoon cameras saying Keep Your Camera Dry, but I sure appreciated the effort!

The Nifty Mamiya 7s

In about 1995(?) Mamiya, pleased with the success of the Mamiya 6, came out with the Mamiya 7. If they'd thought this through, there would have been commonality between the cameras, but there wasn't. The M7 debuted with 43, 65, 80 and 150mm lenses, none of them interchangeable with the Mamiya 6 optics. They later introduced a faintly bizarre 210mm f/8 that didn't couple to the rangefinder and was meant to be focused by hand, primarily at infinity. The Mamiya 7 gave a 6X7cm negative rather than the 6X6 of the Mamiya 6. This printed more perfectly to an 8 X 10 or 11 X 14 and was often called the Ideal Format. These aspects were great. However, Mamiya got cheap and didn't make the body collapsible. While commendably small for a 6 X 7 camera, it was nothing like a collapsed M6. On the other hand, it had that superb 43mm wide angle lens offering possibilities that the M6 with its 50mm couldn't match. I personally was never tempted, but plenty of people were and Mamiya produced the M7 for a while after they'd stopped offering the more complex M6. Anyway, take a look at the Mamiya 7 brochures. Oh, and you got no cool laminated guides with the M7 either!

The PK-36: An Envelope Full of Possibilities

the Kodak processing mailer page

Cool Accessories for Your Rollei

The Rollei Accessories catalogue

Olympus OM cameras: The Compact Pro System

The Olympus OM brochure

Blinded By the Light: Flashbulbs Page

Page about flashbulbs

Page last updated 4/7/2016

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