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Batteries Not Included

A blog focused on cameras with no batteries - and the photos they take

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Silverscreen Legends

A few months ago the Castro movie theatre in San Francisco featured all three of the 1950's Creature from the Black Lagoon movies - in true 3-D !!
After taking off the 3D glasses and clearing the head a bit (those plastic, coloured glasses makes you dizzy..) one could go upstairs and meet two of the original cast members: Julie Adams (the beauty) and Ben Chapman (the 'beast') - (a photo of both of them from the movie set: Beauty and the Beast).

The light was dim up on the second floor where autographs were being signed and various pieces of Lagoon-memorabilia were on display (and for sale). I wish I had brought some faster film but below are some snaps of the two actors - using a Leica M3 and Tri-X 400 (at about 1/15th).

Ben Chapman signing autographs
Leica M3, Summicron 50/2, Tri-X 400

Julie Adams - still looking good
Leica M3, Summicron 50/2, Tri-X 400

Monday, November 20, 2006

Belated Halloween Photos

The Castro Halloween party is a tradition in San Francisco where thousands of dressed up people take to the streets and create a visual fest where it's as important to see as it is to be seen.

Unfortunately the event has been plagued by an increase in violence in the past few years and this year was no exception with a shooting injuring nine people and its future is uncertain. It was my first - and most likely last - visit to the event.

Walking around with my Leica M3 I took two rolls of Delta 3200 and I finally got around to developing and scanning them. I am not used to film faster than 400 (occasionally 800 and 1600) so the high amount of grain in the Delta 3200 film caused a bit of a post-processing pain. I ended up settling on a work-flow where I increased the contrast more than usual and the applying some grain reduction through NeatImage which gave me a look closer to what I liked.

Below are some sample photos from the two rolls:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Contax IIIa in the park

Took my Contax IIIa with a Sonnar 50/1.5 lens with me to the park a few weeks ago. It was one of those overcast days that lends itself so well to black and white photography - but in all honesty I just wanted to finish the roll of Tri-X that had been held captive in the camera for weeks and weeks :)

It was also nice to shoot some 'real' black and white film after having used so much C-41 film over the past few months.

Contax IIIa, Sonnar 50/1.5, Tri-X 400

Contax IIIa, Sonnar 50/1.5, Tri-X 400

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Upgraded to Blogger Beta

A few days ago I took the leap and transferred my blog to Blogger's new Beta version.
So far everything looks OK..

There are some administrative options that makes this version a step up from the older one and publishing new posts is significantly improved.

Both uploaded and linked photos are displaying OK and the slidebar from is working as before.

No big changes for the reader - but I hope you'll continue to enjoy the site anyway.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Getting Closer....

The results I got a few weeks ago from using the NOOKY inspired me to try to get even closer to the subjects while still using my Leica III (F). After some googling and general browsing I found something that may prove to be an interesting option - Leica Close-Up filters.

My friend eBay was kind enough to sell me an ELPIK (#2 magnification) and ELPET (#3 magnification) for the agreeable sum of $0.99. It cost more than that to have them shipped from the Czech Republic where the seller was located but they finally arrived - and in great condition:

Now, anyone who knows anything about rangefinders will by now raise the question "How does one use close-up filters on a camera where you don't look through the lens?".
Leica came up with a quite brilliant and simple solution - that also can double as a deadly weapon for pets and plants around you - the BEOOY!

Photographer with a BEOOY adapter and a #2 or #3 supplementary front lens
© Leitz Auxiliary Reproduction Devices, 1939

Assuming the cat was not impaled on the extended focusing legs the result would look like this:
Unharmed cat
© Leitz Auxiliary Reproduction Devices, 1939

The 'setting device' BEOOY, shown two photos up, screws onto the lens and helps determine the correct distance and perspective when using one of the close-up filters. Depending on what filter you use - you adjust the legs and then 'frame' your subject by the four legs and move the camera until the legs touches the subject (or in the case of a cat - until it's 'close enough').

Another photo showing how framing and distance settings are accomplished using the BEOOY below:

A far less dangerous use of the BEOOY
Photo © Leitz Auxiliary Reproduction Devices, 1932

The BEOOY is a slightly different device compared to the other Leitz close-up devices from that time (BELUN, BESUM, BEINS BEKUR and BEHOO) in that there is no extension ring mounted between the camera body and lens. It is not able to go quite as close as the other devices - but it's more compact, allows for more rapid mounting and was - in the 1930's - the cheaper option for those that wanted to get closer to their subjects:

1939 price-list:
BELUN: $10.80
BESUM: $10.80
BEINS: $9.00
BEHOO: $15.00
BEKUR: $12.00

BEOOY: $7.80

It may not sound like a big price difference but $7.80 is about $120 in 2006-money and with an average yearly salary in 1939 of $1,368 that eight bucks could sure mean a lot (by the way - a Hershey bar was $0.05).

So, I got the close-up filters and now I'm on the look-out for the pet-piercing clamp-on legs before I can put them to use and post some sample photos here.

Note I: There was also a #1 close-up filter produced named "ELPRO"
Note II: Leitz also sold a close-up adapter named BEVOR that as far as I can tell is identical to the BEOOY. If anyone have any information about any differences between the two please do let me know.

(For more in-depth information about how to use the BEOOY see the pages below):

Monday, November 06, 2006

Olympus 35 ECR - Abandon all control

In my continued efforts to try to run more film through my less used cameras (in some cases the first roll through them...) I this past weekend decided to take my Olympus 35 ECR out for a spin.

Now, first a small disclaimer/explanation: The Olympus 35 ECR does NOT work without batteries and it will be the first battery-dependent camera I am talking about on this blog. I'm simply including it as it's a rangefinder camera in the classic Olympus-35 series (well, that and the fact that I felt like posting something) that I found that I liked more than I remembered.

About the Olympus 35 ECR

This is a very small, compact camera that sports a true rangefinder (with a fairly good viewfinder and focus spot). 'ECR' stands for Electronically Controlled Rangefinder and 'electronically controlled' in this case means that you abandon all control over the exposure settings. After setting the filmspeed (up to ISO 800) all you do is focus and shoot as the camera automatically determines the correct exposure. You won't even know what settings were used as they are not displayed in the viewfinder. In a way this puts this camera in the point-and-shoot category - but hey, it's a P&S with a rangefinder!

The lens is, as far as I've been able to tell, identical to the lens found on it's bigger brother the Olympus 35 RC. As such, the five elements 42/2.8 E.Zuiko lens is an excellent performer and provided both sharp and contrasty images.

The shutter is a Seiko-ESF leaf shutter with speeds between four seconds and up to 1/800th and is, as mentioned above, fully controlled by the built-in CdS meter.

Battteries. Yes, batteries. They are required here as the camera will not function without them. Should you ever come across one of these little beauties on eBay the odds are high that the seller will describe the camera as not working. Pop two A640PX 1.5v batteries in and the camera may well come back to life. (Batteries can be purchased from a number of places, including

Using the camera is a nice 'break' and quite liberating in that composition and focusing are the only things in your control. Walking around with the camera I found myself working much faster and really enjoying myself.
It is no Leica when it comes to build-quality. The thumbwheel on the back of the camera (instead of an advance lever) feels cheap and it's also hard to squeeze off the shutter which may make this less of an ideal camera in low-light situations.

In summary I really enjoyed using it and would recommend anyone interested in a 'point-and-shoot-rangefinder-camera' (come on, who isn't?!) to take a second look at this 1970's compact jewel.

What to pay?
I believe I paid about $15-20 for my camera and that still seems like a likely price point. How's that for a good deal?

Some photos from the past weekend's outing with this camera (oh, and it's so small that it fit into my jeans pocket) using a roll of XP2 Super:

A scanned copy of the manual is available here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Hope you all had a happy - and safe Halloween!

Leica M3, Summicron 50/2, XP2 Super

Leica M3, Summicron 50/2, XP2 Super