Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meet The Swinger!

Crazy, Hip Swingin' Cool

No Backspace for a Graffiti Artist

Kalimar Zoom 35-55mm Precision Zoom Lens Kodak Ultramax 400 Arista C41 - The first image from my Kalimar Zoom 35-55mm illustrating the qualities of its plastic "Precision Zoom Lens." At 35mm the lens has much more noticeable focus fall off at the edges than the Excel Deluxe-I, but otherwise has a similar look. Even though the lens's wide setting is only 35mm I expected more barrel distortion, the horizontal lines on this image are surprisingly straight. A fact that is almost disappointing.

I found it interesting that the Graffiti Artist started once, crossed out his work and then redid his "Tag."

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM Software.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Plastic Fantastic - The Kalimar Zoom 35-55mm

May I present the Kalimar Zoom 35-55mm, yet another one dollar thrift camera. This slick looking plastic wonder sports a 35-55mm Kalimar Precision zoom lens and a built in flash. Its unique look makes it one of the most stylish of my plastic camera collection. Other than the flash, there is no exposure control, so the camera relies heavily on the latitude of most color print films. The shutter sounds like is fires at around 1/100th of a second and I am guessing the fixed lens aperture is f11. The lens is fixed focus or "Focus Free" if you prefer, and seems to have a focus range of 4 ft to ∞, zoom range is 35-55mm neither very wide angle or telephoto.

Here are the Specifications as near as I can tell:
Camera Type: Compact 35mm film camera with built in zoom lens and flash
Lens: 35-55mm Kalimar Precision zoom lens manually driven
Focusing: Focus Free (fixed focus)
Exposure System: Fixed shutter speed assumed 1/100th Fixed aperture f11?
Flash: Built in Manual on/off via switch
Film Advance: Manual via knurled dial with manual rewind
Power Source: Single AA Battery for flash
Other Features: Rubberized hand grips and zoom dial, wrist strap, film type window, frame counter, instructions for use printed on back of camera

Images from this camera to follow soon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1921 "Knowledge is Power"

Excel Deluxe-I 50mm f6.0 Out of Date Fujifilm Superia 200 Arista C41 Kit - The corner stone of the now empty Virginia School of the Arts formerly Garland Rodes High School in Lynchburg Virginia shot with the Excel Deluxe-I.

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM software.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Plastic Impressionism

Excel Deluxe-I 50mm f6.0 Out of Date Fujifilm Superia 200 Arista C41 Kit - Another image from the Excel Deluxe-I, showing the unique qualities of the plastic 50mm f6.0 lens. Some of the images have an almost "Impressionist" feel, nice when you are trying to elevate common objects and make them compiling images.

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM Software.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Plastic Fantastic - Chair

Excel Deluxe-I 50mm f6.0 Out of Date Fujifilm Superia 200 Arista C41 Kit - A plastic chair shot with a plastic camera, seemed like a fitting subject for the first post from this camera. The Deluxe-I has some interesting qualities. The uncoated plastic lens has a nice combination of distortion, "unsharpness" and chromatic aberration, giving the images a unique feel. Some notes on shooting with this camera. The viewfinder is inaccurate, there is parallax, even at distances greater than 4 feet. Leaving ample room for cropping on any shot is a must. Close focus distance seems to be a little over 3 feet, in bright sun, stopping all the way down to "Sunny" gets you a little closer, but 4 feet and beyond is a good bet for the sharpest possible images (in this case "sharp" is a relative term). Advancing the film too quickly seems to case mis-framing. I suspect the camera back does not exert enough pressure over the feed sprockets allow the sprockets to skip. Overall I am pleased with the results. The Excel Deluxe-I makes and excellent Lomographic camera. 

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM software.

Plastic Fantastic - The Excel Deluxe-I

I thought I would indulge my fascination for cheap plastic camera this weekend, so may I present the Excel Deluxe-I. A thrift store find, this plastic wonder has all the styling of a 35mm SLR, with none of the features.

Here are the Specifications as near as I can tell:
Camera Type: 35mm viewfinder camera
Lens: Allegedly a 50mm f1:6 Optical Color Lens (I am pretty sure it is plastic)
Shutter: One speed I am guessing around 1/100th depending on the age of the spring,
Exposure Control: Manual via aperture setting "Full Sun," "Half Sun," "Cloud" and "Flash"
Viewfinder: You can see through it and seems vaguely useful for framing
Film Advance: Manual via knurled dial.
Other Features: Built in hot shoe for flash, built in clear lens protector, Frame counter, Tripod Socket, Raise hand grip and Red shutter release button.
Country of Manufacture: Taiwan

I am pretty sure the body has a lead weight in it as the camera seems to weight more than I would expect from its plastic construction.

My first roll through this camera is hanging to dry, test scans will be posted soon.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Nikon FE2 Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 Kodak Ultramax 400 Arista C-41 - Not a perfect shot, but damn cute, this poor little kitten was abandoned by her mother, and we are now bottle feeding her. She is curious, mobile, demanding and above all adorable. A mother's loss is a kittens gain, as she will spend the rest of her life as a pampered indoor cat.

Scanned using a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM scanning software.

Monday, July 21, 2014

From the Web - Weekend Project: Pinhole Panoramic Camera

This was forwarded to me by a friend, it is an interesting reminder of how simple a camera can really be. If you are looking for an interesting weekend project, check that out.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Nikon F2AS Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Kodak Gold 100 C-41 - Shot in the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg VA. sometime in the fall of 1992. I liked the play of light and shadow. I rediscovered this image while testing a new film scanner.

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F-135 Film Scanner using Pakon's OEM software.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Caffenol Concoction - Caffenol premix from Labeauratoire

For those of you wanting to try Caffenol or Coffee Developer for black and white film, but do not want to track down all the ingredients, this is the product for you. Caffenol Concoction is a premixed packet of Caffenol that allows you to just add water and go.

For those of you wanting and easy entry into the world coffee developers purchase information can be found here:

Monday, July 14, 2014


Nikon F2AS Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Kodak Gold 100 - An image from the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg VA, shot in the Autumn of 1992. I rediscovered this negative while testing a new film scanner. I like the sense of isolation the narrow depth of field creates.

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM Software.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Nikon F2AS Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Kodak Gold 100 - Some new archive mining inspired by a faster film scanner. This was shot in the Autumn of 1992 at the Lynchburg Old City Cemetery, one of my favorite shooting venues since my arrival in Lynchburg VA. I love this cemetery in Autumn. It is filled with healthy mature trees that provide amazing color. The contrast of the somber mood of the cemetery and the festive colors of the trees can be amazing.

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus Scanner using Pakon's OEM software.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Scanner Test - Kodak Pakon F135 Plus Scanner

Nikon F2AS Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Kodak Gold 100 -  I picked a roll shot years ago to test my Kodak Pakon F135 Plus scanner. I wanted a roll with strong colors and some challenging lighting to get a good feel for the scanners capabilities. Generally the scanner preformed very well. Scans had good sharpness and contrast, with accurate color reproduction. I saw minor issues with dominate color shifts toward cyan when image contain a lot of red, but this was easily corrected within the scanner software prior to exporting.

Scanned with a Kodak Pakon F135 Plus using Pakon's OEM software.

New Scanner - Kodak/Pakon F135 Plus

I have always liked shooting 35mm for the conveniences of the greater number of exposures per roll and smaller lighter cameras. Heading out with one or two 36 exposure rolls can cover a long day's worth of shooting with limited bulk. The downside to this, when working with a hybrid analog/digital workflow, is exponentially higher time spent scanning once the film is developed. Up until this point, I have been using a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III and Silverfast's SE Plus scanning software for all my 35mm scanning needs. This scanner software combination is capable of producing great scans, but workflow can be slow and tedious. So much so, in recent years, I have shied away from shooting 35mm in favor of medium format. Not all together a bad thing, but I do miss the more casual nature of shooting 35mm. I am much more likely to keep my Olympus XA2 or Stylus in my pocket for day to day shooting, than lugging one of my Kiev 60s or even my point and shoot Fujifilm GS645Zi. Hopefully my most recent scanner acquisition will even the playing field for back end workflow between 35mm and medium format 120 film.

The Kodak/Pakon F135 Plus is a 35mm roll film scanner designed for low volume analog/digital retail labs in the early 2000's. You would commonly see them in chain drug stores supplementing their digital printing operations. I know, I installed a few of them as a field service technician in a past life. They were a way for smaller locations to have film scanning and printing capabilities without the foot print or capital investment of the high end Fujifilm Frontier hybrid digital systems that the bigger retailers were installing. Made by Pakon with Kodak branding the F135 Plus was no speed demon when compared to the higher end scanners of the day, but it would scan a full, uncut roll of 35mm film in a few minutes. Coupled with one or two tabletop dye-sub printers and a CD burner a lab could have a reasonably capable analog/digital lab in a small foot print.

The quick rise of digital as a replacement for film brought and end to Pakon, which closed their doors a few years back, so the once $2,000+ scanners can now be found ebay selling for around $250. Due to their age, you must keep in mind that the software only works with Windows XP and there are no Mac drivers available at all. That being said, the software will work on a Mac running Windows XP on Parallels  Desktop and I have seen a few reports of it running on Windows 7 in XP mode. Luckily I had an older Dell Dimension 4700 laying around that had more than enough horsepower to handle the software.

I have installed the software and done some initial test scans and I have to say I am pleased with the results. The 2941x1960 pixel 16 bit RGB scans are very good quality, perfect for proofing and prints up to 8x10. Digital Ice dust and scratch reduction technology is built into the scanner and appears to be effective in reducing negative imperfections during scanning. The software is not pretty or intuitive, but it is functional and relatively easy to learn. The initial color and exposure judgements made by the software are close and can be tweaked before exporting the files. For critical work or large prints, I can still fall back on my Dimage Dual Scan III, but for getting a decent initial scan onto my computer, this is a great new tool.

I will not dive into operational specifics, as the are a number of great tutorial already up on the web. A Google search for Pakon F135 Scanner will get you started.  Sample scans to follow in futures posts.