James A. Rinner: Blog https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog en-us (C) James A. Rinner (James A. Rinner) Mon, 22 Mar 2021 20:14:00 GMT Mon, 22 Mar 2021 20:14:00 GMT Minox 35 ML Repair https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2021/3/minox-35-ml-wonder Minox 35 ML

I have been using a camera as a hobby and professionally for over 60 years. In all that time I never picked up a Minox 35 series of cameras. In my film days, the majority of my work was medium format, so the bigger camera meant the better the photo. Lately, I have been shooting with film cameras and I purchased this camera "lot", which contained a non-working Minox 35 ML.

The camera had four issues:

  • Light corrosion in the battery compartment.
  • The ISO settings scale for the meter was mostly worn off.
  • Intermittent shutter releases.
  • The focusing ring was loose so infinity focus was no longer set.

A very good friend of mine, Michael Boses, told me he had one of these many years ago and they were wonderfully sharp cameras. That inspired me to see what could be done to bring this little camera back to life. I joined a Facebook user group on the Minox 35 ML and found a link to fix the shutter issues. There was this issue with the focus ring, but no one had any idea how to set the infinity focus. Two of the three focus scale ring had broken slotted screws so I scoured the eBay listing for a trashed MINOX. I did find one for parts, but even non-working Minox cameras are pricey and I over-paid for the camera because upon receiving the camera I discovered the internals were a mess of rust and corrosion. However, the distance scale ring screws were in good shape. Below are my steps to resurrecting this camera.


Removing the little bit of corrosion in the battery compartment was straight forward. I did remove the top of the camera to make sure the corrosion did not migrate into the internals of the camera. Everything was fine and just a bit of scraping the terminal inside was all that was required.

Intermittent Shutter Release Issue:

This turns out to be a very common problem with these little cameras. A Facebook Minox 35 user named Poon Tiffany shared this link from "fsixteenrule" on his Flicker account. Minox 35 GT Shutter Repair Fix | Minox 35 | Flickr The fix took five minutes!

ISO Settings Scale

As you can see from the photos below, the ISO setting scale was in bad shape. I designed a replacement sticker for this and printed it on a vinyl self-adhesive label and waterproofed the inkjet printing. You can purchase them here. Minox 35 ML MB ISO 1600 Scale Replacement Label - Vinyl Waterproof | eBayMinox 35 ML MB ISO 1600 Scale Replacement Label - Vinyl Waterproof | eBay
ISO Scale RepairISO Scale Repair

Calibrating the Infinity Focus:

Since the focusing scale was loose, infinity focus was no longer in the proper position. I scratched my head for a while thinking of how to do this. I will admit this was fun. If this was an SLR, the process would have been straight forward. I could not even add a piece of ground glass to the film plane because this camera has no option for a "B" or "T" exposure. To set the correct infinity focus I did the following:

  1. I removed the focusing scale ring by loosening the three screws around the ring. They were actually, already loose, I just loosened them more.
  2. I designed a scale to fit on the face of the lens so I can rotate the lens every five degrees. Since I did not know how much I would need to rotate the lens I added 36 tick marks, every five degrees. I did have to cut some of the sticker away to clear the focus limiter stop.  Blank Calibration Sticker Tick marks numbered 1 - 36.
  3. I screwed the lens in all the way and then backed it off 15 degrees and marked that as my first exposure.
  4. Next, with the camera mounted on a tripod, I took thirty-six exposures with each exposure, rotating the lens in its helicoid five degrees. Using a permanent marker, I marked a small line on the brass ring.  
  5. I developed the film and looked at each frame till I found the best infinity exposure. Here is where I goofed up. I grabbed a roll of grainy TRI-X and if that wasn't bad enough, I had to mix a new batch of D-76 (which I impatiently did not let it cool down to 68 degrees). The film was very grainy!
  6. It was tough trying to pick out the sharpest infinity setting (see the photos below) but I chose the best image, which was exposure number ten.
  7. I set the lens to tick mark number ten.
  8. Replaced the focusing scale and rotated the LOOSE scale to the infinity stop and tightened the three lock screws.
  9. I have a re-calibrated Watameter Super rangefinder and used it to set my scale distances on the Minox lens. One thing I found out, when the Watameter is inserted into the hot shoe, a switch is activated and the shutter defaults to a predetermined flash shutter speed. It was over exposing the film. I had to remove the Watameter each time I changed locations. The Watameter is a wonderful tool; it will not be sold! The distances read with the rangefinder matched the distances on the lens perfectly! You actually see the distances in the rangefinder viewing. window.
  10. Shot another roll of film to verify focus and it was perfect. I only shot eight exposures on a roll of 36 exposure Ilford FP4. In the dark, I pulled out a length measuring 400mm of film and cut it off from the roll. I marked the roll  that there were 24 exposures left.

Below This really is a sharp little camera! Time to sell it! Maybe...

To infinity and beyond! Perfect! To infinity and beyond! Perfect!

My winter bottle tree. My winter bottle tree.

The Watameter said the distance to the little "marble" fence was 35 feet. Did a quick conversion to meters and set the camera lens. Perfect focus! The Watameter said the distance to the little "marble" fence was 35 feet. Did a quick conversion to meters and set the camera lens. Perfect focus!

The closest the camera will focus is 0.9 meters. I set the Watameter to 36" and determined where to hold the camera for focus on the fence. I did stop down to f8.

The closest the camera will focus is 0.9 meters. I set the Watameter to 36" and determined where to hold the camera for focus on the fence. I did stop down to f8.

(James A. Rinner) 35ML Minox Repair Review https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2021/3/minox-35-ml-wonder Mon, 22 Mar 2021 19:56:17 GMT
PerGear 35mm 1.2 Lens Review https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2020/9/pergear-35mm-1-2-lens-review 43Rumors is one of my favorite sites and I visit it daily. The other day the site featured the Pergear 35mm f1.2 lens for $109.00. I had just finished a CLA on a vintage Canon 50mm 1.2 39mm thread mount lens and a Minolta 58mm 1.2 lens. I was thinking of doing a comparison of the two lenses and this lens entered the scene. I went to the Amazon site and there were only three available. By the time I decided to buy one, the availability was down to one! It took just a few days to get to my door (yesterday) and I was surprised of what came with it. See the photo below, and no, the Pen-F and hand-grip did not come with it.

Besides the lens, there was also: front cap, rear cap, cushioned drawstring bag, aluminum lens hood and a small blower.

First Impressions (Good)

  • Love the aluminum lens hood.
  • The lens seems well built. It appears to be of all metal construction.
  • The glass is very clean with not a speck of dust inside.
  • It looks great on the silver Pen-F!
  • This could be good or bad but the aperture ring was "click-less". Good for video, a hassle for stills.

First Impressions (Not so Good)

  • When mounted, the center of the lens markings do not line up with the top of the lens mount! (first photo below)
  • Though the focus is smooth it has a definite stop before the infinity mark is reached. It takes additional torque to get the lens to focus at infinity. (second photo below)

Off-centered mountOff-centered mount

The focus ring stopped at this point and required more force to reach an infinity focus.

Going outside I took some photos in my garden. The first photo you see below is taken at 1/8000 and f1.2 and the focus is on the bush in the foreground. I think the separation is nice and the bokeh at f 1.2 is there even though I am quite far from the focused subject.

The first photo of the bottles was shot at  f1.2 and I am very pleased with the clarity and sharpness of the lens. The second photo was taken at f4.0 and the third at f8.0. Even at f8.0 the bokeh is still quite nice.

Taken at f1.2

Taken at f4.0

Taken at f8

I was also impressed with the close focusing of this lens. The minimal distance is around 9". The photo of the flowers below was taken at f8.o.

Next I did a quick test for corner fall off. The first photo of my garage door shows a slight vignette at 1.2, nearly gone at f4.0 (second photo) and disappears at f8.0 (third photo).

Personal Conclusions:

  • For $109.00, this lens is a steal!
  • The best use of this lens would be for portraits or indoor candids.
  • The two things that really bother me on this lens is the off-center marking alignment and the hesitation in the lens when focusing to infinity.

I am looking forward to adding this to my vintage 1.2 lens tests. I think it will, optically, do quite well. It does look great on the Pen-F!

(James A. Rinner) 35mm lens f1.2 Pergear portrait https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2020/9/pergear-35mm-1-2-lens-review Tue, 22 Sep 2020 16:15:41 GMT
Shhhh... My Secret Portrait Lens https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2020/4/shhhh-my-secret-portrait-lens A few 135mm lenses that I own, from left to right: Carl Zeiss 135mm Planar on the Zeiss Contarex Bullseye, Olympus 135mm E.Zuiko on a OM-1 and the Nikon Nikkor-Q 135mm on a Nikkormat FT-N. A few 135mm lenses that I own, from left to right: Carl Zeiss 135mm Planar on the Zeiss Contarex Bullseye, Olympus 135mm E.Zuiko on a OM-1 and the Nikon Nikkor-Q 135mm on a Nikkormat FT-N.

I was talking to one of my life-long friends, and fellow shutterbug, Mike Boses the other day. We were discussing our latest projects and he asked me why no one uses the 135mm lens anymore. We both agreed that it is the candid photographers secret weapon. People will pay $50-150 for a 50mm which is OK for portraits and $300+ for an 80-100mm "portrait" lens, but just ignore that bargain basement price for a 135mm lens, even the f2.8 ones. I took a quick look at eBay and found a Minolta MD Celtic for $7.98, Topcon $for 12.62, Vivitar for $7.99, Canon FD for 14.95, Pentax-M for $17.90 and a bunch of Sears, Hanimar, etc for less than $5.00! Almost every one had a "make offer" option on the listing. The empty cases for the same lenses were going for more than the lenses. The prices above are for the slower f/3.5-4.0 apertures, the f/2.8 are about twice the amount and the f/2.0 lenses are 20X the f/3.5-4.0 lenses.

To be honest, the 85mm-100mm are usually classified as "professional" portrait lenses and they work better in a smaller studio because of their shorter focal length when compared to a 135mm. Let's look at some working distances for a standard head photo. 

Using the "standard" 50mm focal length for lens to face distance is approximately 30"

Using the "portrait" 85mm focal length for lens to face distance is approximately 48"

Using the "telephoto"135mm focal length for lens to face distance is approximately 68"

Is 68" too far away? I like the distance because it is not as intrusive as the 85mm or 50mm. See the photo below.

Zeiss Contarex with the 135mm f/4.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar, Kodak TMax 400

I also like to use this lens for candids!

Zeiss Contarex with the 135mm f/4.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar, Kodak TMax 400

As you can see from the above photos, you do not need the faster, and more expensive, f/2.8 lenses. Are the higher cost lenses sharper? Probably, but most photographs, especially portraits and candids, are all about the subject and not corner to corner sharpness. That topic is a for future discussion.

(James A. Rinner) 135mm focal length lens portrait portrait lens https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2020/4/shhhh-my-secret-portrait-lens Wed, 08 Apr 2020 21:40:11 GMT
All I Want is the Perfect Camera! https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2020/3/all-i-want-is-the-perfect-camera The title of this blog is from a song from one of my favorite YouTube vloggers, Kasey Stern of Camera Conspiracies. Check him out at the links below. He is sometimes a bit over the top with his use of "French", but his dry humor and wit keeps me coming back to his vlogs!



How many have thought about what would be the perfect camera? For me it was something that I could use to print a sharp, and beautiful, 20”x24” photograph. That was my criteria back when the camera was just a tool. Your main aim was a negative that you could work with. Today's cameras can do much more than create a digital negative, they can create a finished image that needs very little post processing, or darkroom work. I think the laziness of modern photographers has crippled many of their creativity. I just read a review about the new Luminar 4 software with  Augmented AI, image replacement and addition features. Now everyone can become a Jerry Uelsmann (https://www.uelsmann.net/works.php) with a few clicks of the mouse. The next AI feature will be the “Great Photographer AI” mode on your digital camera, where you select the AA (Ansel Adams) mode and look through your live view till your camera locks on to an Ansel Adam’s composition! Since most cameras can connect to Wi-Fi you will be able to type in a famous photographer’s name, the camera will search the internet for images and compose your frame accordingly.

The beauty of Kodak Tri-X Pan film! I haven't found a software filter yet that really duplicates the Tri-X grain. Late-1980s with a Minolta XG-9 and the Minolta 85mm 1.7 lens.

Back to perfect cameras. I thought I had the perfect camera back in the 1970s! It was a Hasselblad 500C (I had two bodies), four manual film magazines and two, single coated 80mm f2.8 Zeiss Planars and a Zeiss 50mm T* Distagon. I shot landscapes, industrial, weddings and portraits professionally for years with that setup, only later adding a, 150mm, 350mm and prism. I also replaced one of the chrome single-coated 80mm planars with a black 80mm Zeiss T*. The photo below was taken in the early 80s with a Hasselblad 500C, 80mm Chrome non T* lens and the film was Agfapan 25. This was on a 40 mile backpack trip in the Sierra Nevadas. So besides my living essentials carried on my back for a week I also had 20lbs. of camera gear! Upper Rae Lake Painted Lady, Sequoia National Park 1980sUpper Rae Lake Painted Lady, Sequoia National Park 1980sUpper Rae Lake, Painted Lady, Sequoia National Park, 1980s, Hasselblad 500C, 80mm Lens, Agfa Pan 25 Then, for some reason, I convinced myself I needed to replace my 500C bodies with a 500CM bodies and the manual film magazines to the automatic A12 magazines. As much as I liked the automatic film backs, I eventually sold them all and replaced them with the older manual backs. My main reason for that was that the old manual backs took 120 or 220 film. You just had to reset the film counter after the twelfth exposure. I chose Hasselblad for my medium format gear because of their dedication to “non-obsolescence”. From 1959 on, all the lenses and other components were interchangeable. Even today, you can buy a Hasselblad digital magazine designed to work with your 1959 500C body and lenses!

As you guessed, the new camera bodies did not improve my photography.

The photo below was taken with the Olympus C2500L, 2.5mm digital point and shoot. This was at Marstrand Castle in Sweden. The next day I visited Hasselblad in Gothenburg, Sweden and talked with an R&D engineer about digital magazines.

Marstrand Castle, SwedenI loved this little camera. The next day I went to the Hasselblad Factory in Gothenburg to discuss digital magazines.

When it came to digital, the number one reason for buying a newer digital camera was more megapixels. I was happy with my Olympus C-2000 2.1Mp camera, even happier with the C2500L, and then the E-10, with a whopping 4Mp! Next was the E-1 (5.1Mp), followed by the E-3 (10.1Mp) and, after going crazy one day (which resulted in selling my entire Hasselblad outfit, my 35mm Minolta gear and my beloved Peter Gowland 4”x5” Pocket View to a camera dealer for $2,300 cash) I drove down to Chicago and bought the new Olympus E-5 with 12Mp. But wait, there’s more! The E-M5 came out, then the E-M1 and now I have the E-M1 Mark II.

When I look back at the images I created in my film days, I can honestly say that my compositions and exposures were never improved with a newer camera. Though the newer cameras did make it easier to get the image (and I don’t think I could live without autofocus) my photographs are still a product of composition and exposure.

The picture below is taken with a 5.1Mp Olympus E-1. It is in Southern California and called Cow Beach.

2007 Cow Beach2007 Cow BeachSomewhere down in Southern California is the little place called Cow Beach! Olympus E-1 My newer cameras have helped me get the general exposure right, and in focus, but we still need to learn why a certain aperture or shutter speed is important. I think the best way to improve a photographer’s images would be a basic class on composition. Work on exposure and composition before buying a new camera and you may just save yourself a lot of money. At the least, put the camera purchase off for a few months and buy the new model used on eBay.

Below is a photograph taken in Tuolumne Meadows (in Yosemite National Park) and the camera I used was the 16Mp E-M5 Mark I and the 75-300mm Mark I zoom lens. This is Tenaya Lake.

Tree Reflections, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite, CA, 2012Tree Reflections, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite, CA, 2012Tree Reflections, Tenaya Lake, Yosemite, CA, 2012, Olympus E-M5 Guess what came out two weeks ago? The Olympus E-M1 Mark III! The newer camera has the same megapixel count as the Mark II but with lots of features I would like. Will the new Mark III improve the images I took back in the 70s with my old Hasselblad? No.  Will it make my photography a little less incumbering or easier to accomplish? Yes, and for that reason I would like the new camera.

(James A. Rinner) Aperture Camera Composition New Olympus Perfect Shutter Speed https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2020/3/all-i-want-is-the-perfect-camera Sun, 22 Mar 2020 04:16:14 GMT
Correcting Ultra-Wide Keystone Effect in Photoshop https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2017/1/correcting-ultra-wide-keystone-effect-in-photoshop Ultra-wide angle lens for the landscape photographers are those heavy pieces of glass that we just can't leave at home.  They can capture dramatic skies like no other lens in your collection.  The problem with them is a distortion called keystoning where the pitch angle (see below) of the camera causes vertical objects to lean toward the center of the image.

Below is a typical example of keystoning that plagues me when using an ultra-wide lens.  The lens is a Panasonic 7-14mm (this is the same as a 14-28mm in 35mm full frame sensors) zoom lens used on an Olympus OM-D. 

Various Methods to Correct or Hide Keystoning

The methods we are going to explore are the following:

  • Clone Stamp and Healing Brush
  • Lens Correction Filter
  • Photo Merge

Clone Stamp and Healing Brush

One approach to removing the keystoning distraction is to use a combination of Clone and Healing brushes in Photoshop. Basically, we will be removing and converging objects from the image. Most of the time the healing brush works well but it may smear a section, or give you results that look obviously manipulated. A mixture of clone and healing brushes will usually give you pleasing results. The most obvious keystoning distractions in this photo are the towers and power lines; as can be seen in the image below.

The healing brush is a good option for the thin power lines. A good way to use the healing brush is zooming in to the pixel level (see below).  This takes much longer but does work well.

Below you will see how I removed the large tower with the healing brush but the results were a bit splotchy.

We still have a few artifacts left so just hit it with the healing brush again in those areas. For this image the results were very good.

 (see below)

Below is the final image using only the clone and healing brush.  This works pretty well but the image (trees and some clouds) still has that keystone look.

What do you do if there are more obvious vertical objects in the scene that you don't want, or can't remove?

Using the Lens Correction Filter

This is a very quick way to fix perspective in an image.  Do not use the automatic lens correction filter but the one accessed by pressing Shift+Control+R (in Windows version). As shown in the image below; go the "Custom" tab and slide the vertical perspective slider to the left (minus) direction till your vertical objects are once again vertical.  Since I am shooting with an ultra-wide zoom even moving the slider all the way to the left (-100) my vertical objects are still keystoning.  Click OK and return to the main Photoshop screen.  I like to use layers so I can see my progress and also go back to various steps if I need to tweak something.

Copy the layer and make your final vertical perspective correction (see below) and click OK for the corrected image.  I could then remove the power lines if I wanted to but many times I will leave them.

See the final image below and you will see that the image no longer has the keystone affect but you can see that I lost some of the image on the side.  How do we keep most of the image that was originally shot and lose the keystone affect? To do this we are going to use the Photo Merge tool.

Photo Merge

This next process has to be preplanned at the time of exposure.  Because I am an old school photographer I shoot about 95% of my landscape work in manual mode, which is essential for this process.  I will now take two separate images and merge them together.  If I was to shoot these images in an automatic exposure mode on my camera, the two images could have different exposures, which would be very obvious in the merging and could cause some extra work trying to balance the images.

I take one photo (the one I used in the previous example) showing all the sky that I want to include.  The next image is taken with the horizon in the center of the frame.  Because my camera is no longed tilted the keystone effect is eliminated.

Below you can see the two images I want to use in Adobe Bridge.

Having selecting both images in Bridge I open them up in Adobe Camera Raw (you can open up jpegs in Adobe Camera Raw) and at this time I am only going to remove chromatic aberration and perhaps a little sharpening.  It is important that whatever you do in one you do the same in the other so select the "Select All" button in the upper left corner.  Save these files.  You can also skip this step and go straight to the next step and work on tweaking the final image later.

Go back to Photoshop and choose: Automate - Photomerge (see below)

Browse for your files, select Auto (default), Blend Images Together (default) and Geometric Distortion Correction.  Press OK. (see below)

Wait a few moments for Photoshop to do it's magic and below is the result!

Below are the two layers Photoshop created


Because I like to go back incase I make a mistake I will now duplicate the layers and then merge the duplicates. Now that the layers are merged I can crop the images to my liking.  There were a few spots in the sky that I wanted to keep so the crop had a couple of empty areas on the bottom. (see below)

Below I used the clone brush I fill in the blank areas being careful to make sure there are no repeated patterns.

Below is my original image

Obvious Keystone Vertical Objects Removed (below)

Using Vertical Lens Correction (below)

Using Photo Merge with two purposely taken images.



(James A. Rinner) Correcting Effect Keystone Photoshop Ultra-Wide https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2017/1/correcting-ultra-wide-keystone-effect-in-photoshop Wed, 25 Jan 2017 23:55:44 GMT
Being Vintage https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2016/12/vintage Ansel Adams Darkroom Mag InterviewAnsel Adams Darkroom Mag Interview"We've gone through the silver image, the dye color image, and I think the next one will be the electronic image. I hope I am around to see it." - Ansel Adams

The word "vintage" is used when thinking about high quality items from past times. (Vintage cars, wine, music, cameras...) When it comes to vintage, not antique, photographs I immediately think of Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Morley Baer and of course, Ansel Adams. When I was a young man in my twenties and thirties, Ansel Adams was alive and giving workshops. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but did correspond with him a couple of times. If there was a local gallery showing of his work, I would be there.

The art of making photographs through silver halide film is pretty much lost to the general and professional photographer today. When the weight, bulk and cost of film limited us to how many photographs we could shoot during a location shoot, whether it was for a client or stuffed into a backpack, we chose our subjects, composition and exposure very carefully. I think this is a practical education that is also lost to the modern photographer. In those vintage days of the past every click of the shutter cost you more than 1/125th of a second of your time, but cash from your pocket.

Today we have our digital cameras that can give you an acceptable exposure almost 100% of the time. Our cameras have built-in filters that change a mundane photograph into something cool, different or even (shudder) black and white! Once we have a proper exposure we can download it to our computer, load it into a post-processing program and edit the photograph to our hearts content. We can run the image through a "preset" that will give us a new look like low-key, high-key, film noir or full dynamic, to just name a few of the 38 presets in the NIK Silver Effex Pro 2 Photoshop plug-in. I am waiting for the day when some software engineer is going to write an algorithm that lets you select a certain photographer, let's say Ansel, and you move the camera around till your screen blinks, whistles or rings when the composition matches something Ansel would take.

I want to encourage you to take the above vintage approach to photography. Take your time when photographing your subject. Think of the classic rules of composition and use them to your advantage. Here is one quick way to slow you down; put your camera in manual mode! Look at the f-stop and shutter speed you are using and think about how they affect your photograph. In the Darkroom magazine interview (see opening image), Robert Holmes asks Ansel "Where do you recommend people study (photography) today?" Ansel answers with this "... It takes 10 years to master basic techniques in other arts so why expect photography to be easier? Actually, I wouldn't like to think that anyone could really master photography technically or expressively within 10 years..."

In closing I want to finish with this last quote of Ansel Adams from the interview. "We've gone through the silver image, the dye image in color, and I think the next one will be the electronic image. I hope I'm around to see it." Had Ansel been around today he would be teaching us how to use PhotoshopAA! Okay, that was an inside to joke for all us PhotoshopCC users, but he would have mastered the program and probably used it in ways we would never think of. Now go out and be vintage!

(James A. Rinner) Adams Ansel Darkroom interview photography Vintage https://www.shutterspeedblog.com/blog/2016/12/vintage Sat, 31 Dec 2016 20:02:04 GMT