Photography as a hobby
I have been an on-and-off amateur photographer since I was about
13 years old, and have thousands of black and white negatives
stored away from my past. Most are in 35 mm format, but the earlier
ones are in 3 1/4 by 2 1/4 format or 2 1/2 by 2 1/2. I no longer
have prints for the majority of them. I also have many colour
negatives, and most of the corresponding prints are in albums.
I used to process monochrome film and make enlargements, but
was without equipment from about 1990 to 1999. I have now
re-equipped myself with a modest darkroom and Durst enlarger,
but rarely seem to find the time to use them.
I have a rather motley collection.
- First, I have a
Kodak Retina 2c,
which is the model with the interchangeable front lens element,
but without the lightmeter. I don't have any of the additional
- I have a
Pentax Spotmatic, with three lenses, that has been very
reliable over many years, but which I find too heavy to carry on a
- My favourite film camera is an Olympus XA, which is easy to
carry, but which sometimes jams for no good reason. It actually managed
to do this during my stepson's wedding ceremony, which annoyed me no end.
- I have a KGear Jamcam, which is described
in a bit more detail.
- In 2003, I bought a
Canon A70 Powershot digital camera in August
2003, and augmented it with a 128 MB memory card, and two sets of LiMH
batteries. More details here.
- In 2007, our step-daughter-in-law Tracey was kind enough to give me a 'discarded'
Nikon Coolpix 4300. (She has a
new Digital Rebel...)
It has had some severe treatment, and needs duct-tape to
hold the battery cover in place, but it works fine, and is better than
my Canon A70.
- Later, after much thought, I decided to buy a
Canon G9. It was a hard decision
whether to buy a DSLR. I was finally convinced by the weight of DSLRs
(I rarely took my Pentax Spotmatic on walks), and by the ability to
compose on the LCD screen. I was delighted with it for several years, until the
day it fell a couple of feet out of my briefcase (while in a padded case), and the
lens assembly jammed permanently. I did get about 9 years of use out of it.
- In eary 2017, I bought a Sony Alpha 5000, which has worked out very well
so far. I cannot get the WiFi option to work with either my Linux desktop or
my Android phone, and many people seem to have the same problem. I bought
an E-mount to very-old-screw-mount adapter, and can use my 50 year old
Pentax lenses with it.
- In early 2018, I found a Zeiss Ikon Contaflax 4 at a local 'Junk and Disorderly" sale,
and bought it on a whim for a very reasonable price. With a little poking to release
the stuck mirror, it turned out to be in perfect condition. It is even tempting me
to buy black and white film, developer and fixer, and trying it out. It is a heavy and
very professional piece of equipment, and is much more durable than any modern digital
I don't have one. I used to be able to use one at work for the odd picture, but I
am looking for a model that will handle both 35 mm and larger negatives,
as well as prints. It must be compatible with the "gphoto2" software that
has been released as an open source product, and should work with a
USB connection. There are a few on the market that fit this
specification, but I haven't chosen one yet.
More recently, a scanning app on my Samsung cellphone does an
adequate job for making copies of documents, and there is
no real need for a scanner.
Copying old negatives
I found it easy to use the Canon A70 to copy old negatives, by using
the lens from an old pair of binoculars as a macro lens. The automatic
focusing works well, and I was able to copy about 500 old family
photos, dating back to the 1950s, in a few hours. The old 3.5*2.5 inch
negatives were easy, and so were the 2.25*2.25 ones taken with an
Agfa Isolette I had for many years. (I deeply regret trading it in
when I bought the Retina 2C, but it was the only way I had enough
money back in those golden college days).
I built a simple mount to hold the negatives, and a couple of halogen
lamps from Ikea to provide illumination. I then wrote a script
using ImageMagick's "convert" option to enhance the contrast and invert
them so they were no longer negatives.
Here are some examples:
Family Home in Leicester, 1945
Family Home in Letchworth, 1947
Family Home in Chesham, 1958
Family Home above Old Bank House, Alcester, 1960
Family Home in Leicester, 1974
Railway warning sign (June 1899)
Last updated : 2020-03-21