Tag Archives: old technology

Too. Much. Information.


I remember when I got my first serious 35mm SLR camera. It was a Zenit EM, carved from solid lead, and with an instruction booklet that had maybe 24 pages in total. From the booklet you learned about loading film, about settings, about taking a picture, about winding the film on a frame, and about all the natty accessories you could get to complement your camera.

All so simple. Even the Olympus OM10 instruction booklet was slim and to the point. Let’s face it, analogue photography was a much simpler affair all round.

Not that I don’t like my digital cameras. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love them, but I really enjoy using them to make images. The immediacy of digital, I think, has made me happier to experiment and play.

A downside, though, is modern digital cameras are just so eminently adjustable. Once you get lost in the maze of menus, it is very easy to lose track. This is my problem. I’ve owned my EOS 7D for about 18 months now, and I have it pretty much set the way I like it. I think. I can’t actually remember some of the settings I’ve adjusted, or why I adjusted them. I keep rummaging through the menus, vainly trying to recall whether it was C.FnIII-12 or C.FnI-4 where I set the noise reduction levels or AI Servo 1st/2nd img priority, and why would I want to register an AF point anyway‽

You might say I should read the manual more thoroughly. This is very true, but herein lies another problem. The manufacturer’s manual is great at explaining what Button X does when you press it, and what Custom Function Z does when you set it. It’s not at all great at explaining what Button X and Custom Function Z are actually for! It’s all very well being informed that pressing Button X makes a beep, but why and under what circumstances would I require a beep to be made by pressing the button? Take my beef about registering an AF point, mentioned earlier. Great. I know how to do that, but not why I would want to do that. I’m digressing, as I tend to when I am in full-on rant mode! Back to the theme…

All the while the camera seems to be working as I want I feel comfortable. There is a nagging doubt, though, that there is something I have neglected, or accidentally switched on when it really would be better switched off. So, the time has come for me to reset everything back to the way it was when Canon shipped it out of their factory.

Why am I apprehensive about doing this? I don’t know. Part of me worries, I think, that I might forget to switch back on a feature I use a lot. A larger part figures it is a Good Thing to start afresh occasionally. After all, I’m still discovering new things about the machine, and a reset may well let me learn something else new. 

You couldn’t say that about the Zenit or Olympus. Once you’d mastered the basics, you just got on with things. Digital cameras are a whole new species in comparison.

It ain’t pretty…


…but it works.

The ongoing saga of my ancient laser printer entered a new chapter today. The network card has been squiffy for a while, essentially randomly disconnecting itself whenever it felt like it. 

Fed up with marching to and fro, cajoling and applying percussive maintenance, I decided to get to the bottom of the problem. I reasoned the issue was with the RJ-45 connector alone, and I looked at the possibility of replacing the component.

That proved impossible, and another repair also looked unlikely, namely tweaking the little sprung contacts. After about an hour of further investigation, it became apparent that once connection was made, any movement of the printer—even just the movement made when the print engine kicked in—was causing the cable connector to shift micrometres and disconnecting.

In desperation, and not wishing to buy another used JetDirect card which may end up with the same “fault” I resorted to wedging the connector in the socket with folded bits of paper. This survived the “thump and bash” test to my satisfaction.

As I said, it ain’t pretty, but it works. Old Faithful lives to fight yet another day.

Related: Hello, old friend! / Farewell, old friend

Fun and Games

As I noted yesterday, we’re currently enjoying an indian summer here in the UK. While I find myself at something of a loose end, I dug out the box of old plate cameras Best Beloved had acquired some 20 years ago.

The original intention was to use them for model photography. The cameras came with various back plates, mainly intended for quarter plate film, I think, but with adaptor units so you could run a 120 film through them. I do have the results of the tests done years ago, but sadly one of the films was damaged by light leakage during the developing process.

This is proper old skool photography. And I’m going to run the 120 films that have been cluttering up our fridge since the 1990s through the machines today.


First up is a Zeiss Ikon Trona 210/5 from the early 1930s. The rangefinder sight has lost its mirror, so I will be aiming blind. As it’s a sunny day, I am hoping to not worry too much about focus as the aperture will probably be quite tiny. The Zeiss is the only camera actually designed to take the film size, though the final image will be one-and-a-half frames of the normal square 120 format. This may mean there will be overlapped exposures where I haven’t wound the film on far enough. All part of the fun.


Next we have a beast of a camera, which is a Soho reflex. From what I can find out it was made some time between 1910 and 1930. It’s a half-plate box camera, but has been modified to take a 120 film back. Again, winding on the film to avoid double-exposures will be very much hit and miss. Out of a 12-frame 120 film, I will probably get three or four exposures, if I am lucky.


The Soho, at least, I can focus using the mirror to reflect what the lens sees up to the glass screen, but sadly the shutter mechanism does not function properly. This means I will be attempting to make exposures by covering and uncovering the lens, rather in the manner of the Victorian pioneers. Which will, if nothing else, be a hoot. I also have problems because it doesn’t have the original lens, and the one it is fitted with is so worn you can’t quite make out the ƒ-stops. Trial and error—what fun!

The next issue I must face is whether I can find a good local photo lab that can process the exposed film. I don’t really want to post it off anywhere, because I am impatient. Any pointers to labs in Kent I may be able to use will be gratefully received.

(I know I could process the stuff myself. While I’d love to, it’s rather too much faff at the moment.)