Manual Exposure

Pentax K20D and manualsThe green stars on the camera are so I can tell it from the other Pentax at a glance.

Most of the photos you’ll see on this blog were taken on Pentax cameras. Of course, they’re digital cameras, but I’ve had Pentax film cameras in the past.

In the 1980s,  I owned  a Pentax K2. They were first produced in 1975. It has auto or manual exposure and is manual focus. It was solid, it had a lovely viewfinder, I enjoyed using it. Short of money, I had to sell it. But I wouldn’t mind another one.

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Pulp science fiction


Wolverton Books pulp scifiOne glance at this table, and I knew I wasn't leaving without buying some books. The trap was sprung...

Regular readers will know three things: I like to frequent used book shops, I like science fiction, and I like photography books.

A couple of Weeks ago I popped into Wolverton Books on my way home and went away with ten books. What a result! One book on photography by an author I already know, and nine science fiction books. Most of those were what the shop calls pulp science fiction, and nearly all of them from the table in the photo. That is, cheaply printed books from the late 60s. Here’s some of them.

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Shooting Russian spies

 Discover Rewarding Photography Photosniper

Discover Rewarding Photography came free with Russian cameras in the early 70s. I got my copy when I bought my Zenith B in about 1972; I was thirteen and it was, I think, my first book on photography. I read it and reread it, and absorbed every morsel of knowledge.

I pored over the lens specifications again and again and was convinced that one day I would have a large collection of big powerful lenses. This never happened and I prefer wide angle and short telephoto lenses now.

What I didn’t realise back then was that along with a great deal of good advice from the author, some of it was a puff piece for Russian equipment.

Well, fair enough. Not too long ago I went to a free street photography workshop run by one of the Japanese camera companies, who told us how wonderful their cameras were. Same difference.

Discover Rewarding Photography Ham Sandwich

But it seemed to work, because I later bought a Zenith enlarger and a Zenith Photosniper, which was a Zenith camera, long telephoto lens, standard lens, and accessories in a metal case.

The book said about the outfit, “An idea which won instant acclaim when introduced is the Photosniper, basically an SLR in combination with a 300mm lens in quick focus mount with a steadying gunstock.”

Despite its appearance, SLR stands here for Single Lens Reflex, not Self Loading Rifle…

The 300mm f/4.5 long lens was very good, as were the standard 58mm Helios lenses that came with both my Zenith B and the camera in the Photosniper outfit.

Also very good was the lens on the Zenith enlarger. In the 80s I went to a small camera shop in Aylesbury, thinking to buy a 50mm Nikon enlarging lens to replace the original Russian one.

The honest man in the shop advised me to stick with the original lens as I’d see no improvement. Later, I realised he was right.

Discover Rewarding Photography was published in 1971 by Technical and Optical Equipment, importers of Russian equipment. It was widely believed but without much evidence that they were a front for the Russian secret services.

Discover Rewarding Photography by Ronald Spillman

Easy Photography

“FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND READERS can’t be wrong. A book that needs reprinting twice every twelve months is sure to be right”  It says on the inside of the dust cover.

Ilford Sportsman and All in One Camera Book

This is a lovely book, full of enthusiasm and encouragement. It takes the reader through the technicalities of photography in an easy to understand manner.

It’s full of diagrams and illustrations, and has photos with captions explaining how to achieve similar results. I first read this as a library book many years ago, and I still enjoy reading it now.

I think this book had quite a wide reputation as a good one for beginners, as the phrase “W.D. Emanuel’s All in One Camera Book” can be found on the front cover. This 1959 edition was the 43rd, but the first edition was 1939. the latest edition I've found was 1975.

All in One Camera book 1

Photographic technology has moved on a long way since ’59. Most film was much less sensitive to light then, and very few cameras had built in light meters.

Cameras were very expensive for their price compared to cameras today, with our modern mass production techniques.

For example, the Ilford Sportsman camera in the photo at the top of the post was sold new in 1962, on a hire purchase agreement.  It’s a well made camera and has a nice lens (not a zoom), simple 3 speed shutter, scale focusing, and no light meter.

It cost £15 4s 9d (£15.21) when the average weekly wage was £12 3s 6d (£12.18) It’s quite a useable camera, but oh, the price!

All in One Camera Book 2

This book makes good, easy bedtime reading for this experienced photographer, and I like the way it explains things that beginners often found difficult. As it says on the front, "43 editions, 430,000 better photographers"

All in One Camera Book by W.D. Emanuel.