Fred Facker: Blog en-us (C) Fred Facker (Fred Facker) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:33:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:33:00 GMT First interviews with the NEX-6 Well, I finally did my first video job using the Sony NEX-6.

   Nex-6 video

I normally put a Rode shotgun mic on a stand near the person being interviewed, but as the NEX-6 does not have a mic input I decided to take a chance on the Sony ECM-XYST1M stereo microphone that fits the NEX-6 smart shoe. Results were pretty good, but as with all camera-mounted mics, the further the camera is away from the person being interviewed, the more ambient noise you pick up.

I was hoping to use my 50mm Summilux for the project, but due to space constraints I used a 28mm Summicron, which has an effective fov of 42mm on the NEX-6. I had a large window on the left side of my subject and a 500w softbox on the right side.

Project settings were 1920x1080p, 24fps, f2.8, 1/50s, ISO100.

NEX-6 Video Still

Lighting was good. Sound was good. Motion was good. My only complaint was that having to use a wide angle lens, when people gesticulated, their hands looked very large. Of course, this is why it's generally suggested to use a 75mm or longer lens for portraits -- it flattens the image. I have three interviews left to shoot, so I'm going to attempt to find a room large enough to use at least the 50mm. I'd love to try my 90mm Elmarit, but on the crop sensor that's just not going to happen indoors.

The good news is that the NEX-6 has proved a very capable and portable video solution.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 17 Jun 2013 21:04:51 GMT
Coding Leica M lenses One thing has always bugged me about the digital M series. I use vintage or non-Leica lenses, and one morning I might remember to manually set the camera to a 28mm f2 lens, but then I'd shoot all week, switching lenses multiple times, and the EXIF data of all my shots would say 28mm f2 Summicron. I know, it's not THAT big of a deal, and it doesn't affect the RAW file, but I just wanted the same features and benefits someone with a new, coded 50mm Summilux f1.4 would get. However, being cheap, I did not want to send all my lenses off at $150 a pop to get them professionally coded.

At one point I attempted to download a template from the internet, but even when printed on card stock I could not cut the small holes accurately enough to make it work.
Then I ran across this listing on eBay -- Leica M Lens 6 Bit Coder Kit --
 For $75 I could supposedly code every lens I owned. I decided it was worth a shot. When it arrived I was not disappointed.
match technical M-coder

The plastic template snaps onto the M mount making it very easy to use the included marker to color in the spots that should be coded. The D-Coder gives you the best codes to use for Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses. The only downside is that it doesn't list the codes for all Leica lenses. For my 90mm Elmarit and 135mm Elmarit I had to do some googling to find the codes, but it was not hard to procure them.

I coded all seven of my lenses in about ten minutes at a cost of about $11 per lens. You can't beat that. 
]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 08 May 2013 21:45:11 GMT
Finally developed that roll of film Back in January I popped a roll of Kodak TMAX 400 into the Leica M3 to try it out. I'd had some trouble with TMAX 100 and Ilford Delta 100 being underexposed when shooting indoors and ending up really grainy and losing detail. However, I'd never developed 400 speed film, so I was nervous about how it would react in Caffenol-C.

I don't know why, but I was really slow with finishing this roll. The 24 shots ended up spanning four months, but I finally developed it last night.

The first shot was from a visit to Austin in January.

Austin from the Omni

Then there was a picnic in Herman Park that took place in February.

Picnic in Herman Park

Then there was a trip to Offats Bayou in March.

Offats Bayou, Galveston

Followed by some goofing off around the house.


And finally some sailing in April on our new boat Gimme Shelter.

Mary at the helm

I was very pleased with the TMAX 400 in Caffenol-C. I used the same developing time I use for TMAX 100, but I added almost double the Vitamin C. The extra Vitamin C was just added on a whim after seeing the results some other users posted on the forums, not because of the 400 speed film.


I ended up with much better exposures with only slightly bigger grain than a well-exposed TMAX 100 shot. I'm really happy with them. I also switched to a plastic negative reel, which was so much easier to load than those stainless reels, and for the first time ever I had zero pink spots on my negatives. That made things a double success.

I've got to shoot through two more rolls of TMAX 100 and then a roll of Portra 160 and a roll of Gold 200. Then I think I'm switching to TMAX 400 full time for all my film work.

]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:13:40 GMT
Leica 135mm shootout: fastest vs slowest
The current f3.4 ASPH APO-Telyt is already known to be the sharpest Leica 135mm to date. It retails for $3495 and at the time of this post was back-ordered on every site I checked. I don't have one, and I probably never will. What I do have are copies of both the fastest and the slowest 135mm lenses Leica ever made.

The 135mm Hektor f4.5 was the first 135mm available in the M-bayonet mount, produced from 1954-1960. However, screw-mount versions were produced from 1933-1959 and can be adapted to M-mount. It has a 15-blade diaphragm and weighs in around 1 pound. It is the slowest 135mm Leica lens ever made. They can be had for around $100. Read more about it here:

The first version of the 135mm Elmarit f2.8 arrived in 1963. There were three versions, all made in Canada, the last going out of production in 1996. This 135mm lens is easily identifiable by the built-in goggles. The lens pulls up the 90mm frame lines and the goggles magnify the focus area. In theory this was to enable the more precise focus needed with the shallow depth of field of f2.8. It seems a bit gimmicky to me, but it does allow for better framing when using the M2 or M8, which don't have 135mm frame lines.

The Elmarit I tested was the second version from 1974, which weighs in at a whopping 1.61 pounds. It has a 9-bladed aperture, a slide out lens hood, and uses those annoying Series VII filters. They can be had for around $500. Read more about it here:

Because of price, the Hektor was the first Leica brand lens I ever owned. It went to Brazil with me and an M8 and did a great job. Sometimes I had to review shots to check framing, but I was not disappointed in it.


However, I'm always tempted by faster lenses, so when a 135mm Elmarit showed up at the right price, I grabbed it too. I wandered the Illinois countryside with it on the M8 and was quite pleased with the results as well.

The old farmhouse

The most obvious downside to fast lenses is the weight. Now that I'm shooting with an NEX-6, if I pack the Elmarit, it will literally double the weight of my bag. I keep asking myself if I really need the extra 3 stops since the NEX-6 can compensate very well by upping the ISO.

At sunrise and sunset, it might be worth it because I can't hand-hold 135mm lenses without blur at shutter speeds less than 1/100s. I'm shaky like that. However, for most daytime shooting, the Elmarit seems like nothing but extra weight. I decided to put the Hektor and the Elmarit head to head to see which one stays in my bag.

Like all my tests, this one was super scientific. For the first part, I set up some props on my kitchen table. I shot the scene with the Elmarit at f2.8, f4.5, and f8. Then I shot the scene with the Hektor at f4.5 and f8. Here's what I got:

Elmarit f2.8
135mm Elmarit at f2.8

Elmarit f4.5
135mm Elmarit at f4.5

Hektor 4.5
135mm Hektor at f4.5

Elmarit f8
135mm Elmarit at f8

Hektor f8
135mm Hektor at f8

Although the renderings are very similar, the Elmarit had the edge in sharpness. I was using live-view on the NEX-6 to focus, so there are no questions of rangefinder calibration. When it comes to detail, the Elmarit wins. If you view the images at 100 percent you'll notice the Hektor has just a tad more fall-off in focus at f4.5, but that seems to be due to the fact that it's overall softer than the Elmarit. Other than that, the contrast and color renderings are very similar between the two lenses.

For the next test I pulled out the Christmas lights to check the out-of-focus areas.

Elmarit bokeh at f2.8
135mm Elmarit bokeh at f2.8

Elmarit bokeh at f4.5
135mm Elmarit bokeh at f4.5

Hektor bokeh at f4.5
135mm Hektor bokeh at f4.5

Elmarit bokeh at f8
135mm Elmarit bokeh at f8

Hektor bokeh at f8
135mm Hektor bokeh at f8

It's easy to see that when it comes to rendering out-of-focus areas, the Hektor wins, hands down. The Hektor bokeh stays a perfect circle and is very soft and pleasant. The 9-bladed diaphragm of the Elmarit creates jagged, harsh shapes.

So how do I pick a winner?

At web sizes, the difference in sharpness is hardly noticeable. For portraits the softness of the Hektor is also more flattering. I may not be able to shoot as late into the night with the Hektor as I can with the Elmarit, but the Hektor is going to render out-of-focus lights and foliage in a nicer manner and neither one is fast enough to do much once the sun is down.

But, if I need to crop into the photo or I need to print at a high-resolution, the sharpness of the Elmarit is going to give me a better print.

Let's face it, technically the Elmarit has a newer and better lens design, but considering the $400 price difference, I'm going to declare the Hektor the winner. However, both lenses are a bargain when you're talking Leica prices. Although I won't be lugging around the Elmarit all the time anymore, I'm not going to get rid of it just yet.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:18:32 GMT
In the media
Here's a few blogs that have been kind enough to link to my work:

Thank you to all the blogs who have promoted me. The recognition is always appreciated.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:17:56 GMT
For the birds

Curious ducks

Cormorant]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:17:04 GMT
Happy new year Is there anything more cliche than the constant end-of-year best-of wrap-ups and resolutions for the new year? I've put this post off for a week trying to avoid it, but it's an annual tradition we must all suffer through.

First off, the world didn't end. I still have a mortgage and a bunch of bills to pay, but hey, at least we're not dead.
I spent Christmas in Kansas. My parents got a 3D TV, but they only have three 3D movies, so we watched both MIB:3 and Spiderman twice. They got the Sharp model with the active glasses. It's pretty impressive.
The weather was frigid, so I didn't spend much time outside taking pictures, but I did get a couple shots of cold birds.
Cold bird

And I stopped on my way to Pizza Hut to snap main street of Indepence, Kansas in all of its holiday glory.


After plenty of quality time with the family, it was back to Houston for slightly warmer but rainier weather. A north wind pushed all the water out of the marina. My hopes of sailing before the end of the year were dashed on the rocks and we had a beach where our channel in and out of the marina used to be.

Marina del Sol beach

The upside to the wind pushing all the water out of the marina while getting lots of rain, it was kind of like the toilet had been flushed. By the time the water came back Monday morning, it was very clear -- at least very clear for Galveston, Texas. However, it was still raining Monday, so I still didn't get to sail.

As I cleaned house and prepped for the new year, I took some time to toy around with macro tubes on the Sony NEX-6 and got a few interesting shots.

Argus Brick

Happy New Year

Need a light?

Being the first of the year, I'm halfway tempted to officially start a 365 project. However, I think I'll keep it unofficial for now and see if I can just post one interesting shot per day to flickr.

Although I did rig my spinnaker this year, I never actually got to fly it. I either had crew and terrible weather or great weather and no crew. C'est la vie. I will try again in 2013.

I did finally spend the night anchored out this year. I also had dolphins swim along with me during one sail. Maybe that makes up for the lack of spinnaker use.

I kicked off 2013 with a major workout. I'm riding the MS 150 Houston to Austin in April, so I've got to start training. I've ridden it twice before, but not in several years. Yes, I will be hitting you up for donations in the near future. I'm hoping to raise at least $1,000 for the National MS Society this year. Dropping a few pounds while I help those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis is just an added bonus.

It's back to work tomorrow, and we're charging right into four huge projects that are all due by the end of February. I'm very thankful I have help this year.

Thank you to everyone who read my ramblings in 2012. I wish you all the best in 2013.

To end, I'll wrap up this post with one of the most serene moments of 2012.

PS: I pre-ordered the new Leica M!
]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 02 Jan 2013 04:23:00 GMT
Catching up
I've slipped on the blogging. Work got crazy, and on the weekends if I can be sailing or shooting photos, I kind of forget about sitting around and writing.

After shooting with the NEX-6 for a week, I sold the Leica M8. It had 29,000 actuations and although I loved the color rendering of the Kodak sensor, it was just a really slow, dated camera with horribly noisy high ISO. Prices were already plummeting, so I figured I better unload it while it was still worth something to somebody.

Although I love the versatility of the NEX-6 (500mm telephoto lenses, macro tubes, video, etc.), the fact that it isn't a full frame sensor still drives me crazy. I would really like my 28mm Ultron to be 28mm instead of cropped down to a 42mm field of view when shooting on a boat. You can't back up on a boat.

Sailing to Redfish Island

I really want to place my pre-order for the new Leica M, but refurbished M9s have dropped to around $4k, and I really wonder if Sony will unleash a full frame NEX this year in the $3k range. The difference in price could mean a nice lens or several sailboat upgrades. I just haven't been able to justify the cost yet.

The first week I had the NEX I visited my parents in Kansas. I was hoping for some wildlife, but trekking through the woods with two dogs was no conducive to sneaking up on any kind of animals ... but I did see evidence of animals having been there prior to our arrival.


The clear skies of Kansas also present a nice opportunity for some star photography. There's so much haze and light pollution in Houston that even attempting to shoot stars is a lost cause.


Saturday we attended the Texas Photographic Collectors Association meeting at Professional Camera Repair for a presentation on "cheap macro." We got lots of tips on macro tubes, macro converters, shooting with lenses backwards, etc.

TPCA December Meeting
 Being the only members under 50 and Rachael being the only girl, they gave her a Polariod Land Camera Automatic 100 that came into the shop. She was quite thrilled and has film on order.

Polaroid Land Camera Automatic 100

I practiced some birding with the 500mm Canon FD f8 reflex lens I procured via eBay. It gives great image compression, separation and detail. I was quite pleased.

Windy Gull

I also did a little bit of macro -- something I couldn't do at all with the M8 -- with my new macro tube kit.

Today's fortune

I know this post was a bit scattered, but that more or less catches us up to the present. I was hoping to take the next two weeks off for the holidays, but I'm going to be in the office until the 21st.

I'll try to stay on a posting schedule now that all my major projects are finished for the year, but if life gets too busy, have a happy holiday.

 Happy Holidays, Flickr

]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:16:06 GMT
The ups and downs of EVFs
Focusing has proven to be easy, even in the dark. That's a plus.

However, every time I take a photo, the viewfinder blacks out. There's a noticeable lag before it comes back on. That blackout makes it really hard to follow birds with a long zoom.

Guess you better compose each shot right the first time ...

]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:15:25 GMT
Sony NEX-6 First Impressions
I almost jumped at the Sony NEX-7, but I heard it had issues with the sensor overheating during video. Then I almost jumped at the Fuji X-Pro1, but it still didn't seem like a fully developed camera.

I finally ordered the Sony NEX-6.

Sony NEX-6 with kit zoom

Initial setup was a little slow and not completely intuitive. It took me about an hour to get the wifi working with my iPhone and an iPad I borrowed. This required installing the Sony Play Memories Mobile app on the phone or tablet and then plugging the camera into my computer and installing the Remote Trigger and Photo Upload apps. There are several other apps on the Sony site I haven't loaded yet.

Pairing the devices is not fast. Sometimes it takes over a minute, and it still seems buggy, but once it is finally paired, it works well.

Sony NEX-6 wireless smart phone remote

However, if you use the remote device to trigger the camera, there is a noticeable delay.

The kit lens is sharp and autofocus is very fast. If you're shooting in manual mode, there is virtually no shutter lag.

I tested the camera with both my Leica 50mm Summilux and my Canon FD 200mm f4. Manually focusing them with the viewfinder was easy, especially with focus peaking turned on.

The high ISO quality is amazing. Even ISO 3200 is very usable with low noise. Here's a shot of Dixie Belle in a dim bedroom with the Summilux at f1.4, 1/60s, ISO 3200.


Things I love:

  • Clean high ISO capability
  • Fast autofocus
  • Macro capability
  • Great video
  • Uses my Leica and Canon lenses

Things I like:

  • The wifi apps are cool to play with but need work

Things I hate:
  • No mic plug or headphone out
  • No battery charger
  • No RAW file support from Adobe yet 

There is a crappy Sony mic available that plugs in via the Smart Shoe. I'm hoping there are Smart Shoe to mic plug adapters on the horizon. For interviews I need a way to connect lapel mics or I'm back to recording audio with a separate device and having to re-sync it. Waste of time.

I was really hesitant to sell the M8 because I was worried this camera wouldn't be easy to use with Leica lenses, but it just absolutely blows the M8 away. However, I am still craving the new M. We'll see if I still want it after a month with the NEX or if this little camera will keep me satisfied.

]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:14:43 GMT
Fast Lens Shootout: Vintage Summilux vs New Nokton
It's been a great lens, but I just couldn't quell that desire for an authentic Leica lens. I wanted to know if I was missing something.

I had a 50mm Summicron DR f2 on my M3, but it wasn't getting much use and because of its design, the DR can't be used on digital Ms. That's a shame because the DR is really one of the most solid and beautifully engineered lenses I've ever handled. With a tear in my eye I traded it in on a vintage Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4. It was not only faster glass, but I could also use it on my M8.

You're probably thinking, shouldn't the Nokton be compared against Leica's Noctilux? Yes and no. Yes, it's more similar in design to the Noctilux. However, it's much closer to the price range of the Summilux, which is the biggest determining factor for poor photographers like myself. I spent $800 on the used Nokton, but then another $150 having the backfocus problem fixed by DAG. The used Summilux came in at $1500. (I previously owned the Nokton 40mm f1.4, which is a much cheaper lens but found the 50mm f1.1 to be a much better lens and sold the 40mm.)

So how does what could be considered an antique lens stack up against a modern apsherical lens like the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1?

First, there's size.

Summilux vs Nokton size comparison

Although they weigh about the same, the Summilux is a good deal smaller than the Nokton and doesn't block the viewfinder. The Summilux also has a longer throw on the focus ring.

During back lit situations the Nokton has a tendency to put a purple fringe and a green fringe around the edges of the back lit objects, so my first shot before I decided to drop any money on the Summilux was to test it with some back light.

50 Summilux purple fringe

There was still some purple fringing around the door frame and window sticker, but there was no green fringing. Score one for the Summilux.

Once I decided I would trade in on the Summilux, I began some highly rigorous scientific tests. These included shooting a pirahna and a Diet Coke can with both lenses set to f1.4.

Summilux 100% Crop
50 Summilux fish crop

Nokton 100% Crop
50 Nokton fish crop

While the color rendering is almost the same, the Summilux proved to be noticeably sharper with better contrast.

Summilux 100% Crop
50 Summilux can crop

Nokton 100% Crop
50 Nokton can crop

With the backlit Diet Coke can the Summilux again came out on top when pixel peeping for a look at sharpness and contrast.

So the last question remained, what about the areas in a photo that are out of focus? I turned to a string of Christmas lights to answer that question.

Summilux Bokeh f1.4
50mm Summilux Bokeh

Nokton Bokeh f1.4
50mm Nokton Bokeh at f1point4

Nokton Bokeh f1.1
50mm Nokton Bokeh at f1

At f1.4 the Summilux bokeh tended to be oval shaped with an outline. It wasn't terrible, but it's not the prettiest I've ever seen. However, at f1.4 the Nokton's bokeh was octagonal, not good at all. Once again the pre-ASPH Summilux, despite having been designed in 1969, came out on top. BUT the Nokton had that extra stop, so I couldn't just act like it didn't exist. At f1.1 the Nokton had very pleasing bokeh, which I liked better than the Summilux.

I was pleased with the test results because I had already spent the money on the Summilux, but I was really expecting the ashperical design of the Nokton to be sharper. It turns out, I have been missing something. Those Leica engineers knew what they were doing even way back in the 1960s. I can't imagine how great the modern 50mm Summilux ASPH with a floating lens element must be, but it's still well out of my price range at $4,000.

So now the question remains, does that little edge in sharpness and constrast matter at all if you're not making large prints? Is it worth paying more for an old lens versus a new lens with a warranty?

To me, it's worth saving a little more to buy the Summilux, but I have a really nice Nokton for sale if you're interested.

]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:13:51 GMT
Ninety Nine Years 99 Pages: Leica Jubilee Book
It was a rather large box, so my heart skipped for a moment as I thought, what if some wealthy benefactor sent me an M9!

No such luck, BUT it was my Leica Jubilee Book

My Leica Jubilee Book arrived

Ninety Nine Years 99 Pages.

It's a cool book with lots of photos and diagrams documenting the history of Leica cameras and Leica in pop culture.

I entered the Leica Jubilee Self Portrait contest back in the spring, and I was one of the lucky photographers selected for inclusion.

I'm on page 52.

Leica Jubilee Book

Yes, it's just a small photo, and yes, there's an S on my face, but hey, I'm in a book with Henri Cartier-Bresson. Never thought that would happen.

Guess it's a little late to sell all my M gear and switch over to Canon now.

Thanks, Leica.

If you want to order your own copy and virtually flip through the pages, they can be found here:

Unfortunately, they do cost 99 Euros.]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:12:18 GMT update I finally received the leather kit for my Rolleicord the week before Thanksgiving. They claimed that my camera had an odd setup, and they couldn't find the correct die-cut pattern for it. I've been so busy I haven't actually been able to sit down with the leather pieces and check the fit yet. I also have a roll of film in the camera, so I need to shoot it before I can start pulling it apart.

But for the record, after five months, they did deliver something.


]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:10:57 GMT So remember back in June when I bought that Rolleicord at the camera repair shop? Well, I ordered a kit to replace all the leatherette on it from a site called .


I was going to document the process and do an instructional video. Only problem is, eight weeks later, my kit has never showed up.


I had good email communication with the person running the site and sent several photos and answered several questions about my camera, so the kit would fit it. Then nothing.


They definitely have not refunded my money via paypal. Guess I'll shoot them an email and see what happened.


Unfortunately I haven't been shooting much this summer. I've been doing a lot of sailing, but I'm headed back to Paris in September, so I promise some new photos coming soon.

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 28 Aug 2012 13:30:31 GMT
First roll through the Rolleicord It took me almost a week to finish my first 12-shot roll of 120 film on the recently acquired Rolleicord IV. Of course, it might have gone faster had I remembered to wind the film and not just the shutter for the first five or 10 exposures. Almost all of the shots I took with model Amanda Jacobs on Friday ended up in this one frame.

  Rolleicord accident

Lesson learned. I found the shutter lock that requires the film to be wound before it can be released, and at least I know that double exposures will be easy to accomplish with this little machine.

Luckily I realized my mistake before the shoot was completely over, so at least I got a couple of single exposures before she left.

Rolleicord Portrait

Yes, the Rollei lens is quite sharp, and the shutter is working great at all speeds. It was a much better result than what I got with the Kodak Duaflex.

I took it along to Redfish Island but unfortunately I was so busy with the boat work that I forgot to take any shots with it. However, the novelty of the TLR made picture taking exciting enough that Mary volunteered to take my photo on the way home.

Sailing home

The waste-level finder with a nicer viewing screen arrived last night, so stay tuned for instructions on how to replace and clean the finder. I'm ordering new vulcanite from this afternoon, so detailed instructions on that operation should be coming soon as well.


]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 26 Jun 2012 18:01:06 GMT
Twin Lens Reflex
Perhaps you've seen a few of these old cameras around.
Kodak Duaflex IV
The Twin Lens Reflex or TLR was a camera design pioneered around 1870. The idea was that you could have the shutter-less top lens remain open and project the image onto a viewing screen, which allowed you to frame and focus, while the shutter on the bottom lens would only open to expose the film.
The two lenses were fixed together on the front plate of the camera, so that if you turned the focus knob,  the entire front plate of the camera would move, maintaining the same focus on the screen as would be applied to the film.
To be blunt, the Kodak Duaflex was crap. It had a bakelite body, and a cheap f8 lens with fixed focus. The one pictured above belonged to my great grandfather, and while it looks beautiful, the shutter sticks. It's not worth repairing since they usually sell for around $6 on eBay. The camera repair shop has a pile of them that are being turned into clocks, nightlights and other nostalgic pieces. Kodak's business plan was to churn out cheap cameras and make their money on film. The Duaflex is about one step up from a cardboard disposable camera.

The Rolleiflex is perhaps the most famous of the TLRs. Rollei also made the Rolleicord, a more affordable version of the camera, which is currently affordable in the second-hand market (although popularity seems to be growing).
I came across this Rolleicord IV dating from the mid-1950s at Professional Camera Repair when I dropped some of my Leica lenses off yesterday to see if they could be cleaned. Cosmetically, this guy has seen better days, but the lenses were very clear for the age of the camera, and the wonderful part about buying from a camera repair shop rather than eBay or craigslist is that the cameras definitely work.
The new member of the family
One advantage of the TLR is its simplicity. Unlike an SLR, you don't need to rely on the mirror flipping up and down. Like a rangefinder you continue to see your subject framed in the viewfinder during the shot, but unlike a rangefinder, no complicated, expensive mechanism is necessary for focus.
At some point my little Rolleicord was transplanted with a Yashica lid and magnifier. It fits and functions fine, so I don't know if it's worth trying to find an original to swap it back. However, I do plan to put in a brighter modern glass focusing screen and to replace the leatherette. I'll document both projects for the blog.

One note, if you're looking for a TLR, always go with one that uses 120 film. 620 film is no longer made, and while you can use 120 film in a 620 camera, it involves re-rolling the film in total darkness onto 620 spools every single time you load the camera. Not fun.

Many of the Rolleis, Yashicas and Ikoflexes actually had factory adapter kits that allowed them to also utilize 35mm film as it became more and more popular. The Rolleikin kit works on most Rolleiflex and Rolleicord cameras.
]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 20 Jun 2012 15:51:38 GMT
Summer is here Leica lenses are not cheap, nor are they particularly easy to come by with waiting lists for new models and eBay battles for the classics. You can imagine my surprise when a friend at work mentioned he had a couple Leica lenses sitting at home that he'd never used and asked me if I'd like to shoot with them.


Of course it didn't turn out to be a Nokton f1 or a Summilux, but it's always fun to try something new, and I was delighted when a few days later he dropped a 135mm f4.5 and a 35mm f3.5 by my office. Unfortunately, both lenses have fallen prey to the dreaded haze and fungus, but we'll see if they can be rehabilitated by Professional Camera Repair.


The really amazing part of the 35mm f3.5 is the size. It would be a great outdoor lens, and it weighs next to nothing.





While the haze kept me from grabbing anything special with the new lenses, I did stop and snap a crape myrtle with my 135mm Elmarit.



Summer is here


When the crape myrtles bloom, you know it's summer in Houston.

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 19 Jun 2012 13:59:20 GMT
Death of a camera
Sometimes it's irritation because it turned out to be cheap crap that never worked right. However, in this case, it's like saying goodbye to an old friend. My Canon HF100 got splashed with seawater while we were out sailing a couple weekends ago. It seemed fine at the time, and it kept on recording, but now the screen is dead.

I can't complain about the Canon's quality. It has crossed the Atlantic more than once and definitely outlived its expected useful life. Although it's four years old, the recordings still hold up against the new DSLR video cameras. And unlike the DSLRs that top out at 20 minutes due to sensor heat, the HF100 can shoot over four hours of continuous footage. However, the primitive 17 mbs AVCHD codec is a bit clunky and newer cameras are shooting at 24 or even 32 mbs.

I'm upset to lose a piece of equipment in such a stupid manner, and I'm upset that I'll eventually have to spend the money to buy another camcorder. But the real feeling of loss is in all the movies and video blogs and DIY videos that I had planned to make when I scraped together the money to buy the Canon four years ago.

Sure, I made a few. The four DIY videos I actually got around to making have totaled more than 100,000 views on YouTube. There were just so many more I had planned to make. So many ideas for short films that had originally hinged on the purchase of this camera that never came to fruition.

I feel like I owe an apology to the Canon for letting it sit so many months at a time and never following through on the plans we made together.

RIP buddy. You were a soldier.

In memory, here's a video from way back when the Canon was young. (The horrible timing and off-key singing were my fault, not the Canon's.)

]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 07 Jun 2012 13:40:13 GMT
I finally used my spinnaker Maybe it wasn't actually on the boat, but I did pull it out of the bag for a photoshoot.



Mary was showing off her new bikini body, and the blue and white chute made the perfect nautical-themed backdrop.



I've relied heavily on the Voigtlander 50mm f1.1 and the Voigtlander 28mm f2 on the M8 for portrait work, but while I was in Florida last week the Nikon 35mm f1.8 showed up. I bought it mainly for video work, but I think I may start using the D7000 for more portraits.
As for the spinnaker, Netflix is sending me "Basic Spinnaker Sailing" on DVD, so maybe I'll be using it on the boat before too long.


]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 16 May 2012 14:44:24 GMT
Back to work The cameras have been back in action. I spent April 21-22 volunteering with the 2012 MS150 Houston to Austin ride. Our team was looking pretty sharp this year.

2012 Technip Titans MS 150 Team


The Technip cooking team was in La Grange, and, they really outdid themselves. The riders appreciated the chicken, pork chops, boudan, steaks and ribs -- and so did I!

2012 MS 150 La Grange


Wednesday night we were throwing rocks at the Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon in Katy, Texas.

Stars & Strikes


Even Wonder Woman stopped by for the event.

Stars & Strikes


Then Sunday, it was up, up and away as we flew out over the Gulf of Mexico to take some photos of the big boats at work.



Hopefully that gives you guys a break from all the Starwind boat repair photos I've been posting lately.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 30 Apr 2012 21:42:01 GMT
No more jokes about my dirty bottom!
I'd had a diver spend a day cracking a corral reef off of her in January, so the sea life wasn't too overwhelming when she was hauled last week. That's not to say she wasn't green. There were also a few oysters still hanging out on the keel.


I had my fingers crossed on the blister situation, but I was really worried about some delamination along the keel that had been reported by the diver. I actually didn't have any blisters at all, but sure enough, there was some ugly looking stuff going on with the keel.

For one thing, there was a big hole in the front of it. I'm guessing a previous owner must have hit something.

Hole in the keel!

Then there was cracking and delamination along the joint.

Superficial cracking

The good news was, the cracking was all superficial. There was no actual separation between the keel and the hull. The yard filled the hole with the lead filler and then ground out the cracked material and refaired it.


By the time they were finished, she looked great.

Bottom job

Bottom job

She was back home in her slip on Friday morning, but I was working the MS 150 charity ride all weekend, so I haven't gotten a chance to see if she feels faster yet.

She keeps looking better and better. People are starting to say, "Hey, that's a nice looking boat." I think she's actually becoming a respectable vessel.


And there won't be anymore jokes about her dirty bottom.


]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 23 Apr 2012 06:55:00 GMT
My boat just got fancy
The Seahorse

I probably should have spent a little more time masking the ladder, but you know how things go. I'm particular and meticulous when working on other people's projects, but I get a little lazy with mine. The tape wasn't really sticking anyway.

The vinyl decals from FastSigns looked great. The background color matched up perfectly with the Pettit white semi-gloss paint, which was just a happy accident. Hopefully they won't yellow or fade in the sun.

The Seahorse

Once the boat and the slip were looking fancy, I took some time to work with OpenCPN on my netbook to make sure we had a working chartplotter.


And yes, maybe I just posted that to show off my matching Seahorse coffee mug.

The wind was gusting up to 40mph, so unfortunately we didn't get to do any sailing.

She goes to the yard tomorrow for bottom paint. Hopefully they won't find too many blisters.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 16 Apr 2012 15:35:00 GMT

]]> (Fred Facker) Fri, 06 Apr 2012 09:14:00 GMT
The new blogger is freaking killing me

]]> (Fred Facker) Fri, 06 Apr 2012 06:57:00 GMT
What's in a name? The Starwind 27 gets a name

After almost three years, I've finally settled on a name for the Starwind 27. I just couldn't bring myself to make another horrible pun or to name it after a girlfriend. I've settled on something simple -- Seahorse.

The hippocamp or hippocampus (plural: hippocamps or hippocampi; Greek: ἱππόκαμπος, from ἵππος, "horse" and κάμπος, "monster"[1]), often called a sea-horse[2] in English, is a mythological creature shared by Phoenician[3] and Greek mythology, though the name by which it is recognised is purely Greek; it became part of Etruscan mythology. It has typically been depicted as a horse in its forepart with a coiling, scaly, fishlike hindquarter.

Homer describes Poseidon, who was god of horses (Poseidon Hippios), earthquakes, and the sea, drawn by "brazen-hoofed" horses over the sea's surface, and Apollonius of Rhodes, being consciously archaic in Argonautica (iv.1353ff), describes the horse of Poseidon emerging from the sea and galloping away across the Libyan sands.[4] In Hellenistic and Roman imagery, however, Poseidon (or Roman Neptune) often drives a sea-chariot drawn by hippocampi. Thus hippocamps sport with this god in both ancient depictions and much more modern ones, such as in the waters of the 18th-century Trevi Fountain in Rome surveyed by Neptune from his niche above.

The mythological seahorse in the graphic was borrowed and adapted from Plate 46 in Fairbairn’s Book of Crests, which was first published in 1859. I don't know the actual age of the seahorse woodcut.

Of course, I had to make one more for my dinghy.

Kraken Up

]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 04 Apr 2012 12:45:00 GMT
A new sail

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 03 Apr 2012 07:31:00 GMT
Three weekends with no breakdowns!

I also did some more work with acrylic and made a new cover for the control panel as the old one was too yellowed to see through. It was rather distracting having to open it up every couple of minutes to check depth, engine temp, etc. Now I just need to add an on/off switch to the control panel for the depth gauge, and it will be finished.

The new compass is on the binnacle.
It points South instead of North.

And the cabin is looking about as clean and ship shape as it ever has.
Untitled Untitled

I'm ordering smoked acrylic and sealant to replace the four fixed ports next.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 02 Apr 2012 06:41:00 GMT
Putting a round compass in a square hole Round to Square Ritchie Compass Adapter

Last season I could still read my compass enough to set a bearing. This year, it wasn't floating or readable. I guess 28 years is a long time to expect a compass to keep working when it's been sitting in the sun and rain the entire time.

As I started looking for a replacement, I found out that Ritchie hadn't even made a square base compass since 1988. Unfortunately, my binnacle had a big square hole in it. A little plywood solved that issue.

The new compass is a smaller, cheaper model, but much more readable. Hopefully it will last at least another 25 years.

]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 28 Mar 2012 06:24:00 GMT
Working on the little things
The anchorage at Redfish was full of the usual suspects. We saw lots of bikinis on deck as everyone was trying to soak up the first warm, sunny weekend of the year, but my eyesight wasn't good enough to tell if they were good bikinis or bad bikinis. We had a cigarette boat cruise by asking to borrow some pliers with three ladies aboard who definitely fell into the bad bikini category.

There was a little wind by the time we started back toward Kemah. In fact, we didn't even have to start the motor. My friend Matt pulled out the whisker pole and had us running downwind wing on wing most of the way home.

Wing on wing

Saturday night was a feast of steaks grilled on the Tina Marie as everyone celebrated a great day on the bay and the return of the sun.

Sunday started early with breakfast in the galley.

The only thing I ever cook on the boat

The pancakes were good, but I'm giving up on the percolated coffee. I finally found a replacement perk knob to fit my pot, but it leaked everywhere once the coffee started percolating. Plus, the alcohol burner takes forever to boil water. I've decided I'm just getting a small electric coffee maker and living without coffee when we don't have shore power.


I had planned to work all day Saturday, but the weather was just too nice. We took another trip to Redfish aboard the Tina Marie.

Enjoying the bay

But when we got back, I got down to business. Now that all my systems on the Starwind are working, I've been focusing on the smaller details.

I added rain louvers to the Beckson opening ports in the head. My ports aren't self draining, so I have a terrible time with the windowsills holding water, then when I open the ports, it dumps inside. The louvers replace the screens on the inside of the opening ports, and I went ahead and siliconed them into place. This should hopefully solve my water-dumping problem and allow me to leave them open for some ventilation during the week.

Beckson rain louvre

I also got the mirrored acrylic pieces I'd cut last week installed into the medicine cabinet. For the first time since I bought the boat almost three years ago, the cabinet has doors. It's also the first time we've had a mirror on the boat. The downside is that I can no longer ignore how crazy my hair gets after sailing.

Mirrored acrylic

I then pulled apart and masked off the galley to repaint the countertop. Rustoleum makes a anti-microbial, water resistant countertop paint. It was only $20 for the can, so I figured I'd try it out. Nothing could possibly make my ragged, cream-colored counter covered in rust rings look any worse. I chose the color "storm," which was sort of a dark gray. The paint was nice to work with and rolled on very easily. The only downside is that it takes a full three days to dry. I can't wait to see how it looks next weekend when I get all the tape up and put everything back together.

This week I should have new light fixtures showing up, and I've already picked up a new Ritchie compass for the binnacle. Once I get the fixed ports replaced and my bottom painted, the Starwind should be looking like a pretty respectable little vessel.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 26 Mar 2012 07:08:00 GMT
Cutting acrylic
I was very wary of working with plexiglass because everyone on the internet was talking about how it had a tendency to crack or shatter. Thankfully I didn't find that to be the case. Since I was working with 1/8" acrylic, I used a straight edge to score it, then easily snapped it. No problems at all. I then took the leftover pieces and practiced drilling it. No problems there either. Yes, you have to clean up your edges with some fine grit sandpaper, but it was actually much easier to work with than I expected.

Small victory, but it makes me feel better after the Seagull debacle last weekend.

I'm now more confident I can refit all my ports for only $100 instead of spending $600 for new kits from Beckson.

Current project for this weekend include adding louvres to the opening ports to keep the rain out and painting the old rust-stained counter in the galley.

]]> (Fred Facker) Thu, 22 Mar 2012 07:38:00 GMT
First sail of 2012
Three weeks ago the diver got the new propeller on the Starwind, but due to the definitive end of the drought in Houston and non-stop rain the past two weekends, it wasn't until this weekend that we got a chance to try it out. In meantime, I got a few repairs finished.

There was boring stuff like replacing a stripped header bolt in the heat exchanger and putting on a new radiator cap. Then there was more exciting stuff like installing the depth sounder I got for my birthday and finally having a control panel with all matching gauges and all WORKING gauges. Yes, it took two years, but all the gauges finally work.

Working gauges

The fuel gauge had been the hold-out. It refused to show anything but full or empty depending on how hard it was jiggled. I finally pulled the new sending unit back out of the fuel tank and tested it. It had been bad straight out of the box. I bought another one and immediately the fuel gauge worked. Remarkably, West Marine still let me return the dead sender despite the fact that I had already cut it and that it was soaked in diesel. Props to them.

My VHF radio had gone mysteriously quiet back around Thanksgiving. I got around to checking that as well. It seemed people down the dock could hear me transmitting, but I couldn't hear anything or anyone. Since my antenna was ok, and my speaker was ok, all that was left was a bad receiver circuit. The radio, which was bought in June of 2011, also went back to West Marine. It comes with a 36-month warranty, but they weren't as happy to replace it. Apparently the procedure is to send them off somewhere for testing and repair, but since I spend a ridiculous amount of money in there every weekend, they decided to replace it in store with the new model as long as I bought the $13 platinum protection warranty on the new one, which gives you the bonus of having it replaced in store no questions asked. Fair enough. As soon as I plugged in the new radio, it crackled back to life with chatter.

I figured it was also time to freshen up the undated fire extinguishers that came with the boat. I had serious doubts as to what might come out of them if one pulled the pin and squeezed the trigger. I like to give my passengers a real cruise line experience, which means at least one engine fire and power outtage per trip, so I figured better safe than sorry on the extinguishers.

Sadly, there was one thing I couldn't fix. The antique British Seagull Century Longshaft outboard that I had wanted to put on the back of the boat as backup has passed away. I spent several hours with it Thursday on this high-tech outboard stand I crafted in my garage.

High-tech motor stand

I got the top-end working great, but after trucking it down to Kemah and putting on the boat, I finally kicked it into gear only to hear the most god-awful squealing sound you can imagine. It was sort of like nails on a chalkboard mixed with crying babies and a dying rabbit. It was not good. It also started oozing gear oil out of all its crevices as it screamed in pain, so I quickly shut it off and pulled it up onto the boat to stop any kind of environmental disaster. Unfortunately, that caused the carburetor to dump fuel oil all over my cockpit, which immediately stained the white deck black. My boat is now permanent cow pattern. I might as well mount some horns on the bow.

I gifted the Seagull to a friend, who took it apart this week to discover the bottom end was so messed up that it wasn't even worth fixing. Goodbye, Seagull. Thanks for staining my deck, wasting most of my Thursday and causing a nauseating gas-fumed ride to Kemah on Friday.

Despite the fact that the weather was still bad Sunday morning, we decided to make a quick run out to get the sails up once before the thunderstorms rolled back in. The boat felt very fast with the new prop and clean hull -- fast for a sailboat, anyway. The motor ran strong and cool. We pulled 4.5 knots with just the mainsail. Nothing broke. It was a good morning.

First sail of 2012

Since we'd stayed two nights at the marina, we had to bring the dogs. They usually enjoy the boat because there's no backyard to stick them in when they're bad. However, they seemed to have mixed feeling about being aboard as soon as we hit the big waves just past the boardwalk. Both of them crumpled into the floor of the cockpit and didn't move again until we were back in Clear Lake. As soon as we docked, Dixie Belle jumped onto the dock and refused to get back on the boat for the next hour.


Also, at some point Saturday night after a couple pints of Guiness, someone might have painted little Tex green with food coloring. Sunday morning he looked as moldy as anything else on the boat.

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 20 Mar 2012 15:00:00 GMT
New cars and flea-bay bargains
I did snap one obligatory photo of the Eiffel Tower during the dinner cruise we took the first night.

Mandatory Eiffel Tower photo

As my interest in car racing had waned a couple years ago, I had decided one of my resolutions for 2012 was to sell the Porsche and get something both more economical and more conducive to carrying sailing and photography gear -- but I wasn't trying very hard at it. I was caught offguard that I had an offer on the car almost as soon as I got home, and I hadn't done any shopping for a replacement vehicle.

I spent Monday night doing some intensive research and by Tuesday night when they came to haul away my car to its new home in California, I had this in the driveway.

2011 Ford Escape

I'll always have a place in my heart for the 911, but I won't lie, I'm really enjoying the quiet ride and plethora of cupholders. The SYNC system and satellite radio are pretty great too. I really wish SYNC and Siri could get married and have a baby in my dashboard. Right now I just have SYNC switch over to Bluetooth Audio and then let Siri run the show from there, but it would be nice if Siri responded to the buttons in the car and could give SYNC more control to call up artists and whatnot. It's kind of like having two selfish robotic girlfriends that won't give up their control of each part of your life but are forced to share you while you're in the car.

So along with a new vehicle to carry all my camera gear, I finally hit one of those jackpot bargains on eBay. Somebody was selling a "junk box" of Leica accessories. $40 ended up scoring me a working Leica Meter MC, a Leica Meter MR, a complete mint condition Chico flash unit, and a leather M3 case.

Chico Flash Unit

I think I'm going to flip everything except the Leica Meter MR as that completes my ultimate film setup consisting of the M3 and the Summicron DR. I dropped the Leica Meter MR at professional camera repair this afternoon for a tune-up and cleaning. I've got two rolls of Kodak Portra 100 just waiting for a subject.

One more bit of good news -- I finally have a propeller ordered for the Starwind. I never did find a used one, but I tracked a new one down through I think I'm going to order new cabin lights from them as well. All of the original lights that I put new switches in two years ago are starting to die on me.

February is proving to be an exciting month. Next weekend, after six years, my little brother is moving out of my house. Our 2.5 men phase is over. I'll finally have my garage back, and I might even have space in the house to set the recording studio back up. So much room for activities!

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 13 Feb 2012 13:33:00 GMT
A doggone tricky photo shoot Jess & Co Canine Couture, a luxury clothing maker for small dogs.

She's quite the photographer herself and has worked with a lot of great people, so I jumped at the chance to do some shots with her and her pomeranian, Tokyo.

Friday morning had been very overcast and rainy, so when we settled on 1:15 p.m. for the portrait session, I wasn't too worried about the light. Little did I know that by the time I made it downtown, the clouds would part and the sun would appear in full force. The thermometer in my car was showing 85 degrees when I got there.

The harsh sunlight made things rough, but then to add to the challenge, the wind decided to start gusting at around 15 knots. Oh yeah, and then there's the dog ...

I grabbed the Leica M8 and the Leica M3, and we worked our way around Eleanor Tinsley Park. Did I mention the park turned out to be undergoing major construction? Everything seemed stacked against us that day.

I call this one the Wizard of Oz shot because Jessyca looks like she's about to blow away.


But Jess and Tokyo started working those matching outfits.


Eleanor Tinsley Park is a great place to pick up the Houston skyline in the background of your photos.

In the park

And we finally got the shot I was waiting for.

Jess & Tokyo

But, of course, Tokyo still had to have her close-up.

Little Tokyo

I was relieved when I pulled the Ilford 100 out of the developing tank that the recent shutter repair on the M3 was succesful. I think next shoot I'm going to try some Kodak Portra 160. Here was an attempt with the Alien Skin Exposure 3 plug-in to see if I could get the look from digital.

Jess and Tokyo

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:02:00 GMT
Have you done any jousting lately?
Now, I'd seen jousting at the Texas Renaissance Festival in years past, so obviously the jousters have to learn and practice somewhere. However, these jousters are a bit more serious than the "theatrical" jousters at RenFest and Medievil Times. This was a big deal sport to them, and they were all getting ready for the Lyst of the Lakes Tournament in Austin.

It was a bit strange to see cowboys riding around spearing things.

Spear practice

But eventually they suited up to practice riding in armor.

Jousting practice

And by the time the sun was going down, they were facing off for practice runs.

The Faceoff

It was an interesting shoot, and I only came close to being trampled like a serf one time.

You can see all the shots on my site

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 16 Jan 2012 07:00:00 GMT
The Duaflexperiment
Kodak Duaflex IV

There just so happened to be one roll of Verichrome Pan 620 in the box that had expired in 1981. I loaded it up in the camera and headed out for the weekend.

About halfway through the roll I could tell something funky was going on with the shutter, so my expectations weren't too high when I mixed up some Caffenol-C to see what I'd captured.

This was the best of the bunch.

Kodak Experiment 03

The exposures got worse from there as everything got blurrier and blurrier as the shutter apparently stuck longer and longer.

Kodak Experiment 01

Kodak Experiment 02

Kodak Experiment 04

Kodak Experiment 05

Kodak Experiment 06

Kodak Experiment 07

Kodak Experiment 08

I think I'll keep my eyes open for another medium format camera, and the little Kodak will remain decor on the bookshelf.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 09 Jan 2012 20:04:00 GMT
What I've learned about sailboat propellers
Starwind Prop

The prop was much smaller than I expected. It was a 12" diameter with a 10" pitch and a 1" shaft. It also turns right-handed. I learned this is all stamped on propellers and usually denoted with something like RH 12 x 10.

Obviously the diver was correct. The prop needed to be serviced. It's already missing chunks. But how could he know (aside from feeling that hole) in the murky water with almost zero visibility?

Apparently the quick and easy way to tell if a propeller is still good is to tap it with a wrench or something metal. If it rings like a bell, you have good metal. If it makes a dull "tink" sound, the metal has become porous and full of fractures.

My original plan was to get the diver to pull the prop, hand it off to me while I found something comparable at the Kemah resale shop down the street, and then have him put the replacement on as soon as I got back. I'd only have to pay for one dive and a smoke break. Unfortunately, the closest thing I could find was a RH 13 x 14. That's a 13" diameter with a 14" pitch. It was not only a larger propeller, but it also pushed a great deal more water.

The diver got it seated, and I fired up the Kubota. It really vibrated at idle, so I throttled up to see what would happen ... but the engine speed never went up. Instead, my exhaust turned black.

I was over-propped.

My diver suited back up and pulled the RH 13 x 14 back off, so I could go return it. I think he was secretly happy that I'd have to pay him to come out for yet a third weekend once I found a correct replacement, but he hid it well.

I did find a RH 12 x 10 on eBay, which I procured for only $101 including shipping -- not a bad deal. Now there's nothing to do but wait for it to arrive and hope it does the trick.

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 09 Jan 2012 19:37:00 GMT
Trying to save Kodak
If you notice in my last post, my lovely girlfriend is holding an old Kodak Duaflex. That camera actually belonged to my great grandfather and came along with a half-exposed roll of 120 film loaded in it.

The other roll of film that was in the box with it had an expiration date of 1982 on the package, so we're guessing the film in the camera could have shots from as far back as the 1970s on it.

At lunch today I ran by Houston Camera Co-op and picked up a metal spool for developing 120 film. My goal for the week (aside from finding a new prop for the boat) is to finish shooting that roll of film, find out how to actually take it out of the camera, and to develop it.

Of course, I'm running on the assumption that it has black and white film inside. If it turns out to be color, I'll have to send it off.

Just to help Kodak I also picked up a fresh roll of 120 T-Max 100 and a couple rolls of 35mm Portra 160.

Sure, it's not going to save the company, but at least it makes me feel like I'm helping.

]]> (Fred Facker) Wed, 04 Jan 2012 12:53:00 GMT
Oh film, I love you but I hate you.
Holey Shutters, Batman!

Every single photo I took on the roll of Ilford had these burned spots right in the middle. Apparently while I was hiking through the woods shooting my first roll, the sun was burning a hole in the cloth shutter of my M3.

I had heard that if you left your camera sitting out on a table or something the sun could damage the shutter, but I didn't realize it could happen while hanging around your neck. I guess in the future I've either got to keep the lens cap on all the time or stop down the aperture between shots.

But not everything was ruined. I found a couple photos from before the Christmas party that I forgot I'd taken when I was testing the self-timer.


And a few shots from the hike through the woods turned out.




But, I thought I'd rewound the roll of T-Max and popped the bottom plate off the camera, only to find it hadn't rewound at all. That ruined over half the first roll.

So yes, in two rolls of film, 48 shots, I got four good photos.

This is why film drives me crazy. Of course, by the time the M3 shutter gets repaired, I'll be dying to shoot some more.

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 03 Jan 2012 09:33:00 GMT
Lack of zinc and copper paint
I still haven't made the trip to FastenAll to pick up the all-thread I need to put the last bolt into the heat exchanger after it's third and most-recent repair, but the engine was still running fine if you don't mind the odor from the small exhaust leak. (At least it covers the mold smell.)

We were hoping to start the year with a sail, but it was far too gusty in Kemah Sunday. Instead we started the year with a bottom scrubbing.

Barnacle Bill

Our diver chiseled an estimated 200-300 pounds of these cranky crustaceans off the hull. Actually, he only made it around 3/4 of the hull and then his scraper broke. He's coming back to finish the last section later this week.

Accumulating this many barnacles in a year is not a good thing. We obviously have no bottom paint left at all, so a haul-out is imminent.

The other problem is that since there has been no rain this year, the marina has been extra salty. That sped up electrolysis, and we had no zinc whatsoever left on the prop shaft. The prop was already pink and getting a little soft when we had it checked at the last bottom cleaning. Now it's completely porous and falling apart.

I wasn't really wanting to buy a new propeller first thing in 2012, but it looks like I've got to find one this week if we want to do any sailing soon.

I guess it's time to get back to work and finish my wiring projects as well.

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 03 Jan 2012 08:03:00 GMT
Braving the cold
The abandoned farmhouse down the road looked nice in the morning sun.

The old farmhouse

The resident donkey was always looking for a hand out.

Nasty the Donkey

It was warm enough during the day that the creek hadn't frozen over yet.


But there was a little ice.


We hiked the old train tracks until we found the end of the line.


And although the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, the skies in Illinois give Texas a run for its money.


]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 03 Jan 2012 07:23:00 GMT
It's Back!
Apparently it had a loose lens element, which was tightened. Then the focus was re-adjusted.

Exactly a 40-day turnaround and the total cost was $158.

I can't wait to test it out tonight. I'm ecstatic that I'll have it for Christmas and my trip to Illinois next week.

]]> (Fred Facker) Tue, 20 Dec 2011 15:01:00 GMT
The cheap way to the moon.
I also found a Canon FD > Nikon converter, which I've mentioned before. I really hoped it would create a cheap way to expand my Nikon kit by allowing me to utilize a bunch of lenses I already own.

On one hand, the 50mm f1.8 and the 28mm f2.8 get usable results, but focusing is a bit tough without a prism in the viewfinder. However, I really wanted it for telephoto work since the Leica tops out at 135mm.

We had a great full moon and a clear sky last week -- a rare combination in Houston. It was also the night of the full eclipse, but unfortunately, it wasn't visible in the gulf coast region.

I went with two 2x converters, one 3x converter, and the Canon 200m f4. After the APS-C sensor crop factor, that gave me the equivalent of a 2100mm lens. Here's the result.

Moon shot

Good magnification, poor detail.

The lens in the Canon > Nikon converter really causes a lot of distortion and loss of detail. It's very disappointing.

Take a look at one of my friend's shots with a 400m f4 and a 1.4x converter.

Moon shot

Yes, he probably had a slight benefit not having to shoot through the pollution of the Houston skies, but you can tell his shot is much sharper than mine.

Now to ponder, would I get better detail and focus with a mirrorless camera that doesn't need glass in the adapter or are Canon FD lenses just not that great?

Maybe I should buy an NEX-7 to find out ...

]]> (Fred Facker) Mon, 12 Dec 2011 13:47:00 GMT
Free iphone tethering ... sort of tethered with tether

Free data tethering programs for the iPhone have been around since it was first jailbroken. I was using MyWi for a while, but due to corporate security issues, I had to lock my phone back down to test Good Messaging as a Lotus Notes app. Being grandfathered into AT&T's unlimited data plan, I've been hesitant to start paying an extra $15 a month for the 4GB data plan with tethering.

But just as I was about to give in to the data caps, iTether suddenly appears in the iTunes app store. Yes, Apple allowed a tethering program into the app store. For $17 (which is less than the cost of MyWi) you can tether your iPhone to a computer via a USB cable.

That's not quite as good as turning your phone into a mobile hotspot, but when you're in the field and have got to get photos from your camera to a computer to the Internet, it will work.

I tested it last night and had no issues with installation or setup.

Sadly, iTether has already disappeared from the app store this morning.

]]> (Fred Facker) iPhone tether free iTether MyWi Wed, 30 Nov 2011 05:46:00 GMT
Leica nature
Day 3: Still no bigfoot

The Leica M isn't particularly known for nature photography, probably because the longest lens that works with the rangefinder is 135mm. I had an Elmarit 135mm f2.8 with goggles on my M8. The 1.33x crop of the M8 APS-H sensor gives you the equivalent of a 179mm lens. That's still not a very long lens. It's similar to a 6x zoom on a point-and-shoot camera. The upside to the lens is that it's fast, so you can catch those early morning low-light shots. (Of course, the fact that the M8's highest usable ISO is only 640 kind of negates the gains of the fast lens, but what can you do?)

The goggles on the Elmarit are both a blessing and curse. On one hand, the lens pulls up the 90mm focus lines and the goggles magnify the focus area. Those are good things. The M8 doesn't even have 135mm focus lines, so those two factors make framing and focusing much easier. On the downside, the M8 mount protrudes slightly from the camera while film M mounts sit flush with the body. This moves the goggles away from the rangefinder windows, which creates just the slightest bit of backfocus. It's easy to compensate once you realize it's there, but it would be nice if these vintage goggled lenses worked better on the M8 and M9 -- especially the 50mm Summicron Dual-Range, which sadly, doesn't work at all on the digital Ms.

I spent three very cold mornings waiting on wildlife to show. It was a bit frustrating since the deer seemed to enjoy early morning grazing around 6 a.m., but it wasn't light enough to shoot anything until 7 a.m. I managed a few shots, though.


Jay at sunrise


Blue Jays at sunrise

reeeaaach for it

Then there was the not-so-wildlife that I caught with my 28mm Ultron ...


dog race

And then there was the highlight of Dixie Belle's trip -- the field mouse she proudly caught and refused to spit out.


Nothing like a dog running around with a mouse in its mouth to keep all the ladies screaming.

]]> (Fred Facker) Leica M8 nature photography Elmarit 135mm Tue, 29 Nov 2011 06:39:00 GMT