Tag Archives: tips

Some Good references for Minolta Autocord TLR Focus Level Jam / Stuck Problem repair


This is how the focus mechanism look like


If your focus knob broke, perhaps you can try this method:



Some tips on possible quick-fix for the focus level stuck / jam problem



If you want to loosen up the focus, you can:

1) Open the back. Maybe remove one of the door hinges to remove the back completley.
2) See that black cup around the lens? It simply presses in to place. Insert two fingers, spread apart, and twist. It should release after a few tries. Lift out.
3) See that large brass piece? On its outer side, it is threaded. It is this part that moves in and out as you focus, moving the lens panel with it.
4) Well, you can’t really see the threads, but if you can drip Naphtha at the joint between the body and the brass piece, do it. An eyedropper, syrige, or draftsman’ inking pen. Lightly, let it sit, a bit more, etc. Give it a few hours. The naphtha should be able to wick in and start loosening the grease.
5) Be patient, try not to flood it. Small applications over time will be safer for other mechanisms.
6) When (if?) it loosens up, exercise it. Then drip just a few drops of light oil into the same area from the back when the focus is set to infinity (brass block pulled back into the body). The basic idea is to dissolve the old grease in the fresh oil.

I did this with my first Autocord and it still works well, 6 months later. Since then I have completely disassembled the mechanism for cleaning on other Autocords.

Also, you’ll see two screws holding the focus scale in place, one on each side of the camera. Remove these, remove the focus scale, and you’ll have a much better hold on what remains of the focus lever. Might even be able to scab something on, superglue a block or such. With the scale out of the way, it’ll be clearer what the options are. You’ll also get a peek at the same focus mechanism and brass block. Another place to attack the old grease.

A third place to attack the old grease is from inside the viewing lens chamber. Remove the hood (4 small screws) and you’ll get another peek at the brass block.

Both of these places, be careful not to flood the camera with oil or solvent. Light, precise applications.

Great lenses, great design. I think only a Planar 2.8 will get me away from the Autocord and have me go back to a focus knob rather than the lever on the Autocord.”



BnW Photography Tips

Gates of New York

Black & white photography, for me, is one of the most interesting and inspiring aspects of this art form we call our hobby and passion. It’s raw & refined, natural & unusual, bold & subtle, mysterious & open, emotional & impassive, simple & complex, black & white & everything in between. The monochromatic image has been with photography since the beginning, but what began as the only way to capture images has turned into something much deeper.

Dark Architecture


An experienced black & white photographer can see the world without color. They’ve trained their mind to pick up contrast and tone while blocking the distraction of colors. This isn’t a skill that you can pick up in a short amount of time; it’s something that comes naturally in time. I can’t say that I’m gifted enough to have monochrome vision, but I have been able to notice certain scenes and subjects that would lend themselves to black & white.

One way to help train your brain is to make a conscious effort — in other words, practice. Trevor carpenter gave us the perfect example when he started his October Challenge. Basically, he decided to limit his photography to black & white for an entire month. This gave him a chance to experiment with the medium and learn from his own work, and in his project recap he states “I have found, especially in recent days, that as I’m shooting and conceiving a shot, I see the potential impact of the composition in black & white.

Zig Zag


Black & white photography is about the black, the white, and all the tones in between. The human eye is built to pick up two things: light intensity and color.When you remove the color, your eyes become more sensitive to the light intensity. We naturally pick out areas of contrast — it’s how we distinguish one thing from another. As a black & white photographer, your main objective is to make your point with shades of gray. Use contrast to show your onlookers what’s important and what’s not. Seek out scenes that naturally show signs of high contrast, and your black & white photos will be more compelling right from the start.

When post-processing a black & white image, the use of Photoshop techniques like levels, curves, and layer blends give you a wide variety of output options. In addition to these things, burning and dodging are highly effective methods of improving contrast. They work so well because they allow you to focus the edit on a localized portion of the image without affecting the surrounding areas.



Texture is really just a form of contrast, but it is perceived quite differently. If you think about it, texture is the regular or irregular pattern of shadows and highlights at various intensities. Black & white photos really lend themselves to texture because color generally add another layer of complexity, thus masking most subtle textures. Look for areas of interesting texture that can be photographed by zeroing in on specific surfaces and examining them for signs of patterned contrast.

The choices you make in post-processing can really make a difference in the texture too. During the black & white conversion, you can usually pull texture out of otherwise smooth surfaces based on your choice of conversion methods. In digital photos, blues and reds generally contain more noise than greens, so tools like the channel mixer and the black & white adjustment layer in Photoshop can really accentuate those embedded textures.

Dark Flower


This is mainly aimed at digital photographers… If your camera gives you the option of shooting in color or black & white, NEVER shoot in black & white. The camera is really capturing color, then converting to black & white. Photo editing software can do a much better job at the conversion, and you’ll have more flexibility on the output of the final image. It’s really amazing how different a photo can look solely based on the post-processing, so it’s best not to limit yourself before the photo even makes it out of the camera.

The one exception to this rule is if you wanted to use the black & white capture to give you a preview of what the scene might look like as a monochrome image. It may help you identify good black & white scenes more immediately, but once you find your shot switch back over to color capture and shoot it again.

Under the Weather


Black & white film photographers make use of color filters to change the captured tones in their photographs. Ever see those monochrome images with dark skies and puffy white clouds? That’s not natural; it requires the use of color filtering to produce the desired effect.

Using an actual color filter with a digital camera is perfectly acceptable and it has its merits, but it’s not completely necessary. Software like Photoshop has the ability toapply non-destructive color filters. It also has the ability to produce the same results as a color filter during the black & white conversion. For those of you using Photoshop CS3, you’ll see that the black & white adjustment dialog has several preset filters that can be applied and modified to suit the photo.

So if you’re interested in pursuing a little black & white photography, really think about these things — before, during, and after you shoot. Anybody can produce black & white photos, but it takes a little more thought and skill to produce good black & whites.


Source: http://blog.epicedits.com/2007/11/05/the-top-5-black-white-photography-tips/

How to frame in square format film?

The exact image size is 54 x 54 mm, with 12 images on one roll of 120 film. The 2 ¼ x 2 ¼-inch (6 x 6cm) square format established the popularity of the medium-format camera. Many good things can be said about the square format. The photographer has a wide choice in composing the subject and does not need to decide beforehand which way to turn the camera or the film magazine. Picture editors, artists, and graphic production specialists love square prints or square transparencies because this shape gives them full freedom to crop to their specifications. The 12 images from a 120 roll of film fit beautifully on a sheet of 8 x 10-inch paper, and because the camera is always held the same way, all shots will appear the right way up.

Square slides projected onto a square screen always fill the same area on the screen. Since the effectiveness of a visual presentation is destroyed by mixing horizontals and verticals on the screen, square slides make a much stronger and more effective visual presentation. (Pp. 1-2)

Wildi, Ernst. 2000. The Hasselblad manual. Boston: Focal Press.



Medium format cameras, toy cameras like the Holga and Diana, and smartphone apps like Instagr.am are making the square format more popular than ever. In the digital age, the square format like film photography, certainly isn’t dead.

A Little History

Square format cameras have been around a long time. The first one was introduced by Rollei in 1929. The reason that it used the square format is probably more to do with the twin lens design than anything else – to take a photo you look through a magnifier at a focusing screen on top of the camera. The inconvenience of turning the camera on its side meant that is could really only be used in the upright position. Rollei cameras were used by photographers like Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Robert Doisneau. Diane Arbus used a Mamiya twin lens reflex camera. All these photographers used the square format.

Rolleiflex original camera with Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar f/3.8 75mm lens. Photo by Eugene Ilchenko.

Hasselblad made the 1600F – a square medium format camera – in 1948, and stuck with the square format in their rollfilm cameras up until the release of their H-System digital cameras in 2002. Hasselblad film cameras had a reputation for quality and were the camera system of choice for many professional studio photographers up until about decade ago. One reason for their popularity, apart from the quality, was the convenience of the square format. You could take a photo, such as a portrait, leave some empty space around it and then it could be cropped afterwards to fit the space for which it was intended.

Getting the Most Out of the Lens

There’s another practical reason that makes the square format attractive. Camera lenses cast a circle of light – called an image circle – over the sensor or negative. A rectangular sensor or negative doesn’t make full use of the image circle, there is always some wasted space. The square format, on the other hand, makes much better use of the image circle. Strangely, the circle would be best used by a circular sensor or film, but to my knowledge one has never been produced.

Going square

There are four main ways that to explore the square format:

1. Use a medium format film camera like a Rolleiflex, Mamiya or Hasselblad. You can either print the negatives in a darkroom or scan them with a high quality flatbed scanner allowing you can work on them in Photoshop. Many photographers that develop and/or print their own images work with black and white film, which is far easier than color to develop at home.

2. Use a toy film camera like a Holga or Diana. Again, you can print or scan the images. There are also some unusual older cameras around that use the square format – such as the Robot Star cameras that create a 24mmm by 24mm negative on 35mm film.

3. Use a cameraphone and convert the photos to square format using an app such as Hipstamatic or Instagr.am.

4. Take a photo with digital compact, SLR or medium format camera and crop it to the square format in Photoshop. Some digital cameras let you take square images in Live View mode.

If your camera only takes rectangular photos you can experiment with the square format by cropping your images in Photoshop. There’s a couple of approaches you could take here. One is to shoot specifically with the purpose of cropping to a square. The other is to go through your old images and see if any of them can be improved by cropping them to a square. I did this and it’s amazing how many of my photos are improved. I see this as part of the simplification process. When you crop from a 35mm frame to a square, you are discarding a third of the photo. The strongest two-thirds are left, and the image is sometimes stronger as a result.

The above photo is an example of that process. An advantage of using a 35mm digital camera is that you can crop your images to a square when you want, but you don’t lose the use of the full 35mm frame. So here, I can use either the rectangular or the square format of the photo, whichever is best for the purpose I have in mind.


In these days of near infinite choice when it comes to aspect ratio (after all, if you use a digital camera it’s easy to crop your images to any dimension you like) why would anyone use the square format?

One of the main attractions of the square format is composition. There is something different about a square – square photos have a certain beauty to the design that rectangular images lack. The viewers eye moves around the image in a circle, rather than from side to side (or up and down). There’s less wasted space around the subject. You can place the subject in the centre of the frame and it just looks right.

The square format seems to work best with subjects like portraiture, the nude, landscape, still life, architecture, details and abstracts. These are all artistic subjects – which is perhaps why the square format is popular with fine art photographers.

What it comes down to for most photographers, I’m sure, is that experimenting with the square format is fun. You get to create some good images and the lessons you learn about composition will help you out when you take photos in rectangular formats.


The 35mm problem

One of the problems posed by the 3:2 aspect ratio of 35mm digital SLRs is the length of the rectangle. Turn your camera on its side to take a vertical image and you’ll see what I mean, especially if the subject is a landscape. It can be quite hard to fill the frame without leaving empty space at the top or bottom. That’s one reason why photographers use medium format or large format cameras, and why the micro four-thirds format appeals to some photographers. The ‘shorter rectangle’ is easier to fill. The square format is what you get when you truncate the rectangle completely.

This is a good example of a photo that becomes stronger cropped to the square format. The compositional problem that I had to solve when I took this photo was what to do with all the empty space around the statue? My first thought was that it could be quite effective as a framing device. But now I think that there is just too much empty space around the statue, and that it benefits from cropping to a square. The statue is larger within the frame and the eye can take in the details of the statue rather than go on a somewhat wasted journey around the edges of the frame (there is nothing interesting to see there).

I’m sure there will be some people who prefer the original version to the cropped one. That’s part of the fun of photography. There are no set rules, there is usually more than one way of doing things, and we all have different opinions about the effectiveness of certain techniques or ideas.


How many shapes can you see in these images? Whether it’s circles, squares, rectangles or triangles, the technique of composing using geometric shapes within the square format is very powerful. The square format lends itself better to this type of composition than any rectangular aspect ratio. Shapes become stronger in black and white photos as there is no distraction of colour. Shapes are also simple – note the simplicity of design in these images.

Design and balance

Unlike a rectangle, a square image has a natural sense of balance. A square is a very solid shape, especially compared to an upright rectangle – it can’t fall over.

You may be wondering whether you should still compose according to the rule of thirds within the square format. My advice is – don’t. You can throw the rule of thirds out of the window (probably the best place for it). The rule of thirds is a guideline only, and it’s really no more than a simplification of the principle of the golden mean (also known as the golden ratio), which only applies when used in a rectangle with an aspect ratio of 1.618:1 (close to the 3:2 aspect ratio of the 35mm frame).

In other words, it’s a rule designed to be applied within the 35mm frame. Don’t try and use it within other formats – you’ll only end up with a result that looks forced or formulaic. Instead, concentrate on the balance within the image. How do all the elements work together, and with the negative space surrounding them? As the photo above, and some of the others I’ve used here show, central compositions work well in the square format.

One of the strengths of the square format is that it’s quite easy to use the space within the frame well. It’s open to experimentation – you can place the subject in various positions within the frame to find the most effective. Especially if you’re cropping from a 35mm photo within Lightroom or Photoshop – you’ll have some leeway to place the subject within different parts of the frame, and see what works best.


Before digital photography, if you were interested in black and white photography you had to be quite serious about it to invest in a proper darkroom and the facilities required to make good quality prints. Digital photography has brought black and white photography to the masses by making it available to just about everybody who owns a digital camera.

It’s a similar story with the square format. It’s so easy to crop your images in Photoshop that you don’t need a medium format or square format camera to experiment with the square format. Anyone can try it – all that remains is to enjoy it and create some beautiful images for the rest of us to enjoy.