Using simple tools

Ralph Turner

Well-Known Member
Two different occasions but with a similar theme, the use of a basic scale focus camera camera for close up subjects. The first is from a couple of years ago, a simple set up with an orchid sat on our ironing board against a white door. It was taken in a fashion that goes complete against all normal practice for this sort of scene, using a Cosmic Symbol set to it's closest focus of 0.9m. Left-hand shot at f4 (lens wide open) and Right-hand at f11. The shutter speed for the f11 shot was, if memory serves, a guesstimated 1/4 sec and the subject distance measured with a tape. Film used, Ilford HP5+.
The second shot from a few weeks ago was carried out in a similar fashion with the camera, in this case an Agfa Isola 2 with it's Agnar 75mm f6.3 lens. About a 1 sec exposure at f11.
I was pleasantly surprised how well each camera performed.


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They have both come out very well and shows how well they are calibrated for distance. I guess the biological subject is more forgiving of aspherical, etc distortion, but they show what can be done when you know what you are doing. Nice shots (I do like the pattern of highlights in the shot of the radiator).
@Pete Askew thank you. Indeed, knowing that the distance you’ve dialled in to the focus ring is essentially what you’ll get does give the confidence to use the camera again in that scenario if wanted/needed. I ought to give the ‘Symbol a run out again as I’ve not used it since these photos (my bad - the downside of having perhaps too many cameras lol). With general shots I found the 40mm a pretty good, even-handed performer. It’s not likely to break any sharpness records but is no slouch and it stays pretty good into the corners, something that surprised me. I did have issues with the film transport not guiding the film through straight but that could easily be down to my lack of familiarity with it and any possible quirks. Certainly no complaints from me, though, particularly as it only cost me £2.20 from the ‘Bay.
I have tried my Selfix 8-20 in a similar fashion, but with somewhat less luck. The resultant images being back-focussed. I did check this out in my slightly Heath Robinson fashion and found that there seems to be a distinct field curvature/focus shift issue. At close distances the lens focusses more or less correctly at the set distance, but as you close the aperture down, the focal point shifts backwards up to several inches in the centre (the edges, though, remain more or less in the same place. At the other end of the range, with the aperture open, at the centre it only focusses out to about 60-80ft-ish at the infinity setting and will only go properly to infinity when stopped down (I didn’t check the edges, but i suspect they probably only focus out to a limited distance as well) this may well account for some general scenic images in good daylight being a little soft at the edges. When the positives with the lens do come together, though, it can still produce a very crisp image. The shot looking down the lane that I posted elsewhere on the forum is a situation where I think the nature of the scene plays to the strengths of the lens, with the central area in the distance and the trees and hedges coming towards you at the edges of the frame.
…Good grief, I’ve just seen how long-winded this post is… anyone still awake? 🥴😊
A few more from the Cosmic Symbol from March, '21. The crumbling shed pic shows an issue I had with the film running out of line with where it should have been. Not sure if this was just me loading the film badly or an issue with the camera. Maybe I need to send some more film through it to check it out. May take it with me when we're away shortly down in Shropshire, then on The Broads for a week. About time I gave it some exercise again.
The images were scanned with my Panasonic Gx1 and a lens that surprised me by giving some of the sharpest results in that particular setup, namely a Pentacon 30mm f3.5 (the rebadged Meyer Lydith). Not one I'd have thought of as a worthy macro lens before trying it..


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Thanks, Brian. Ahah! I always knew I had a future in the movies!🤩…what, what’s that? Floor sweeper with possible promotion to tea-boy if I show promise? Hehe, I’m in! 😃😏
Erm, which bit, Rob?🤔 Oh, btw I’d forgotten to mention I have a special talent for causing total confusion over simplest, most straightforward things…a skill I believe I’ve had all my life 😵‍💫🥴🙃😄
Clearly my special talents do not include spelling, but with the aid of the edit button, I've got 'beginning' correct now!

Unfortunately, Ralph, I do not have the editorial power to insert 'have' into your last post...
Clearly my special talents do not include spelling, but with the aid of the edit button, I've got 'beginning' correct now!

Unfortunately, Ralph, I do not have the editorial power to insert 'have' into your last post...
Ah, but I do, thus making the whole conversation even more confusing! ;)

Oh, and I like the three additional shots, especially the snowy lane.