The “Nifty Fifty”

My 50mm f/1.8 AF-Nikkor on my Nikon D1H
My 50mm f/1.8 AF-Nikkor on my Nikon D1H

Most of my photography students have the same gear: a digital SLR, the “kit” lens sold with it, and sometimes a telephoto “kit” lens as well.

In the long-ago days of film cameras, SLRs were frequently sold with a 50mm lens, for several reasons. They were cheap to make, they had fast (meaning “large”) maximum apertures, and they gave a “normal” angle of view, meaning that images made with it had a perspective close to that of human vision.

In the transition to digital, the popularity of the 50mm lens waned, also for several reason. On a 15x24mm digital sensor (the so-called “DX” format), 50mm wasn’t a “normal” lens any more, but a short telephoto. There was also the advance in technology that allowed small, light, computer-designed zoom lenses to be made as cheaply as the 50mm was in the film days. These zooms, usually in the range of 18-55mm or 18-70mm, were versatile, but that’s not what made them popular. They got popular because zooming is more fun that just looking through a fixed lens.

I digress. My students have these “kit” zoom lenses, but aren’t always satisfied with the results they are getting. Frequently this is because these lenses are small and cheap at the expense of a significant factor: maximum aperture. Typically, an 18-55mm will be an f/3.5 at 18mm, and darker at longer focal length, ending up at f/5.6 at 55mm. What, they ask me, can I do to get better pictures with these lenses?

The choices are several:

  • Add light. You can bring strobes, move to a brighter spot, etc.
  • Crank up your ISO.
  • Tolerate a lot of blur.
  • Open up your aperture.
Image made with my 50mm at a basketball game last night, f/2, 1/500th of a second, ISO 3200
Image made with my 50mm at a basketball game last night, f/2, 1/500th of a second, ISO 3200

Ah, there’s the rub. With a kit zoom on the long end, there’s no more aperture to open up. That’s fine in blinding sun or with four White Lightning strobes in a studio, but for existing light where you want to stop action, you need bigger glass. For my students, I tell them about the joys of shooting with a 70-200mm f/2.8 or an 85mm f/1.8, but frequently they’re not comfortable dropping $500 to $1500 on a lens they may or may not be able to use regularly. In steps a hidden gem: the “nifty fifty.”

Even lighter and smaller than the kit lenses, and very affordable, the 50mm lenses are a great choice for all kinds of available light shooting. I have an AF-Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, for which I paid about $90, but they come in several flavors, including the marginally brighter f/1.4 version, all the way up to Canon’s absurdly expensive f/1.2.

While it’s true that the 50mm isn’t as versatile in some situations as a short zoom, in the right hands and the right circumstances, it can shine. I’ve been shooting mine more lately, just to reassure myself that I’m not mistaken in giving this advice. The stuff I’m getting is working great; sharp, reasonably tight, clean-looking images.

There’s one last reason I like the 50mm, and this is another reason I’ve been using mine more lately: tendinitis. Now that I’m older, I can’t keep lugging the big glass to every single ball game and theater event without paying for it the next day. My 80-200mm weighs about 60 ounces. The 50mm weighs just 5.5 ounces.

Bright and Curious

Photographing a Christmas tree in the lobby of the Ponototoc Technology Center
Photographing a Christmas tree in the lobby of the Ponototoc Technology Center

It is always such a pleasure to have people in my class who get it, and who are there because they want to be there. Tonight’s first of three sessions of advanced digital photography gave me the privilege of hosting just such a group.

Long-time friend Toni Pyrum, now photography student, poses as we practive making casual portraits
Long-time friend Toni Pyrum, now photography student, poses as we practice making casual portraits

It was a cold night, but everyone was having so much fun exploring light painting that we ended up staying outside photographing a fire hydrant for nearly two hours.

A frame from our light painting session
A frame from our light painting session

Focus Errors and Corrections

Update 2018: At one point the Tamron 70-200mm feel from a car seat onto a paved parking lot, and the lens never performed well again. Despite liking its handling and look, I ended up selling it.

The new Tamron 70-200mm on my D100 in the front yard this afternoon
The new Tamron 70-200mm on my D100 in the front yard this afternoon

For a couple of years, I’ve had the excellent AF-Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 in my bag here at home, but seldom shot with it.

Nikon's excellent 180mm f/2.8 apparently does not get along with the autofocus of the Nikon D100.
Nikon’s excellent 180mm f/2.8 apparently does not get along with the autofocus of the Nikon D100.

When I did, it was usually in plentiful light, stopped down a little bit. As a result, when I shot with it wide open at Bryce Canyon last summer, I was surprised to discover that everything was front-focused, meaning the point of focus was between me and the subject. I didn’t really want to accept that the 180 was broken, so I sort of blamed it on one of the D100s. More recently, I put it on another D100, then a D70, and found the same problem, that everything was front-focused, quite noticeably. However, when I took it to the office and shot it on my cameras there, the D1h, the 720x and the 760 (the latter two built on Nikon F5 bodies), everything was perfectly sharp. Hmmm. How could this be? Well, a bit of internet research showed that I wasn’t the only one who got this focussing error with the 180mm. The best I could figure is that the CAM-900 focus module in the D100/D70 family wasn’t compatible with the optics of the 180mm, but that the CAM-1300 module in my pro cameras got along fine with it.

I decided last week that the 180mm had found a new home: in my bag at work. But now I felt a little naked not having a decent longish f/2.8 in my bag here at the house and while I was teaching, so when I was in Oklahoma City yesterday, I picked up a Tamron AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro. It’s smaller and lighter than the 80-200mm f/2.8 Nikkor I use at work, and has the extra bonus of being a macro, adding close-up photography to my tool box. So far I’ve only made a few test frames with it, but early frames appear quite sharp, it handles smoothly, and appears to focus perfectly on my D100s. I am excited to have it on board.

Raindrops on leaves in the front yard, shot with the Tamron at 200mm, f/2.8, about a 250th of a second. Very sharp.
Raindrops on photinia leaves in the front yard, shot with the Tamron at 200mm, f/2.8, about a 250th of a second. Very sharp, nice bokeh.

The Value of f/2.8

One thing I try to stress in my class, which is sometimes ignored, is the value of what we call in the biz “fast glass,” meaning lenses that feature big apertures. In general, the gold standard in my line of work is f/2.8. It represents the point at which most camera/lighting/lens combinations can get the job done.

Allen cheerleaders react to a tense moment at a football game last night. 28-70mm Nikkor at 28mm, 1/30th second, ISO 3200.
Allen cheerleaders react to a tense moment at a football game last night. 28-70mm Nikkor at 28mm, 1/30th second, ISO 3200.

Most of the “kit” lenses sold with SLRs today start at about 18mm, an adequately wide angle focal length (with APS-sized sensors), and zoom to about 55 or 70mm. To keep cost and weight down, these lenses have maximum f stops that shift when you zoom them, from f/3.5 at the wide setting to f/4.5 or f/5.6 at the long end. In many of the limited lighting situations that I shoot, f/3.5 is barely adequate, and f/5.6 is out of the question. Though I often recommend to my students that they consider a “prime” lens (one that doesn’t zoom), since they are cheaper, lighter, and sport nice, big maximum apertures, these lenses lack the entertainment of zooming, and I don’t see very many in my classes.

One of my favorite lenses is the big, heavy, expensive AFS-Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8. It’s sharp through its whole zoom range and focuses amazingly fast. It’s a problem-solver for me, and without it I would have to rethink what I shoot, and sometimes miss out. So much of photography, especially in my work, is on the margins of light and shutter speed, that it would be much more difficult to shoot at smaller apertures.

Fifteen Images

My blogging friend Tom the Beanie Cap Guy posted an entry recently called “11 Images,” in which he talks about the 11 images that represent his photography in the past three years. His art is quite different from mine, though I find it incredibly passionate and compelling. I thought it would be a neat challenge to do an “11 images” myself. Who knows; maybe it will become a firestorm of creativity. The last three years have been pretty intense. We started Ada Magazine, and I am the editor. Abby was seriously ill. My mom died.

I don’t necessarily believe these are my best images, and I have shot so many more that I love, but they are something of a sample of how and what I have been shooting for the past three years. I made an effort to pare it down, but ended up with 15, not 11. So here are 15 images that I think speak to my work in the last three years, both personal and professional…

Abby at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, October 2008. This was on our fourth anniversary.
Abby at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, October 2008. This was on our fourth anniversary.
Safe! Byng vs Ada softball, August 2007
Safe! Byng vs Ada softball, August 2007
Looking west from the Chisos basin, Big Bend National Park, Texas, spring 2007.
Looking west from the Chisos basin, Big Bend National Park, Texas, spring 2007.
Bumble bee and Rose-of-Sharon, summer 2006.
Bumble bee and Rose-of-Sharon, summer 2006.
Sunrise, Sandy Creek bottom, Ada, Oklahoma, summer 2007. This was the first image I used in the Ada Magazine feature "Something Beautiful."
Sunrise, Sandy Creek bottom, Ada, Oklahoma, summer 2007. This was the first image I used in the Ada Magazine feature “Something Beautiful.”
Horse, Chimney Rock, New Mexico, summer 2007.
Horse, Chimney Rock, New Mexico, summer 2007.
Double rainbow, our front yard, spring 2006. I received more compliments on this one image than on all the rest I published that year.
Double rainbow, our front yard, spring 2006. I received more compliments on this one image than on all the rest I published that year.
U. S. flag, Ada's Wintersmith Park, July 4, 2006.
U. S. flag, Ada’s Wintersmith Park, July 4, 2006.
Green River Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, November 2007.
Green River Overlook, Canyonlands National Park, November 2007.
Pinyon Flats Campground, Great Sand Dunes National Park, summer 2007
Pinyon Flats Campground, Great Sand Dunes National Park, summer 2007
Face paint, Independence Day 2008.
Face paint, Independence Day 2008.
Sidelines, Ada football, fall 2008.
Sidelines, Ada football, fall 2008.
La Sal Mountains and Castle Valley, October 2007.
La Sal Mountains and Castle Valley, October 2007.
Wildfire near Latta, Oklahoma, winter 2006.
Wildfire near Latta, Oklahoma, winter 2006.
Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani signs an unhappy baby's blouse in Ada, spring 2007.
Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani signs an unhappy baby’s blouse in Ada, spring 2007.

Slow Sync Mode

For lots of years during the film era, I shot with manual cameras, usually the Nikon FM2.

Fire truck last night without slow-sync
Fire truck last night without slow-sync

With no automation, I learned a lot of subtle tricks through trial and error, including one that has since been aided by the addition of a feature called slow-sync flash. I can still remember coming back from a nighttime car crash on Fort Sill Boulevard in Lawton, Oklahoma, where I was interning at the newspaper when I was 18. I got my film souped, but struggled to get a decent print, since I had blasted away with direct flash.

With slow-sync
With slow-sync

Photographer Jeff Dixon (who is still there by the way) told me that if I shot at a shutter speed of a quarter or a half a second instead of the 1/250th maximum sync speed, my backgrounds would have a lot more depth. While true, what he didn’t explain was that those same backgrounds would also probably be blurry compared to the part of the photo that was illuminated by the flash. And so the struggle began: testing, trying, failing, tweaking. In the end, I settled on about a 15th of a second, usually with an 800-speed film. On the night the feed mill burned here in Ada in 2000, those were my settings, and it all looked pretty good.

With growing sophistication in film cameras being carried over to digital, a blessed feature is now present in most of our cameras: slow sync. Basically, the camera mixes the output of your flash with the existing light, just like I did in my head for all those many years. It has the same benefits and the same pitfalls, but works even better now. For one thing, you can crank your ISO to 3200 if need be, making the chance of a blurry, ghostly background less. I use it sparingly, but it is irreplaceable when I need it.

A New Travel and Hiking Camera

This is a sample image from the Fujifilm S200EXR made this morning in our front yard.
This is a sample image from the Fujifilm S200EXR made this morning in our front yard.

For some time now I have wanted to find a replacement for my dying Minolta DiMage 7i, an excellent, lightweight camera with a sharp lens, all in a small package. It was ideal for hiking, especially in places where I didn’t want to haul much gear. Long hikes, slot canyons, anything with scrambling; if I had an SLR and some lenses with me, it really slowed me down. But with the Minolta, I could shoulder just one small, light camera and hit the trail.

After quite a bit of searching, I found and bought what I hope will be my next trail camera: the Fuji Finepix S200EXR. It sports a 12MP sensor, a lens with a gigantic zoom range (30-460mm “equivalent”, far bigger than the Minolta’s 28-200mm) with manual zoom and focus rings (must-have for me),

and an impressive phalanx of other features that give it over-the-top gadget appeal. One vexing issue, however, is that Fuji’s software won’t open the RAW files from this camera until, their web site explains, FinePix Viewer is updated in two months. So for now, I guess, it’s JPEGs.

The camera has an excellent, solid feel about it, and my first test images reveal that the lens is sharp and the files are clean. I hope to use this camera extensively next month when Abby and I go to Utah for our anniversary trip.

The Fuji Finepix S200EXR
The Fuji Finepix S200EXR

The “Three Large”

The AF-Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 ED-IF, on my Nikon/Kodak 720x, an excellent combination for night sports.
The AF-Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 ED-IF, on my Nikon/Kodak 720x, an excellent combination for night sports.

As I write this, football season is upon me, and I am going through my usual internal debate: should I shoot football with the 80-200mm f/2.8, or should I break out the 300mm f/2.8, which my photographer friends and I refer to as the “three large.” I am satisfied with the results I get with the 80-200mm, but the 300mm is, quite frankly, the cheese. The results I get with it are nothing short of phenomenal. It’s sharp wide open, has excellent bokeh, and on the football field allows me to get super tight into the action.

The question, then, is, “Why do I have this debate with myself?” Well, I have this to consider:

  1. This lens is my own, not the company’s. If it wears out or breaks, or if it is flattened by a tight end, my investment is lost.
  2. It is big and heavy, requiring a monopod.
  3. It’s not as versatile as the zoom, because it’s not a zoom.

On the other hand…

  1. The results are stupendous.
  2. I can work from a greater distance from the line of scrimmage.
  3. I get a better angle on average plays.
  4. I look like an absolute stud when I use it.

Back in the film days, 300mm was about the minimum focal length for football. 180mm or 200mm required you to be right on top of the action, and hope it came toward you, then hope you got out of the way before it found you. With the smaller sensor size of digital, you could fill up the frame of a football play with a 180mm or 80-200mm zoom from a safer 15-20 yards. The 300mm was all bonus, allowing you to shoot from 30 yards back, and fill the frame with action in the middle of the field.

I go around and around about this. The bottom line is that it is such a pleasure to shoot with this big hunk of glass, I’ll use it, at least if it’s not raining.

A nice, tight piece of action from last night's football game in Ada. I only broke out the 300mm after I felt certain the threat of rain had passed.
A nice, tight piece of action from last night's football game in Ada. I only broke out the 300mm after I felt certain the threat of rain had passed.

A Rare and Beautiful Classic

Pinnacle in the Bisti Wilderness, November 2001, made with the Nikkor 25-50mm
Pinnacle in the Bisti Wilderness, November 2001, made with the Nikkor 25-50mm

I had a lot of different lenses over the years. For the most part, they were the excellent, reliable, well-built Nikkor lenses made by Nikon. Some of them wore out, and I sold the rest of the manual focus Nikkors when I made the transition to digital. Most of my Nikkors were bought out of the necessity of my work; big, heavy, expensive pro lenses that took a beating in my daily imaging, but kept on making the light go where it should. Some I bought because I thought they would better suit my “fine art” pursuits, which for me meant outdoor photography. Often I would find these fine art lenses covered with dust on a shelf in a used camera store or pawn shop.

The 25-50mm Nikkor with its excellent slip-on metal lens hood
The 25-50mm Nikkor with its excellent slip-on metal lens hood

Sometimes we in the photographic community would hear about, or read about, lenses that were special and spectacular, but we would never actually see them in the field. One such lens was the incredible 25-50mm f/4 Nikkor, which appeared in the Nikon lens brochures for a few years during the time I was forming my opinions about photography, college. I and my friends had lots of the standard wide angle focal lengths of the era; a 24mm, a 28mm, a 35mm. For two periods in my history I had a 20mm, first the f/3.5 model, and later the f/2.8. Unlike today, in the 1970s and early 1980s, zooms were fairly rare. Nikon only sold about five different zooms, and they tended to be heavy and have small maximum apertures. But by the early 1980s, many of the early failures of zoom optics had been fixed, and the offerings, including the 25-50mm, were very fine lenses.

In use in the field, this zoom had a couple of advantages: the maximum aperture stayed constant at all zoom settings, and the lens was sharp at all apertures and shutter speeds. It was a “two-touch” zoom, meaning it had a separate zoom ring and focus ring. The focus “throw,” the distance the ring turned from infinity to the closest focus distance of about 2 feet, was huge, and as a result, the lens didn’t seem to “pop” into focus, and required a lot of rocking back and forth to find the sharpest point. Once you found the spot, though, it sang: sharp corner-to-corner, very little distortion (unlike today’s zooms), and even illumination even at f/4. I found myself at the 25mm end of the lens most of the time, but I did use the zoom as a compositional tool. I carried this lens in the desert, usually with a yellow filter on it for black-and-white imaging, often loaded with Kodak Panatomic-X film, rated at ISO 32. I was never disappointed in the image quality.

I take note of older lenses around me (one time at the Puye´Indian Ruins I correctly identified a woman’s 1969 Nikkormat as having come from Viet Nam), but I never saw another one of these in the field. I don’t see them on eBay any more, so I guess collectors are hiding them. I hope at least some of those wonderful lenses are making pictures today.

Northwestern New Mexico, November 2001
Northwestern New Mexico, November 2001

Falling in Love

People like me, who take pictures for a living every day, seem to be interested in the latest, greatest and most capable cameras and lenses that the Japanese can crank out. We fuel the concept of “latent demand,” expressed best by the phrase, “If we build it, they will come.” If I was a quillionaire, I would probably own 20 digital SLRs, including a 50 megapixel Hasselblad, Phase One or Leaf. My life is simplified in this regard

by my lack of millions – I just shoot what I have.

My wife Abby, on the other hand, cannot be induced to the dark side. She loves her camera, the Nikon D70S, and doesn’t lust for anything else. She got comfortable with it, is good with it, and will use it until it dies. I admire that about her – being happy with her craft and the tools of her craft. The camera itself is perfectly capable in every important aspect; she’s shot posters and magazine covers with it that are flawless in every way. There’s no point in pining for new, bigger, more expensive hardware. She loves her camera.

I married a smart woman.

Abby makes pictures at Hatch Point in southern Utah, October 2006, with her Nikon D70S.
Abby makes pictures at Hatch Point in southern Utah, October 2006, with her Nikon D70S.

A Handful and an Eyeful

Monday night I finished up my first Intro to Digital Photography class for this fall at the Pontotoc Technology Center. The intro is really a beginner class, and is fullest right after Christmas, when lots of people have new cameras

Photo class Monday night. The woman in the middle is Kathy Ingram, a good friend of mine who is the yearbook advisor at Tupelo, Oklahoma, High School.
Photo class Monday night. The woman in the middle is Kathy Ingram, a good friend of mine who is the yearbook advisor at Tupelo, Oklahoma, High School.

that seem alarmingly complex to them. This class is mostly spent in the classroom, talking about white balance, ISO ratings, and battery life. In two weeks, we begin the Intermediate/Advanced session, and it consists mostly of going out into the evening light and shooting. We walk around the grounds of the vo-tech photographing everything from the pond to the fire training tower to each other, all the while paying attention to the light. The light, in the end, is the key to making photographs.

I hope I am giving these people, some of whom are my friends, what they need.

Carrying a Big Stick

My well-used 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S Nikkor
My well-used 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S Nikkor

Like most professionals who shoot news and sports for a living, I have, and shoot, a big f/2.8 lens in my bag. The Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S is the bread and butter for most of the occasions when I am faced with low light and the need for faster shutter speeds. It is everything you would expect for its $1600 price tag: sharp at all apertures, fast to focus, and ruggedly built. The only significant disadvantage, other than the big hit to the check book, is that it is big and heavy. I’m not talking about big like a “big” 50mm f/1.4, but big. With the petal-style hood, it’s more than a foot in length, and bigger around than a soup can. The book says it weighs 1200g, which is 1.2 kg, or about 2.7 pounds. I try to grab this behemoth only when it is really necessary, but the images I get from it on a daily basis are nothing short of amazing, so it’s hard to put down.

Ultimately, all the factors that work against this gem are outdone by its amazing performance. On the margins of light, it seems that f/2.8 has established itself as the critical f-stop. Since the purchase of mine in 2001 by my newspaper, this big news lens has gone through a couple of additional iterations, and the current version, the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II is fetching nearly $2500. It’s worth every penny, if you have that many pennies.

Sharpness: Value, Perception and Reality

Frequently in the field or the classroom I am asked how I get my images so sharp. Often the question takes a more vague form, like, “how do you get your images so crisp?” or, “Why are my pictures so fuzzy?”

In the biz, the opposites are sharp and soft. In the world of the internet, sharpness is often regarded as the gold standard on which images are judged, and this can often lead people astray when making pictures. I feel that the reason for this is that raw sharpness is sometimes difficult to achieve on a technical level, and reaching a skill level at which one is making sharp images represents a “graduation” of sorts. Regrettably, many potential photographers stop at that point on the learning curve, and remain satisfied to post their photos of their cat’s whiskers or a blue jay’s plumage, proving that they are “good” photographers.

So much time is wasted doing this. And as new and supposedly better digital cameras come to the market, much money is wasted as well. Being able to make sharp images should be regarded as a tool in the box of picture taking, not a goal or destination. History and photography are burdened with sharp photographs that do little to inspire the human condition.

Once you learn to make sharp photos, you can forget it. So much more lies in front of your camera.

Sharp images, like this one of wildflowers, impersonate the idea of seeing things clearly with the human eye, but the art of photography is capable of rendering perception in so many different ways.
Sharp images, like this one of wildflowers, impersonate the idea of seeing things clearly with the human eye, but the art of photography is capable of rendering perception in so many different ways.

Etiquette for Photographers

I was recently exposed to a photographer of a different ilk: essentially a bully, this guy used a referees whistle to control crowds, pushed and shoved his way around, and, when told he was out of line, resorted to ridiculous lies and profanity. He was a very unprofessional photographer.

Your host with his cameras at White Sands National Monument, summer 1999
Your host with his cameras at White Sands National Monument, summer 1999

The etiquette of photography is, like all social etiquette, a dynamic set of behavioral expectations based on The Golden Rule. I say that it is dynamic because the situations involved are so varied. On the sidelines at a professional football game there is an expectation of competitiveness; at a funeral there is an expectation of reverence; at a crime scene there is an expectation of preservation of evidence; and so on. Above all these expectations is an expectation of respect, and I have always made an effort to show respect in all my photographic journeys, be they at a junior high football game, a home destroyed by fire, or the fragile majesty of the desert.

Many photographers have huge egos, and as a result they adopt arrogant postures in their behaviors. Ultimately, of course, this kind of behavior damages their reputations, and the reputations of those they represent. In your travels to make pictures, don’t forget that you represent a community of artists. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The Greens of Summer

My grandmother, Lydia Batten, in about 1943, photographed with the tiny Kodak Bantam camera
My grandmother, Lydia Batten, in about 1943, photographed with the tiny Kodak Bantam camera

Robert Stinson called me yesterday to mourn the demise of Kodachrome, the once-popular color slide film that was originally introduced in 1935. Kodak is discontinuing the film after 74 years because of dwindling sales in the digital age, and because there is only one lab remaining in the world that is able to process this unique film, the only film that is developed using the complicated 17-stage K-14 separation process. My own experience with Kodachrome is somewhat limited, but my grandfather, Richard Batten, shot thousands of Kodachrome slides in his lifetime, most of which are in my possession, and are in excellent condition. He used a tiny Kodak Bantam 828 camera. He is, apparently, the one from whom I inherited my photographic skills.

Kodak’s 828 film was unique. It used the yellow paper backing common to medium format, but measured 35mm wide like the much more popular 135-size film. The actual frame is slightly larger in both directions than a standard 35mm frame. Also like medium format, you didn’t rewind the film when you were done; you loaded it on the left to start, shot, then took it out on the right when you were finished, leaving the spool on the left, which you moved to the right side to act as the new take-up spool. It worked fine unless you lost the spool.

My grandfather must have been a very patient man to make so many excellent photographs with such a tedious and taxing tool. Of course, even today, patience is often what separates mediocre photographers from great ones, regardless of their cameras.

The manual focus, manual exposure Kodak Bantam 828 camera.
The manual focus, manual exposure Kodak Bantam 828 camera.