Vintage Cameras and a Fondness for Film: The B&H Photography Podcast

11/03/2022Link2

Vintage cameras and analog film have grown to be unprecedented media darlings within our crowded digital landscape. With a superstar status fueled by insatiable demand amid a limited supply, we investigate both the beauty and quirks of these trending tools in this week's podcast. Joining us in conversation are photographer/vintage camera buff Bill Bain, and expert camera technician/repair wizard Shlomo Weinberger from B&H Photo's Used Department. Whether you cut your teeth on old school tech or you're an analog adopter in the digital age, there's a topic of interest here for everyone, plus plenty of DIY tips to be had, including our favorite—liquid electrical tape! How many of you dedicated camera buffs knew about that?

Guests: Bill Bain and Shlomo Weinberger

Above photograph © Jill Waterman, all other photos © Bill Bain

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Gentoo penguins, Antarctic taken with a Folding Ensign 2 ¼ B camera, circa 1915
Gentoo penguins, Antarctic taken with a Folding Ensign 2 ¼ B camera,…
The Ansco No 1A camera takes Ansco 6A or 6B film (same size as Kodak 116 film). These rolls are 1/4 inch wider than 120 film. For an easy work around to make the film fit, add a plastic plug to a 120 film spool
The Ansco No 1A camera takes Ansco 6A or 6B film (same size as Kodak…
Canmore, Canadian Rocky Mountains taken with a 1926 Ansco 1A folding bed camera
Canmore, Canadian Rocky Mountains taken with a 1926 Ansco 1A folding…
Taken in Penetanguishene, Ontario using a Mamiya C330 and 80mm, f/2.8 lens
Taken in Penetanguishene, Ontario using a Mamiya C330 and 80mm, f/2.8…
The Calgary Tower shot with CX 127 Kodacolor-X that expired in 1971 using a Baby Brownie, circa 1938
The Calgary Tower shot with CX 127 Kodacolor-X that expired in 1971…
A Mamiya C330 with a Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/2.8 “blue dot” lens
A Mamiya C330 with a Mamiya Sekor 80mm f/2.8 “blue dot” lens
Neighborhood deer in Canmore, Canada, photographed through a window using a Vest Pocket Kodak Model B, circa 1929
Neighborhood deer in Canmore, Canada, photographed through a window…
Two elk in a park, Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Taken from a safe distance with a 1980 Minolta XD11 and a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 APO lens.
Two elk in a park, Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Taken from a safe distance…
A cigar cutter (with one of the two blades dulled) can be used to cut 120 film down to 127 size. The cut film is then wound onto the smaller spool for use.
A cigar cutter (with one of the two blades dulled) can be used to cut…
South Kananaskis Pass, Canadian Rockies taken with a Kodak Jiffy Six-20, circa 1945
South Kananaskis Pass, Canadian Rockies taken with a Kodak Jiffy Six-20…
Left to Right: 1926 Ansco 1A folding bed camera designed to take 116 film (I use 120 film and a spacer to make it fit); a Vest Pocket Kodak Model B, circa 1929, designed to take 127 film (I use 120 film and cut it to fit); and a Kodak Jiffy Six-20, circa 1945, designed to take 620 film (I use 120 film and reroll it onto 620 spools)
Left to Right: 1926 Ansco 1A folding bed camera designed to take 116…

Episode Timeline

  • 2:47: Bill Bain's tips when shopping for a vintage camera
  • 3:30: Inspect the lens for mildew or mold and actuate the shutter
  • 4:45: Making use of vintage lens fungus for creative portraits
  • 6:53: Bain's preferred vintage camera formats: folding bellows and box cameras
  • 8:05: Bain's new vintage camera—60-year-old Mamiya C330 twin lens reflex
  • 9:08: How many cameras are in Bill Bain's collection?
  • 10:19: Black-and-white or color film, and various emulsions
  • 12:28: Discontinued film formats and a nod to 2016 podcast feature “Dick Haviland: Last of the Classic Film Re-Spoolers”
  • 13:57: Bain's DIY modification for unavailable film stocks: plastic wall anchors!
  • 15:34: Different film sizes and determining if a camera will accept a currently available stock
  • 17:42: 120 format film—the most easily adaptable film format
  • 18:18: The difference between 120- and 220-format film
  • 19:12: 127 film and smaller formats
  • 20:20: DIY tip—Use a cigar cutter to trim readily available films to fit smaller formats
  • 22:54: Vintage cameras with interchangeable lenses vs fixed-lens cameras
  • 23:14: The Petzval lens—19th-century classic and Lomography's 2015 redesign and release
  • 24:00: Bill Bain's favorite vintage camera—his mother's Kodak Jiffy 620
  • 25:02: The poor man's Leica—the Argus C3
  • 26:42: Read the manual. Plus, finding user manuals for vintage cameras online
  • 28:38: Making minor repairs, and when to pass vintage camera repair off to a skilled technician
  • 29:16: DIY camera repair discovery—Liquid Electrical Tape!
  • 32:06: Episode break
  • 34:00: Shlomo Weinberger's advice when shopping for a vintage camera
  • 34:34: Evaluating lens scratches—front vs. rear element, edges vs. center of glass
  • 35:05: The most popular vintage cameras in B&H's Used Department
  • 36:50: The most common vintage camera problem/repair—stuck aperture blades
  • 38:11: Weinberger's most respected vintage cameras—Leica M3, Hasselblad system, Rolleiflex
  • 35:32: Leica M3 has the best rangefinder—you can shoot with both eyes open
  • 41:44: Weinberger's weekly workload of vintage cameras and lenses
  • 42:28: Repair quirks to an original Nikon F
  • 43:02: What to look for when repairing a twin lens Rollieflex
  • 44:26: Flash photography with vintage cameras that synchronize at all shutter speeds
  • 44:58: Pro tip for evaluating a twin lens camera—ensure all four sides of the lens board focus straight
  • 46:34: Process for overhauling a vintage camera shutter
  • 48:48: B&H Photo's Used Department museum display
  • 50:32: Geoffrey Berliner's Petzval lens collection from the Penumbra Foundation
  • 51:15: Lubrication of vintage cameras—don't try it yourself!
  • 52:44: Things to know before contacting B&H with a vintage camera inquiry
  • 55:45: How to find Bill Bain online and in social media

Guest Bios:

Bill Bain has loved photography since his teenage years, when all his earnings went toward buying gear and paying for film and development. During a long career as an engineer, photography was a constant thread—particularly documenting his family and their extensive travels. Now living a post-corporate life in the Canadian Rockies, Bain devotes much of his time to photography. In addition to being fully immersed in digital imaging, he continues to make good use of his extensive collection of vintage cameras, many dating back to the early 1900s. Bain's analog and digital fine-art images have been featured in Black & White magazine, and his photos of Olympic-style wrestlers have been published internationally.

Shlomo Weinberger is a gifted technician who developed a specialty in repairing vintage cameras and lenses over nearly 25 years at B&H Photo. After learning his trade from an old-world technician steeped in the analog age, Weinberger currently operates a special repair shop within B&H Photo's Used Department, where he patiently inspects, calibrates, lubricates, and otherwise assesses the condition of the cameras and lenses that pass through his hands before they are offered to customers.

Stay Connected:

Bill Bain: Website | Instagram 

B&H Photo: Used Department | Vintage Film Equipment


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner

2 Comments

The Argus C3 reminds me of Tony Vaccaro who was a soldier in the Second World War, an amazing photojournalist and was developing his roles of film on moon light on the battlefield, in the trenches while Robert Capa had a Leica and was shooting in Hollywood.

Hi Vasilescu, thanks so much for mentioning Tony Vaccaro. Amazing photographer and a wonderful person to boot!!! And in a lovely touch of synchronicity, he's about to celebrate his 100 birthday tomorrow (December 20). For anyone curious to learn more about Tony and his work, the Monroe Gallery has organized pop up exhibits in New York and Santa Fe to celebrate his centennial. So, Happy Centennial, Tony Vaccaro and thanks again, Vasilescu, for writing in and for listening to the podcast!