Old Workhorses

Nikon FTn

Nikon FTn










Two old workhorses come home to pasture . . . . Although not the exact two cameras I had when I first started shooting for the newspaper so very long ago . . . these are the two models I began with.  I did the standard two camera, 4 lens newspaper Photo journalists kit, my arsenal of lenses consisted of 55mm micro nikkor, 20mm, 35mm, 180mm and later I added a 135mm and a 70~210mm zoom, as well as a Vivitar 285 flash.  Most often you’d see me with two cameras and a bag slung across my shoulders . . . after all this time and numerous camera bags I’ve developed a shoulder droop and probable permanent curve in my spine. . . but I digress
These two beautiful examples of Nikons finest came to me recently (as birthday presents) from friends who know of my love for old film cameras and old they may be, but in full working order.  I have yet to finish a roll of film in the FM2 but you have seen some shots already from the FTn . . . on BW400CN film.  The old FTn used mercury batteries in its FTN Photomic meter head (that link I just provided is a wealth of info about old nikon gear), you cannot get replacement mercury batteries, but you can get substitute alkaline batteries.  Back in those days you mostly used what was called “Sunny 16 rule”  as only the meter required a battery, everything else was MANUAL CONTROL . . . That’s right! no AF, no AEL it was just you and the camera and of course your abilities.  If you where lucky you might get a motor film winder (which I did later on for both the FM and a newer F2As).
So there you have it . . my two new ponies in da house!
I am currently shooting both cameras using BW400CN a Black & White Chromogenic film that is C-41 and can be processed at most Walmarts, Walgreens or other local corner drug stores . . . it’s fun to step back and shoot film, it slows you down because each shot is precious.  You don’t rapid fire ten or more shots with hopes of getting a usable one, you shoot maybe two sometimes three, it makes you use your skills.  I have my negs scanned and I play with them in Corel PaintShop Pro (a CS alternative) and depending on what I want to do beyond that I may import it into PhotoMatix for Tone mapping or OnOne Suite for further manipulations . . I have pretty much embraced the digital darkroom for my post photography work . . rare it is for me to mix chemicals, play in a cramped darkened room burning in or dodging a print then souping it through the trays to a final image.   I sometimes do miss that thrill of watching an latent image take form before my eyes under the dim glow of an amber or red lamp, me hunched over like some mad alchemist in his secret laboratory . . . gone is the acrid smell of the fixing bath . . . the discolored fingertips  . . . gone the wet darkroom.  That is another story I will have to post one day, but until then.  Keep shooting film, it isn’t dead . . . just snoozing like the flower bulbs in the garden, waiting to reawaken in spring.

I’m out shooting, what are doing?


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