The inventor of the Leica was born on this day in 1879.




Sampayan, Jalajala, Laguna de Bay.

      The first two versions of Technicolor, for technical (!) reasons only used the red and green components of the spectrum.  The Wide Screen Museum site’s Technicolor history pages describes the full story.  Early colour processes for both still and cinema used various two colour methods for both recording and reproduction.  The two colour methods produced pleasing colours which looked real enough – skin tones looked proper- and complete, despite the fact that the blue primary is missing.  The two colours used for reproduction is often red-orange for the green record and blue-green for the red record.

However, when a two-colour picture is regarded critically, one will notice that just about any hue reproduced is off .  For instance, yellow is reproduced as pink, blue is turquoise, red is more like orange, and violets are seen as black.  Even green, despite being one of the primaries ‘present’ often looks more grey than green..  The compensating nature of human perception perhaps creates the illusion of proper colouring-  even if the hues concerned are missing from the picture.

    Like Technicolor, the process starts by making a direct color separation of the scene.  Two colour filters- red and green- are used to make the live ‘separations’ on panchromatic BW film.  The filters will only allow their colour to pass through the lens, thus making a luminance record as a BW film image.

The negatives are scanned to produce two similar images, with slightly different tonal values.  For instance, in the red record, all objects whose colour contains red or belongs to the yellow/orange/red end of the spectrum will appear in lighter shades of grey than those which are green or blue.

In the past, to produce a colour record from the BW separation images, some method was used so that the final positive images are seen in colour- either by toning the silver image to a coloured one, or else some method of assembly process involving dye transfer .  For this experiment, no dyeing was done.  The BW records were instead converted to a primary coloured image through a computer picture editing program.   Some tweaking was done to achieve the red/orange – blue/green palette of the old two-colour processes.


Since each of the primary colour exposures are done separately, some form of time parallax occurs- moving objects will be seen with colour fringing where there was no perfect registration.  In the case of moving water (one photo above),  separate green and red details can be seen- the splashes were not the same for the exposures.   Sometimes, the camera moved a bit between exposures, some form of fringing will also occur.  A perfectly stable camera on an equally stable tripod is a necessity for perfect colour registration during the assembly of the colour layers.

In an extreme case, red/green ghosting can be seen, as in the case of photos where there are moving people or other objects.  This process is good for still-life, and to a limited degree, portraiture.


The first M42 mount camera…well not. The second maybe since this is the second model of the Contax SLR. This is the Contax D, and the first was the Contax S. Both are virtually similar models with the exception of the placement of the flash synch and other details. The S was from 1949. This one is 1950 or 1951.

The Contax SLR was made by Carl Zeiss Jena, and was the first SLR which incorporated (fixed on the body) the pentaprism for eyelevel viewing. 35mm SLRs have been around, starting with the Exakta, for about 15 years when the Contax was introduced, but it was only at this time that the eyelevel finder became an integral part. The eylevel viewfinder made SLRs even more popular, and this Contax put the 35mm SLR one step closer to domination. The Contax SLR used the M42 screw mount first devised by KW. Contax then became Pentacon (Pentaprism Contax) after a trademark dispute with  Carl Zeiss West. This camera can still be used today with any M42 lens with manual, preset or manual-switch diaphragm lenses.


The M42 screw mount was considered at one time as the ‘universal lens mount”- many camera makers used this mount fro their cameras and their lenses. The only drawback which this system used is its limited abilities to lend itself to more automation.


*Cameras courtesy of Zoilo “Yet” Andin.

1. SEAGULL 203

This is another offering from the Seagull Camera factory.  Like the more common Segull TLRs, this folding camera is a conglomeration of the best designs found in other folding cameras made by other manufacturers.  Its basic shape follows that of the Agfa Isolette and similar folding cameras.  But unlike the Isolettes, the Seagull 203 has coupled rangefinder focusing.   Zeiss also brought out folding cameras with coupled rangefinders, but they used separate wedges which stuck out off the lens board.  The Seagull used a far more compact and elegant system.

The Seagull 203 uses 120 film, and gives an option to select 12 6X6 or 16 6X4,5 exposures.  Film advance is by a lever, but there is no automatic stop.  Instead,  there are two red windows on the back to show how far to reel the film and  line up each frame.   The film gate has hinged masks to reduce the 6X6 cm square frame to 6X4,5 cm.   In some models of the Seagull 203, there is an exposure dial on the top plate to figure out exposures.

The lens found on this camera is the same as the lens found on the Seagull TLRs- the triplet “Haiou” 75mm.   However in this camera, the lens uses ‘front cell’ focusing (only the front element turns during focusing).  The focus is from 1 metre to infinity.  Fstops 3,5 to 22.

The shutter is a Compur-inspired three-blade leaf shutter.  Like the shutters found in many Chinese cameras, this one is timed to give exposure times of 1/300 to 1 second.   It also has a self-timer,  marked with a “V” on the shutter speed ring (the V mark follows the German style of indicating this function).  The advance lever is coupled to the shutter release to prevent double exposures.  The shutter has to be cocked manually before the shutter can fire.

The folding design allows the camera to fold into a neat package.  Its main weaknesses  are the potential loss of film to lens parallelism (the lens board is held up with metal struts which extend and collapse everytime the drawbridge door is opened or closed) and the potential of the cloth bellows to develop holes.  These are not unique to the Seagull- just about any folding camera is prone to these faults.


This is another folding camera.  It has the same physical specs as the Seagull 203, and has the 12/16 exposure option too.  But the Hongmei (Red Plum) HM-1 is simplified.  No rangefinder, just an optical viewfinder. The shutter speeds range is 1/200 to 1/10 sec only.  The shutter has to be cocked manually before it can be fired.  There are also more visible plastic parts.

The optics is also a triplet, front-cell focusing lens.  Many have expressed concern about front cell focusing and say that it is inferior.  However, with cameras like this, sharpness is probably the least of concerns when using them.  This was the typical family camera in China in its day.

Its similarity with the Seagull is not surprising.  A lot of cameras manufactured in China were made by different factories.  These factories probably worked on the same  designs supplied by a central design bureau;  this resulted in cameras which were virtually alike, or else had the same specifications but with some modifications.


China made a lot of TLRs.  Most were patterned after, if not the exact clones, of the Seagull.  These were made  bydifferent factories. The Pearl River however is different.   Its features are significantly different- they were simplified.  There were several Pearl River cameras made.  This is the simpler one.

The lens used is also a  75mm f/3,5 Triplet.   There is absolutely no internal coupling between the film advance and the shutter. Each action has to be done separately and completely noted.  Just like with most of the camera which date from up to the 1930s.   The lack of coupled controls meant that either blank, or double exposures can result if the user forgets to wind or forgets that he forgot to wind, respectively.

The shutter is cocked by a lever before it can be tripped.  The shutter range is simplified- 1/250 to 1/25 sec only.  Film is advanced by knob, and has two red-film windows for  12 and 16 exposures.


Seagull started making 35mm SLRs in the 1970s.  The Seagull DF series was based on the Minolta SR-2 of 1958.  It used the Minolta bayonet mount, the same cloth focal plane shutter, and even the take up spool is the same. The DF even has a 58mm normal lens- a focal length popular for normal SLR lenses in the 1950s It is said that Minolta released the design to the Chinese in the 1970s.

Even the font used for “Seagull” on the logo appears to be similar to what Minolta used in their original logos.  ”DF” may stand for ‘dongfang’ ( “东方“)or “East”.

This camera will take in any Minolta MD mount manual focus lens. It is meter-less and do not require batteries to run.  Its shutter range is 1/1000 to 1 sec.  And uses FP and X PC connectors for flash as there is no hot shoe.  Make sure to select X when using modern electronic flash!.

The quality of this camera is rather high.  The operation is smooth and shutter is relatively quiet for mechanical SLR standards. The finish is quite fine and the fittings are perfect.  The viewfinder is also quite bright and snappy.

Seagull still make 35mm SLRs.  Their current crop are exact copies of the Minolta X350/X700 series.  Same lens mount, but lots of plastic body parts.  These newer Seagull has AE shutter priority feature.

Many Thanks to Yet Andin for allowing his cameras to be photographed and featured in this page!

Repairing the Exakta requires simple tools.  Almost no special tool is needed; except for one which is better used for removing the large screws securing the advance lever, speed dial, and slow speed dial.  These large-headed screws are slotted and looks as if an ordinary wide tip screw can be used for them.  But their slots are curved towards the centre.  Often the flat tipped screws will mar the slot because these screws don’t put the right torque on the screw properly.  The slots take the brunt and get deformed.

The slot on the advance lever retaining screw looks a bit chewed up.  A narrower, flat-tipped screw must have been used with it.  In contrast, the retaining screw on the speed dial is still intact.  Both screws have a curved centre- the middle part curves outwards.  A special curved tip screw driver must be used with these screws to put the proper torque in them to allow proper removal.

Another of my Exaktas need to be disassembled to lubricate the mechanism.  Its shutter now squawks, and is need of new oil.  The three curved slot screws on  the advance lever,  and the speed and slow dials, are perfect.  Using the flat headed screw drivers I have now will surely maim these screws.  I needed a new tool to work with these screws.

I thought of having a machinist grind an ordinary flat tipped screw driver to the shape needed for this effort.   A screw driver with a width of about 8-10 mm would be just right.  Getting it sharp to fit the slot is easy.  But getting the right shape to engage with the curved slot is another thing.  I do not have any sample to copy the shape from.   I tried to use softened wax to get the shape of the slot.  The wax impression wasn’t of help.

Then suddenly, while cutting my nails, I noticed something in the nailcutter’s case.  An ordinary metal nail file.  The curved tip of its handle called my attention- this could be the shape which the Exakta’s curved slot screws needed.

So I took the nail file and put its handle’s tip on the retaining screw of the Exakta’s winding lever.  The tip went into the slot properly. Since the nail file was made of  a softer metal than that used in the Exakta screws, it could not harm them.  I decided to see if the tool can loosen them.  And behold, this make-shift screw driver was actually able to loosen the screws.  A short, steady, and focused turn was all that was needed to turn the screw head.

I will still have a machinist make the right tool for me.  The nailfile’s soft metal body will not withstand the force needed to ‘pop’ these screws.  The nailfile handle shall become the template for the modified screw driver.