Total newbie with significant problems

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Fishpaste, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. Fishpaste

    Fishpaste TPF Noob!

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    Hi all,

    I recently discovered an old 35 mm camera in my closet. It's a 1960s Soviet era Zenit ET, and I decided to learn how to use it. However, I am totally 110% clueless.

    I just got my third roll back today, but I am still having very significant problems with how the photos are turning out - they appear just as poorly as those on the first roll.

    More than half of my pictures are out of focus. At first I accepted it as part of the learning experience, but by now it's becoming frustrating. Through the view-finder, everything looks fine and sharp, but the resulting photos are almost always heavily blurred. Occasionally some photos are fine, so, it must be me and not the camera.

    On some frames I am also getting a large white edge. I get the feeling that maybe the frame has not advanced completely after the last shot and so is double-exposed. What am I doing wrong here?
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Based on the type of camera you've mentioned, I'm leaning more toward the camera being at fault then you. These cameras were deseigned to look like high-end Japanese and German cameras of the day, and at a passing glance, they did, but the quality inside ranged from poor to abyssmal. Light leaks, faulty mechanisms and generally poor-quality workmanship resulted in a camera that when new was mediocre at best and downright awful at worst.

    The focusing may be a problem you're having, but if everything is sharp in the viewfinder then it should be sharp on the film What shutter-speeds are you using? If you could scan and post some sample images, a more definite answer could likely be provided, but two possibilities occur to me: (1) You're using a shutter speed lower than you can hand-hold (1/60 or lower most likely) and what you're getting is motion blur, NOT an unfocused image or, (2) There's a misalignment of the mirror/prism mechanism which has changed slightly the length of the light path (Unlikely but possible).

    Your second problem seems to be the film not advancing fully- you shouldn't be able to trip the shutter unless the it is fully advanced, but part of the film advance mechanism may be faulty. Are you sure you're moving the advance lever as far as it will go? Try pressing the shutter-release with the film only partially advanced and see if it will fire.

    If you're interested in film, you can easily find hundreds of good, 'healthy' film cameras on eBay and Craig's List for very little money. The only Soviet-era stuff is interesting, but ultimately, not very pracitcal.
     
  3. LCARSx32

    LCARSx32 TPF Noob!

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    What shutter speed, film speed, and aperture settings are you using? If you have a long shutter speed, any movement of the camera will cause things to blur. You may have it set to something that's fast, but not fast enough for you to be able to hold the camera still enough.

    Try using a tripod or setting the camera on a bench or something to see if your photos become clearer.
     
  4. Fishpaste

    Fishpaste TPF Noob!

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    Shutter speeds are fairly high at 125, 250 or 500. I used "X-30" (which is just 30 I guess) in some low light conditions, but that's about it. Even in broad daylight with high speeds I'm having these problems. You mentioned alignment of the mirror/shutter. Is this difficult or expensive to repair if it is the case?

    I am advancing the film until it can go no further, and I also wind the film backwards until it is taut after loading the cartridge.

    As soon as I can get access to a scanner I will post some photos.
     
  5. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    x-30 is for a flash syc. no wonder things are blurry it is probably camera shake at that sitting.

    i would also have to agree with tirediron as these cameras are very funky and not very reliable.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    X-30 means that this camera synchronizes with flash at 1/30 second (the fastest speed at which the shutter is fully open). Your shutter speeds should be fine for providing sharp pictures. As far as repairs go, IMO, definitely NOT worth it. I'm sure you could buy a several good film cameras (Canon AE-1 Program, Pentax ME Super, Nikon F/FE) for the price of getting this repaired IF you could find anyone who was able to repair it.
     
  7. supraman215

    supraman215 TPF Noob!

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    I agree get a used film camera like tirediron mentioned they are a dime a dozen on craigslist.
     
  8. LCARSx32

    LCARSx32 TPF Noob!

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  9. Fishpaste

    Fishpaste TPF Noob!

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    Hello, and thanks for the replies. I'll probably buy another camera once I am settled in my dorm after the summer. I still have a feeling that I'm just doing it wrong :confused:.

    Here are some examples of what I'm talking about. They aren't great scans, and not artistic, but they should help you get an idea of what I'm talking about:

    The picture is blurry even with fast shutter speed, and there is a massive white edge:
    [​IMG]

    Totally out of focus, but it could be because of a slow shutter speed:
    [​IMG]

    A bit out of focus despite a fast shutter, and also a large white edge at the bottom:
    [​IMG]

    Totally out of focus again:
    [​IMG]

    Another couple out of focus:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I don't even know what this is, but again, there is a white edge:
    [​IMG]

    This photo is blurry. I tried to capture the rabbit who had made a nest under the artillery piece because I saw a bit of irony in that, but the shadow obscures him totally. There is also a black edge to the right:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. LCARSx32

    LCARSx32 TPF Noob!

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    If you take the lens of and lift the mirror, can you see anything that might be obstructing the film?
     
  11. magkelly

    magkelly TPF Noob!

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    How are the light seals on the camera? It looks to me like they're a bit overexposed no matter what you're doing and that white blur could be because light is getting in maybe?
     
  12. white

    white TPF Noob!

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    The first picture with the white edge is different than the others. I'm guessing that was the first frame. Basically you didn't advance the film far enough when you loaded it; that separation line is where the light-sensitive emulsion begins. It's happened to a couple pictures of mine. I actually kind of like the effect. :)
     

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