On Infrared photography


The Yashica Lynx 5000 rangefinder.

I have decided upon a project for Fine Art using Infrared film and landscapes, perhaps “Monolithic” structures.

To this end, I quickly found out the my favorite two IR films were no longer made, Kodak’s High Speed IR film, and Konica’s 750 IR film. UGH!

There are two new films on the market, Efke’s (Maco) IR820s and Rollei’s Infrared film, so I had to buy sample rolls of both and do some testing.

But first, a camera. The film should be shot through a visually opaque filter which makes using a SLR-type camera difficult. The process is compose, focus, adjust focus for IR, attach filter and hope you didn’t move the focus, then shoot and bracket. A twin lens or rangefinder allows you to keep the filter on the lens and compose, focus and shoot without removing your eye.

A medium format camera would be best, as the larger negative allows for larger resulting prints.

I sold my 6×6 camera back in 2001, so first step was to get another one. EBay is full of medium format cameras. What is obvious is the level of idiocy surrounding these cameras on eBay. Pretty typical, actually.

My town is minus decent used camera stores. My only source is mail order or eBay, sadly. I have no idea when the next camera swap meet may be…

The Yashica Mat 124-g was sold new for about 175. I once had three of them. None ran me more than 180 mail order, new with warranty.

Last time I checked, you could get one used for about 80.

Even given inflation, why are the prices at or above 200? Many are listed as having sluggish shutters or problems, but the bids are still well above a price associated with a broken or parts-only camera. Stupid people.

I settle on a Russian camera, the Lubitel 66 by Lomo. It shows up for a total of 40.00 including shipping. It took a week’s worth of using a bid sniper system to get this one. There are a lot of people who still have more money than function brain cells out there. Good for the seller, but they’re idiots none the less.
The Lubitel has a 40.5 filter size, so a 40.5 to 52 was also found. No batteries so you use a meter.

Now for a rangefinder. One that’s totally manual with a lens that uses an easily found filter size. Well, research indicates to me another Yashica, the Lynx series of cameras, made in the 60s & 70s. Not the Electro models, which are semi-automatic, aperture priority. Lynx rangefinders use a 46mm filter, with a step-ring I can use 52mm on them nicely.

Again, online research shows these cameras to be worth not much more than 70.00 as many have shutter issues. Many on eBay are going for about 20 to 30. Some sellers are trying to sell “like new” cameras for about 2x what they went for new.

I have yet to get a fully functioning camera, as the sellers are morons who can’t seem to be bothered with even TRYING to see if the shutter works.

It easy. Advance the film lever to arm the shutter, look in the lens as you fire it, does the shutter move? Set it at something like 30 to see if it sticks. Yashicas have simple Copal shutters which can be dirty causing either too fast or too slow speeds.

I had two show up thus far, and both had poor shutters even though the seller said “Perfect working condition”. Also, all sold “as is”… except I probably could push a dispute about one as it was poorly described as to both the shutter and film sprocket.

(Free advice to sellers – TRY to figure out what the f*** you are selling… at least test the damned things. Karma, baby – karma. It’ll get ya even if you don’t believe in it. Trust me.)

So I have learned to open up this type of camera and clean up the shutter. It’s not rocket science, and about on the level of changing out a starter or alternator on the car, but cleaner and a lot less cussing involved. Now it’s fairly simple to get a shutter working, they basically need to be flushed out with a solvent (I use 70% alcohol) which dries after freeing up the shutter. NEVER lubricate a shutter. Just get it clean and it’ll work, no adjustments needed.

However, one of the cameras has a broken film sprocket. This causes the occasional overlap of frames. I have no idea how to disassemble it that far to replace it, so I am hoping to find a similar camera online for parts, so I can tear into it and see how it goes together. Only repair manual available is an assembly manual. For as much as a camera.

Apparently, if the seller lists an item as “vintage” many people will assume it’s extra valuable and bid insane amounts for it.

I need two or more as the 35mm IR film needs to be loaded in complete darkness or almost dark to avoid fogging the film through the felt opening.

I did find out you can use a #87 Lee filter in a SLR if you carefully cut it to fit between the film rails in the camera, placing the filter right over the film itself. This is not as easy as it sounds. I tried on my Nikon N90 and the filter isn’t cut very well, I used scissors and it left a gap at the top. Test shots yesterday show some issues at the top & bottom of the frame, but otherwise cool shots.

Next up – film tests and results.

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