Sure Way Of Being Able To Take Better Pictures

Welfl Film Cameras 1958-2001
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The following is a poorly written list/history of cameras that my parents and I used from about 1958 to about 2001 (to go along with the very poorly composed compilation photo above). I am writing it more for my satisfaction than anyone else’s, although a few people may find it interesting.

Note: Run your mouse over the picture above to identify the cameras described below.

1. Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model
• Manufacturing Dates: ca. 1951 to 1961.
• Original Retail Price: .50 (camera); .00 (flash).
• Purchase date: Possibly December 1958.
• Total Rolls Shot: At least 62.
Photos taken with the Brownie Hawkeye.
• Story: My dad either bought this camera or got it as a Christmas gift. My parents used it from 1959 (the year they met and were married) until 1971, with the last few pictures on that final 1971 roll being taken in December 1974. The quality of its photos grew worse with every passing year, and it suffered from a bad light leak at times. [The above image of the Hawkeye was grabbed from the internet.]

2. Polaroid Land Camera "Pathfinder 110" series (A or B)
• Manufacturing Dates: 1957 to 1960 (110A); 1960 to 1964 (110B).
• Original Retail Price: 0 (Model 110A); 3 (Model 110B).
• Purchase date: About February 1967.
• Total Packs Shot: At least 2 (?)
• Story: I can only conclude that my dad bought a used model, because I’m sure he would never have paid such a high price for a new one. He took very few pictures with it (between five and ten?), possibly because it was too complicated. I played with this camera as a kid because of all the fun buttons, latches, doors and levers, and because it had a feel of great precision and sophistication. [The above image of the Polaroid Land Camera was grabbed from the internet.]

3. Polaroid Land Camera "Swinger Model 20"
• Manufacturing Dates: 1965 to 1970.
• Original Retail Price: .95.
• Purchase date: About October 1967.
• Total Packs Shot: At least 11.
Photos taken with the Polaroid Swinger 20.
• Story: The Swinger Model 20 used only black-and-white film, and the prints are very small (2 1/8 in. x 2 7/8 in.). My parents used it from 1967 to 1971, then very little after that, taking at least 11 packets of film with it. I took my very first photograph with this camera (in April 1969, at age 8). It was last used in September 1974, after having sat unused for two or three years. The quality of the pictures was terrible most of the time, with many or most of the photos being very dark and/or very grainy.

4. Polaroid Square Shooter 2 Color Instant Camera
• Manufacturing Dates: 1972 to 1975.
• Original Retail Price: .95.
• Purchase date: June 1, 1974.
• Total Packs Shot: At least 31.
Photos taken with the Polaroid Square Shooter 2.
• Story: My dad bought this camera at Gregg’s Kennebec Drug in Kennebec, SD (third building from left in this photo). He paid .31 (including tax). Between June 2, 1974, and the summer of 1981, we took at least 31 packets of film with this camera (usually 8 photos to a packet). Regrettably, in the three years prior to my dad’s purchase of this camera, my parents took almost no pictures. [Square Shooter pic was grabbed from the internet.]

5. & 6. Kodak Brownie Starlet and Kodak Brownie Starflash
• Manufacturing Dates: 1957 to 1962 (Starlet); 1957 to 1965 (Starflash).
• Original Retail Price: .00 (Starlet); .50 (Starflash).
• Purchase date: Ca. July 1, 1974.
• Total Rolls Shot: 12 (combined).
Photos taken with the Brownie Starlet and/or Starflash.
• Story: The Starlet was my first camera. The Starflash was my brother’s first camera. We were 13 and 9 years old, respectively. My mom bought them for us at my insistence in a Goodwill Store in La Habra, California (during a visit). They cost 25 or 50 cents each. I chose the Starlet, and my brother chose the Starflash. I ended up taking pictures with both cameras most of the time since my brother didn’t care about photography (he just wanted a camera because I was getting one). I used them from July 1974, to November 1976. Both cameras frequently ruined half, or more, of the pictures they took. Ironically, the last three or four rolls taken with the Starlet turned out great, with almost no ruined pictures. [Starlet pic grabbed from the internet.]

7. Kodak Pocket Instamatic 20
• Manufacturing Dates: 1972 to 1976.
• Original Retail Price: .00.
• Purchase date: December 1975.
• Total Rolls Shot: 7 (by me); unknown number by rest of family.
Photos taken with the Kodak Pocket Instamatic 20.
• Story: My parents gave me this camera for Christmas. I used it extensively from December 1975 until November 1977. Although I was thrilled beyond words with this camera when I first got it, I now regret that I ever had it at all, because the quality of the photos is far from great, and, even worse, the tiny size of the 110 negatives makes them almost worthless for scanning purposes (and 110 negative holders for scanning purposes are very rare and criminally overpriced), and the quality of 110-film scans, when successful, is also terrible.

8. Sears C 117 Easi-Load Super 8 Movie Camera
• Manufacturing Dates: 1966 and 1967.
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Acquisition Date: Late 1975 or early 1976.
• Total Cartridges Shot: 3.
• Story: This camera was given to me by Fred S. Alward (1889-1987) (7th column, third story down). Alward, a former Lt. Governor of Nevada, was a permanent tenant in our hotel and a daily guest in our home, although he spent his winters in Florida (I didn’t know, until years later, that he had been a politician; I think I first learned it on the internet). I shot only three cartridges of film with this camera – all in 1976 and 1977 – because a meager three-minute film cartridge cost too much to buy and develop. Worst of all, proper lighting conditions were far too restrictive. Direct sunlight was too bright; natural indoor light was too dark; outdoor shaded areas were just right. … But! … South Dakota and Nebraska don’t have lots of shaded areas, so I was usually out of luck.

9. Minolta 110 Zoom SLR
• Manufacturing Dates: 1976 to 1979.
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Purchase Date: November 25, 1977.
• Total Rolls Shot: At least 16 (by me).
Photos taken with the Minolta 110 Zoom SLR.
• Story: I bought this camera for 0 shortly before my 17th birthday. I used my own money. I had dreamt of owning it ever since I had first seen it in a magazine ad almost a year earlier. Why? Simply because it was so gorgeous. Yep, that’s a really stupid reason to want a camera. When McCosh Drug in Gering, NE, finally started selling them, I bought one. Getting straight to the point: It was/is a less-than-ideal camera. Setting the haphazard exposure/aperture was almost a complete guessing game (at least that’s how it seemed to me). I hated having to guess, even though I was always successful at it. Its built-in lens produced very clear pictures, but, once again, the tiny 110 film, combined with poor-quality print paper, almost always nullified that clarity. I used it fairly regularly until 1979, mostly to get my money’s worth out of it, and then very rarely after that. I totally wasted my money on this camera. Unbelievably, there is still a mostly unused roll of film in it!

10. K-Mart Focal Macro 800 Movie Camera (manufactured by GAF)
• Manufacturing Dates: late 1970s.
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Purchase Date: January 22, 1978.
• Total Cartridges Shot: About 2.
• Story: I purchased this camera for 2.53 (my own money again), and again I totally wasted it because I only took two cartridges of film with it, give or take one (of course, some people throw their money away in slot machines, so I shouldn’t feel bad). It wasn’t much too better than the ancient Sears model when it came to lighting, and the film was still too short in length and too expensive (I could never decide what was worthy of being filmed when there was only three minutes of film per cartridge). One of my productions with this camera consists of stop-motion special-effects. I was amazed that it turned out as well as it did. Believe it or not, there is still an unfinished film cartridge in it! It has probably been in it since at least 1978 or 1979. I was certainly surprised to find it in there.

11. Minolta SR-T 101 35mm Camera
• Manufacturing Dates: 1966 to 1975.
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Max. Shutter Speed: 1/1000th.
• Max. ASA: 6400.
• Kit Lens: Minolta 58mm, f/1.4.
• Purchase Date: February 20, 1978.
• Total Rolls Shot: At least 51 to 56 (briefly used at same time as Sears KS-500).
Photos taken with the Minolta SR-T 101.
• Story: This was my first 35mm camera, and it was an unexpected purchase. A coworker saw me taking pictures at work with my Minolta 110 Zoom SLR asked me if I wanted to buy his 35mm Minolta for . He let me test it overnight, and I eagerly bought it the next day. I suppose this purchase would never have happened if he hadn’t seen me with my Minolta 110 Zoom (which means the 110 was a necessary purchase after all, darn). The SR-T 101 was an excellent camera, especially for a beginner like me. I didn’t realize how revolutionary it was until I read its history in order to write this story (see link). In early 1980, when a friend asked me if he could buy it, I foolishly agreed to sell it to him. [SR-T 101 pic was grabbed from the internet.]

12. Sears KS-500 35mm Camera
• Manufacturing Dates: 1978- .
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Max Shutter Speed: 1/500th.
• Max ASA: 3200.
• Kit Lens: Sears 50mm, f/2.0.
• Acquisition Date: January 8, 1980 (date of Sears, Inc., official teletype letter).
• Total Rolls Shot: At least 45 or 52 (briefly used at same time as Minolta SR-T 101 and Vivitar XV-1 and possibly the Ricoh KR-5 Super).
Photos taken with the Sears KS-500.
• Story: I’ve used this camera for the longest period of time (1980-2001). A clone of the Ricoh CR-5, it is fully compatible with all of my lenses, including a Focal (K-Mart brand) 80-200mm f/4.0 Macro Lens that I got in 1986 (sitting next to Sears camera in above photo). My mom, a Sears employee from 1977 to 1995, won this camera in a nationwide Sears salesperson contest. Quoting from the official letter: "As a result of a superior selling performance, Char Welfl, of Scottsbluff, NE, has won a 35mm camera. She sold 220 cookbooks." The camera was much too complicated for her tastes, so she gave it to me. I used it for a brief time in the winter/spring of 1980, after I sold the Minotla SR-T 101 and before I bought the Vivitar XV-1. I began using it again in the summer of 1982 after the Vivitar became unusable. In the fall of 1991 the film-forwarding arm locked up temporarily while I was working for the Gering Courier (shortly after that it refused to lock at all after forwarding to the next frame; as a result, I often forgot if I had already forwarded to a new frame or not). I may have used it only two times between 1991 and 1997, because I didn’t like not knowing if I had already forwarded to the next frame or not. In June 1997, I decided to inspect the inner workings of this camera. I removed the bottom plate and immediately found the locking mechanism, much to my surprise. I reset it myself. Then, instead of putting the plate back on properly, I taped it shut with clear tape and put the screws in a drawer. Every time it became unset again, I just opened it and gave it a tap. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than having no camera at all. I finally put the screws back in it the past two or three months. I took only seven more rolls of film with it after that, three of which still need to be developed, believe it or not.

13. Vivitar XV-1 35mm Camera
• Manufacturing Dates: 1979 to 1981.
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Max Shutter Speed: 1/1000th.
• Max. ASA: 1600.
• Kit Lenses: Vivitar 50mm f/2.0 and Vivitar 135mm f/3.5.
• Purchase Date: July 1980.
• Total Rolls Shot: 15 or 17 (briefly used at same time as Sears KS-500).
Photos taken with the Vivitar XV-1.
• Story: I purchased this at K-Mart. The kit also included an electronic flash and an equipment bag. I believe this one may have been the floor model. I paid about 0 for the entire kit. After taking many rolls of great pictures with it over the next year or so, it started taking really dark, grainy pictures on an intermittent, but frequent, basis. This may or may not have begun after I replaced the original battery (see update below). In May 1982, it ruined AT LEAST half the photos on two different rolls. I stopped using it at that point and switched back to my backup camera (see No. 12). In 1988, I had this camera "repaired." I don’t think anything was done to it. All too soon it destroyed most of another roll of film (worse than ever), and I haven’t used it since.
• Update 02/04/2011: Today I discovered that the XV-1 is one of the last cameras ever made that actually requires 1.35v mercury batteries instead of 1.5v silver-oxide batteries. Mercury batteries were ultimately banned and replaced by silver-oxide batteries not long after I bought the Vivitar XV-1. Manufacturers say the silver oxides are acceptable replacements for mercury batteries, but this may not be entirely true. The additional .15v charge may be just enough to skew a camera’s light meter readings. I bought a package of silver-oxide batteries today (02/04/2011) and installed them in the Sears KS-500 and the Vivitar XV-1. I aimed both cameras at the same indoor and outdoor test subjects. I used the same lens on each. Guess what. The aperture readings were different for each camera by one and sometimes (possibly) two f-stops. I honestly don’t know if silver-oxides are responsible for this discrepancy or not. Judging by Flickr member JessHibb’s Vivitar XV-1 photos, all of which were taken since August 2008, I would say something else could (also?) be wrong with my XV-1. In spite of JessHibb’s success, I would still like to rant a little: I cannot imagine any technical reason that has prevented manufacturers from making 1.35v silver-oxide batteries (people have hacked 1.5v batteries to turn them into 1.35v batteries). There were probably millions of people in the 1980s and 1990s who were still using cameras that required 1.35v batteries, but the manufacturers chose to mislead them instead of doing the right thing. LUCKILY, there is a German company (Wein Cell) that makes 1.35v "zinc air" batteries for old cameras (click the link to see if your old film camera is included). Of course, they aren’t cheap (yeah, it’s easy to charge a lot when you’re the only company in the world that makes a particular product).

14. Ricoh KR-5 Super 35mm Camera
• Manufacturing Dates: 1980s to early 1990s.
• Original Retail Price: unknown.
• Max. Shutter Speed: 1/1000th.
• Max. ASA: 3200.
• Kit Lens: None (body only).
• Purchase Date: December 19, 1991.
• Total Rolls Shot: unknown (all for Gering Courier newspaper).
• Story: I bought this camera at McCosh Drug in Gering, NE, to replace my defective Sears (Ricoh) KS-500. I paid 9.95 (plus .40 tax). Very soon its film-forwarding arm started refusing to lock after advancing to the next frame (just like the Sears KS-500). Then it permanently locked up. Sending it in under warranty fixed the problem for only the briefest of time before it the forwarding arm stopped locking again. Then it finally completely locked up at some unknown time. I don’t remember how many rolls I shot with this camera, but probably only two to three. Since the warranty expired right after they had fixed it, I couldn’t send it in again. I was forced to begin using the Sears KS-500 again in spite of its defect (see no. 12 above).
• Update: 03/23/2011: Today I removed the Ricoh’s bottom plate and easily fixed the problem. It works great again (until it eventually locks up again?). I’ve snapped the shutter almost 100 times today, and the forwarding arm has locked correctly every time. In my day-long testing session today, I’ve discovered (or rediscovered?) that the focusing screen in the Ricoh is, by far, the best and most accurate of all my 35mm cameras. Too bad the area above the focusing screen is filled with dust and hair (obviously not very tightly sealed).
• Update 03/31/2001: The forwarding arm has now refused to lock twice in about 200 shutter actuations. I have also discovered that the "back door," where the film goes, does not shut tightly on the side where the latch is located. I’ll have to tape it so that it is tightly shut if I ever decide to use it again. I guess I really got a lemon with this camera! It’s lucky I recently received a mint-condition Pentax KX 35mm film camera (1975-1977) as a "thank you" for providing Mac tech support for a guy in Oregon.

Photography is a great way to capture moments in your life that move you and the beauty of your world. Knowing the right techniques in taking awesome pictures is a good way to make money. The article below provides some great methods of taking those beautiful pictures you’ve been aiming to achieve.

Use different shutter speeds for more creativity. People usually think that using a faster shutter speed is the best way to capture something going fast, but using something more slow, like 1/30 can be beneficial. For example, suppose you are preparing to photograph a bicyclist in motion. With a slower shutter speed, you will get a sharp image of the subject with a background that expresses speed due to a horizontal streaking effect.

ISO, shutter speed and aperture are important settings, and you may have to try different settings for the best results. It is those three elements which make up the exposure of the shot. Unless you are seeking a certain mood, try not to take under- or over-exposed photos. By toying with these features, you can learn how they work together to achieve different looks.

When shooting a subject, zoom in so that they fill the whole viewfinder. A subject too far in the distance loses too much detail for the shot to be very good. By getting close, you afford your viewers a clear, detailed view of your subject.


If you are traveling by air, avoid taking a camera that uses lithium batteries. Airports have now banned any loose batteries in luggage because they could potentially become a heat source, and cause fire. However, the exception states that you may bring this type of battery on the plane as long as they are in your camera.

You can make anything look interesting by adjusting your camera’s settings, using a different kind of lighting or even by just changing the shot angle. Know how each option will affect your photo, so you can make the right choices at the right time.

Lots of people believe that taking pictures in bright sunshine creates the best images. However, this isn’t the case, because direct sunlight can ruin almost all photographs. Direct sunlight casts shadows where you don’t want them, highlights areas of the photograph you’d rather keep dark and may make the photograph’s subject squint or shut his eyes. The best times of day for you to take outdoor photos are in the early morning, when the sun is weakest, or late evening, when it is going down.

Don’t miss a shot because you’re trying to correct your settings. On the other hand, you do not want a preset, which allows your camera to choose all the settings. Explore each of the settings on your camera and practice using them at times when you are not worried about missing important shots.

Consult your camera’s instruction manual and learn how to use its focus-lock feature. Many cameras focus automatically, but sometimes the subject isn’t in the center. The normal way to do this is to partially depress the shutter button while the subject is in the middle, and then reposition the camera, framing the shot the way you want it. Press the shutter all the way in order to snap the picture.

Once you start implementing the advice you were given in this article on how to take some stellar shots, it won’t be long before your family and friends start remarking on the astonishing improvement in your photography skills. If you keep honing your skills, you could be able to be a professional photographer who can capture and create beautiful photographs for others!

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