Photographica Digest - Western Photographic Historical Society



Photographica Digest - Western Photographic Historical Society
Photographica Digest
Western Photographic Historical Society
Volume XX No.11
As promised here is a further look at the
Polaroid Spectra Camera, “Special Edition”.
A search on Ebay found a “Remote Control for
System” available
condition and
in the original
the description
on the package
the unit can be
used to “Trip
shutter- Great for- Family portraits- Surprise
parties- Wildlife photography”. These units both
require standard 9 volt batteries and once these
were installed they functioned perfectly.
There is a telescoping tubular antenna on the
receiver. The hand
antenna is an 18
inch length of small
conductor wrapped
around the unit.
This conductor has
to be unwrapped
for use. Not the
most convenient or
package was a very
zippered case with
loops that allow it to be attached to a belt.
The currently available film from Impossible is
certainly not of the quality we remember from
December 2013
the last days of production by the Polaroid
Corporation. It seems that when Polaroid closed
down the data recording the chemical
formulations for the various films was either
lost or destroyed. In the early days of
production of the Polaroid films it was
rumored1 around Cambridge, MA that Edwin
Land, the inventor of the instant film process,
had his chemicals supplied in unmarked, color
coded containers. Supposedly the suppliers
were sworn to secrecy and the color codes were
changed with each shipment, Land being the
only person with the key to the codes. So it is
hardly a surprise that the data is not now
The current Impossible films tested were PZ 600
Silver Shade (monochrome) and PZ 680 (color).
PZ 600 produced low contrast, sepia toned
images with resolution you might expect from
low end film box cameras.
PZ 680 produced distinctly green tinted images
that required up to 1 hour of development in
complete darkness. When exposed briefly to
fairly dim light to inspect the progress of
development, some purple toned bands
appeared on the edges of the print. Not quite
the instant photography we remember.
The Film Photography Project's2 webpage
includes this statement regarding the PZ 680
“NOT the Polaroid Formula
Before purchasing Impossible Project film, it is
important that you understand that the chemical
structure of the film is very different from what
Polaroid was producing for SX-70, 600 or
experimental and unpredictable. It’s what makes
Impossible Project film fun and exciting to shoot
but let’s face it, your Mom and Grand Dad may
not like it! If you’re looking for the look of original
Polaroid film we suggest that you check out the
Fujifilm Instax series of cameras – “
The latest (November 2013) Impossible web
page indicates that the PZ 680 color film has
been replaced with “Color instant film for
continued on page 3
December 2013
Page 2
Ansco’s 1915-1924 120 Vest Pocket cameras
may be rather well known-mainly as Ansco’s
answer to Kodak’s V.P.127. The larger, well
established film size gave Ansco an advantage
over Kodak’s attempt to swing the film world to
a new smaller
film size, (at
the time the
“vest pocket
size”). Based
on the 1915
VP series with
the strut lens
V.P. used the
same riveted
embossed leatherette covered
with a hinged
was an interesting heavy leather five-fold
design, now usually found with multiple light
leaks. Frequently one of these appears to have
been replaced with a seven fold bellows of
thinner leather- probably of Kodak origin. The
lens standard is hinged to allow for a slimmer
design when folded; pulls out to engage a pin
on the sector/lever focus plate-focusing 100 to
4 feet. There is also a handy depth-of-focus
plate. The shutter is usually an Ilex dial set 1300, set and release design. Some models have
an Ilex General, B T 5-100 self-cocking shutter.
Anastigmat 6.3 or 5.6, to Goerz Color 4.5 and
Bosch and Lomb’s top of the line, Zeiss Tessar
4.5. The camera is easy to load, use, and fold
but the usual reflex finder is frustrating. The
appearance of the camera, bellows extended is
striking, all the small parts are chrome, and the
camera foot for portrait format is the iconic Zshaped leg attached to the lensboard and
swinging under the lens door to support the
camera. The huge 3A version sports the same
chrome parts and is the classic beauty of the
1920’s. The cameras and the film introduced at
the time were labeled “Speedex”- the first of a
long line of folding 120 cameras and the last
116 cameras. As was Ansco’s penchant, the
cameras might carry a name plate of #1
Speedex, V.P.#3, Speedex #3, #1 Super
Speedex, or Speedex #1, usually on a round
plate covering the focus linkage. At least one
series carried a short lived logo – a triangle that
looks more like a representation of a pyramid
with an oval on one face enclosing a distorted
script ANSCO. Suitable I guess for the
excitement over Egyptian archeology of the
The #1 in these names referred to Ansco’s 4A
film size – Kodak 120 (but sometimes, #1 was
the first of a series). In 1925 Ansco introduced
an interesting variation of the 120 Speedex, the
#1 Ansco Folding. The camera is identical to the
1916 Speedex series with the following
exceptions. Almost all the metal parts are now
black enameled, including the iconic camera
support leg; the covering is cheaper leatherette
with no embossing; the back latch is a cheaper
unchromed design; the reflex finder is smaller;
the lens board is simple black stamped metal
with a curled piece to pull out the lensboard;
focus is by a notched spring plate; shutter is an
Ilex General 5-100; the lens is the older but
proven Ansco Anastigmat 7.5. The name plate
is again an older brass rectangle with ANSCO in
raised block letters. The camera is an obvious
mass market, low priced product. The next year
Ansco changed the lens bed supports to a self
-erecting design and began several years of
Readyset models, again low priced offerings.
The same year, 1926, Ansco became AgfaAnsco, and the Ansco stamped metal folder
body design became the body for Agfa’s second
Billy series,- the 120 Record series, 6x9, and
the new 6x6 size – Isolette, Viking, Speedex
series. Adapted to 35mm, the body was used for
the Ambi, Solina, Silette, Flexilette, Selectaflex,
Solinette, Plenax series and possibly other
series. Only the new Karat series used a
German body design.
Quite a trip for a lowly American Vest Pocket
For comments or additional information please
contact me at:
[email protected] or
Page 3
December 2013
continued from page 1
Polaroid™ Image/Spectra cameras”, with the
notation that “Thanks to an innovative color
protection formula, this film boasts great color
saturation, a high level of detail and sharpness,
and stunning image quality”. One can only hope
this is true. Maybe some more tests are in order
with the new film.
1. Related to me in the 1960’s by my brother who at
the time was employed by the nearby MIT Draper
Our November meeting featured a presentation
by the 2013 WPHS Scholarship recipient, Ryan
Dillon, a student at Pima Community College.
Ryan described his approach to photography as
one that is inspired by the work of master
photographers such as Harry Callahan (not the
character played by Clint Eastwood) but with
his own personal vision and style. He has
worked with large format film and digital to
produce a wide range of work including
portraiture and panoramic landscapes.
WPHS Treasurer, Martin Kebschull, organized a
selling trip to the Tanque Verde Indoor/Outdoor
Antique Fair on November 3rd. The idea was to
try out this venue with some selected items for
sale. Martin arrived at 5:30 AM (Ouch!) to set
things up and allowed as how I did not need to
arrive until later since I live 45 miles South of
the site. Thank you Martin. Also helping with
this project were Ed Jackson and Josef
Pacholczyk. The returns on this project besides
being significant monetarily included making
many new contacts for the WPHS.
Remember to vote by mail or bringing your
ballot to the January meeting.
Tom Linnman has been appointed to fill out the
unexpired term of Terence Rudkin on the WPHS
Board of Directors.
Photographica Digest is the official monthly
publication of the Western Photographic
Historical Society (WPHS), a non-profit
501(c)3 organization. Contents herein are
copyrighted in the year of publication.
Photographica Digest is distributed to
WPHS members in good standing and other
organizations by mail, and may be download from our website as an Acrobat PDF
file (readable with Adobe Reader). Featured
articles in the newsletter may used or reprinted one time, provided credit is given to
WPHS and permission is granted by the
author. Any other use is strictly forbidden.
Annual membership is $20, or $5 for students. A printable application form is also
available on our website at:
Robert Suomala....................... President
Mark Sawyer.................... Vice-President
Jozef Pacholczyk...................... Secretary
Martin Kebschull..................... Treasurer
Jerry O’Neill........................ Membership
Gary Fielding
Paul Garrett
Ed Jackson
Thomas Linnman
Jerry Day......................Student Support
Jerry O’Neill..................... Consignments
Clayton Wilson.............................. Setup
Gary Fielding.......................... Education
Ron Kuykendall...................... Donations
Western Photographic Historical Society
PO Box 14616 - Tucson, Arizona 85732-4616
Email: [email protected]
Dec 5th We will present a 35 mm slide show
entitled "Images of Man". This is a
fascinating collection of historic images
by W. Eugene Smith and Henri CartierBresson. This was put together by
Scholastic Magazines, Inc in 1972. Many
thanks to Tom Linnman for providing
this collection.
Jan 2nd This is the WPHS Annual Meeting. The
election of board members and other
business will be conducted. Remember
to mail in or bring your ballots to the
There will be no announced presentation
but rather an open stage where members
who have something to discuss from
their own experience will have an
opportunity to share with others.
Mar 9th WPHS 2014 Spring Camera Show at
Hotel Tucson City Center, 475 N.
Granada Ave.
We’d like your help in developing new
programs especially product presentations.
Please contact Robert Suomala, Program
Chair, at 520-399-2796.
Join us on the first Thursday of every
month at the Pima County Medical
Society Building located at 5199 E.
Farness Drive, Tucson. Take Grant to
Rosemont (turn South), then turn
East on Farness Drive to 5199 on the
Consignment and member camera
sales, show and tell and a brief
lecture are featured every month
meetings run from 6:00 PM to 9:00
WPHS Dues: Check your mailing label. Are
your dues current?
Please bring your
membership up to date, if your label has a year
of 13.