Enjoy Very Long Exposures With Will Cheung And MPB

Old tech, junk and classics


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Old tech, junk and classics

30 Oct 2020 9:14AM   Views : 562 Unique : 388


Today, pictures of two bits of technology past its sell-by: a Kodak Brownie Autographic, and a Kaiser light for close-up images.


The Brownie, like most lower-priced cameras, is robust enough: the shutter still works well, and the only let-down is that the bellows have got a rough corner, and almost certainly leak light. A range of apertures, zone focussing, and that special Autographic thing Ė a hatch that opens in the back of the camera, and a stylus to allow the owner to write a few words between the frames. I believe that film sold for such cameras had backing paper that let a little light through if abraded with the stylus: some day, I may see what happens with modern film and backing paper.


Itís not valuable, but itís an interesting camera, and I may well have paid a couple of quid for it, many years ago. But the other bit of kit in the pictures is more modern, and itís at the stage of its life that it is very much Ďat riskí. It belongs to my friend Stewart, who used to make his living photographing computer chips as well as weddings. Itís a Kaiser lamp unit, with a Halogen bulb inside it, and two fibre optic arms to allow very precise spotlighting of small objects.


Like all Kaiser kit, itís really solidly made, and I believe it cost over £1,000 new. It comes with a few coloured filters that slot behind the lenses of the arms, and it was a vital piece of kit for Stewart for a number of years. But itís highly specialised, and now that LED lights are cheap and powerful thereís not much of a market for it.

This is the dangerous time for any old object. Itís no longer fashionable/really useful, but itís not yet acquired the patina of age and novelty that makes it collectable, let alone valuable. To the right person, it might be worth £100, a cheap way into close-up and macro. But thereís a real risk that it ends up in a skip, which would be a pity.


Itís the same for everything: twenty years ago, G-Plan furniture had become unfashionable, and you could get it for a song (and anyone who had an Austin Allegro would throw that in with the purchase). Now, both are recognised as actually pretty decent (thereís a video on YouTube in which someone too young to have driven a new Allegro tries one out on Welsh country roads, and concludes that it was decently made and sorted in road behaviour, thus undeserving of the reputation as the worst British car ever. Iíve driven a good few miles in Allegros, and I agree).

Camera-wise, the clunky Zenith SLRs have made it into the desirable category, if only for the sake of their Helios 58mm lenses. The things that are at risk are the nasty, plastickly autofocus SLRs that sold for £200 with a standard zoom. Thereís nothing to recommend them in terms of ergonomics or performance Ė but even I would be sad to think that every last one had gone to landfillÖ

I took the pictures in my garage Ė the first time Iíve used the space Iíve cleared in there Ė hence the last image.


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Lontano Avatar
Lontano 14 8 2 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2020 10:07AM
Can't make out the serial number of the camera, and there were a lot manufactured between 1915 and 1926. Serial number will give value. I assume you have done your research into its value. According to one website, "These cameras almost never come up for sale on the antiques market, since few of them survive."

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
30 Oct 2020 10:39AM
That's my point, really: many antiques were once plentiful.

I haven't checked the serial number, but will do so now!
pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 451
30 Oct 2020 6:54PM
guess they are not printed like the serial numbers on my Panasonic. They rubbed off in my bag within 5 years.
chataignier Avatar
chataignier Plus
10 258 15 France
30 Oct 2020 9:18PM
For turning things that are simply old into antiques, I recommend a large attic and the passage of time does the rest.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2064 England
31 Oct 2020 7:57AM
That works, David! Providing there's somewhere to keep a large attic...

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