What's New at 120studio.com

Site News Archive - March 2018 (Click here for current).

2018 March 29



New:  Multimeter Review.  A low-priced analog multimeter, sometimes sold in kit form.  Not that it would replace a pro-quality meter, but it's a fun little gadget.  With any of these things, we have to remember what they are, and what they're not trying to be.

2018 March 27


Film, Weather

The Early Spring Landscape

Instax Film
March 26, 2018

Once again, even though I have the regular (because it was lower-priced), the Instax Wide is better. 

Metal & Shop

WD-40 contains "paraffins" but not "paraffin wax".  But the thing is, paraffins do not readily polymerize.  (That includes paraffin wax.)

I have never seen WD-40 actually gum up anything.  The anti-corrosion coating that it leaves is probably nanometers thick.  So, there's no reason I can think of "not" to use WD-40.  I have to dig out that corrosion test; after a year or more, the WD-40 one had no rust at all, while the others were all rusted.

For corroded potentiometers, where they develop intermittent connections, here's something else that can work. 



New:  Repairing an LED Monitor.  What causes corner shadows?  Let's find out.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the term "LED monitor", it's simply an LCD monitor that's backlit with LED's instead of CCFL's.

The screen artifacts are from a whole 'nother problem, which maybe we'll look at in a different article.

2018 March 22


Slide Film

New:  Rust Gallery, Page 3.  Velvia slide film.

2018 March 20

First day of spring

The Early Spring Landscape

One thing that's slowed the influx of new pictures is the overall aspect of the landscape.  Not everyone else might be into those ultra-bleak landscapes of early spring, but it's certainly an aspect of nature & landscape photography, and I suppose we might as well look for interesting things to photograph during this time.  That's really what interests me.  I'm not saying the always-picturesque locations aren't great;  I like to see what people have photographed at those places, too.  But what can you do with the bleak landscapes with their drab ground and leafless trees?  The vacant supermarkets, the brick and mortar stores that closed up?  How about that pharmacy that got rid of their film processing, "went digital", and then went out of existence?  These things are never going to be the Grand Canyon at sunset, but they're not supposed to be, either.

And I like me a 35mm film camera to photograph them.  Or, larger pieces of film. 

Film Cameras, Electronics

Working on new articles, especially one to do with vintage camera repair.  Sometimes I'll write one of these and say, "Nah, too basic", but then I'll fill in details and then it will be too complicated.  This is how it goes with complex manufactured items;  to understand them requires more knowledge than you can just communicate in one paragraph or something. 

This is partly how we got cameras that try to do everything for the user.  (The user, because don't you know, it's a computer...)  And this is probably one of the reasons why we, the people who shoot film, are going the opposite way and seeking out this art that requires so much skill and knowledge.  Because we enjoy the skill and knowledge.  (I'm not talking about whether your work or my work is any good, because what's important is that we like it, and maybe that it's improving.) What I mean is that being able to use the gear requires a whole knowledge base in itself.  I don't mean those one-setting plastic cameras that I like to use from time to time.  I mean the "real" cameras, the 35mm SLR's, the TLR's, the large format cameras. They do have some complexity, and it's understandable why many people just wanted an easy-to-use camera where they didn't have to think.  Sometimes I like that, too.  (Could be why I like those "fake panoramic" 35mm cameras...)

The electronics kick that I've been on, which seems kind of unrelated, is actually very much connected to cameras. We want things that "just work", but complex machines don't always "just work".  In fact there's often a relatively narrow time window in which a piece of gear "just works".  How, then, to get it working again?  Especially if the repair shop has a backlog of several months?

Even knowing where to start requires a pretty incredible amount of knowledge.  (The same thing will someday happen with DSLR's when it's time to repair them.)

The lower left hand corner of my monitor goes dark, which makes it kind of difficult to see what I'm typing.  At the same time, I think the capacitors might be going bad on my video card, because it leaves artifacts on the screen and then I have to reboot.  But that's how it goes with complex manufactured items, especially modern electronics.  Hopefully the complexity is not so much that they end up being junked.  (Just Say No to throwaway electronics.)

It's a good thing there are many all-mechanical film cameras out there.  Even many of the electronic-shutter ones are fairly simple, compared to what there is today.  If they didn't have aperture priority and all these types of features, it would be possible to build a fairly simple-but-very-good camera.  Most of the adjustment would be in the lens aperture ring and shutter speed adjustment.  The camera body would mainly be for the film advance mechanism.

2018 March 15


The Micronta 22-203... I had repaired this and got it working;  then it didn't work again, then I left it out in the rain. 

This multimeter is back on the bench for repairs.  And we're going to figure this out for sure, this time.

I'm kind of partial to these old-style volt-ohmmeters, but this Micronta has a couple things wrong with it now.  In an upcoming article, we'll see what.

For $20 or $30 you can get one of these, which is probably every bit as good as this Micronta when it actually worked.  Maybe I'll test one out.  These types of multimeters are fun, and as long as you don't leave one out in the rain (like I did), it should be good enough for checking battery voltages and stuff like that. 

(Update: later-- that is, newer-- on this page, there's a review.)

After I get some more electronics articles completed, I'm hoping to get a couple of new film gallery pages up here.  Also some more film articles and film camera reviews.  I'm updating a couple of the existing camera reviews with some repair information and ideas.  I do have some pics of camera disassembly that were supposed to go with one or two of the articles.  Also, there's the Minolta X700 that's sooner or later going to need a common type of repair.  So when I do that, I'll try to put together an article for that as well.

And of course there's the Mamiya RB67 light seal article, because I still have to replace the light seals on that. 

Metal & Shop

Welding rebar... it can be done.  There are a variety of reasons why you'd want or need to do that.  This is just a note so that I make an article on welding rebar, and not having it fly apart when dropped.  Hint:  7018, and correct metal prep.

2018 March 12
Monday evening



Kodak Tri-X 400 @ 6400, developed in HC-110 as 3200
Nikon film camera with Nikon Series E 50mm f/1.8 lens
f/2.8 @ 1/30th (I think)

Once again, the images are actually a lot sharper than they're appearing in my web browser.  I'm still trying to figure out why they're up-sampling when the browser window is maximized.  They shouldn't be.  If you view the image by itself, the sharpness is OK.

110 Cameras & Film

A reader with a Kodak Pocket Instamatic 30 said the shutter works without the battery.  I've updated the 110 Cameras article to note this.  It sounds as though the camera does in fact have one, non-electronic shutter speed, probably the flash-sync speed.  The 110 cameras had to use slow shutter speeds to match the slow light-output curve of a flash cube. 

So I would guess the Pocket Instamatic 30 might have a no-battery shutter speed of 1/20th to 1/50th of a second.  Flash cubes don't need battery power to work with the camera.

Compare a couple of other cameras of known shutter speeds, and you can get some idea of what the shutter speed is.

Thanks to you folks who provide tech details on some of these vintage cameras. 

2018 March 10-11

Audio, Electronics

A reader asks what might be causing speaker hum in his stereo.  This one sounds like components, rather than a ground loop... possibly.  Am working on a new article related to that, and I'll post it as soon as it's ready.

Film Developing

Another reader asks whether the equation for C-41 developing must also be applied to the Blix step.  The Blix step does not utilize the same equation, but you can use the same basic idea:  figure out the percentage strength remaining, then use that to calculate the time factor.  I definitely make the Blix step more than 6.5 minutes when there have already been more than 12 rolls developed from a batch.


New:  Makita DML802 LED Flashlight

2018 March 8

New:  DSO138 Oscilloscope.  Is this thing for real?  For $30 or so, how well could it work?  Let's find out.

2018 March 5

New:  Vondior Portable AM/FM Radio.  A low-cost pocket radio.  Is it any good?  You might be surprised.

2018 March 1

New:  Tecsun PL-880 Radio.  The top compact / portable from Tecsun.

Image Up-Sampling

This page has a maximum column width that's supposed to be the same as the pictures;  but somehow, it's up-sampling them with a resulting loss in sharpness and detail.  I only just noticed how much it was affecting the sharpness.  When I figure out how to fix this, I'll update it.

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