Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Old Cameras, using 35mm film
For old cameras, the easiest film to find, by far, is 35mm, sometimes called 135. This sized film dates back to the earliest hand cranked movie cameras, but in the mid 1930s it started to be loaded into "Daylight Loading Cartridges", the design has remained pretty much the same ever since and modern 35mm film canisters will drop straight into almost every 35mm camera built after 1934. This encompasses thousands of different types and makes of camera, making this the easiest of formats to continue to use. Coupled with the ease of sourcing the film is the ready availability of processing through a number of convenient channels. There are thousands of 35mm film cameras spread across the decades, even some of the humblest will produce very creditable results given some care. Others, are truly exceptional pieces of workmanship and will produce images of stunning quality.

The film itself is wound onto a spool encased in a metal cartridge with a felt edged slit through which the film is fed out - and back in. The film has 'sprocket holes' along both edges, these date from the earlier incarnation as movie film (actually it still is used for this as well). In early still cameras these holes engage a small gear wheel known as a 'sprocket' causing it to rotate, usually this is a method to measure the amount of film that has passed through the gate, but in a few types it can also be used to tension the shutter. Later, the film was driven by two sprocket wheels onto a slip clutch take up spool, typical of the SLRs. The film is supplied with a short length protruding from it known as the 'leader', this sacrificial length of film is used to start the film by engaging it on the take up spool, after which the back of the camera is closed and two frames wound on and released to ensure that the next piece of film will be un-fogged. After the film is finished it is normally wound all the way back into it's cartridge to be removed and subsequently developed. Should the back of the camera be opened before winding the film back in, it will instantly be ruined, although it is possible that the images wound tightly near the middle of the take up spool might escape.

In use most cameras use this film with the cartridge loaded into the left hand film chamber. This picture shows a modern 35mm film cartridge dropped into a a 1934 Kodak Retina Type 117, the very camera used to introduce this film packaging.

When using an old camera be mindful that many do not have double exposure prevention, so remember to wind on each time you make an exposure. Film counters often need to be re-set to 0 after a film is loaded too. Automatically resetting counters didn't become common until the later 1950s. Some cameras, like the famous 1934 Retina 117 shown, have a lock which needs to be reset before the camera will wind on. In many cases the shutter will need to be cocked prior to taking the image.

Aside from these considerations, the user will be required to set the Focus and Aperture

Inside a Kodak retina 117
Now take a look at  120 roll film cameras.
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