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Shots are hit or miss with this old Minolta film SLR
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Feb 11, 2022 01:10:41   #
revcor Loc: Bay Area, CA
 
Hey everyone, it seems like digital is more common for people on this site, but I really like the feel of this forum and so I thought I'd ask for some film help! I have a Minolta XE-7 that I recently "lucked" into (I mentioned recently taking an interest in photography, and a family friend pulled out her late father's old camera bag containing a Minolta XE-7 and an assortment of lenses and accessories, all of which her father had basically purchased, used a few times, and left to sit in the closet for the next 45 years). The camera appears to be in perfect working condition, but I haven't been able to get quite as consistent exposures with it as I do with my K1000 (which I bought over summer and used up until getting this one).

The only film I've used in either camera is Kodak Ultra Max 400, the cheap (but absolutely adequate for me thus far) stuff from Walgreens, with the camera set to box speed. So I'm using the XE-7 with ASA set to 400, through a Minolta Rokkor-X MD 1:1.4 50mm lens on manual mode, at various apertures, with my shutter speed set every shot according to the readout of the camera's light meter (needle points to "correct" SS, or what it would use were it set to Auto mode).

On my most recent roll, half of which I shot the morning of New Year's Day and the rest a few days later, I noticed an odd phenomenon. All but one of the photos from that morning (maybe ~8 a.m. and a bright and sunny day) look as if they were taken at 4 a.m. They're extremely dark. But the rest of the photos from a few days later all look appropriately exposed. I am very new to photography, so I am at a loss and would love to understand what exactly I'm looking at, and the mechanisms behind it:

- Is it some natural/expected behavior that I should account for with camera settings?
- An intermittent fault/quirk of the camera's light meter or some other hardware dysfunction?
- Some fluke result of the lab's developing process that affected some shots differently? For the record, I have had nothing but good experiences with the lab thus far, Montclair 1 Hour Photo in Oakland

Any insight would be appreciated! I'm also very new to Lightroom, but even messing around with the dark photos in LR I was incapable of making them appear what I'd consider acceptable.

Taken on bright and sunny morning
Taken on bright and sunny morning...
(Download)

Taken on bright and sunny morning
Taken on bright and sunny morning...
(Download)

Taken on bright and sunny morning
Taken on bright and sunny morning...
(Download)

Yet these came out as expected
Yet these came out as expected...
(Download)

Came out as expected
Came out as expected...
(Download)

Came out as expected
Came out as expected...
(Download)

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Feb 11, 2022 06:35:07   #
SkyKing Loc: Thompson Ridge, NY
 
…when was the last time the battery was changed…?

Reply
Feb 11, 2022 06:41:32   #
home brewer Loc: Fort Wayne, Indiana
 
The first ones look like light fog; that is there is a light leak getting to the film

Reply
 
 
Feb 11, 2022 06:56:28   #
Just Fred Loc: Darwin's Waiting Room
 
I'm with home brewer. A light leak, or perhaps some exposure to the first part of the film as you were loading the camera.

Reply
Feb 11, 2022 07:21:49   #
Bayou
 
With a film camera of that age, do check the foam light seals that you see inside the camera when you open the back. They tend to crumble with age and can allow light leaks, and are relatively easily replaced.

Reply
Feb 11, 2022 07:31:22   #
MrPhotog
 
Look at the negatives. Are the ones from the outdoor photos very thin and easy to see through, or very dark and more difficult to see through?

If they are very dark, and the darkness also extends beyond the negative itself, and into the sprocket area and the border between frames—then I would suspect a light leak somewhere. And not necessarily in your camera. It could be a processing glitch or even a bad light seal on the lips of the film cartridge. Those are rare situations, so put in another roll and it shouldn’t happen again.

If those negatives are too thin, and lacking in detail, it could be a battery problem or a shutter problem, or a sticking aperture. First check that the battery is fresh and the correct part. Some old batteries are hard to find and people are replacing them with modern, similar sized ones, which are the wrong voltage.

If the battery checks out and the negatives are thin then look at the shutter speeds used.

I suspect your outdoor shots were made at a fairly fast shutter speed. On a sunny day with that 400 speed film, the lens would be stopped down all the way and the shutter would be working at 1/250 or 1/500 of a second. ( next roll you shoot, record the exposures on paper). If the camera has been sitting for a while, it is possible the shutter curtain timing is gummed up. This could be less of an issue with indoor shots or those taken at slower shutter speeds.

You would see this happening more with shots at speeds faster than 1/125 second, while shots at 1/60 or slower might be fine. The first curtain might be going slower enough, or have a slight delay in releasing, so that the second curtain catches up to it and the slit between those two curtains is much thinner than it should be, and not enough light gets through. If the camera has been sitting with the shutter cocked for all these years one of the shutter springs may have weakened. Or, some lubrication may have hardened and now gives some added resistance.

In the best-case, using the camera more, and exercising the shutter at higher speeds might free things up. Set it to 1/1000 and ( without film) snap off 50 to 100 shots. Do this with the back of the camera open, and no lens, and see if you can detect a change from the first time to the last.

Unfortunately, if it is a weak spring or old grease, the exercising you do today may not keep it from a bad exposure tomorrow, at least for the first shots, or until it ‘warms up’ again. Eventually it will need to be cleaned and lubed for reliable operation.

Until then, the slower shutter speeds may still be reliable. Use a smaller aperture and a linger shutter speed, or force the issue by using 100 or 200 speed film instead of 400 speed.

I don’t think your aperture mechanism is malfunctioning, but look at it. If it was gummed up it would not close down to the proper aperture before the shutter fired, and the negatives would be dark and overexposed. In lower light this wouldn’t be noticed as much: the lens wouldn't need to go to a small aperture.

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Feb 12, 2022 10:01:36   #
burkphoto Loc: High Point, NC
 
Have a cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment performed by a good camera repair shop. It’s been sitting a long time. Seals may be deteriorating. Lubricants may be hardened.

Be sure you are using the right (new!) battery for that model.

Reply
 
 
Feb 12, 2022 10:18:55   #
revcor Loc: Bay Area, CA
 
SkyKing wrote:
…when was the last time the battery was changed…?


Just before putting this first roll of film through it, so about a month and a half ago. The old ones I removed had some corrosion causing them to stick to each other and the battery cover/cage (it requires two batteries, stacked) so there's some scuffing on the contacts from my cleaning that, but the batteries should have a good amount of life remaining. Since you mentioned it though I'm going to grab my voltmeter and check them.

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Feb 12, 2022 10:22:32   #
revcor Loc: Bay Area, CA
 
home brewer wrote:
The first ones look like light fog; that is there is a light leak getting to the film


Interesting, this is a new concept to me. This is a different mechanism of light leak from that which results from decaying light seals? Would heat have a similar visible effect on film by any chance? I haven't let any film get hot but I definitely haven't been keeping it cold, it's been in the varying temperatures of a house so 65-75ºF.

Reply
Feb 12, 2022 10:28:26   #
StanMac Loc: Tennessee
 
revcor wrote:
Hey everyone, it seems like digital is more common for people on this site, but I really like the feel of this forum and so I thought I'd ask for some film help! I have a Minolta XE-7 that I recently "lucked" into (I mentioned recently taking an interest in photography, and a family friend pulled out her late father's old camera bag containing a Minolta XE-7 and an assortment of lenses and accessories, all of which her father had basically purchased, used a few times, and left to sit in the closet for the next 45 years). The camera appears to be in perfect working condition, but I haven't been able to get quite as consistent exposures with it as I do with my K1000 (which I bought over summer and used up until getting this one).

The only film I've used in either camera is Kodak Ultra Max 400, the cheap (but absolutely adequate for me thus far) stuff from Walgreens, with the camera set to box speed. So I'm using the XE-7 with ASA set to 400, through a Minolta Rokkor-X MD 1:1.4 50mm lens on manual mode, at various apertures, with my shutter speed set every shot according to the readout of the camera's light meter (needle points to "correct" SS, or what it would use were it set to Auto mode).

On my most recent roll, half of which I shot the morning of New Year's Day and the rest a few days later, I noticed an odd phenomenon. All but one of the photos from that morning (maybe ~8 a.m. and a bright and sunny day) look as if they were taken at 4 a.m. They're extremely dark. But the rest of the photos from a few days later all look appropriately exposed. I am very new to photography, so I am at a loss and would love to understand what exactly I'm looking at, and the mechanisms behind it:

- Is it some natural/expected behavior that I should account for with camera settings?
- An intermittent fault/quirk of the camera's light meter or some other hardware dysfunction?
- Some fluke result of the lab's developing process that affected some shots differently? For the record, I have had nothing but good experiences with the lab thus far, Montclair 1 Hour Photo in Oakland

Any insight would be appreciated! I'm also very new to Lightroom, but even messing around with the dark photos in LR I was incapable of making them appear what I'd consider acceptable.
Hey everyone, it seems like digital is more common... (show quote)


Your best solution is to send that near 50 y.o camera and lens to Zach’s Camera Repair for a deep CLA and calibration. It won’t be cheap but You won’t regret it.

Stan

Reply
Feb 12, 2022 10:33:55   #
revcor Loc: Bay Area, CA
 
Just Fred wrote:
I'm with home brewer. A light leak, or perhaps some exposure to the first part of the film as you were loading the camera.


I did have an odd issue potentially traceable to the loading of the film. At the end of the roll when I rewound it, most of the roll was back into the canister, when i felt an increase in resistance near the end, and let go of the rewind crank and it spun backwards a revolution or two. I realized the leader must be caught and unable to release from the take-up spool, confirmed by advancing the film and the rewind crank turning in unison. I asked the folks at Montclair Photo if they could take the camera into their dark room and extricate the film for me, which they happily did in just a few minutes.

The XE-7 already has an odd method of securing the end of the film to the take up spool, and this roll the last 2-3mm was creased strangely, and one of the employees said that was a possible side effect of that take up spool style. Film was fine though and so I'll see how it came out in just a few hours here

Reply
 
 
Feb 12, 2022 11:14:53   #
revcor Loc: Bay Area, CA
 
Bayou wrote:
With a film camera of that age, do check the foam light seals that you see inside the camera when you open the back. They tend to crumble with age and can allow light leaks, and are relatively easily replaced.


Now I don't know what exactly this speckled rubberized stuff is supposed to look like, but can I assume this is not an example of its ideal peak-functioning state?


(Download)


(Download)

Reply
Feb 12, 2022 12:26:57   #
KTJohnson Loc: Northern Michigan
 
Your XE-7 looks pristine compared to my very well used one. On the left side, at the top is a battery-check light. Just press down on the lever, if the battery is OK this will light up.


(Download)

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Feb 12, 2022 13:42:18   #
StanMac Loc: Tennessee
 
revcor wrote:
I did have an odd issue potentially traceable to the loading of the film. At the end of the roll when I rewound it, most of the roll was back into the canister, when i felt an increase in resistance near the end, and let go of the rewind crank and it spun backwards a revolution or two. I realized the leader must be caught and unable to release from the take-up spool, confirmed by advancing the film and the rewind crank turning in unison. I asked the folks at Montclair Photo if they could take the camera into their dark room and extricate the film for me, which they happily did in just a few minutes.

The XE-7 already has an odd method of securing the end of the film to the take up spool, and this roll the last 2-3mm was creased strangely, and one of the employees said that was a possible side effect of that take up spool style. Film was fine though and so I'll see how it came out in just a few hours here
I did have an odd issue potentially traceable to t... (show quote)


The spinning of the rewind crank is due to the film in the canister unwinding within the canister. The film is wound onto the spool quite tightly when rewinding. Releasing pressure on the rewind crank allows the film to try to straighten out within the spool, relieving that tension. When you reach that resistance, continue until the end of the film is pulled out of the takeup spool in the camera. No damage will occur to the film within canister where your images are. That "speckled stuff" is the sealing foam for the film door. Yours is long past due for replacement and could allow light to get through the hinge area or around the film door flanges. See my earlier post about a camera repair service that will refurbish and repair your camera.

Stan

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Feb 12, 2022 15:42:04   #
revcor Loc: Bay Area, CA
 
KTJohnson wrote:
Your XE-7 looks pristine compared to my very well used one. On the left side, at the top is a battery-check light. Just press down on the lever, if the battery is OK this will light up.


The battery light indicated all good, I just wasn't sure if it was reliable or how low the batteries would get before it did alert me. Both batteries just measured 1.58 V so they've got a full life ahead of them!

Heh, that's what going from a store shelf to a closet shelf for the next 45 years will get ya.. I am quite fortunate to have come into this camera by chance like I did! And if all goes to plan, mine will look just like yours some day!

Is there a way to quote/reply to multiple people in one post? Or is it normal to post multiple times in a row if responding to a few posts?

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