Q. I really don't think that I need an expensive 35mm camera for the casual pictures I take. It's just that I've had this Kodak 110 camera for about four years. I'd like to stay with the easiest thing to use, but I'm not sure I have it. I've been told that the new cameras are easier to use and do more things. I avoided buying anything during the Christmas season, and now wonder what's the state of the art.
A. First off, there's not a thing wrong with your Instamatic if it's working correctly. However, the state of the art has advanced since you purchased it.
Today, there are a good many 35mm cameras -- many fully or mostly automatic -- that are very reasonably priced. Your camera salesperson will be glad to show some to you. You'll find that you can buy a fine, long-lasting camera for about $150. Not only will it set the exposure for you, probaly it will also focus and set the film speed automatically.
Still another direction is the disk camera. For about $40 you can get a great little machine with a telephoto lens. The disadvantage here is, of course, that the negatives for these cameras are very small, and bigger enlargements are generally not satisfactory. If you can be satisfied with small, album-sized prints (3ix5i or even 4ix6i) this may be the answer for you. SHEDDING LIGHT ON FLASH
Q. In order to get automatic flash exposure with my Ricoh RX-7 camera, it appears that I must purchase a Ricoh flash. Is this in fact true? While other flash units have adaptor modules for various cameras, none seems to exist for the Ricoh. Since they are motivated to sell equipment -- and not necessarily informed anyhow -- I am somewhat leery of the rather glib answers I have received from photo store personnel.
A. Since I've never shot with this camera, I disussed this letter with a friend of mine in camera and equipment sales.
He told me that you do not have to purchase a Ricoh flash. You can use the module for the Pentax PK, which is available for either Sunpack or Vivitar flash.
With that knowledge packed away, I asked him about the "being motivated to sell equipment" and "rather glib answers" part of the letter.
He pointed out the need for repeat business at any photographic establishment and how foolish it is to give customers false or glib answers. I agree, and remind you that we customers need not feel uncomfortable in any such situation. We can walk out and find another store. When you find one or two you like, stick with them. WANTED: 1 DRKRM, NO VU
Q. I really want to get back into photography. I have lived in the Washington area for more than a year, and I don't have the proper space in my apartment for a darkroom. Is there anywhere in the area that rents darkroom space by the hour or day?
A. This has turned into a tough one. I have been trying to find an answer to this question with very little success. The Fairfax County recreation folks have a darkroom, but it's closely (and rightly) tied to their courses.
So, I ask the question back: Does anyone know of darkroom space available for rent. Please let me know. How about it clubs. Any information?
Carl Kramer, former director of photography for The Washington Post, will try to answer your photography questions in his column, but cannot reply individually. Send your questions to: Carl Kramer, c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20071.