Camera Notes – My Grandfather’s Photo Notebook

Grandpa’s handwritten notes, tips and tricks for his Nikkorex F in 1963

This little blue notebook was included in a collection of my late grandfather’s cameras, accessories and parts I inherited some 18 years ago this year. Man, stopping to count the years stopped me in my tracks, it’s been longer than it seems since we talked shop.

His last camera, a Minolta autofocus 35mm SLR, traveled around the world with me and went through college film photography courses. Some of the filters went into use, his old Argus C4 rangefinder got repaired, and many of the strange, proprietary or otherwise incompatible extras remain on a shelf.

These notes are something different, a small collection of tips and tricks he had picked up, film he had tested, special effects done in camera. They are pages out of his photographic study history handwritten in cursive penmanship.

I looked at the only page with the date written on it – the messiest page – and counted the years again. In 1963 his youngest daughter had just turned 5, the exact place I find myself after my youngest just celebrated her 5th birthday last month. Counting onward, he was in his mid-30s as I am now.

I held onto his notebook since 1999 when I was still in my teens.  I began this post as a tribute and an opening to discuss film photography ventures, but as I began typing and doing the math I quickly discovered the timelines of our families and our ages are eerily aligned with the timing of this post. Now is certainly the perfect time to share it.

That said, here I am, mid-30s with my own 5 year old. She’s ornery stuff, as I suspect that 5 year old of my grandfather’s was in the 1960s. (All these years later she makes a pretty terrific grandmother who loves to spoil my kids.)

Camara (Camera) Notes – Nikkorex F

Nikkorex F DO NOTS!

  • I. Don’t use shutter release on film advance while use [using] depth preview button
  • II. Don’t leave shutter or self timer wound when not in use
  • III. Don’t use self timer on B [bulb] setting

Filter Notes

ND-2X – 3/4 Stop add

ND-4X – 1-1/4 Stop add

ND-2X and 4X – 2 Stop add

Polarizing screen add 1-1/2 (with pointer to sun 2)

Flash Notes

X Electronic flash 1 to 1/125

(Faster speeds minimize daylight & room lighting)

M [Flash Bulbs]

  • M-2 up to 1/60
  • A6-1 up to 1/60
  • M-3 up to 1/1000
  • Use the blue flash setting with clear bulbs & blue filter


Outside fill in flash. Figure as for reg. flash then set camara (camera) F no & speed to match. Then decrease exposier (exposure) 1 stop “OVER”

Outside Fill in Flash (ELECTRONIC)

Take reading of lightest or sunlit area. Set camera F no. Take F no. into film guide no. for feet to camera distance. More distance lessens effect less would override natural lighting effect.

Flash Notes Condt. (continued)

Bounce flash – add distance from flash to ceiling (or other) then to subject. Divide into guide NO. then use 2 stops larger for white & 4 stops for other to compensate for light loss.

Recording in existing lights pluss (plus) flash use small bulb like M2 & large lense [lens aperture] opening

Flash Notes Condt. OPEN FLASH –

To show Xmas tree lights, candles, Jack O’Lantern etc, use B setting in the dark, then lights on & flash fill in

Film Notes

KII Daylight 25

Flash – 12 n/80 C
Electronic NO.

KX Daylight 64

Flash 25 n/80c

EX135 Daylight 64

Flash 25 n/80 C
Electronic NO.

EH.135 Daylight 160

Electronic NO.

2-10-63 Electronic Flash Test

ASA 25 Kodacrom II
[Kodachrome 25]

(Exposure and frame number table included in image)


Action Scenes – the longer the focal length of the lense, the faster shutter speed needed to stop action as:

  • 50mm – 1/100
  • 100mm – 1/200
  • 200mm – 1/400 etc.

Frame pictures so subject has room to move in the picture.

  • Animials (Animals) 1/2500 [?] [perhaps he meant 1/250]
  • Boats & water skiers 1/500

Approx speeds to STOP ACTION


Outdoor Notes condt.

ACTION – panning the action makes background a racy blur. The slower the shutter speed the more the blurr!

NIGHT SCENES – Brightly lit street & signs

H.S. E reg or B approx 1/30 F 2.8 – 1/60 F.2

Rain wet streets & reflections
E 1/25 F/2 approx

Outdoor Scenes Condt.

Night Scenes –

Illuminated fountains

E or KII 15 sec f/4

Moonlight scenes

Outdoor film with 80B filter or type F and use SUN as moon, underexposing 2 or 3 stops.

Close Up’s

With extension tubes or bellows, items 12″ and under require exposier (exposure) increase as follows

(Table of exposure adjustment in image)


Just go shoot. -eB

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