my life in the land down under


Friday Focus: Empire Scout

Everyone needs a camera for good photography, so who could resist this one?

Great advertising!

Let me introduce the Empire Scout.

I acquired this model a few years ago and so far have run two or three films though it; I’ve posted a few examples from the first film below.

Interestingly, while I was searching online for info on this camera, I found that the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa in Wellington) have one in their collection. It must be good! 🙂

The Camera:

The Empire Scout boasts a fine polished optical lens

The back of the camera has a red window that shows the frame number when a film is loaded

The top of the camera, showing flash / rangefinder shoe (?) and film advance lever

Exposure can be adjusted for Cloudy, Hazy, or Bright conditions, and the shutter speed set to Bulb or Instant

The Stats:

Camera Name: Empire Scout – model 316
Where Made: Hong Kong
Year of Production: 1960’s
Serial Number: unknown
Film Type / Neg Size: Takes twelve 6×6 cm frames on 120 (medium format) film
Lens: f8 ‘Fine Polished Optical Lens’ (plastic)
Shutter: unmarked
Shutter Speeds: B (bulb), I (instant) – possibly 1/60 sec.
Apertures: Bright / Hazy/ Cloudy settings (may equate to f22, f16, f8)
Exposure Meter: none
Focusing: Zone focusing with settings of 5-8ft, 20-25ft, infinity.

The Photos:




Palm tree

I was pleasantly surprised by the results. What do you think – does the Empire Scout live up to its claim as a camera for good photography?

Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction


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Friday Focus: Introduction

We have a collection of old cameras living with us. Most of them are from the 1950’s – 1960’s, most are usable. There was never an intent on my part to start a collection; rather I aimed to find a few examples of old cameras that I could use. It was the novelty that attracted me to them initially; the thought that this simple old technology would still work after 50 or more years, and produce interesting results. After purchasing my first folder (folding camera), someone on the Photo.net forum commented that it was addictive. He was right.

This post will introduce a series on some of the individuals in the collection. I’ll aim to photograph each one, give some info about it, and show some examples of photos I have taken with it.

I’m mostly using B&W film, developing it myself in our camera club darkroom, then scanning it on an Epson V700.

In a way these cameras are very ‘simple’ or should I say ‘basic’, yet they are a challenge to use – because the controls are all manual, you have to think about what you are doing rather than just press a button and let the camera do the rest. There is no auto-focus or auto-exposure.

Each camera has its unique features and idiosyncrasies, but  the process usually goes something like this; not necessarily in this order…

Consider what ISO film to use and load it into the camera if not already done. Check exposure (use a light meter or my digital SLR). Set aperture. Set shutter speed. Check focus – set distance manually by guesswork (I’m not very good at this) or use a rangefinder; or use a smaller aperture and hyperfocal focusing to give greater depth of field. Cock the shutter (in some cases). Compose the shot. Fire shutter. Wind on to the next shot. In some instances there is a shutter lock if you haven’t done this, in others you can easily make double-exposures – that’s fine if it’s intentional!

See? – simple!

I learnt photography with a fully-manual Pentax K-1000, but have been using a digital SLR almost exclusively for several years now, so going back to the old manual film cameras really makes me slow down and think. I also really like B&W.

And on the subject of film, because its relatively expensive and there are only a limited number of frames per film (worst-case scenario is eight frames), you need to think about appropriate subjects for colour vs B&W and composition. You can’t check the image until the film is developed. There isn’t the opportunity to delete the image and take another that’s better.

The magic is in developing the film and waiting to see what you have captured. 🙂

Following are some images taken with the K-1000 way back when…


River #1

Rocks in River

River #2

I will aim to post something on an old camera each week, so watch this space… 🙂

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Signs of Spring

There hasn’t been much time for updating the blog recently. In fact I was skiving off cooking dinner to write this! My workplace has been extra-busy and short-staffed over the past few weeks, so that has been taking a fair bit of my energy.

Things are looking up though – spring is on the way! We have recently had daffodils and strongly-scented earlicheer in the house, and now have freesias flowering so couldn’t resist picking a few for a vase. Some of the flowering cherries have also been in blossom (see photos below), though ours hasn’t passed the bud stage yet. A number of tuis were busy feeding as I was photographing the blossom but I didn’t have the time or the quick reflexes to capture them on camera – I did try.

The learning curve of photography, social media and life in general continues…

…I joined Pinterest and attempted to figure out how to use it (the reaction from the other member of the household was ‘oh no, not another time waster!!’). 😉
…visited the vintage camera section on TradeMe (our Ebay equivalent) for the first time in a while, and made two purchases – more on this at a later date.
…made a movie with my Nikon D7000 showing the faulty operation of one of the aforementioned cameras, edited it in iMovie, and uploaded it to You-tube for the seller to view. I have to acknowledge this was John’s suggestion and I couldn’t have done it without his help. He suggested I might make a You-tube star someday! 😀

This last week we have been busier than usual with social events.

…our camera club annual trophy competition – we didn’t have any entries in this year, but enjoyed the evening regardless; it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and also get to know some newer club members.
…a work colleague’s farewell dinner – we ate at a Mexican restaurant for possibly the first time (yum). Watching food programmes like MasterChef has given me an interest in trying different cuisines. Now we just need the time and money to visit all the local restaurants! 🙂
…two family birthdays and a dinner out to celebrate – Happy Birthday to Levi for last week and Bryce for yesterday.
…we found out a few days ago that my eldest nephew has just got engaged – congrats to Josh & Mandy!

Flowering Cherries #1

Flowering Cherries #2

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Sunday Inspiration, August 12th 2012

Here’s a few thoughts I’ve come across recently that I’ve found encouraging and inspiring. Hope you do too!

A quote used by Sandy Puc’ on her CreativeLive photography seminar last week:

“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk the forest and be part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.” – Susan Polis Schultz

Thought for the Week from the hospital chaplain:
“When you harbour Bitterness
Happiness will dock elsewhere.”

How to reduce stress in your life and make time for what’s really important by adding margin…

Being happy and kind wins over having the housework done perfectly…

And in relation to something I posted a few weeks ago here: Whither Thou Goest … what’s around the corner?


Sunday Inspiration

Some inspiring links I have come across this week:

Firstly, continuing with the Olympic theme…


What can I say – wow, what a challenge!

On overcoming fear and removing stress from your life… John found this one and printed it out for me.


Thanks Katie, I think this is something I need to read and re-read. I hadn’t come across your blog until a couple of days ago, and will be back.

This weekend we have been watching Sandy Puc’ (I believe this is pronounced like ‘push’ but with a ‘ch’ instead of ‘sh’) on CreativeLive. If you’re a photographer and don’t know about CreativeLive yet, you’re missing out on heaps of great teaching, live to the internet from Seattle. This is another great course which we’re just going to have to purchase so we can watch it again – lots of tips for photographing child portraits, which we will definitely need later in the year.


Have a great week! 🙂