Photo Tip for Copying Old Photos with a 35 mm Camera

An easy way to use a 35 mm SLR for copying old photos (or anything else, for that matter), is by using either bellows, or extender rings. The purpose of both of these is to push the normal lens further from the body of the camera than it normally is. This allows the camera to focus on closer objects than in its normal configuration. One older camera that I have has a screw mount for the lens. I have two rings that each place the lens about 1/4 inch away from the body. Using both rings, I am able to obtain close-ups of parts of photos, and with only one ring, I could copy whole photos. A bellows that I also have allows me to enlarge small parts of photos, suchas a blowup of a face on a photo. In this manner I can create "portraits" of individuals from a group photo.

I would recommend that if you want to try this technique, that you take your camera to a good photo shop and ask for extender rings (I believe this is what they are called) that fit your camera and lens. These should cost no more than $5 to $10 each.

I have the exposed film processed normally at my local photo shop at minimal expense. This procedure saves much money.

By the way, black and white negatives and prints are considered to have a much longer life than color film and is definitely recommended for this kind of archival work.

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Copyright © 1996 by Joel Alpert | Created July, 1996 | Last modified July 25, 2002