The volume of letters to this column is increasing every month. To be able to continue to offer this service, we need your cooperation.
· Please keep HELP! letters brief and to the point. We ask that you confine yourself to only one question per letter. Letters should be typed. If you cannot have the letter typed, then please print clearly. We get many hand written letters which we simply cannot read, and for this reason they are not answered. E-mail is the most efficient way to get HELP! letters answered promptly. Send your queries to and type HELP! in the subject header. Those without computers at home can often set up e-mail accounts through local libraries for this purpose.
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· The purpose of the HELP! column is to provide solutions to photographic problems, to find sources of supply and to identify cameras. HELP! is not a pricing or appraisal service, and cannot provide values for old equipment.
George Schaub

Canon QL 19 Battery
Q. I have a Canon QL 19 camera. I need a battery but cannot find one. Please send me some information on this. Thank you.
Marjorie Lovett
via Internet

A. Your Canonet QL 19 is identical to my old Canonet QL 17 except it has a f/1.9 lens. The instructions show it takes a 1.3v #625 mercury battery, or equivalent. But, few places sell mercury batteries these days. A reader just informed me about a source via the Internet at (90 Orchard St., Boston, MA 02130) where you can order these batteries. Your local RadioShack store is also a good source for older and hard to find batteries. If they don't stock the one you need, often they can order it. Or try Scherer Supplies (Box 250, Ewing, VA 24248; (423) 733-2615) they have a zinc-air with no mercury or cadmium. MX625 replaces PX625 and PX13; MX675 replaces PX675. In addition there are zinc-air batteries available from Wein (sold through The Tiffen Company dealers). One of them should be able to get your nice old Canonet working again. Of course, you can operate it without batteries if you want, but you would have to determine your exposure yourself (using a guide possibly) and then set both the lens aperture and shutter speed yourself. Since the camera is wound and rewound manually, the battery is only used for metering and automatically setting the aperture when set to "A." I still think this is one of the nicest compact cameras ever--and it sure has a fast lens when compared to today's fully automatic AF cameras!

Darkroom Advice
Q. I wasn't sure who to e-mail this question to...I'm trying to build my own darkroom. Do you have any advice on any "how to" books on starting your own darkroom? Or can you send me to someone who would know? Thanks so much!
via Internet

A. I know I have seen several books on starting a home darkroom in the past, but the only current one I've been able to locate is a Kodak booklet titled Building a Home Darkroom E 1439991 available for $24.94 through The Tiffen Company dealers. To locate a dealer in your area, contact The Tiffen Company Information at (800) 645-2522.

Advice For A Beginner
Q. Hi. I'm 14 years old and only recently got interested in photography, so I don't have much equipment. I want to try to take some photographs of fireworks, people around the bonfire, etc., but I'm not sure what film I should use and if I should set my shutter speed to B. The only thing I'm worried about is camera shake because I don't have a tripod. Should I take flash?
Shona Cameron
via Internet

A. I'll try to briefly answer your questions, but I would recommend you check at a library for more detailed help in taking pictures by low level or existing light conditions with or without using flash. Fireworks are best recorded using bulb (when the shutter stays open until you close it) with the camera placed on some type of support. A tripod would be best, as it would allow you to move the lens to point toward the sky where the fireworks are going off. But you could use a parked car or some other firm, non-moving, support. Just point the lens toward where the fireworks have been going off, have the camera focused for infinity, set the moderate telephoto lens at about f/8 with ISO 100 speed film, and leave the shutter open for two or three bursts of fireworks. Needless to say, this would be difficult to do with a compact fully automatic camera, but if you have a SLR or other camera with manual settings you should be able to get some nice records.

Flash would not help for fireworks other than it would illuminate any people in the foreground, but many automatic cameras have an optional "night scene mode" which will set the shutter speed for a longer time to record by the existing low light then will fire the flash to help illuminate the people--but you have to hold the camera extra steady. For this situation I would use a faster film such as ISO 400 or 800. I hope this gives you some ideas how to start using your camera more creatively. I started learning about photography while about your age and became a member of the high school camera club. If your school has one, you might want to join to learn more. Good luck.

Package Prints
Q. I'm starting a business taking photos and need to know where to find a lab that will make packages for my customers. Please help.
Louie Mason
via Internet

A. You don't say what type of packages you plan to offer. Are they sports, church directory, senior portraits, or something similar? Have you checked the Photo Lab Showcase in a recent issue of Shutterbug? Dozens of labs advertise there and many offer various types of package printing as do many larger professional-oriented local and mail-order labs. I suggest you review a recent issue and call or write several of the labs, tell them the type of packages you seek, then ask for a current price list if they do the type of package printing you seek.

Freedom Self-Timer
Q. I have an older Minolta Freedom AF35 camera that I inherited. It has a shutter timer, a function I've never used but would like to now try. Minolta's web site and phone support center no longer support that model due to its age, thus there's not an Owners Manual I can request or download from them. I can probably purchase the manual through one of the vendors you folks recommend, but I'm unwilling to wait for the manual to arrive via snailmail. It was recommended that I contact you, as you probably have--in your vast library--a copy of a manual for that camera, or firsthand understanding of how to utilize such a function. I could trial and error it, but I always prefer to go to the source first whenever possible, and by default you're the source. I suspect it's as simple as pressing the timer button, then perhaps the shutter button, and it gives you "n" seconds before the picture is taken, but am not certain.
via Internet

A. Sorry, I don't have that particular camera instruction book among the hundreds of cameras I have reviewed in the past several years. As you surmised, most cameras have a built-in self-timer function. Usually you just touch a button to access that mode, then press the shutter release down to activate it. Most take 10-15 seconds before the camera will take a picture. Many have a blinking or flashing light on the front that begins flashing more rapidly a few seconds before the shutter trips. Why not try this when the camera is empty (no film loaded) and just look at the front of the camera after you press the shutter? Yes, this is trial and error, but it should answer your question, and you won't waste any film either.

Manual For Weathermatic
Q. I am looking for an Owners Manual for a 10-year-old Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35 camera that uses regular film, not the APS film of the newer Vectis Weathermatic model. Minolta was not able to provide me with one. Please tell me where to download or purchase the manual for this camera.
Maria Slade
via Internet

A. There are several reliable sources for instruction books for older cameras. These include: John S. Craig, Box 1637, Torrington, CT 06790; (860) 496-9791; Another site for camera manuals is Finally, you could check with Finger Lakes Photo Books, PO Box 1002, Elbridge, NY 13060; (315) 491-1188; web site:; e-mail: Hopefully, one or more of these places will have the instructions for your Minolta Weathermatic.