Does anybody else miss Spiratone?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by cooltouch, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    Showing my age, I know. And yeah, I know, Spiratone's been gone for about 20 years now, but I gotta say that I still miss them. Kinda like the JC Whitney of photo gear. I got to thinking about them just now, and started getting all sentimental.

    I still have a few odds 'n ends I bought from them back in the 80s. Probably my most prized Spiratone possession is a "poor man's light box". It's just an adjustable metal frame to which a sheet of diffusion material is attached, made so that it can mount onto a light stand, and with the right accessory -- probably another item I bought from Spiratone, come to think of it -- an adapter that will hold the frame and allow a flash to be mounted on it as well, it worked pretty well. Just fired the flash through the difuision material and you had nice, soft light. Always liked it better than umbrellas for taking pics of things that had reflective surfaces.

    I also owned one of the ubiquitous 135/1.8s that Spiratone and others marketed. A pretty soft lens, but that actually made for some nice portraits. I still have one of their cheapo slide duplicators -- it actually worked pretty well.

    I guess the need for such a company has passed, and that's too bad. But dang, it sure was fun poring through their catalogs.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  2. eric

    eric Member

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    I miss going to the store I *think* on 32nd street? Or was it like 18th street around the block from old B&H?
    Ooops, there goes my age....
     
  3. Kino

    Kino Member

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    That's a good analogy to JC Whitney! I agree 100%!

    As a teen, I spend hours, pouring over their catalog, dreaming of my own darkroom. I miss them too!
     
  4. Kino

    Kino Member

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    ...
     
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  5. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    "Spiratone" is one of my routine searches on ebay. I rarely actually buy anything, but it is fun to see what turns up.

    Anybody besides me still have their 400mm "sharpshooter"?
     
  6. eli griggs

    eli griggs Member

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    I never bought or used anything from Spiratone but looking at some of their offerings was fun and the prices always seemed right. I think they had a nice little light meter I liked the look of but I bought something else, Vivitar I think.

    Last year, included in a bunch of free darkroom gear I received were several Spiratone items; filters and miscellaneous stuff I can't quite figure out. One of these is a B&W paper processor that I've got stored on the carport; very basic with a two chemical set-up. I won't use it for photography but the rollers look good enough to salvage for making woodcut brayers out of and the motor might see some use in a future project. I guess the only reason I haven't pulled it apart yet is that nostalgia for the name-brand has stayed my hand.
     
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  7. Phil

    Phil Member

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    I've still got one - complete with lenshood, UV filter and case.
     
  8. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    The Sharpshooters were, and still are, good lenses.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a stabilization processor. As I recall from browsing through the catalogue in my teenage years it required special paper and the chemicals were a developer and a stabilizer, and the prints weren't particularly meant to last a long time. It was a quick method of making proofs or prints for reproduction that didn't need to be around for six months.

    I remember they also made a macro bellows for 35mm with full view camera movements.
     
  10. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    Yes, I remember Spiriatone, I guess I never realized they were gone. I'd like to get out a 1970 issue of Popular Photograph and look up the advertisers and see if they are still in business. I know of at least two right off the top of my head, Freestyle Sales Company and B&H Photographic.
     
  11. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    I remember all the awful filters they sold for fans of lurid colors. Who wouldn't want a pink-purple polarizer? They also sold that ridiculously obvious right angle attachment for lenses--"Lady, I'm NOT taking photos of you. Really."
     
  12. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Besides the 400mm lens, I have a Right Angle lens. Great for shy subjects.
     
  13. dmr

    dmr Member

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    The main shop was out in Flushing, and I only remember visiting that once, but I was a semi-regular at the Manhattan store when I was in my late teens. IIRC it was 31st or 32nd, between 6th and 7th, roughly across the street from Willoughbys, where I was a semi-regular customer as well.

    Fred Spira passed away recently, and his son posted a note here in a thread on the subject. Search and you will find.
     
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  15. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    I still use many Spiratone filters I bought in the 70's. Seem to be fine as they were dyed glass, not laminated. They did have a lot of neat stuff - I loved their catalog.
     
  16. eric

    eric Member

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    Yep that was it. Around near Macy's. Down the block from Olden Camera. I forgot about the Queens one. I never really ventured to Queens back then. There was also, I think, an article on NYTimes about Spira passing away. Must be in the online archives.
     
  17. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I remember them well. Never got into the store, but did a lot of mailorder business with them.

    The last thing I bought from them was a motor drive for my Nikon FM-2. And both it and the camera are still going strong.
     
  18. dmr

    dmr Member

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    If that is the lens I'm thinking of, my brother had one of them for his Pentax. The one I'm thinking of was a huge honking ultra-cheap telephoto. I thought it was 300mm, but it could have been 400mm.

    This was what he called his "beach lens" for obvious reasons. Today he would probably get arrested as a perv. :smile: (Yeah, boys will be boys!) :smile:

    The thing that was funny about this lens is that it had an incredibly funky two-ring aperture stop mechanism. It did not have any stop-down coupling to the camera.
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Komura made teles with a "preset aperture" mechanism like that--one ring to set the shooting aperture and one without click stops to open the lens for focusing. I wouldn't be surprised if they were the manufacturer.
     
  20. VaryaV

    VaryaV Member

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    One of the really cool things I inherited from my dad was a box of Spiratone filters in "lurid colors," rainbow effects and some other totally 70's effects. Cheesy, yes but funky too. Someday, no doubt, they will have a cult following.
    I wish this stuff would make a come-back.

    There are also some other Spiratone gizmo's in that box I have no idea what they are.
     
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  21. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    You could start the Spiratone cult with your stash. :smile: A flickr group and a facebook page--that's all you need. Everything else from the 60's and 70's has been recycled. Post some photos of the unidentified gizmos and we can ID 'em.
     
  22. Renato Tonelli

    Renato Tonelli Subscriber

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    I still miss them. I used to go to their Manhattan store quite often throughout my High School/College years. My favorite regular purchase was their offering of "colored" B&W papers - I still have a print or two. I also still have those funky colored filters that I used only once just for fun (once was enough!). Most of my early gear and supplies were purchased at Spiratone, 47th Street Photo, Olden, B&H (way Downtown -maybe their first store). At some point and for a brief time, Olden had the best Darkroom Dept. ...but I digress...
     
  23. ChrisPlatt

    ChrisPlatt Member

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    The Queens store was tiny. It was located on Northern Boulevard in Flushing,
    one mile east of Shea Stadium (R.I.P.) and one block west of Main Street.

    Chris
     
  24. stark raving

    stark raving Member

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    Back in the day preset aperature lenses were made by a variety of manufacturers. I had (still have actually) the 400/6.3 Spiratone lens, no way I can believe Komura made that, the 400's build quality just isn't all that good. Komura was a quality manufacturer.
     
  25. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    By golly, I guess I must remember them too -- was just fumbling through a closet and found two telephotos I used with my Konica FP "back when."
    A 200mm f4.5 and a 105mm f2.5. I thought they were T-mount; had adapted the 200 for an FD mount, but never did much with it. The 105 is missing its adapter and the one off the 200 doesn't quite want to go on the 105, so maybe they're "not quite T-mount."

    DaveT
     
  26. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    I was digging through some of my old gear a couple days ago, and came across yet another nifty Spiratone device -- a telescope adapter for T-mount thread telephotos. It threads onto the T-mount threads, and has a built-in eyepiece with diopter correction. Works pretty well as I dimly recall --been years. I have an equally old 500/5.6 preset telephoto that I've used it with to observe the moon.

    Best,

    Michael