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Aulis has forwarded to me an email from a professional photographer

who read my Apollo "Skeleton" article. He added an important point

to consider from the viewpoint of a professional:


USUABLE IMAGE. As a photographer, he finds this "phenominal".



Very much enjoyed your analysis of the number of NASA photos vs

available time. I'm also professional photographer myself so I can

appreciate your conclusion, especially given the almost "artist"

qualities of a lot of the shots that were supposedly not "framed" but

somewhat randomly captured.

At the rate they would have needed to be taken, the whole series of

photos from each mission should be expected to play almost like a movie

if you were to flip through them.

It would be interesting to know also if they actually edited out any

"bad shots" which would increase the final shot total but would not

appear in the archives? With manual metering and the difficult light

conditions, I find it very hard to believe they had such a phenomenal

quality rate and that they didn't trash can at least 25% or more of the


In other words for Apollo 11 you have 121 shots - it would not be

unreasonable to assume that they actually shot upwards of 200 frames.

If every shot on every mission was a "usable shot", then that in it of

itself would be a PHENOMENAL feat. Obviously this would make the

already ridiculous photo vs time rate even more beyond the realm of


Again, great work, excellent site.

(Name withheld)


I agree. As a photographer myself, probably at least 80 percent of

my slides were never used because of artistic or technical reasons.

Color film (before computers) was very unforgiving; a half-stop

difference in f-stop could be the difference in a perfect slide and

a reject.

Aulis plans to put the letter on its website.


Edited by Jack White
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according to http://www.hasselblad.se/

"On average, between 1 500 and 2 000 photographs are taken on each journey (adapted from the Hasselblad Web site):

The Apollo Hasselblad 70mm still camera was mounted on the chest pack (PLSS RCU). It was also used to mount a carrier for the sample bags used on the surface. The camera was electrically powered. There was no viewfinder. The astronauts practiced extensively on how to aim the camera and set the focus and aperature settings.

On board Apollo 11 was the so-called Moon camera plus two 'standard' space cameras. Before the trip the magazines were loaded with 70 mm film on open spools. This permitted some 200 exposures per roll. The magazines had to be loaded in a darkroom. A short series of test shots were then taken of a test screen with these exposures appearing at the start of each roll. After processing, these frames were cut out and developed as test strips to identify any defects at an early stage so that processing time could be corrected.

The tough requirements of NASA led to a general refinement of camera mechanics and a surge in development. For example, Hasselblad became one of the first to use Teflon coating on metal to reduce friction. The magazine design was changed to accommodate the new thin films. Work on incorporating the 'Reseau plate' later resulted in the development of a special Hasselblad camera for photogrammetry."

(Bringing us up to date, Hasselblad launched a completely new camera, the Hasselblad 205TCC. The space version is called the Hasselblad 205AB.)

Edited by John Dolva
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Also, many images were spoiled or poorly framed. The repeated claim that "all Apollo images were perfectly framed" or similar is totally incorrect.

Happy to provide multiple examples of this if anyone would like.

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