Dec 29 2022

4 cameras 1 roll

I wanted to test out four cameras but was not willing to commit to giving them each a roll of film so I opted to make them share a roll of Ilford HP5plus. I did this by taking a few shots with one camera then rewinding the roll then loading it into the next camera and advancing the film while covering the lens until it was past where I thought the last one had ended. I did this for all four camera’s providing them each with about 8 shots out of the 36 exposure roll. This worked well despite one of the cameras but I will get to that a little later.

Lets start with the second camera then. The Minolta Himatic F which has a four element 38mm f2.7 lens gave some good results.

The third camera was the Minolta Himatic C which is particularly interesting in the Himatic line due to its ability to collapse the lens into the camera body. The lens is a three element 40mm f2.7 lens. It is the collapsing lens though that is a weak link with this camera where it leaks some light in.

The final camera to share this roll of film was the Fujica Auto S which gets its own blog post but a quick summery would be it is cheaply made but exceeds its looks and as a bonus it doesn’t require a battery.

So getting back to the first camera. It was a plastic camera that purported to be panoramic. The panoramic image comes from just masking off some of the 35mm film frame but it did have a wide angle lens. So I decided to remove all the masking material and make it cover the entire film area.

Additionally I removed some superfluous metal weights intended to give the camera some gravitas.

Next up I gave it a coat of paint because I like yellow

Unfortunately it was all for naught because the results were horrific. The thing is that instead of having a normal pressure plate the film is slightly curved and so are a number of ridges that are intended to keep the film in position.

Well the film I used did a better job of recording those ridges than of what was in front of the camera.

I don’t think it was a light leak in the usual sense because it doesn’t impact the entire frame I think that the light made its way through the film and scattered on the back returning to re-expose the film some more. Oh well maybe one day I will put some sort of flocking there and try again…or not.

Dec 11 2022

Olympus 35 SP with Kodak Portra 160

In my opinion the Olympus 35 SP is one of the best fixed lens rangefinders ever made. Far more refined than the Canon QL17 and more versatile than the Yashica Electro 35s it is a real joy to use. The lens with its G designation which in Olympus language means it has 7 elements produces sharp images with little distortion. The gallery images were shot on Portra 160 a film I have mixed feelings about Portra 160, The defining feature though of the camera is of course the spot meter from which it derives its SP name. To utilize the spot meter you use it in manual mode: The method is to select a shutter speed and then while pointing the central focus patch at what you want to meter press the rear spot meter button. The resulting EV number that you now see in the viewfinder is the value that you will want to match by altering the aperture on the lens. Now with both shutter speed and aperture set you can vary the settings by turning them together keeping the same overall exposure. For ultimate ease though you can just put both shutter speed and aperture to the A settings for Auto and shoot away pressing the spot meter as needed to override the average metering.

Originally I wrote this blog post quite some time ago and in the interim I have picked up the more rare all black version of the SP, that’s how much I like this camera model.

May 23 2022

Kodak Advantix Preview

Have you ever thought to yourself do I ever wish I had a camera with a really crappy film format and an even worse digital camera that I cant save the pictures from all in one? Well are you in luck because somehow this abomination made its way into the world. Backing up for a minute let me explain what the Kodak Advantix Preview is. At its heart it is an APS film camera with a 25-65mm f4.3-10.4 lens but to augment that Kodak provided what amounts to a second digital camera with the sole purpose to show you what you just shot on a low resolution rear LCD.


Seeing this image on the LCD you are then given the opportunity to tag the image for the number of prints you might want from it. Once you take the next image that one is gone and so on. That is a lot of extra electronics and presumably expense just to be able to see a facsimile of what you may have captured as a latent image on the film. Keep in mind this is all at a time when digital point and shoot cameras are providing 3-5mpixel images. Maybe Kodak was hoping to sell a bunch of film to people that thought they were buying a digital camera, either way APS film makes a poor memory card.

Breaking news apparently this was so successful that Kodak followed it up with the Advantix Easy Share. Which stored all of the images from a roll in its internal memory rather than just the last one taken. An interesting sidebar is that the image is stored in some sort of non volatile RAM so that even when the camera is powered down that last image is still retained.

As far as APS cameras go it is well featured with things like spot focus and the ability to control the flash. As a digital camera with the sole purpose of chimping the last shot its pretty bad.

And if you want to know where it focused on the last shot with the precision of 3 distances you can look at the screen for these helpful icons.

Feb 19 2022

Fujica Compact S

This was one of four cameras I made share one roll of expired Ilford HP5 film. I figured that none of them deserved their own roll and while mostly true of the others the Fujica Compact S was a bit of a surprise. The camera itself is stamped out of some thin material that is easily dented. The other components and details are equally cheap looking. But the lens was surprisingly sharp in the center of the image. The corners not so much as they suffer from some pretty sever distortion. That distortion does lend the images a vintage look which might make it worth while shooting a roll of colour film in the camera. Or at least part of a roll.

If your curious how I only managed to shoot 6 frames on a roll of 36. For each camera that I used I would keep track of where on the roll I had ended and then advance the next camera just past that place (or hopefully so) while covering the lens so the previous frames did not get re-exposed.

Some details about the camera. It has a 38mm lens with a maximum aperture of f2.5 The exposure is controlled automatically with light measurement being taken by a selenium cell. This means that no batteries are required. It does have a rangefinder for focusing which is nice and seems like a luxury for a camera of a quality that otherwise seems like it would only have zone focus. The shutter covers the range of 1/30 to 1/250 of a second and the aperture stops down to f22. One additional limitation of the camera is that it only has an ISO range of 12-200.

Unnecessary update: Since I originally wrote this I have given the camera away to a good home.

Nov 7 2021

Ricoh R1 with Agfa Vista 200

Back in the old days before the pandemic I took a trip into the Kootenay region of British Columbia. Among the cameras I brought was the Ricoh R1 which is essentially the poor mans version of the Ricoh GR1. The GR1 having a 28mm f2.8 seven element lens while the R1 has a 30mm f3.5 lens with four elements. The R1 does have the added ability to swing another two elements internally to give a 24mm f8 lens but this only works in tandem with the panoramic mask unless you disable it which would void your warranty if there still was one. The R1 is one of the thinnest 35mm film cameras at 25mm deep. Compare that to another small camera the Olympus Stylus Epic at 37mm thick and you can see why the R1 and its descendants are considered pocketable.

As for the film once my few remaining rolls of Agfa Vista are gone I will likely need to shoot Fuji Superia in its place but I really don’t think there is a direct replacement for its colour palette.

Oct 10 2021

Olympus View Zoom 120

Its easy to forget just how bad some viewfinders have been over the years so coming across the Olympus View Zoom 120 was a bit of a revelation. For a point and shoot camera it really does have a nice large viewfinder. That includes a +-2 diopter correction. Its also marketed as being smart. What smart is in this context is that it has bright projections in the viewfinder the most notable being a red cross hair at the center.

It also flashes a green shutter symbol at the moment of exposure in case you were not sure it had fired. These notifications are rounded out by the flash symbol when its use is suggested. Olympus had this to say about the viewfinder in 2000

The View Zoom 120 features a large, real-image viewfinder that uses three large prisms to deliver a viewfinder image that is approximately twice as large as the image seen in a conventional viewfinder. As a result, framing the subject is very easy. In addition, LED indicators for autofocus, shutter release, and flash readiness are superimposed on the field of view to make it easy to confirm shooting status.

It seems though that the entire R&D budget was spent on the viewfinder because the lens is a pedestrian 38-120mm f3.7-10.8 with 7 elements the front one appearing to forego any coatings. And even with all those elements (some of them aspherical) it still gives results that look like they came from a disposable camera. But who am I to say look how happy these people are with it.

Sep 12 2021

Ricoh Auto half I like it twice as much.

I wanted to shoot with my Ricoh Auto half a second time to make sure everything was working perfectly before I planned to take it on a trip. The trip never happened because well 2020. But just as with the first time around I was impressed. I mean if you look at that tiny little lens its hard to believe it can give you much of a result, but looks can be deceiving. Okay maybe I’ve set the image quality bar a little low for this camera. But what I like about it is as much about it being half frame and getting twice as many images out of a roll as it is the decent image quality itself. Actually on second thought this camera isn’t about the quality its more about the ease of use and the low barrier to the image making process. It makes taking film images seem less precious and opens up the choice in subjects.

The previous post about this camera can be found here Ricoh Auto Half

Jul 3 2021

The Taco method

No I am not referring to how to eat a taco without getting it on your shirt. The ‘Taco Method’ is how to process 4×5 negatives in a Paterson daylight tank without a film holder.


  • 4×5 negatives
  • Paterson System 4 multi-unit tank
  • chemistry to season to taste (aesthetic taste not taste taste)
  • Elastics or hair bands to hold the taco shape
  • A dark room or film changing bag

The idea is that as you take your film out of the holder in the dark you curl the film along its long axis with the emulsion side in. You can ensure that the emulsion side is in by holding the film with the notches at the top right hand side and then doing the curl towards you. Once you have the film in that position you slip a rubber band over the film to hold it that way. Its important that the edges of the film don’t meet or the chemicals wont reach the emulsion evenly or enough. Next pop that taco into the Paterson tank and do another. The tank will hold four films this way around the center column. Remember despite it being annoyingly in the way, and flopping around, the center column is what makes the tank light tight. Once you have your film loaded and the lid on its time to come out into the light.

I have been soaking the film initially for 3-4 minutes to ensure the film is nice and ready to accept the chemicals. Once you pour that water out its time for the developer (I’m assuming your doing B&W at room temperature). I’ve been using 500ml of solution which isn’t enough to completely submerge the film in the tank so its important to immediately do a series of inversions to cover all the film with developer. After that I roll the sealed tank in random patterns on the bottom of a bathtub. Its actually quite a soothing thing to do and 10 minutes can seem to go by quite quickly.

This is pretty much the procedure for all the chemicals. Get them in fast do a number of inversions and then roll them around for the prescribed time. When your all done you can take the lid off for the wash. And that’s it the taco method.

Jun 6 2021

Pentax 120mi with Ilford HP5

The Pentax 120 Mi is a little reminiscent of the Pentax Efina T only without the titanium shell and of course it uses 35mm film instead of the defunct APS film used by the latter. While there are numerous point and shoots from this time this one is above average do to its build quality and small size. Despite that small size it manages a 38-120 lens that while slow (f5 – 12.5) is at least a decent performer. So within the category of zoom point and shoot film cameras, which is full of crappy cameras, the Espio 120 mi manages to be average.

The images in the gallery were captured on Ilford HP5+ film

May 15 2021

Olympus Pen FT

For a few years now I’ve had an affinity for all things half frame. From the quirky Lomo Tim to the 1980’s esthetic of the Yashica Samurai and of course the fun little Ricoh Auto half but it wasn’t until I decided to part with my Nishika N8000 quad lens camera that one of the Olympus Pen F series SLR’s came my way. I ended up trading one for the other. I do want to start with the weak spots for the Pen FT before I get to effusive about the things that I do like. The view in the viewfinder is quite small and dim some of this might be due to age and the need for internal cleaning but even at its best it would leave much to be desired. However the camera is an SLR so you do get a very good sense of what your composition will look like despite its dimness. The second issue is the exposure meter, its strange and not like most others. It works on a scale of 0 to 7 on the bottom of the lens. If you set the shutter speed first say to 1/30 and the meter lands on the number 4 then you set the lens to the number 4 which corresponds to an aperture of F8….okay why not just have the meter show f8 you ask and I say “I don’t know” What if we set the aperture to f5.6 what shutter speed do we choose? Well then we would look in the viewfinder and see what number the needle points to if it isn’t 3 which is what correlates to the f5.6 aperture then we alter the shutter speed until the needle does point to 3, and there you have it. Simple right? No me either that is why I ignore the meter and just select the aperture and shutter speed manually. Although its probably good for your brain to figure all that other stuff out in the same way as doing Soduko and eating healthy is. Some of the things that I love about this camera without caveats though are the portrait orientation of the image, due to the half frame nature and just the overall look and esthetic of the camera. It is a classic and it looks cool. As with other half frames I posses I’ve made efforts to make some image pairs that go together.