Nov 26 2016

Minolta Riva Zoom 140

MinoltaRivaZoom140-5560Despite their best efforts no camera manufacturer ever achieved a long zoom point and shoot film camera that provided exceptional lens performance across the entire frame and good light gathering ability.  It really would be asking a lot: compact, light, fast, control of distortion, no vingetting, sharp. Those are a lot of factors to consider. You can not have your cake and eat it too, there is a reason for SLR’s and large fast corrected lenses.  Even so this was a pretty good attempt by Minolta to provide a versatile camera with a quality lens. The 38-140mm f3.5-9.4 has 8 elements in 7 groups and shows little vignetting and good consistent image quality at all zoom settings across the entire frame. When set to macro it will focus down to 1.6ft.

It’s now 20 years since this camera first came out and photography has obviously moved on so the question needs to be asked if there is any point to a point and shoot like this.  The answer is yes the Minolta Riva Zoom 140EX is one of the best long zoom point and shoots.  It’s a large camera for it’s type but the lens is just that little bit faster than it’s competitors.

Nov 12 2016

Minolta Maxxum 5

As each year passes and shooting film becomes more and more of a niche activity certain cameras and their lenses continue to decrease in price. Its for this reason that I am able to build camera kits around a camera or a lens mount for less money than any one of the separate parts once cost. Before I ever considered doing this I had my Minolta X700 which I was very fond of and while using it for the most part I ignored the autofocus camera world. So while I had Minolta lenses none of them would be compatible with this camera with its A-mount and autofocus. Over the last several years though, as I’ve picked up various other cameras mostly fixed lens point and shoots and rangefinders, I’ve added to this Minolta kit. However I had never shot with it until now. While it would be nice to have a few more lenses its certainly enough for most photography.

So the lenses that I have for my A-mount kit are: 28mm f2.8 , 35-70mm f4, 50mm f1.7 , 70-210mm f4 a good general set of lenses two primes and two zooms from 28mm to 210mm.

The Maxxum 5 is a well rounded, if somewhat cheap, SLR with plenty of controls but it’s really all about the lenses.  The autofocus system has 7 points that illuminate in the viewfinder it struggles in low light but I’ve found that it is quite accurate.  The film used here was Agfa 400 which turned out a little extra grainy possibly because I pushed the number of rolls I developed with that chemistry a little too far.

Oct 30 2016

Pentax SPII with Kodak Ultra Gold 400


The Pentax SPII or Spotmatic II is a well built mechanical SLR and because it uses the ubiquitous M42 thread for its lens mount there are a multitude of old lenses that can be used with it.  You could try to find a solution for the fact that it originally used 1.35V mercury cell batteries including using newer 1.5V silver batteries but I personally don’t even bother with a battery.  With its completely mechanical shutter you can measure with a hand held meter or digital camera and then just set the aperture and shutter speed as needed.

The Spotmatic cameras are minimalist in their design but also very attractive in my opinion.


Oct 19 2016

Pentax IQ zoom 170sl

Pentax170sl-5554It’s film cameras like this that produced the dreadful images that put many people off photography or drove them to buy expensive terrible early digital cameras. The notion of having a lens that covers 38-170mm sounds good but there are a few reasons that it isn’t. The maximum aperture of the lens is f5.6 at the wide end and f12.8 at the telephoto end, neither gathers much light. Couple that with the fact the maximum shutter speed was a paltry 1/250 second and its almost a guarantee that blurry images were going to result. But lets say you use some good technique and you do manage to get a blur free image there is still the fact that there is a boat load of chromatic aberrations (ie colour fringing) you’ll be waist deep in vignetting and only the center of the image is sharp. And by sharp I mean butter knife sharp not tack sharp. So why bother using this camera 15 years later? Good question, I suppose I too was lured in with the promise of a 4.5x zoom, thinking won’t that be fun, it wasn’t. So if you see one of these languishing in a thrift store bin its better to walk away and save your film for a more worthy camera. It’s hard to believe but there are a few 35mm film point and shoot cameras that attempted even longer telephoto zoom maybe I should try them.

Oct 14 2016

Ricoh R1 Light seal transplant


I seem to attract light leaks with cameras like ants to a picnic or mosquitos to the one spot you missed with the repelant. All very annoying. I’ve been using my Ricoh R1 for a few years now without any issues and have been very pleased with it. Ricoh R1 with Color Implosion Ricoh R1 great camera design
Ricoh R1 in Niagara but then this happened.


There are some clues in the leak: It repeats on every frame, it is near the edge, it is a narrow strip. This all points to the light seal around the film canister window.
Taking a close look at the seal I could see that it had begun to deteriorate. I decided to look for a donor camera that would fit the bill. It isn’t until you nead something that you realize how hard it is to find. The variety of shapes and sizes for the seal material was unexpected not to mention the different textures and methods of adhesion. Not finding a perfect match I decided rather than doing the sensible thing and just blacking out the film window I would deprive a cheap camera of its seal despite its poor fit. A little extra strip of foam shouldn’t hurt either.


As you look at this you may be thinking well that looks unprofessional to which I would reply ‘It’s inside the camera and it does the job’

Here is the proof


And here are a few images from before the seal transplant.

Oct 8 2016

Harrison West one year after

It was just a little of a year ago that the Wood Lake fire occurred on the West side of Harrison lake. I originally went there after the fire was out and they had just reopened the road. Now I have returned to see what changes have taken place. Obviously slow growing plants like trees will take time to come back but those plants that grow rapidly like ferns and grasses have already started to cover the landscape. Its interesting to see so much happen over the course of a year and I plan to return again in coming years.

Oct 2 2016

Pentax MZ6 Kodak 400 and Fujicolor 200 mixed.

The MZ6 is a great little SLR that I have written about many times so I wont repeat myself here but I will post 30 random pictures taken using it with two rolls of either Kodak 400 or Fujicolor 200

Sep 21 2016

Yashica T4 Super


What can I really add that I haven’t already said about the Yashica T4 Super?
Perhaps not much, if I was to summarize all my posts it is a very good point and shoot camera.

One thing about one camera: The Yashica T4 Super has a top shutter speed of 1/700 of a second and the flash can synchronize at that speed. This is one of the reasons that this camera is very good at fill flash.

Sep 4 2016

Pentax efina T


The Pentax efinaT is with out a doubt my favorite APS film camera. I’ve posted previously about its robustness here Pentax EfinaT
It’s just one of those cameras that seems like the peak of its type, its type being a small camera with a film format doomed for failure before it ever started of course. EfinaTAdvert

It’s 23-69mm lens gives a similar field of view as a 29-87mm lens on a 35mm film camera a very nice focal range and with the wide 16:9 aspect ratio its a fun camera to compose images with. The lens is a slow f5.6 to 9.9 comprised of 6 elements in 5 groups with two of them being aspherical. The slow speed of the lens shouldn’t be a surprise considering the compactness of it. The camera does weigh a hefty 195g due to its metal build. Interestingly it has a 5 point autofocus system and can also be set to spot focus. The close focus distance of 65cm can be used at any of the zoom settings.

I didn’t scan the film, I photographed it with my Pentax K-3 setup APS-Scanning-8008
and then cropped and adjusted it in Lightroom. I also decided to leave the full area of the film visible just for the sake of it and so you can see the true image size captured.
The film itself is 24mm wide but the image area captured is only 16.7mm along that edge and 30mm along its length. It results in an image area 58% smaller than that of 35mmm film although it’s no less fun.

Aug 14 2016

Ranger 35


Every so often I try out a camera that results in an epic fail, this Ranger 35 meets and exceeds that. Its a cute little camera with all kinds of design touches and markings.

It is the sort of cheap camera I expect you could once have ordered from the back of a comic book. The shutter nominally provides 1/25,1/50,1/100,1/200 of a second as well as bulb and the aperture ranges from f3.5 to f16. The focusing is strictly via zone and unfortunately my camera doesn’t appear to be anywhere near accurate. Out of a roll of 24 images I think there is one that I would deem to be completely in focus and that must have been accidental. So its more an object to look at than a camera to produce anything worth seeing.