While I often shoot with expired film I rarely will use a roll of film found inside an old camera. Who knows how many times its been exposed or the camera opened up just to look at the film. For some reason though I just thought why not with this roll that came inside my Canon A1. I knew that the front end of the roll had definitely been exposed to light as I had opened the camera myself with the film in it. So I skipped ahead 8 frames and started shooting it in my Pentax MZ6. Not wanting to commit too much time to a roll of film that in all likelihood wouldn’t result in a single image I used them all up during a short walk. Wow what a strange result. I’ve never seen such a strong colour shift, let’s call it violent violet or malevolent mauve. It reminds me a little of Lomochrome Purple but in this case it lays that purple blanket over everything rather than shifting colours around. In case your wondering if it was possibly the processing, this roll was done at the same time as another one that did not have any colour casts.
Lomochrome Purple gives results more like this.
Throwing a Yashica Ninja Star isn’t likely to accomplish much other than a pile of broken plastic. Taking pictures with a Yashica Ninja Star is not much better. The Ninja Star is the sort of camera you might have expected to see on a late night informercial in the early 1990s. ‘But wait that’s not all you get not one but two focal lengths!’
Those focal lengths are 35mm and with extra elements 55mm. Two focal lengths are not the only limitation of the camera, the maximum apertures are a none to bright f5.6 and f8.5 and its DX coding is designed to read only ASA 100-400.
Like other nondescript plastic cameras of its era though if you throw some film in it your going to get something it’s just a question of what. It so happens that the lens on the Ninja Star while not great doesn’t embarrass itself even at both focal lengths.
It’s also nice that it takes AA batteries rather than an expensive lithium one.
After years of problem free photography with various Olympus Stylus Epics a string of photographic bad luck befell me. Specifically I had two Stylus Epics exhibit light leaks and this at a time when I wanted a good one for an upcoming trip. Luckily I had a champagne coloured Epic DLX so I quickly ran a roll of film through it and had it developed at the local drug store. Well I seem to have gotten lucky because all the images turned out leak free. The final proof though will be when I develop the film that I shot through it in Paris and London.
Everything in the world of film happens at a little bit of a slower pace and so this is my response to the release of the Nikon D5 DSLR. Twenty years ago in 1996 the F5 was the state of the art in SLR’s and I imagine that the D5 is intended to hold the same place within modern DSLR’s. Both were released to coincide with Summer Olympics. There are many technological elements from the F5 that a photographer would find are familiar today.
I thought it would be fun to do a little comparison of the features of each camera that can be matched up.
Beyond these it can get a little silly to continue the comparison as so many of the advancements are related to digital capture. The most obvious being the fact that the D5 shoots video.
The point of even starting the comparison though is to illustrate just how advanced the F5 was as a film camera and if you compare it against its first Digital camera competitors it holds up even better.
One thing about one camera: While you can rewind the film in a Nikon F5 by hand with the little crank it offered a power rewind through a sequence of procedures that feels more like the opening of a secret passage way leading to treasure. First open the cryptic film rewind cover then press the mystical button hidden within. Next turn the mysterious film rewind lever counter clockwise while pressing the secret lock release. Then and only then will the treasure be reveled or the film will rewind in a matter of seconds.
Despite 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.
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.
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.
It’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.
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.
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.