Sep 27 2023

A guy walks into a camera store…..

Perhaps by the time I finish this post I will think of a punch line. I did actually walk into a camera store today and was handed a lens to look at to see if I had an opinion as to what it was.

I’m assuming that may be due to my penchant for doing things with cameras and lenses that might not otherwise show up with an internet search. In any case I was also stumped at that moment. The lens is a Tamron adaptall 28-50 f3.5-4.5 Close Focus lens with 9 elements, actually 10 as your about to see. That info all shows up on the Google machine but what doesn’t is the apparent modification its received. In the center of the lens is a big yellow dot or to be more precise an additional lens element that only impacts the center of the image.

So what does this mean for the final image? Well it acts like two separate lenses to form one image. The outer area being the original lens which focuses as per normal to form an image at the film plane while the center forms a second image that would be in focus at a different distance but as it reaches the film plane it is out of focus and combines with the outer areas image to give a combined soft focus image. I cant honestly say whether its supposed to be that yellow though. It could be intentional because it gives a warmness to the soft focus or on the other hand it might just have yellowed over the years.

In this little diagram above A represents the film plane where both images combine and B represents a different location where the central area would be in focus if the film was there instead.

So you might be wondering how can I be sure that’s what’s happening. I’m glad I pretended you asked. Because the final image is a combination of the outside area and the center and if you change the ratio between them you will get a different result. How? Alter the aperture, as you stop the aperture down the central area will comprise a greater amount of the overall image. Keep in mind the viewfinder image is formed with the lens wide open so the outer area is dominant and what you actually use to achieve focus.

Lens wide open at f3.5
Lens stopped down to f8
Lens stopped down to f16

The overall effect is accentuated by the fact I used a camera with an APS-c sensor rather than the full area of a 35mm film which would provide for more of the outer area to form the image. So that’s my conclusion its a 1980’s modified lens likely belonging to a wedding photographer intent on creating that look that every one wants and will never go out of style.

Okay here goes…A guy walks into a camera store and breathlessly says “Quick give me some Dektol!” The clerk perplexed asks what is the emergency? The guy says I don’t know but its a developing situation.

Jul 22 2023

Unknown camera unknown film

Apparently I didn’t think enough of this camera before I developed the film to bother recording any of its details and my opinion didn’t improve after.  My best guess is this was a thrift store disposable camera find that spent years in someone’s closet.  With the images that follow keep in mind these are the good ones.

Jun 11 2023

Taron Eyemax

The eye certainly is maximum, it dominates the top of the camera like some multi segmented bug eye. All that said the rest of the camera is quite nice looking in my opinion. The eye in the Eyemax is a selenium cell that drives a needle visible at the top of the viewfinder. This gives a general notion as to whether you have a correct exposure or not however you are free to disregard this and set any available shutter aperture combination.

The Lens is a 45mm f2.8 with little to no coating with the result being a lot of lens flair and loss of contrast in back lit situations. It also gives a very swirly background behind the area in focus when shot wide open. I like the look it gives as a contrast to the clinical look of a digital photo.

May 7 2023

Yashica J

Most of what I know about this camera is described on the front of it. Its a Yashica It has a 32mm f3.5 lens and it has autofocus what else do you need to know? Its a J. First off before you look at the pictures and draw the wrong conclusion I don’t know what was up with this roll of film but the negatives were thin and looked like they had soap bubbles. This points to the development and in addition I also shot part of this roll in a Rollei and the results were similar.

The best part of the Yashica J though is that it takes regular AA batteries.

Between writing this post and posting it I gave this camera away. Well actually I also dropped it which damaged some of the plastic and looking at it reminded me of how I had been in such a rush that I hadn’t made sure I had a good grip on it. So someone gets a camera and I get to try to forget that annoyance.

Apr 2 2023

Kodak Pro Image 100

If you go to the Kodak Alaris website and look through the colour films available you wont find any mention of Kodak Pro Image 100. There are the Portras, Ektar and Ektachrome on the professional side and Gold and Ultramax on the consumer side but not a mention of Pro Image 100. Yet clearly it exists and can be purchased from retailers so what exactly is it?

So it clearly is not just a repackaging of one of Kodaks other offerings it is something unto itself with the stated keeping properties and the processing look of Kodak Gold (Without the film curl of Gold I may add).

I’ve shot two rolls of it now and I’m very happy with the results its like the poor mans Portra 160.

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.