Jun 23 2018

Minolta AL with expired film

MinoltaAL-1673

If you have read more than a few of my blog posts you may be aware that when it comes to film I will shoot just about anything I can get my hands on.  This can produce some interesting and unpredictable results but it also allows me the chance to test out cameras without a huge investment.  No one wants to waste a roll of some fantastic and now rare slide film only to find out the shutter on the camera didn’t work.  Fortunately the AL worked.    The AL has a matched needle exposure system which means that as you adjust the shutter speed and aperture for a given film it changes a small arm in the top window where there is also a small needle that varies depending on the light hitting the photcell on the front of the camera.  The cell is meant to be used as a reflective meter so you need to get close to the object that you are measuring.  When the arm and the needle align  that indicates that the settings match the reading.  Me I just ignore old meters and adjust the shutter and aperture based on more accurate readings from a digital camera or general exposure settings based on experience.   The lens of the AL is a relatively fast F2 45mm but suffers from  chromatic aberration and low contrast.  Well as best as I can tell from this expired film anyway.  The shutter though does go to 1/1000 of a second which is nice.  I’ve seen it posted several times online that it is similar to the Minolta A5 but I think that other than both being Minolta rangefinders that is erroneous.  The A5 has a slower F2.8 lens and slower maximum shutter speed of 1/500 second as well as no meter, these are great enough differences in my mind to disqualify it from comparison.  Minolta A5   getting  back to the AL its a nice solid camera that has that 1960′s aesthetic (not surprising since its from the 60′s)  If you want the 1970′s feel and a slightly better camera have a look at a Minolta 7s  either way Minolta made some great rangefinders over the years and they all can be enjoyed today.

 

 

 


Jun 3 2018

Yashica T4 Zoom

YashicaT4_Zoom-4353

My second go around with the Yashica T4 zoom with some better film, Kodak Portra 400 to be precise.  You can see my previous post about this camera here Yashica T4 Zoom with some information about how to set it to spot focus and other things.  So I wont go into that on this post.  What I will reiterate is that the Yashica T4 zoom has a  28-70mm f4.5 to f8.0 lens comprised of seven elements in six groups.  With better film and some decent light I found that the lens produced nice sharp images.  At the wide end of 28mm there is distortion in the corners and vignetting as well but overall the results are very good for a point and shoot.  One thing that is hard to quantify is the feel of the camera in use and for this the T4 Zoom is above average.  It sits nicely in one hand and feels secure with the rubber ridge on the front.  Without this its ‘bar of soap’ design might make it prone to dropping.  As it is though it slips nicely into a pocket or small space in a camera bag yet handles well. There may be a little of a halo effect with this camera sporting the T4 and Zeiss badge but in reality it is just a good point and shoot not something that stands out above the rest of the crowd or warrants an exorbitant premium price.


Apr 28 2018

Kodak Portra 160 in the Pentax MZ6

MZ6_wkoopmans-3902

While I enjoy using rangefinder and point and shoot cameras there is no doubt for versatility its the SLR that wins.  That’s why when I have the space and can spare the weight I like to bring along an SLR on trips.  In this case the camera was the Pentax MZ6 one of the last film SLR’s produced by Pentax and full of all the features you need in a small light package.

I haven’t shot much of the Kodak Portra 160 mostly because it seems like an odd sensitivity.  It has a Print grain index of 79 at a magnification ratio of 17.9 while Ektar is 66 and Portra 400 is 89.  With only a marginal improvement in granularity over the Portra 400 it makes choosing it more about needing the slower ISO at which point the Ektar comes into play.   Then the choice is more between their colour rendition the more punchy saturated  Ektar vs the more muted skin tone friendly Portra.


Dec 16 2017

Yashica MC

YashicaMC-1706

The Yashica MC is like a miniature version of an Electro 35 with nearly half the weight and twice the charm.  It has the same type of infinitely variable electronic shutter that goes from 1/500 second to 4 seconds as the larger variants and its 40mm f2.8 lens while not as fast is still a decent performer.

The electronic shutter shouldn’t be confused with the modern idea of integrated circuits and processors its still a very analog system that essentially opens the shutter mechanically which also energizes the shutter circuit.  An electromagnet holds the shutter open as long as current flows through one of the transistors but when the charge that is building up in a capacitor, controlled by the resistance of a CDS photo cell reaches a certain level another transistor turns on de-energizing the electromagnet and therefore closing the shutter and switching the circuit off again.  This is why without batteries Yashica’s like this default to their maximum shutter speed, there is nothing holding the shutter open.  There are other factors in the circuit as well such as the aperture which changes the resistance of another part of the circuit or the ISO setting.  Okay when I started typing I thought it was going to be a simple explanation.

To sum it up: Wind film ,Press shutter, light on CDS and aperture determine shutter time, repeat.

My Electro 35 MC is stamped with ‘Hong Kong’ on the bottom so I can only presume that is where it was assembled but the 40mm F2.8 4 element lens is labeled as made in Japan

You can see a previous post about the Yashica MC Sept 2015 here


Dec 2 2017

Baby Bessa

Voigtlander_Bessa-1

This is the eighth post I have done with the Voigtlander Bessa 46 which is roughly one per year that I’ve been blogging.  That seems about right as every so often I think to myself what camera haven’t I used in awhile that I want to use.  I think that the reasons I enjoy using the Baby Bessa as much as I do is that it allows the use of medium format film with more of the feel of using a 35mm camera because of its small size.

I also like the option of doing multiple exposures as seen here.

2009_Feb_Voigt_006

The bad thing about the ability to do multiple exposures of course is that you need to be careful not to do them when you don’t want them.

A search through old magazines shows that in 1939 the Baby Bessa cost $49.59 which may not sound like much but considering that earning $1 an hour back then would have been pretty good pay makes it something not everyone would have considered purchasing.


Nov 18 2017

Blacks Sassy

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Back when there were camera stores seemingly everywhere there was a chain of stores in Canada called Blacks which was taken from the family name of the founders.  In any case they were a large enough retailer to have cameras rebranded with their name from a variety of manufacturers.  In this case I think this is another one of the variations of a Matsushita that came as the Leica mini, The Minolta Freedom Escort, Olympus Trip AF and possibly others.  So despite having the same internals as its siblings the Sassy went all out for style.  And by style I mean what passed for style in 1992.

When all is said and done though the camera has a 35mm f3.5 lens and the usual flash control features and works despite looking like it never lifts a finger with that gold trim.  I loaded it up with some terribly out of date Konica 400 film which leaves me with a good excuse to try the camera again, if only I can find an early 1990′s themed costume party.

 


Nov 4 2017

SMC Pentax-A 50mm f1.2

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I wish that I had a full frame digital camera to test this lens with but film and APS-c sized digital will have to suffice.  The first thing you notice about this lens is the weight it is a lot of glass and its needed to achieve that fast f1.2 aperture.  As this is an older lens I didn’t have too high of expectations especially because my newer DFA 50 1.4 is quite soft wide open but to my surprise the SMC 50 1.2 was actually quite sharp, that is for what is in focus inside the razor thin depth of field provided at f1.2.  It also has very little vignetting and what there is is gone by f2.8.  Having a lens this fast is as they say, to a kid with a hammer everything is a nail.  However nailing focus wide open is not so easy even the slightest swaying of the photographer is enough to throw it off.  If you do get it right though it is a very unique look.  What follows are some film shots taken with my Pentax MZ-6 and the this lens on Kodak Ektar 100.  Back in the early 1980′s this lens cost around twice as much as a 50mm f1.4 and it still garners a similar premium on the second hand market.

On my Pentax K-3 DSLR the SMC Pentax-A 50mm f1.2 provides an angle of view more like a 75mm lens would on the film SLR making direct comparison difficult but also making it perhaps even better suited to portraiture.

 

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And some digital pictures taken with my Pentax K-3 and this lens.

 


Oct 21 2017

Zeiss Ikonta 521/16

ZeissIkon-5553

Ikonta

One of the things I really like about old medium format folding cameras is how compact they are when closed.  The Zeiss Ikonta 521/16 is a great example taking up very little room in a camera bag although adding a hefty 565 grams   They were produced over many years and had different lenses and features.  This one has a 75mm f3.5 Novar Anastigmat lens and a shutter with 8 speeds up to 1/300 second.  It also has double exposure prevention with a nice little red dot indicator when the film has been advanced.   Using one of these cameras for ultimate image quality isn’t a great idea but using them for the unique experience and look is.  There is a certain pleasure from using a camera that despite being over 70 years old still does its job.


Sep 16 2017

Vivitar 500PZ

Vivitar500PZ-7813 Looking back at the 1990′s at some point in a camera advertisers career it must have become difficult to come up with new ways to describe the same features in an exciting way.  How else can you explain this line about the PZ500  “…and a tripod socket, permitting the camera to be mounted anywhere on a tripod to take advantage of the self-timer and of the non flash exposure option”  I feel that advertisers pain as I struggle to write about what sometimes amounts to the same camera in new packaging.  But here we go.  The Vivitar PZ500 sports a 35-70mm zoom lens that they suggest is a ‘Series 1 Optic’.  Funny how they never had any other Series that they were proud of.  The aperture goes from f4 at 35mm to f7.6 at 70mm.  The zoom control is a clear rocker switch on the top that has the indicator LCD beneath.  Vivitar500PZ-7814Now at least that is unique.  The focus system is 35 zones which seems like plenty all things considered having hundreds of possible distance settings as some point and shoots have may just be more marketing hype. All kidding aside the lens is actually pretty good and the only shot that seems slightly out of focus is one where I took a picture through a chain link fence.  I think the choice of a very conservative 2X zoom starting at 35mm allows for even lighting (no vignetting) and low optical aberrations.  I added the tape to the battery door more as insurance than out of absolute necessity. One thing about one camera:  The Vivitar PZ500 is essentially the same camera as the Leica mini zoom both being manufactured by Matsushita and having the same specifications except for the Leica name.


Aug 12 2017

Kodak T550

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The Kodak T550 is a diminutive camera that separated itself from the rest of the APS pack with a flash that flipped up from its other duty as a lens cover. The 28mm f3.5 lens gives an angle of view similar to a 35mm lens on a 35mm film camera when you use the entire film area of 30.2mmx16.7mm.  With each APS exposure the full image area is recorded and with that also recorded magnetically the aspect ratio setting the user had selected.  There were three settings known as H (high definition), C  (Classic) and P (Panoramic) so while the entire image area was always recorded, during printing the machine would read the magnetic info and crop the images accordingly.  I prefer to use the full 16:9 aspect ratio for composing images as it is the one interesting thing about APS film.  And it shouldn’t be a surprise but I used out of date non refrigerated film with an unknown history as that is my primary source of APS film.