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

Blacks_Sassy-7809

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

Kodak_T550-5406

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.


Apr 9 2017

Pentax K1000

PentaxK1000-5562

What can one say about such a utilitarian camera,  other than it just works.  It’s that just working that made it so popular as a photography teaching tool.  Additionally it’s completely mechanical controls mean that it can be used without batteries and it’s rugged metal build make it a survivor.  My first encounter with the K1000 was to take pictures of a CRT screen from a pipe inspection system. At the time ( I used a Minolta X700 personally) it seemed ridiculously simple but it always worked.

In fact I don’t recall coming across any that haven’t worked in some manner no matter how beat up they looked.  That being said they can develop shutter issues as with this unit.  It seems like the shutter at 1/1000 is in need of some adjustment as it left one side of some images slightly darkened.  There is plenty of information on the web about the history and use of this camera so I won’t rehash what’s already there but I will say that with all the developments in the arena of digital photography one thing that is missing in my opinion are cameras that embody the nature of the K1000.  There are cameras that take styling cues from the past but not many of them strip down the photography experience to just dialing in settings and taking pictures.


Mar 25 2017

Minolta Super A

MinoltaSuperA-5563

The super A is a heavy camera at 810 grams and that is without the lightmeter on top which weighs an additional 135 grams.  The shutter ranges from 1  to 1/400 sec however the 1/400 second setting is nearly hidden on the dial and is not available when using the light meter.  It does have interchangeable lenses,  I only have the one 50mm f2 which is a reasonable performer even wide open. The other lenses are quite rare.  The 50mm f2.0  provides a smooth out of focus area often referred to as bokeh just outside of the area of focus but distant out of focus areas are quite nervous looking.   This look is distinct from what you get from modern lenses.  Its effect can be seen best in the image of the railroad.

MinoltaSuperABokeh

The apertures are set at definitive click stops and at f5.6 and f8 produce an interesting aperture shape that looks like a 10 pointed star.

SupeerA_Aperturet


Mar 10 2017

Sigma 28 AF Zoom or the Stickyma

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I love this little bit of advertising copy Sigma gave about the 28 AF Zoom and its siblings.

Sigma gives its cameras a touch, exclusive “ZEN” finish which is not only scratch-resistant but is also non-reflective and non-slip. The “ZEN” finish will retain its looks almost forever: your Sigma camera will always look as new even after many years of faithful service.

Every one of these cameras that I have happened across has had a defining attribute, they are sticky.  They didn’t start out that way of course but over time whatever that “ZEN” material is it has turned into a gummy mess that will pick up anything loose it comes into contact with.  The lens on the AF 28 Zoom goes from 28mm to 50mm or 1.78X which isn’t that impressive, but I do like 28mm.  To fill out your focal lengths Sigma also offered the AF Super Zoom 70 that had a 35-70mm lens and the AF Super Zoom 100 with its 50-100mm zoom.  That way you could have 3 cameras stuck together.

The Sigma 28AF Zoom lens provides apertures of f4.2-f7 across the zoom range but with a high level of vignetting.  Lets face it the camera is as ugly as the images it produces and using it leaves you with a feeling that soap just doesn’t seem to be able to wash away.

One thing about one camera:  Despite being an automatic exposure, autofocus point and shoot the Sigma 28 AF Zoom has an external flash shoe that works with almost any flash whether its sticky or not.