Mar 28 2020

Yashica Mat

While I’ve owned a very fine Rolleiflex TLR for many years I wanted to find a camera that I could use as more of a daily shooter. Enter the Yashica Mat.

I was fortunate to pick up a practically pristine one at a nearby camera show for a very good price. A price which was actually pretty close to what it cost when the model was released in 1957

Looking at the four cameras above you can see that the defining difference is the film advance crank rather than a winding knob. This feature makes it all the more like the Rolleiflex it displaces. The four element 80mm Yashica lens is fantastic and with the large 6x6cm negatives there is a ton of detail recorded. Additionally the out of focus areas are nice and smooth. Its just an all around great performing camera and lens for the money.

The first roll I shot through it I did make the mistake of starting to shoot too soon and cut the first image off. It’s important to actually align the arrows on the film backing to the arrows inside the camera

I used Portra 400 and was very pleased with the results. The next roll I shot was Cinestill 800T. All the frames from this film had little purple spots on them. I cant say whether its from the film or from the processing. (I sent this roll out as I was between chemistry).

Aside from the film issue the camera performed perfectly and I was otherwise pleased with the images.

I now have a TLR I can comfortably take anywhere that gives results that I am pleased with so now its just a matter of shooting more with it.

Mar 21 2020

Canon BF10

  • There once was a camera from Canon
  • It’s lens like a Widelux from Panon
  • It took in the scene
  • from valley to ravine
  • Wow I didn’t realize how few words there are that rhyme with Canon I mean I should have considered this when I started writing this limerick.

Forget about the bad poetry what about the camera? Well the reason I would even bother writing about a plastic point and shoot from 2003 is because of its 26mm f6 three element lens. Perusing my blog it would become apparent that I like wide angle film cameras and the wider the better. So 26mm is very unique and deserves some attention. The downside though is in an effort to make this camera cheap Canon stripped it of functionality. An example of this is that it can only read the DX code for 100 or 400 ASA film and there is no manual override. Its shutter speeds vary between 1/250 and 1/40 of a second and it has fixed focus. None of these are desirable attributes, yet here we are. One positive is the fact that it takes standard AA batteries. So with little else to say about the camera and its operation (You point it at what you want to take a picture of and press the shutter button) here are some images.

Mar 14 2020

Slit Scan with the OM4 the “Coffee grinder”

I don’t like to waste things and in particular cameras. This Olympus OM4 had questionable electronics so was of otherwise little use. One thing about the OM4 though is that although it requires batteries and electronics for normal operation that isn’t true for bulb mode. With that in mind I set out to modify it into a slit scan camera. Before I go into that though here is a little description of what that is.

Normally the intention when capturing a picture is to record the entire scene in one exposure. With a slit scan camera what you are doing is recording the same small slice of space in front of the camera over time. You achieve this by moving the film behind a vertical aperture or ‘slit’. This is the principle behind finish line cameras.

To do this with the “Coffee Grinder” I replaced the rewind lever with a larger system that would allow me to crank in a smoother motion without shaking the camera. I also made a mask from some thin opaque instant film backing leaving approximately a 0.5mm slit for light to come through.

Loading the film is a matter of taking all the film out of the canister onto the take up spool. I did this by covering the lens with a cap and advancing the film all the way out one frame at a time.

Then in preparation for taking an exposure what you do is set the camera to Bulb mode, cock the shutter and press the rewind button. Now you are ready. For smooth even operation a tripod is a must.

When you want to capture something you press and hold the bulb button while cranking the lever in the rewind direction. As you are in a sense just capturing the same sliver of a scene over and over again if nothing changes then what you get is streaks like this.

It gets more interesting when something is moving in front of the camera during the exposure. Things that are moving from left to right are stretched over time and things that are moving right to left are shrunken all the while the background is the same so results in just streaks.

The March

Some things I learned from this experiment that will allow me to improve the next iteration. I ended up cranking too fast in most cases which used more film than was necessary and resulted in too much stretching of time. I compensated for this by squeezing the scanned images horizontally. If I am to slow the cranking then I will need to reduce the size of the slit or stop down the aperture more so I don’t over expose the film. Also as smoothly as I tried to crank you can see the vertical banding that results from variations in speed. Removing the human element and replacing it with a motor would be the best way to deal with that but considering that this was a one afternoon project I’m not unhappy with the results.

Mar 7 2020

Rollei 35 SE

There are certain cameras that have reached a cult status which can cause a bit of a problem writing about them because what is there that hasn’t already been said somewhere. My take though on the Rollei 35 SE and really all the variants of the Rollei 35 is that they are a great lens on the front of a marginally okay camera interface. Don’t get me wrong it has all the settings such as shutter speed and aperture but with them sitting on the front of the camera you need to hold the camera away from your eye to make changes to them that you are certain of. Also the metering just consists of a green or red LED for correct or not exposure. The camera is nicely built however and as an object of design is cool. The collapsing lens is a nice touch, just remember to have the shutter cocked in order to operate it. Focus is strictly of the zone variety, where you pre set the distance you want prior. This works well for some things but slows the process and lacks accuracy. Another knock on these cameras is the cost they can go for quite a lot. A current look puts them at more than twice the cost of a similar specked Olympus XA or Minox. Now for the good stuff. The lens on the Rollei 35 SE is amazing I don’t use that term lightly. It is a 40mm f2.8 Zeiss Sonar and the clarity of the images from it were striking when care was taken.

So despite the challenges with usage the results may warrant picking one up if the price is right.