Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mamiya 6

Ken Rockwell says this is the best camera ever made (Ken's evaluation of the Mamiya 6 and 7. Not everyone likes Ken, but I value his "down to earth" sentiments on cameras.
The Mamiya is a rangefinder, takes 120 film and I guess is a "Texas Leica" like this one. The lenses are super sharp and are collapsible.
My Mamiya was generously given to me by an internet friend, Mike Regnier who has switched his work entirely to digital. Mike first introduced me to blending textures into images in post processing, moving the art of photography more toward the art. You can see his beautiful pics here - a lot of Mike's stuff is really large and has a very painterly persona. Check it out.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Petri Micro Compact

This camera was designed when it was "in" to sell a competent camera in the smallest package possible. Size was always a factor in the attraction of film cameras, just as it is with digital today.  Every manufacturer had something to offer in this genre, maybe the most well known being the Rollei 35 series first introduced in the mid sixties. This Petri first appeared in 1979.
This one is derived from the more expensive, better made, and feature-rich Petri Color 35 which commands high prices and is tough to get (see Steven Gandy's article here) It has automatic exposure, a pull out lens, and a simple zone focusing system.
I confess I'm a sucker for these tiny cameras - I took the picture of the Petri with my digital Ricoh GRD IV, which surprisingly is just a bit larger.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rollei Prego 90

 This is a "point and shoot" camera, called that because they need little effort to get a good shot. Auto focus and exposure coupled with a nice zoom lens means the photographer can usually get good images with the minimum of fuss. Just about every camera manufacture did these, including the pricier brands such as Rollei. I have quite a few cameras that fit this genre. The Prego is an example dating to the mid nineties. It has infra-red auto focus and in this case an upscale Schneider-Kreuznach 28-90mm zoom lens. These camera are quite collectible now and their prices have been slowly creeping up.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kodak Instamatic 500

The Instamatic film cartridge was introduced by Kodak in 1963, just as the Beatles started to roll. By all accounts it was very popular and lots of cameras were introduced to use it. Mostly were cheap plastic low functionality jobbies but others were very high end with a price to match. This "500" was the high end entry by Kodak that fitted the "rangefinder" format (Kodak also introduced an SLR 126 camera.)
The 500 is mostly made of metal and has a nice Schneider-Kreuznach F2.8 38mm lens. The 126 format is square, which I like. I have collected a few cameras,  but shooting with them is a challenge as new cartridges are no longer available. Old stock is available though, but it is expensive. I have tried to fudge 35mm film into salvaged cartridges with limited success. It is rumored that Ferrania may start production on them in the near future - I hope so.
Most old film I can find is color. I process it using my standard B &W chemistry which seems to work OK, but sometimes leaves a color cast, which I sometimes leave in after scanning.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Voightlander Bessamatic

Voightlander cameras are beautifully designed and constructed and their lenses have a well deserved reputation for image quality. I guess you would call this their flagship SLR from the film era, the noble Bessamatic. It's noble not only because its heavy, but its also semi-automatic and has a selenium cell that needs no battery. Mine is functioning just fine given that  it was built over fifty years ago.
This is no street shooter. At two pounds it's not the kind of camera to casually anchor around your neck for longer than an hour. The screen goes blank after you take a pic as there is no instant return of the mirror. The interchangeable lenses are self contained and don't share their components with the camera as other SLRs from this era do. It has a leaf shutter, which makes it go through some convoluted mechanical gyrations when it takes a shot. Many of these cameras today have sticky shutters because of this. They are supposedly very difficult to service . . . but it is a thing of beauty.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Olympus Zuiko 150mm F4 Lens (and Pen F)

And now for something a bit different, some in-breeding between new and vintage. On the left a Fuji X-Pro1 digital camera with an Olympus 150mm telephoto lens, mounted with a nice neat adapter. Looks like it is meant to fit? But the lens was made over forty years ago for the camera on the right, the Olympus Pen F half-frame SLR. Because the Pen was half frame and took 2 images in the area of a standard 35mm frame, the lenses designed for it were very sharp to aid in enlarging.
The first pic in technicolor was taken by the digital Fuji, today - that's our local beach. The wind chill is -10C.
Below that is Bennie the Bengal taken with the Pen F and the 38mm F1.8 lens attached to it (the camera on the right) This Pen F works a treat and is in pristine condition. But it has a bug - literally, a forty year old bug fossilized in the viewfinder. Puts me off a bit.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fujifilm GA645zi

The last post featured the tiny Lomo LC-W. Going from the sublime to the ridiculous we now feature the this huge Fuji medium format camera, the GA645zi. This is the so-called Texas Leica because of it's rangefinder style. This camera takes 12 images size "6x4.5" - small by medium format standards by still significantly larger than 35mm.
Despite its size the GA is comfortable to hold and easy to use. The 55-90mm zoom is a bit limited, but in my book is better than carrying two or three primes. Focusing is automatic, so its not exactly equivalent to a Leica. The viewfinder has a frameline and other information in the form of an LCD overlay, perhaps the forerunner of the technology found in the successful X-Pro1 digital camera of today.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lomo LC-W

The L-CW is a version of the Lomo L-CA with a very wide 19mm lens. Some Austrian students discovered the cute quirky L-CA film camera on a visit to Russia in 1991. They loved the pictures from it and with some smart marketing started the Lomography movement devoted to images taken with this camera. 
This camera is relatively expensive. It's images are not great, but have their own persona. The Russians were heavily influenced in its design by the earlier Japanese Cosina CX-1 which I also have in my collection (there is a film in there now, so maybe I'll post some pics soon.)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ricoh GR1s

 This is the little Ricoh GR film camera popularized by street photographers in Japan - the most well known being Daido Moriyama. The 28mm f2.8 lens is very sharp and the controls make picture taking effortless (and unnoticed.)
I have the digital incarnations of this camera (GRDlV and GR)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Olympus Stylus Epic

The Olympus Stylus Epic is a masterpiece in industrial design. I'm showing here with the "clam shell" partially open. When closed it is one of the most pocketable point-and-shoot cameras you can find, very smooth, no protuberances (almost egg-like) and ready to go on sliding the  cover to the open postion.
Lots of people collect point-and-shoot cameras from this era and the Epic has a cult following. You can get a good one for $25. The 35mm f2.8 lens is sharp and contrasty.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Minolta 7D - Vintage Digital?

The focus of this blog is my camera collection. I'm showing the cameras that have interested me - and the images that I take with them. When I started, I thought I would stick to film cameras, but now I find that I am collecting a few "old" but important digital cameras that have a bit of a story to tell.
This is the Minolta 7D, the first DLSR (and last) produced by Minolta. The designers leaned heavily on their experience with film SLRs (Minolta 7) but the 7D was also indicative of fine DLSRs that were to come from the new owner of the Minolta know-how - Sony.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Minolta Maxxum 5

I'm sorry that Minolta doesn't make cameras any more. The only consolation is that after purchasing Minolta, Sony kept some of the "geshalt" in the new line of digital SLRs. So, I collect Minolta and Sony, analogue and digital. The Minolta Maxxum lenses still perform beautifully on Sony cameras, that's why I recently added a Sony A850 full frame digital camera to my digital collection.
This is the Minolta 5, one of the last film cameras they produced. It's very capable and very small and light weight. I checked with KEH and you can get one today for $16 !! (that deserves a double exclamation). I added the grip, because it actually improves handling. The lens is the maxxum 50mm f1.7.

Voightlander Vitessa L

Seeing this camera for the first time - with it's plunger up - could make people think its a kludge. But the plunger with advances the film and cocks the shutter is very efficient. You can take pics very quickly operating the film advance with the left hand and using the right to focus and shoot. Focusing is through a convenient thumb wheel on the back of the camera. I have another one of these with the 50mm f2.0, this one has the Scopar 50/3.5.

And this is how compact the Vitessa is with the "barn doors" closed and the plunger in home base. A perfect pocket shooter!
Check out Steven Gandy's Cameraquest site for a great write up. Steven says the quality is upto Leica M standards.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rollei 35 AFM

I love this camera - I bought it because it is a rebadged Fuji Klasse which I knew had a very good reputation. I don't think the Klasse is available now but it was until very recently.
This was one of those shots where a few thinks happened in unison. We were staying at Niagara one winter weekend in one of those hotels with a great view of the falls. This is sunrise on a very cold day - it looks as if the water is steaming. I hadn't noticed that the window glass was reflecting, so the Rollei is featured top left.
The next one is taken in the Casino building.