Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yashica TL Electro X

Made: 1968 to 1974
Shutter: Electronically controlled Copal Square SE. Metal focal plane type.
Shutter Speeds: Step-less from 2 to 1/1000 and B.
Type: SLR
Film: 35mm
Exposure: Cds TTL stop down meter.
Standard Lens: Yashica Auto Yashinon-DS 50mm 1:1.7
Weight: 983 g

The Yashica TL Electro X was the first SLR that I bought back in 1974.  I remember at the time it got some bad press because of its use of stop-down metering made it seem dated.  Still for what it cost then, which I seem to remember I paid slightly less than $200, it is an excellent camera. Amazingly the camera in the picture is the actual camera that I bought all those years ago.  I actually didn't didn't use it much as I bought a Canon F1 a few months later, however my brother used it for a few years.  After that it went into storage and wasn't used until a couple years ago when I got into film again. I found it when I went looking for any film stuff that I still had.  When I put a new battery in it the Yashica TL Electro X came back to life. And since then it has worked flawlessly. I should add that in the photo above I applied a filter for GAF 500 slide film.  Maybe some old-timers may remember that film.

I should say something about batteries here.  Some versions use 2.7 volts and others need 6 volts.  Mine uses 6 volts and a l1325 works fine.  If you get one of these and need to sort out battery issues a search on Google will turn up plenty of answers.

The Yashica TL Electro X was somewhat of a historic camera.  It was the first camera to use electronic lights in its exposure meter. Instead of the match needle meter that was common at the time, the Electro X used two lighted under and over lighted arrows. The Yashica TL Electro X also had the first electronically controlled step-less shutter.   So theoritically you can set the shutter speed to any speed between 2 seconds and 1/1000.  Although of course you won't know exactly what speed you have set unless you are on one of the marked shutter speeds.  The shutter will operate without a battery at one speed.  It seems like I remember that speed was 1/1000.  I do remember shooting some pictures with the assumption of that shutter speed before I got the new battery and they turned out fine.

The Yashica TL Electro X has a nice battery strength light. It also has mirror lock-up which isn't often found in an SLR of this price range. The lens mount is the of the M42 variety.  So it can use a lot of the great screw mount lenses.  And this is the camera that I use to test a lot of those lenses.

The Yashica TL Electro X seems to have most of the features that one could want. To me what makes it an excellent camera is the Yashica lenses.  Their sharpness and good contrast make them very good for b&w work. The one here is the Yashinon-DS 50mm 1:1.7.

I like the patterns that shadows make in the winter.  The Yashinon-DS 50mm 1:1.7 does well at capturing that.  The film in both images is the much lamented, by me at least, now departed Legacy Pro 100.

The Yashica TL Electro X must have been a good seller. I have seen a lot of them on Ebay.  It looks like you can easily find one for between $20 and $40.  And in my opinion if you are looking for a capable M42 mount camera you can't do much better that the Yashica TL Electro X.

The last two pictures are with the Yashica Yashinon-DX 1:2.8 28mm lens.

On a foggy morning. 

Our red barn on the same foggy morning.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Price of Photography in 1955

Occasionally I like to look at old photo equipment directories. They are a great source for the state of photography at given times. This one is from 1955.

Last night I was looking at the directory in the photo and I got to wondering how the price of photography would compare to what we experience today.  According to the Dollar Times calculator one dollar from 1955 would be equal to $8.45 today.

One of the most basic needs for every photographer in 1955 would be for film.

Tri-X 20 exp$2.50$21.54
Kodachrome* 20 exp$9.75$82.38
Ektachrome 20 exp$5.65$47.74
Anscocolor* 20 exp$1.98$16.73
*Includes processing.

I am wondering if there isn't something wrong with my cost comparison here, however this is the result of running some of the prices for mail order film through the inflation calculator.  Like today you could save some money by buying bulk film. I saw one ad for a 100 feet of Tri-X for $3.98.  That would come out to $33.63 in today's dollars.  That's a deal I would jump at since Tri-X usually is more than $50 for a hundred feet these days. My best guess about film prices is that color film was probably much more expensive than color film is today. I can remember reading in a few places that one of the reasons the half-frame cameras became popular in the 1960's was that color film for 35mm had improved enough that a half-frame could produce a decent enlargement.  Combine that with high prices for color film and a camera that could double your images had major appeal.  As color film prices fell in the late 1960's so did the appeal of the half-frame camera.

So it would look like the photographer of the 1950's paid a lot more if he wanted color images than we do today.  I imagine that is why I don't see many color pictures from that time. 

The Argus C3 was still a popular economy camera in 1955.  It's suggested price was $66.75.  That would convert into $564 today. That's around what it would take to buy an entry level DSLR these days. Today it is easy to find a C3 for less than $20.

The Leica M-3 was about as top-of-the-line as you could get in 1955.  It sold for $447 which translates into $3777 in 2012 dollars. That certainly is in the range that a top of the line camera would cost today. On Ebay I saw that a couple of camera and lens combinations like the one here sold for $1400 and $1475.

I think I will stop here with just a look at cameras and film from 1955.  Its an interesting period to me since it is a couple of decades before I got seriously into photography.  Probably it is the height of the all-mechanical camera manufactured in the West.  By the time I came along most camera production had moved to Asia and electronics and plastic was starting to take hold.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Minolta Maxxum 7000

I got this camera last June at a church sale, however I have only just now gotten around to making a gallery for it.  The lens is a Minolta AF 50 F1.7.

The Minolta AF 50 F1.7 was in production from 1985 until 2006.  It can still be used on Sony cameras. More details on this excellent lens are here.

Don't have much time for posting this week. Still I didn't want to skip a week entirely.  So here is the Minolta Maxxum 7000 gallery.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Soligor 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 zoom macro

Couldn't find out much about this lens.  I would guess it was made in the late 70's or early 80's since it is a zoom lens with an FD mount. Here is an image in Macro mode using Ilford HP5 developed in Xtol.

I have had this lens for about a year, but hadn't used it much.  The main reason I got is because it was going for a cheap price on Ebay and is an FD lens with a useful zoom range.  I figured it was worth a chance.

Lately, I decided to give it a test on the Canon T70.  So far I have been pleased with the results.  The Soligor is fairly compact for a zoom of its era and well-made.  Another image with HP5.

I took this one with some of the last of the Kentmere 400 on a foggy morning.

Not much time for more commentary on this lens.  There is a Soligor 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 zoom macro gallery here so you can form your own opinion.

Since FD lenses are not easily adaptable for use with digital cameras they haven't suffered the price inflation that some MF lens which can be adapted have.  So excellent real Canon FD lens are still pretty reasonable.  And third-party lenses like the Soligor are even cheaper.  I know some people look down on such lenses, however I think that if you have a camera that uses the FD system then the FD Soligor 28-80mm F3.5-4.5 zoom macro might be worth trying. I also imagine this lens was available in most other mounts although I am not sure what kind of price those might bring.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Zenit S

Produced: From 1955 to 1961.
Shutter: rubberized silk double cloth curtain, horizontal focal plane.
Shutter Speeds:
    Before 1959: 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250, 1/500 +B
    Since 1959: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 +B
Lens: Industar-50 50mm f/3.5

The Zenit S is mostly a Zenit with flash synchronization added.  That is what the S is for.  The Zenit was one of the earliest SLRs being first produced in the USSR in 1952. The Zenit appears to have been developed by adding a reflex-box to a Zorgi 2.  The Zenit S lacks features like a self-returning mirror that we have come to expect in an SLR, however this was typical of the early slrs.  To me the most interesting feature of the Zenit S is its compactness.  The Zenit S weighs only 538 grams. That compares well with the Olympus OM-1 at 510 grams, which caused a sensation when it was released nearly twenty years after the Zenit S.

The Zenit S that I have was made between 1959 and 1961 as indicated by the shutter speeds.  The camera body is in excellent shape and functions well having been cleaned and serviced.  The green leatherette took some getting used to, however I have come to like it.  It really is striking how small this camera is for a classic era SLR.  I still have the sense that I am handling one of my old rangefinders when I pick it up.  In actual use things like the lack of a self-returning mirror make the Zenit S a little slower to use, however for me that is not a difficult thing to adjust to.  The main thing I would change is to make the viewfinder brighter.  Wide-open the viewfinder is usable, however it is fairly dim even in bright light.  Also the Zenit S is one of those cameras where unless you are using it wide-open you have to manually change the aperture after focusing.  Still I think that if you are able to slow down and adjust to the characteristics of the Zenit S then it is a very usable camera.  Although likely it would be hard to get good results from the Zenit with any fast changing subject.

I was near the end of my bulk roll of Kentmere 400 when I loaded a roll to use in the Zenit S.  And the roll turned out to be a short one. So I ended up getting only a few pictures.  Still it looks like the Industar 50 in the Zenit S is capable.

Most of my other images with the Zenit S I put the lens on its hyper-focal setting. 

So I am just staring with my experience of the Zenit S.  I imagine that in time I will have more to report.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vivitar 24mm 1:2.8 Auto-Wide-Angle

From what little info I could find about this lens it seems to have been made by Tokina in the late 1970's. The camera, a Sears KS Super II, is all automatic with no manual option. From the one time that I used it I can say it performs well, however I don't get too excited about a camera without a manual option.

I wouldn't normally buy a camera like the Sears KS Super II on Ebay, however I noticed it had a couple of extra lens.  One was a Sears 135mm f/2.8 and the other was the lens featured here.  There also was the standard Sears f/2.0 lens.  All three are decent lenses and the price for the whole package was under $20. So I put it on my watch list and was pleased to win the auction for slightly less than $20.  I had been needing some K-mount lenses and I was very happy to get three new ones to try out for a low cost. I tend to think that if the Vivitar 24mm had been properly listed by itself that it would have gotten a better price than what I payed for all three lenses.  Especially since I have since found out that the Tokina version of the Vivitar 24mm has a very good reputation.

This image looks a lot better at a size that wouldn't be convenient for my blog.  I do have a fondness for the bare trees and shadows of winter.

I like a wide-angle for getting a different look with machinery.

Overall I have been pleased with the Vivitar 24mm.  It may be slightly less sharp than my Canon 24mm, however to me there isn't a great difference in the performance of the two lenses.  Which I think speaks well for the Vivitar.

I took these photos with my Pentax K1000 on Kentmere 400 film developed in Xtol.  I think the Kentmere 400 does pretty well in Xtol.  Still my next roll of bulk film is going to be some Ilford HP5.  It doesn't cost a lot more than the Kentmere and from the single rolls I have used in the past the results of the HP5 is more what I am looking for in B&W.  Still the Kentmere has come to earn some respect and I wouldn't discourage anyone from trying it out.

I am excited that I should be getting a Zenit S this week.  It is a Soviet 1950's SLR.  Basically, it is a Zorgi rangefinder with a reflex-box added.  I only recently learned about it and was enamored by its appearance. So I should have something to report about my experience in meeting the Zenti S in person soon.  The picture is from Wiki Commons. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Olympus ∞ Stylus ZOOM (DLX)

Introduced: 1993
Lens: 35-70mm zoom, f/4.5-6.9
Automatic exposure with programmed shutter speeds: 1/5-1/400s on some models and up to 2 seconds or even B (bulb) on others.
Power: 3V lithium CR123A.
Dimensions: 124x64x45mm.

I believe this was the first zoom camera in the Olympus mju/Stylus series.  This series was one of the most popular camera series of all time.  Altogether more than 20 million were sold.  Today the Olympus mju/Stylus series is unusual in that it is one of the few 1990's point and shoots for which there is still some demand.  Probably the first in series non-zoom models are the most popular, however the zoom types have some fans. 

I think Simon is a good test subject for a camera.  Here with him being a dark subject with a light background he shows that the Stylus DLX performs well with its auto exposure.  I think the auto focus also did well in that he is a subject who doesn't often stand still.I do occasionally get a light leak with this camera.

I liked what seems to me a good rendering of the color in this image.

From the few images that I have taken with this camera I can see why they have been so popular.  The Olympus Stylus is a camera that is small enough for a shirt pocket, however it gives some of the best results that I have gotten from an automatic point and shoot.

So if you are looking for a compact 35mm camera the Olympus mju/Stylus series is worth looking into.  From what I have read people seem to think that the non-zoom versions give the best results.  However from my experience with just one of the zooms I would say they are worth some consideration.  Also the zooms cost much less.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Konica C35 AF

Introduced: 1979
35mm Auto focus & Auto exposure

Lens: Hexanon 38mm f/2.8, 4 elements in 3 groups
Shutter: Programmed Leaf shutter with 3 speeds - 1/60s, 1/125s & 1/250s
Exposure: Fully automatic - 25-400 ASA

The Konica C35 AF was the first auto focus camera.  It worked well enough that a lot of them sold, even though at $283 it was fairly expensive.  Within a year and a half Canon followed with its Sureshot auto focus camera. Today it is hard to find a camera without auto focus and it was the Konica C35 AF that started it all.

I have been doing this blog for about a year now and was surprised to see that I hadn't done a post about this camera before. Especially since I got this camera in a box with some other stuff at the same time that I was starting this blog.  I can't honestly say that I would have sought this camera out.  Still since it is very inexpensive in relationship to its place in photo history I think it is a nice addition to any frugal camera collection. 

When it works the auto focus gives pretty good results with the Hexanon lens. Still a lot of time the focus isn't very good or not where I would have liked it to be.

I imagine the Konica C35 AF was a wonder to those who were challenged by manual focusing.

Even though it was a ground-breaking camera, the Konica C35 AF is not collected much.  A good example can easily be found for under $20. Because it has a good lens, is pretty quiet, and has auto focus and auto exposure some might find it good for street photography.

In 2008 Jason Schneider named the Konica C35 AF as one of his top twenty most historical cameras

A post about the Konica C35 AF in ClassiCameras.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vivtar EZ35

Seems like it has been a while since I took some pictures with a cheap plastic camera. The Vivitar EZ35 is certainly in that category. I think the aperture is f/8 and the shutter speed is 1/125. There is not much else to it.

One thing I have just realized about this sort of camera is that it is pretty hard to be disappointed in the results since my expectations at the start are so low.

Sometimes it is interesting to shoot into the sun.

There must have been a panorama craze with these cheap cameras for a time.  A lot of the cameras that I would guess are in the post time-life type camera era have some option for fake panoramas. The EZ35 has a mask that is inside the camera that cuts off part of the upper and lowers frames.  If you want normally framed images you have to remove the mask before you load the film. I only discovered this after taking a roll of film so I got all panoramas.

Here is the optional black border showing how much is cut out of the frame.

This format does leave quite a bit of room for text.  Unfortunately at least for me there is not a lot to say about this camera. I used Kentmere 400 developed in Xtol for the images.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Universal Camera Corp.Meteor

When I saw a photo of this camera it went on my mental list for camera acquisition. Maybe the most unusual thing about this camera is that it has a square aperture. The aperture sizes are 11, 18, 22, and 32.  The shutter speed is 1/30. There also is a time setting. The lens will telescope into the camera to make it somewhat more compact when being carried. The photo here is with the lens retracted.

This is another camera that I have mostly because of the way it looks.  I have only once gone to the trouble of making 620 film for it. Besides its looks, the Meteor is a solidly made camera.  It was sold for $15 back in 1949.  Like with a lot of cameras of this type it is hard to find the exact dates for when it was made.  Some said it was as early as 1947 while others said 1949.  Probably it stopped being made in the early 1950's since Universal Camera Corp. was having serious financial trouble by then.

One of the few photos I have taken with the meteor. At least for me there was nothing so interesting about the picture taking results that made me want to go to the trouble of making 620 film for it.

Here are a few links for more details, pictures and opinions about the Meteor.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pho-Tak Traveler 120

Another simple box camera, the Traveler uses 120 film and has one shutter speed, 1/50.  It was first made in 1948 and was continued for a few years into the 1950's.  Made by the Pho-Tak Corporation in Chicago. To me it is interesting that Chicago seems to have once been a hotbed for the making of cameras of this sort.

For reasons that I can't currently explain the Pho-Tak Traveler is one of my favorite box cameras. When I decided that I would thin out my box cameras in favor of more classic SLRs, the Traveler was quickly included in the keep list. For me I think a lot of the Traveler's appeal is its heavy metal construction.  I believe that in a pinch I could probably drive a nail or crack nuts with this camera.  The Traveler weighs 504 grams which tops the 320 grams that the similarly sized Agfa Clack weighs.

The Pho-Tak Traveler takes 6x9 images on 120 film. Here it shows the classic sharp center with soft edges. I like the 6x9 format. It is more impressive when viewed at sizes larger than what is usually convenient for using on the internet.

For me the Traveler has more shelf appeal than it has appeal as a picture taker.  So far I have only ran one or two rolls of film through it in a couple of years.  Probably it is good for the Traveler that I have come to appreciate having a camera around just for its looks.

Below are a couple of links for some photos taken with the Pho-Tak Traveler.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Imperial Savoy

I found this camera at a shop in Sullivan IL Wednesday.  It still needs some cleaning up, however it is a nice example of a popular box camera made by the Imperial Camera Corp. of Chicago during the late 1950's to the early 1960's.

Haven't had much new stuff to blog about in the last couple weeks.  Since having some good luck at the Covered Bridge Festival I haven't come across much else.  I have seen a lot of these Savoy cameras, however this is the first one that I came across with a flash attachment.  More than likely I won't run any film through it since it takes 620 film and I have run out of the desire to re-spool 120 film to work for 620 cameras. Still it is kinda a interesting camera to look at.  In its simple way I think is shows some of the spirit of the early space age. 

The Imperial Savoy came in different colors.  I have this one in green.  There also are blue, red, and tan versions.

That is it for now.  Hopefully, I will think up some more things to post about.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yashica FX-3 Super

  • Shutter metal focal plane
  • Shutter speeds B, 1-1/1000
  • Exposure meter shutter release activated CdS TTL with over/under LEDs
  • Battery 2 x SR44/LR44 1.5v
  • Hotshoe, but no PC sync 
  • flash ready indicator in the finder. 
  • Self-timer (Mirror Lock Up) 

 I found this Yashica FX-3 Super at the Covered Bridge Festival the same day that I found the Pentax K1000 that I wrote about earlier.  For $10 I got the camera along with a lens and a couple of flash units.  Introduced in 1984 the FX-3 Super was one of three models of the FX-3 made for Yashica by Cosina.  All were on the economy level, however since they use the Yashica/Contax lens mount they can use the many excellent lenses made for this mount.  And even if this was an economy model that doesn't mean that it isn't well-made.  In fact, other then the well-known problem in this brand of cameras with the leather covering, the FX-3 has proven to be a durable and dependable camera.  Of course in features there isn't a lot to talk about.  The whole story is in the list above. There isn't anything in this camera that would keep you always looking up info in the camera manual.  Much like the K1000 the FX-3 just gives you the basics.  It is funny to me that I should find two cameras of the same spirit on the same day.  Both the FX-3 and the K1000 are basic cameras elevated by their dependability and access to a great system of lenses.

You might have noticed the lens that came with my FX-3.  It is a Sakar 35-200mm f3.5/4.8 Macro Zoom Lens. So far I haven't found much info on this lens.  I think I would be safe in guessing that it was an economy model.  Eventually I'd like to get a Yashica/Contax lens to try out.  Anyway here are a couple of images from the Sakar.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Asahi Pentax K1000

Asahi Pentax K1000 with Sears Auto MC 1:1.7 lens. I found the camera body at one of the flea markets taking place during the Parke County, IN Covered Bridge Festival. So far I don't have the 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax that was standard with this camera.  Although I think the Sears lens is pretty good.

I didn't have high expectations when I went to this years CBF.  However right at the start I got lucky in finding a nice Yashica FX-3. After that it was a long run of dirty over-priced box cameras.  Then I came across this K1000 in excellent shape. It was marked $25 and I got the dealer to come down to $18.  From the serial number it looks like it was made sometime between 1976 to 1978.  The body almost looks new and the viewfinder is bright and clear.  After having run a roll of Kentmere 400 it also seems like the exposure meter is working well.

Eventually I would like to get some of the K lenses that Pentax made, however I think Sears f1.7 lens does a nice job.  I believer this len is a re-branded Rikoh Rikenon.

The K1000 is famous for being a camera that has just the basics that you need and nothing more. For years it was the camera that students learned photography with.  And from my own experience I would say that it is a pleasure to shoot with.  There is just enough in this camera to be helpful, but nothing to distract from actual picture taking.  I can easily see why this camera has a fan base.

In reading about the K1000 I came across this article by Jason Schneider. Schneider used to write about camera collecting for Modern Photography.  Later he became Editor in Chief for Popular Photography.  If you like camera collecting his books on the subject are worth seeking out. Schneider was not a camera snob.  In his writings he covered both common and rare cameras.  Anyway I think his article on the Asahi Pentax K1000 covers the topic well.

Featured User Collectible Camera: The Pentax K1000