Friday, March 30, 2012

Cortland CX-7 in Color

Since my earlier post on the Cortland CX-7 has turned out to be one of my most popular camera posts I decided to show some color images from that camera.  I just got these this week.  It is the first time that I have used color film with the Cortland CX-7.  The film seemed to pass through normally.  I didn't have the problems with advancing the film that I had with earlier rolls.  However when I got the film back one roll was returned uncut.  Right away I suspected it was the roll from the CX-7.  When I looked at the negatives I could see that there were problems with spacing.  So that is why they were left uncut. The images didn't run together much.  They just tended not to have any space between them.

That reminds me I would like to digress and recommend that you check out Sharp Photo if you are looking for a place to mail your film off to.  For me at least they have done a good job and their prices are reasonable.  Also my experience has been that they do well with the occasional odd occurrence like my poorly spaced roll of film.

Now back to the CX-7.

Pretty much the traditional lo-fi photo. Once again the Cortland CX-7 does not disappoint.

I used Fujicolor 200.  Like I mentioned before the aperture on the Cortland becomes a narrow slit instead of a smaller circle at the smaller apertures which I believe accounts for the vignetting.

This strip of orangish light also appears in some of the images.

If you are interested in seeing more here is the Cortland CX-7 in Color Gallery.

If you read my post on Wednesday about Frank Sadorus you might be interested in looking at this online book, A visit to the Illinois Eastern Hospital . This is where Frank Sadorus spent almost two decades.  There isn't a lot of information about the hospital, however there are a lot of images.  At least in the book it doesn't look like an unpleasant place.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Frank Sadorus and Impermanence

Frank Sadorus with his camera. He used dry plate glass negatives and recorded extensive information about each picture he took.

From 1898 to 1912 Frank Sadorus took around 500 pictures that survive even though they were forgotten for decades.  The dry plate glass negatives had been stored in the attic of Frank Sadorus's house until found by his nephew.  In 1981 Photographer Ray Bial printed the photos and these were used to make the book, "Upon a Quiet Landscape: The Photographs of Frank Sadorus".  That was when I first heard about Frank Sadorus although I had grown up and lived just a few miles from where he took most of his pictures. 

For me what is most interesting about these photos is how they show a world that was soon to vanish.  I remember when I first saw these photos I thought I would try to visit some of the original scenes.  So far I have not been able to find any. 

The Sadorus farm no longer exists.  The former site is now a cultivated field.

I wonder if part of the motivation for Frank's photography was to try to hold on to this world?  I imagine there must have been some discussion of selling the family farm and moving into town.  It was fairly common in those days for a farmer to use the money from the sale of a farm to fund a retirement in town. The sale of the farm became a reality when Frank's father died.  The family moved into the town of Sadorus.  Frank moved into a small house on his own. He didn't last long in town and as far as I know he didn't take pictures during this time.  What he did do is manage to get himself sent to the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane in Kankakee.

I remember most people around here just calling this place Kankakee.  As in "you better watch yourself or you will get sent to Kankakee".

I haven't been able to find what behavior got Frank sent away.  Sanity hearings were once a staple of the local newspapers around here, however so far I haven't been able to find anything about Frank.  All I know is that he remained at the mental hospital until the end of his life in 1934.  I read somewhere that once he did leave the hospital and started walking along the railroad tracks in the direction of home.  However he turned back to the hospital for whatever reason.

I did read where one of his nieces said she remembered visiting Frank in the hospital.  She said he was very pleasant and imaginative.  He may have adjusted to the institution and made some kind of life for himself there.  Strangely he would end up spending the majority of his adult life there. And it is striking that although it might have been possible he didn't photograph any part of this time in his life.

If you would like to read more about Frank Sadorus there is a biography and a gallery at the Illinois State Museum site.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting it Right in the Camera

When I used to look at photography forums more than I do now I can remember seeing a lot of people talking about how they don't use programs like Photoshop because, "they get it right in the camera".  I suppose the implication is that only photographers who lack the skill to "get it right in the camera" need the help of a program like Photoshop.  And at the extreme there seem to be those who feel it is some kind of virtue to never let your image be touched by a program like Photoshop. Post-processing of images seems to have gotten a bad name. My own belief is that this viewpoint may be a product of the digital age where some may be unaware of how much post-processing goes on in the camera and think that what they are getting is some kind of pure image.

A camera either using a digital sensor or film is just recording information.  That information requires interpretation to make an image. Back in the film days when many photographers had the experience of developing and printing their own film the need for interpretation was more easily seen.  Especially when it came to printing images there were decisions to be made that could result in dramatically different images from the same negative.  Making a successful print often depended as much on your skill in the darkroom as it did on your skill with a camera.  In a lot of ways the relationship of darkroom to camera was similar to that of camera to Photoshop today.  And many of the tools in Photoshop have parallels to skills that are needed in the darkroom.

With digital if you use a output format like jpeg you may get an acceptable image, but be unaware of how much your camera has done to the image to make it look that way.  First if your camera is capable of also putting out raw files at greater than 8 bits then your camera has made a decision to throw out a lot of the information it recorded.  Your camera also has made decisions for you about things like sharpening and color saturation.  While this process may end in a satisfactory image it would be wrong to believe that the image received no post-processing. Actually it probably has undergone an amount of processing similar to what it would were it a raw file processed in Photoshop.  The only difference is that the decisions about what the final output will be is left up to the camera instead of the photographer. For me I would prefer to make these decisions myself even if that means a little extra work in Photoshop. Even if your camera doesn't allow for raw files it may be possible to change its settings so that it does as little in camera processing as possible.  The images may not look as good to you out of the camera, however you will have more flexibility to shape the image the way you want it to appear.

I use jpeg as an example because I tend to doubt that anyone who has used the raw file format would be unaware of the need and even the advantages of making your own interpretation of your images. And to me photography is about having the ability to make my images look the way I want them to. I think the philosophy of "getting it right in the camera" if that means just accepting whatever interpretation the camera decides to make of the image is a limitation and not a virtue.

Well, I suppose this is my first rant post.  I don't really have a problem with taking the pictures you get from a digital camera and being happy with them the way they are.  It is more the sometimes smug attitude I see in some who talk about how their images are Photohop free.

Not related to the post, however I had to add an image.  Taken using an Imperial Reflex 620 with Fujicolor.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Detrola Model E

Made: Probably 1939
Lens: Wollensak 2 inch f3.5 Velostigmat
Shutter speeds: 1/25 sec, 1/50 sec., 1/100 sec., 1/200 sec., T and B
Aperture: f-stops: 3.5 to 22 
Film: 127

Trying to finish this post quickly this morning since my connection has been spotty.  Detrola was once well-known as a maker of Radios.  From 1938 to 1940 they took a shot at making cameras.  Maybe they were trying to copy the success of Argus which started as a radio maker and then moved totally into cameras.  Detrola seems to have been fairly ambitious in their move to cameras, however troubles with faulty materials made their cameras less than successful.  From what I have read the main problem seems to have been with buckling of the bakelite in the bodies and viewfinders of these cameras. From 1938 to 1940 Detrola released ten models and then they were out of the business.

I have to admit that I got my Detrola Model E just because I liked how it looked.  And as far as looks goes it is still one of my favorites.  Mine doesn't seem to have any of the buckling problems.  The lens and shutter are both in good shape and overall the camera is pretty clean.   It seems like at one time I saw that this camera originally sold for around $12.  That would be in line with the Argus cameras of that time.  As far as pictures go the results are average at best.  The Argus A might be its most comparable camera and my personal experience is the the A gives better results.

All of the Detrola's except the Model A have a telescoping lens.  One problem I have had is that it is easy to push the lens back in and not notice it.  At least mine doesn't lock in position very well.  Still like with a lot of these old cameras it helps to pay attention to everything with each picture I take. 

The Detrola also has the limitation of using 127 film which is somewhat expensive.  I have a roll of 46mm x 100 ft of Kodak Portra that I am going to try putting on some of my used 127 backing papers.  If it turns out to work well it could be a fairly economical solution to the 127 film problem.  And while I got this mostly to use with my Yashica 44LM I am also curious to see how the Detrola will do with a different film. 

It may sound funny, since I tend to value cameras by how much I like the photos they make, however the Detrola is in the small handful of cameras that would be the last ones I would part with.  For some reason I have a fondness for it despite my general dissatisfaction with the pictures it makes. Most all of the Detrola's are inexpensive to buy.  The most important thing to check is for warping.

Well, I made it this far without getting cut off.  I probably better not press my luck and end things with a link to the gallery

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Agfa Ansco PB20 Plenax

Made: 1934 to 1938
Film: PB20 which equals 620
Lens: Hypar Anastigmat 75mm f6.3
Shutter: Wollensak Plenax 
Shutter speeds: T, B, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100

Another camera that I got in a box with some other stuff.  It sat around for months before I took a good look at it.  When I did I was most surprised to find that the bellows seemed to still be good.  I couldn't find even a little pinhole.  Considering that this is a cloth bellows and nearly 80 years old that was amazing to me.  The lens was also clear and the shutter sounded okay.  So I realized that there wasn't any reason I could not take some pictures with it. 

The Agfa Ansco PB20 Plenax is one of those cameras that uses the discontinued 620 film.  So I had to wind some 120 film onto a 620 spool. I am actually getting pretty comfortable doing that now that I have some practice.  For this experiment I used Tmax 400.  Because of the slow shutter speeds of the Plenax I would have liked to use a 100 IS0 film, however the Tmax is what I had on hand.  Fortunately the day became cloudy and the light became acceptable for this camera and film combination.

The Plenax may look more imposing in the image at the top than it is in reality. For a medium format camera it is almost pocket size.  The Plenax was an inexpensive camera in its day, however it appears to have been well-made. I suppose some evidence of that is in the fact that it is still functional after almost 80 years.  I have no sales figures, however I would guess that a lot of these were sold.  I have three of them that have been thrown in with other stuff, so I would guess they must be plentiful.  The other two are made for 616 film and are larger than the 620 version.

The Plenax makes 8 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 negatives.  That was a common format for snapshot cameras back then.  The reason was that images would be printed directly from the negatives without enlargement.  If you have come across snapshots from that era you might have noticed 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 is a common size. 

I found myself pleasantly surprised by the Agfa Ansco PB20 Plenax.  Especially for a medium format camera it is easy to carry around.  And the images it gives are while not outstanding, are still much better than I expected.  One thing I would like is a faster shutter speed than 1/100.  A funny thing to me at least, is that I have gotten to where the range focusing for this camera isn't much of an issue for me.  I have used enough cameras of this sort that I am now used to it.  At least for general shooting I have found that getting familiar with distant/aperture/depth of field combinations for the camera frees me from having to figure out exactly how far away things are most of the time.  So my conclusion is that I can see why the Agfa Ansco PB20 Plenax was a popular camera back in the day.  And it's not a bad camera to use today.  I honestly don't know if I would ever actually seek one out, however I am glad that this one did turn up.

Anhydrous ammonia tanks are a frequent site in rural Illinois this time of year.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is this the Best Time for Photographers?

: the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or a CCD chip) 
~ Definition of Photography from Merriam-Webster 
I suppose it is not the best style to start with a definition, however I think it points to why this is a good time to be into photography.  If our craft is one of capturing images using mostly visible light on a sensitive surface, our options today are greater than they likely ever have been.   Especially if you are cost conscious with your photography these seem like good times.  Film cameras are still cheap and digital has been out long enough that there are some good deals to be had on good cameras that have been passed up for the latest and greatest. And as far as good times go I am talking mostly about being able to use a lot of different cameras and formats while not spending a lot of money.  If you can only live with the best equipment as defined by being the most expensive, than these times are pretty much the same as they always have been. 

One thing that has been amazing to me is how cheaply good film cameras and equipment can be had for these days. Like a lot of people I got away from film for a few years and when I returned it was almost like people were giving film cameras away.  Today it is possible to get a wide variety of film camera's in different formats for the price of a single entry level DSLR.  In fact I believe one could put together a nice film camera collection for that price and have some money left over.  

I do wonder why with so many affordable ways to capture light that most people seem to be stuck in the digital mode.  For me it is exciting to try out a camera that is new to me or a new film to see if there will be a look that I haven't seen before.  I would think that the curiosity that creative people are supposed to have would eventually inspire more photographers to explore other options.  Although if someone has never been exposed to film with the way digital is so heavily promoted it may be difficult to realize that there are other options.  Well, enough with ruminating about why others are doing what they do.  While I do like both film and digital I find myself getting a little defensive about film.  I believe that is because digital is likely to stick around while film could go away if not enough people continue to appreciate it.  And I think it would be a shame to lose that creative option. Still if that happens it won't be today. And today with the warm weather in most places, at least in the US, it is a great day for taking pictures.

I couldn't make a post without at least one picture.  The one below was taken with an Agfa Plenax PB20.  The Plenax was an inexpensive folding camera from the 1930's.  I think this one came in a box with some other stuff.  I had never looked at it much until this weekend when I discovered that it is a pretty nice camera.  I plan to write more about it soon. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Putting Stuff in Front of the Lens

One thing I do like about digital is that I can get some idea I want to try out and I can get quick feedback.  Also if I don't like the results I can delete them and not feel bad like if I had wasted a lot of film. Now it may be getting to be a routine however this year I saw a cheap magnifying glass and wondered what that would do to a picture. I remembered that I had tried that before and when I went back and looked at the old images it was at this time last year that I had that notion.  So there must be something about Spring that inspires me to want to stick things in front of a lens. 

The first thing I tried is a magnifying glass that I got from the dollar store.  While it has too much distortion to be much of a useful magnifying glass it does make some interesting pictures.

This one causes distortion just about everywhere although the center is fairly okay.  The diameter of this one fits exactly over the lens.  To take a picture I focus first and then apply the magnifying glass.

Another one has a clear not magnified center surrounded by extreme distortion. It is not hard to see why these were being sold five for a dollar.

I suppose this would be called some kind of tunnel effect.

Another thing i tried is putting some clear jell on a plastic lid I saw laying around that was close to the same diameter as the lens I was using.  Some people will do this with a UV filter and use Vasoline. I didn't want to do that to one of my UV filters and the most handy jell was some Vicks. 

Again I focused first and put the jell thing on to take the picture. For this one I just had the jell on the edges.

Putting the jell all over did the following.

And wiping the excess jell off on my sleeve gave this effect.

Then for some reason I decided to shoot through the lens of my sunglasses.

It may seem like a funny thing to do, however I like the effect that shooting through sunglasses had on this image taken of a fairly white statue in very bright sun.

Next thing I saw a plastic pipe about two inches long that looked like it would fit just right on my lens.  While by itself it caused a little vignetting I wanted more of an effect.  So I cut a square in a piece of cardboard and taped that over the end of the pipe.

The result here is an image that works well when cropped to a square shape.  I actually think I may eventually find this discovery useful.

Here is another of Santa still hanging around.

Lastly, one of the things you can stick in front of your lens is another camera. It is called TTV for Through the Viewfinder.  With this technique you get some old film camera that has a large viewfinder and use your digital camera to take pictures through that viewfinder.  A camera with a large bright viewfinder like the Kodak Duaflex is ideal. The first model is thought to be the best because it doesn't have a lens hood to obstruct the view.  My attempts were made with the Duaflex II since that is what I had on hand.

One of my few attempts at TTY. 

I can't say that I ever caught the TTV bug.  I'd prefer to use these cameras with film as nature intended.  If you haven't heard about this practice and would like to find out more I will make no judgement and even provide a link.

So that is a summary of some experiments.  There is a gallery with some more images along the same line.  Putting stuff in front of the lens Gallery.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kodak Senior Six-16

Film: 616
Shutter: Kodex with T,B,1/25,1/50,1/100
Lens: Kodak Bimat f/11, 3 element triplet.
Made: 1937 to 1939.

This is one of a few camera that came from an auction a while ago and had sat in a box for years.  When I got into film again i found myself curious about if any of those cameras would still work. When I checked out the Kodak Senior Six-16 I found that the shutter and aperture still worked fine and the lens was free of fungus and had just a little dust.  The bellows wasn't so fortunate in that it had a lot of pinholes.  Lastly the camera said that it needed 616 film.  That would be a problem since Kodak stopped making that film in 1984. 120 film is close, however the 616 film is just wide enough to be troublesome. Still when I tried a roll of 120 it easily fit, and a piece of foam made it fairly snug.  On the take-up end I would still need to use the 616 spool since a 120 spool isn't wide enough to work without more adjustment than I cared to make.  So I figured while it may not be perfect I could at least get some film to run through the Senior Six-16.

If I was serious about using this camera the bellows would need to be replaced.  Still just for fun I figured I could patch it with electric tape. The tape seemed to work pretty well for ending the pinpricks that I could see.  It didn't look pretty, however I thought it would get me through whatever shooting I planned to do with this camera.  

And now every six months or so I get the urge to take some photos with the Senior Six-16 to see what will happen.  When I put some foam at at the bottom half of the roll the numbers for 16 exposures appear in the red window in the back of the camera.  What I do to space the film is to start at the third exposure and then increase to 6,9,12 and 15.  This gives me five 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 images on the 120 roll.  I waste at least one exposure doing it this way, however the extra exposures I might get by some other method aren't worth the trouble to me.  Since the film is feeding unto a wider 616 spool I need to remove the film in the dark and either re-spool it to a 120 spool or put it into a developing tank.  For myself I would be using a changing bag and putting it right into the tank. As a digression a changing bag is a handy thing to have if you are using old cameras, because sooner or later you are likely to have to open the back up with film still in the camera because of some problem.

This is from my latest attempt.  It makes a nice wide picture.  Still the results aren't such that I am likely to ever shoot with it much.  However it is kinda fun from time to time.  

I was a little confused when I was looking up info on this camera.  All of what I found talked about this camera coming with a f/4.5 or a f/6.3 lens.  There was even a mention of an f/7.7 lens.  Nothing at all about my f/11 bimat.  I know the bimat lens and the Kodex shutter were the Kodak economy brands back in the thirties.  So I figure my model must be such an economy model that no one wants to talk about it.  I wouldn't even be sure this was a Senior Six-16 if it wasn't for that it says so on the camera's nameplate.  

It looks like these cameras sold for between $20 and $33.  That would be $300 to around $450 in today's dollars.  Consider that the average income in 1940 was $1299 and you can see that these weren't cheap.  Although since $1299 would be around $20,000 today maybe it wasn't so bad. Still even my seemingly secret extreme economy model Senior Six-16 probably was not a casual purchase for most people.  And I do think the camera deserves some respect for being able to survive and take pictures in our modern times. 

If you really want to use one of these 616 cameras in a serious way than here are what seem to me to be some excellent instructions for adjusting a 616 film camera to 120 film. 616 to 120 conversion. It might be a good thing to try since there well could be some bargains out there in good 616 cameras. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vivitar PS 55s

Lens: 30mm f/5.6, 3 elements in 3 groups.
Focusing: Fixed focus (5 ft/ 1.5 m to infinity).
Flash: Built-in electronic sensor flash. Recycle time 6 seconds with fresh batteries.
Film: 35mm, 400 iso recommended.
Battery: 2 AA

I have to admit that I got this camera because it is red and it was cheap. All the technical detail that I could find is listed next to the photo.  I couldn't find anything about shutter speed, however if it is like most of this type of camera the speed is around /125. 

You might not know that Vivitar was an American company.  They started out importing German and then Japanese camera products and eventually commissioned Japanese manufacturers to make products that they had designed.  They were one of the first companies to use computers to assist in the design of a lens.  During the 1980's and 1990's they appear to have put out an infinite number of cheap point and shoot cameras. Probably the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim is the most famous of this breed.  Vivitar fell on hard times during the 2000's and the name ended up being bought by Sakar International. They use the Vivitar name on some mid-priced digital cameras and on DSLR lenses.  

So far I have only put one roll of Fuji 400 through the PS 55s.  I am pleased with the results.  I like the small amount of softness and the slight glow that some of the images have.  The camera didn't seem to have any problem with lighting from a dull cloudy day to a bright sunny one.  Not being much for flash photography I failed to test the flash. 

I wouldn't say that this is a must have camera, however if you encounter one for a good price I think you will be pleased. 

Vivitar PS 55s Gallery

Friday, March 9, 2012

Little Sure Shot

I would be surprised if when this photo was taken in the 1940's if the name Annie Oakley didn't come up.

The above is the most striking of my most recent scans of some old negatives I found in some film canisters.  Again they seem to be from the 1940's.  The focus mostly on the children in the family.  These negatives were probably the dirtiest so far.  Still it wasn't hard cleaning them up in Photoshop. As much as I like the film days I have to admit that Photoshop makes photo restoration a lot easier. 

Looks like the start of a school trip.  On another picture I was able to see on the side of the bus, District 47. That is the Crystal Lake school district in present day Illinois. So its possible that is where this family lived at the time.

I think I have mentioned before that these negatives have certainly shown the advantage that film may have for archives.  These negatives are 70 years old and while having been stored with no special care they are still able to produce decent images.  There was no need to move them around on a digital storage media or to convert them to a newer image format.  No concern about if somebody would even be able to read the format in the future.  With film once an image is made especially with black & white film, it should with reasonable care be able to last at least the lifetime of the photographer.

I added a new gallery for these images with the imaginative name of Found Film 2.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kodak Bullet Camera and Brownie Hawkeye Flash

Kodak Bullet Camera
Produced: From1936 to 1942.
Film: 127
Original Cost: $2.75

The Kodak Bullet Camera is one of the cameras that Walter Dorwin Teague designed for Kodak. The lens telescopes into the camera when not in use making it a fairly compact camera.  The two shutter speeds are 1/50 and bulb.  The aperture is f/11. And that is pretty much all there is to this camera.  I found this one for $2 at an antique shop this weekend.  The metal parts need some cleaning, however the shutter works so it should be able to take some pictures. And if it can't for what I paid I think I can afford to keep it for its looks. Since I haven't made a gallery yet for this camera I found a couple of people on Flickr who have pictures made with the Bullet Camera.

The Brownie Hawkeye Flash was made from 1950 to 1961.  Judging from the number I see on Ebay and in antique stores it must have been one of the best selling cameras of all time. Some may notice the the 35mm canisters are out of place.  I just added them for color and because I happened to have them in my hand. 

It took me a while to finally decide to get one of these.  Most of the ones I had seen at flea markets and antique shops were always pretty dirty and often had ridiculous prices.  And I didn't want to get one off Ebay and have to pay postage when I was pretty sure that sooner or later I would find one locally.  On Sunday I found this one which included the flash unit and was amazingly clean.  The price was $12 which I thought was just fine.

When I got the camera home I was very pleased to find that it could use 120 film. Now the Brownie Hawkeye was made to use 620 film which is no longer made.  As I bet most of you know the only difference between 620 and 120 is the size of the spool.  The film itself is almost exactly the same.  I have read that at some point that Kodak modified the Brownie Hawkeye to make sure it couldn't use 120 film.  I am glad my camera escaped that modification because after putting the first roll through it I think I will want to use the Brownie Hawkeye Flash again.  It is nice to know that I can do that with having to reload 120 film to a 620 spool.

From my first experience with using the Brownie Hawkeye Flash I can see what people are talking about with the need to hold this camera steady.  In my pictures I can see there is some real potential in this camera, however there was more motion blur than I care for.

One of my first results with the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye.  Once I do another roll or so with it I will post a gallery for this camera.

One last thing I like about the Brownie Hawkeye Flash is that the viewfinder is actually useful.  With most of the box cameras that I have used I usually end up pointing the camera toward what I want to picture and hoping that things work out. The viewfinder on this camera does allow me to get a much better idea of how to compose the picture. I'm not going to repeat the great amount of information that is already out there about the details of this camera.  A search will easily satisfy any further curiosity.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Also called PRIMA TELE and Autoboy Tele 6.The SureShot Mult Tele can be used as a full frame or half frame camera. Introduced in March of 1988.

Last fall somebody in a forum mentioned that Canon had made a half-frame point and shoot camera in the 1980's. I did a search on Ebay to see if there was one for sale and had no luck. Still I saved the search and told Ebay to notify me when one was listed.  It took a couple of months till I saw a  Multi Tele in good shape and for a good price. Maybe that means there aren't that many of these cameras out there.  I found in several camera advertisements from 1989 that the Multi Tele sold for $139.  That is about average for a camera of this type at the time.  So price probably didn't keep the sales down.  Still it seems to be rare when compared to other Canon point & shoots of the same time period.

One thing that does surprise me is that there isn't more demand for these cameras now.  The half frame camera seems fairly popular these days with film photographers.  And this is a half frame from a well-respected camera maker.  It is possible that the Multi Tele being fully automatic and battery dependent may turn some people off.  However that doesn't seem to have hurt the demand for the, Yashica Samurai, another half frame from the same time period.

So far I have put a couple of rolls of film through the Multi Tele and the experience is about the same as with most 1980's Canon point and shoots.  The build and image quality is quite good and the winding motor is quite loud.

Although they don't seem to come up often on Ebay there isn't much of a crowd bidding when they do.  I payed $14.99 for the one I have and it came in excellent shape with a good battery. So if you like half frames and don't mind a battery driven automatic camera than you may enjoy the Multi Tele.

The Canon Camera Museum site does a great job documenting all the cameras that Canon has produced.  Canon Camera Museum entry for the Multi Tele.

Here is my Multi Tele Gallery.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Decided to go 3 for 3 with cheap plastic cameras this week.  This is an entry from an earlier blog about what I think is one of the best 35mm cameras in this category. If you are one of the few who saw that entry I have changed a few words and added to and redid some of the images in the gallery.

A search shows that there are several versions of the Lex35. Some have a built in flash and there is a fairly sophisticated version that has auto rewind and DX coding. My Lex35 lacks those features. It is one of many cheap plastic film cameras that were made either to be given away or sold for very little. I found one post from 2006 that said the Lex35 was being sold by American Science and Surplus for $1.50.

Technically there isn’t much to the Lex35. It has one shutter speed which I would guess to be around 1/125, and one aperture that looks like f11. While it may sound funny to talk about build quality with a camera of this sort, the Lex35 does seem to be a little sturdier than most cheap plastic cameras. The film advance and rewind mechanism are quite good. One feature that this camera has is a fake panorama mode. There is a sliding switch on the back of the camera that turns panorama mode on and off. You can see the change of modes in the viewfinder. When scanning the negatives sometimes I like to leave the black upper and lower borders that this mode makes.

Overall I like the Lex35. I especially like the look it has with black & white film.  And I think some of the images are of a little better quality than I would expect from this type of camera.

So if you find yourself wanting to get beyond the often sterile images that digital offers, than maybe a cheap plastic camera like the Lex35 might be a good escape.

Lex35 Gallery