Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Canon EOS Rebel GII

  • Autofocus: TTL with 3 selectable focusing points
  • Focus modes: One-Shot AF, AI Servo AF, Manual Focus
  • Light meter: TTL Evaluative, Centerweighted average, Partial Metering (approx. 9%)
  • Exposure: Intelligent program AE, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Depth-of-Field priority, Full auto, Picture modes, Manual, Auto exposure bracketing, and Exposure compensation
  • Built-in flash, 1/90th sec. sync 
  • Shutter speed 30 seconds to 1/2000
2014 was different for me as far as the cameras I saw at garage sales, thrift shops etc.  The main difference was that I saw very few of the cheap plastic point & shoots that were so common in years past. Not sure what happened to them. The cameras I did find were mostly decent cameras for good prices. The find that surprised me the most was a nice Kodak Retina Reflex III which I got for 50 cents. 

I found this Canon Rebel GII last summer at a church sale for $4.  There also was a Speedlite flash included. Introduced in 2003 the GII was one of the last film cameras that Canon made. Pretty much if you have used Canon digital SLRs you will be at home with the GII.  My biggest impression of the GII is that it is the lightest SLR that I have ever used.  It would be easy to carry this camera around all day.  Still as can be seen in the list above the GII is a very capable camera. 

The GII came with an EF 35-80mm kit lens.  Now I don't have the blanket dislike for kit lenses that some seem to have.  However this kit lens does seem a little soft although the contrast seems pretty good. It certainly is a usable lens and it appears that the softness isn't so great that it can't be fixed somewhat by a sharpening filter.  Still when using the GII you might be happier with a different lens.

The GII runs on two photo lithium batteries. I'm adverse to paying more to put batteries in a camera than I paid for the camera. So I was happy to find that I can get photo lithium batteries at the local Dollar Tree store for $1 each. So far these batteries have held up about as well as the more expensive ones.

It is a funny thing that even though the Rebel GII is a very good camera I doubt that I will use it much. I think my irrational knock on it is that it is too much like my digital camera experience.  Now I have nothing against digital photography, however when I am using film I want it to feel like a different process. To me film feels like it should be used with a camera that can live without a battery.

So I get one more post in before the new year.  Thanks to all who have read my efforts this year.  I wish each of you the best in the coming year.  I leave you with a few images made last summer with the GII.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Street Photography

 I started on this post sometime ago and didn't get it finished. Figured as I restart this blog for the winter I might as well make this the first offering.

A few days ago I was reading this post and got to thinking about street photography. I imagine there are some definitions for what street photography is, however I tend to think of it as photos of people out in public going about their business. My version of street photography doesn't mean that the subjects have to actually be along a street.  And around here as in most places streets aren't what they used to be. There are a lot of cars, however not many people walking on the sidewalks.

So I got to wondering about the photos that I have taken in the last few years that might fall into a broad definition of street photography. What I found is that most of my pictures of this type where taken at events like festivals and flea markets.  The one above is from a flea market. I took it using a Canon 50-250 lens on one of my Canon digital SLRs.

The ones above also were with the Canon 50-250.  I think I get the best results with this lens since it lets me get close without sticking a camera in someone's face.

A couple more from when I had a phase of liking to put frames around things.

The two below are with a Holga lens for Canon.  Since this lens is around 50mm it makes me get closer.  I like the soft look of this lens.  I wish I could remember where I put it.

The last one is with a Sony DSC TX7.  I usually carry this one in my pocket. I took this one at Flesor's Candy Store in Tuscola IL. I thought it looked much better converted to B&W. Hope that no one is offended that my first post in a while is digital. Plan to be back with more film cameras soon.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Minolta SR-T 201

Every since I again took up film photography I had wanted to get my hands on a classic 1970's Minolta. The easy way would have been to look on Ebay, however I figured I would go local for this one. I remember back in the 1970's that Minolta was a common brand of SLR in this area. I think I saw them almost as often as Pentax. So I didn't think it would be long until one showed up in a garage sale, thift shop, or etc.. While that line of thought turned out to work for Pentax it wasn't true for Minolta.  A few years passed until recently I came across this nice Minolta 201 for $10 at a garage sale.  My ideal choice would have been the classic SR-T 102, however after all this time I am happy with the SR-T 201.

The SR-T 201 was lower priced than the SR-T 102 and SR-T 202 and lacks some of their features.  However it does have the two features that I most wanted. The first is CLC metering.  With CLC Minolta used two cds cells to combine spot and center-weighted metering.  The second is the MD 50mm f/1.7 lens which is one of the classic lenses from the 1970's. The great metering system and lens combined along with an economical price made the Minolta SR-T series one of the best-selling cameras during the 1970's. 

 In just a brief experience of the Minolta SR-T 201 I can say that the exposure system lives up to its reputation. Pretty much every image I took was spot-on as far as exposure. The lens also lived up to expectations. Overall a very good camera. If you go looking for a Minolta SR-T 201 look for the letters CLC on the front.  There was a late version of the SR-T 201 that only one cds cell and these do not have the CLC marking. 

Right now I am in the middle of switching to a new ISP and it isn't going so well. For some reason the connection is very slow and that doesn't make blogging much fun. Hopefully another call to support will get things working. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kodacolor-X 616 film

Last week I found these two rolls of film at a garage sale for 50 cents.  I had never seen actual 616 film before. I don't remember the format although it was still for sale when I was first into photography. 616 film was introduced by Kodak in 1932.  It is the same size as 116 film, however the spool is smaller.  The idea was that the smaller spool would let cameras be smaller also. As it was most commonly used 616 film made 8 images that were 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/4 inches. Prints from 616 film were usually made by the contact method.  That is why it is fairly common to see prints of that dimension from the 1930's and 40's. By the 1950's 616 film was in decline although Kodak continued to make it until 1984.

The rolls that I bought both expired in 1972.  By that time Kodak only offered 616 film in Kodacolor-X. Kodacolor-X was introduced in 1963 and discontinued in 1974.  I believe it was the last of the Kodak films to use the C-22 method of processing. If this film could still yield some images it still would be a challenge to get it processed.  There are still a couple of places that say they can do color processing on this film if the dyes have stayed intact.  If not B&W images are still possible.  Also if you are a DIYer then I have heard of people being able to get B&W images from Kodacolor-X. 

I do have a Kodak Senior 616 camera that uses this film, however I don't think that the results I would get would be worth the trouble.  So probably I will put this out on Ebay. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

First garage sale film find of the year

The last few years I have had good luck finding slightly expired, but usable film at garage sales.  However so far this year I had found no film.  Then a couple weeks ago the bag above caught my eye beneath the table of a garage sale.

When I looked inside I saw that it was packed to the top with old film.  Most had expired in 1993.  Since most of it was B&W I figured it was likely that some of it would be fine to use.  Also since there were several boxes of sheet film I figured that the source of the film was probably sophisticated enough to have done a good job storing the film.  Anyway for $5 I didn't have much to lose.

For my $5 I got several 5 pack boxes of T-MAX 100 and Tri-X 120 film.  There also were several boxes of Vericolor and Ektachrome 400 120.  In the 4x5 size there was a hundred sheet box each of Ektapan and Plus-X.  There also were a couple of 25 sheet boxes of Ektapan and Plus-X.  And lastly there is a 100 sheet box of HP5 and LP4.  None of the boxes had been opened.

So far I have only done a couple rolls of the T-MAX.  It seems to be in good shape.

If all this film has held up as well as the T-MAX this will have to be by far and away my best film deal ever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Found Film and Three Strollers

I imagine that this stroller would face all sorts of safety recalls if it were made today. Although I doubt that it could compete price-wise with the plastic models. I think this photo was made in the 1940s. Notice the brace on the child's leg. I am guessing this may have been the result of polio.

I found this image in some negatives that I bought a while back in St. Joseph, Illinois. So far I haven't found out much about them other then they seem to have been taken mostly in the 1940s. I think they may have been taken around St. Joseph, Illinois. I posted some of these photos back when I first started this blog.
Found Film Negatives from the 1940's & 1950's 
More Found Film and some World War II History
Fixing 1940's Found Photos
Family Reunion at Crystal Lake Park
Found Film Negatives from the 1940's & 1950's

I think this stroller may be one of the Taylor Tots. Taylor Tots were a popular stroller that was made from the 1920s up to the 1970s. I believe that the metal plate beneath the child's feet can be removed to make the stroller into a walker.

Looks like this kid might be heading off the edge of the porch on his stroller/walker. At least it looks like the woman in the photo is moving toward him to stop his progress in that direction.

Hope someone finds the photos of old strollers interesting. I can't say that I remember much about strollers from my youth. I can remember pedal cars and tractors.  Also tricycles and bicycles. However I don't remember ever using a stroller. Still some people must have memories of them since they are a fairly popular item for collecting and restoring.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ica Icarette, Marksman 120, and Lost Portrait.

I saw this camera at Crossroads Consignment in Champaign IL a couple weeks ago. The price tag said "Rare Ica Icarette $110".  I am used to seeing claims of rarity made by dealers for common items, however in this case the claim may be valid. The Icarrette was made by Ica starting in 1920.  In 1926 there was a big merger of German camera makers after which Zeiss Ikon made several models of Icarettes. In my admittedly non-exhaustive search for info on the Icarrette I was not able to find anything on the pre-1926 Icarrette. So it is likely that if this is a pre-1926 Ica made Icarrette, then it may actually be somewhat rare.

From what I can find it appears that Icarrettes were good cameras. Later models were made that used several different roll film sizes.  The early ones also had the ability to use plates. Most had a Tessor lens and a Compur leaf shutter with, a good for the time, top speed of 1/250.  Anyway the Ica Icarette seems like a much more interesting camera than I would have thought at first.  I will definitely give it another look if it is still there the next time I go to Crossroads.

The Marksman 120 is a typical box camera from the late 1940's.  The most interesting thing to me is that it was made by Zenith Camera Corp. in Chicago.  Postwar Chicago seems to have been a preferred site for making cheap cameras. Zenith, Metropolitan Industries, and Spartus are three Chicago based makers of cheap cameras that come to mind. I think the Marksman 120 was priced at $25. 

I believe this is a Crayon Enlargement.  Crayon Enlargements were popular up until WWI.  What they did was make a photo enlargement which was used as a guide for the finished portrait. Here the portrait is a colorized photo of a soldier from WWI.  From the number of these portraits that I have seen over the years, they must have been very popular with WWI soldiers. I didn't catch the price on this item, however I would guess that it is a hard item to sell, since demand probably isn't high and supply is.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kodak Cameras using 120 film

Kodak introduced 120 film in 1901.  At the time 120 was considered a small format roll-film.  That is not surprising since in those day you could get roll-film that was 5 inches wide. Up until 1932 Kodak made at least 19 cameras that used 120 film. There may be a few more, however these are the ones I found.  The 1933 No. 2 Special Brownie appears to be the last camera that Kodak made for 120.

In 1932 Kodak introduced the 620 format.  620 film is the same width as 120, however it uses a slimmer spool.  From the 1930's until the 1950's, 620 was the most popular film format.  Still 120 survives until this day and 620 was last made in 1995.  Unfortunately, with few exceptions, some Brownie Flash Hawkeyes for example, Kodak 620 cameras will not work with 120 film.

So if you want to use a non-135 Kodak camera with a film that is still easy to get, you have to go back to the days before FDR. With the exception of one of the No. 2 Brownies I have never used any of these cameras. Still the idea of using one of these vintage cameras with an easy to get film has some appeal to me.  So I made this list to help me when the time comes to seek one out, and am sharing it here.  The info about the box cameras may have some short-comings.  What I have found about identifying these cameras is confusing to me at least.  And I didn't want to spend much time sorting it out since it is the folding cameras that I am most interested in. The now value is the original price in today's dollars.

Hope the table doesn't cause any problems. Blogger seems to lack a tool to make tables.  I normally don't care to use inline styles as I have done here, however it seemed easier than figuring out how to add a style sheet to a blogger page. 
No. 1 AUTOGRAPHIC KODAK Junior Camera 1914 1927 $23.00 543.47
No. 1 AUTOGRAPHIC KODAK Special Camera (Bakelite side panels) 1915 1920 $56.00 $1,310.14
No. 1 AUTOGRAPHIC KODAK Special Camera (Model B) (Back overlaps sides) Focus by thumb-turned gear. (Only produced for a few months) 1921 1921 $79.00 $1,042.86
No. 1 AUTOGRAPHIC KODAK Special Camera (Model B) (knurled screw focusing) 1922 1926 $74.00 $1,040.81
No. 2 Beau BROWNIE Camera (5 colors) 1930 1933 $4.25 $60.13
Boy Scout BROWNIE Camera 1932 1932 $2.00 $34.50
No. 2 BROWNIE Camera 1901 1904 $2.00 $47.74
No. 2 BROWNIE Camera (Aluminum, Model F) 1924 1933 $2.75 $38.00
No. 2 BROWNIE Camera (5 colors) 1929 1933 $2.50 $34.55
BROWNIE Special No. 2 Camera 1933 1934 $2.25 $40.90
No. 2 Folding AUTOGRAPHIC BROWNIE Camera (Changed from square to round ends in 1917) 1915 1926 $12.00 $280.74
No. 2 Folding Pocket BROWNIE Camera (Model B) 1907 1915 $5.00 $119.34
Century of Progress World’s Fair Souvenir 1833–1933 Camera 1933 1933 $4.00 $72.71
No. 1 KODAK Junior Camera 1914 1914 $11.00 $259.92
No. 1 KODAK Series III Camera 1926 1932 $26.00 $347.10
No. 1 Pocket KODAK Camera 1926 1932 $17.00 $226.95
No. 1 Pocket KODAK Camera (In 4 colors: blue, brown, gray, green) 1929 1931 $18.00 $248.73
No. 1 Pocket KODAK Junior Camera (Black and 3 colors) 1929 1932 $9.00 $124.36
No. 1 Pocket KODAK Series II Camera 1922 1932 $22.50 $310.91

Friday, April 25, 2014


I saw this group of cameras in an antique shop last week.  They are the 1930's equivalent of the more recent point and shoot cameras that are a staple of many garage sales.  I believe the guy was asking $25 for the SIX-16 cameras and $15 for the plain boxes.  Considering their very rough shape I imagine they will sit there for a very long time. 

The KODAK BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16 was made from 1934 to 1942.  It is a typical box camera of the time with one set shutter speed and an option for a timed exposure. The ones that I have seen more often have an Art Deco metal plate on the front.  I am not sure why the ones here differ.  The KODAK BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16 made six 2 1/2 x 4 1/4 images using 616 film. Kodak introduced 616 film in 1932. 616 is the same as the older 116 film, however it comes on a slimmer spool.  By making the spool slimmer Kodak hoped to be able to make smaller cameras. 

The large negative produced by cameras like the KODAK BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16 was popular up until the 1950's because it seems that it was more economical to make contact prints than enlargements. At one time there were some amazingly large versions of roll-film out there.  For example I was surprised to find that the original 110 film, discontinued in 1929, was 5" x 4", and the original 126 film, discontinued in 1949, was 4 1/4" x 6 1/2".  Unfortunately today 120 is the largest roll-film format you can get.

616 film was discontinued in 1985. It takes some doing, however you can use 120 film with a camera like the BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16.  I did it a while back with the Kodak Senior Six-16. My guess is that it wouldn't be worth the trouble with a camera like the BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16.  Especially since there are a lot of cameras of the same vintage that use 120 film and likely would produce similar results.

The best I can tell the GE console radio above was first made in 1933.  So maybe a BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16 once sat upon it. More than likely it played some of the second season of the Jack Benny show. Jack Benny had one of the most popular radio shows starting in 1932 up until TV become dominate in the 1950's.  The peak of popularity for radio shows like Benny's parallels the popularity of film formats like 616 or 620.  Although that parallel seems to be a coincidence more than the result of any relationship between radio and film formats that I can figure out. In today's antique shop the radio and the cameras are in the same booth. Unlike the cameras the radio seems in good shape and it is claimed that it works.  Also unlike with the cameras it is never a good idea to try to see if an old radio works by plugging it in. I suppose the big difference is that no old camera that I know of needs to be plugged into electricity, and therefore it isn't like to be damaged, catch on fire, or shock you.

More on a vintage theme than a photography one are these Christmas lights which I think are from the late 1930's.  Who knows, they could have been on a Christmas tree in the 1930's in the same room with the GE radio and a BROWNIE JUNIOR SIX-16 camera.  I got the lights for a couple dollars at a garage sale last weekend.  Ignoring the caution that I usually have with old electrical things I plugged these in and they did light.  And from the heat they generated I would guess that given time they might have set this box on fire.  I imagine that you would be asking for trouble if you put these lights on a less than fresh Christmas tree.  I suppose the lack of fire threat may be one advantage of collecting vintage cameras.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Meikai 4351

Meikai cameras were actually made by a real camera company in Japan called Tougodo.  The first Meikai was the Meikai EL made in 1963. The Meikai EL has about the same capabilities as the Meikai 4351, however being part metal the Meikai EL looks better. It looks like Tougodo continued making cameras at least up until the late 1980's. They also made flashes and other camera accessories.

Comparing the Meikai 4351 with a camera that I wrote about earlier the, Meikai 4353 SSN , showed me that Tougodo was constantly working on improving their line of Meikai cameras.  That is if by improve you mean to make your camera be a better fake looking SLR. Judging by the numbers I would guess that the Meikai 4353 SSN is a later version than the Meikai 4351.  And the later version Meikai 4353 SSN does look to me more like an SLR.  I do wonder if anyone was ever really fooled by these cameras.  Although when I think of the kind of people we elect to public office, and the kinds of advertising campaigns that people fall for, I wouldn't be surprised if there were at least a few people who thought these were real SLRs.

Still even if they were fooled they would be, unless seriously deluded, unfooled when they got their first images processed.

And if they wondered why it took so long to finish their roll of film they would be enlightened when they saw images like the one above.  Now some cameras like the Meikai 4353 SSN have the tendency at times not to advance the film a full frame on occassion.  This often seems to happen near the end of a roll of film. The Meikai 4351 is the only camera that did this through an entire roll of film. Fortunately I only bulk loaded ten frames to test this camera. I am not sure if this is something that the Meikai 4351 does all the time, or if I may have had the film inserted too loosely.  Still I would guess that if images like the one above are what you have been seeking from a camera, then the Meikai 4351 might be the answer for you.

I wonder if Tougodo was the company that made a lot of the other fake SLRs that now fill up space in thrift stores and garage sales, or did they just stick to their Meikai brand?  If quality is a word that can be used with such cameras I have found some fake SLRs that were better than the Meikai.  The Time Camera that I used last summer probably could even be used for real photography under the right conditions. Anyway you have probably now read more on the Meikai 4351 than has been or ever will be written again.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lavec LT-002

I didn't want to let another week go by without a post, however some may wish when they see the Lavec LT-002 that I had.  I had a case of the Lomo Bug and put some film in this camera that had been sitting around for a while.  I think it came from a garage sale last summer.  It was still in its box wrapped in plastic.  So likely it had never been used.  That seems pretty common for these cameras. A lot of them were give-aways that people didn't want to waste film on.

The Lavec LT-002 has apertures of 5.6,8,11, and 16.  Instead of a round opening for the aperture the Lavec LT-002 uses a rectangular slit.  I think that is what accounts for the vignetting at the smallest apertures.

I suppose that the standard that I use in judging these 35mm cameras for their Lomo qualities is the Holga. By that standard I think the Lavec LT-002 has some potential.  It even has some light leaks and occasional flaring. Although it is not usually as extreme as in the image below.

I have wondered why from time to time I chose to run good film through these cameras that are disdained by most photographers and humanity in general. My best guess is that after so many years of doing photography I know enough to have very good control over the results that I get when using my better cameras.  With a camera like the Lavec LT-002 there is a lot of uncertainty about what results I will get. I can chose my subject and make some attempt at composition(which isn't easy since the viewfinders usually show much less than the camera sees), however much of the result is beyond my control.  And there is something about that which I enjoy.  Although I imagine that the same experience would cause much discomfort to some. 

Anyway the Lavec LT-002 looks like it has some potential.  Although it probably won't be the first camera that I pick up the next time that the Lomo Bug bites.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


The Praktica was a very early SLR first introduced in 1949.  The best I can tell the one here was probably made around 1951.  I imagine that at the time it was introduced that being able to see the same view as the lens was still sort of a wonder.  Although the view through the Praktica's waist-level finder for me leaves a lot to be desired. The only way I could hope to focus was by using the built-in magnifier.  It wasn't a quick process to compose and focus an image with the Praktica.  I imagine that with practice it would get better, however looking down at such a small image in the viewfinder would take some getting used to.

Another thing that might be unfamiliar to someone who has only used more modern SLRs is that the Praktica does not have auto mirror return.  After taking a picture the viewfinder goes dark until the film is wound. That could be a problem in trying to follow continuous action. The shutter requires that you make a choice of using either the fast speeds or the slow speeds.  Unlike on more modern cameras there isn't a continuous progression from slow to fast. I would also guess that like with most older cameras that you need to make sure that the shutter is cocked before changing shutter speeds.

I would like to be able to say that my experience with using the Praktica was a pleasure.  And at least I might have been able to say that if the camera hadn't torn my film toward the end of the roll.  It did this so smoothly that I didn't suspect that it had happened and only found out when I opened the back of the camera and saw my film exposed to the light.  Unfortunately, I had violated one of my usual practices of only opening these old cameras in a dark bag.  Anyway I do not have pictures to show from my time spent with the Praktica.  And my level of enjoyment of the camera wasn't such as to make me want to quickly repeat the experience.  

I am glad that I have this early Praktica.  It is certainly interesting to look at. And the Praktica does have a place in history as the first camera to use the M42 mount.  When it comes to lenses my Praktica came with a very good one, the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primoplan 58mm f/1.9.  So far I have only used this lens on digital which I wrote about a while back.  I thought the results were excellent and I remember at the time I said I was looking forward to trying the lens out with film using the Praktica.  I still am looking forward to using the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Primoplan 58mm f/1.9 with film, however I think that when I do it will be with a different M42 camera than the Praktica.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Argus A2B

Most people who are interested in cameras know that the Argus A was the first successful 35mm camera intended for the masses. The Argus A2B is almost exactly the same as the A with the addition of a early type of exposure meter called an extinction meter.  There also is a different shutter in later models.  And the lens is coated in the models made after WWII.  The A2B was made from 1939 to 1950.  The model here was one of the later ones since it has a coated lens.

One thing that has always interested me with Argus is how they came to make cameras.  I think it is fairly well known that they started out making radios.  So why did they decide to get into cameras?  It turns out that back in the 1930's that radio sales were very slow in the summer. Demand for radios was very low in the summer because people were not interested in sitting in their hot houses during the evening listening to radio.  Back in those days people sat out on their porches in the evening waiting for their house to cool down enough to go inside to sleep.  That was before air conditioning.  So the Argus A was thought to be a good product to make in the summer when people would be out taking pictures.  And the Argus A and the later C3 succeeded beyond the companies wildest dreams.

The Argus A2B is capable of taking fairly sharp images.  I think the main difficultly is in avoiding camera shake.  I at least find it difficult to keep this small camera steady while pressing the shutter.  The original instructions suggested holding the camera upside down pressed against your forehead to keep it steady.  I don't think this caught on.  Still I imagine even these sometimes somewhat shaky images looked good to a lot of people. I remember reading somewhere that while these old cameras didn't always yield a totally faithful reproduction, they still could record the essence of a memory.  And that essence was probably good enough for most people.

It certainly was a different time when the Argus cameras were conceived.  In a way it might be said that a lack of AC had something to do with it.  I am old enough to remember the last few years of when people sat on the porch at night.  I remember us kids playing in the street and the adults going from porch to porch for a visit. Once AC came in all that stopped and I don't think that I am that only one who thinks the effect on our culture was profound.  At least it seems to me that there are a lot of people now who spend too much time wondering what kind of threats are outside their climate controlled cocoons.

Well back to the Argus A2B. My main opinion of the camera is that if I was willing to take the time to master it than it is capable of taking good images. However for that to happen I would have to be limited to a lot fewer camera options than I now have.  Still just for that connection to an earlier time in photography I think the Argus A2B or any of its brother Argus A's are worth a go.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yashica ML 50mm 1:1.7

A couple of years ago I bought a Yashica FX-3 Super at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival.  The FX-3 came with a Sakar 35-200mm lens which I wasn't real impressed by. So I had been hoping to find a Yashica lens in the C/Y mount.  I found one last fall at the same Covered Bridge Festival.  It came on a Yashica FX-2 for a price that I would have been happy to pay for the lens alone. Then for some reason I forgot about the purchase till a short time ago.  Once the Yashica ML 50 f/1.7 again came into my awareness I decided to give it a test. Now the snowy, cold conditions here in Illinois don't make it as pleasant to pop out and take some photos as it usually is.  For some reason I don't feel very creative when walking in a foot of snow with wind chills near zero. Probably the milder winters here in recent years have spoiled me.  Anyway my experience taking these photos has put me off doing any camera testing until the conditions outdoors improve.

One new thing that I did learn about this lens is that there may be two versions. The older version says "YASHICA LENS ML 50mm 1:1.7 YASHICA MADE IN JAPAN".  This version is probably a Yashica DSB lens.  The newer version says "YASHICA LENS ML 50mm 1:1.7 MADE IN JAPAN".  That lens is said to be made with a Zeiss design and glass.  Now these two versions might be the reason why there seems to be such a different in experience that people have with this lens.  It looks like my version is one of the older design.

The image above is the only one I was able to get with the lens wide-open.  It may not be as sharp as it could have been since I may have been shaking from the cold.  Despite the cold it does look like the Yashica ML 50mm f/1.7 is a competent lens.  I probably will use it again when the weather is fairer. I also think I will be on the look-out for one of the newer versions to make my own comparison.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

Back in the early 1970's the concept of the discount store was fairly new. I can still remember when the local or chain department store was the dominate force in retail. Where I grew up there was a small discount chain called K's Merchandise Mart that was very popular.  They had a catalog which would show the normal price for an item and then show K's discount price.  In a more trusting time and with a lot less price info available than today, K's prices looked pretty good. And I did find when I went looking for my first serious camera that K's prices for cameras beat the local merchants.  They actually compared well with the big mail order camera stores once shipping was considered.  So K's was the place that I hoped to find a camera that I liked. The selection was somewhat limited in that they only carried Yashica and Minolta. Still I remember being enamored with the Yashica Electro 35 GSN. I was fascinated by the low light potential of the Electro 35's f/1.7 lens.  That seems funny when looking back on it, since the kind of photography that I grew to prefer seldom needed a large aperture.

In the early 1970's there still was some debate in 35mm circles about if a rangefinder or an SLR was the better choice.  As far as cameras that professionals were buying the SLR had already won. Leica was the only company still making a rangefinder aimed at professionals.  Still there remained a market for fixed lens rangefinders for the consumer that wanted something better than a Kodak Instamatic.  The Yashica Electro 35 GSN and the earlier Yashica Electro 35's were in this class.  And the Yashica Electro 35 was very successful. Around 8 million were sold from 1966 to 1977. The Yashica Electro 35 GSN automatic exposure worked great for the casual photographer, however its lack of a manual option and fixed lens didn't appeal to my photographic ambitions. 

So as I learned more about the limitations of the Yashica Electro 35 GSN I decided to pay a little more and go with an SLR.  And with that I forgot about the Yashca Electro 35 GSN.  That was until a few years ago when I got to looking at film cameras on Ebay.  It is pretty hard to look at the film cameras on Ebay and not come across one of the versions of the Yashica Electro 35.

Seeing one bought back the memories of pondering that camera years ago.  When I saw how cheap they were I had to get one.  I think it may have been my first Ebay camera purchase.  The one I got seemed almost brand new and it included a battery adapter.  I believe that I may have experienced as much pleasure in getting my hands on this camera as I have with any camera that I have acquired since then. 

Which is why it came as a surprise to me to find that I had not written anything about the Yashica Electro 35 GSN.  Probably this was because by the time I started doing this blog I no longer was using the Yashica Electro 35 GSN much.  While the camera gives excellent results, along with being mostly a pleasure to use, I found that when it came to rangefinders that I preferred the more compact ones. Still I do believe the Yashica Electro 35 GSN is a film camera to be experienced.  And there are not many 35mm film cameras that can give such good results for so little money.  If you do look for one be picky and look for one in excellent condition that the buyer will guarantee to work. It shouldn't take long to find one for a good price.

If you want more details on the Yashca Electro 35:
Yashica 35mm Rangefinder Chronology & Specifications
From Matt's Classic Cameras

Lastly some pictures. One thing I have to add is that the colors that the Yashica Electro 35 GSN gives are some of the most true to what I saw of any lens that I have used.