Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yashica MG-1

The next camera up for review is this beauty.  The Yashica MG-1, black version.  I really enjoy this camera.   I have both the MG-1 version and the Electro 35 GSN.  More on that camera later.  The Yashica MG-1 is a big 35mm film rangefinder.  I consider it a poor person's Leica.  Super cool camera.

I picked the MG-1 up last year at the Irvington Flea Market in Indianapolis.  I bought it for $20.  It was super clean, but it didn't have a battery so I couldn't check the light meter or check if the speed properly set.  However, I was willing to take a flier.

The battery is a 5.6V mercury type.  Not made any longer so I bought an equivalent at BatteryPlus, and POW it works.

So here are the specs.  The camera totes a Yashinon 45mm f/2.8 lens.  A perfect street photography lens.  This is an aperture priority camera.  You simply set the aperture and the camera sets the speed.  There is a simple light meter with red & yellow exposure arrows in the viewfinder on the top.  You simply 1/2 push the shutter release and if no lights come on you are good to go.  If the red arrow comes on, simply turn the aperture ring the direction of the arrow (or you will be overexposed).  If the yellow arrow is illuminated open the aperture or you will be too dark.  There are corresponding lights on the top of the camera.  ASA range from 25-800 which is set on the bottom on the lens.  Aperture is f/2.8 through f/16.  Shutter speed from 2 seconds to 1/500 second.  

There is a hot shoe and when you set the little knob on the top from Auto to flash you have a 1/30 sync speed.  I find this weird because this is a leaf shutter so you'd think it would be faster.  One good thing about the shutter...yep, super quiet.  No mirror slap on this sir.

Everything else is manual.  Just set your ASA based on the film, focus (there is a focus center spot in the viewfinder), set your desired aperture and click the shutter release.  The light meter will tell you if you need to open up or close the aperture.  Thats it.  Easy.  Another cool thing is that there is a shutter release lock.  This is important to avoid accidental shutter releases since the shutter release button sticks out pretty far.

Here is a photo of the top of the camera and the back.  Very clean

I've run multiple rolls of film through this camera.  It does have a few light leaks that appear now and again.  However, the camera works fine.  At first I thought the light leaks were due to the film but it always happen so I imagine there is a seal issue.  I've taped the camera up a few times with electrical tape and that seems to help, but that's a pain.   

Bottomline, this is a sweet, cool looking camera that's simple to use, but not much setting flexibility.  Perfect for street photography.

I recently ran a roll of Mitsubishi MX-III 400 color film through it and had good subtle colors.  Here you go:

Construction equipment in full sunlight

Construction equipment in full sunlight

Aiming the camera at the sun just as it dipped below the trees

Hey look, it's me

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Photography Type Of Day

Yep, another weekend, another couple of days to work on photography.  Today, I did digital & film.    I'm bilingual.  On the digital front I processed a commercial gig I shot this past Monday.  Check my portfolo site if you want to see what I do when not playing with film.  

Anyway, I picked up 3 processed rolls today at Roberts Camera.  A roll from my Ultronic Panoramic, Time Rangefinder (which was my Dad's camera) & my all-black Yashica MG-1.  I'll write individual blog posts on each in the coming weeks.  I also dropped off 2 rolls - one for a Canon Sure Shot 85 Zoom & Ricoh FF-1s highlighted in my earlier post.

Finally, I picked up this really weird looking film camera, a Chinon Genesis at the Irvington Flea Market today.  At first I thought it was an older digital camera, but oh no its a film camera.  Seems to work OK.  Got it for a sweet $10.  

Definitely not like any other film camera I have.  Should be fun to read about it and shoot a roll through it.  However, it will have to wait it's turn...I have a long queue.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Canon Sure Shot 85 Zoom & Ricoh FF-1s - What I'm Shooting

Canon on the left of me, Ricoh on the right

What film cameras am I shooting right now you ask?  This week and today I've been using a Canon Sure Shot 85 Zoom and a Ricoh FF-1s that I found at a local Goodwill Outlet.  Both are pocketable and fairly simple point & shoots.  I'll be doing a blog post on each soon.  Stay tuned. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Canon TX - My First SLR

So you wanted to be a stud as a young photographer back in the 70"s?  Of course you wanted to be.  But Steve, how did YOU do it?   Me, I got a top notch film SLR right after I graduated from high school.  By then I was seriously into photography.  I had some really cheap film cameras in high school, but then I finally bought a solid SLR, the Canon TX.  Although this was a consumer grade SLR, for a young guy it was the bomb.  No one in my group of friends had anything this cool.  Yep, a stud.

Joking aside, the Canon TX was a solid SLR.  A tank.  Extremely basic with only a simple light meter.  Other than that the TX is fully manual.  I "think" I bought it in 1975.  Canon produced the TX between 1975 to 1979.  It came with a Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 as a kit.  A perfect standard lens.  I have no clue how much I paid for it, or if my Dad gave me some $$$ for the camera.  I used it constantly for years.  Not sure when I stopped using it, but I found it about a year ago in an old box of camera equipment in my store room.  Time to use it again.

I shot it for the first time in years this month.  I used a roll of Ilford XP2 400 for the test.  I also decided to buy a Canon FD 35mm f/3.5 lens at Roberts Camera so I could get something wider.  A nice lens, but not very bright.  

The Canon TX is a manual focus 35mm SLR.  There is a split circle in the viewfinder that is used for focusing.  You simply line the top and bottom portions of the circle together and then it's in focus.  The speed goes from B to 1/500 max.  Not really very speedy.  ASA range from 25 - 1600.  The camera has a hotshot and a maximum flash sync speed of 1/60.  There is also a PC connection for flashes or for syncing strobes.  There is a match-needle light meter.  On the right side of the viewfinder there is a needle that moves up & down based on the light.  You simply turn the aperture ring to an aperture so the little circle lines up with the needle.  It requires a 1.35V battery.  The camera gives you a really solid "clunk" every time you push the shutter release button.  Not stealthy at all.  Here's the back and insides

The back.  Viewfinder is clean & bright

Internals are really clean & seals tight

I loaded the camera with the appropriate battery, but the meter doesn't work.  Therefore, for the shoot I used the sunny 16 rule.  I was playing it by ear.

OK, here are the results.  With the Ilford film (remember I'm estimating the settings) only the photos in sunny condition came out with little / no noise.  I also took several images under cloudy conditions & low light.  Tons of noise, with some coming out unusable.   Again, this is probably my guessing the settings versus the camera / film.  Next time I'll use my Sekonic light meter.

Bottomline, this camera is a tank.  A good, basic camera.  It can be used without a battery, but it's better if the light meter works.  What I like about this camera is that it was my first SLR, and fundamentally it still works.  I probably won't use it much in the future because I have better cameras.    Maybe try a roll of color film?  However, it will hang out on my display shelf because it was my first.  

Here are some of the photos.  

Bright, but cloudy day

Back Alley behind Roberts Camera.  Fairly bright

In mild shadows and close to dusk

Bright day, but completely in shade

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Film Holder - Tip For The Day

Do you have rolls of 35mm film, or full film containers in your camera bag or your refrigerator?  Of course you do, you're reading this blog aren't you?  Ever wanted to purchase or come up with a storage box or carrying case?  If so, I have a cheap tip for you.

Purchase a "D" sized battery storage box.  They are sold at places like Fry's Electric, Radio Shack, etc., and are super cheap.  The one I bought holds 8 "D" sized batteries, or in my case, 8x35mm film rolls or containers.

You're welcome

Monday, July 21, 2014

Canon TX - It's ALIVE

Super cool.  My original SLR, the Canon TX which is 40+ years old still works.  I got a roll of Ilford XP2 400 back today from Roberts Camera and the proof sheet proves it.  I've loaded the images into Adobe Lightroom 5.5 and checked them out.  For this film type and while using the Sunny 16 rule the images are best in full sunlight.  I'll write a formal blog post soon.  In the meantime it's cool to see that my very first SLR still works!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What I'm Shooting Today - Nikon FM

Went to a family get together Saturday at my sister's place. Since some of my immediate & extended family was there I brought out nostalgia. My father's old Nikon FM plus a roll of expired Kodak TMax 400 B&W film that he owned. The film is probably not good since it's only been cold stored since I got it from his estate. 

I photographed family with it, just like he did years ago. I'll have to send the film to The Darkroom to get it processed. It will be interesting to see if it comes out.  Fingers crossed. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Agfa Isolette V - Medium Format Oldie

I picked up an Agfa Isolette V during a business trip last year.  I decided to drive from Indianapolis to Knoxville for a business meeting instead of flying.  While I was on the road I saw this huge flea market next to the highway.  I'm always on the lookout for cheapo film cameras so I pulled off to take a look.  I found this booth with lots of flea market junk scattered around.  Within the junk was this camera.  It was folded up, but I knew immediately it was a camera.  I picked it up, pushed the button on the top and it unfolded as in the picture above.  It looked clean.  The moving parts all moved.  The baffles looked intact.  The insides looked clean.  And guess what, it was only $18.  I bought it immediately.  My business trip was already a success.  One of the fun things about the camera is that the name is embossed on the front of the camera spelled "Jsolette".

This is a medium format camera.  It takes 120 film and the results are a square photo.  I can't pin down the date it was produced, but the range is 1950-1952.  Great shape for a 50+ year old camera.  Built like a tank.  Metal and leather.  This beauty is all manual.  No light meter, or anything electronic.

A few weeks ago I loaded a roll of Ilford 400 B&W 120 film.  Weird results.  About 1/2 the pictures have excessive light leaks, mainly the first part of the roll.  The rest of the photos had a bit of light leaking, but looked OK.  Might have been the film.  The photos looked soft and muted contrast.  Actually not bad.  Here are 3.  

Sammy the cat with massive light leaks

Indiana soybean field

Abandoned grain silos
The Isolette was produced in Germany by Agfa.  The early (and some of the other versions "I think") have Isolette spelled "Jsolette".  When I researched the camera I thought this was a 1st version produced in 1936. The research indicated Agfa changed the spelling of Jsolette to Isolette on the camera during the production of the 1st version.  Mine says Jsolette, but I still think this is a version V.  Yep, I'm confused too.

The camera folds up nicely into a small package.  By pressing the button on top the front gate opens pulling out the lens & baffles.  Loading the 120 film is straight forward and smooth.  After you take a picture you manually advance the film using the wheel on the top.  There is no lock on the film after taking a photo so double exposures are easy on purpose or accident.  The shutter is cocked with a very small lever on the top of the lens and then triggered by a small lever on the right side of the lens.  There is a lock under the lever to avoid unplanned shutter releases.

The camera is focus by turning the focus ring at the very front.  Small and a bit of a pain.  You have to guess the distance as the viewfinder is a simple look-through.  Therefore, you focus in advance.  The shutter speeds are set on the lens. You have B, 1/8, 1/25, 1/50 & 1/200.  Aperture is set on the lens as well with a small switch from f/4.5 to f/32.  There is no function to change the ASA (ISO).  Therefore, to get good exposures you need to really have a good understanding of light/settings, use a light meter or use the sunny 16 rule.  I tried all 3.   There's a cold shoe on the camera, but not sure why because there's no sync port.  There's a standard tripod mount on the bottom.  The lens is an Agfa Agnar f/4.5 85 with a Vario shutter.

Here are photos of the camera
Back showing the red film number window and the tiny viewfinder

Camera in the closed position - very compact

Open - keeping the moving parts clean

This was a fun camera to play with and I'm sure if I used it for street photography I'd get loads of stares.  Not the most practical of cameras and my first results were just so-so, but I still enjoyed it.  So there you go, want a medium format film camera with baffles and all manual?  Pick up an Agfa Isolette.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lomography Fisheye 2

The Lomography Fisheye 2 with Kodak 400 film

Do you like toy cameras?  Do you like fisheye effects?  Do you like basic 35mm cameras?  Then you will love the Lomography Fisheye 2.  I picked this little beauty up about a year ago in a film camera lot purchase from eBay.  I have no clue how much I paid for it, but likely no more than a few $$$.

I shot a roll of Kodak 400 Color film through it the other day during a hike with Stephanie.  The uniqueness & fun loving nature of this camera is it's selling point.  Really, this camera is just for fun.  Why you ask?  The images are significantly distorted because of the fisheye lens & the image is in the shape of a circle in the center of the photo.

  • A few of the features of the camera are:
  • Ability to easily do multiple exposures
  • built in flash using a simple on / off switch
  • Built in hotshoe
  • A fisheye viewfinder accessory that fits into the hotshoe that replicates what the lens sees.  Looks kind of crazy actually
  • Fixed focal length lens at 10mm
  • Everything is in focus
  • 1/100 standard speed (there is also a bulb mode) at f/8
  • Takes a contemporary AA battery (for the flash)
  • Still available online for about $60 new
  • Easy to load

Duck Pond in bright overcast day

The camera is simple.  Just aim and shoot.  If it's dark, turn on the flash.  There are no settings or focus ring to mess with.  I did find that the 400 ASA film with the speed & aperture worked the best with full sun.  I also took several shots at dusk and low light.  Didn't work.  I needed 800 ASA film for this.   Also, unless you crop photo significantly you will have the circular effect on the photo as shown.

A photo of me by Stephanie at dusk - see what I mean, I need 800 ASA film

Want to try something different and get some fun effects, give the Lomography Fisheye 2 a try.  Probably good for parties with the flash.

In the trees looking up at the sun

On the trail with hazy full sun

My back yard on a cloudy bright day

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Yashica Mat-124G

Finally found a TLR, "Twin Lens Reflex" camera for my collection.  The Yashica Mat-124G.  I'm a fan of Yashica's rangefinders, so I wanted one versus a Rolliflex.  This camera is extremely clean and appears to be in outstanding working order.  Got it yesterday and will be reading the manual in detail & watching YouTube videos on the best way to use the camera.  I have a few cameras already loaded with film so they come first, but hope to run a roll of Ilford 400 B&W through it soon.

Stay tuned to this channel for a review.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Olympus XA - Mini Rangefinder

The actual camera that Jim gave me
I was recently given an Olympus XA.  This is a cool little film camera.  Jim Keller from the Indianapolis Photo Venture Camera Club, PVCC, gave it to me since he knew I still shot film.   I've never shot nor did I have an Olympus XA, so yes sir, I'll take it.

With the camera came an A11 flash unit, that screws into the side of the camera.
The A11 screwed on
The Olympus XA was made between 1979 - 1985.  I have no clue how old this camera is, but it's in pretty good shape.  No cleaning needed since Jim kept it in good shape.  The specs, reviews and instructions said this this "one of the smallest 35mm rangefinders".  I like rangefinders.  The camera has a 35mm f/2.8 lens.  The camera shoots aperture priority metering.  Shutter speed goes from 10 seconds to 1/500.  ISO (ASA) range from 25-800.  Focus is manual.  Just set ASA based on your film, and set the aperture to your desired setting.  f/5.6 is highlighed so I'm guessing this is the sweat spot.  Once the aperture is set the camera sets the appropriate speed which is visible in the rangefinder.  That's it. 

For a small pocketable, quasi-point & shoot this is pretty good spec range.  One nice feature of the camera is a clamshell cover that slides over the lens and opens revealing the lens & rangefinder.  This is nice.  The camera is surprisingly heavy.  Also, batteries required.

I took the camera to Paris with me as my walk-around film camera.  I loaded it with Kodak 400 - 36 and ran 4 rolls through it.  I had shot one roll through it before and was impressed.  Guess what, it works perfectly.  It's easy to handle, switch settings and click around.  It's a good street photography camera because the leaf shutter is completely silent.  There is only a slight click.  Wind the film with the small thumb wheel.  

The only problem with the camera was I sometimes set the aperture too small so the shutter speed was too slow for street photography.  About 10% of my photos were out of focus.  That's simply a learning experience.  I had only one image of the 4 rolls that appeared to have a light leak.

I like this camera.  Easy to use.  Super easy to load, and super stealthy.  I'll use it again, and try it with the A11 flash in the future.

Photos from Paris during a street photography workshop with Valerie Jardin.

Shadows at sunset

Eiffel Tower

Large scale grafitti 

Business people power walking

Paris side streets

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shooting & Latest Finds

Canon TX, my original SLR

I bet you are wondering what film camera I'm shooting this week, right?  I knew you were.  Well, this week I've pulled out my "original" SLR the Canon TX.  I have a Canon f/3.5 35mm lens attached, but not sure what type of film is in it.  I loaded it about 6 months ago and can't remember what I film I used.  Oh well, when I do a post on the outcome, I'll let you know.

Also this week I acquired these to toy cameras.

Two Ebay specials that came in this week.  the Split Camera from Image Fusion Technology (I know I'm impressed too) & the Ultronic Panoramic.  Both drip toy camera-ish.  Should be fun to shoot a roll through each and let you know how they go.   OK, more later.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nikon FM - "It IS Your (At Least My) Father's Camera"

So which camera to talk about first.  That's easy, a Nikon FM.   Why this camera you ask?  Because it was my dad's.  I think this was my Dad's last SLR before he migrated to smaller point & shoots and then to digital.  My dad was a passionate photographer.  He always had a camera in his hand or around his neck until the end.

He was a Nikon man and I think that's why I migrated to Nikon years ago.  He had tons of kit, and we even had a darkroom in our house at one time.  One of his cameras was the Nikon FM.  The camera was produced from 1977 through 1982.  It was / is a completely basic SLR.  The only electronics is a simple light meter with a +/O/- meter on the right side of the viewfinder.  Everything else was manual.  Focus was assisted by a split screen circle in the middle of the viewfinder.  Line up the top / bottom split image in the viewfinder and you are in focus.  No battery is required to use the camera unless you use the simple light meter.  The camera takes all Nikon F bayonet lenses.  Speed range from B-1000, ASA range from 12-3200.

I got this camera about 6 months ago from my sister.  A few years back, before my dad passed away he boxed up & stored a lot of his stuff including most of his camera equipment.   My sister, who had been storing some of the boxes recently gave me a few.  The boxes she gave me had assorted photography gear including cameras, darkroom equipment, etc.  The Nikon FM was in one of the boxes.

I recently took the FM out with a 24 shot roll of Kodak Max 400.  The camera had probably been in storage without cleaning for a number of years so I wasn't sure of the condition.  All the moving parts seemed to work, but not sure of the seals.  The viewfinder is really dirty inside but that is more of a nuisance. I put a couple of batteries in the camera, but couldn't determine if the light meter worked.  I used the lens that was on the camera when I got it, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2.  

No problems, I took it out anyway and used the Sunny 16 rule adjusting aperture from there.  Guess what, it worked.  There were a few light leaks and color shifts, but that might be the film.  

Bottomline, the Nikon FM is a classic SLR design.  Solidly built & very heavy.  This beast is all metal and can probably take a beating.  The shutter sound is a classic "clunk".   I enjoyed shooting it, and even more love the idea that I can use a camera that my dad used to use.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lustful Things - That's Right I'm Talking About Film

Welcome to my new blog.  As a bit of introduction to both this blog and me let me first say “I’m Steve, and I’m a photographer”.  I’m not a photographer by trade, but by passion.  I’m a finance executive in my day job, and have been involved with various finance roles & positions in my 30+ professional years both in the USA and around the world.   However, I consider myself a photographer first.  I’ve been around photography my entire life.  My father was a photographer, so I’m a photographer. 

My focus for the past few years is editorial fashion, model / portrait photography and the occasional street photography.  As you can imagine, I shoot digital.  Nikon full frame cameras are my weapons of choice.  All of my published and paid gigs are digital centric.

HOWEVER, I still shoot film.  Why? Honestly, I don’t know.  I started out shooting film…obviously.  As a matter of fact I still have my first film SLR.  It’s a Canon TX purchased probably 40 or so years ago.  That bad boy still works.  Before and after I’ve shot all types of film cameras and all types of formats & film brands from 35, 110, 126, 120, disc, instant Polaroid, Kodak, Ilford, Fuji, & many more.   I’ve shot all types of film cameras from Polaroid, Brownie, Yashica, Mamiya, Minolta, point & shoots, Fuji, etc. etc.

I guess I still shoot film because I enjoy it.  I have a lust for film & photography.

I’m not a film or digital photography snob.  I’m completely equal opportunity & bilingual.  I hate those in the community that say stupid things about the purity of film, the “spray & pray” nature of digital, the “get out of the stone age”, etc., etc.  Photography is photography.  Who cares how it’s created as long as you are capturing an event or moment in time.  Be it film or digital.

I will admit the workflow with film is more complex, costly and time consuming than digital.  You also do not get immediate feedback unless you shoot instant film.  However, I still shoot film.

OK, enough about me.  What about this blog you ask?  I have a separate blog and portfolio site for my model work at Steven Brokaw Photography.  You can check me out there.  I wanted to separate my film writing into a different channel because the tone & vibe of the blog will be different.  This blog will be about film.  It will cover whatever I want to discuss at the moment.  I'll do camera reviews, talk about experiences, hype my latest camera find, share thoughts on film, occasionally bitch about something, highlight another photographer or blog, talk about a shoot or a concept.  You get the idea, anything and everything concerning film.  I do not expect this blog to become a camera review site, nor will my discussions get too technical.   That’s not my bag.

So here we go.  Sit back and enjoy the ride together.  So with that, my I introduce my Film Photography Lust Project, FPL for short.