Minolta XG2

I bought this camera for a stupid reason really. I was sorting out my father’s filing cabinet, bills and certificates and the like. And in one of the folders, I found a brochure for this camera. Neither one of us could remember ever having owned the camera.

Me being me…I could not let it go and I wanted the camera portrayed inside the pages. I bought one example on eBay which came with 3 lenses, a manual and an alternative brochure. It was an “as is” buy and nothing I did would make the batteries power up the camera. I ended up sending the body to an internet contact who needed a focusing screen from a Minolta. I kept the lenses and kept on looking. Then I found a body for sale, no lenses, no manual. Perfect. Please excuse the photos, it is cold and rainy outside and as you will read I am feeling a little lethargic.

This time the lights lit up as they should so I popped in some Street Candy 400 and since the day the camera arrived, the clouds loomed and stayed. Even today.

I dislike grey skies, dull grey skies. I don’t mind storms, fierce clouds, heavy rain, but dull and grey seems to affect my moods. If the weather can’t be bothered, then neither can I. It took me ages to get through this roll of film. In the end, I even took a couple of selfies and processed it with a couple of shots left untaken.

None of this has anything to do with this camera from 1977. I love the look of the camera, a classic look. All the lenses seemed to work. I especially liked the Rokkor 50mm f1.7. You can find all the French technical details you might ever need here. The camera is a little basic on modes. There is aperture priority or manual modes, no speed priority mode. In manual mode, the viewfinder gives no information at all, not even a suggested setting, just dullness…like the weather.

I also found the viewfinder a ‘little’ bit dull and the information on the right a ‘little’ bit hard to see. My example’s shutter release seemed a ‘little’ sensitive too. While using the camera I felt everything was ok, but maybe a ‘little’ off. I want to like it, I want to love it, but I just felt a ‘little’ underwhelmed. Then again, I also think the weather had something to do with that.

When I finally did develop the film, it also seemed a little off. I am not taking to Ilfosol 3 at all, so when I run out of it, I think I will try another kind of developer. I am also having a little trouble with hairs and dust. I think I need to move my drying space. At the moment it is next to my bedroom door. So each time I open it, dust moves around and onto the film.

Anyway here is my test roll. I suggest looking at the photos in the full screen viewer by clicking on them as the new WordPress gallery crops the images.

And there is me looking a little sad, totally posed. Even though this review is a little depressing, I most certainly am not. I am always putting photos of other people on my blog, but rarely myself. So I tried to take a selfie by first focusing on my hand then swapping the camera to my hand. Some of the photos are from the 52-week challenge, this week was to tell about me. Right now I am all about walks, listing to audiobooks in my car, and birds. You are not supposed to show your face for this challenge, but I am a little off today 🙂

In the end, I think the test film shows my personality quite well. I even managed to get a dinosaur foot in there.

And as I said on my stuff for sale page, I am going to put the cameras for sale on the review page so you can see what you are getting. It also means I don’t have to pay eBay fees. Plus I will probably get to keep the cameras longer. I have rented a vintage market stall for the beginning of March so I am going to postpone all sales until after that in order to have a nice collection to sell. More details about that to come.

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Chinon AP 600S (aps)

I can’t tell you anything about this camera apart from what you can garner from the actual casing and that it is produced in 1996.

It is a very, very basic aps camera. It has a cheap plastic feel. There is a focus aid light on the front, the regular print size selector on the top, a fill-in flash button, and a lens cover. It is powered by a CR2 battery which is most inconvenient and expensive for a cheap camera. I found no information about the aperture, but I think I can assume it is fixed. The label on the front says it has autofocus.

Really, I found nothing about this camera on the net apart from a few people trying to sell it.

I was so unimpressed by this camera just by looking at ut that I put in a 15 exposure film and used it very quickly around my house and at a nearby castle ruin.

As with all APS film, the one I used was an expired one. The flash failed to fire sometimes, especially when faced with a backlit subject, the fill-in flash didn’t seem to have too much effect. The photos that did come out are fairly sharp, but the flash is quite ineffective. This camera would be fine outside on a bright day, but not really good for any other situation.

I really disliked this camera and will put it in my own junk bin. The one good thing about it is that you can throw it around without any care that it might get damaged.

Large Format Camera Pre-1906 (4×5 sheet)

Some posts are quick to prepare, process, and write. This post is by far the longest in terms of time and biggest in terms of effort, that I have written.

I received this camera over 3 months ago from a new friend. Soon after we started wandering and walking together she mentioned she had an “old” camera in her loft and I could have it, but it probably doesn’t work. Of course when I heard “old camera” I was hooked. I asked questions…

What kind of camera? What film does it take? Does it use batteries? Where did you get it? To all questions, I got a shrug and an “I don’t know, it was in the loft when we bought the house.”

So I just waited and one fine day she brought it over to my house.

*Gulp* It was not what I was expecting at all. I have no experience with this type of camera. I didn’t even know where to begin. These photos are after I dared to open it up and attach the lens.

Talking of the lens, can you see the big gap between the glass and the front of the cylinder? The front element had detached… is it an element when there are just two pieces of glass and a barrel? The front piece of glass was loose and moving around inside the brass barrel. I was going to give up on that altogether, then I looked at the prices of replacement lenses *gulp* and put the whole thing back in the bag/box and put it under my bed.

To be honest the whole project made me nervous and I tried to get rid of the responsibility and the camera. One of the people I offered it to said, “get a grip you can do it.”

So a few days later I took the camera out again and took a deep breath. The first thing I looked at was the bellows. If they were damaged then I was screwed, I could not buy or make a new one. I could possibly fix very small holes. Here is a great resource if you ever need to do that. Fortunately, the bellows seemed perfect, no holes at all. Great start.

Next was to use wood glue on any parts that were split. In my worry and haste, I did not take great photos of this process. The main part that needed fixing was the lens plate holder. That was in two parts.

Now one part with a previous repair on the left.

That part of the camera gave an obvious clue about its history. Ralph Cuthbert was a chemist in Huddersfield, you can read about one of his exploits in this article. And this entry states that he formed a limited company in 1913 and that he died in 1917. As the camera’s label doesn’t mention “Ltd” then I guess it is from before 1913. The Byram Arcade was first seen on a map in 1890, so the camera is probably from after that point.

Another clue was inside one of the film holders, it was a glass plate.

I rested it on my iPad to act as a light-box.

I used an app to turn it into a positive photo.

Either J.Wright owned this camera at some time or Mr. Cuthbert went on holiday.

I posted the photo online and one of my friends said there was an Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Blackpool. After a little search online I found this article. As you can see, the photo in the article is of the same building and if you read the text you will find out the building was demolished in 1908. Therefore, Mr. Watson, we can surmise this camera is probably from around 1900. Bloody hell…and it is now my responsibility. Just to confirm the date, here is a collection of similar cameras with details of dates.

OK, next issue, the lens. I had to put the front glass back in the right place. I know this might make a few people *gulp* just like me. But I unscrewed the only screw I could find and just superglued it back in place. There was no shutter mechanism and I stayed very clear of the aperture blades.

Just a bit of glue put it back in place.

Before I put the lens back together I waited for the glue to fully set to avoid any issues with a residue like I experienced with this camera. Then I screwed it onto the plate and slid it onto the camera.

But did it work, would it focus…I had no idea at this point as I did not know how to focus the damn thing, the lens only has apertures from f8 to f64. So more research was required. First I found articles like this one. Hmm, mine doesn’t seem to have a shutter release at all. This one seemed more likely.

So I need to move the rail somehow, I looked the camera over.

Found it!! This moves and the camera will focus somehow. I looked at the back of the camera and I couldn’t see anything on the glass plate. The image was too light, I needed more lightness and darkness. I took the camera outside but I didn’t have a blackout cloth, would a towel work?

YES!!!

First objective achieved, an image…an upside down image. Now for stage two, getting a negative.

The bag had three plate holders inside, one was missing the middle light shield.

Once the camera was focused you lifted the focusing screen and slid the holder into place. The holder had to be prepared beforehand by inserting glass plates coated in a light-sensitive material.

However, there was no way in the world I was going to prepare and use glass plates, so what is the nearest modern equivalent? 4×5 sheet film. Holy moly it is expensive, plus I need a holder. My heart sank. At the very least I would need.

  • Sheet film – the cheapest on eBay I could find was Shanghai ISO100 £25 for 25 sheets
  • At least one 4×5 sheet holder, about £10 from West Yorkshire Camera
  • Some way to develop the sheets, a 4×5 developing tank adapter around £20+ on eBay
  • And a loupe to attain a fine focus £10+

At least I already had a tripod and surprisingly the camera fit modern tripod screws 😦

I put the camera away and reviewed my out of work finances. Even if I could get all the things I needed, how could I fit the 4×5 cassette in the camera?

As you may know I am not a patient person when it comes to things like this and sometimes I actually “dream” an answer. The next day I woke up and went, “THE BROKEN HOLDER!!!”

If I could cut down the broken holder to take the 4×5 cassette it just might work. Sacrilege? Cutting a victorian glass plate holder? Don’t care, it is now mine to do with as I please…sorry. Really I am, but it had to be done.

I decided to sell a camera to pay for the things I needed. Bye bye OM2, hello saw and chisel.

I have never tried this kind of thing before, but would you believe it…the 4×5 cassette fit like a glove.

A bit of wood glue, nothing to see here.

Gosh this is turning into a very long post. Ok, onward and forward, loading the sheet film.

Simples. Plus…don’t forget to take off any movement activated watches with an LED display 🙂

We are getting there. The next issue, no shutter just a lens cap. That meant I would have to use the lens cap as a shutter by taking it off and putting it back on. So the exposure would have to be at least 2 seconds to avoid camera shake or suchlike. Luckily the lens cap was in good condition and attached to the lens when I received the bag.

So this is the sequence of events.

  1. Prepare the 4×5 cassette. Make sure the film shield are showing the white label (or black depending on your own choice)
  2. Find a subject for a photo. This might mean lugging the camera and a tripod to a location.
  3. Find the exposure setting using a light meter, make sure it is over 2 seconds for 100ASA film at f22 (or whatever ASA you are using).
  4. Put the camera together.
  5. Place on a very sturdy tripod.
  6. Set the lens aperture to the largest to let in more light, f8.
  7. Use the towel, coat or something dark to focus the camera on the subject and use the loupe to get a sharper focus.
  8. Reset the aperture to f22 or smaller depending on what is needed for a longer exposure time.
  9. Once focused and framed PUT ON THE LENS COVER
  10. Move the glass focusing plate and slide in the adapted holder with the 4×5 cassette
  11. Put the light cover, my towel or coat, over the back end of the camera and remove the light shield protecting the sheet.
  12. Remove the lens cover and count out the “elephants” needed
  13. Put the lens cover back on
  14. Put the film shield back in with the black label showing
  15. As a film cassette holds two sheets take out this holder and replace the glass focusing screen.
  16. Return to number 2 for the next shot or go home and develop the sheets.

All that effort for 2 shots. For my first test I stayed at home and tried to take a photo of a swan feather I retrieved the day before. That way I would not have to lug the camera anywhere. I worked out that I would need 6 elephants to get an image. I only managed to get one shot as I put the second light shield back in the first slot and jammed it, fogging the second sheet.

Putting the sheet on the developing holder was a pain in the butt. I was sure, even if it worked, it would be covered in finger prints. After the development process I could barely wait to see the developed sheet.

THERE IS AN IMAGE!!!!! Can you see the feather?

I almost cried. I didn’t care if it was out of focus, I could see a feather. I waited for it to dry and put it on the iPad and took a photo with my phone.

This is the first test shot.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Of course I tried again immediately. As my dad was engrossed in watching TV I took a photo of him. He had to stay very still for eight elephants.

You can see lines from the iPad, I think, but I didn’t care…I DID IT!!!!

I rushed into Leeds and bought three more cassettes and loaded them up. I was going to visit a friend for some cosplaying photos in an abandoned house, perfect for this style of shot. She could stay still, well the building could anyway. We lugged the camera up hill for a kilometer. I set up the camera.

…and then realised I left the film cassettes in the car, bugger. Lesson learnt.

To finally use the loaded sheets, I took the camera to my local park, double checking I had the cassettes.

And now finally the shots, it took a while to develop them as I can only do two at a time.

Just one didn’t come out, not quite sure why.

Done, completed, success. I have a few sheets left and I will probably take the camera to Blackpool to get a shot of the new Old Tom’s Cabin building. After that I am not sure I will ever use it again. It is a lot of effort. This part was a challenge and therefore fun, but I much prefer 120mm or 35mm.

Now this post is very long and picture heavy, it seems WordPress is having an issue and keeps losing my pictures. So I am going to upload it before it disappears again.

Update on the Kiev 88

I finally used the Kiev 88 again. I bought an extra cassette too though for this excursion I didn’t use it.

I went for a local walk after work. It was a short walk, specifically to use this camera. I reread my previous post about the camera and reminded myself of the issues I had. It helped. I wound the cassette to the first shot and cocked the shutter before attaching the cassette to the body. The light was rapidly fading, but as there are only 12 shots I managed to finish in time and developed the film when I returned home.

I was getting ready to sell this camera, now I am not so sure. Oh Beastie, you are a fickle friend.

Kodak Instamatic 304

I bought this camera so I could try a 3D printed 126 cassette that accepts 35mm film. So I needed a fairly clean 126mm camera. It took me three attempts to hit that requirement. One camera arrived and it looked like it had lived at the bottom of a garage where people did woodworking for 20 years…nope. Finally, this one arrived and there was a found film inside.

The cassette was showing the number 10 so there was still some shots to be taken. I had no doubt that the film was fogged, damaged or just old beyond salvaging. So I took some random photos just in case and then sent it off for develop only.

When it came back I was surprised to see images on the film, some from me, some from the previous owner. But now I didn’t have scanned images. Never mind I just taped the negs to my scanner. They scanned ok, but were very hairy. I didn’t bother fixing them, you will see why.

Here are the found shots.

Cool, no naked shots, looks kind of Greek to me. Do you know where it is?

Here are my shots.

They are not too bad considering. They are fairly sharp, well exposed. That meant this camera would be perfect for the experiment.

I followed the instructions for the adapter to the letter, please check the first link, and took two shots. Then the camera jammed. So I took the cassette out, fogging the film, unjammed the camera and took two more shots. Then the camera jammed. So I took the cassette out, fogging the film, unjammed the camera…can you see where this is going.

Here are my shots recovered from the cassette…er nope. I gave the cassette to a friend to see if he could get it to work. I know I gave up easily, but I had already bought 4 cameras and didn’t think it was worth more effort and money when I have so many other cameras to try. Sorry Fakmatic, super idea, but not for me. Honestly, I think it is because many 126 cameras are old and cronky, I don’t think it has anything to do with the Fakmatic. If you have a good 126 camera it is well worth a try. As I did give the cassette to a friend I don’t have it to take photos of it. Check the website 🙂

Oh but what about the camera? What about 126mm film?

Well, the film ceased being produced in 2008, so like APS all film is now expired, if you do happen to have some. The camera itself was introduced in 1965, has a selenium meter which you can see on the front. You can find more details here

I sent this camera to the friend who I also gave the 3D printed cartridge too, maybe he can get it to work.

Canon IV SB2

My first camera post of 2019. I saved this one in my draft folder for ages.

I have now been back in the UK for 5 months, to be honest, it seems longer. During my last couple of weeks in Japan, I met a friend to give her some film cameras. I couldn’t bring home all the ones I had, so I gave a few away. When we met she asked me how I chose the cameras I buy. So I took her to a little shop I knew in Akihabara and looked in the window. I pointed to a couple of cameras I thought were a good deal, they were both Canon IV SB2. One was slightly more expensive than the other. I asked to look at the more expensive one and cocked the shutter. It sounded clunky and the movement was stiff. So I asked to look at the cheaper one. Now, to be honest, I had no intention of buying either…until I tried the cheap one. It felt smooth and everything worked. It was less than £30. Plus, I had a Canon f1.4 LTM lens that would fit it nicely.

Hello Canon IV SB2, surely I could fit one more camera in my luggage?

This camera was released in 1954 and you can find lots of technical details on the linked site. When you load the camera the leader of the film has to be cut in the same style as the Leica Barnacks. It felt super to hold, a piece of quality machinery. I loved the viewfinder with the magnifier built in. I put an expired film in as soon as I could as I only wanted to take fresh film back with me.

Not too bad for a dull day in Minami Senju. As soon as I got back to the UK I tried another roll. The rangefinder’s second image was a bit light so I put a little square of tape on the window which helped.

Oh dear, this time the shutter seemed to be less smooth and the photos show the curtain was sticking. This was beyond my fixing abilities and I am out of work. Hmm, is it worth paying for a CLA?? Only if I sell some cameras to pay for it, so I did.

I took the camera to Newton and Ellis in Liverpool and waited, and waited, and waited. I am not patient, but this was different. I had never had a camera CLAd before this, I have now, but this was my first and it was going to be expensive. Would it be worth the wait and expense?

Finally, after a near 3-month wait and a few camera sales, I got the call. I rushed to Liverpool and picked it up. As soon as I did I could feel the difference. The shutter was so quiet. I could see the second image. The film advance moved like a hot knife through butter. They said they replaced the shutter curtain as it was crispy. They cleaned the rangefinder among other things. After a brief chat, I loaded some pre-cut film and not just any film. I tried my first roll of Kosmo Foto and wandered the area.

I didn’t quite finish the film as I had to head to Manchester to meet a friend. I love that, how English am I? I was in Liverpool and drove to Manchester 🙂

As I am from Yorkshire, I decided to finish the film in Haworth, because I can. This is a beautiful village and the former home of the Bronte Family.

Holy moly, I can quite honestly state…

  1. I love this film
  2. I love this lens
  3. I love this camera
  4. It was worth getting it CLAd
  5. I might have paid more for the CLA than the camera body is worth, but I don’t care
  6. I am keeping this camera
  7. Oh and England is lovely

Plus, now I have well and truly decided to sell most of my cameras. Soon I will be putting notices on my camera review posts for ones that are up for sale. I will no longer put them on eBay. That means if they sell, great. If they don’t, I get to keep them a little longer.

I will still write new reviews, especially as I have a shelf of about 10 cameras to get through. But I am going to move towards getting to know a few cameras better.

This is definitely a keeper.

Top Ten Viewed Posts of 2018

After reading Dan James’ blog about his posts of 2018, I thought I would look at my own stats. I don’t really do musings as such so I can’t do a full list like his, but according to the stats, these are the top ten most viewed posts. They are not ones I posted in 2018, but the most viewed this year out of all the posts.

  1. Minolta Hi-Matic AF-D
  2. Olympus AZ-1 Zoom
  3. Fuji HD-M
  4. Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 MD
  5. Two Nikon TW Point and Shoots
  6. Nikon TW Zoom
  7. Olympus Pen EED
  8. Ricoh XR 500
  9. Fuji TW-3
  10. Konica Z-up 80 super zoom

2018 Favourite Photos

After reading Jim Grey’s blog about his favourite photos, I wondered if I could choose ten of my own.

It took a long time to sort through all the files. After I made a folder of possibilities, I then had to sort through those and then backtrack to find the information. If I do this next year I will make a “possible” folder and note the cameras and films in the metadata. Or I will start to use a program that puts everything in the photo data when I store them. For this year I will show the chosen 10 photos and as much information as I can. You have to be super organized with this, well done Jim for being that organized.

So here are my personal choices for 2018, in no particular order.

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