Pentax Espio 170 SL

I recently visited a follower of the blog and we exchanged some cameras. Well, I gave him a few and he gave me a sackful and loads of film to boot…not literally. Then we went for a wander around Leicester. To join me on the walk I chose this camera from the pile he gave me.

I picked this camera from 2001 as it looked clean and easy to use. I could wander around Leicester without thinking too much about how to use it. The previous link and this one both state the camera has a panoramic feature, but I did not find the switch while I was using it. After reading about that setting on a few websites I had another look. Usually, the panoramic feature is quite prominent. On this camera, it is hidden on the bottom of the camera. It is also a little bit camouflaged next to the serial number and film rewind button.

I did find the spot focusing setting, which you can access by pressing the AF button. The flash comes on automatically when needed unless you turn it off. Amazingly, if you scroll through the flash settings there is a bulb setting. I have not seen that on a point and shoot before.

The day was beginning to wane and it had been cloudy before that. I only had a Fomapan 100 to try, not the best choice for the conditions. I don’t really like using flash and certainly couldn’t use it while visiting the local King. Actually, I have not been to Leicester before and I was very surprised by the buildings and history of the place. Mainly I knew about the football team and King Richard III, and that was it. Walking around the city I was struck by the calm welcoming feeling of the place. I felt kind of safe there.

Anyway, here is the test roll from the gift camera.

At the beginning of the walk, I decided to turn off the flash, even though it was dark. I was expecting the shots to be underexposed, but they are not. That means the camera chose the correct exposure length. I was impressed by this as usually there is a minimum or set exposure time, but this camera even has a bulb setting. I think with a tripod and remote or timer, the shots would have been fine. Where I did turn on the flash the exposures are also great, the flash does not overpower the images. Super. Then there is the massive zoom. Due to the dull conditions, I did not try that out to the full extent. But reviews of the zoom are good. I do like the vignetting on the flash photos.

I have a confession about the developing though. I used Ilfosol 3 which is a one use only developing solution. I used this batch previously to develop a few sheets of 4×5 film, hence the weird grain you can see. I thought the film would be underexposed or blurry (I was right about that), so didn’t want to mix new chemicals. I am happy with the results. It lets me know this is a great camera and one I will keep above my other zoomed point and shoots.

Keep or Sell: I think I am going to forgo this part from now on as I have now sold most of my ‘surplus’ cameras and the ones I have left I really want to keep… for now.

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Werramat

I have previously tried a Werra and mentioned that I bought a junk/parts camera for less than £5 in order to get the front lens cover. Well, this is the junk camera I bought minus the small lens cover which I put on the other camera.

I sent the original Werra off for a CLA to a well-known place in Liverpool. This one initially didn’t work and I was about to consign it to the rubbish bin. Then I heard about another person who serviced cameras. He was much cheaper so I thought I would send him this one, nothing to lose really. Well, in a week he sent it back. Apparently, a small piece of plastic was stuck in the shutter mechanism. He took it out and voila, I now have two Werras. Actually, I also sent my Leica to the hobby guy for a CLA and that came back much cleaner and smoother too. The lens was unrepairable, but the viewfinder is now brighter. I am not sure why I took the risk with that, but it worked out well.

Ok, so what about this unexpected Werramat. It was made around 1961 and is completely manual. The lens cover was damaged as on my original. The manual states to put the lens at infinity before putting it back on as it will get damaged. I found that out with the original. I loaded this one with a roll of very expired slide film a Jessops 100. I set the camera to 25ASA.

Do you see the dial on the bottom? I left mine in the “R” position which means rewind. So when I finished the roll I actually hadn’t taken any photos as the film had not advanced. The arrow needs to be beyond the black circle, as it is in the photos. Then the film will advance.

So did my cheap, junk, bargain CLA’d camera work. Yeap! but the expired film was rubbish It had a massive colour cast which I removed. You can see some sharp photos though. There is no rangefinder, so it is a matter of guesswork and using the distance scale.

I think it needs a trial with a better film. But it does work and I now have two Werras.

Keep or Sell: I think I might give this one to a friend, I definitely don’t NEED two..but do I want two?? No, my GAS has gone and so has the camera.

Developing Issues and Darkroom Courses

I recently switched from using Kodak D-76 to Ilford Ilfosol 3 to develop my films. I tended to reuse the D-76 and got used to that process. What I didn’t know or read was Ilfosol was a one use only developer. So when I started developing my own film again, the first one was great. The rest got lighter and lighter, tremendously so. I was increasing the developing time, thinking it was my fault. It was, but not in the way I thought. After the 3rd roll, I went back to the bottle and read the instructions…one use. Crap.

I managed to get images from all the rolls with a fair amount of post-processing, but they were obviously not the best negatives I have ever seen.

It was disappointing as I had just come back from Iceland and had been to a gig in Manchester.

For the busy negatives, they are OK. But the ones with sky you can see a definite issue.

The gig film was the last one I developed before checking the instructions. I actually thought it was blank and didn’t take too much care of it once I took it out of the wash. When it was dry, I saw a reflection of a faint image. To be fair the location was very dark and the singers were wearing black, but still, I expected more.

The first person with the drummer is from Hater, and the lady in the hat is Jennifer Castle. I actually liked both artists though they were quite different. I used my Nikon F2 for both locations, the gig used Ilford Delta 3200 pushed to 6400.

Luckily I did take a medium format and a digital camera to Iceland. I read the instructions again before I developed those…no development needed for the D750. If you want to see more results from that trip you can check out the iBook.

Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 13.57.44

 

Download it on iBooks. (There are some errors in the description which I have corrected, but the new version has not updated yet.)

 

 

 

 

While I was contemplating the development issues I received an email from an outfit in London. A darkroom! Or rather a Bright Room. They run courses on developing and have darkrooms to hire. I am thinking I might take a trip to London and include this location as a stop. You can never stop learning apparently. But wait, they have a pop-up van…maybe they can visit me and some friends??

Delving into their website more, there is an Artist series, where you learn directly from an artist to see how they work. That is just up my street. OK time to save or sell more cameras to try one of those.

They did tell me they will be starting an online gallery on the 30th November 2018, but I haven’t been able to find a link online for that. Sounds interesting though as I love looking at other photographer’s work. I will look back at the end of the month.

I am glad I can develop my films again, I am relieved I know what the issue I was experiencing actually was.

Ondu Pinhole Camera

A while ago I was contacted through my other website and asked to take some photos. Plus I would be paid, Awesome!! That would be almost like free money. My Japanese friends never understood that phrase, but basically, it is when you get something unexpected. Like when you get cash back from a purchase or store credit. As I was still working full time as a teacher, I didn’t have to worry about where my next paycheck was coming from…or sell stuff to fund my hobby as I do now. So, what to buy??

A completely weird and gorgeous camera. A camera for fun. A camera I would not usually buy. Hello Ondu Pinhole Camera 🙂

Luckily for me, there was a sale on and the multi-format camera was still available. That turned out to be not quite so lucky later as you will see.

I had to wait until I returned to the UK to use it. Plus, as it was a camera I would not normally buy, I had forgotten all about it. So it was a nice surprise when I opened the box, a present to myself.

At first, I had a lot of issues loading and winding the film. When I first tried loading it, the film just slipped out. It was frustrating. Once it did seem to be moving ok I put the back on the camera and put it in my bag.

The day I decided to try the camera was quite wet and windy. As it was dull, I exposed the film for 2-3 minutes. Of course, I used a mini-tripod, but probably there was still movement. After 4 shots the film would not wind on anymore, it just spun inside the camera. I thought it might have got wet or something. When I got home I put the whole thing under my bed covers and I found the film was fine. I rewound it and transferred the roll to my Yashicaflex.

These are the shots I got from the Ondu from that outing.

I waited for a brighter day and tried again. BUT…I forgot I had moved the masks. I thought it was still set for 6×6, but I had set the masks to 6×9. That meant all the shots would be overlapping. Due to the increased brightness, I exposed the Fomapan 400 roll for 10-25 seconds. I took it to my local cemetery as I thought the camera would suit this kind of subject.

I don’t know if it is a shame about the overlapping or if I like it. I do think the small tripod and low viewpoint enhances the look achieved from the pinhole. Also, Photo Hippo did a great job developing and scanning the negs. At the time I was still waiting for my developing equipment 😦

Anyway, Now I have a little notebook to remind me of these things for when I try again. As for the camera, I find it stunningly beautiful. I also find it tricky to use, but there is something about it. I took it to a camera club meeting and the other members wanted to examine it, check out the construction. If you have some spare money, then this is a cool camera to play around with. It is not the camera to buy if you want super sharp, point and shoot images.

Here are some other blogs with reviews and sample photos from this camera. As I wasn’t entirely successful, these might be better places to see what this camera can do.

http://scenictraverse.com/blog/2016/8/22/review-the-ondu-pinhole-nothing-camera
http://filmbasedtraveler.com/2017/09/07/review-ondu-6×6-pinhole-camera/
https://luminous-landscape.com/art-meets-function-pinhole-cameras/

Keep or Sell: Keep for now. I would like to try it again. For me, it is a purely for fun camera so I am not sure how long I can justify holding on to it.

 

Minolta 7000 AF (Maxuum 7000)

I read about this camera online somewhere. I have a feeling it was Jim Grey’s blog, I am sure it was on another one as well, but now I can’t find it now. All I know is I saw the photos of the camera and thought, “ooh pretty”. Then I saw one for sale on an eBay charity shop and a few clicks later it was mine. It was a charity case honest.

 

Why did I want this camera? Well, if you read this blog it says how this camera “rocked the entire photographic world”. It was the first true autofocus SLR. I think this blog and this blog have the best descriptions of all the features. I think it is pointless to write more when there is already so much out there. Posts like this let you know what I read and introduce you to some great blogs. Also, I love the graphic on this page that lets you know where it sits on the scale of Minolta cameras, but now I want the 9Ti.

Ok, so apparently a great camera. How did my example do? I took it for a walk in my local reclaimed colliery. I decided to take photos of as many different trees as I could find.

 

I tend to keep cameras on auto, not because I am lazy or don’t know how to work them, but I like to see what the camera chooses. I found this one seemed to underexpose a little. One of the blogs I read and linked to said the camera matches the aperture to the type of lens fitted. So a wide angle lens leads the camera to choose a small aperture for landscapes. This could be the reason for the underexposure, but as I had a zoom lens on there is no guarantee I had the lens set to 35mm. I would like to try this camera with a 50mm lens and see the difference.

Keep or sell: I wanted to try it again with a different lens, but it seems I either left or gave that lens away in Japan. Now the camera has been sold, so obviously it didn’t rock my world.

Contax 137 MA Quartz

Believe it or not, this was a junk find. A seller in Japan was selling it for junk as the skin had disintegrated and there was a dent on the bottom. Apart from that, they said it worked fine. So I got it for less than £8 plus postage. Then the fun started. I knew what I wanted to do with it so I ordered the covering material which arrived in a few days. But the camera took well over a month to arrive. A few days after I ordered it there was a massive typhoon in Japan which damaged Kyoto airport, and where was my camera…at Kyoto airport according to the tracking information. And there it stayed. I was just about to give up all hope when new tracking information arrived. But what state would the camera arrive in? Did it get damaged in the typhoon? Well, the package was perfect. Inside was this camera. It came without a lens, but I put one on from another camera to test the viewfinder and operations.

Actually, I almost forgot to take photos before I got stuck in recovering it. These were taken with my phone when it arrived. And the covering? Japanese stamps!!

This is what it looked like once I had finished.

The strap was made in Okinawa and was a gift from a friend when I left Japan. I also put on a lens hood. Even if the camera didn’t work, and I hoped it did, I already loved it.

The camera was produced from 1982 for around 5 years. You can find all the technical details you like on this website. I left the camera on automatic for my test shots, but you do have the options of full manual, aperture, and shutter priority modes. I found the camera very easy to use and quite responsive. It was sturdy without being so heavy that it became uncomfortable. The strap helped with that. The length of the strap meant I could move the position of the camera over my shoulder like a bag.

I put in a roll of Street Candy with the original thin film base. I developed it by adding a leader, in ilfosol3 using the same process times as I would use for Ilford HP5+. I still found it difficult to thread it on the holder though.

I tried the camera around my house as it was raining quite heavily. Once it had died down a bit I went for a walk. Here are my results:

I was really impressed with the camera and film. I spent a little more time post-processing these photos using Snapseed on my iPad. I don’t usually alter film photos in this way, but why not? It is just another form of photography I suppose.

I think this might be the subject for my next zine.

In my film pile, I had a very expired E6 film. I didn’t trust it for anything I cared about so I put it in this camera and wandered around Leeds. I was right about the film, the photos came back in a terrible state. I used Preview to change them to black and white, then increased the contrast. In the end, they came out ok. I just love this camera.

 

Keep or Sell: This is by far my favourite camera. As I am reducing my collection it has persuaded me to sell nearly all the other SLRs I have and stick with Contax. Yeap, I love it more than my Olympus cameras due to the lenses.  This other reviewer came to the same conclusion.

 

Sea & Sea Motormarine 35 MX-10

This is the second one of these I have tried recently, the other being the Motormarine II. This one came with a whole heap of stuff, including a lens that actually fit the other camera. As you can see in the photos, the battery compartment is much better sealed. On this version, it is inside the main compartment. This means there is only one O-ring with the possibility of failure.

I found very little about this camera on the net but you can find the manual here. The main bulk of hits were for people selling it. I did think, by looking at it, that is camera came after the one I linked to before and on the Sea & Sea website I found the evidence I was right. This one came out in 1992, 3 years after the Motormarine II bit before the II EX. I thought this because of the location of the battery compartment. Also, I initially thought the camera had autofocusing, but it is fixed focus. It also has a fixed shutter speed of 1/100th, but the aperture goes from f4.5-f22. The aperture is selected by the photographer through a dial on the front of the camera. You can find more technical details here. That site states that the minimum focus distance is 2.5m, which is quite far away. There are close up lenses that can be attached and my pack came with those, though they are only for underwater photography.

Apart from the aperture dial, this is a very sturdy point and shoot. When using it there is a red LED in the viewfinder if there is not enough light. When that lights you can change the aperture or turn on the flash.

I took mine for a walk on a very rainy, dull day. I used a 400ASA film. The camera only has settings for 100 or 400ASA, no scope for pushing unless it is 100 or 200 to 400 and what is the point of that.

Here is my test roll.

I can’t believe people were playing football in this weather. My sister was in a 10 mile race too. I walked around taking photos, much safer. Anyway, considering the conditions the camera didn’t do too badly, but it is not as good as some genba heavy duty cameras like this and this. Though, those cameras are not waterproof enough to go diving with. None of the test photos are particularly sharp. I am going to Iceland next week and want one waterproof camera to take. I think this test has narrowed my choice to a genba.

Keep or Sell: Though this was the first Sea & Sea I found that worked without fault I am not sure. I think I will store it for now in case I go snorkelling or diving somewhere.

 

 

Sea & Sea Motormarine II

I saw this camera being sold for parts on eBay for a ridiculous 99p. So I bought it. The issue mentioned was the battery door did not click other than that it worked. I figured if I kept it out of diving depth it should be fine. I have only ever tried one Sea & Sea camera, which was not a success. I was excited to receive this one.

When it arrived, I was amazed by how clean it was. Whoever owned this, they really looked after it. The back would not open, the o-ring was very tightly sealing it shut. After releasing the air pressure, I managed to get it open only to discover a film inside, bugger. I had just fogged half of it, half was still in the cassette waiting to be shot. I wish I had known that as I love found films. The battery cassette was much easier to release and I put a couple of AA batteries in then replaced it back in the slot. It did not click as the listing said, but it stayed down and powered the camera.

I checked out the camera’s functioned while the back was open. The shutter did not seem to open when fired and the shutter button seemed a bit faulty, the flash also did not fire. Was I duped? I tried reloading the film and once that was inside the other issues magically went away. I fired past the fogged section and went for a wander around Leeds. After using the remaining film I got it developed right then and there

This camera was produced around 1989. Or maybe 1993. This article was published in 1989 so that date wins. It was made to reach depths of 45meters.

Though it does have DX coding, it has an odd way of dealing with the information. It really only accepts 100 or 400 ASA film. Anything over 400ASA is treated as 400. Anything under 400ASA is treated as 100. It has a fixed shutter speed of 1/100th, but the aperture can be changed. Basically, you set the aperture to the smallest one, f22. If, when you press the shutter halfway, a red light comes on in the viewfinder, you move the aperture a step lower. If you reach f3.5 then turning the inbuilt flash on is the next step.

Regardless of all that, did this 99 pence example work?

Here is the remainder of the found film.

Gosh, they are quite nice. The film may have been expired, but it was also stored very well. There are a couple of repeat shots where I changed the distance selected, it didn’t seem to make a difference.

I was looking forward to trying the camera again while on a wet holiday. But when I took out the batteries for storage purposes, the holder refused to stay inside the slot. A tiny piece of plastic that hooked under a catch had finally fallen off.

I looked for a replacement holder or another parts camera, but none could be found. So I decided to glue a piece of plastic to the area.

I used a liberal amount of super glue, glueing my fingers to it in the process. Once it had set I filed it down to the right size. I figured it might work and even if it didn’t it was only 99p. I could always just store it and wait until I stumble upon another broken example.

Ok moment of truth….it went in and clicked in place 🙂 but it no longer powered the camera 😦

Bugger. Not sure why and I have another version to try so no big loss.

Keep or Sell: It is a little bit broken. So storing for now.

I could not let it lie, it worked goddamn it…so I thought about it and sanded down the plastic I added to make it shorter….and it came back to life. Still keeping for now, but I have a beach loving friend who might like it.

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