Minox 35 EL

I bought this camera over the internet while I was in Japan. It was waiting for me when I returned to the UK.

This camera was released in 1973 or 1974 depending on which website you check. It was the first of the Minox 35 line. It was so popular that it was copied exactly in Russia as the Kiev 35A.

The first film I tried was some Street Candy. I ordered it when it first came out as I think we should support new film makers.  It was posted to the UK so it has taken me a while to try it. I did notice it was very thin…and I think that caused an issue with the developers. My own developing equipment has not arrived from Japan yet so I had to send it away. When I received the scans back, it was obvious there was an issue. There was a lot of damage apparent on the images.

Looking beyond the damage, I love the contrast of the film. The shots are also sharp when the film speed chosen was high enough. A couple of the shots were taken as I was walking around an indoor market and obviously the camera struggled with speed. There is only half a film here as I tried the film in an LC-A first, but I wasn’t confident that one was working, so I rewound it and tried the remainder in the Minox. I sent the LC-A for a service and tried another film in the Minox. I have a few more rolls of candy left and I received a message from the makers that there is a new version that is the regular thickness. I ordered some from Analogue Wonderland.

So back to the camera, I did find the speed chosen by the camera for the aperture chosen by me seemed very high for the conditions. On the first film, I checked the camera against a light meter and it seemed about 1.5 or 2 stops too high. This blogger said that was normal with modern batteries and suggested using a black and white film which has more tolerance. The original batteries were 5.6V, but those mercury ones are no longer available, the modern ones are 6V. This is where the overexposure comes from.

I hadn’t read that before and chose an expired venus 400. Here are the results from that film.

As you can see, a few of the shots are underexposed. The blog I linked to also mentioned that the camera gives you the feeling it is not working and that is exactly how I felt. It was one of the reasons I chose an expired film as I did not want to waste a good one on this camera and I had not received the candy back yet. That blogger was left with the same feeling and had also compared it to the LC-A. Snap. The shutter button was very light to the touch and I sometimes didn’t think it had been activated. It was only when trying to advance the film I realised it had taken a picture. It was also quiet which didn’t help the situation. Oh, and the camera had a double stroke film advance.

On top of all that it is just so damn small. The rings for changing the aperture and focus distance were also very tiny and hard to adjust, even with my tiny lady fingers.

Keep or Sell: I really disliked using this camera, this camera is not for me. SELL…then again, that very first shot on the Street Candy does have a nice quality…maybe use it again and leave it on infinity to avoid the fiddly distance ring??

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Analogue Wonderland and Street Candy

I do believe as part of the film community we should support each other, especially new films.

I recently tried a roll of Street Candy and immediately ordered more through Analogue Wonderland. They recently posted a great article detailing their rewards program.

But why was Street Candy my first order after joining the program? Well, I liked it, it is new. Though I did find the actual film very thin, very, very thin. In fact it was returned from the processing lab ripped and damaged. But I loved the contrast of those shots that did make it through and if I process it myself it should be ok. I just need to add a thicker leader.

Here are some shots, some with the damage.

Olympus O-Product

I saw this interesting camera on a blog about the same time I saw the Prima Sol. While looking for the Sol, I also looked online for this camera. Again, I never thought I would find a reasonably priced example and certainly didn’t think my small bid would stick. I must have been lucky that week because I won both of them.

Just look at it.

How pretty is that? The first chance I got to use it was at a photography club meeting and at my friend’s horse stables. Once I whipped out the camera a few of the members mentioned that recently there was a video online reviewing it. I looked for it after I tried it out.

There were a couple of videos, I preferred this one as I have also tried the Minolta Prod 20’s.

I felt the same way as the reviewer. I much preferred the look of the O-Product and the fact the flash is removable. I also love the sound it made, I wonder how they did that. Here is another great review that goes into much more detail than I care to give, including the history behind the design. I do know that any time I have pulled it out of my bag people wanted to look at it. But did it work?

I used some expired agfa 200 which I converted to black and white in post process due to the colour tint. The photos were taken around Leeds, with only the fish and chips using the flash.

I liked using the camera. I liked the results. I did feel it was a bit flashy, pardon the pun. It wasn’t something you could sneak a photo with. It demanded attention, especially with the flash attached. The brushed metal body was comfortable to hold and the cover over the lens was a bonus feature.

Keep or Sell: As with the Sol, I am tempted to sell it due to the increased prices. But is so unique looking I might hold onto it for a bit longer unless someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

 

Canon Prima Sol (Sure Shot Del Sol, Autoboy SE)

Lots of names for a camera ahead of its time. This 1995 camera is powered solely by the sun, hence the name “Sol”. I wanted this camera since the day I read about it. I kept looking back at Ebay for it, though it rarely came up. When it was listed it was over what I really wanted to pay for a point and shoot. Then one day my persistence paid off. Not only did I find a Prima Sol, but a mint one in a box even including the cleaning cloth case. AND it was half the price of every other example I had seen. Would my tiny bid stick? Of course yes or you would not be reading this. I was sooooooo happy, even if it is a Canon Sureshot, which as I have stated I am not keen on.

You can find more technical details here, but that site does state “powered entirely by solar” then later it states uses a CR-123A battery, I am not sure how reliable it is. On the other hand, I have the manual 🙂

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When mine arrived the battery was not charged at all so I left it on my windowsill for a while. Looking in the manual it seems to suggest one bar on the battery level will be enough to take one roll. It did take a while for one bar to appear. As you can see from the manual, it is better to charge it outdoors, so using while outside should be enough to keep it charged….if you have it outside your bag and on a lanyard with the solar panel towards the sun. Or even better on a table while in a beer garden, perfect!IMG_3170

But I did get enough power to try out the camera. Here is my test roll, taken around my home and Liverpool.

As you can see it worked perfectly, even on a dull day. I took a couple of shots inside just to try the flash which also worked well.

I love the idea of this camera, why can’t there be more solar-powered cameras? It would solve a few issues environmentally.

Keep or sell: I really want to keep this, but I am also tempted to sell it. As I am out of work right now, I have to really think about my keepers. I think I will hold on to it until I am forced into a sale 🙂

Unusual Skin

I recently saw a camera with an usual skin. As I left all my Japanese print material in Japan I thought I would try some different approaches.

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I still need to add a light coat of clear varnish, but I like it. I am going to do another one tomorrow. Plus I have a camera coming in the post that I got very cheaply due to the rotted skin. I might look around for other ideas…magazine cuttings maybe??

or maps!

Not a bad way to spend time when you have a cold.

Lomography Simple Use

This is one of two crossover cameras from Japan that I have yet to post about. As in, they had film in them when I came back so had photos from both continents. This one is also a kind of crossover camera. It is almost a throwaway camera and also not as you will see.

The design looks like a classic throwaway camera, but once you finish the film that comes preloaded you can reload it with another. Therefore they are essentially not disposable and are a cut above them. This is what was in the box.

You can find more technical details on the Lomography website.

I kept mine in my bag and just used it randomly throughout the last week I was there. The film counter counts back and throughout the film is returned to the cartridge. This means you can just open it up and take it out when you have finished without rewinding. It also means all your shots are protected if you open it early.

Here are the black and whites I got from the preloaded film.

As you can see the flash is quite powerful for the camera size. The battery is also preloaded when you buy the camera. The minimum distance is 1 meter and over that the f9 lens is sharp enough in the centre and tapers off to the corners. Given the loaded film is a 400asa, some of the outside shots are a little underexposed in the shade. The camera is not made for different situations. You need bright light or flash. However, I like the results when those conditions are met. The very last shot of the roll feels a bit loose and I wasn’t really sure I had finished the roll.

Then comes the interesting part, taking out the roll and inserting a new one.

Starts easy…

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Then you put in the film and make sure the top is flush with the camera body.

The take-up column has no slot or slit, just one little nobble. Can you see it? It is very small.

You have to put a sprocket over this nobble, then keep your thumb on it to apply pressure. Then wind on some film until it goes around the column. It will not catch fully or be tight if you let go.

Wind on until you can see it go around the column and under the film again.

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Now is the tricky part. You have to close it quickly so it doesn’t unwind too much…it will unwind a bit. Once the door is closed you have to wind the rest of the film onto the column. Remember, it counts down so you have to “preload” the camera again.

There is a switch next to the wind on wheel. Use your nail and push that to the left. Then you can wind on the film until the end.

It might get stiff, release the button wind on and try again. On the Lomography website they say…

  • Reload if You Dare: if you’re feeling like an analogue superstar, you can try reloading your camera once you’ve finished the preloaded film. Be careful though, loading film can be tricky and it is not covered by any warranty!

OK, now it is reloaded with another roll of 400asa film to match the camera, off I go and take more photos.

I have a feeling the film might have been expired, it does look that way. I got it out of a gatcha machine so there was no box. Either way, the same issues arose. If the day is not sunny the camera just couldn’t cope.

For a day when you want a camera, you don’t have one and don’t want to buy a digital, this camera is great…as long as it is a sunny day or you are using the flash. There are a variety of films preloaded and you end up with a cheap camera.

Keep or sell – seems like a moot question, buy your own.

Konica Acom-1

I decided to post two cameras today as I want to empty my draft film of cameras I tried in Japan. Plus I have posted about two point and shoots and want to post something more substantial. Seeing as I already had a Konica lens I thought I would buy this junk bin body and try it out. This camera was introduced in 1976 and was called Konica Autoreflex TC outside of Japan. My example was extra “Japanese” as it had the data back, which was only available in Japan.

The first thing I did was try to get the data back working again, not that I ever use them, but I like things to work when they should. There was some writing on the back that Google Translate said, don’t open the battery compartment unless you are changing the batteries, and change them both at the same time. OK so two batteries, but where??

OK all changed, now the symbol is flashing and the red light comes on when you press the black button. But how do you set the thing?? No idea, there was just one button which seemed to be a battery check. I could not figure it out. The katakana on the sticker said “oto deto”, auto date. My guess was that it was completely automatic and that it worked so long as the batteries never drained, oh dear.

So I asked the internet gods for help. One helpful chappy had a Japanese manual so he took a photo of the relevant page and sent it to me.

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I uploaded that to Google Translate and this is what it said.

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Well, bugger. Basically, I was right, but it would have stopped working in 1999, probably due to the Y2K issue. Either way, I had changed the batteries now and so I tried the camera and at times pressed the black button, which was the actual data imprint button, not a battery check.

The data back was the most interesting thing about the camera. The light meter didn’t work so I used it in manual only. There was also a completely superfluous switch on the back that puts the winder lever back to the resting position. That lever should turn on the light meter, but it didn’t. Here is my test roll using the sunny 16 rule and my phone lightmeter.

You can see the date imprint did work, but the date is 1980/10/2 with no way to change it. I wonder if this was the last time the camera was used?

I actually did like using this camera. It was quirky. If the light meter worked and I didn’t have the other Konica I would think about keeping it.

Keep or sell: I want the lens for the other Konica I have, but this body I don’t need or want. Sold.

 

Konica Big Mini NEO-R

This the second Big Mini I have tried and one of the cameras I tried in my last week in Japan. The first one I tried had a faulty flash, but this one’s worked well. The panoramic switch next to the viewfinder was loose and kept returning to that setting, so I taped it up. If I decide it is worth the weight to keep it I might end up glueing it in place as that feature is superfluous now. This time I did not use an experimental film but did use a new-to-me developing lab.

I found the internal panoramic mask a little confusing at first given the issues with the switch. When turned off the mask is down whether it is the choice or not. So when putting a film in the camera you might think the mask is stuck. Once you turn on the camera the lens moves forward and the mask shifts into the correct position. There is a cool cover over the lens that moves out of the way when switched on. You can find technical details for this 1994 camera here.

I used two point and shoots around the same time, this one and the Olympus Mju 105 Delux. I much preferred the results from this one. That might be due to the slightly larger aperture of 3.5 as opposed to 5.6 on the Olympus. The zoom on this one was smaller, 35-70mm.

I got both films developed at the same place and both had the same purple tinge, though we were having heatwave maybe the film just melted.

Here are the results from this camera.

Ok, ignore the film, the camera is sharp. It looks great. Given a choice between this and the Olympus I choose this one. Plus as I am leaving I do not have to use that lab again. But my overall feeling is that I do not like either.

Keep or Sell: I think I took it back to the shop or gave it away, I don’t remember now.. It wasn’t worth the weight.

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