I bought this from a customer at a vintage fair I had a stall at. The funny thing about the fair, I came away with more cameras than I took. Many people coming up to me saying they had a film camera at home and would I like to buy it. Mostly I said no, but I said yes to this one. I looked at ones sold on eBay and halved the price, that was the fee I was willing to pay and they accepted. This one is mechanical so I could see it worked quite well, but you never know. It was definitely missing the take up spool so I would have to buy one of those.
As the title says there are a few versions of this camera, this is the second. It was produced between 1969-1980. That is quite a long production time. You can find all the technical details you might like here. I love these old Russian cameras, they just work and rarely seem to stop. They look like bricks and last like them too. This example came with the regular Industar 61 lens. I tried it with with a collapsible jupiter lens, but it didn’t seem to work quite as well. After I put in a 100 asa film and took it to a couple of historical places. First to Chatham Dockyard and then finished the film at Battle Abbey, the site of the Battle of Hastings.
I found carrying the camera a little awkward due to the lack of strap rings. That meant I had to rely on the original camera case and strap which was a little thin. I really wanted to cut it and replace it with another, but that seemed wrong. The long length of the strap did mean I could carry it over my shoulder instead of around my neck. The viewfinder was small, but the second image was nice and clear. The camera has an uncoupled selenium cell sensor with a match the needle type indicator. I relied on that at both locations. Loading the film was fine, but unloading it was a bit of a pain due to the lack of a lever. There is a thumb wheel and boy is it hard to move, and that is even after you have managed to put it in reverse mode. To do that you have to rotate the collar around the shutter release in a clockwise direction. That was not easy if you have got to the very end of the film. This reviewer also mentioned this system as a bit unconventional. I wasn’t actually sure it was rewinding until I felt the film finally give way.
Here are my test shots.
Well would you look at that. All perfectly exposed, well done light meter. The lens is nice and sharp too. What a cracker. Still not sure it is worth the weight though. If this was your only film camera then yes it is. But if you have other, lighter choices…hmmmm tough choice. I think I prefer the Zorki 4 and the Fed 2 to this one for a variety of reasons.
This camera was not given to me, I did not buy it in Japan…shocking really as it is a Kowa. I don’t really remember buying it at all. But there it was on my “to try” shelf. It had been there for about a year. I think I left it there without really looking at it as I was sure the light meter wouldn’t work. I was sure the auto exposure wouldn’t work either, making it a manual camera only.
But it did work, even on auto.
You can find this camera very cheaply on eBay and other sites. It was produced from 1963 and as the stamp says, in Japan. Once I sat down and looked at this example carefully I couldn’t find a fault with it. Even the light seals were perfect. And here is the special thing…if you put your ear to the camera and press the shutter, you can hear a “chime” sound. I didn’t notice it at first, but then I read about it on this website and I had another listen. Sure enough there it was, like a clock or church bell. So I took the camera to Canterbury Cathedral.
Unfortunately, as I was walking around I bumped the camera and the back sprung open. This reviewer also had the same issue. I didn’t know when it had happened and thought the whole roll had fogged. So to finish the test I also took it to Headcorn Air Show and finished half a roll of an expired film there.
As it turned out many of the shots from the first roll were fine and the exposure choices were spot on. That is pretty amazing as this great review says it was the first camera with an electronic eye…and this one’s still works.
Using the Kowa was a delight. The viewfinder was super bright, the mechanics worked and the selenium cell powered everything perfectly. I tried the camera on both auto and manual mode. The only issue I had was the placement of the film speed dial. It is in the right hand thumb position on the back of the camera. That is usually where the wind on is. But on this camera the wind on is under the camera, so it is moved with the opposite thumb. That meant I naturally moved the film speed when I wanted to advance the film. The camera is slightly on the heavy side and there is no hot shoe. Those are my only niggles.
Keep or sell: no point in selling it just yet as they are super cheap. I might give it away or trade it with someone.
If I wanted to have tried a camera for every letter of the alphabet, I am missing…
D E G J Q U X
So if you know of a camera beginning with those letters I would be interested to hear about it.
I got this film developed before I went on holiday and I thought I had already written the draft, but you know what thought did.
This camera was a cheap eBay purchase well over a year ago and I never got around to using it. Too many other cameras I suppose. I have never tried a Voigtlander and wanted to add one to this blog, this was the cheapest I could find. Look how small and shiny it is.
My example has the small viewfinder which means it is an earlier model from 1954-57. There are loads of technical details on the net about this camera. Here is one. That link and this link mention the shutter is cocked by the advancement of the film. So without the film inside the winding mechanism just keeps turning making you think it might be broken. You can test it by manually moving the sprockets to cock the shutter, but I wouldn’t recommend it..just in case something happens and you blame me.
Mine came in a case with a paper manual. The case was useful as the body didn’t have any lugs to attach a strap or I don’t have the kind of strap that would attach. Having looked over the camera and noticed the markings in the lens barrel, I wrote this post about zone focusing. I decided to try a few shots with a rangefinder attached and some using the zone focusing technique. The camera uses an Exposure Value system. You set the speed and the aperture you want and then the system moves both at the same time. It means you need to change the setting if the available light changes. I do find this system annoying to use in the UK as the light it nearly always changing. I tried to keep the camera on the highest aperture possible, that would give me the widest depth of field for zone focusing. I also avoided setting the camera to infinity as the depth of field should be covered by the zone choice as well.
I took the camera on a bike ride along the Trans Pennine Trail which goes just passed my house. I have recently discovered how lucky I am in this regard. Summer is here, so expect more photos from this area. I also used it around a garden and Gawthorpe which has a large maypole, but I went in June. You can see a video of the festival from 1914 here, very interesting. I might try and catch it next year.
As for the new WordPress gallery, I have figured out how to avoid cropped photos. I upload all the landscape first and then the portraits.
The camera performed really well and the images are nice and sharp with a lovely quality. It was smooth to use and load. Considering it is a small camera, it is fairly heavy even without the case. These cameras are easy to find and many are in fantastic condition. If you want a cool looking film camera, then you can’t go wrong with this camera for the price. I might keep mine as it seems the price I would get would not be worth the hassle of selling it.
I started this blog for myself at the end of 2015 to keep myself busy after the death of my mother. In little over 3 years I have hit 200,000 views, which amazes me everyday. Ultimately this blog is for myself and a way of cataloguing the cameras I have tried. In any case thank you to all the people who have visited. Thank you also goes to the people who have sent people my way. That amazes me even more.
At the moment my top referrers, according to wordpress stats, are… (in order of refers)
Jim Grey – An early follower with a great blog. I enjoy reading his blogs that are more personal as well as his camera reviews.
Mike Eckman – If you want to read a truly detailed review of a camera then check this blog. He also has excellent articles on all aspects of photography.
Hamish Gill – I don’t feel I know him quite as well as the top two people, so this entry surprised me. He is very knowledgeable on all things photographic. I really like his 5 shots series of posts.
Chris and Carol – The Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic(s) – These were the first people who interacted with me via the blog. In fact we have swapped a few cameras and I have sent them a few Yashicas I unearthed in Japan. They are lovely people and are dedicated to the history of Yashica.
Thank you one and all. Of course there are a few other referrers, but these are my top four over the years. As for me, I have been on holiday in the south of England this week. I managed to test a few cameras. So over the school break I should be posting a few more reviews, but I am not going to be sourcing any new to me cameras as I want to concentrate on photographic projects. I have about 10 more cameras to try out, from then on I will be concentrating on actually taking photos. Maybe even starting a side blog, we shall see.
I have already tried this camera, but I gave that away ages ago and found this one for $3. There is a BC version which means black corners indicating more vignette. As you can see from my example photos the original camera already has quite a lot of vignetting.
I was quite excited to try this camera again as every 120mm Holga I have tried has had pleasing results. I didn’t really give this one a chance when I first tried it as, but my opinion of fantastic plastics has chanced since then.
As I was going to London for the 100 heroines exhibition, I decided to take some time to try this camera in an area I have not visited before. I did a search for places to see if you have already seen the top tourist spots and Shoreditch came up as a choice. For fun I thought I would try to capture the graffiti around the area with a black and white film. I loaded a Fomapan 100 with the intention of push processing it to 400. I thought it would have a different look to it and show off the vignetting.
I absolutely loved my day in Shoreditch, an area I had not even thought to visit before. Everywhere I looked there was something else to see. Using the Holga was easy and the resulting photos are by far favourite series of photos that I have completed recently. I have already put another film in the camera, a colour one this time. Where shall I take it?
This was a bargain of a camera that I had no intention of buying. There I was in the junk section of a Japanese camera shop and I remembered someone asking me to look out for a Konica S2 rangefinder. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the label Konica, on further inspection it was an actual SII. It was only $10, a bit messy. I tried the shutter and it seemed fine. I looked inside and it looked clean. The selenium cell didn’t seem to be working, but it was a manual camera so that didn’t matter. It was worth the risk as a present for my friend.
This great blog says it is rare to find an example of this camera with a working meter, so no worries on that front. It was released in 1961 and sold mainly in Japan, exactly where I was and probably the reason it was so cheap. The only real fault I could find was a hole above the selenium cell, but that didn’t seem to have any affect at all. According to this website, that hole might be to allow extra light into the viewfinder which is indeed bright. The winder movement felt very short, barely over 90 degrees. In fact while using it, I thought it might not be fully winding the film on and expected overlapping images. The focusing second image was clear enough to use the camera comfortably, so if it worked I had found a nice little bargain. You can find lots of technical details on the first link of this post.
As I had found it in Japan, I put in some of original Fuji Acros Neopan 100. I am so happy to read it is being rereleased. Then I headed over to the Manchester Day Parade to use it up.
I used another camera at the parade as well, I will write about that in another post. I was feeling quite brave and asked many people if I could take their photo, only one person said no. Usually I am a bit more shy about these things, but I was with a film photography group and that always gives me more confidence. Everyone was so happy, I recommend a day out in Manchester if you like street photography.
As for the camera, it was a delight to use. It looked cool, it worked perfectly, and look at those images. The lens is super sharp, what a cracker!
It was a touch on the heavy side for me, only a touch though. If I didn’t have a million cameras, I would be happy to keep this one, but I am more than happy to give it to my friend.
I found this in a Japanese second hand shop for $3, bargain. I have already tried the first version and gave it away when I originally left Japan, so was please to find this upgraded version…and it is PINK!
It was in perfect condition and considering these are still for sale on their own website for £55 and on Amazon for £60, it was even more of a bargain. It really is a fantastic plastic purely for fun camera. You can get all the details you need on the Lomography website, but for now it is a f8, 1/100th fixed focus camera with a flash powered by one AA battery. The 10mm lens means the resulting shots contain almost everything to the front of the camera in a circular frame. Plus, almost everything will be in focus too. There is a switch on the back which resets the shutter, this allows for multiple exposures to be taken. The shutter options includes a bulb mode and a lock, so no more bag shots like the previous version. It definitely is better than the first version. But is it not as “practical” as the Diana F+ as it only does fisheye photos, though it is smaller and sturdier.
For my first test roll I didn’t use the flash but did try the multiple exposure feature. I found the results were more pleasing when there was an object closer to the camera. I also liked how it could fit in the whole of a large building.
I also tried a colour roll, again I didn’t use the flash…oops. It does work, I checked. I think that is why I didn’t focus on it.
I love this funky fushcia fantasic and I am keeping it. What a fun little thing.