Category Archives: home processing

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.


Konica Pearl III

I was asked to use this camera by one of my students. He was a bit worried that it wasn’t working correctly and wanted some reassurance.  Sure I said, I have never used one before, or even seen one for that matter. I was a bit jealous as he is in grade 5 and he has this super camera.

I had helped him load some Shanghai GP3, but after a few shots, he thought something wasn’t right so asked me to finish the roll. I took it to Shunpuu Banriso a beautiful house and garden in Kasama, Ibaraki.

This is a coupled rangefinder from 1955. It has an auto-stop advance and takes 6×4.5 photos. The shutter release is on the lens door and the door opening button is where you would expect the shutter release to be, a bit of a reverse.  The lens is a Hexar f3.5, 75mm. The speeds range from 1 second to 1/500th. The rangefinder is operated by the indented slider on the lens. The indented button is molded and placed in order to be operated by the right index finger. This example’s worked so smoothly, perfect condition. I found loading the camera a bit tricky as there is a push-up plate which is hard to reach. Once we had loaded the camera I put some tape on the film door opening lever as the student is sometimes a bit impatient. When we had loaded the camera he immediately opened the back again. So the tape was a visual reminder. The actual switch also worked smoothly and perfectly.

You cock the shutter with the lever on the front of the lens, after setting the aperture and speed manually. The camera does not have a light meter. It is possible to take multiple exposures before advancing the film. Once you are ready to advance the film you have to press the switch next to the film advance knob, this releases the mechanism. Turn the knob clockwise to advance and it automatically stops in the right place.

Once I had finished the roll I thought I had advanced the paper all the way to the end, but when I opened the back I found part of the paper still covering the exposure space. The film advance was a little sticky so I manually finished advancing the film paper. There was only a little bit of paper to go, the film was already protected. I think the paper was really stuck to the original spool and there wasn’t enough ‘power’ to pull it off.

Then I developed it, in Kodak T-Max 🙂

Wow, what a bargain this student has found. I think he got it for much less than the few cameras posted on eBay. It is clean and works perfectly.

Keep or sell: I have to give it back 😦

More Stuff – Amazon Associates

I just this minute applied for and learnt how to link products for Amazon on my site. As my stats show I have more viewers in America than anywhere else, I have linked both the and sites.

So, on the “Stuff” page you can find links to 35mm and 120mm film searches on Amazon…like these.

If you want to buy some film, then buy it through these Amazon links and I will get a little money too. It’s a win-win (mainly for me) 🙂

UK Amazon – 35mm film

UK Amazon – 120 film

US Amazon 35mm film

US Amazon 120 film

Rolleicord III – K3B

This is the final camera that I bought while on holiday in Hong Kong. Before writing this blog post I didn’t realize there were so many variations. Looking at this blog I matched the serial number to the Rolleicord III – Model K3B produced between 1950-1953. Now researching this camera I realize what I suspected at the time, I overpaid….but look at it.

It is in perfect condition, with box, case, and instructions. You can find more technical details from the previous link I supplied and this excellent blog shows you how to take care or repair it. I agree with that blog that the screen is a little dim, but that is the only thing I can find to fault. This cheaper version of the Rolleiflex is a delight to use. This particular version lacks the red window as it has an automatic stop function on the winder. Compared to the Seagull and Yashica TLRs I have tried, it feels much more luxurious and better made.

I loaded a roll of Shanghai GP3, which has terrible reviews. That review said it curled a lot after self-developing. I did not find that at all. I quite liked it and would buy more. Here are my test shots, taken around Tokyo Station and my local park.

The position of the viewfinder on top of the camera made it much easier to get the duck photos. I have not tried a Rolleiflex, but I am very happy with this holiday purchase.

Redscale Film Trials

As I have mentioned before, I was sent a package with a variety of items in it. Two of the items were redscale film. This blog gives you the lowdown on what redscale film is.

So, as I had just fixed the Spotmatic I decided to use that camera first to try out the film. This one was Kodak Gold 800asa, the instructions said to set the camera to overexpose by 2 or 3 stops. I set the camera to 2 stops under at 200asa. The Spotmatic meter was now working really well and the needle was moving as it should. I wandered around my home city and finished the film. Getting the film developed was not quite so easy. I tried to tell Yodobashi Store that it was a redscale, but I couldn’t seem to communicate it. A few days later, I received a phone call that said the film would take an extra 2 weeks and be $3 more.

For this film I paid for negative scanning. Here are the results

Some were underexposed and the redscale didn’t really rock my boat. You can see that the different lighting conditions changed the colour of the shots you get. The more underexposed are more green, the more overexposed are more orange as the article I linked to before suggested.

There was another film to try. I thought I would put it in the Pentax ME Super as it works really well and I prefer it to the Spotmatic. I thought it would give a fairer chance to the experimental film. This time I set it to 3 stops under, so for the Kodak 400asa I set the camera to 64asa and waited for a brighter day. I was more prepared when going to the developers, Kitamura. They also seemed more aware of redscale film. It was the same 2-week wait and $3 extra though. This time I chose not to pay for the scan and used my CanoScan to digitize the film.

I much prefer these shots, so I think 3 stops is the way to go and a reliable camera of course.

I enjoyed trying this out and know I could make my own redscale quite easily, but getting it developed in Japan is too much of an effort for me to try regularly. If you do feel like trying this out, this is how you can make your own homemade redscale film.

Pentax Spotmatic SP (Asahi)

I mentioned before that there were two cameras I was testing on the same day and I didn’t like either…this was the other one.

This is the second one of these cameras I bought. In Japan they are as common as muck and I find they are one of the easiest cameras to find in a junk bin. The first one had a mirror lock up issue, so I got this body. In the same bin as the broken spotmatic, I found two lenses that seemed perfectly fine. They would go to waste if I didn’t find a new body to test them with. They have an M42 screw lens fit so I know I can use them on another camera if they did work.

This camera was produced from 1964 and was one of the first to have through the lens metering. This was achieved by a mercury cell battery, apart from that the camera is mechanical. For this camera that detail was very important, did you see the corrosion around the battery cover? Try as I might, I could not get the cover off the camera. It was rusted and corroded solid. Therefore I used the camera in full manual mode using a light meter on my phone.

As I said at the beginning, this camera just did not rock my boat. The main reason for me was the focusing screen. I really prefer the rangefinder system of bringing two images together or the split screen. This camera has a focusing screen and it was a little dark. So I was never quite sure if it was in focus or not.

I took the camera to the fire walking festival I mentioned in the previous post. I used both lenses. I really stuck with the Ricoh at that event, so I finished the film off at my place of work and in Akihabara.

Here is my test roll, a Kentmere 400.

Well, the lenses are fine. I wonder which other cameras use that fitting??

The camera worked well too, but as I said it was not my favourite so – keep or sell? The battery issue makes me not want to sell it, I also don’t want to keep it. So drop me a message if you want it. You pay the postage and the body is yours, gratis.

Addendum: I noticed on another Pentax camera that the bottom plate was independent of any wiring, so I thought I would see if this one was the same. It was. So I took the bottom off the camera with the mirror lock up problem and put it on the camera with the battery issue. I have a few batteries lying around and after finding one that fit….Voila, worked like a charm. I now have Spotmatic that works perfectly, still not sure I like it though.

Minolta Hi-Matic 9

This is another camera I got on my recent travels and again cost $5. It looked clean on the outside, the lens looked free of fungus, the shutter fired, and the battery compartment did have any residue. So far so good. The rangefinder ghost image was still quite visible, but the seals were shot. It only needed them near the door hinge, so that was a quick easy fix. There must be something wrong with it at that price?

Originally from 1966 (a great year) it has a 45mm f1.7 Rokkor lens. It used the defunct mercury battery which powers the automatic modes, but it works perfectly well in manual without a battery, sweet. It has speed settings from B to 1/500th and aperture settings of f1.7 – f16. If that isn’t enough there is an EV setting scale, which I am getting to like. The ASA settings range from 25-800, but there is an ‘off’ setting in case you want to go fully commando (I mean manual). There is even a tiny hole on the back that lets you know there is film inside. I read the “easy-flash” is due to the flash gun scale on the lens barrel. The only slight issue I found was the film wind-on crank. It goes through the biggest movement I have ever come across. Seriously it feels like a full 360. BUT did it work.

Apart from the one shot which I think was the strap it WORKED!!! I love it. I have tried a later version of this camera, but this one is so much better in terms of aesthetics and the f1.7.

Sell or Keep: I think I have to keep it…but number of cameras. OK I will keep it until a friend reads this and reminds me I have too many cameras and they are a super friend and deserve a present.


Yashica Minister

I found this camera in a junk bin for $5. It was a little dirty and scruffy, but the shutter fired without a problem.

This is a range finder camera where you bring two images together to focus. Unfortunately the second image was so light that I could only see it on rare occasions. According to this thread it could mean a dirty or desilvered beam splitter. A few of the rangefinders I have bought have had this issue, it might be the reason they are in the junk bin in the first place. As I paid so little for the camera I didn’t want to invest in CLAing it. I also couldn’t be bothered to take it apart and try cleaning it as my efforts probably wouldn’t help and might completely ruin a possibly working camera.  So, I resorted to zone focusing. I guessed the distance and set the lens distance scale to my guess.

As for some details about the camera, it was surprisingly hard to find anything on the net. I did find that it is the first version of the M or Minister line, there is another one with a f1.9 lens. The selenium cell on the front powers the light meter on the top which is rated in LVS.

To, hopefully, work it you set the shutter speed you want first and then match the LVS on the lens to the one shown on the meter. If the value sets the aperture below f2.8 then the speed moves to a lower setting…the same if it goes above f16. The speed move to a faster speed. With the selenium cell this camera does not require batteries, if of course it is still working.

So in I popped some Fuji Acros 100 and started guessing distances.

Well the metering still worked and so did the shutter, pity about the second rangefinder image, though my guesses at the distances weren’t too bad. Another issue I found was the wind on always worked even when the shutter was cocked. That meant you could wind on when the film had not been exposed, but you could not take multiple exposures.

Keep or sell? It does work, but not enough that I would be comfortable selling it. I might take it apart to practice cleaning it.