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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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. Sold.

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. AS I won’t be using it again for a while I have ultimately decided to sell. Sold

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. Much better than a regular disposable camera in terms of the environment.

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

Current Top Ten

Someone asked me, which are your favourite cameras. Ooooh tough question. So I had a look through my camera posts list and if a camera jumped out at me I put it on the list. Once I had ten…or eleven I made a page.

As I have stated on that page, the list might change. You can find the list in the menu section or by clicking here.

 

Leica M3

I know!!!! I got to use a Leica M3!!! I was slightly excited. What better camera to talk about for the 200th camera post.

Someone I know has a few Leicas and let me choose one to play with on a short walk. He even provided the film.

I only had my phone with me to take the camera shots, it doesn’t matter, it always looks good. This version was a one-stroke version which he has had CLA’d. Using the focusing mechanism was as smooth as a knife through butter. The viewfinder was the brightest one I have ever seen. The second image was really clear. I have serious camera envy. I almost feel like selling all my cameras and getting just this one. In return for me using this camera I gave him my Leica III with the Canon 1.4 lens to use.

When I pressed the shutter I asked if that was it, did it work? It was so quiet I was unsure if I had pressed the shutter hard enough. I agree with all the good things that Mr. Rockwell said in his review. This website also talks about the bright viewfinder. Seriously, it made using my Leica like looking into a cave with only a candle while wearing sunglasses. If you need any more details, here is the ultimate M3 review, honestly that is the title. Though I want one desperately now, I am not going to do what Hamish did and buy one while tipsy. I have a habit of doing things like that.

The walk our group did was far too short. I think we all finished one film. I used a Fuji Acros 100. Here are my test shots, with permission from the parents to post the children’s photos.

I love this camera. I love the smoothness of the lens movement, shutter movement, and winder movement. Now, how do I get one for myself? Wait, what about the photos from my Leica that my friend used.

Hey, not bad at all…maybe I just need to stop playing with cameras, get the Leica CLA’d and use that more often.

As for the M3, keep or sell: I had to give it back 😦

BUT 200th camera reviewed!!!!!

Windsor Delux (Konair 35)

This camera was given to me by a friend who moved house recently. In the new house were two vintage cameras which she gave to me to check out. Unfortunately, one, a Canonet, was jammed and not working. This was the other one. It wasn’t jammed, but it had not been used for a very long time so I was not sure it was working.

It is a monster of a camera, so heavy. The front trapezium is very art deco. There is very little about this camera on the net. The most I found were sites saying this was the same as the Konair 35 and was released around 1956. The only other information I found was from this great blog which reinforces the fact that it seems to be rare. Really the best place to find information is by looking at the camera.

The shutter speeds go from B to 1/400th of a second. The apertures ring moves smoothly between f1.9 to f22 so you can set the camera partway between the markings. The lever to cock the shutter is between the speed and aperture dials. It is possible to take multiple exposures if you wish. The lens is a 45mm T.K.C. Super Color Sygmar with Velex engraved on the underside. This example also has a dyno sticker on the side with the previous owner’s name. I like that, a connection to the past.

Focusing is done with a second image which on this example was fairly light, but it was still possible to use. Winding on was fairly easy, but rewinding was not. Oh my goodness, rewinding was tough. I had to use quite a bit of effort and I could sense the film scratching. It would need a CLA in the future, or a tiny bit of light oil in the relevant places, if I was going to use it again. But, did it work? It is the rainy season here so blue skies are a little rare and when they do arrive it is super hot.

Yeap, the film is scratched. Some of the shots were taken of students at my school so I have decided not to use them or blur them, but they all came out. Apart from the scratches, the shots have a really nice quality. But ultimately I did not enjoy using this camera. It was far too heavy. To be fair it is a good camera, I just have a weight issue right now. Due to leaving Japan and luggage allowances. The lens was so nice though. And after all this time it still worked. The fact that there was no fungus on the lens in this climate was amazing. It must have been well looked after and stored.

Keep or Sell: I asked the new house owner if it was ok to give the camera to a mutual friend, she said yes. So my camera stealing friend has another camera from me. She likes the fact it has the name on it. It makes it personal and when I said so, she put her hand on her heart. It will be well looked after.

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