Ihagee Exa – Version 2

I was intrigued by this camera after I saw the top viewfinder on Instagram. A 35mm with a top viewfinder, beautiful. So I actively looked for one on eBay, a cheap one. Finally I found one that said untested so the price was cheap, a gamble.

When it first arrived the shutter button was sticking on all speeds. I added a little clock repair oil to that and just kept pressing. Eventually it didn’t stick any more. By looking through the exposure opening while firing I could see the shutter working. At the top speed the mirror seemed to cover the light entering a little and I wasn’t confident it was working at 1/150th. So when I loaded the camera with Fuji Acros, I left the speed on 1/100th for the test.

This is the second version of the Exa. I know for two reasons. Firstly, this site says the second version has a cover over the shutter button. Secondly, there was a sticker on the bottom saying ‘version 2 1953’.

Mine came with a f2.9 50mm lens, the lenses are interchangeable. This lens has an aperture stop function. You set the aperture you want by pushing the front towards the body and then move the red dot. You can then open up the aperture to aid focusing, then close it down again to take the shot. Once you fire the shutter the mirror moves up as the backside of the mirror acts as the shutter curtain. It is not a focal plane shutter. Once you wind on the film and cock the shutter the mirror returns to the original place. As you can see on the photos the shutter speed is set with the stick on the side of the viewfinder.

With the aperture wide open, the image in the viewfinder is very bright. There is a magnifier to help with focusing. But this didn’t help me, I really need a split screen or micro-prism. On my example the film counter did not work, but it would be set before hand manually, then it should count down.

I took the camera to Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall. The former can be reached easily by train, which I recommend as it can get quite busy. The latter can be reached by a local bus, which I also recommend as the walk is quite steep. I haven’t been to Heptonstall before and I thought it was fantastic. As the link says, it is a hidden treasure. I found it more photogenic than Howarth, with much fewer people. You are just missing the Brontes, but you gain a Plath.

So did my camera work?

I doubted it and felt kind of disappointed all day using it. But work it did, though I had a lot of trouble gaining a sharp focus. My scanner didn’t help in that respect.

As you can see I only took one photo in portrait mode because using the viewfinder on its side was a real pain in the butt. You can also see a light reflection on some shots.

The gentleman you see seems to be a real figure of Heptonstall. He was outside the museum and really interesting to talk to. He told us about himself, his cameras, and the history of the place.

Inside the museum was this display about Alice Longstaff. You can find out more about her here.

I think I will get this camera serviced at some point. It is too pretty to get rid of quickly. I would like to try it again to improve the focusing.

4×4 on the Diana F+

After using the Agfa Isoly-Mat I realised I did have another 4×4 format camera. The toy camera Diana F+, it has a 4×4 mask. So one not so sunny day I tried it.

I do like the 4×4 format, you get extra shots for your money. The glass of the Agfa is definitely sharper that the plastic lens of the Diana. The latter has its own charm and can do multiple exposures. It also seems more like a pinhole with the massive drop off at the edges. I think it works well with the ruggedness of historical Yorkshire.

After this film I started drying my films in the bathroom as my own room seems to have all the dust in the world floating about. The bathroom isn’t perfect, but definitely less time is spent getting rid of dust spots after scanning. To remove dust and other stuff I always use inpaint. It is easy to use and can be used to remove much larger items.

Contax RTS III with Macro attachment

As I have said, I am running out of new to me cameras to try so will be moving towards projects and themes. So hello macro photography, my first trial set-up. This is another set up that was been loaned to me by a reader. It has taken me a while to get round to trying it out but on one fading summer day try it I did.

This is the set up.

For my first try I picked a few things from my garden and used the black garden table as a backdrop.

The selection of subjects.

I haven’t tried this kind of thing before, but I already knew there would be a light drop off due to the length of the bellows. I had no idea how much, so I did a quick search and found lots of really technical details with, shock horror…MATH! I can’t find the actual website I used at the time, but this one explains everything very well. This site also has a disc compensation device you can make.

No worries really, my only real issue was the fading light. I had to use a low aperture which meant the already shallow depth of field even smaller. My other issue was the fact I was using film so no chimping to check I was doing it ok. I would really love a Contax to Nikon or Minolta adapter to try it all on digital. I will look around my “stuff box” it is amazing what I shove in there.

Anyway after working out the correct exposure I got to shooting. The depth of field was incredibly shallow as I had to use a f5.6 to gain a speed of 1/125th. I know I was using a tripod, but it was still a bit windy so I needed that speed to avoid any movement. I will try it again on a much sunnier day, when England decides to stop this incessant raining.

Here are my results.

I like them. I want to try it again with a much smaller aperture and a faster film to see the difference. Have you tried this kind of set up? Any advice?

Return to Canon EOS 1000, but with an F

I have been given a few cameras recently, this one included. I have tried a version of this camera before, the Japanese version. This is the European version.

When I was first given it, it didn’t work having been stuck in a cupboard for a number of years. I cleaned the battery points and then it did fire up, but the autofocus did not respond. So I clean the points on the lens and the camera. Voilà, let there be…movement/power…something. As I have loads of expired E6 film I put in some of that and went to vintage vehicle show, because I can.

Here are some of the colour shots.

I think this example performed better than the last one I tried. I also converted the film to black and white to compare.

They both have their charms, what do you think?

Agfa Isoly-Mat

I was given this 1962 camera by a reader who found it for £5. Apparently it was in a bit of a state with some potential light leaks so he filled the holes with light seal foam.

Actually, I really like the look of this camera, even with the foam around the viewfinder 🙂

As you can see there are choices of aperture at the bottom of the lens. When set to the flash mode the shutter speed is 1/30th and you change the aperture dependent on the distance of the subject. The bulb setting only allows the use of the f5.6 aperture. In auto mode speed is set at 1/70th and the camera chooses the aperture based on the available light. And talking of available light, there is an indicator in the viewfinder. It shows red until the shutter button is pressed and then changes to green if there is enough light. On this example the shutter will fire even if the indicator remains red, the website I referred to said it would not. Without another camera to compare I don’t know if mine is correct or broken. Amazingly I found a pdf manual here. That does not mention a transport lock though it does talk about a shutter indicator next to the rewind button. The camera will fire if the indicator shows red.

The camera feels sturdier than the modern fantastic plastics and even the older toy cameras such as the Fuji Pet. This does not look or act like a toy camera even with the plastic body.

Another difference is the size of the negative, though it takes 120mm film the negative produced is 4×4. That means you get 16 shots per roll.

I loaded my example with Fomapan 100 and took it to Hebden Bridge and finished the roll while on a course at Doncaster Racecourse. I was there two days and didn’t see a single horse.

I set the camera to 200asa, but on some shots the red light stayed up so I decided to push develop it to 400asa.

For the most part I set the zone to mountain, except for the wall which I took to try a closer focusing choice. I love the look of these photos. There are only 14 instead of 16 as I didn’t realise it was a 4×4 camera so stopped at 15. I have never used a 4×4 before and thought the number 16 must be wrong. The other missed shot was a where I wound the film on without taking a shot. There is no film stop but neither is there the scope to take double exposures.

I do like the camera, but I decided to send it back to the previous owner. After researching I found it was quite rare and could fetch prices much higher than £5, plus it worked really well. The previous owner should get the chance to benefit from his efforts.

More Box Brownie Photos

I tried again with the Kodak Brownie No2. I got a fat roll again. But I did get a few unfogged shots. I tried a double exposure and a shot inside on bulb this time.

I used Kosmo Foto 120 this time and I really like the look of the film. For the inside shot I set the camera on a table, closed the aperture to f32 and used a 34 second exposure on bulb. It definitely came out better than my pinhole camera.

Braun Super Paxette II

I got this camera down the pub. Not a knock off, hey do you want a camera, type deal. But someone who knew I liked film cameras gave it to me to try. It had a film inside that had been there for well over 20 years. If I could try and retrieve the photos then I could have the camera.

Firstly, I want to say thank you to the person who gave me the opportunity to try this camera. Secondly, I really don’t like it 🙂

Sometimes you like using a camera and sometimes you don’t. With this one I could not wait to finish the test roll and almost abandoned it altogether. Some of that dislike is based on the example that I used. It had been stuck in a cupboard for many, many years and was very stiff. It also needed a double stroke to wind and cock the shutter. The rangefinder second image was a little light and juddery, this was probably due to the stiffness of the focusing. I had no confidence it would work, therefore I thought I was wasting my time.

Once I retrieved the found film. I loaded the camera with a newer one, because I said I would. I sent off the original film to get developed and some images were saved. They contained pictures of the owners ex-wife who died a few years ago. So I am glad to save those for him. The camera was tricky to load and I had to try a couple of times. I could not see if it worked as the rewind dial did not spin when it was pushed down. This also cause me an issue when unloading the film and I ended up doing it manually in a dark bag. It turned out the dial is not engaged unless you pull it up. I have not come across that before.

So about the camera. After looking at this website I realised this was the Super Paxette II version introduced in 1953 or 1956. The simple fact it has a rangefinder means that it is the super version as regular Paxettes did not have that feature. Through those links and the photos of the camera you can get all the technical details you need.

Given that I had no confidence in the camera, it was stiff and awkward…didn’t know if it worked. I took it to Buxton to use while I took part in a photographic competition. I could not use it for that event as it was a digital only event, but used it as I wandered about looking for the categories I needed.

Well, it did work. It was not my favourite experience with a camera. I tried to give it back to the original owner, but he said he would rather it be owned by someone who might take care of it. He would probably put it back in his cupboard. As I didn’t want it, what to do?

I offered it for free to the film photo group I am in and someone responded. I handed the camera over and the new owner seemed really chuffed to own a vintage camera. He really looked like he would take care of it and maybe give it a bit of a clean. A good deal all around.

Kodak Box Brownie No.2

Let’s go back in time 100 years, what kind of camera would a regular, everyday person be using? Probably this one, the Box Brownie. This camera was in use around 1901-1935. There were five different models and was the first camera EVER to use 120mm film. Mine seems to be model F which is from the very end of the production cycle.

I have found the balcony at the top of my stairs makes a perfect light box for taking photos of cameras. Well I like it anyway, and it was free 🙂

I became interested in trying this camera after reading this great review. When I saw the photos Jim obtained I wanted to try one and kept looking on eBay for a decent example. They really do vary in prices, of course I wanted a very cheap one and eventually I got this. As you can see it is pretty good condition. It was light tight and the lens was clean. The viewfinders were not and I did have trouble framing my images.

There are two pull out tabs on the top. One changes the speed between roughly 1/50th to Bulb. The other tab lets you choose between three apertures f/11, f/22, and f/32. By the way, that link is also a fantastic review. Anyway, I kept both of my tabs pushed down as it was sunny and I was outside. The other choices are for inside or cloudy, which I might experiment with another time with the aid of a tripod as there is mount on the bottom.

I tried to load mine while waiting for my car to go through its MOT. As such I was sat on an uncomfortable chair with no surface spaces. I found it a bit tricky to load as the tension of the roll kept becoming loose. I ended up fogging the first frame. Basically I had the opposite experience to Jim.

I then got bored of waiting for the retest and decided to take a bus to Leeds and get some films developed. I waited for those by watching the Wimbledon women’s final on the Millennium Square big screen. Well, that only took an hour to finish, so back to pick up the photos then back to pick up the car. It was a day of waiting and filling in time. Also during that time I managed to finish the roll of film inside the Brownie. As it takes 6×9 images, you get 8 shots to a roll. So finishing it really didn’t take long. I was worried about camera shake so for a couple of shots I placed the camera on a wall and a bench. But looking at the other images I didn’t need to be worried, they were fine. Next time I won’t bother with that.

So what do photos from a 90ish year old camera look like…

I have no idea why I didn’t turn the camera to landscape view, there is a viewfinder on both sides. Maybe because it was the cleaner of the two viewfinders. Again, I will try landscape next time.

So for next time the list goes
1. Try landscape view
2. Try a different aperture
3. Try a tripod and bulb mode

I would say try colour, but I want to keep costs down and I don’t have any C41 chemicals yet. I think it would be too unpredictable for slide film.

I don’t feel these are the best photos I have ever taken, but there is potential. I may add some more photos later when I have tried it again. BUT what a camera, what a piece of history. I would compare this camera to the Barnack for its contribution to the photographic industry. For the first time a regular person like you and me could take photos out and about without too much hassle.

UPDATE: After reading Jim’s comment about cleaning it. I decided to have a look and it is indeed easy. Basically the front is just held on with two pressure points and can be prised off with a well placed screwdriver. So while watching the Tour de France highlight I did take the front off and used a standard lens cleaner to wipe the lenses and mirrors. In the end I decided to tackle it as the camera has lasted 90 years, it would surely last me giving it a quick clean.

I also gave the front and back of the actual lens a quick, gentle clean by using the bulb mode. The cleaning wipe came out very dirty after touching the mirrors, but was surprisingly clean after the lens. There was clearly 90 years of dust in the viewfinder. I just hope I didn’t scratch the actual lens. I will load it again with film and take some more shots…when the rain stops.