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.
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.
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.
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.
I know I said I didn’t like this camera, so I have no idea why I bought another one. I guess it was just sitting there on a shelf in a vintage furniture shop and my mind said, “you can’t just leave it there to be an ornament.”
So I bought it for $10. Everything seemed to work. The red flag worked as it should, the lens was clear. The viewfinder was incredibly dirty, but I cleaned that and then I tried half a roll of Fomapan.
Well, it worked as it should, but as Plop said about the dark….I still don’t like it and I sold it immediately for a small profit.
This camera was a complete gamble. I know I usually buy cameras that are in junk bins and are a gamble, but usually they don’t cost much or I can test them a little in the shop to check them. But this for this one I could not test it at all and it was electronic so there could be things wrong that I could not fix. The price of the camera was $25, so it was more than I would usually spend on a broken electronic camera. I figured I could at least sell if for parts and get some of my money back if it didn’t work. At the end of the day it was a Yashica T and I probably would not be able to afford one in any other circumstance.
As you can see it was fairly clean with just a small crack on the lens cover. The flash did not stay retracted, but it still worked when I put in two AA batteries and slid the button. Also it seemed to want to load a film when you opened the back door. When I pressed the shutter the lens cover retracted and it seemed to take a photo. It activated 4 times then stopped completely. I opened the back once more, and again it tried to load a film, but then the shutter button would not do anything and the lens cover didn’t retract. So the shutter was stuck or sticky. Bugger. I did a search online and found this video.
That seemed to be exactly what my version did, maybe I could fix it too. I followed the video and did the same thing. Low and behold it worked. I pressed the shutter many times and fake loaded it many times, it carried on working. So now to test it with a film, but holy moly I was excited at the prospect. I liked how the lens cover retracted for each shot then returned to its original position. So there would be no forgetting the open it for shooting or closing it for protection. But that movement added to the electronics and might add to the issues. I also liked the slider which turned on the camera as it covered the shutter button when it was turned off. No bag shots with this camera. Plus the flash is off until you slide it on, so no random flashes
Here is the test roll, or half a roll as I had previously used it on another test camera.
I tried a few repeat shots, with and without the flash to see the difference and how the camera coped. For outdoor infinity shots, it seemed to cope very well and the exposure choices were great. For the closer shots, like the flowers, the focus is a bit off. So the minimum focal length can catch you out. I would suggest at least 2 meters to be sure.
Introduced in 1984 it was a top of the line point and shoot. The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/30 to 1/700 seconds, and has film choices of ISO 50 to 1000. Of course it has a Zeiss Tessar lens, but for me I have other cameras that performed better and I don’t think that has anything to do with the sticky shutter. For instance the Pentax PC35 AF which is turning into my favourite non-zoom point and shoot.
As I was lent this camera and I am not sure when I have to give it back, I thought I would try the Contax RTS III again. I popped in some Fuji film and headed to Skipton with my father.
In the short time I have left the camera on my shelf I had forgotten how to use it. I have been using automatic cameras recently and for the first few shots I even forgot to focus the thing. Golly, what a complete amateur. But circumstances meant that my failings were not a total disaster in regards to the film.
The 28mm lens has a long depth of field and the camera and film coped with my setting choices until I came to my senses.
I still found the camera very heavy and would have preferred a different strap. The look of the camera is also not “classic” enough for my tastes. But gosh, the lenses are sharp. After the 28mm I tried a few shots of my 40 year old ape toy with the 50mm lens. A few of my friends are freaked out by Charlie, but it is a new project I have started.
Here are the new Contax shots.
It is a stunning camera and if you only want one camera then it would be an awesome choice….if you can afford a good one.