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.
It is a lovely Easter holiday and the sun is shining. I am sat in the garden with my computer writing this review…well, trying. The sun is shining and I am having trouble seeing the screen, but it is a small price to pay. Yesterday the weather was much the same so I took this little camera for a walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal. I walked until I ran out of film. I had intended to walk all the way to Kirkstall Abbey, but it was sweltering by UK spring standards, so I decided to wait for another day when I was more prepared.
There are many versions of this camera, but according to this site I have the PK3470. The Smena was first produced in 1970 and ceased production in 1995. This site says the first two digits of the serial number indicates the camera’s production date. Mine starts with 94, so it was one of the last made.
I got mine very cheaply from a Ukrainian seller on eBay. It came with the rangefinder you can see attached. I was actually looking for a cheap rangefinder attachment to try out. This one was much cheaper than some others I saw and had a camera attached to it too.
There is a lot written about this camera online. It is easily, cheaply available. So I will stick to the notes I made while using the camera. Yes, I made notes! That’s quite well organised for me, but as I said it was a lovely day, taking time to sit along the route and write was a welcome break.
I used a Fuji 200 film that was not in a box so I was unsure of its expiry date. Therefore I set the camera to 125 ISO as the choices were 16,32,64,125,250. These do not corrolate to ISO but are GOST. Therefore, they just about mean 250=400, 125=200, 64=100, 32=50, and 16=25. So phew, good guess by me.
The camera does not react to light and has no power of any kind. Setting the ISO is actually setting the default aperture based on the film choice, 125 ISO meant a default of f11. Then to change the exposure you move a dial on the lens between different weather symbols.
As you can see from this diagram found in the manual, changing the position does not change the aperture but changes the speed. That is important to know if you want to avoid camera shake. Another factor that can cause an issue is the location of the shutter cocking mechanism. To take a shot you have to cock the shutter on the lens barrel. When you press the shutter, this lever flicks back up…unless your finger is in the way. When I first used the Smena, my finger caught it twice before I remembered to switch finger positions. The sound the camera made indicated the shutter was also affected by it catching, the photos I got back proved it. By this cocking method you can take multiple exposures, which I completely forgot about and didn’t try. I will next time.
When you load the film you have to set the film counter manually to 0. My example’s counter didn’t really work and I gave up on it. To rewind the film you press the shutter release without cocking it and turn the rewind knob.
And that is it, simples. On the day I used mine it was very sunny so I swapped between the top two symbols. I used the rangefinder for closer shots, checking the distance then setting the camera to match. For everything else I set the camera to infinity.
The walk along the path was something I have wanted to complete for almost 30 years. I know, bit of a long time. I used to work in a photo lab right next to it and would sit on the wall during my lunch break. I always wondered where it went but being younger and not really interested in walking, I never actually did it. Here I am older and wiser and I finally found out. The photo lab is long gone with a hotel occupying the location, but the path and wall are exactly the same.
One thing I noticed when I saw the results, what I saw through the viewfinder was much less than I got on the photo. Many times I took a step back thinking I wasn’t getting everything I wanted in the frame. That was especially true where writing was included in the shot.
I simply love this camera. I love it doesn’t need batteries. I love the combination of the rangefinder attachment and the glass lens. How sharp are they? The rangefinder does slow you down, but it is worth it. The film is super too, nice colours and great latitude. Interestingly as I was preparing this post I got an email from someone about their post on different film types including Fuji200. Here is that post. The great performance of the camera reminded me of another post about the outdoor eight rule. Basically this camera followed the default setting and I didn’t change it much. Like the article says, the film could cope with the various conditions though he does say use black and white for the best results.
This rangefinder from 1959 was the last camera I bought in Japan, but not the last one I have to review from there. I have one more that is currently being CLA’d and won’t be returned for another month.
In fact, I bought this camera day before I left for the airport. I couldn’t resist it. A Mamiya, a rangefinder, nice and solid…and heavy. Crap, I was already over my luggage weight limit. Maybe I could just wear it around my neck?? And that is what I did 🙂
Everything seemed great. The only issue was the rangefinder patch seemed very dim. Then I stumbled upon this article about adding a square of tape to the viewfinder. As you can see, it worked a treat. Here is another article, with photos. When researching the camera I found one site that stated there were two versions released, the f2.8 and f1.9. All the other sites I found did not mention there were two. Mine is the 2.8, so I cannot attest to the 1.9 version.
There is very little to be found on the net about this Mamiya bar from a few vague lines. They generally say its name and date of manufacture.
From the photos you can gather it has an f2.8 – f22 lens, with a focal length of 48mm. Once the film is loaded you have to manually set the film counter which counts up. There is also a film reminder dial. As there is no light meter it is a simple reminder only. The film speeds range from 1 second to 1/500th with a B and a self-timer. There is also an M and X for the flash types. Ken Rockwell explains the different settings very well here. Basically, X is for the flash sync and M is for flash bulbs which take time to reach full brightness and therefore needs a different setting. The rangefinder has a short movement and can easily be moved by the index finger alone. The winder moves through slightly over 180 degrees. The viewfinder has a square in the corner where you can see the speed and aperture settings. Unfortunately, I cannot make out the numbers due to my poor close up eyesight. Too much reading maybe.
Well, that was quite technical for me. That’s enough of that. How were the photos?
I took a few in Tsukuba before I left for the airport, then finished the film on a cloudy day out in Liverpool.
Can you see where the switch in countries takes place? One of the posters might give you a clue.
Wow, what a super, not so little camera. I definitely had issues focusing while in Japan, but once I added the tape in England there is an improvement.
As the skin started to fall off while I was using it, I recovered it with maps from places in the UK that I love.
How cool is that!
Buy this camera – Mamiya 35 S2
Please check the photos and read the text, that way you know exactly what you are buying. The amount includes postage to the UK. If you live outside the UK please contact me for postage details.
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.
This was such a nice camera to try after all the toy cameras, half-frames, and APS cameras. This is a good, solid rangefinder from 1967. You can find some more details here.
It is heavy, solid and fairly large. Swung correctly, it could kill someone – ssshhhhh. But honestly..it lacks that satisfying “thunk” of other rangefinders when the shutter is pressed. It’s more of a “pffffthhh”. How disappointing. The battery compartment has a great, springy connection spoke which means it can fit a variety of batteries. Unfortunately, no matter which one I used the light meter needle just wobbled all over the place. It was never really reliable. In the end, I decided to just use this example manually.
The winder has a short movement, not even 180 degrees. On this version, the winder does cock the shutter, but you can keep on winding to your heart’s content. I had to remember to wind on as soon as I had taken a shot. Otherwise, I forgot if I had or not and wasted film.
The 1.7f lens on this one looked pretty clean. The viewfinder was bright too. BUT the second image for the rangefinder was slightly dull, not enough that you couldn’t focus though. So I put in a roll of Lomography Lady Grey 400 and got to shooting. I took the camera with me on a walk I did for my other blog.
Holy shitake mushrooms! This camera is freaking awesome. Look at those photos. Now, admittedly my reaction might be because of the cameras I have used recently but sufferin’ succotash it is sharp. The film and the camera combination gives the photos a really pleasing look to me. The shadows are captured well, and I even like the contrast on the shadowy photos…and can you see how I am not swearing 🙂
Golly, I want to keep this camera. Toooooo maaaannnny keeeepers!!
I found a grotty old Canonet in a junk bin. The lens had some fungus on it and the hinge seal had rotted away, but the shutter fired and the light meter still worked.
I bought it for $5 and left it in my cupboard for about 6 months. I didn’t want to take the lens apart. Then one day I thought, oh just do it, what have you got to lose…well $5, but that isn’t much. So I got out my bag of tools and got to work.
I took the glass from the front part of the lens off and cleaned it. Much like in the video on this link. Actually, I forgot to take the before photos. That means the glass in the photos above is the cleaned version. This link has a different method with more toxic materials, which I didn’t have or have the nose for. It was much easier to remove the lens than I thought it would be.
Then I put it all back together and loaded a film to test my work. As I was not sure the camera would focus properly I put in a partly used film. I took it with me on this walk.
The second image in the viewfinder was a little light and difficult to focus, but there was enough left that I could at least make an attempt to focus. But golly gosh, it was sharp and the light meter was great on the exposure side too.
That means this original 1961 version of the Canonet now works perfectly. As the slider on this camera has the option for 400ASA film it is the MK3 version. You can get more tech information on this site.
Keep or Sell: I did fix this camera and cleaned the lens, my first attempt. That makes me want to keep it. The selenium cell works, that also makes me want to keep it. BUT, it is quite heavy and a little bit ugly, for me anyway. I probably won’t use it again very much. I will add it to my “ponder pile”.
I found this camera in a camera junk shop in Tokyo. There is a chain of shops in Nakano and one only sells junk or near junk film cameras. Their junk is better quality than most junk shops. Over the road on the second floor is their film camera shop where they have an amazing display of Leicas. This camera was there, all shiny and the lens looked really clear.
The viewfinder of this 1958 camera is one of the brightest I have used, big and clear. It makes aligning the two images of the rangefinder much easier than other cameras I have used. The film crank has to be used twice, once to advance the film and once to cock the shutter. It works on an EV system which changes the speed and aperture together. The EV value can be set by pressing down the EV scale on the lens barrel towards the body. I actually found it a little annoying and much prefer the ability just to change the aperture on its own as this coupling means you have to take a light reading more often. The viewfinder is on the far left so you can focus with your right eye and keep looking at your subject with the left. And that is it, no light meter, no fancy buttons, just a solid, well-built camera.
But did this camera work? I put in an expired Kodak Super 400 and set off for a quiet part of Tokyo.
I lost a few shots as the shutter release was so quiet I didn’t realise I had pressed it. The EV system meant that the exposure was sometimes a little off as I didn’t change the value. The expired film and the EV system meant that the colours were a little wild at times. BUT the camera worked and the lens was sharp. The weight of the camera and EV value system means that this is not my favourite camera. I probably won’t use it again.
I don’t usually post a camera twice unless I am testing a new film. BUT I decided to invest in a new lens for my Leica as I was unimpressed by the Summar. That lens seems to have a very light layer of haze. Though it is so even I am still only sure it is there due to the photos. I looked around and I could not afford a clearer Summar, not even close, so I plumped for this one. The Canon Rangefinder 50mm with a large f/1.4 aperture.
I loaded a film as soon as it arrived. Unfortunately, there is a typhoon on the way so it rained for days. Eventually, I thought sod it and took it out for a trial anyway.
The rain and the dark days meant I could only try it at apertures between f1.4 – f.2.8
I wasn’t expecting much as I had put in a 100asa film. I was pleasantly surprised.
The film and lens had managed to capture most things pretty sharply, with a good depth of field.
The exposure was also good, well-done smartphone light meter. The only issue I found was the cut-off point at the top. The camera seems to need me to aim above where I really intend to crop. This can be especially seen on the statue photos. I put the cherubs much closer to the centre.
I can’t wait to use the camera and lens on a brighter day.