Tag Archives: tokyo

Japan, Jetlag, and Cameras

So the all important question, did I buy any new cameras in Japan? Well, durh!! course I did. I went to a couple of my favourite shops around Tokyo.

GT Cameras has a great selection of good quality used cameras and a super junk section. From there I got these.

I bought the Konica for a friend, the topcon because it looked nice and shiny and the fuji because it was $1. The fuji has a built in battery but it is easily accessible and I should be able to swap it for a modern equivalent.

The next one I made a point to visit was Shinbashi Ichi Camera. This shop was on my walk from the Tsukuba Express Station to Ueno Park. I often wandered in. Though it has a nice range of cameras, they were usually out of my price range. But, the junk section sometimes had real bargains and it was always worth a quick look. This time was no exception. I bought one camera there. If it works it will be an absolute bargain.

A Yashica T AF for $25. Ok it might not work, but it might?? I thought it was worth the gamble. When I tried a battery it worked for a few shots, then quit. There is a possible fix online so fingers crossed.

Finally, I went to my old haunts of Wonderex and Hard-off. These are second hand resell shops, which sometimes have good quality film cameras, but always point and shoots for $3. I ended up getting a couple of toy cameras.

These types of shops also sell SLR bodies and cameras from $3. I went with an idea to get a minolta auto lens as no longer had one in my collection and it would come in handy to test any bodies I come across. Of course you need a body to attach it to, to keep the lens safe. So I got this combination for $8

And finally before I went I bought a new camera from Amazon because I saw this post and though Tokyo would be the best place to test it.

All the holiday wombling reminded me of another Canny Camera post about crap cameras. Will any of these turn out to be utter crap or have I wombled well? I guess the next few posts will tell…once I get over the jetlag that is.

Oh and I forgot this little camera…

This was a surprise buy for a number of reasons. Firstly I have owned a few of them and it was never my favourite camera. Secondly it is a half frame. Finally, I found it in an antique furniture shop while waiting to visit a mini pig cafe. I was early and saw it on a table with a label saying $10 so tested it and it seemed to work perfectly. As I had sold all my other versions I figured it was a good investment. I might even start to like it??

Werra 2B (Werramat)

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I have wanted one of these cameras for a while as they are quite different. I didn’t think I would find one in Japan, but voila. It was taking me a little time to figure out which version of the Werra it was. So I asked the internet gods, they were very helpful. With their guidance, I tracked down a manual from Butkus and the description and pictures matched what I thought I had.

A Werramat. But then another aficionado looked up the serial number and said it was a Werra 2b from 1960. You can’t argue with a serial number?? Either way, Butkus is very handy. I have bought that guy a pint once, please do the same if you use the site.

Here is my actual camera.

When I started to research the 2b I found this website and it said the Werra 2b is the Werramat. Then I found another more detailed website which said the 2b is also the Werramat, but that the 2b’s photocell was unreliable so it was updated and re-released as the Werramat…bugger.

My Werra works like the others, you advance the film and cock the shutter by twisting the lens barrel in a clockwise direction. I found this example to be a little tricky, or I was just nervous about using it. It seemed to need an extra push sometimes, but I might have been too gentle as I have wanted one for a while. It could also be the fact it hasn’t been used in a while. Anyway, I was so happy about actually owning one that I made a strap with some remaining paracord. I might make a cooler one when I get back to the UK and have a better cord. At first, I thought the rangefinder was broken as I could not see the second image at all. Chatting with the internet peeps also reassured me that the rangefinder wasn’t broken, this version does not have one. That being the case I had to guess at distances for the test film.

The lens cap turns into a lens hood. Mine was damaged, but from what I have read somewhere on the net it is a common issue (I should bookmark everything I read!). Having used this camera I think I can see how it happens. The hood doesn’t actually fit back on if the lens is extended. Before putting the hood back over the lens you have to turn it to infinity, so it is close to the body. Without being in that position the lens hits the inside of the hood. If you are not careful you can use too much pressure, forcing it on and ultimately cracking the hood.

I have already bought a “for parts” camera with an intact hood and case for $10. So at some point, I will have a complete hood and case, with a hopefully working Werramat. That purchase seemed a bit overly confident given I hadn’t even tried this camera, but it was cheaper than buying a replacement cap. Plus I think I know where I can get this one serviced in the UK.

You can find more even more details on how to use the Werra on this blog.

Anyway here is my test first film, taken around Ibaraki.

As for the so-called unreliable lightmeter…I relied on the light meter for this film and it seemed to work very well. The light meter is coupled. I was unsure what coupled meant until I found this discussion. There is a needle inside the viewfinder that moves when you alter the speed or aperture. The fact you can see it in the viewfinder makes it coupled. I tried covering the cell with my finger and it didn’t seem to make a difference, so I was surprised by how well it worked. The cell is in exactly the place I like to put my index finger, so I often covered by accident. The photo of the shrine lion is especially impressive. Of course, my guesses of distance were not always accurate, and it was very tricky to get the swans in focus as they kept swimming away. You can see the first few shots are overlapping. That could be down to my nervousness and the lack of use. So to be fair I used another film and retested the camera.

This time the shutter was a bit worse as you can see. It is sticking open, hence the light leaks. OK, it needs a service for sure. And you can see what happens if you forget to take off the lens hood.

Well, now I want to say where and how I bought the camera as that is a story unto itself. As a blogger and camera lover, of course, I read other blogs too. I saw this great blog entry and made a comment and decided to act upon it (I am windswept007, if you hadn’t guessed). I followed the instructions, even down to knocking on the door. I am polite. Once inside I was determined to buy something, I had gone to the effort to get there and find the place. Inside was one other customer, I gave a polite nod/bow to them and carried on looking. Then that customer spoke to me..and in English to boot. That rarely happens in camera shops here.

“Have you seen this blog?” he asks showing me his iPad.
“Why yes, that is the reason I am here?” I reply.
…a small pandemonium occurs as he chats to the owner in Japanese, basically saying,
“See mate, told ya…I bring you customers!!”

Turns out he was the writer of the blog, and now a new internet friend ūüôā
I introduce myself and tried to tell him about this blog, but I didn’t have any relevant business card. Business cards are all the thing here. I have some now. What a small world of blogging we live in. Anyway, I was still determined to buy something, so I bought this Werramat. To be honest, I think I overpaid, but it is a German camera in Japan, so that is a given. If I had waited until my return to Europe I might have got one much cheaper. Either way, I was happy with the camera, the meeting, and the whole experience.

Keep or Sell: Mine and I got it serviced, but to be honest I haven’t used it since I did ūüė¶ I have to rectify that.

Canon Demi

I had a lot of trouble with this camera. First trying to find out which canon demi it is, then getting the thing to work.

I think this is the first version of this camera, introduced in 1963. It is a half frame camera with a selenium meter. The meter on this camera clearly did not work as the meter hardly moved even when I shone a torch on it. I thought I would try half a film in it. The settings seem to work on an EV basis, when you change the aperture the speed also changes. You cannot set them individually. I set the camera to f8 following the sunny 16 rule.

Well, surprise it did work. So I tried anther film.

Well, it was ok, but not great. Even though there are issues with the camera it still doesn’t rock my boat. It just doesn’t feel great to hold or use. Here is some more information about this camera on a great blog.

Keep or sell: Already sold.

Mamiyaflex C2

Unfortunately the tank’s problems got worse and due to the cost of it I decided to return it to the seller. They were awesome and gave me a full refund, no questions asked. I bought the C33 at a camera fair and I originally picked up a scrappy looking C2. The dealer then showed me the tank and I fell for it….back in the shop there was the scrappy C2 again. So I took the refund money and bought it, it was kismet. It was also half the price of the C33, probably due to the state of the leather which fell off in tiny pieces at the slightest touch.

I played with it a little in the shop and everything seemed ok, but until I put a film in it I could not tell for sure. As I was in Ueno I walked straight to Yodobashi Camera and bought some Fuji Acros. Then I wandered around Tokyo until the light faded. I finished off the roll near my house the next day and immediately developed the results.

Yahoooo, it worked perfectly!! Not bad for a camera from 1958. In comparison to the C33, I didn’t see much difference in the quality of the result. The C2 is much lighter at only 1.6kg, so that is a bonus. There is no film crank on this version of the series. There is also no switch for sheet films, which is not an issue for me. Only a 9 of the shots came out because I didn’t read the manual first, loading the film is a tiny bit tricky if you don’t. There are two red dots on the sides where you need to line up the “start” of the film. Before you do this you need to make sure the red dot on the frame counter is at the top. If it is anywhere else then shoot through the numbers without the film connected to the spool. Then once the film is on the spool and the door is closed you need to push the lever under the winder away from the unlock sign. You can then advance the film to the first frame and the camera will lock the winding system when it it is in the right place and the number is on 1. It sounds complicated, but once you have done it a couple of times you are set.

Each time you take a shot you need to press the lever again to advance the film. Without pressing the lever the film will not advance. The shutter is cocked manually on the side of the lens. As with the other Mamiya C series of cameras, the lenses are interchangeable. Mine came with a Sekor 10.5mm, I will invest in another lens if I see one.

The scale on the side of the bellows is for exposure compensation. The further out it is the more light is needed so that scale lets you know how much.

As I knew the camera worked I spent the next morning replacing the skin. You can buy skins online, but with the shipping it would cost a third of the price of the camera. So I decided to try it myself. I have reskinned other cameras, but nothing like this. All the buttons and levers, plus the circle at the bottom meant it took some time and I was actually patient this time.


First I had to remove all the skin that did not just fall off. At some point an owner had tried to reattach parts with stronger glue, but with the help of a scraper and sticky stuff remover it all came off.

Then it was a slow process of matching sizes and cutting out holes.

The skin job is not perfect, but it is perfect for me. I have a unique camera. I love this one even more than the C33 and I am definitely keeping it. Though I am going to sell the Lubitel. I can’t go back to that after this one.

Olympus OZ120 Zoom (superzoom)

I found it a bit tricky to find details about this camera on the net. There are many different Olympus cameras that are similar in name and function. This one has another version called the 120TC. Most of the links go to sellers who just say it works without any details. The website camera-wiki.org just states that it is from 1994 and that is it. Even the Olympus homepage doesn’t state more than that. The only technical details I could find were in German. Popular camera then.

Ok so here is what I know. You turn it on by pulling out the flash. Of course having ‘zoom’ in the title means it has a great zoom, 35-120mm range. It has a number of modes such as¬†spot metering, night scene, continuous shooting, as well as various flash modes. You can lock the focusing, so¬†subjects should be sharp even when not in the centre of the frame. Lastly it has a¬†camera-shake warning when shooting in low light.¬†I put in the two CR123 batteries it needed and got to using it.

I thought it felt comfortable to hold, it was slightly heavy given the type of camera it is. The lens is covered when it is turned off so it is perfect to just throw it in a bag, which is what I did.

Here is my test roll from around Japan.

I found the focusing on this particular camera was a bit hit and miss. When it hit…then it was great. You can pick this camera up very cheaply and I think as a $5 camera it is fine. It is weather resistant so you can throw it in a bag on a rainy day for some street photography without worrying about it too much.

As for my photos it seemed to cope with the night shots for the Orlando Vigil in Tokyo very well, and was fairly discreet. At the opposite end of the spectrum it also coped with the panning of Mario Karts, which I highly recommend to try out in Tokyo if you get the chance.

Keep or Sell, definitely not keep, but due to the issues with focusing I am not sure I am comfortable selling this one. So it might go in another bin.