Tag Archives: vintage

Just when I said…

Just when I said I would scaling down the camera reviews on this site, I go and get a bulk load of point and shoots!

I saw them on Facebook Marketplace, which seems to be the place to get a few bargains these days. No selling fees, no paypal fees, bargains galore, maybe.

Anyway I saw an advert for 16 point and shoot cameras untested, but some of them were Olympus, Nikon, Canon etc. So I thought why not.

I went along to check them out and most of them had batteries inside, only one had any kind of corrosion. Six had films inside, two of those were APS.

In the end this is the list of cameras I picked up for £30. Nearly all have cases.

Tried before -seem to be working
Canon Ixus M-1 – APS (film inside, I removed it)
Olympus Mju Zoom 140 (tried before, but this had a film inside so will test as I liked it)


Untried with film Inside – seem to be working
Canon Ixus Z50 – (APS, I put the M-1 film in this one)
Canon Sureshot AF-7
Chinon 35F-EE
Minolta Vectis 20 – APS
Nova dx-5 (seems like a toy camera)
Olympus Superzoom 140S (film inside)
Pentax Espio 738 G (The S and G seem to have the same specs but look different)
Pentax Espio 738 S
Pentax zoom 70-R (film inside)
Ricoh FF-9
Yashica Zoomate 70

Not workingtip material
Canon Ixus Z70 – aps (had a film, able to retrieve)
Nikon AF200
Nikon TWzoom 85
Olympus AZ-300 Superzoom

So not bad really. I get to try 13 cameras with 2 APS films. So about £2 each. The person selling them had found them by hunting the car boot sales. So in terms of time and petrol saved, that makes it even more of a bargain.

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.

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.

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.

Zenit 11

This post is absolutely ridiculous, or at least ironic in the Alanis Morrisette version of the word. I have already mentioned how this was the first camera I ever owned. Not this actual one of course, I used that example as part exchange for an Olympus OM-10 when I was about 19-ish. But as I am in a habit of searching for past cameras, I could not resist trying to get another Zenit 11. That feeling was further spurred on after reading this article…I wanted my godamn Zenit back! Hello eBay.

The Zenit 11 was produced from 1981-90. There really isn’t anything to say that can’t be gleaned from the photos above.

  • Shutter speeds: 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and Bulb mode
  • Metering : Uncoupled selenium meter above the lens mount in the form of a needle match system
  • Lens mount: M42

As you can see, my new one came with the Helios 58mm lens (like my old one). It is built like a tank and looks like one too. And way back in my youth that was the issue. I was young and had to buy a camera from a catalogue with my pocket money. It meant I could not buy a fancy pants camera with all the bells and whistles, just the cheapest in the book. When it arrived I loved it and took lots of photos of my pets and tried out the bulb feature, though only a few photos exist now. Here are some I took around the age of 15 or 16.

But being young, I was worried about what other people thought and quickly envied the fancier cameras. That meant my zenit ownership days were numbered. I am older now, somewhat wiser. What would that mean to my views on the Zenit 11?

Firstly, I no longer care what other people think, plus I have some fancy cameras so *thrrrrrr* (that’s my version of a raspberry).

Secondly, I appreciate the fact that this camera does not need batteries and will work even if the selenium cell is no longer working. It is a mechanical monster.

I loaded it up with a roll of fresh film and got to shooting around London….

Not content with one film and the wait to see the results. I actually used a roll of Oriental Seagull 100, which I found out was rebadged Kentmere. That was annoying to read as Kentmere is much cheaper, I will just get that next time. I pushed it to 400 and used it on the same trip to London. How nice to know I didn’t have to worry about batteries.

I found the camera a little stiff and shuddery when I pressed the shutter. There was such a clunk when I pressed the shutter, I felt there must be camera shake evident on the resulting photos. I don’t think my example had been used in a while as the shutter curtain seemed a little unreliable too when I watched it before I loaded the film. I was hoping using the camera would oil the cogs so to speak and I was right. There weren’t any issues with either rolls.

Focusing the Zenit was also a little awkward due to the focusing screen. I prefer a split screen as opposed to the shimmering of the microprism. On close up shots it was really hard for me to see when it was fully focused.

Anyway here are the results from the other film.

There are a couple of light leaks on the film. I am not sure where they came from as they are completely randomly places and go right across the film. There were non on the first roll, so I think it was down to me throwing it in a bag or something.

So has my opinion of the Zenit 11 changed changed?

Hell, yes! I absolutely love this camera and lens combination. The fact that it doesn’t need a battery is a bonus. It took me a while to get use to the 58mm focal length, I was constantly having to take steps back from the subject. I have the 35mm lens I got for the LTL, I will try that on this camera next. I might even look for a few more M42 lenses or a adaptall2 M42 adapter. What a cracking camera, I highly recommend it. Gosh if I can only go back in time and tell my younger self not to worry about what other people think and keep the Zenit, I would be so much richer…and this blog probably would not exist 🙂

This camera is going straight into the top five of my list.

Kowa H

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.

Voigtländer Vito B

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.