Pentax ME F

I saw this camera for sale on eBay for parts/not working. The description said the battery cover was stuck. I knew the ME F was very much like the ME Super and thought, I think I can fix that! So I bought it, for a bargain price.

When the camera arrived the battery compartment was indeed stuck. I unscrewed the bottom plate and there were batteries in the compartment. Luckily they weren’t leaking and the compartment showed no damage. I took them out and replaced the plate. Next, I tried pressing the battery open button and voila, the compartment opened without an issue. I am not sure why the cover got stuck, but it seemed fine now. I put in fresh ones and the lights came on. Maybe one had swelled and was due to burst. I got there in the nick of time.

I had come into contact with this model before, but it didn’t work. I then became a little obsessed with finding another. Finally, here I am with a seemingly working model. I researched it and found it is basically an improved ME Super with a focusing assistant for the very first autofocus lens. Without the lens, it is an ME Super with a focus indicator in the viewfinder. That made me think, sometimes we really want something, like a newer model. Something bigger, better, faster. I have lost count how many times I have upgraded something or bought a new digital camera and then realized the old one was perfectly fine.

Without that all-important lens, with the autofocus built in, this one was exactly what I already had. I didn’t need it at all. You can read more about it here, with technical details galore. 

Oh well, now I have it I might as well test it as I have a few Pentax K lenses. The camera works in aperture priority mode or manual mode. The “A” for auto on the lens I chose did not work on this camera, which was tricky when I accidentally went passed f22 by mistake.

Here is the test roll. It was very underdeveloped, I am still having issues adjusting to Ilfosol 3. I corrected the shots in Preview, well the ones I thought were worth it.

As a point of note, I do not like the new WordPress gallery. The old one would arrange the photos in a much more pleasing manner. The new one leaves big gaps unless you choose to crop the images for the thumbnails which I did for the camera shots and will do for the next test roll. I wanted to try the camera again after finding out about the auto issue.

There were taken on a lovely December afternoon around St.Aidens. The light went away quite sharply throughout the roll. The well-lit shots are fine, but the backlit ones caused this example to struggle. I took a similar roll with another camera and that coped much better with backlight. This camera, with both rolls, seems to underexpose a little.

Even though I love my Pentax ME Super, I just did not take to this version or example. I say example as it might just be this one, another MEF might be perfectly ok. I am going to give this to a geocaching friend with the remit to overexpose by 1 to half a stop.

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Werramat

I have previously tried a Werra and mentioned that I bought a junk/parts camera for less than £5 in order to get the front lens cover. Well, this is the junk camera I bought minus the small lens cover which I put on the other camera.

I sent the original Werra off for a CLA to a well-known place in Liverpool. This one initially didn’t work and I was about to consign it to the rubbish bin. Then I heard about another person who serviced cameras. He was much cheaper so I thought I would send him this one, nothing to lose really. Well, in a week he sent it back. Apparently, a small piece of plastic was stuck in the shutter mechanism. He took it out and voila, I now have two Werras. Actually, I also sent my Leica to the hobby guy for a CLA and that came back much cleaner and smoother too. The lens was unrepairable, but the viewfinder is now brighter. I am not sure why I took the risk with that, but it worked out well.

Ok, so what about this unexpected Werramat. It was made around 1961 and is completely manual. The lens cover was damaged as on my original. The manual states to put the lens at infinity before putting it back on as it will get damaged. I found that out with the original. I loaded this one with a roll of very expired slide film a Jessops 100. I set the camera to 25ASA.

Do you see the dial on the bottom? I left mine in the “R” position which means rewind. So when I finished the roll I actually hadn’t taken any photos as the film had not advanced. The arrow needs to be beyond the black circle, as it is in the photos. Then the film will advance.

So did my cheap, junk, bargain CLA’d camera work. Yeap! but the expired film was rubbish It had a massive colour cast which I removed. You can see some sharp photos though. There is no rangefinder, so it is a matter of guesswork and using the distance scale.

I think it needs a trial with a better film. But it does work and I now have two Werras.

Keep or Sell: I think I might give this one to a friend, I definitely don’t NEED two..but do I want two?? No, my GAS has gone and so has the camera.

Kiev 88

This is one of the cameras I bought in order to play with it on my return to England. I had read a lot about it online on various blogs. I read this article which called it the “Beast from the East”. At the time that I ordered it, the UK news was full of details about their own beast from the east, kismet I thought.

Due to the fact this takes 6×6 photos, there seems to be more photos of the camera here than the 12 test shots that I will add later. The article I linked to before says that you will need at least 2 backs as the loading part is complicated and you might want to do it at home rather than out and about.

I agree I wish I had two. This 1980s camera was one of the most annoying cameras I have ever had to load. Before loading the film I read the manual a couple of times, but still struggled. It didn’t seem to make much sense. The first issue I had was actually getting the cassette back in the holder, it would not go in easily. The second was that I had forgotten to wind the film to the first frame in the cassette and cock the shutter before reattaching the holder to the body. Really, I had read the manual…maybe I have to make a video to remind myself. The body’s film advance also cocks the shutter, so I had royally screwed things up.

Once I did have the film loaded, actually using the camera wasn’t that tricky. Mine had a waist level finder, not TTL, so it didn’t need batteries. I used an app on my phone for a light reading, then adjusted the aperture when the lighting changed. The next mistake I made was forgetting to take the cassette plate out. In the manual, they call this a “shutter”, anyway, with this plate inside the camera’s actual shutter is locked on my version. So you can’t waste film by forgetting to remove this, you just get confused as to why the damn thing isn’t working. Don’t start throwing the camera though as the thing could kill a cow.  This brilliant website has a funny review of the camera and says that it “weighs a f*****g ton.” He also used the word crap a lot, but he does give a lot of technical details if you want them.

So did mine actually work? Here is my roll of Fomapan 400.

As you can see I missed the first shot on the roll completely through my bad loading skills. There are a couple of shots of the swan where I think I forgot to change the aperture and the one blank one…no idea what happened there. The ones that did come out are nice and sharp, especially the non-moving log.

I don’t know why, but there is something about this camera I love. It is big, fat, and heavy. It clunks and groans while you use it and is prone to breaking. There are many websites detailing how finding a good one is hard, but if you do it is worth it. I think I have found a fairly good one, despite my issues with loading it. I am going to use it again and maybe upload more photos here. I find it beautiful and funky. This website compares it to the Hasselblad it was originally based on, it makes for an interesting read.

Keep or sell: Keep, for now, it is waaaay too heavy to post it anywhere I would get a good return for what I paid.

 

 

 

Mamiya ZE

This was a camera I received as a swap from an internet friend. I thought I might have got a raw deal, but when I was using it with a photo group they seemed to think it was fair. Also, I probably would have never used the Konica again, so it was an interesting swap for me.

 

As you can see it is very clean and has a Mamiya Lens attached. It was released in 1980 and had aperture priority only. You can find lots of technical details here. The ZE2 added the speed choice option. This was the first Japanese SLR to have a coupled light meter. I found using the camera very easy, it is just a little more than a point and shoot due to the lack of features. It is a nice weight, not too big or small. I did use the + and – feature for backlit subjects, but apart from that, it was all about composition. I suppose if you wanted to improve in that area then this kind of camera would work well for that. In the viewfinder, you can see a red dot next to the speed chosen by the camera.

Here are my two test rolls that were taken around Leeds and the Lake District.

Given that this was the first SLR to have a coupled meter in Japan it is great to see, even in difficult conditions, the exposure choices are very good. Given the lack of a manual feature, it is good for learning about aperture and depth of field, but little more.

I am still not sure it was a good swap, but I did get the Konica I swapped for it in a junk bin 😉

Keep or Sell: Sold. There was nothing about this camera that I found so appealing that I would rush to use it again.

Mamiya 35 S2

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. These cameras can actually be found very cheap online so…

Keep or Sell: Keep as I would not get a great price for it and it is a great camera. Plus the skin started to fall off while I was using it so I recovered it with maps from places I love.

How cool is that!

Olympus O-Product

I saw this interesting camera on a blog about the same time I saw the Prima Sol. While looking for the Sol, I also looked online for this camera. Again, I never thought I would find a reasonably priced example and certainly didn’t think my small bid would stick. I must have been lucky that week because I won both of them.

Just look at it.

How pretty is that? The first chance I got to use it was at a photography club meeting and at my friend’s horse stables. Once I whipped out the camera a few of the members mentioned that recently there was a video online reviewing it. I looked for it after I tried it out.

There were a couple of videos, I preferred this one as I have also tried the Minolta Prod 20’s.

I felt the same way as the reviewer. I much preferred the look of the O-Product and the fact the flash is removable. I also love the sound it made, I wonder how they did that. Here is another great review that goes into much more detail than I care to give, including the history behind the design. I do know that any time I have pulled it out of my bag people wanted to look at it. But did it work?

I used some expired agfa 200 which I converted to black and white in post process due to the colour tint. The photos were taken around Leeds, with only the fish and chips using the flash.

I liked using the camera. I liked the results. I did feel it was a bit flashy, pardon the pun. It wasn’t something you could sneak a photo with. It demanded attention, especially with the flash attached. The brushed metal body was comfortable to hold and the cover over the lens was a bonus feature.

Keep or Sell: As with the Sol, I am tempted to sell it due to the increased prices. But is so unique looking I might hold onto it for a bit longer unless someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

 

Unusual Skin

I recently saw a camera with an usual skin. As I left all my Japanese print material in Japan I thought I would try some different approaches.

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I still need to add a light coat of clear varnish, but I like it. I am going to do another one tomorrow. Plus I have a camera coming in the post that I got very cheaply due to the rotted skin. I might look around for other ideas…magazine cuttings maybe??

or maps!

Not a bad way to spend time when you have a cold.

Konica Acom-1

I decided to post two cameras today as I want to empty my draft film of cameras I tried in Japan. Plus I have posted about two point and shoots and want to post something more substantial. Seeing as I already had a Konica lens I thought I would buy this junk bin body and try it out. This camera was introduced in 1976 and was called Konica Autoreflex TC outside of Japan. My example was extra “Japanese” as it had the data back, which was only available in Japan.

The first thing I did was try to get the data back working again, not that I ever use them, but I like things to work when they should. There was some writing on the back that Google Translate said, don’t open the battery compartment unless you are changing the batteries, and change them both at the same time. OK so two batteries, but where??

OK all changed, now the symbol is flashing and the red light comes on when you press the black button. But how do you set the thing?? No idea, there was just one button which seemed to be a battery check. I could not figure it out. The katakana on the sticker said “oto deto”, auto date. My guess was that it was completely automatic and that it worked so long as the batteries never drained, oh dear.

So I asked the internet gods for help. One helpful chappy had a Japanese manual so he took a photo of the relevant page and sent it to me.

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I uploaded that to Google Translate and this is what it said.

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Well, bugger. Basically, I was right, but it would have stopped working in 1999, probably due to the Y2K issue. Either way, I had changed the batteries now and so I tried the camera and at times pressed the black button, which was the actual data imprint button, not a battery check.

The data back was the most interesting thing about the camera. The light meter didn’t work so I used it in manual only. There was also a completely superfluous switch on the back that puts the winder lever back to the resting position. That lever should turn on the light meter, but it didn’t. Here is my test roll using the sunny 16 rule and my phone lightmeter.

You can see the date imprint did work, but the date is 1980/10/2 with no way to change it. I wonder if this was the last time the camera was used?

I actually did like using this camera. It was quirky. If the light meter worked and I didn’t have the other Konica I would think about keeping it.

Keep or sell: I want the lens for the other Konica I have, but this body I don’t need or want. Sold.

 

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