Tag Archives: vintage

Yashica Zoomate 70

As the BBC is saying right now, this was filmed before the current government guidelines.

I am not sure where I got this camera, I think it was in a job lot of stuff I bought a while ago, but it was a Yashica so I thought I would try it. I put in a half used film that I had already exposed in another camera. I didn’t think the other camera worked so if I had to pay for processing, then at least there was a chance of a few photos on the roll.

This point and shoot from early 2000 is nothing special, a regular compact camera with an average zoom lens. You can find lots of technical details here. When I loaded the film I had to shoot passed the previous exposures. On pressing the shutter with the lens against my leg to avoid light, the shutter stayed open for quite a while. I was surprised by that. Looking at the technical details I saw the longest exposure was 2.8 seconds, so it took a while to get to the 25th shot and I fogged the first photo by lifting the camera and looking through the lens to check.

I finished the roll on the journey to the photolab. The walk to the bus stop and the walk through Leeds. Looking at the photos now I am struck by the fact the few people in the photos are sort of isolating themselves. That is common near an ATM anyway. In the UK we call these “hole in the wall” or “cashpoint”, though signs say ATM.

Well, it did a pretty good job. Compared with the Konica, they are a little softer, less vibrant. The difference is the lens of course and the manual focusing. Both cameras had the same job to do with the Konica requiring a bit more input from the user…just a bit.

As for this camera, it is fine and cheap. If it was your only choice then its not a terrible one, quite good for wandering around on a bright day…when you get the chance.

Franka Solida IIE

I tried this camera a few weeks ago and I love it…which is unfortunate as I dropped it while out using it for the first time. The damn thing doesn’t have any strap lugs and I don’t have the case. So I hope it still works after that. I definitely will try another film sometime to find out. For now here is the camera with added dint.

This version of the Solida is from 1956, there are a few versions. This one can be identified by the uncoupled rangefinder and the square window on the front. Apart from the obvious lack of a strap, the camera feels solid with an all metal build. That is good because I dropped it from quite a height and it just dented the bottom rather than break it altogether.

You open the camera with a button on the side, above the lever to open the back. To close the camera, you push down on the bar at the front of the lens. After I dropped mine, the film back was jammed shut, but luckily my father had just received a free gift, a small tool box, that came with a purchase of some trousers…

Seriously, who gives a tool kit away with trousers. Anyway, it had just the right tools inside to open the camera and to slightly fix the dent.

The camera has speeds ranging from 1/300 to 1 seconds plus a bulb setting. The shutter needs to be cocked before firing. It has a lock to avoid double-exposures, which is the only disappointing thing. There is a cable-release socket on the lens and a slider to cover the red window. The one thing I couldn’t find at first was the aperture adjuster, eventually I found it under the lens along with an EV scale. The choice of apertures are from f3.5 to f22.

The best thing about the camera is the uncoupled rangefinder, which on my example worked well. It was a bit tricky to see the double image, in bright light it was better. Once the two images are aligned the scale on the top of the camera tells you the distance to set the lens. That does mean you have to slow down a bit while out photoing, but that is kind of nice.

I loaded mine with Fomapan 400 and went to Cardiff Castle. At first I had a bit of trouble using the camera, the shutter button needed a hefty press, but once you get use to that all is fine. I did think there might be some camera movement due to the pressure needed for the button. To avoid that I kept the camera at 1/125th. The first shot of the soldier sculpture did show that movement, but after that I was use to the pressure. I also took the camera to Steeton Hall Gateway and Oulton Church. Not bad for just 12 6×6 shots.

Here is another review of the camera with sample photos. I love the look of the photos, plus the camera is light enough to carry around in a bag or pocket, unlike some 120 cameras I have. Best thing of all, it is really cheap to find. What a super little camera.

Konica FP-1 Program

When I tidied out my photography stuff I found two lenses that I no longer had a body for. One was a Konica Hexanon AR 50mm F1.7, I remembered using it with another camera, I must have sold the body but kept the lens because I liked the quality of the photos it produced. I could sell the lens, but what if there was a cheap body for sale? I am not yet at the point where I can’t not look, so I did. And there was this camera, very cheap and with a very cool looking strap. It was worth it for the strap alone.

I thought it was a nice looking camera…initially…but hey, wait a minute…where are the dials to choose stuff? The speed mode, aperture mode, manual mode…any mode come to that?

There weren’t any…not one single solitary mode, nada, nothing. But what about the viewfinder? Was there any information displayed in there? Nope, just a green or red light. It turns out this camera was a program only camera. You have no choices. You can just focus the camera and press the button. You leave the lens on AE and let the camera do absolutely everything. There is no override and no information about the choices the camera has made. Well, that sucks.

The camera was originally produced in 1981 and discontinued in 1983, a really short run. If you read that link you will see that, not only is this a program camera only, it only chooses from 3 apertures. Those apertures are 2.8, 5.6, or 11….WTF! So there was absolutely no point in having the F1.7 lens that I had attached. What a pile of poo. Once I had realised all of that, I was glad I didn’t pay much and had basically bought it for the price of the strap. At least the body would act as a lens cover.

I doubted I would ever use it…but then I got bored and decided to go to Bolsover Castle. I could get in for free due to my membership of English Heritage, so why not wander around with this camera…trying cameras is another hard habit to break. It was a nice day, a break in the rain/snow, but not a break in the wind. Ooooh it was cold.

Given the lack of features, the camera was very easy to use, point – focus – check for green light – shoot – repeat. I used part of the film and then transferred the remainder to another camera, a real point and shoot that I will post about later. So how did it do? It sounded slow, I didn’t have any faith at all…

Well, holy moly..it worked and worked really well. In all the lighting environments the camera chose a perfect setting, of course it did because cameras are actually suppose to work. But it works so well. It was not fooled by backlighting, lots of sky or high contrast. Even in fairly dark situations it worked. And I still love the lens. I would be tempted to get another, better body for it…if I didn’t have lots of similar cameras and am reducing my collection.

As for the other lens I found without a body… I decided not to buy another SLR. I have already sold the lens to avoid the temptation. So I am getting a little better at not buying stuff I don’t need.

Coronet D-20

Now, even though I just posted that my plans for my photolife are changing, I still have a few cameras with films inside. So I will be posting more reviews for now, but they will slowly die off.

One of the reasons for the change is because of cameras like this…I hate this camera. In fact I can honestly say I haven’t tried a coronet I do like. So this will be the last one I put a film in. I do have a few more, but due to my new plans for the future, I will not be wasting film in them.

My dislike of this camera is based purely on the viewfinder. I couldn’t see a bloody thing. It was clean enough, but you have to look through it at a specific angle to see anything. I rarely hit that sweet spot. So my test roll shot results were based purely on luck. I don’t think photography should be down to luck.

The one good thing about this 1950s camera is that it can take 620 or 120 film. That is handy, as I didn’t have to respool the film before loading it. Side loading by the way. To be honest, I also kind of liked the ratchety wind on mechanism. It clicked as you turned the knob, but a clicky knob can’t save it in my eyes.

The days I used the D-20 were dull so there was no need to use the built in filter for bright days. Oh I have to say, the plastic strap was equally annoying. It never quite went straight and was uncomfortable around my neck.

Not my favourite results. The one on the bottom, the field, was supposed to be of a cow, but I couldn’t see it in the viewfinder.

Kodak Duaflex

Finally, finally!!!! a day with a tiny bit of sun and brightness and I just happened to have camera fully loaded and ready to try. This is the very smart looking Kodak Duaflex which was available in the UK between 1949-1955.

If you want a closer look at this camera, I found a really neat 3D model of it here.

Mine is in pretty good condition considering the age. It has a 75 mm Kodet lens with a fixed aperture of f15. I would guess the shutter speed is about 1/50th or less. There is an option for bulb setting, but that is it really. I have seen a few posts on instagram or blogs about attaching a digital camera to the enormous viewfinder. My example is a little dirty, but still very bright and clear. I might be tempted to clean it and try this type of photography. The square shape of the camera means this type of photography might not be too tricky…now I am even more tempted, but I think I will wait for the spring and longer, brighter days.

As for this camera in its current state, I like it. I liked using it, I like how it looks and I love how the shots came out. They have a definite look to them, a real tapering off of sharpness. I used mine at a local park during a few minutes of sun.

I am definitely going to try this camera again, maybe some portraits to really show off the bizarre focusing effect.

Here are a couple of the images quickly processed using the Snapseed app on my android phone.

Conway “Popular”

I have been working a lot the past few weeks, preparing for the lack of funds over the winter break. That combined with the rain and the short days does not make for many opportunities to use cameras like this one. I liked the look of this camera from the start. As a bonus it was easy to take apart and clean. Just undo the screw at the front and the mirrors are accessible.

For me, the best thing about this camera was the “Made in England” proudly displayed on the front. Searching for information on the camera proved a little fruitless, there isn’t much. I found nothing but photos of this version, with very little test attached. A very similar camera has more written about it, stating it was on sale around 1955. The company has a bit more information to be found. This site says it was based in Birmingham and originally called Standard Cameras Ltd, they also made Coronet cameras. Any other information you need has to be garnered by looking at the photos.

* There is a closeup and distance setting on the lens barrel.
* There is a green filter option, accessed with a slider on the side, to be used with foliage to make the shades more natural and dark green leaves lighter.
* There are two large, bright viewfinders for portrait or landscape shots.
* There is no tripod mount or cable release which is unfortunate as the shutter speed is probably around 1/40th-1/50th
* The aperture is set, probably to f11
* There is a bulb setting, again there is no tripod or cable release to make using this function more effective.
* The camera accepts 120 or 620 film. I used 120 but I found the film hard to advance so I think the 620 roll would be a better fit.
* The film is placed in the camera opposite to regular box cameras. You insert on the bottom and transfer to the top.
* There are two hooks to keep the camera closed. On my version they would slip off and leave the camera prone to opening slightly. It would be better to tape those down while using it.

I can’t think of anything else. So here are my test shots taken around Victoria Tower, Huddersfield. I went to this location as it was a lovely but cold sunny day, and we haven’t had a lot of those recently. This place would be a bit tricky to get to on a bad winter’s day as it is really exposed.

When I developed the film I was excited to see the results. On the negative, the images looked clear, sharp and contrasty. But on scanning, you can see a few soft spots on them. The focusing drifts throughout the shots. The last one was a timed shot taken inside of my father reading as the rain came back. I held the camera on a sturdy book for about 30 seconds, with the near setting activated, though I don’t think a tripod would have helped with the softness of the focus.

Though I do still like the look of the camera, I doubt I will use it again. The images are too soft and the winder was too stiff.

Kodak ‘Brownie’ Flash B

This is my favourite Brownie so far. It was produced from 1958-1960 so had a very small production run compared to the others. Just look at it…

This brownie has so many things going for it that distinguish it from the other Brownies I have tried.

  • It is very easy to clean the viewfinders and mirrors, just pop off the front.
  • The said viewfinders are nice and big, and once cleaned, very bright.
  • It has a choice of three speeds which are stated on the camera, no guessing. The choices are 1/40th 1/80th and B. With a set f11 aperture.
  • The 1/80th speed is quicker than most Brownies which are usually around 1/50th.
  • There is a built in close-up lens for subjects 5-10ft away.
  • There is a built in filter for brighter days or faster films.
  • Both of those filters are labeled on the pull out tabs.
  • There is a guide to settings on the camera. Though it is for Kodak film from the time. It is useful to know Tri-X is rated 200 ISO, Veri-Pan is 125 ISO and Pan X 32 ISO.
  • The skin is good quality and can be glued back in place unlike the paper-ish covered versions.
  • You can take multiple exposures.
  • There is a flash slot if you happen to have a flash and bulbs.
  • It is Brown, it really is a ‘Brownie’ hence the ’emphatic’ use of quotation marks.

It uses 620 film so I respooled a roll of Fomapan. Which I have to say is turning all my chemicals bright blue, I wonder if the dye affects the potency of the developer etc. Anyway, I took the camera to my local town when I went to find a pair of wellies. There has been a lot of rain lately, lots of places in Yorkshire are flooded. So I thought wellies might be useful. Unfortunately, there was only one shop selling them and no wide ones, I have fat calves…due to a motorbike accident honest 😦
All that is beside the point. Here is my test roll.

Dark, contrasty and moody, just as I like them.

I used the close up filter on the lettered flag stones. I am just over five foot tall, so I put the camera on my head and used the closeup filter.

I loved using this camera. I will use it again.

Kodak Brownie Six-20 Model D

This Brownie is one of the few I have decided to keep from the box of 60+ I gained recently. My decision was based on the fact I could take the front off and clean the lens, mirrors, and viewfinders. That made it very easy to use. Also, this version has a close-up lens built-in. Although, close up, means between 3-7 feet so not really close. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of a tripod socket. With the long exposures of Brownies, there is always chance of camera shake. I find this especially true in regards to the button press versions. On the plus, there was a flash attachments and I do have the flash, but alas no bulbs.

The model D was introduced in 1946 and was in production for just over 10 years. Mine is a later version from after 1953, identified by the stripes on the front. It takes 620 film, has an f11 aperture, and a speed of 1/40th.

I put in a roll of respooled Fomapan 100 and went on a short walk to use the 8 shots of 6×9.

I loved using this camera, it was simple and just worked. There is surprisingly very little camera shake and it is sharper than any toy camera I have tried. I like the look of the resulting photos. If you are looking for a brownie, then this one is a reliable choice. As mentioned it is easy to clean and very well built. Of course being about 75 years old makes that all depend on previous owners….oh what it might have seen.