Fujifilm Nexia Q1 APS

This is another cute little aps camera which I found still in the box with all the documentation and plastic wrapping. I don’t think it had ever been used as the scratch film was still waiting to be removed from the front of the camera.

There are a ton of these cameras from 2001 to be found on eBay, and most in great condition. They were manufactured in China and was to be worn around the neck. The website I linked to before says that it is made like a sports item, a stopwatch, but it is not waterproof or sturdy. I agree it does feel very flimsy, but very comfortable to hold. It has an automatic flash and one speed of 1/100th. That it is, a very simple point and shoot.

But did it work. I tried some expired Voigtlander XR200 to find out.

As you can see it worked well in regular conditions but struggled with low lighting. I did like using it and for a night out I think it would be a great camera. It has no zoom, so there is no getting close to flowers but it would be great for a quick landscape or building photo.

Keep or sell: I am not sure it is worth the effort of selling for the price I will get, mint or not. I will keep it until a swap or friend wants it.

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Olympus 35 RC

I recently exchanged cameras with another camera blogger, this is the one I got in return. I have tried the DC, EC, and ED. This one has the 2.8 lens like the EC and ED, gosh there are a lot of letters here.

This version was released in 1971 and is small and cute. You can see a few more technical details here. This one had a little something on the lens, but nothing too serious. I left it on 1/125th with automatic aperture and took it out for a flower day.

I really don’t remember taking the photo of the pies, though I do remember eating them. I enjoyed using the cameraThe photos have an interesting vignette effect but are a little hazy. I am not sure I would use this one again, but I would recommend all of the 35 versions if you can get a good one.

 

Minolta Vectis 300 APS

I found this smooth APS camera for $1 in a junk bin. I loved its small size and metallic finish….and you never know there might have been a film inside. Nope, it was clean as a whistle.

As you can see it has a nice little zoom of 24-70mm. You can find lots more technical details here. The details say there is a fair bit of cut off from what you see and what you get, about 85% of it. It was released around 2001, so there is still a fair bit on the net about it. Most pages talk about how sleek and stylish it is. I agree. The metallic finish makes it a pleasure to use. There is not much more to say so straight onto my test roll. This is an expired Agfa Star 200 that I got from eBay. I might get some more as this one came out bright and clear.

There is a light leak on one photo, but the rest seem ok. Not sure why it was just that one. The exposure is spot on and the focusing is sharp.

Keep or sell: I want to keep it, but I will probably end up selling it as I have at least 2 other aps cameras I like and that work well including the 3000 version of the same series.

Zorki 4

When I returned to Japan I tried hard not to buy cameras. I mean how hard can it be, just say no. But then I got a full blown attack of GAS. This camera was first on my list to rebuy. I say rebuy because it was one I bought a couple of years ago but gave it away to a friend. I shot one roll in it to make sure it worked and was impressed. Then to avoid buying a Leica I bought it again. Of course, that didn’t work. So here is my ‘new’ Zorki 4.

I tried the lens on the Leica as they are the same fit. It was clear and bright. There isn’t much to say about this camera, apart from it is solid and reliable. It is not a Leica, but compared to the Barnack I find the images comparable, like the Fed 2. Also, like the Fed 2 and Zorki 1, this camera is waaaaay cheaper. I mean not even a 10%, but you get way better than 10% of the results. Using these three cameras has cured me of ever wanting to buy a Leica again. It was produced between 1956-73 meaning there are quite a few out there. I chose this one for the lens as my Fed has an industar lens, and the Zorki 1 has a collapsible one.

So without further ado, here is my test roll.

There are a couple of shots that have fogging, I think due to how I was carrying the camera. On the whole, I was pleased with the results. Clear and sharp.

Keep or sell: I have a serious case of GAS so I won’t be selling anything for a while 🙂

Tiara ix-z nexia 2000 MRC

I bought this on the way home from a party and I was slightly, just slightly drunk. It was in a great shop which I do recommend. But I do not recommend doing what I did.

The reason being, in the shop the assistant had trouble turning it on or getting the film door open. But I wanted it. It was so pretty.

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When I got it home it turned on, but the damn film door would not open again. I looked online for solutions and saw a few people had posted the same question….but no solutions. I found this site for the previous version that said to remove the sliding cover, but that didn’t seem to be the case for this camera.

In the end, I gave up and smashed it, pulling the sliding door off. It still did not open, but it was so much fun doing it. I finally got the door open by using a screwdriver as a lever.

Would I buy another…only if I see it in a junk bin which seems unlikely as the name “Tiara” is sort after in 35mm terms. In APS terms, it still holds weight, but not much.

Leica III Barnack

After spending years wishing for a Leica, any Leica, I happened upon an advert for a Leica III that caught my eye. Now, to be honest, I really wanted an M3 with the attached light meter as in King Kong Skull Island fame, but that was way out of my price range. I was almost as enthralled by the camera as I was by Kong himself. I have even bought a couple of Russian Leica copies, including the Zorki 1 to quell my desire, but still, I wanted one. If I actually was ever to own a Leica, it would have to be a thread mount like the Zorki, not an M series due to the price difference. And there was the advert, saying they had a Leica III in great condition with a lens, just serviced and with a 20% discount. The camera the Zorki 1 was based upon. I still thought about it for a couple of days. I looked at other listings and their prices, it just seem too good to be true. Finally, my sister said, “oh just do it!”

So I did.

So looking at this website and given the serial number on mine is 140686, it was made in 1934. That means it was made 10 years after the series was first produced, a very early model with only 1500 being made. There is so much history and information about this camera on the net and in books, I am not going to go into any of that now.

As soon as mine arrived I put a film in it and went to Tokyo, taking photos along the way until I reached a one-hour developing shop. I already knew how to use the camera due to my experience with the Zorki 1, they really are very similar. The feel, the action, the sound. I shot and then I waited. It was a dull, cloudy day.

When I got the contact sheet back I was a little underwhelmed. I had paid for a cd so I went to one of the shop machines and printed a couple of the shots. They seemed ok, but not what my heart was expecting.

So the next day I loaded a Rollei RX 25, the right speed for the camera’s era, and went for a walk around where I lived. Then developed the film at home as soon as I got back.

There are three similar shots that I tried at different speeds and apertures, none made a difference, still too dark. Again I was a bit disappointed, but I wasn’t sure why.

Maybe it was the lens, maybe it was my expectations, but I thought I would try a newly arrived Jupiter lens on the Leica body and see if that changed my feeling towards the camera.

So this time I tried JCH street pan with the Jupiter lens and Leica body.

 

I took it to my workplace, taking pains to avoid faces when taking shots. I wanted to see it capture moving people. This was really the first camera portable enough to capture life and people living it, moving in it. Then I walked to another camera shop, forgetting I had used a black and white film…so then I walked home and developed it in D-76.

Ok, so the Jupiter lens has a different quality to it…but still the feeling persisted. And finally, two books I had ordered at the same time as the camera arrived.

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I had been looking at this camera all wrong. I was comparing it to my other cameras. It is nothing like them. This camera is a piece of history, a trailblazer and the machine that started an industry. It is the Model T of cameras. Of course, cars would have come along without the Model T and cameras would have eventually become more portable without the Barnack. But this was it, this was the camera series that started it all……and it is still working. It is still working so well that I compared it to cameras 80+ years younger which I have not done with the other very old cameras I have tried.

The Leica III was much easier to use than the folding cameras and the results were far better. Even though I might not use this camera much, I will never sell it. I have yearned for a Leica from the moment saved up my pocket money and I bought a Zenit 11. I think I just need a little more time to appreciate what I have and what this camera has seen. AND it is an investment that will only appreciate over time.

UPDATE: I tried the summar lens with a UV filter to try to reduce the haze. Here are the results.

It didn’t really help. Though I do like the photos. I looked at the lens and it seems really clear, so I am not sure why the haze persists. Maybe I am over exposing the negatives.

Zeiss Ikonta 520 A

I went to Tokyo recently and had to wait around for a friend. I was early and just happened to be near a camera shop, might as well take a look. They had a basket of folding cameras of various conditions, makes, and formats. I bought two. This one was in better condition and had the famed Zeiss Ikonta name. I had always wanted to try one…even if it was a cheap junk bin one.

They were originally produced between 1929-1938 after which it changed to 521. It is tricky to pinpoint the actual model as there seem to be many variations, but I am sure this is a 520 A, it does say 520 on the body 🙂

The black tape on the back covers the red film number windows. I think this is to stop light leaks on colour film which was not readily available when the camera was in production. Here is a blog with a great review and some technical details that you might not be able to garner from the photos above.

I tried two rolls of film in this camera before writing the blog. The main reason for this is that I mistook the size of the negative. This could be because the last folding camera I tried was the Certix which had massive negatives. So instead of moving the film numbers from one red window to the other, I just focused on one window…and a half of each film was wasted. That did mean I got through the films quicker.

Here is the first film.

Well, a bit fuzzy, but it is a 90-year-old camera. It can take multiple exposures as the shutter is not linked to the winder. I didn’t do that and just tried to get the thing in focus and straight. The one shot of the bollards seems to be where I managed it. You have to guess the distance and set the dial on the lens. The camera was made before lenses were coated to reduce haze, so in a bright light, haze is apparent.

As 120mm film takes 10 days to get back I got bored and shot another roll. This time black and white so I could develop it. Here you can see the negative issue.

And here are the photos from that film.

As you can see I had a bit of trouble holding the camera steady. The 1/100th speed coupled with the position of the shutter release was not easy for me especially when I tried to use the framing mask.

I enjoyed using the camera, but I don’t think I will use it very often due to the trouble I had keeping it steady.

Keep or Sell: I am reluctant to sell it as it is really, really old and works. But I doubt I will use it much. Sell…eventually.

UPDATE: I tried the camera on a monopod with a cable release and the results were much better.

Redscale Film Trials

As I have mentioned before, I was sent a package with a variety of items in it. Two of the items were redscale film. This blog gives you the lowdown on what redscale film is.

So, as I had just fixed the Spotmatic I decided to use that camera first to try out the film. This one was Kodak Gold 800asa, the instructions said to set the camera to overexpose by 2 or 3 stops. I set the camera to 2 stops under at 200asa. The Spotmatic meter was now working really well and the needle was moving as it should. I wandered around my home city and finished the film. Getting the film developed was not quite so easy. I tried to tell Yodobashi Store that it was a redscale, but I couldn’t seem to communicate it. A few days later, I received a phone call that said the film would take an extra 2 weeks and be $3 more.

For this film I paid for negative scanning. Here are the results

Some were underexposed and the redscale didn’t really rock my boat. You can see that the different lighting conditions changed the colour of the shots you get. The more underexposed are more green, the more overexposed are more orange as the article I linked to before suggested.

There was another film to try. I thought I would put it in the Pentax ME Super as it works really well and I prefer it to the Spotmatic. I thought it would give a fairer chance to the experimental film. This time I set it to 3 stops under, so for the Kodak 400asa I set the camera to 64asa and waited for a brighter day. I was more prepared when going to the developers, Kitamura. They also seemed more aware of redscale film. It was the same 2-week wait and $3 extra though. This time I chose not to pay for the scan and used my CanoScan to digitize the film.

I much prefer these shots, so I think 3 stops is the way to go and a reliable camera of course.

I enjoyed trying this out and know I could make my own redscale quite easily, but getting it developed in Japan is too much of an effort for me to try regularly. If you do feel like trying this out, this is how you can make your own homemade redscale film.

Seagull 4B-1

When I return to the UK for the summer, I take my new cameras back with me. This is mainly due to the humidity here. Everything goes moldy or grows fungus especially if you leave the air condition off. There isn’t much you can do about it in Japan when there is 90% humidity for days on end. This website gives some advice if you can’t afford a special cabinet. I am thinking of investing, but for now, I am saving all the little silica packs.

Anyway, it also means I can buy new-to-me cameras to play with when I return. However, the choices are getting smaller as my blog list gets bigger. It also meant I took all my medium format cameras back, but still had some film left in my fridge. Instead of throwing or giving it away I searched for a reasonably priced 120mm camera. The Fujipet doesn’t count.

Hello, Seagull 4B-1. A Chinese TLR that has mixed reviews. It seems you love it or hate it. I managed to get a mint version with box, manual and even a guarantee paper.

It can take 6×6 or 645 with the mask…which I thought I didn’t have and was going to make an insert. Then I got the box out for these photos and voila, the mask fell out along with a silica pack 🙂

There is some information on the net about this camera and the whole seagull company, but not a production date. According to this site, they were produced from 1970 onwards and still in production. Plus the guarantee I got has Holga mention on it too so it could be anytime really. Given that mine is mint, I suspect it isn’t that old.

Compared to the other TLRs I have used, it is much better than the lubitel. It is sturdier and easier to focus. It is not as good as the Mamiya c2 or c33, but it is much lighter. Though it isn’t perfect. On my first outing with it, I pushed the magnifier out and the plate got stuck over the focusing mask. I yanked it out eventually and will be more careful in the future.

Here are the shots from my first roll. I went on a cycle with a couple of friends to the Akeno Himawari Festival. I feel very lucky to live in such a lovely place…despite the earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, missiles, suzumebachi, snakes, bears, humidity….I am sure there is something I am missing?? I would put Tsunami, but I am too far from the coast.

I loved the camera, it is a keeper and will be my go-to 120mm for this year at least. I have 2 other 120mm I haven’t written about yet, but will not be buying anymore…honest guv.

And for fun, I used the iPad app Snapseed to play with the scans. It may be dishonoring film, but it is fun.

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Ricoh XR 500

As you can see from the label, I got the body of this camera for $10 in a junk shop. I already had a lens that fit it due to another purchase. It was clean but needed the seals replaced and for once I did a pretty good job.

It takes 2 regular LR44 batteries for the light meter, but it does work without them in a manual mode which a huge bonus. The light meter consists of a circle on the inside right of the viewfinder. Just match the needle to the circle by changing the speed or aperture. To turn the meter on, move the film advance lever to uncover the red dot. The film advance has one of the shortest movements I have come across. And that is it, all you need to know. Manual focusing of course.

The XR 500 was produced in 1978. There is also an auto version but it seems to be lacking features too and this great blog does not recommend it. However, how many features do you really need?

I did find it a little heavy and a touch big considering the lack of features. BUT you can pick them up very cheap on eBay so it is a perfect camera to start with if you want to learn the basics. PLUS the Pentax-K fit means finding a lens is also a breeze.

I put in some Fuji 1600 natura which I had had lying around for ages as I was going to a festival. I wanted to try it without a flash. In retrospect it wasn’t the best camera to try it with as I do have another camera with an f1.4 lens, this lens only had f2.5. Plus it was untested at this point. I also tried it on a very bright day, which was tough for the film too.

I have another roll of the film which apparently can only be bought in Japan, but really I wasn’t impressed. It might be the processing or scanning, so worth another try.

Keep or sell: I am going to keep the lens. The body is not worth selling from Japan due to the postage rates, so I think I will put it in my-not-sure-what-to-do-with box and lend it to people who want to try film. I would recommend the camera if you are short of cash, but there are funkier, better cameras out there if you can spend a little more.