Pentax Efina – APS

It seems aps cameras in Japan are not worth the metal/plastic they are made from. I got this one for $1 in a junk bin.

It has a pleasing combination of metal and plastic. Plus it has a sliding cover, I love those. It is like opening a door on Star Trek (I am not admitting to making any kind of noises while doing so). It was originally released in 1997, which was early for an APS camera as the film was rolled out in 1996. This one has all the regular features of this type of camera, but also a dial on the top like an SLR…but without the same settings. Still, it is convenient.

There was no film inside this time, but I recently bought some in a shop…a shop. I bought nearly all of it. So I popped one in and left the camera in my bag when I went to take photos for a friend. She wanted photos of her three-year-old son. He was easy to capture as he was such a cheery little fellow. So after I gave him the camera to play with.

He actually did very well. This camera was perfect for a young child as he could insert the cartridge and then it was locked inside, so no fogging. He told us where to stand, how to pose, and said, “one more shot, look this way”. After prying the camera back I took it on a walk with some students and their parents.

The path was through trees, so the light was dappled.

Finally I thought…Oh, indoor shots.

What a super little camera. Easy enough for a 3yr old boy and a ??yr old woman to use, inside or out, up or down a mountain.

Keep or Sell: Neither, I gave it to the boy with another film…apparently it is glued to his hand.


Olympus OMG (OM20)

I saw this camera online and thought OMG I have to have it. OMG, really how awesome is that. OMG was first used as an acronym over a hundred years ago in a letter to Winston Churchill. This camera is really the OM-20, but it was released in some markets as the OMG in 1983. It isn’t much different from the OM-10, but it does have a built-in manual adapter.

Finding an example released as OMG seemed to be impossible in Japan so I reached out to my Yashica friend in America and it seemed as soon as I asked, sourced, paid, it was here. It came with a Vivitar wide-angle lens, which was perfect as I have a few 50mm OM lenses… though not in Japan. It also came with a battery, even more awesome. The owner of the website has told me he used to live in Japan so I thought I would test the camera in that area. I tried two films to make sure I got lots of shots for him as he hasn’t seen it for a while.

I love the camera. I know I have been all into Contax recently, but holy moly this camera felt good to hold. It has a satisfying shutter sound. There are no bells and whistles, no settings other than auto, manual, or B. Easy as. But did this example work?

I put some fresh Fuji 100 film inside and set off to Yokohama. I walked around Honmoku, Yokohama.

Film one.

This is the second film. For this film, I was mainly in Sankeien Gardens nearby.

I did find the film was over-exposed a little, but not so much it couldn’t be adjusted. When I use the camera again I will change the ASA to see if that helps. Other than that I love it, and the lens is super sharp. This super reviewer didn’t like it quite as much as me, he especially mentioned the shutter slapping sound. Thanks, Yashica Friend for the trip to Yokohama, I loved the park.

Keep or sell: Durh. I don’t sell Olympus OMs…well not since I regretted a sale and vowed never to do it again.


Nikon TW Zoom

I have just tried a couple of similar cameras to this. I just hoped this one would be as good and that it worked. It seemed clean enough, but you never know. Well, worth the $3 risk.

This camera is stated as having Nikon’s first true zoom and was produced in 1988. To be honest I found it a little bulky and heavy. I also found the focusing switch on the top confusing. It lets you choose between portrait, groups, and landscapes…does it have autofocus or is it zoned? Make your mind up Nikon. I did like the zoom display on the LCD. It’s just a bit superfluous but funky at the same time.

Here are my test photos. I took the camera to some very different places, from the nightlife of Ikebukuro, Tokyo to the autumn trees of Doho Park, Ibaraki. I used an expired film again.

I also took a photo of the fluorescent light on this review. This camera got a much sharper shot. I really liked the autumn leaves shots, great colours and contrast. I would recommend this camera despite the size. This example works really well and I feel like adding it to the other version of this series I have, but I probably won’t use it again…too many cameras. So….

Keep or sell: Keep unless someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

Konica C35 AF2

This is another C35, I have tried a few. I rarely find one with a flash working. The one on this example doesn’t work either, but who cares, I have many cameras without a flash at all.

The light of the flash came on and the sound of it charging was there, but no flash on firing. I tried leaving the flash on for hours after reading how the tube might come back to life if has just been inactive for a long time. Nope, mine is a dead as a parrot nailed to a perch. The red light indicating underexposure did work, though the shutter will still fire. Well, the flash might not work but the ASA ring on the lens is easy to move. That is a rare find. Usually, they are as a stiff as a parrot on a…well you get the picture. Originally produced in 1980 it is the successor to the C35AF, the first camera with autofocus. The main thing I like about this camera is the funky distance scale on the side of the lens. I kept pressing the shutter just to see where the red needle landed. It’s like magic. It looks cool too, very retro. Not bad for a junk bin find.

Ok, but how are my test shots. I put in a very expired 200asa film and set the dial to 50ASA.I took the camera to Tsuchiura on a walk for another blog I do. I removed the strong colour cast so you could focus on the sharpness…and haze 🙂

I really don’t know why I keep using expired film when my local store now sells Fuji film for $2.50…it is fun though. The photos are not too bad really.

Keep or Sell: Neither I am happy to give this away to someone local or for postage prices or a swap.


Yashica Snap

I was tempted by this camera even though it was in the junk bin and I had no guarantee it worked, like most of my cameras. Without a battery, there was no way to check as this camera is battery dependent.

It was originally produced in 1978 and it seems similar to the me1, which is not surprising as the snap is a derivative of that camera. It was released along with two other similar cameras, the diary and the flasher.  I can’t find a lot on the net in English about this camera and the few sites I have linked are Japanese. I don’t think the camera was only released here, but that might be the case.

Anyway, once I put in a battery it made all the right noises, bar one…the shutter it did not move at all. The blades of the shutter are exposed inside the film compartment as you can see in the photos. I avoided touching them but dropped a small amount of lighter fluid directly on to them. The blades immediately snapped open. I waited for the liquid to evaporate and tried the shutter again, after winding the imaginary film. Nope, stuck again, so I repeated the process….many, many times. Then, after getting tired and bored. I poured loads into the small well and left it sitting there overnight while I went to bed.


Luckily I have little to no sense of smell. In the morning I tried again and voila! the shutter opened and shut as it should. I loaded a film and set off for work to use it. I didn’t want to spend too much time taking photos as I really didn’t know if it would stay ‘working’, but it did. I took the film directly to the mall and played video games while it processed.

Here are the shots I got back.

It seemed to cope well with all situations. Even my classroom looks great and there is no flash on the camera. I was expecting some residue on the lens, but the photos look fairly sharp with no haze. Yeah for persistence and lighter fluid.

I set the camera to auto for all the shots, there is a needle display inside the viewfinder and it will not fire if there isn’t enough light. The focusing is zoned and it seems quite forgiving as these photos attest.

Keep or sell: I often feel like keeping cameras if I have actually fixed them, I grow attached to them. But at the end of the day, I have many cameras and quite a few like this so I am sending it to a Yashica collector. Unfortunately while writing this blog I tried the camera again and the blades are back to being stuck. I hope my Yashica friend has better luck.



A Few Thoughts.

The weather has cleared and I have had a chance to test quite a few cameras recently. My table has about six, and there are others lying around somewhere. Cameras are seeping out of my nooks and crannies. I have found a couple that I really love and feel eager to just stick with these ones. So I seem to be speeding through the not-so-great-but-worth-a-try ones.

Recently I read a great blog post about camera blogs and I realised if I post all the cameras I have tested recently at once then the few loyal readers I have might feel a little overwhelmed. Plus I have noticed when I do post a lot at once I get bored with typing or writing and turn into a ‘just get through it’ mode, there is more tech and less heart. But if I don’t write about them then I forget what I was feeling or thinking about while using the camera. And then it dawned on me…drafts, drafts. You can write the post, but not publish it…durh, simple.

It is strange to be thinking about readers. My reason for making this blog was for me, not readers. It was a way to remember the different cameras I tried, like a scrapbook or virtual photo album. It was also a way to improve my knowledge and skill, and to avoid flooding my Facebook feed with photos. Finally, it was a way to say what I wanted to say without driving all my none-camera-loving friends nuts..which I still do. And then came readers. Golly, people are reading what I write, how weird is that?

Gosh…better add a photo…Here readers, a present…me in an inflatable dinosaur on the Tokyo Subway….Halloween, ‘nough said.







Polaroid Sun 600 vs Instax mini 8

So I found some expired Instax film in a junk bin so I decided to compare it to Polaroid Originals. I don’t think it is a fair comparison, but it gave me a chance to use both types of film again. I was unimpressed by the last Polaroid film I used and was by the Instax. I ordered a pack of colour and a pack of monochrome. It is quite expensive considering you only get 8 shots in each cassette. I found 3 packs of expired Instax in a junk bin which I got for $10, considerably less.

I tried the Polaroid in a Sun 600 camera.

This camera from 1983 has a built-in tongue, which is important as detailed in this super blog. But I found the original tongue was just not long enough and whipped back scratching the polaroid and exposing it in the first few seconds of development. This was an issue as it damaged the sensitive photos and overexposed them, as you can see in the scans below.

You can clearly see the scratches and overexposure in these crappy photos. The black and white film was much more resistant to the scratching, but it is still there as is the exposure issue.

I did try and combat the exposure issue by placing the film box over the photo exit slot. That way the photo slid straight into the box and received less light. Awkward and impractical, plus ultimately it didn’t work.

I have decided to try one more time with this camera and film type, but first I will install an impossible frog tongue.

I have reloaded the photos into the cassette as I noticed the flash still charged once all the shots were taken. The cassette has the camera power source. That means I can use these exposed polaroids to check my success with the installation of the frog tongue and that it stays in place without ruining another cassette. I am still unimpressed by Polaroid, I can’t believe I am willing to try again, but I don’t like giving up.

So how was the expired Instax film, was it better than fresh Polaroid Originals? I loaded it into a new Instax Mini 8.

Each cassette was at least five years old and I had no idea how it was stored. Here are some of the 30.

Ignore the writing, I was making notes for something, but due to the state of the results, I gave up on that project. Yeap, these suck too. So the moral of the story is…Originals film is very, very sensitive and expired instax sucks. I will buy more fresh instax for sure as I love that stuff, the only problem is people steal the photos. As for the Originals, I will try one more time, watch this space.

Olympus LT-1

I have read about this camera on many sites, but primarily this one made me decide to get one. Plus I had already tried a mju or two, and loved them. So I set myself a budget and kept bidding on LT-1s until one stuck…this one.

It was so excited to use it that when it arrived I shoved it straight into my bag and then bought batteries along my route. There isn’t much to know about this camera that you can’t garner from the photos above. It was released in 1995, the LT means leather tech…but it is faux. It has a f3.5 lens and dx coding. It is a point and shoot, no zoom.

Mine fired up as soon as the battery went in and I have had not had any issues since. This is my first roll of film.

And as soon I saw those, I shoved in another film and took it out again.

I love this camera. It is easy to use, stylish, efficient, and it exposes itself accurately. That has to be a good thing.

Keep or sell…fffffttt, bog off, mine. In fact, I loved it so much I made the strap you see in the photos as the original one disintegrated.

Argus C3

While waiting for the postman I thought I would write a quick blog post. I searched for this camera as it has featured in a few films recently, Harry Potter, Carol, plus Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow to name a few. As millions were produced in from 1939 to 1966 it is an iconic American camera. It is not so expensive if you live in the USA, but as I was in the UK when I ordered it, I slightly paid over, due to import charges.

There is loads about this camera on the net, including this fantastic blog on how to repair it. Honestly, this camera caused me issues. The first issue I had was removing the camera from the case to load the film. It is quite tight, even with the screw underneath undone. There is a catch on the side you push in to open the back, it is surprisingly efficient considering there is no lock. Then the film goes on the right which is a bit out of the ordinary…maybe because they drive on the right? 😉

Loading the camera is a bit tricky as there is a catch button on the top, next to the film counter. You have to push this button away from the counter to unlock the sprockets, then you wind the film and set the film counter manually. I forgot all that and the location of the film cassette as I put the camera back on my shelf and left it there for a couple of weeks due to the weather and too many cameras. Then came the second issue, I did not think about the sprocket catch and had not read any instructions. I have used a million cameras, I don’t need to read manuals…durh, idiot alert. So when the sprockets started to tear when I attempted to wind on the film I thought I must be using the wrong knob….and promptly wound the film back into the cassette.

Ok, so what you actually do is push the button next to the film counter while you wind the film a bit. Then you let the button go and continue to wind until the film locks again. Be careful not to keep winding as the sprockets will tear. Then you cock the shutter using the switch above the argus sign on the front. You can cock and fire the shutter many times so multiple exposures are easy to do on purpose or by mistake.

The camera is completely manual, no batteries needed. You set the aperture on the front of the lens and the speed with the dial. To focus this example I turned the lens barrel as the gears were too stiff for me to move efficiently. There are two viewfinders, one for focusing and one for framing. To focus there is a split screen with half the image in yellow. You bring the two halves of the image together, then move your eye to the framing viewfinder to take the photo.

Using this example was a little tough as it obviously hasn’t been used for a while and it was a little stiff in its old age. I also had trouble winding the film. I was never quite sure how long to release the sprockets for. After a few shots I gave up, I could hear and feel the sprockets ripping. I was not getting the hang of this camera. It really is a brick, a very retro brick. The serial number on this version is 807120 so it was produced in 1952, so it doesn’t surprise me that it was a little stiff.

Anyway, here is my very short test roll.

Actually, the results weren’t too bad. With a more patient person, I think it will work well. This awesome blog by a new friend also has a good description of how to use it. He had more success with it than I did, as did this blogger.

Keep or sell: Neither I had already decided to give it to my camera stealer friend who is making a camera display. This camera is so funky looking and uncommon in Japan that I think it would look awesome displayed.