Foca Sport I

I tried a few cameras over the summer and made draft posts as I did. Work starts again next week so I will have less time to test and post, so over the next few days I might have a few posts to get through.

As I was in the UK the number of ‘junk’ finds was considerably less. So I opted for searching on eBay for charity posts. Charity shops often sell cameras on eBay now and you can sometimes find a bargain as they do not test them. That means the prices are reduced if you are willing to take a risk. At the end of the day, you have given money to a worthy cause.

This was one such buy, a Foca Sport I. It was originally produced in 1956 and was the first and most popular of a short lived series. It is a French camera for which there is very little on the net as it lacked popularity elsewhere.

Even for the time, it is a very basic camera. There is no rangefinder and focusing is achieved by guessing the distance. The film winder also houses the counter, which goes down as you shoot. So you have to set the number before you start shooting. The winder is also used to rewind, which was a little tricky to figure out without instructions. You have to lift the winder and then turn the other knob in direction of arrow. It has a top speed of 1/300th and apertures between f3.5 and f16. I took mine on a walk along the coast near Craigure, Isle of Mull. I used an expired 400 film which I thought would be suited to the low speed by rating it at 100 asa.

The camera was easy to use, even with guessing the distances as I mainly kept it at infinity. Mine seems to have a hazy lens, but the shutter worked fine. I also seemed to have a little trouble getting a straight horizon. It was a windy day and I did get stuck in a bog, but they are not good excuses. I almost got stuck by the tide at one point and I was glad I decided to wear waterproof boots so I could make a quick dash to more stable land. It was one of the reasons I chose this camera for the walk…I didn’t mind it getting damaged if I did fall over in the mud.

Keep or Sell: The hazy lens means I won’t sell it. It will stay in a cupboard until I run out of space or decide to make a display.


Ilford Envoy

I am almost at the end of my trip back to Yorkshire for the summer. I had some cameras waiting to play with and some destinations I wanted to visit. One destination was the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. There was a great collection of cameras from many eras, there were many bakelite cameras. I had many of the cameras on display and some similar ones, but I realised I didn’t have anything like the bakelites or box brownies. So I decided to go on eBay and find one. There were plenty to choose from, I just chose the cheapest.

As I was playing around with the camera my father said, “oh, that is like the cameras we had when I was little.” That isn’t surprising as my father was born in 1943, a war baby, and the Envoy was produced from 1953 to 1960.

There is absolutely nothing to the Envoy. The shutter always fires, no cocking it. There is one speed…no idea what it is, probably 1/100th or 1/50th. The inside of the camera comes out when unlocked, you can see steps on the sides that stopped internal reflections. There is a red window to let you read the film numbers when winding. There is no cover for this window. On the front of the lens is the phrase, “For faces pull out, for places push in.”

There was also mention in the advert of “some” used film. There turned out to be 4 rolls of expired 120mm from around 2000. I loaded in a Kodak T400 CN, which is a C41 process black and white film, cool. As it was expired I thought the 400asa would be perfect as I suspected this camera was built to take 100asa or less due to what was available at the time.

After taking a few shots in my house,  I went on a trip to Saltaire. It seemed like a perfect location to try this old camera. Here are the images I got from the film.

It is definitely not an inside camera, but surprisingly good for outside. As there is no focusing all you have to do is frame.

Keep or sell: Keep, but it is a sit on the shelf camera.

I also took my Bronica with me. I noticed a few of my other shots showed a slow light leak on this camera. As I was in the same country as the camera I changed the seals. Here are the shots from that camera.

Minolta Vectis 3000 aps

It took a while to find, but eventually, I found a source to say this camera was produced in 1999. I saw it in a Facebook group for APS film users and wanted it straight away. It is just so cool looking. So I looked on eBay and there was this example. Mine.

I love how it snaps open and closed, which also turns it on. It is well built and the metal material is lovely to hold. The flash is the only thing I don’t like. It turns on in auto red-eye mode, no matter what you set it to before you turn it off. It is tiny when closed and will easily fit in a pocket.

There are so many technical details here that I won’t even bother to try and match it. There are even more details here, including a description of the super focusing system.

Walking around my local area, it worked perfectly. But the truth is in the tasting…or in the photos. Of course, I used an expired film, a colorama. Finally, it was processed and scanned perfectly.

I used this film on a walk/buggy with my father. This is the second aps film where I noticed the camera strap in the shots. I have been careless recently, but now I know I will correct the issue in the future.

Sell or Keep: This will be the aps camera I use in the future and the last one I buy….unless it breaks.

Minolta Hi-Matic AF2 MD

This camera is from 1982. There is a lot of information about the AF2 online, but not too much on the MD version so I am struggling to link to anything. Anyway here is the camera.

I took a few pictures of things that I had issues with to remind me to write about it at this stage. I don’t have the camera in my hands so I am working on memory. I did find this tiny entry on the web, you will have to use google translate to read it in English. It does state the shutter speeds and apertures are from EV 6 (F 2.8 1/8 sec) ~ EV 17 (F 17 1/430 sec). I think the MD means motor drive, but I can’t confirm that. I did try the AF-D and that had a film advance lever so I am confident with my guess.

Using the camera is easy, just point and shoot. There is a red light and audible beep if there is not enough light. The flash on this version did not work, so I decided to set a limit – I would only take shots of buildings. So off I trundled to Odaiba and got to shooting.

As I had recently found a few expired films in a junk bin I loaded one of those into this funky camera. I had a couple of issues with the camera. The date imprint would randomly turn back on, I think the cover was pressing on the button. Plus the rewind did not work. That meant I had to put the camera in a dark bag and rewind it manually. This was another film I brought back to the UK for developing at Picture Lizard.

Here are the test shots.

For an expired film, the shots are great. The sky is especially impressive, with the highlights showing good detail. This is why I love film. There aren’t many digitals that would capture this amount of detail and sharpness.

Keep or Sell: Actually I threw it away. With the flash issue combined with the rewind fault, I didn’t see the point in keeping it…but now I have seen the photos?? Would I buy another? No, I have the Nikon I tried recently and a plethora of others. BUT, I would recommend it to others. Any of the other Minolta AF versions would be great if you happen upon one.

Canon IXY aps (or IXUS, or ELPH)

This camera is TINY, pocket and palm small. Plus it is an aps. Plus I actually owned one of these back in the day when the film was readily available. So when I saw it for a $1 I snapped it up. What I didn’t know was…there was a partly used film inside. So there I am trying to prise the film door open not knowing the camera was desperately trying to save the film inside. Eventually, I did have a lightbulb moment and retrieved the film. I wrote about the film here.

This is another one of those cameras with many names as you can see in the title of the blog entry. You can see all the different incarnations here and that this is the very first one from 1996. For more technical details look here. I really loved the feel of the camera, metal and cool in the hand. It functioned well. I won’t say worked perfectly because I had issues. The flash on this example never quite closed, but it worked when needed.

I ended up trying this camera a number of times. I had such bad luck with this camera. I tried two completely different films due to the nature of expired aps films, neither would be scanned by Yodobashi Camera. Eventually, I decided to break the cassette open and try scanning them myself. Both of the films were very dark and purple, which to me indicates poor chemicals. I think there are just not enough people using this type of film in Japan. I then cut the strip into 2 neg strips and used the 120mm scanner plate. It was a real pain and in the future, I will try this method and make my own plate.

Here are some of the shots from those films.

But, I didn’t give up and tried another film. This time I brought the film and the camera back to the UK. I sent the film I took in Japan to Picture Lizard, who I found on eBay. This time the film was scanned even though the film was less than perfect. I was very pleased with the scanning. Here are the photos from that film.

I noticed something on this film and another one I got developed..there is a camera strap dangling in front of the lens. I think the trouble I have been having with developing has made me a little careless when it comes to aps cameras. I will correct that from now on.

As for the photos, the camera was ok apart from the odd light leak..maybe due to my prising. But again the film was less than ok.

Keep or sell: I have already sent it and a film to a new friend…maybe old friend after he has tried aps.

Found Film and Lomochrome Purple

This is a different kind of post, a film post as opposed to a camera post. I got two films back today and both have a tale to tell, so tell it I will.

Firstly, I bought a junk APS camera for $1, which I haven’t written about yet, and I could not get the film door open. I tried yanking it, sweet-talking it, but nope. Then I put a battery in it and low, there was a film inside. So, the camera did a very good job of protecting it. BUT, did the camera work? I hadn’t tested it yet. Was the film ok? maybe not as I tried to yank open the door. In the end, there were too many unknowns so I pressed the rewind button and put in another film. The film I retrieved was a Fuji Nexia 800, quite rare these days with the ever dwindling supply of APS.

I decided to use the found film in a known camera. Now, here lies the problem…all APS film is unknown so to speak, as it is all expired. So, why not use this film in the unknown camera. Because I would not know it if was the camera or the film. Minolta Vectis to the rescue. I knew this camera worked very well and it accepted film that had been rewound midroll. When I put the film in though, it did not accept it. The junk camera I found the film in had set the code on the film to 3, ready to process. Here are the cassette codes.

  1. Full circle: Unexposed
  2. Half circle: Partly exposed
  3. Cross sign: Fully exposed but not processed
  4. Rectangle: Processed

Then I remembered the old, use a pencil in a tape cassette to rewind it, trick. Maybe not a pencil, but a screwdriver?? I rewound the cassette so the code showed a 2, and put it back in the Minolta. Goodness me, if it didn’t go and load 🙂 I never thought that would work.

So off I go on a walk around a river in Tokyo. And finally, I got a cd back with viable images. The film was great, perfect even…an absolute steal for $1.


The second film I got back was a Lomochrome Purple. The last time I used a lomochrome film, I forgot to ask for a cd and my scanner could not handle it at all. I was very disappointed with the results. This time I put the purple in the Olympus Mju I had just tried and remembered the CD. Holy crap, there was a huge difference in quality. I have changed my mind about the film and I am so in love with the camera. This week I had the pleasure to try a very expensive camera and I was impressed. This Olympus was $3 in a junk bin, and I think it is better. Sure it doesn’t have some of the fancy settings, but wowee, it is sharp. Here is the test roll I took around Akihabara.

The result from the Olympus makes me think that I will probably sell all the other point and shoots I have…apart from the one other Olympus Mju I have.

Minolta Vectis S-1 APS

I loved the look of this camera. When I saw it I felt compelled to buy it, great ergonomics. It felt great to hold, great design, rounded, efficient. BUT it is an APS, with the ever dwindling supply of film. As I had a few rolls in my fridge and this camera was only $8, I thought why not.

It was originally released in 1996 and I thought even if I couldn’t use the body, I could make use of the lens as it was in very good condition. Unfortunately, lenses from this series do not fit any other camera 😦

The other lenses seem hard to find so I was lucky to find this set together. It was eventually discontinued around 2006, well before the demise of APS film. I used to dislike APS film, mainly for its price. But every camera I have tried has worked really well. So what about this one?

Here is my test roll, which of course is an out of date film – there is no fresh stock.

These were taken around my current home…plus I have a new toy, the scooter. It’s great for stopping and taking a quick shot.

Keep or sell: I am going to keep this camera until I run out of APS film in Japan. I have another camera here, but I prefer this one much more. So I will sell that and keep this.

I tried another film in this camera, read about it here.

Nikon FT2

I was offered a camera to test by a workmate, “I have a film camera” he said, “You can try it” he said. And he brought it in the next day. It did not have a lens or a battery cover.  Apart from that, it was quite clean.

The camera turned out to be a Nikon FT2, so I borrowed the lens from my Nikon FE. BUT what to do about the battery cover, I didn’t have anything to scavenge that from. So I did a little bit of research online and found that a replacement would probably cost $20, I didn’t want to pay that and I was sure my friend wouldn’t either. So I inspected the other cameras I had and saw they were basically just a metal screw to keep the battery in place. As I knew I would only ever shoot one film on this camera I fashioned a piece of cardboard to fit on top of the battery and covered it in tinfoil. This camera uses the banned mercury PX625, I used a zinc-air hearing aid battery and made a hole in my new cover to let the air in. Then I strapped the whole thing on with tape…with another small hole.


My head said, “it will never work.” It worked! To a fashion, the meter needle moved a bit sharply, but it did move.

For a Nikon, this camera can be found fairly cheaply on eBay. It is originally from 1975. What I should have done was read the manual first as the metering system needs setting, which may be why the needle on this one was a bit jittery. Do you see that pin on the body and fork thingy on the lens barrel? Apparently, each time you remove a lens from this camera you have to recalibrate the metering system with these. I always wondered what that fork was for on my lens as the FE does not have the pin on the body. The fork is supposed to have the pin sitting inside it, clearly on the photos it is not.

Anyway, I put in a very outdated film and went off to my local mountain with a few cameras. The film I chose was a 400asa, so I set the camera to 200asa.

One thing I really like about this camera was the metering window on the top of the body. That meant you could set the exposure without putting the camera to your eye. Pity I didn’t know about the calibrating.

Here are two websites that detail how to do that and give great reviews of this and other cameras. Apart from that quirk it worked much like most center the needle metering systems, though the + and – seemed to be reversed on this one.

Here is my test film.

As you can see the metering was a little off at times, but it was a dull day. It could also have been the old film, the poor developing (constant issue), or the lack of calibration. I suspect it was the film.

So keep or sell? Neither it was not mine so I gave it back, minus the lens. Would I get another if I saw one? No, I like the FE. There is nothing so great about this camera that I would need this as well. Though, if you did not have an FE and someone gave you this camera with a battery cover and a lens then lucky you.


Koroll 24S

This summer I went for a mooch around Bakewell with my sister. Usually she lets me pick the destinations, but recently she has begun to search for places to visit which is a very nice surprise. Sometimes she chooses places I would not so I get to see different things. This time she chose a place I really did want to visit, Bakewell of the bakewell tart fame. We actually tried the bakewell pudding while there, to be honest I prefer the tart. But I digress…

While there I saw a zenith in a charity shop window and thought I would take a look. As I already had a zenith (yet to post at this time) I wasn’t really in the mind to buy it.  You rarely see vintage cameras in shops these days as the charities seem to prefer to sell them on eBay. As I was looking the assistant came over and said, “we have some more over here”. So off I trundle to take a look and there sat the Koroll 24S. It looked beautiful and for £20 I thought it was a price I was willing to pay.

What caught my eye first was the “Milano Italy” on the lens barrel. I didn’t really think about it further than that. Take my money!  After a bit of research I found that this camera is from 1952, of course produced in Italy, sold through Boots in the UK. I already knew it was a 120mm camera, but I was surprised to see two red film views on the back panel. Why? Well it is a half frame camera, that means you get 24 photos when usually you only get 12. I had no idea there were half-frame medium format cameras. The resulting negative would be larger than a 35mm so the grain should still be reasonable.

The skin looked at little tatty on this one, but I could fix that. It still had the screw in lens cap attached. It also had a case, but that fell apart as soon as I took the camera out of it. It was made from a hard plastic type material and had split at all the joints. AND inside was a film. I could see the numbers through the red holes. It was only partly used so even if the back had been opened by mistake somewhere along the way I might still be able to retrieve a few shots. How exciting, I had never found a camera with a film inside…would there be shots from 1950 Italy?? I doubt it, but I could dream.

I played with the camera for a while and used the roll up and got it developed.

So this was the roll in the camera. It wasn’t fogged very much but the previous owners had under exposed the shots and they were too dark, apart from the ones in the sea. The other shots were by me finishing the film. The last one is where I forgot to wind on the film. But it worked! I wish I could give the previous owners their two shots. Maybe one day someone who knows them will see this.

I found a manual online, but really there is nothing to this camera. There are two dials on the lens barrel, one for the aperture and one for the speed. There are two choices for each. The aperture choices are f16 or f8, the speed is either bulb or 1/50th. The speed choice are really surprising, why bulb? So basically there is one choice for speed and you need a steady hand. It also means choosing a low ASA/ISO speed is your best bet. You focus by setting the distance, guessing basically. The focus dial is tiny and on the very edge of the lens, there are indents around the lens tip to help your grip. To wind on the film you move the number from one red screen to the other.

This website says this is one of the easiest cameras to mod to take 35mm film, I might try that sometime.

I went for a walk around my hometown, camera loaded with Fuji acros 100. Here are the results.

I was quite pleased with the panning shot of the birds, the relatively in focus one. That is tricky with only a 1/50th speed. I really like this camera and will be keeping it, maybe modding it with a funky skin when I get the chance.

Rollei B35

I love this camera! It is so small and cute, if you can call a camera cute. According to The Rollei Club, this is the economy version. I don’t care look at it. I added a banana for scale, though not a super fresh one. At the time of production it was the smallest 35mm in existence. The wiki page gives a detailed history of this series.

I got it from eBay and a charity auction so not super expensive. This website details the different reputation that Rollei cameras have in the US and Japan, the latter country having a higher opinion of them. This version of the camera was made in Singapore around 1975 and is therefore, in the US opinion, not great and again an economy version. Though on the plus side it is powered by a solar cell so doesn’t need batteries. The “better” versions require the banned mercury battery, so I am happy with this version. 

The small size meant the usual rangefinder function would not fit inside its tiny body. There is a guide on the lens so you have to guess the distance of the subject. Oh and to work the camera you pull the lens out and twist it toward the name plate until it clicks. To put the lens away make sure the shutter is cocked, press the small button next to the lens and twist the opposite way. The shutter speed is selected on the top of the lens and the aperture on the lens barrel.

To use the camera you set the film ASA on the dial at the top and then choose the speed you want. The solar cell powers a meter needle in the window. Check the needle position and match the aperture it suggests. Simple.

The flash hotshoe is located on the bottom of the camera. This site suggests “If you decide to use a little electronic flash, hold the camera upside down to avoid frankenstein shadows on your subjects.”

So did it work. I first tried it with an expired film, from 2002 according to the photo I took.

Hmm, a little under exposed. I wasn’t sure if it was the film or the camera so I tried another, fresher film.

Well, the second time the exposure was much better, but the shots were kind of washed out. I still like this camera due to its funky design, this reviewer was not so overwhelmed by it. The other reviewer also mentioned the washed out effect. I recently reviewed the Yashica ME1 and the Olympus XA2. Both of these cameras are small and seem to produce sharper and slightly more  vibrant photos.

I will keep the camera, but I am not sure for how long.