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.




Olympus Pen FT

I just don’t like half frame cameras, but I keep trying to get over my dislike. So when I saw this camera in a junk sale cabinet I thought I would try again. This camera is supposed to be the pinnacle of the half frame line. As you can see by the photos there is some damage to the lens. There is also some haze in the viewfinder. Still, it was less than half the price of better examples on eBay and the lens, despite the damage, is actually pretty clear. The Olympus FT was produced between 1966-1972 so a little damage to the lens isn’t so bad in my eyes.

It came without the lens cap, but I saw one for sale online and decided to complete the look of the camera. Having the lens cap meant that the light meter, which was working, did not constantly drain the battery. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the camera is fully mechanical, but a light meter is handy even when it is not linked to the functioning of the camera. The light meter gives an EV value which can be matched to the numbers on one side of the lens barrel. You set the speed and the meter gives you the EV aperture. If you pull out the front of the lens and turn it around, the other side has the regular aperture sizes. This is useful if the meter or batteries fail as the camera can be used in fully manual mode.

Recently a friend sent me a roll of 12 exposure film to go with a camera he had also purchased on my behalf. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to use it. I set the ASA on the bottom of the speed dial and set to shooting. With a 12 exposure film, I still had 24 chances to test the camera.


Hmm, my test shots are not as sharp as I was expecting, especially when compared to this site.  Maybe there is more damage to the camera than I realised. I do not fancy paying for another lens, but I am willing to give this one another go especially if I try a project like on this super blog. Then I will see if the sharpness is still lacking. It was also a rainy day as you can see by the clouds, so maybe a brighter day would help. To be honest, I did feel pretty cool walking around with this camera, it does look awesome. It felt solid and comfortable to hold. I still don’t like half frame camera as much as 35mm, but this camera did persuade me somewhat.

Keep or sell: Keep for now until I have the chance to try it again.

Konica IIIA

I found this camera in a camera junk shop in Tokyo. There is a chain of shops in Nakano and one only sells junk or near junk film cameras. Their junk is better quality than most junk shops. Over the road on the second floor is their film camera shop where they have an amazing display of Leicas. This camera was there, all shiny and the lens looked really clear.

The viewfinder of this 1958 camera is one of the brightest I have used, big and clear. It makes aligning the two images of the rangefinder much easier than other cameras I have used. The film crank has to be used twice, once to advance the film and once to cock the shutter. It works on an EV system which changes the speed and aperture together. The EV value can be set by pressing down the EV scale on the lens barrel towards the body. I actually found it a little annoying and much prefer the ability just to change the aperture on its own as this coupling means you have to take a light reading more often. The viewfinder is on the far left so you can focus with your right eye and keep looking at your subject with the left. And that is it, no light meter, no fancy buttons, just a solid, well-built camera.

But did this camera work? I put in an expired Kodak Super 400 and set off for a quiet part of Tokyo.

I lost a few shots as the shutter release was so quiet I didn’t realise I had pressed it. The EV system meant that the exposure was sometimes a little off as I didn’t change the value. The expired film and the EV system meant that the colours were a little wild at times. BUT the camera worked and the lens was sharp. The weight of the camera and EV value system means that this is not my favourite camera. I probably won’t use it again.

Keep or Sell: Sell…in a bit.



KFC Novelty Toy Camera

After the last few expensive camera posts, this is the complete opposite. I got this for $3 in a junk bin. It is unlike anything else I own.

It was clean as a whistle, no haze or fungus..but it is completely plastic so could there be any as fungus grows on the lens coating?? Either way, everything was finger-lickin’ good.

Finding any information on the net about this camera was tricky. I did find this Japanese blog that states it came with a $30 bucket of chicken, but could be bought for $15…which annoyed the writer. He said he got the camera around 1997, but never put a film through it. He has even included a manual which says you should use 400ASA film, I wish I had seen that before as I loaded a 100ASA for testing. The camera has a fixed aperture and one speed, which I guess to be around 1/100th as my test shots did not show too much movement.

Here are my test shots.

I decided to use the camera to take photos along the main street in Akihabara, and of shop fronts. Considering it was a dull day, I used the wrong speed film and it is a toy camera…it didn’t do so bad. There are some signs of stress on the film and the film winder/rewinder was stiff. But I think it has been a while if this camera was used, if ever.

Would I use it again, probably not. It would also be tricky for a child to use it due to the stiff winder, my thumb was sore.

Keep or Sell: I think sell or swap. Though I really do not have anything like it and it is fun. It would make people smile when you take their photo.


Pentax SF7 or SF10

This is another of those cameras with 2 names. One for the Japanese market, SF7, and one for the American market, SF10. I bought it from a junk bin very cheaply because I had a Pentax lens without a body which I had from a previous junk find. This was as cheap as buying a lens cover.

It was produced in 1988. I found this ad on YouTube that says the funky display acted as an inbuilt manual.

You can find more technical details here. I found the controls a little clumsy to use and the camera heavy with or without the lens. I don’t particularly like the look of the camera either. This reviewer found the same but ultimately liked it.

I took the camera to a school picnic and let a student play with it for a while. He took some shots and seemed to like it a lot. But did it work?

The focusing is a bit hit and miss, I suspect due to camera movement rather than the ability of the camera. Though it is one of the first cameras to feature auto-focus. I took the two photos of the man with his dog and crow. I changed the focusing point for these photos and the camera handled it well. The spider shots used the macro function of the lens. The exposure seems to be spot on, even with the backlit photo of the boy holding the seagull camera. They were all taken on a pretty dull day.

I don’t think I would bother using the camera or the lens again and it is too heavy to ship anywhere from Japan. I much prefer the look and feel of the Z range of Pentax cameras. So, for now, it will go in my box of cameras labelled ??


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.

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.

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.

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.

Olympus Trip MD

I think I found this in the junk bin, but it has been in my cupboard a while so I am not sure. The reason it took me a while to get to it…it was covered in gunk from the bag. The edging on the bag just melted and ended up all over the outside of the camera. Yuck. Once I cleaned it off the camera I washed the bag too. Then replaced the seals as they had also turned to mush.

For a popular camera line, there is surprisingly little about this version on the net. This German site has the most technical information. From that site I gathered the shutter speed is fixed at 1/100th and changing the film speed changes the aperture. Apart from changing the film speed, there is nothing to this camera, a simple point and shoot. There is a red light in the viewfinder if the conditions are too dark. I used a 400asa film and it nearly always lit up.

The test roll below confirms its issue…they seem underexposed. There is no metering at all, the red light just acts as a warning to use the flash. You really have to judge the conditions by light experience and knowledge. Remember the speed is 1/100th and use the sunny 16 rule. The camera is fine in bright light, but then move the film speed up or down if the conditions change.

I took the camera around Ghibli Museum..not inside as no cameras are allowed…and then to the giant Godzilla head at Hotel Gracery. Despite the exposure issue, the images do see quite sharp. I didn’t know about the lack of metering and I am tempted to try it again with my own film speed advice. But really, I didn’t love the camera and it seems a bit of a waste of film. I much prefer the original trip or even the AF.

Keep or sell: Neither, I have a box of cameras I am not sure what to do with. I think it will go in there as a loaner.