December 25, 2010

Asahi Pentax 6x7

Asahi Pentax 6x7, originally uploaded by *jj*.
This comes as a great find with a sad story.

My favourite camera/film shop is winding up on Dec. 31. I found on Wednesday.

It's called Fotofun in New Westminster.

They didn't have a wide selection of film but they were knowledgeable about cameras. They kept an odd collection of used film cameras. I bought my Canon A2 EOS from them. I also bought my Nikon L35AF2 from them.

That camera sent me on a journey many excellent and interest point and shoots.

I also bought my Nikon D40 there.

They weren't the best lab in the world but when they knew the negs or prints were mine, they always took the time to make as nice as they could.

They often let me borrow a stool so I could set on the street corner for my odd street shooting project (Welcome to Royal City).

Once, while trying to buy used gear, a customer told me she had Konica gear for me.

A day later she left it at the shop for me. Unscrupulous retailers would have tried to claim a consignment fee - the guys at Fotofun were always excellent and welcoming to me and my boys.

I bought the Pentax 6x7 there this week. Broken but beautiful. The shutter works. Missing a film key for the bottom plate. Still lovely.

I wish the people at Fotofun the best of luck.

Their online web business will continue through their ebay shop, Digitial Image Center.

December 22, 2010

A few more notes on the Olympus Trip 35

Ken Rockwell has always surmised (is this the right verb) the Trip 35 has a Tessar design.
Olympus has been doing a better job of celebrating its heritage lately. The put a pair of vintage Trip 35 brochures online.

There was a little diagram on it that looks very Tessar-like.

The manual is at the brilliant Butkus site.

Cameras loaded as of today:

  • Olympus Trip 35 with 40mm f2.8 D.Zuiko with Kodak Elitechrome 100 ASA
  • Olympus Infinity Jr (AF-10 Super with flash off options) with 35mm f3.5 with Kodak Ektar 100
  • Yashica Electro 35 CC with 35mm f1.8 Color-Yashinon with Kodak BW400CN
  • Yashica 635 TLR with a 80mm f3.5 Yashikor with Fuji Reala 100 ASA

Great ideas: Olympus mounted a wallpaper site of its classic cameras and Fuji explains why they designed a fixed focal length non-collapsible camera, X-100

It's a pretty good piece of copy writing with bullets explaining the features and benefits.

And it WORKS. I want one.

But for now I'm happy with the recently acquired Olympus Trip 35 (below). I owned one in the past but then gave it away. I bought another with the thought of fixing it. Not so good, so far.

But this one came in mint. With a home-made lens cap which means the selenium light meter is working. Intriguing similarity between them.

Other news: Olympus has a great wallpaper site. Check out their two Trip images.

Olympus Trip 35

Remember, if your camera comes with selenium light meter (think Agfa Optima or Silette, certain Voigtlanders, Werras) they need to be kept in the dark or it will exhaust the cell.

December 18, 2010

Agfa Optima Ia with Agnar lens

Agfa Optima Ia with Agnar lens, originally uploaded by *jj*.

The Agnar is a triplet lens design, 45mm, f2.8. I'm not sure how it differs from the Apotar, another standard triplet for Agfa. The difference may have been the widest aperture possible with the design. Apotar designs, my guess, are able to go wider.

This camera I bought for $20. I shouldn't have. One top plate screw slotted into a broken body flange (?). There was nothing to screw into.

I had to glue a plastic piece on the body to give the screw something to catch.

Also, the plastic gasket over the light meter sensor was shot. It was a brittle plastic that snapped off. I haven't found the right replacement for it.

I post the new Trip soon.

Good things to say: lens is very clean and the meter works! Was going to shoot with it but the came across a minty Olympus Trip 35 yesterday. It may have jumped the cue.

Also still have the Yashica Electro 35 CC and the Olympus Infinity Jr. (aka AF-10 Super, because you can turn off the auto-flash) in the shooting queue.

It is very Voigtlander-esque. I've been looking for a Vito C in Color Skopar. This is an emotional place-holder.

The thing one should not is the build quality is quiet poor. I had an Agfa Super Silette and it had a strong - if crude - build. Nevertheless, it could last.

This body is plasticky. I wouldn't go for this camera if one is lusting for a true classic German viewfinder 4 element/3 group camera.

December 7, 2010


Untitled, originally uploaded by *jj*.

Singers, originally uploaded by *jj*.

Bubble Gum

Bubble Gum, originally uploaded by *jj*.


Untitled, originally uploaded by *jj*.

If you've ever seen my camera collection, you would notice the odd medium format camera. Question would be, where are the pictures.

Well, I've been hoarding them. Until today. I finally did some proof prints at the shop.

November 15, 2010

Top Yashica Electro 35 CC

Top Yashica Electro 35 CC, originally uploaded by *jj*.
Nice thoughts on the camera at Stephen Gandy's Camera Quest:

Things to know: 1/250 to 8 second shutter and ASA range of 25-500.

Yashica Electro 35 CC

Yashica Electro 35 CC, originally uploaded by *jj*.
It's tiny. It's relatively rare. It works. Yay.

October 19, 2010

A few words about the Konica TC-X (with a 2014 updated bottom line)

On the down side, the Konica TC-X represented another step in the decline of the brand. It was the first Konica SLR body made by an outside manufacturer, Cosina. It sported a liberal use of plastics making it a galaxy away from the sturdy Konica Autoreflex T3.

The camera has its flaws. It has a dark viewfinder. Putting a lens with less than a maximum aperture of f2 will make it difficult for a user to focus in low-light situations. The split focusing somewhat mitigates the dim view but forget about using the common 28mm f3.5 Hexars or Hexanon lenses.

Another weakness is the sliding on/off switch for the light meter. Unlike on an Autoreflex T3, the camera will not turn on when the user cocks the shutter. Nothing will happen when you press the release unless the switch is ON. Shots can be and have been missed because of this two-step operation.

On the other hand, leaving it on takes a toll on the battery. Note, however, the battery powers only the light meter and shutter priority auto-exposure. The camera is fully manual mechanical in operation. It just that you have to turn that switch ON to use the camera.

Despite the negatives, I've decided to mount my 40mm f1.8 Hexanon (which pairs with it very nicely) and have loaded Kodak Ektar 100 colour negative film. I like the fact it only requires only one AAA battery as opposed to mercury 1.35V enviro-killing cells or the poor substitutes like Wein Cells and hearing aid batteries at 1.4V.

I actually haven't put a battery in because the last time I did I forgot to turn the camera OFF and it drained. Annoying.

The thought is if I ever need autoexposure in a pinch I'll slip in the AAA but mostly I'll carry without.

Despite the plastic feel, which no one cares about anymore because most digital bods are plasticy, the TC-X has a nice grip to it. It is light. And it is very small. Smaller than even the Autoreflex TC.

Because of the dark viewfinder I tried to put a very heavy 50mm f1.4 lens on it, but it felt very awkward to have such a huge weight difference between the body and the lens (though if my physics are correct, a heavier lens would reduce the image of mirror slap....hmmm). Even the older 50mm f1.7 feels over sized.

It originally came with a plastic 50mm f1.8 lens but it does not have the same quality optics. The 40mm, with its brilliant optics and lightness, does very well with this body. Will post results soon.


February 12, 2014

Since writing this review, I have used the TC-X quite a bit and the bottom line is I like using it. It's a light body that lets me use a mighty fine Hexanon lens, the 40mm f1.8, and the meter works with commonly available batteries. 

October 17, 2010

CZ Jena 58mm f2 update

I've been walking around with my Konica TC with a fungal prism sporting a CZ Jena "Biotar" lens lately.

It's a funky lens. Quality control wasn't all the best. There are bubbles in the lens. But it is strangely super sharp. On my Nikon D40 it is a 87mm equivalent focal length. And it has done very well as a very tight portrait lens.

It was because of these digital lens test that I've decided to use it with film.

Well, the Konica+M42 adapter+CZ Jena lens has so far been an auspicious set-up. I used it to take a portrait of John Noble, the actor, who stars on the show, Fringe, and played Denethor in Lord of the Rings.

I also took it for a test run in Lynn Canyon. It's a regional park with a very nice suspension bridge and trail. Even in the rain, it makes for an excellent day out.

October 16, 2010

With the Canon MC

Canon MCNow you may be wondering why the subjects are dead centre with the Canon MC. Well, as in many early auto-focus cameras, they had very crude focus lock systems. While we are used to half-depressing the shutter now (though judging from pictures of some casual shooters even this is too difficult) and multi-point autofocus systems, with cameras like the MC and the New Sure Shot (aka Autoboy 2) you had to engage the self-timer (this triggered the focus lock). Then you had to beat the timer to release the shutter.

Lens quality is okay. Though admittedly I pushed the camera with very slow shutter speeds. I set the 400 speed film at 100 speed.

I like the firmness of the clamshell slide. It doesn't feel prone to breaking off.

I wish it used AA batteries as opposed to AAAs. If it did, I think I would use it more.

John Noble

John Noble, originally uploaded by *jj*.
This is with the Konica Autoreflex TC with a M42 adapter and a Carl Zeiss Jena 58mm f2. It is soft but it's what I got.

September 25, 2010

Nikon D40 + M42 to K/AR mount adapter + CZ Jena Biotar 58mm f2

One of my six year olds took this. Full manual. Okay, I preset the f-stop and he danced around until my face was in focus. Nevertheless, he did a good job.
Plunking a M42 lens onto a Nikon is actually fun.
The lens is set at infinity focus. It's actually focused at around 2.6 feet. Judging from the depth of field it was set at f4 or f5.6.

The rig:

September 24, 2010

Canon MC

Canon MC, originally uploaded by *jj*.

Started shooting with this camera today. Using Kodak BW400CN. Set at 100 ASA. Mostly.

For an update on shooting with the Canon MC read here.


TypeFully automatic 35mm Lens-Shutter autofocus camera
Picture Size24 x 36 mm
AF SystemTriangulation system with near-infrared beam. Prefocus enabled.
Lens35mm f/2.8 (4 elements in 4 groups)
ShutterElectromagnetic programmed shutter and aperture. EV 6 (f/2.8 at 1/8 sec.) - 17 (f/16 at 1/500 sec.). Built-in electronic self-timer.
ViewfinderReversed Galilean viewfinder with projected frames. Within the image area are the AF frame, zone focusing marks for near, medium, and far distances, parallax correction marks, and battery check and camera-shake warning. 0.46x magnification,
EESPC for full-auto program EE. Metering range of EV 6 - 17 (at ISO 100). Film speed range of ISO 64 - 1000.
Power SourceTwo 1.5 V size-AAA batteries
Film Loading &
After opening camera back, align film leader at mark then close the camera back for auto loading. Film advance is automatic with the built-in motor. Film advance speed of 1 fps.
Frame CounterCounts up. Resets automatically when camera back is opened. Counts down during rewind.
Film RewindAutomatic rewind with built-in motor. Midroll rewind enabled.
Direct attachment with locking feature. Guide No. 11 (at ISO 100 in meters). Fires at full output at all times. Powered separately by two 1.5 V size-AAA batteries.
Dimensions &
106 x 65 x 42 mm, 255 g (with batteries)
137 x 65 x 42 mm, 330 g (with MC-S and batteries)

September 21, 2010

Minolta Freedom Escort

Minolta Freedom Escort, originally uploaded by *jj*.
Leica this, Leica really doesn't feel like a Leica but then neither did Leica Mini II.
Designed by Minolta and Panasonic. Made by Panasonic.

For the specs, visit Sylvain Hagland's website. It will be for the Leica Mini II. Here's how it was ballyhooed by Popular Science:

Here is a nice picture of the Leica version on Flickr, notice it's described as a 35mm Elmar (some version say 34mm....are they actually different?), and also a Panasonic from Arty Smokes Photostream:

Leica mini II

Panasonic C-625AF Super Mini

The equivalent of the blue screen of death for the cheap flickr user.

By Tony Kemplen: reflected self-portrait with Voigtlander Bessa-L camera

Tony posted @

Taken with Voigtlander Bessa-L camera in week 37 of my 52 film cameras in 52 weeks project:

At 12mm, this lens claims to be the widest angle rectilinear full frame 35mm lens available.

The front of the lens was only 15cm from the mirror.

Sometimes super wides seem like trick shots but this lens is superb for the self-portrait.

In many ways, the lens captures the way we see familiar environments. By that I mean it conveys what we know is there, even if it is in the periphery of our normal (50mm-like) vision.

Longer focal lengths frame away parts of the world and thereby alter they way we see the world around it. They can even renew how we see the world.

The superwide can confirm our familiar domestic vision - such a weird focal length and yet it may be the best lens to describe the quotidian. Nice work.

September 19, 2010

Fujifilm X100 autofocus viewfinder camera

Photokina, the camera festival in Cologne just launched. The above DIGITAL, APS-C camera by Fuji was presented.

It is a true optical viewfinder that also uses a LCD information display which can be seen simultaneously through the viewfinder.

The easy access to setting shutter speed and aperture is amazing. How making changes on one dial effects the performance of the other.

It may have an autoselect between aperture and shutter priority which would explain the easy access +/- exposure dial.

It's beautiful. It will come out in 2011.

**Extra: If you're wondering what you can see in the viewfinder. 1. Shot Mode 2. Shutter speed 3. Aperture (sorry, pretty obvious, I know) 4. This is neat, this is the depth of focus indicator 5. File size. I'm not quite sure what's on the left hand side.

September 18, 2010

Biotar on AR adapter on Nikon D40 shoots Tessar

, originally uploaded by *jj*.

Interesting discovery.

I can use my M42 to AR (Konica) adapter to affix the new ancient and dirty East German CZ Jena unbadged "Biotar" 58mm f2 lens to my Nikon D40. It kind of fits but I was to scared to turn the AR adapter on the D40 until it clicked. But it was light tight nonetheless.

The Biotar has bubbles, black flecks and dry grease. The Tessar, however, is perfect and mostly lives behind a Rollei 30.5mm UV filter.

September 15, 2010

Classic Lens Designs

Okay, I keep looking for a nice Zeiss solid-body viewfinder camera. Thing is there are just too many lens types out there. Sometimes I think it be nice to get a Voigtlander Vito or something like that BUT the number of lens names is dizzying. Which one exactly, is supposed to be the equivalent of a four elements in three groups?

Wonder no longer. Here is a list of lens - you can figure which Schneider or Voigtlander design is the equivalent of whichever Zeiss design!

The Biotar lens I bought today would be six elements in four groups.

I used to be quite snobby about not wanting a three element lens on a vintage viewfinder and have consequently avoided them. However, my camera repair man Horst Wenzel - trained in Hasselblads and Leicas - says my triplet TLR, Yashica 635 with a Yashikor 80mm lens, will do fine even against the Yashinon found in the Yashicamat 124-G.

Unless, of course, he says, I plan to blow my negatives up four feet by four feet.

Anyhow, a recent article/sale announcement at Japan Exposures regarding a boutique design triplet has me thinking about being open-minded about triplets as well.

Certainly, Pentax Espio Mini's (aka UC-1, seen above) have done okay with just three elements.

1.Agfa Agnar 1:6,3; 1:4,5; and Agfa Apotar 1:4,5; 1:3,5
2. Zeiss Novar 1:6,3; 1:4,5; 1 :3,5
3. Voigtländer Vaskar 1:4,5
4. Steinheil Cassar 1:4,5; 1:3,5; 1:2,8

5. Schneider Radionar 1:4,5; 1:3,5; 1:2,9
6. Agfa Solinar l :4,5; 1:3,5; 1:2,8
7. Zeiss Tessar 1:3,5; 1:2,8
8. Schneider Xenar 1:3,5; 1:2,8

9. Voigtländer Color Skopar 1:3,5
10. Schneider Xenotar 1:2,8
11. Voigtländer Ultron 1:2,0
12. Rodenstock Heligon 1:2,0

13. Schneider Xenon 1:2,0; 1:1,9
14. Zeiss Biotar 1:2,0
15. Zeiss Sonnar 1:1,5
16. Voigtländer Nokton 1:1,5

C Z Jena 58mm f2 lens with Konica Autoreflex TC with a Konica M42 Adapter

This lens is in rough shape. The classic dried grease problem.

I plan to take it apart and give it a good cleaning. This is the kind of lens I don't mind mucking with.

I just read here about how underneath the first ring, one may find another ring with a scraped off Carl Zeiss. In the post-war period, Carl Zeiss Stuggart took exception the flood of Carl Zeiss Jena product from East Germany. For the East German cameras and lens to be sold in the West, the items were required to stop violating Carl Zeiss in Stuggart's trademark.

I'm glad I've added this as I haven't really put this body in the mix before either. I've decided to make my Konica Autoreflex TC the official M42 body in this household.

September 11, 2010

Pentax Program Plus with Auto Chinon 50mm f1.4

What can I say? I'm a gearhead.

The nice thing I can say about this body is it's a metal shutter camera. It won't fire without batteries.

Wonky shutter speed selector. You have to press the up or down button on the top plate. The flash syn is 1/100 which is better than the 1/60 on my Konica TC-X.

It is a very ugly camera. But it's nice to have a K-mount camera around. My first. This is not the body which came with the lens.

How not to take a picture of a camera for craigslist

I usually try not to let it bother me.

But too often people attempt to sell or perhaps unsell cameras on craigslist.

As a person who supports the gear acquiring habit by also gear selling, I can't imagine how certain postings would appeal to anyone who loves cameras.

I like buying cameras from people who love cameras. I don't like paying a ton. I prefer if it's more like an adoption. It occurs for the good of the camera. I think you might know what I mean.

So how is it even close to a good idea to sell a camera like the ad posted above? It shows disregard for potential buyers.

It demonstrates zero interest in the object sold. I'm sure its just junk to the seller who is greedy enough to think they will find someone callow enough to buy their camera.

I say don't buy it. Even if you want a Minetta, whatever that is.

Sometimes, you find value in a camera because the person doesn't know what they're selling (but is it fair?). I do it. But when it comes to older cameras, I like to treat them and the seller with respect.

But is the seller's duty. Show what they look lke as well as you can online. Not a bad idea. I, mean, you're trying to sell a camera. A photograph would be nice, right?

Here are a few other thoughts about good camera selling methods for craigslist:

  • 1. Show a decent picture of the lens. Try to take the lens cap off the lens.
  • 2. Accurately post the brand, model and other significant details - for a body that means shutter speeds, shutter type (cloth or metal), metering options - for a lens I like to know about focal length, minimum focus distance, and aperture range.
  • 3. How about a name? Just a first name if you're worried about security. Even a fake male name if you are a woman. Just something so people can address you properly. I always feel my morale sink when I'm forced to simply say, "Hi, my name is JJ, I'm calling about the XXXX camera." Okay, you know what, it's not too bad. But if you're a man what's wrong with giving out a first name?
  • 4. Telling buyers you've been online checking ebay and really know the value of the camera you are selling only let's the buyer know you know NOTHING about the camera you are selling or its value. They are the last people I want to deal with and I never do.
  • 5. It's okay to know nothing about a a camera you know nothing about - but then sell it for a price you think is fair (I call this internal pricing, if you feel good, it's good a price). I've sold lots of gear for less than the going price and have felt no qualms. It's all about Karma.
  • 6. Saying "thanks for looking" is always polite.

Lots of people who buy gear do it for fun. Trying to make it a pleasant experience for yourself and your buyers just adds a little civility to the whole interaction. Plus, if you are a camera fanatic, you might just make a like-minded friend.

Thanks for looking.

Auto Chinon 50mm f1.4 K-Mount

Auto Chinon 50mm f1.4 K-Mount, originally uploaded by *jj*.

Sometimes one comes across a piece of gear that is so intriguing one can't resist it.

While I'm not a stranger to f1.4 primes, this one drew me in. It is a Chinon, not exactly a Takumar or a Hexanon (those are the ones I have) nevertheless, I had to buy it. It wasn't cheap. It was attached to a DAMAGED k1000 and they wouldn't sell it to me separate.

So I bought the whole kit and immediatedly donated the body back. What can you do?

I thought I'd post it because I haven't seen any online and thought it might add to the collective photographica knowledge.

Auto Chinon 50mm f1.4 side

Warhol camera hunt update

In my search to document the cameras Warhol used, I can confirm, Warhol had THREE boxes of Olympus AFL in his dining room. They were photographed shortly after his death in 1987.

September 9, 2010

Ambivalent shot of the day (or Goodbye Summer)

, originally uploaded by *jj*.

I've had this roll undeveloped in my bag for two weeks.

It had been exposed on my L35AF. Obviously, it was from my day at the beach. I met the gentleman above in my usual patrol of men doing odd things while half-naked.

He made the cut. His kids had covered him in the silty wash from low tide at Locarno Beach. I took two exposures.

I couldn't wait to get the roll developed but it took longer than I thought. I really thought this would be the shot of the summer. One to add as one of my favourites.

As it turns out, it's not. And I'm very disappointed. I only get one or two chances to add a photo to the series every summer. Now, Labour Day has come and gone.

He does have an interesting self-mocking smirk but the composition fails to move me.

I really wanted it to feel like this image:

Diane Arbus MD 1970

There are a zillion reasons why mine does approach what's going on in Arbus's Tattooed Man. But what jumps out the most is how the man has his arms spread.

Next year. Again.


September 8, 2010

Olympus Infinity or AF-1

Olympus Infinity, originally uploaded by *jj*.
Unlike the rest of the Infinity (if not Stylus) family, this camera has a Zuiko lens. It bridges the Zuiko lens of the XA series, while seeking out the full AF AE features of the Infinity Stylus models.

Also known as the AF-1 and Nurepika. (Note: a Warhol camera.)

Arty has the basic specs.
I had to open up the camera to clean the uv filter. The weather proofing gasket made it difficult to take out the screws. I didn't not bother to put the gasket back in. Technically, no longer a wet flash. But I think it will do better and not develop any more fungus on the filter. Just like a leaky condo, sometimes it's better to let a camera breathe.

Note: the camera lacks a NO FLASH option. Learn to love the flash. With a slowest shutter speed of 1/30 (max is 1/700) this camera most likely emphasizes sharpness.

Another thing, the focus lock is very odd. Press the focus lock. Hold it down. Then hold down the shutter. It won't fire. Then recompose. Then RELEASE the focus lock! It shoots.

If you want to disengage without firing, simply take your finger off the shutter release.
The best way to hold it is with your left hand index finger on the focus lock. This means you will have three fingers on the front side. I tried to do it with my left thumb but it was awkward.
See pics below.