When it comes to bare-bones Mechanical SLRs, the Zenit 122K is as bare-bones as they come. This mostly plastic camera comes from the rather odd times right near the end of the Cold War and Soviet rule in Russia. I mean it’s pretty basic even for someone who just wants to learn how to use an all manual camera. But oddly enough the camera still looks cool, in fact at forty yards you might think it a Contax RTS III or similar camera with a squat prism and all black with white lettering, but don’t be fooled this camera is no Contax…not by a longRead More →

Probably the most powerful pocket camera I’ve ever used, the Olympus XA brings the power of the rangefinder, aperture priority and stunning optics into something that can fit in almost every pocket. I’ve used a couple cameras from the XA line in the past, the terribly restrictive XA1 (don’t let the 1 fool you, the 1 came later than the XA and was pretty darn limited), along with the wide angle XA4, but the XA is truly where Olympus made something that was nothing short of magic. The Dirt Make: Olympus Model: XA Type: Rangefinder Format: 35mm, 35x24mm Lens: Fixed, Olympus F.Zuiko 1:2.8 f=35mm YearRead More →

Found in a mysterious factory in Rochester, New York, the Debonair, or the FPP Plastic Filmstastic 120 Debonair is one of the strangest cameras I’ve reviewed for this blog series. But also one of the more fun ones to use. This funky toy camera is one of many Holga/Diana clones that started to pop up in the late 20th century. It uses 120 roll film in a 6×4.5 format but portrait orientation, light weight and produces actually really fun results with the nice soft plasic “Super” lens. And to make this review extra special the images shot were done on World Toy Camera Days theRead More →

While many continued to use and love the all mechanical Nikon F2 the F3 was a departure of sorts for Nikon moving towards an electronic-based camera and a very stylish one at that. Designed by the noted industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro who introduced the red strip that still appears on Nikon SLRs today. This is the camera that got me back into semi-automatic manual focus photography after I received it as a gift from a photojournalist with a vast collection of lenses and the MD-4 motor drive. While heavily used, this camera has seen a lot of action in the past and continues to seeRead More →

It’s called “The Brick” for good reason, and was for many years the every-man camera in the United States. Aimed at the middle-income market as a solid camera with good optics that could compete with some of the higher end cameras coming out from Kodak. Special Thanks to James McFarlane for this special guest camera! The Dirt Make: Argus Model: C3 Type: Rangefinder Format: Miniature, 35mm (135) Lens: Interchangeable, Argus Thread Mount Year of Manufacture: 1939-1966 The Good Probably one of the two best things about this camera are that they’re cheap on the used market and plentiful. I’ve been to several antique stores andRead More →

The Nikon F5, at first glance you might mistake it for a digital SLR. I certainly have been asked ‘what sensor is in that camera’ and depending on my mood and my general view of the person asking I might reply with something a little more sarcastic, other times a simple response is “oh a 36x24mm or full-frame as it’s called in digital photography.” The F5 was my second grail camera after switching over to a Nikon system from Minolta, in fact, I picked up the battery grip for the F80 to make it look like an F5 because at the time the F5 wasRead More →

The Canon EOS-1N was the second iteration of Canon’s flagship autofocus 35mm professional SLR. Replacing the earlier EOS-1 the 1N improved some of the focusing issues. While a second model the 1N RS was again an improvement the 1N continued to serve in many professional’s camera arsenal. I don’t use many Canon cameras, I’m much more of a Nikon guy, but I always love exploring new systems and cameras so when I was offered a chance to use this fine machine I was more than happy to swap my F4 for the EOS-1N for a photowalk! Special Thanks to Ori Carmona for this special guestRead More →

If there is a single camera out there that most people will associate with professional film photographers, it is the Hasselblad V-System. Designed and built in Sweeden, the Hasselblad is the luxury camera of the medium format market. While the 500c is the original model to use a leaf shutter, it is a good entry point into the Hasselblad system if you can find one at the right price. Thankfully I was able to find a complete setup (lens, finder, back) for a reasonable price, but soon found that there is a certain cost to owning a Hasselblad system. And the fact you can’t justRead More →

The Signet 35 was the top dog in the Kodak 35mm line following WW2, this beautiful all metal rangefinder had it’s top lens, the Ektar mounted on the front, a shutter that could go up to 1/300″ and an accessory shoe. This was the snapshot camera for the wealthy and the elite, and today it works as great as it looks. The Signet 35 like many other Kodak cameras of the day was designed by their top designer, Arthur H Crapsey. I was loaned this camera again by Mike Bitaxi to review and I was actually really happy with the results I got out ofRead More →

I’m not often one for an underdog but this camera happened to draw me in when I first saw it and handled a T3 that my buddy James had gotten and this camera with a lens was just the right price. And while not probably my most favourite camera I’ve used through this series, the lenses are amazing and a system I’ll probably add to if just for the glass to use on a digital camera. The Dirt Make: Konica Model: Autoreflex T4 Type: 35mm, Single Lens Reflex Lens: Interchangable, Konica Bayonet Mount II (AR Mount) Year Manufactured: 1978 The Good The Hexanon lenses areRead More →