Tag: Milton

CCR Review 76 – Pentax P3n

CCR Review 76 – Pentax P3n

There’s something fun about simplicity in a camera. Over the course of these reviews, I’ve shot cameras at every point on the spectrum from complex to annoyingly simple. But in the case of the Pentax P3n, it fits the perfect balance between sophisticated and simple. The P3n is a camera that you can take out, shoot from the hip and get outstanding results. The P3n is Pentax’s answer to that wonderfully strange period from the mechanical and manual 1970s and the automatic days of the 1980s a perfect blend of the old and the new. The camera is alternately known outside the USA at the P30n and fills in the gaps that the P3 (P30) had and ultimately produced a much more robust camera. While I initially held some doubts about the camera, in the end, it presented a pleasant surprise.

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

The Dirt
Make: Pentax
Model: P3n
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135 (35mm), 36x24mm
Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1988

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

The Good
The P3n features full auto-exposure, aperture priority, and metered manual and works with all Pentax manual focus lenses, which gives the camera a solid magazine of glass to operate on the camera. Of course, like the Nikon FA (which only allows full AE with AI-S Nikkor lenses), full auto-exposure only work with SMC Pentax-A lenses. The camera does support SMC Pentax, and SMC Pentax-M will only work in metered manual and aperture priority. Camera operation between the modes is easy to switch with just the use of your index finger. On your Pentax-A lenses but the aperture ring to “A” and the Shutter Speed Dial to “A” and you’re ready to shoot. Aperture Priority, move the aperture dial off A, metered manual, adjust the shutter speed dial. I find the size of the camera body, which fits nicely in hand, works best with the shorter Pentax-M lenses designed for, the smaller body M-Series SLRs. Despite the look, the P3N is mostly constructed out of metal with some plastic pieces but not as many as the P3t. But the construction does not add any weight, making the camera is a perfect compact carry around camera. The viewfinder is fairly bright, but the best part is the clear display of the shutter speed and indication of metered speed that makes operating the camera in manual mode easy. And loading the film is a breeze, it reminds me of the Canon QL system that you find in the FTb, just drag the film leader across, click and advance and you’re ready to shoot!

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

The Bad
There are only a few items that I take issue with on the P3n. The first is the lack of manual override for setting the film speed. The camera is fully automated in this case with contacts in the camera automatically sets the speed based on the DX code. To the average user, this might not be of concern, but I occasionally will adjust the film speed to achieve a certain look or compensate for too much or too little light in the area. If there’s no DX code on the film canister the camera defaults to ASA-100, something I’m not completely convinced on. The second item is the manual film advance. Now, if you’ve been reading these for a while I’m rather critical of film advance levers, and usually, enjoy them. But on the P3n it feels outdated. By this point, most cameras can have an internal film advance motor. I feel the P3n would benefit from such a motor, but it was probably left out to allow for smaller batteries and a smaller size. Either way, such a thing would have improved the camera. And finally, let’s talk about the film rewind knob/back door release. This knob is the only weak point on the camera’s build, it’s thin, it’s plastic and I was sure it was going to break opening up the back!

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

CCR Review 76 - Pentax P3n

The Lowdown
The P3n is a strong camera despite its size and look. A great camera to start out using 35mm film if you’ve never used film before. I would think of it as a more advanced K1000, gives users a taste of what they can do with 35mm film without breaking the bank. Clean lines, solid build quality, and a K-Mount only adds to the draw of the camera. And if you don’t have Pentax lenses there is a huge inventory of lenses from Ricoh, Vivitar and more out there that will work perfectly with the camera. Unless you’re a completest, I would avoid the older P3 (P30) and just get the P3n (P30n), certainly worth a second look if you want to expand your Pentax collection.

All photos taken at the Libenzell Mission, Moffat, Ontario, Canada
Pentax P3n – SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8 28mm – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Delta Def Jam – Part III

Delta Def Jam – Part III

In the past, I have chosen to use just a single film stock to shoot these film challenges laid out by Emuslive. Not because I have to based on the rules of the challenge, just because I choose to. In part one I used Delta 100 in 35mm and part two Delta 400 in 120. But for part three I decided to go crazy and shoot not one, not two, but four rolls from all across the spectrum. Following no real pattern, shooting from the hip and living with the results! I plan to have seven solid shots from each of the four rolls to toss into the ring for the judges that make up the board for the Delta Def Jam!

Roll One – Into the Valley
One of the joys of working at Sheridan College’s Trafalgar Road Campus is that I have a beautiful valley behind the campus in which to escape from the world of computers. For me, it provides a haven from the stresses of work!

HalfWaySpookyMis-Shapen

Roll Two – Of Abstract Nature
I had originally wanted to shoot some street style portraits of the faculty on the picket lines as if you’ve been following the news here in Ontario all the College faculty are still on strike. However, the day I was shooting, bad news had been dropped so the feeling on the line was low, so I decided it best to just avoid them and headed back into McCranney Valley to do some detail shots. I have, in the past, shot Delta 3200, and it isn’t exactly my film of choice. But you don’t turn down a free roll so I pulled it to ASA-800 and let fly. And despite being ever so grainy, I am actually pleased with these!

The Smaller ThingsNew LifeClinging On

Roll Three – Early Mornings
As the weather has all of a sudden turned cold here in southern Ontario, it’s time to get the winter tires installed on my car, so a Saturday morning found me in downtown Milton. While waiting for my car to be done so, I figured it was perfect to get those early morning rays in the historic downtown with the Hasselblad and Delta 400.

The Old Post OfficeWaldie's BlacksmithSt. Pauls

Roll Four – We Will Remember Them
The final roll of the jam I took out to my local Remembrance Day ceremony. And it was cold, so rather than take out an electronic camera with AA batteries, I decided to run with something a little more mechanical in nature and decided to shoot my F2 with the 135mm f/2.8 lens. I aimed to capture respectfully the faces of those in attendance especially the veterans who still live and who’s friend’s names could be listed on the cenotaph. For me, these ceremonies are emotionally charged so having a camera helps keep me grounded.

A Chilly MorningRest on Arms ReversedA Helping Hand

And that’s it! It’s been an amazing three months and the finalists who made it through September and October have outputted some fantastic work with the Delta line of films. I even had a chance to prove that I do actually like Delta 400 I just need to develop it right and Delta 3200 is still really grainy, but hey it was a fun roll to shoot! Next up I’m looking forward to the return of the FP4Party! I have my plan, my cameras, films, developers, and locations ready!

Technical Details.
Roll One – McCraney Valley Park – Oakville, Ontario
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-100
Blazinal (1+25) 9:00 @ 20C

Roll Two – McCraney Valley Park – Oakville, Ontario
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford Delta 3200 @ ASA-800
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:30 @ 20C

Roll Three – Historical Downtown – Milton, Ontario
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:30 @ 20C

Roll Four – Remembrance Day Ceremony – Milton, Ontario
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-100
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:00 @ 20C

Holga Week – 2017

Holga Week – 2017

It’s been a while since I have been able to participate in this celebration of the world’s famous toy camera, the Holga. I had a Holga several years ago, and it ended up breaking and not in a right way. These cameras aren’t made to last, plastic, fantastic, and produces a unique image. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, the Holga holds a special spot on my camera shelf.

Holga Week 2017

Holga Week 2017

For several years I rocked the FPP Plastic Filmtastic Debonair, a solid performer for sure, a cross between a Holga and a Diana. But the one issue I had with it is not that it’s a 6×4.5 camera, it’s a fact the film aligned in a portrait orientation, not my usual landscape. I am in the process of modifying it to be a landscape Debonair.

Holga Week 2017

Holga Week 2017

And then there was the scare that Holga was gone, done, the factory that produced these iconic cameras closed. That was 2015, but 2017 is a year of comebacks! Film Ferrania brought back a classic film, P30, Kodak is bringing back Ektachrome. So why not Holga? An excellent question and one that people asked and the given answer, yes. There had been news that the original manufacturer destroyed the original molds, and I’m sure a great many were, but not all of them. Another factory found one, for the iconic medium format, 6×6 120N.

Holga Week 2017

Holga Week 2017

Soon, I had one in my hands. Heading over to the Holga Week website and to my joy I wasn’t late for this year’s Holga Week and took it with to a classic car night in downtown Milton loaded up with a roll of Kodak Plus-X Pan. Because why not use a roll of expired film and just have some fun. Despite having a range of quality cameras at my fingertips, sometimes it’s just fun to let loose and run with it. Of course, the best tip I ever got with shooting toy cameras is actually from the Lomographic Society. And while some might deride the folks at Lomography, I think they have it right with these rules, especially number 10. Don’t follow the rules and don’t worry. Of course, I can’t always go out and shoot like this if I’m doing a paid gig. But hey, even us professionals need to let loose.

All Photos Taken in Milton, Ontario
Holga 120N – Optical Lens 60mm 1:8 – Kodak Plus-X Pan @ ASA-125 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 67 – Canon EOS A2

CCR Review 67 – Canon EOS A2

When Canon started up their autofocus EOS system in the 1980s, they immediately made obsolete plenty of classic manual focus FD Mount cameras. And in some situations, they began to release modern EOS versions of some of these. For example, the Canon F-1 became the EOS-1. And when the EOS A2 came out, there was no doubt that this was the modern version of the prosumer or advanced amateur Canon A-1. And while the A2 is a solid camera, an excellent way to get into 35mm film photography for a Canon Digital Shooter (Providing you have a line of EF Mount Lenses), the A2 is another ‘k-car’ camera. It does the job, but it’s just boring. It takes great photos, but it does nothing else of note. If you’re curious, the A2 is also known as the EOS 5 outside of the North American market (sort of). Special thanks to Mike Bitaxi for loaning this camera out for review.

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

The Dirt

  • Make: Canon
  • Model: EOS A2
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 24x36mm
  • Lens: Interchangeable, Canon EF Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1992-1998

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

The Good
Just because a camera is boring, doesn’t mean it’s a bad camera. The Maxxum 5000 is both boring and bad, but the EOS A2 is boring, but a solid machine that produces decent cameras. Despite looking like a Minolta, the A2 is solid in hand, excellent ergonomics in landscape orientation (more on that later), with all the controls well laid out and easy to operate even for a Nikon shooter. The camera also solves my biggest issue with Canon EOS cameras, and that is that the camera has two command dials, well one dial and one thumb wheel but it addresses the issue with manual exposure settings you now have two distinct controls for aperture and shutter. The camera operates how you would expect it to and produces fantastic images, with a great meter, and a solid line of EF lenses to back it up. And as an accessible camera the A2 shines, if you shoot a Canon digital EOS camera and have EF lenses you can grab an A2 and run with it, and it won’t let you down. It also makes for a great second fiddle to your pro body.

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

The Bad
Like many SLRs of the 1990s, the A2 suffers two of the biggest problems that every camera of that era does. The first being the biggest, that is the power source. The EOS A2 requires a 2CR5 6V battery to operate, and you have little else to power it. The battery is expensive and hard to find outside of specialty stores or online. And while it does last, it doesn’t make it any better. Even adding a vertical grip on the camera doesn’t help. Your only option is to get a belt mounted battery pack that takes D-Cell batteries, which is little consolation. The second issue is that the body coating gets sticky over time. While not a deal breaker, it’s more a minor annoyance especially on hot summer days your hands just feel gross after using the camera. And then there’s a vertical grip; the grip does little more than adding a vertical shutter release, but you know the camera itself could have improved its portrait orientation ergonomics, there’s plenty of room to add a vertical shutter release. And my final beef with this camera is the on/off switch. The switch is not as obvious as you might expect on first seeing the camera. There’s a switch on the back of the camera, but that controls the thumbwheel. The power is on the camera mode dial, off is the Lock position, any other spot will power on the camera.

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

CCR Review 67 - Canon EOS A2

The Lowdown
If you’re looking for something a little better than a basic SLR than the EOS A2 is a solid choice. It makes for an accessible camera for those who want something with a bit more functionality or only need a backup EF mount body. It will deliver but don’t expect anything more out of the camera. Compared to other cameras of this mid-range, semi-pro line, the A2 is a ho-hum choice. But at least compared to another K-Car camera, the Maxxum 5000, the A2 shines. I will mention the difference between the EOS A2 and the EOS 5, while essentially the same camera, the A2 lacks a solid meter readout in the viewfinder, relying on a simple +/- display while the EOS 5 has a full numbered over/under stops. This difference is because Canon didn’t pay for a patent of such a meter in North America, while that wasn’t an issue in Japan and Europe. Personally having this function would make the A2 just a touch better in my mind. At least the EF Mount lenses compensate for any dull operation of the camera.

All Photos Taken At Crawford Lake Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario, Canada
Canon EOS A2 – Canon Zoom Lens EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 – Efke KB100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:45 @ 20C

Summer Film Party – Part I (June)

Summer Film Party – Part I (June)

Not doing an overall film project over the course of the year has not stopped me from getting out and shooting and it’s freed me up to join in on the year’s film contests that the fine folks over at Emulsive have put on, well, for the most part, I joined in on their TMax Party for the two months, although I missed the Acros Party. But with the sun finally starting to shine I decided to make a point to get in on the Summer Film Party. Running the three summer months here in North America with June being the first up. Now the trouble is that the summer the light gets pretty harsh by the middle of the day, I made a conscious effort to get out earlier in the day before the sun got too high in the sky and the temperatures skyrocket. The first stop is the small village of Kleinburg located north of Toronto, Ontario and a part of the City of Vaughn. While the village downtown was rather busy I decided to head down into Bindertwine Park. Big Mistake. There was a 5K run happening along the trails, and the bugs were bad, four sheets into the eight I had brought along I was done. Between the bugs and the heat, I made my escape.

Sometimes I shoot Flowers
Some flowers along the path that a camera club was shooting.
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Rollei RPX25
Pryocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

High Voltage
While the trails through the park show a great piece of nature, but I do enjoy catching man’s influence on the natural environment.
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:4,7/135 (Orange) – Rollei RPX25
Pryocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

Tree By the River
A more peaceful scene than what I was actually feeling, itchy and sneezing.
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Kodak Ektar f:7.7 203mm (Orange) – Rollei RPX25
Pryocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

I wasn’t going to let this stop me so Sunday morning before heading to Church I decided to finish off the remaining four sheets in downtown Milton specifically Victoria Park which sits just off of Main Street and our historic town hall the former county jail which was restored between 1982 and 1985 after sitting abandoned. Again I had been blessed with some beautiful morning light.

7.7 cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art
Milton’s Great War Trophy, a German 7.7 cm Feldkanone 96 neuer Art, captured 28 September 1918 on the Arras-Cambria Road.
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Kodak Ektar f:7.7 203mm – Rollei RPX25
Pryocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

The Victoria Park Gazibo
At the center of Victoria Park is the Gazebo, a great place to hold an outdoor concert.
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 (Orange) – Rollei RPX25
Pryocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

The Prison Yard
The former prison yard, now a garden, great for wedding photos or outdoor events.
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Rollei RPX25
Pryocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

Last year I completed a 52-Roll project using only Rollei RPX films, one of my favourites was RPX 25, so when a local film supplier brought in a small number of boxes of RPX 25 in 4×5 I jumped on the chance and then let it sit. I’m glad I saved the box and now that it’s cracked I hope to bring it out more this summer for large format fun! Of course, the film is hard to handle, thin polyester base, and the notch code isn’t always stamped out. It makes for trouble figuring out how to load it up. Part II coming next month, with the Hasselblad 500c, Ilford Pan F+, and Niagara-On-The-Lake!

In the Flavour of Maple

In the Flavour of Maple

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner is the start of the maple season here in Ontario, where the sugar bushes come alive with the sound of sap dripping into buckets and the sweet smoke pouring out of the many sugar shacks across the province.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

For Heather and I that thankfully does not mean long hours working out in the bush, but rather a drive out to Mountsburg Conservation Area for their Maple Town event. You get all the sweet rewards but without any of the hard work attached to it. Despite the cold weather, which worked a bit in our favour, we headed out all bundled up. While the weather was cold, the sun was out and high in the sky.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

The Maple industry is closely tied to the history and growth of this part of Canada. The sap once reduced down could be turned into a sweet syrup or reduced down further to sugar that could be eaten as a treat or a replacement for the refined white and brown sugar that isn’t grown in the area. So when supply ships could not get through, the early settlers learned of maple sugar from the first nations that had been gathering the sweet stuff for many years.

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Mountsburg Maple Festival 2017

Of course for Heather and I, we just had to join the queue and had pancakes the size of dinner plates served up to us with the syrup made right there in Maple Town which we then enjoyed in the brisk winter air. The event is great fun for the family and is open through all of March and into April when the season ends. You can find out more at: www.conservationhalton.ca/maple-town.

Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

Expired Film Day – 2017

Expired Film Day – 2017

Two Stops Over and Straight On ‘Til Morning.

Expired Film Day 2017

Ah yes, the mantra of Expired Film Day. EFD is the brainchild of fellow film photographer Daniel J. Schneider. The day is a celebration of shooting and enjoying the wacky results you get from shooting expired film. I tend to shy away from colour films mostly because of having to send them away for processing. So this year I had a pile of the mid-1990s expired TMax 100 floating around to shoot. Most Kodak B&W films are fairly stable, and you could shoot them at box speed if you wanted and get good results. I know because I’ve been using the film to try out cameras for the Classic Camera Revival Review blogs.

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

To make matters a little more interesting, we recently got hit with a big winter storm which turned our near Spring area into a winter wonderland, and a cold snap forced me to make some different choices when it came to going out and shooting. Ditching the idea of taking out any camera or meter with a battery because I figured it would be at least an hour to walk and shoot in the awful weather I settled on an old war standby. The Contax IIIa and mounting a 1942 era Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm lens, as for a meter it was the Gossen Pilot.

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

There was a plus to all this, the overcast sky and bright sun behind the clouds made the light bright but even making metering fairly consistent no matter what I was shooting. As for the subject, I decided to take to my old stomping grounds, the campus of my former High School. This was where I started with serious photography, often taking time between classes to figure out my newest camera. I was pretty frozen by the time I made it back, but the camera had survived. The older lens gave everything a bit of a hazy look about it which only added to the strangeness of EFD. Maybe next year I’ll plan it out better to have a batch of colour negative waiting for developing and then shoot some expired slide film and Xpro it!

Expired Film Day 2017

Expired Film Day 2017

Contax IIIa – Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1:3,5 f=5cm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-64 (TMX)
SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:30 @ 20C
Meter: Gossen Pilot
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2017)

Frozen Shutters – The Dangers of Winter Photo Walks

Frozen Shutters – The Dangers of Winter Photo Walks

Ah yes, the winter, cold, snow, and frozen shutters. Back in January, a small, brave group from the Toronto Film Shooters community decided to head out to Milton’s Hilton Falls Conservation area. I, deciding to ignore my own advice brought my Crown Graphic along for the trip.

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

While we had a decent snowfall at the end of December, a warm spell through early January melted everything, and when the temperature dropped, everything was frozen over, and the trails were ice rinks. I was started to think I should have brought a simple 35mm camera to run with. Despite this, it was good to get out with the 4×5 again. Since the loss of my Intrepid I haven’t been shooting much, but this walk got me back into the game because I now have access to all my lenses.

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

One of the more interesting gems I brought along is a lens I picked up a while back. A 1921 Kodak Anastigmat f:7.7 170mm. The Anastigmat design was first released in 1914 based on a four element Dialyt design, like the Goerz/Schneider Artars. I was, of course, hoping for some strange look about the image, but for an old lens, it was pretty sharp. And the shutter speeds seemed to still be on point.

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

There was one good thing about the melt; the water was flowing nicely over the falls. Which made shooting at f/64 all the sweeter to catch that falling water.

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

Hopefully, I’ll make a trip when the weather gets warmer so that my shutters won’t complain as much.

Camera: Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic
Lenses: Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125, Kodak Anastigmat f:7.7 170mm, & Kodak Ektar f:7.7 203mm
Film: Kodak TMax 100 (100TMX) @ ASA-100
Developer: Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:30 @ 20C
Meter: Pentax Spotmeter V
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2015.5)

CCR Review 55 – Shanghai Camera Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 – Shanghai Camera Seagull 4A-103

Most of my experiences with communist built cameras have been gear from the failed Soviet Bloc, which is all well and good, but those cameras were not exactly known for their quality control, offset by the ease of repair by the layperson. However, there is still another communist state still producing cameras even today, and that’s China. The Shanghai Camera Factory started production of their Seagull 4A line in 1968, and by the 1970s the Seagull 4A-103 came into being. At first glance, you’d probably think that the camera in question is a German Rolleicord and you would be partially right. The 4A-103 is a direct copy of the Franke & Heidecke Rolleicord. But the Seagull is not a Rolleicord, not by a longshot. A big thanks to Donna Bitaxi for loaning out this camera for a review!

CCR Review 56 - Seagull 4A-103

The Dirt

  • Make: Shanghai Camera Factory
  • Model: Seagull 4A-103
  • Type: Twin Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium (120), 6cm x 6cm
  • Len: Fixed, Haiou SA-85 1:3.5/75
  • Year of Manufacture: 1970s

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

The Good
As lower-grade TLRs go, the Seagull has a lot going for it. First off the viewing screen is bright thanks to a full f/2.8 viewing lens, shame they couldn’t put the same lens on the taking side as well. The exposure controls are easy to operate and are close at hand. Film loading is easy and pretty fast, but it based on cranks rather than an internal mechanism so that it can seem a bit weird at first. This feeling could very well just be my personal stance having never shot a Rolleicord. The optics on the camera are surprisingly decent, with no sign of any vignetting, or poor quality.

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

The Bad
Despite the metal construction, this camera feels flimsy, and not in it’s a light-weight camera sort of way just doesn’t feel as stable as I would expect from such a camera. The most trouble I have is the film door, while it is light tight, the locking wheel just spins, not sure why. The exposure controls while easy to access can be a bit stiff. The first time I took the camera out was in the cold weather, and they tended to complain a little. And continuing on the cold weather topic, the shutter seemed to freeze resulting in a blank roll of film first time around. It also could be due to age combined with the cold. However, when I tested it out a second time, the shutter did fire. I was also indoors. Now, before I continue, let’s talk focus. I honestly don’t know what happened here; everything was in focus when I was looking through the ground glass, even using the loupe. And when I pulled the negatives from the tank there were some obvious out of focus ones or shaky. But every single image is soft and out of focus, and I’m not sure what caused it!

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

The Lowdown
In general, this isn’t a bad camera, some good things are going for it, but sadly in the 4A-103 the bad in this case outweigh them. The number one issue is the focus; it could be caused by the back not closing properly, so the film wasn’t aligned properly. Then there was the issue of the shutter; it was completely frozen when out in the cold, and even inside is stuck open at the 1/2 second mark. Of course, that can be solved with a clean, lube, and adjust. So while I really cannot recommend the 4A-103, I certainly would suggest a newer model which you can still purchase new!

All Photos Taken at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Seagull 4A-103 – Haiou SA-85 1:3.5/75 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 54 – Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 54 – Zenza Bronica ETRS

I have a love/hate relationship with Bronica cameras. If you listen to the Classic Camera Revival Podcast, I railed against the Bronica SQ-Am in episode 22, and I gave away my SQ-Ai because of ergonomic issues I had with the camera. But putting all that aside I went into shooting the ETRS with an open mind and discovered a rather fun camera. When it comes to 645 cameras, the ETRS is the real underdog while the Mamiya m645 and to a lesser extent the Pentax 645 get most of the glory. Which to people looking to crack into medium format the ETR line of cameras offers you the most bang for your buck if you’re just getting started. Big thanks to Mike Bitaxi for loaning out this beauty for review.

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Dirt

  • Make: Zenza Bronica
  • Model: ETRS
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Multiple (Back Dependent), 6cm x 4.5cm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Bronica ETR Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1979

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Good
The strongest aspect of this camera is that it is a system camera, you can change, adapt, and modify the camera into whatever configuration is most comfortable for you and your shooting style. Another plus to it being a system camera if a part breaks, you just have to buy that one section and put all your parts back on it. The configuration I was shooting in was one that was most familiar to me, with an eye-level finder and grip. Of course, the camera operates just as well with no grip and a waist level finder if you’re used to shooting with the SQ-A or Hasselblad cameras. And for volume shooting the camera is great, you get 15 shots per roll, and interchangeable magazines allow you to load up a handful of magazines in the morning and go out shooting without needing to sit down and reload after each roll. And don’t sneeze at the optical quality either the ETR line of lenses are beautiful. Combine all these with being an often unnoticed camera line means you can build up a decent kit without having to break the bank.

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Bad
The trouble with being an underdog system is getting the system repaired. When Roger (may he rest in peace) was operating his storefront in Hamilton, you couldn’t even darken his doorstep with a Bronica. These cameras are hard to get fixed and do rely on electronics to operate and battery power. At least in the case of the ETRS the battery door is better designed that the SQ line of cameras, but the battery is not a common one. Best bet is to carry some spares if you’re out on a big trip in an area where there aren’t any specialty stores.

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Lowdown
While Bronica does not remain my first choice overall, I can see the draw of the ETR line of cameras. These are inexpensive cameras and if all you want is to shoot in the 6×4.5 format go for it. Just make sure like any electronic based vintage camera that you know it works before you pay for it. Just know that with the ETR line you will be stuck with the 6×4.5 format, if you want more image versatility, pick up an SQ-A body. You get the same quality of optics, and with appropriate backs, you can shoot 6×6 and 6×4.5 with ease. If you do go with the ETR line of cameras, make sure that you get a kit that is setup the way you like it. System cameras are unique creatures, they are amazing with no grip and a waist level finder or eye-level finder and a grip, but start swapping stuff out and you’ll run into ergonomic problems.

All Photos taken in Downtown Milton, Ontario, Canada
Zenza Bronica ETRS – Zenanon-PE 1:2.8 f=75mm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (stock) 9:30 @ 20C