Tag: tri-x

CCR:FRB – Review 12 – Kodak Tri-X 400

CCR:FRB – Review 12 – Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X, the mention of the film stock is usually met with awe or aversion. But for me, Tri-X is my film of choice no matter what situation I’m going into. I know that with the film I can get consistent results no matter what situation I throw myself into from abandoned buildings to a wedding, and will get amazing results no matter what chemical I toss the film into. With a classic look and feel, you can torture this film to your heart’s content and will always get the results you need.

CCR:FRB - Review 12 - Kodak Tri-X 400

Film Specs
Type: Panchromatic B&W
Film Base: Acetate
Film Speed: ASA-400, Latitude: 100-6400
Formats Available: 35mm, 120, Sheets (Note: Sheet films of Tri-X are known as 320TXP)

Roll 01 – Rodinal
Like my aversion to using Rodinal with Bergger Pancro 400, I thought the exact same thing with Tri-X, putting a sharp developer on a fast film will result in a grain fest. Yet, I wanted to give it a go anyways and the results astounded me. The grain, while more present than normal, is reasonable, it is a little more noticeable in 35mm, it also shows off exactly what Tri-X can do. With sharpness, tonality, and contrast that show you exactly how the world is supposed to look in black & white. If you want something a little smoother, bump the dilution to 1+50 for even better results. Just remember to use a chemical stop bath, I forgot one time and overdeveloped the sheets.

Amy & Jeremy - 12th August 2017Amy & Jeremy - 12th August 2017Amy & Jeremy - 12th August 2017Amy & Jeremy - 12th August 2017

Technical Details:
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-200
Blazinal (1+25) 7:00 @ 20C

Roll 02 – Kodak HC-110
The first roll of Tri-X I developed on my own was with HC-110, back in 2012. Now you’re probably screaming that I developed for less than five minutes, which is a big no-no apparently. And even now that I use longer developing times (), the results are the same! But it works for me. It seems that, at least to me, HC-110 and Tri-X are made for each other. The tones are there, the sharpness is there, and the contrast is through the roof. And it also shows off how well Tri-X can handle even the worst lighting conditions like a rainy day in Arras under heavy clouds.

Rainy Day in ArrasRainy Day in ArrasRainy Day in ArrasRainy Day in Arras

Technical Details:
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Biogon 2,8/28 T* – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 4:30 @ 20C

Roll 03 – Kodak TMax Developer
While not my favourite choice for Tri-X, that doesn’t mean TMax Developer does a good job, it does, it just doesn’t make Tri-X look like the Tri-X I know and enjoy. But thankfully, Tri-X looks good, no matter what you develop it in. The grain is far more chunky as if it’s trying to make classic grain look like modern grain. It may even look close to a classic Tri-X with big grain and lower than normal contrast. But if it’s all you got, it does its job. Though I personally would knock the developing time back 15-30 seconds next time, or pull the film further back to 200.

CCR:FRB - Review 12 - Kodak Tri-X 400 - Roll 03 (Kodak TMax Developer)CCR:FRB - Review 12 - Kodak Tri-X 400 - Roll 03 (Kodak TMax Developer)CCR:FRB - Review 12 - Kodak Tri-X 400 - Roll 03 (Kodak TMax Developer)CCR:FRB - Review 12 - Kodak Tri-X 400 - Roll 03 (Kodak TMax Developer)

Techincal Details:
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-320
Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 7:15 @ 20C

Roll 04 – Kodak D-23
While D-76 is a good choice of developer for Tri-X, I personally prefer the slower working D-23 as it really helps show off the range for Tri-X, and actually gives the film a far more classic look than newer developers. You get the same tone and sharpness that I have come to expect from the film but it does knock back the contrast but not by much if you prefer more contrast D-76 would be a better choice.

Project:1812 - Fortress HalifaxProject:1812 - Fortress HalifaxProject:1812 - Fortress HalifaxProject:1812 - Fortress Halifax

Technical Details:
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Final Thoughts
Kodak Tri-X will remain, one of my favourite films, I can push and pull the film no matter what and can always pull good images out of it. And though you don’t get the clean modern look as you would with TMax 400, it’s that classic grain and contrast that I desire when I’m out on the street or in portraiture. It’s the classic in the yellow box and one that you can get pretty much anywhere you can buy film. While I wouldn’t develop in TMax developer, it sings in Rodinal, D-23 or D-76, HC-110 and so many other developers.

CCR Review 79 – Kodak Retina IIIC

CCR Review 79 – Kodak Retina IIIC

Before Apple picked up the name Retina, it attached itself to a line of folding German Kodak cameras. Wait, isn’t Kodak an American camera brand you may be asking. And yes, you’re right but their German branch, Kodak AG, had a rather strong reputation in bringing inexpensive but solid performance cameras to market, and their iconic line, Retina. And while the camera is classified as a folder, it lacks the distinctive bellows that prove to be a weak spot in these cameras. Armed with German rather than American optics the cameras are solid performers if a bit fickle in their operation. A note to the reader, this review is for the Retina IIIC, not the older IIIc; there is a difference. Thanks to Mike Bitaxi for loaning the camera out for review.

CCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIIc

The Dirt
Make: Kodak AG
Model: Retina IIIC (028)
Type: Rangefinder
Format: Miniature Format, 135 (35mm), 36x24mm
Lens: Interchangeable (Front Element), Retina Bayonet
Year of Manufacture: 1957-60

CCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIICCCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIIC

The Good
There are a couple of items that make the Retina IIIC a strong camera. First and most important is the lack of bellows. This fact right off the marks clears off a major weak point for many of these cameras a solid all-metal construction from top to bottom, front to back means that is one less thing you need to worry about when picking up the camera. The second is that the camera has German optics, while many during this time clamoured for Kodak Ektar lenses, Germany was started to show off its optical prowess outside of Zeiss and Leica. And the Rodenstock Heligon lens is no underachiever, sharp and a f/2 max aperture is no slouch on a camera aimed at the consumer market. I would have prefered something a bit wider (say 35mm or 45mm), but I can’t complain. In hand the camera is small, and while I’m not too impressed with the general layout, the one part that makes sense to me is the placement of the film advance. It’s on the bottom of the body and if you hold the camera properly the placement makes a lot of sense. Not to mention it’s a short throw that also cocks the shutter, just be careful in managing the film counter, one wrong press and you’ll jam the whole thing up, but it’s easily fixed. You have a bright viewfinder with an integrated rangefinder and the all-important framing guide, so composing images is a no-brainer.

CCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIICCCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIIC

The Bad
Despite all the praise, the Retina IIIC is a camera well past it’s prime even when it was new. First, the style, making this camera a folder was a mistake in my view, the giant side open front door and folding option on the camera takes away from the compact design. Sure when you fold it up it’s sleek and compact, but when you open it up, you’re no longer a compact camera. The Retina could have maintained a compact design without folding up. Also, you have to put the lens back to infinity focus to close up the front section. As I mentioned this camera is small, everything is small on it from the exposure controls on the front of the lens, the shutter release, the exposure counter release, and even trying to find the focus knob is fairly tough. I mean I’d take the size and controls of the Olympus XA over those of the Retina IIIC. It’s just a rather cramped experience overall, and not in a good way, in an I’ve been stuck on a German U-Boat at the bottom of the ocean for several weeks. Watch Das Boot, and you’ll get it.

CCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIICCCR Review 79 - Kodak Retina IIIC

The Lowdown
I had high hopes for the Retina, I honestly did. I found a cramped camera that really should have been designed differently. The small size and finicky nature of the camera made for a rather unpleasant shooting experience. Despite so many things going for this camera, you really should try it first before you go out and buy it. I believe much of this has to do with the fact it was built by the German branch rather than Rochester (North America), the design philosophies are different and seen. I think the Retina would have been a stronger camera that lasted far longer had Rochester taken a heavier hand in its design. If you like one, you’ll get a nearly indestructible camera with a strong optical performance that will last you until the cows come home.

All Photos Taken at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario
Kodak Retina IIIc – Rodenstock Retina-Heligon C 1:2/50mm – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-800
Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:45 @ 20C

CCR Review 75 – Ricoh Diacord L

CCR Review 75 – Ricoh Diacord L

I’ve always found the TLR to be an enjoyable camera to operate. From my very first Lubitel 2, the Yashica-12, and my current Rolleiflex 2.8F. The waist level finder, the dedicated finder lens and near silent operation. Of course, for the average photographer, the two brands that come to mind when it comes to TLRs is Rollei (both flex and cord) along with Yashica. But if you just stuck with these two brands you just might miss out on several other options, one being the Ricoh Diacord. The model under review today is the Diacord L, L standing for lightmeter. While the Diacord could never stand up to the heavy hitters from Rollei, it certainly can hold its own against Yashica and Minolta. Thanks to Mike Bitaxi for loaning the Diacord out for review.

CCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord L
The Dirt

  • Make: Ricoh
  • Model: Diacord L
  • Type: Twin Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium (120), 6×6
  • Lens: Fixed, Rikenon 1:3.5 f=8cm
  • Year of Manufacture: 1957

CCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord LCCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord L

The Good
Most users of TLRs are used to having a focus knob on the side of the camera, however, with the Diacord this has been replaced with a see-saw control that operates by an up and down motion to set the focus. While this works great for wide focusing, but is a bit tricky for fine adjustments, but I’m sure with some practice it can be achieved. The camera, despite having a meter does not require a battery as the meter is selenium based and the name badge flips up to reveal it, this means that even with the age of the camera most will have functioning cells as they’re kept in darkness. Weight wise, the camera is lighter than my Rolleiflex, and with a decent strap, it can be carried around without any pain or effort for a day’s worth of shooting. Plus don’t let the light weight fool you, the Diacord has a good build quality. Finally, let’s talk optics, I’ve reviewed several Ricoh built cameras and lenses, and the optical quality of the Rikenon glass is excellent. And even with a f/3.2 finder lens, the viewfinder is nice and bright even in the dim dusk light of the four o’clock hour.

CCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord LCCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord L

The Bad
Despite my enjoyment of TLRs, the Diacord has some serious points that turn me away from the camera. The first is the film advance; the press-release advance is something that I find annoying in all cameras. If you do it wrong, you either advance the film too far and mess up frame spacing or do damage to the camera itself. Either way, it’s a mechanism that is not needed as there were already several tried and true crank based options on the market. While the camera does have a solid light meter, the exposure settings are frustrating, as the shutter speed and aperture settings are not fully independent of each other, and the meter itself hand to read and understand. Even with using my Gossen Lunasix F, setting the camera is a troublesome task.

CCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord LCCR Review 75 - Ricoh Diacord L

The Lowdown
Both the good and the bad seem to balance each other out on this camera leaving me on the fence. I can remember my first exposure to the camera back on the first Mystery Camera Challenge for the Classic Camera Revival Podcast, where we ended up naming the camera the Ricoh DOAcord. The trouble is that the camera is of a certain age that a CLA (Clean, Lube, Adjust) is well needed to ensure proper operation. In fact, before I took the camera out I had to run the shutter several times before it could release. Despite the solid optics and easy use of the camera, I cannot truly recommend it. I’ll have to say you’d be better off getting a Yashica 124G or Minolta Autocord before a Diacord.

All Photos Taken in St. Mary’s Pioneer Cemetery, Oakville, Ontario
Ricoh Diacord L – Rikenon 1:3.5 f=8cm – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-200
Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C

Large Format in the Park

Large Format in the Park

The trouble with photo walks is that you’re walking, this pretty much takes the idea of bringing large format cameras and tripods along. I mean, I love LF and have a press camera which allows me to shoot the Crown Graphic Handheld as I did back at the Summer Toronto Film Shooters Meetup. But again, when making a meet up especially for large format, you can’t call it a photo walk because it’s hard to walk with an LF camera and I know that many members don’t shoot press, technical, or field cameras they use monorails. You don’t walk around with a monorail, while you can, just not quickly. Thus was born, the Large Format Lugabout.

Remains of a Face

A Lovely Day

The Toronto Film Shooters have been to High Park many times before, so it made sense to use this urban park in Toronto as the base of operations for the walk, moving from the Southern Entrance at Colbourne Lodge to the northern terminus at Bloor Street. At about two kilometres it’s an easy enough walk even when you have an 8×10 on a monorail to lug with you.

The Howard Tomb

The Chimney

As I loaned out my Crown Graphic out to a good friend, I made a point to shoot the eight sheets of 4×5 while I wanted down through the park towards the meeting point before the main event. Even my lovely wife put up with the constant stopping. It proved to be a perfect day to shoot large format and there turned out to be a decent attendance. The highlight for me is finally seeing Colbourne Lodge. The lodge is another one of those hidden museums in Toronto, and one I certainly will be checking out again. But with the meeting starting, I turned over my Crown Graphic to Wu and switched to my Nikon F5 to take photos of the various people in attendance.

Nancy!

It's, it's...taller than me!

Another Big One

Trio of Tripods

A Common Sight

The trouble with such a meet is that everything spreads out in a long thin line, Heather and I along with Wu and Joe formed the front of the line while the long trail of photographers lugging every type of camera came up behind, even some folks carried medium format beasts. But since it was tripod friendly, it gave folks a chance to slow down.

The event turned out much better than I expected and I certainly plan on running with the idea again as people took to the idea of a limited area shoot and allowing us to bring out the big guns.

Techinal Details:
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210, Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:4,7/135, Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125
Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-200
Blazinal (1+25) 7:00 @ 20C

Brigade Napoleon – A Soldier’s View

Brigade Napoleon – A Soldier’s View

They came on in the same old way, and we defeated them in the same old way.
– Field Marshal Sir Arthur Wellesley – June 1815

Being primarily a War of 1812 reenactor the folks I usually face across the field are the American forces, however, in 2015 I had a chance to visit Europe to join with fellow reenactors around the world to face off against the French at the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. It seemed some of the French were coming to visit us in Canada at Old Fort Erie.

Dawn's Fort

Sneaking Around

I’ll admit it was strange seeing the French tri-colour flying over Old Fort Erie, now in the role of a French captured Spanish fort somewhere on the peninsula. While marching in the army doesn’t offer me much chance to go out and take pictures, like the British army of old, there was still plenty of time to go out and get in some shooting. There were some familiar uniforms and even some familiar faces in different uniforms. While the British line was made up mostly of common 1812 units, we did have an excellent showing of Highlander units that don’t often come out to play.

British Line, French Occupied

Discussions with the Enemy

But unlike the usual scenario that we play out at Fort Erie this time the British are allowed to win and recapture the fort from the French occupiers. It made for a different experience, fighting through the narrow siege works, standing off between the redoubts and inner fort. And finally charging in with a war cry. Then promptly setting my shako on fire with my musket. Overall a fine event, it just would be nice if the other side played along in animating the fort between the action, at least make an effort. But that is something I have little control over.

The Union

On a more technical aspect, I tried out Dilution D of HC-110 for this roll of film. You’re probably thinking don’t you mean Dilution B? I had never seen Dilution D before either and had shot this roll of Tri-X at ASA-250, I was scrolling through the Massive Dev Chart looking for an option. I’ve always been a big fan of HC-110 and Tri-X so I figured this would be no different. Well it was, I found the grain a lot rougher than I expected and a bit muddy. So this clearly isn’t a good choice, which is probably why no one has heard of Dilution D.

All Photos Take at Olde Fort Erie, Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada
Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250
Kodak HC-110 Dil. D 9:00 @ 22C

An Extra Special Gift

An Extra Special Gift

This was certainly a first for me. I’ve been doing the photography thing for many years, and while my favourite subjects are things that really can’t move around, I do find myself enjoying the few portrait and wedding gigs that I come across. But when it came to shooting maternity it was all new territory. And it can be a pretty creepy one also. You look at places like Pinterest, and you can get carried away by semi-nude women showing off their pregnant bodies. Now before you lay on the hate, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or wrong. I just don’t like that style of shooting, and when my subjects are my soon-to-be brother & sister-in-law. That’s just not the direction I want to take.

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Sony a6000 + Konica Hexanon 1:2.8 f=35mm

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Sony a6000 + Konica Hexanon 1:2.8 f=35mm

The idea is Heather’s who came up with the idea to do a shoot with them once we found out they were expecting, and it became all the more special when the one baby was two. Yep, instant niece and nephew added in, and just before my wedding. It did take Holly a bit of time to warm up to the idea of having maternity photos done. And I can understand that she also does photography, and it’s difficult for a photographer to stand in front of the camera rather than behind.

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Sony a6000 + KMZ Helios 44-2 2/58

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

Thankfully we had just the right weather to be outside, well it was a little cold for Evan and Holly, I at least could keep my coat on. And for the backdrop, we took advantage of being in Hamilton the city of waterfalls and worked at Tiffany and Sherman Falls. What makes this whole thing extra special is that Evan and Holly had been waiting a long time to start a family, so it was an amazing idea from Heather to document it right from the beginning.

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

Evan & Holly - Maternity Shoot
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-250 – SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

The great part was that once I got rolling with the photos it went really well, both Evan and Holly were great subjects, and the process moved along well. I found myself looking only once at a few saved images on Pinterest and then settled into my usual groove when shooting portraits. The only thing different was making sure to show off the baby bump! And no, I’m not getting into newborn photography, but I think I’d be okay doing another maternity shoot of the same style.

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

CCR Review 58 – Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 – Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

At the very beginning of these review blogs I had laid out some rules, and now I’m going to break one of them and review a large format, sheet film camera. The Crown Graphic is my 4×5 camera of choice these days; it’s reliable camera that can take a hit and keep on taking photos. I mean that is what it’s designed to do, it’s a press camera. And when it comes to large format, I’m glad that my first experiences with the format were on a press camera rather than a field or monorail because I don’t think I would have taken to the format in the same way.

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Dirt

  • Make: Graflex
  • Model: Pacemaker Crown Graphic
  • Type: Press Camera, View/Rangefinder
  • Format: Multiple, Graflok Back (Roll film, or Sheet Film)
  • Len: Interchangeable, Crown Graphic Lens Boards
  • Year of Manufacture: 1955-1973 (This Model, 1968)

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Good
The number one thing I love about the Crown Graphic is that it’s versatile with a single camera I have both a handheld rangefinder based camera that I can just point, focus and shoot, at least when I’m using the Xenar 135mm lens, as I’ve calibrated the rangefinder for the lens. I much prefer to shoot the camera like a field camera, on a tripod, composing and focusing using the ground glass on the back. Using the glass gives me full creative control and use of some fantastic lenses, like the Symmar-S 210mm (which is the lens I use the most). Plus that’s the power of large format, your Crown will be able to use most lenses out there, and all the film holders and the Graflok back means you can attach all sorts of accessories such as roll film magazines and Polaroid Type 100 film holders. And finally, this camera has a nice fast setup, pop the front cover, drop the bed pull out the bellows. And if you’re using ‘pancake’ style lenses, you can keep the lens on the camera when you close the door.

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Bad
Like any large format camera, the biggest detractor to them is the size and the amount of stuff you need to bring to use the camera well. Tripod, multiple film holders, meter, and the lenses all mounted on their boards. It adds up after a while. But for me, it’s worth the effort. Another issue that only large format shooters will note with a press camera is the lack of movements, while the Crown Graphic gives more than the Speed Graphic, you are still only limited to movements on your front standard, and even then you’re relatively limited. But again this was a camera not designed for shooting that requires much in the way of movements. And finally there is starting to be a lack of spare parts for these cameras, so getting bits and pieces replaced or repaired is starting to become a problem, either you can grab ones that are already broken for spare parts or pray that you know someone who can machine the appropriate piece. Thankfully their rugged build means they are designed to last.

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Lowdown
If you’re like me and shoot on a mobile basis, then the press camera is certainly the best option, and often a Crown Graphic kit can be had for an inexpensive out of pocket cost. Being highly adaptable to multiple shooting situations and with a quick setup and tear down it’s a great camera for learning on. Of course, if you’re a technical shooter who needs movements then I would avoid press cameras altogether and go for something a little more expensive. Intrepid, Shen-Hao, Takahara, Linhoff, and Sinar are all excellent options. But for me, I’m sticking to the Crown.

All Photos Taken in Georgetown, Ontario
Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:4,7/135 – Kodak Tri-X Pan @ ASA-200
Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 56 – Leica R3

CCR Review 56 – Leica R3

It’s the red dot special, but not the red dot you were probably expecting. While Leica is best known for their rangefinder cameras, both the older Barnack and the iconic M-Series Leica produces a line of single lens reflex cameras in response to the cameras coming out of Japan. While the early cameras were strictly manufactured by Leica, by the mid-1970s, they had teamed up with Minolta. The agreement produced the Leica CL/Minolta CLE both rangefinder cameras, and the Leica R3/Minolta XE! The first time I picked up this camera, having never used a Leica SLR before I was hoping for something special, but I soon found out there’s a reason these cameras aren’t that popular. Special thanks to James Lee for loaning out this beauty for review.

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

The Dirt

  • Make: Leica Camera AG
  • Model: R3
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 36x24mm
  • Len: Interchangeable, Leica R-Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1976-1979

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

The Good
There are two good points about the R3, first and foremost it’s a tank, but it’s a tank with balance, it just feels right to shoot, short throw on the film advance, and all the knobs and that thrice-damned stop down lever. The viewfinder is big and bright, and the needle-on-shutter-speed metering system is clear and visible. And of course, there’s the optical quality which is what we’ve come to expect from Leica. And this is despite the lenses being much larger than their M-Mount cousins.

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

The Bad
The R3 is not an easy camera to operate; it took me about three rolls of film to finally get the hang of it. And it all has to come down to how the camera meters. Despite having a decent TTL meter, you need to manually stop down the lens to get it to pick up on the correct shutter speed, then half-press the shutter button, release the lever then press the shutter release down the rest of the way. I gave up by the third roll and switched to metering with my Gossen Lunasix F and running the camera in full manual. And finally there’s the weight, this is a well-balanced camera, but heavy. It’s not one that I would enjoy carrying around all day and shooting with, especially with the 135mm lens on mounted, even the shorter 50mm is still a pain.

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

The Lowdown
The R3 is not a Minolta, it may be Minolta on the inside, but it certainly isn’t on the outside. And while you can purchase the bodies for a reasonable price, don’t expect the lenses to be on the inexpensive side. The R3 is not a camera for the beginner, or for someone who is unfamiliar with the operation of Leica SLRs, there’s a steep learning curve, and it takes away from the decent “feel” of the camera. Despite the image quality and certain cache that comes with shooting a Leica, my honest opinion, do yourself a favour and get a Minolta XE-7. You’ll get an easier camera to operate, with comparable optics and you won’t break the bank building a lens system.

All Photos Taken in Oakville, Ontario
Leica R3 Electronic – Leitz Canada Elmarit-R 1:2.8/135 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 52 – Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 – Agfa Ventura Deluxe

If there is one type of cameras that I have little experience with its folders. Back in the summer, I did have a chance to review one; nothing could prepare me for the Ventura. It’s a camera with a bit of an identity issue, in addition to the Ventura Deluxe it could also be the Ventura 66 or the Isolette II, and while this camera did not perform how I thought it would it did give me a pleasant surprise. The history nerd in me also digs the fact that the camera was made in the “US Zone” part of the occupation of Germany after World War II.

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura 66

The Dirt
Make: Agfa Camerawerk
Model: Ventura 66/Ventura Deluxe/Isolette II
Type: Point & Shoot
Format: 120, 6×6
Lens: Fixed, Agfa Apotar 1:4,5 F=8,5cm
Year of Manufacture: 1952-1955

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

The Good
There are two things the Ventura Deluxe has going for it if you’re looking for a toy camera that isn’t anything that is more common on the market. You have a glass lens, the Apotar is sharp in the middle and has some fall off at the edges with the vignette. And you have a lens that can stop all the way down to f/32 so if your focus is seized at the top end or near the middle of the focus scale you can still pull out images that has most of the scene in focus.

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

The Bad
The Ventura is an old camera and such there will be a lot of age related issues with them. The first and the biggest is that the focus helical can seize and in the case of mine it already has. It can be fixed, but not without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on my part. Thankfully for my camera, it is set at the infinity focus point so I just make sure to stop it down to get the depth of field. Another problem that could plague this camera are the bellows. When looking at these cameras get out a flashlight to check for pinpricks both outside and inside. But then again if you’re buying one to rock them as a toy camera some light leaks might be a welcome!

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

The Lowdown
While the Holga system is no longer being produced finding a decent 6×6 toy camera can be an expensive proposal, but the Ventura 66 certainly fits that bill at least for me. You have a fixed focus camera, with exposure control, a decent lens that while glass gives a nice soft low-contrast look and vignettes your edges. While the camera wasn’t built like a toy camera, age has certainly made it that way, and I’m okay with that.

All Photos Taken in Oakville, Ontario
Agfa Ventura Deluxe – Agfa Apotar 1:4,5 f=8,5cm – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C