Tag Archives: 35mm

CCR Review 60 – KMZ Zenit E

Soviet cameras and I have had a rocky relationship. There’s only a handful out there that I like, and then there’s the Zenit E. This is a beautiful camera that is probably the pick of the litter from the Zenit line. One of my first SLRs was a Zenit B, the non-metered version of the E. And despite never getting a single frame from the camera. Because I had no clue what I was doing at the time, finding myself instantly familiar with the workings of the Zenit E and it certainly makes for a much better Soviet SLR than the other’s I’ve worked with in the past. Special thanks to James Lee for loaning out this camera for a review.

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

The Dirt

  • Make: KMZ
  • Model: Zenit E
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 36×24
  • Len: Interchangeable, M42 Screw Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1965-1968

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

The Good
There is nothing complicated about this camera. The operation, layout and general use of the camera make it easy for anyone to pickup and use. The only feature that this camera has is the uncoupled light meter, but more on that later. Despite the weight of the camera, it doesn’t detract from its use, although a nice heavy duty padded strap would be a good idea. A carbine style cross strap would be best. The M42 mount gives you a wide range of lenses to use on the camera both German and Soviet optics can easily mount on the camera. And as a bonus, most Soviet optics are direct copies of their German counterparts and often have their unique features that you don’t find in other lenses. Even though there is no automatic aperture on the camera that doesn’t detract from the operation, as you can easily set the aperture then open and close it with a simple twist ring that will stop at the correct aperture. The one thing to watch out for is the shutter speed dial; you can only set your shutter speed once the film has been advanced and shutter cocked, much like the rangefinders from the FED and Zorki line. Finally, there’s the sound of the camera, the noise the shutter and mirror make when in operation is substantial and pleasing, there’s no mistaking when you’ve fired a shot.

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

The Bad
Usually, if a camera has a selenium meter that tends to be a positive feature to a camera, no batteries needed, and usually still operates. In this case, however, the meter isn’t a handy thing to have on this camera. First, off the meter is uncoupled, this means that no matter how you adjust the camera settings the meter doesn’t react, there’s a second dial that you set to give you the camera settings based on the meter reading. Add to that the meter read out is on the top of the camera body only. It would be better to stick with Sunny-16 or an external meter. In addition to this, you’ll have a hard time ensure the correct film speed setting as the camera is calibrated more towards the old GOST scale with corresponding DIN numbers. Sadly these film speeds do not line up with most modern films, you do have options like GOST-130, but I’ve never seen that sort of film. There is also the matter of the long film advance crank, while a minor nuisance does make it difficult to fire off several shots in succession. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Soviet Bloc did not have the best quality control so there is a chance that these cameras can break easily or purchased in a broken state. At least there’s a high chance with the right tools and manual you can do the repair yourself.

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

CCR Review 60 - KMZ Zenit E

The Lowdown
Out of all the Soviet cameras I’ve reviewed to date, the Zenit E is only one of two that I would recommend picking up, but I would lean someone more towards a Zenit B, the non-metered version. Both are strong mechanical cameras that have a nice look and feel to take out on International Communist Camera day and are better than most of the later model Zenit cameras. But there is one thing that you should look for if you are thinking of getting one and that’s the lens. Most of these cameras shipped with and still come with a Helios 44-2 lens, this 58mm f/2 is a copy of the Carl Zeiss Biotar. It has also become somewhat of a cult lens in the portrait market even I have one that I use with my Sony a6000. The reason is that when you shoot a subject at about 5 feet away with the lens opened to f/2 you get a classic Petzval style swirl. So even if you get a broken Zenit, you still get an amazing lens to add to your collection.

All Photos Taken in Hamilton, Ontario
KMZ Zenit E – KMZ Helios 44-2 2/58 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 27 – Return of the Samurai

ccr-logo-leaf

The Nikkormat line was a series of SLRs released by Nikon through the 1960s to 70s that were aimed at the consumer market. While there were some electronic Nikkormat cameras the ones we have on the table today are the mechanical ones of the FT line. These are great cameras that you can have for a cheap price and still using all your Non-AI, AI, and AI-S lenses. AI and AI-S providing they still have the claw, unless you have the FT3.

Cameras Featured on Today’s Episode

Nikon Nikkormat FTn – An improved version of the original Nikkormat FT and the oldest one we have on the table. The meter coupling pin on the camera still had to be aligned with the meter coupling shoe on the lens, but the lens maximum aperture no longer had to be manually preset on the FTn. It also improved the lens mounting technique that you could rock the aperture back and forth so that the claw would catch on the pin.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 27 - Return of the Samurai

  • Make: Nikon
  • Model: Nikkormat FTn
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 35mm, 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Nikon F
  • Year of Manufacture: 1967-1975

Dead Mill
Nikon Nikkormat FTn – Nikkor-H 50mm 1:2 – ORWO UN54+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:00 @ 20C

Scan-130425-0002
Nikon Nikkormat FTn – Nikkor-H 28mm 1:3.5 – ORWO UN54+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:00 @ 20C

Now Entering Leslieville.
Nikon Nikkormat FTn – Nikkor-O 35mm 1:2 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Nikon Nikkormat FT2 – Released as an answer to customer suggestions for improvement of the FTn. The FT2 would have a silver-oxide battery and a fixed hot shoe to mount and external flash. The FT2 also has a +/- in the match needle metering readout.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 27 - Return of the Samurai

  • Make: Nikon
  • Model: Nikkormat FT2
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 35mm, 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Nikon F
  • Year of Manufacture: 1975-1977

Cherry Blossoms
Nikkormat FT2 – Tamrom 17mm ƒ/3,5 – Fujichrome Velvia 50

Caffenol-C 2 Bath Test
Nikkormat FT2 – Nikon Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8 – Polypan F @ ASA-50 – Caffenol-C 2 Bath 5+5

Firewood (Nikon Version)
Nikkormat FT2 – Nikon Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8 – Polypan F @ ASA-50 – Ilford ID-11 (1+1) 9:00 @ 20C

Nikon Nikkormat FT3 – Released as more of a stop-gap measure, the FT3 is a rare model of Nikkormat that can mount AI-S without needing the claw/pin interface. They were short lived as Nikon released the FM/FE line in 1977 a few months after the FT3 hit shelves.

CCR Review 46 - Nikon Nikkormat FT3

  • Make: Nikon
  • Model: Nikkormat FT3
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 35mm, 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Nikon F
  • Year of Manufacture: 1977

CCR Review 46 - Nikon Nikkormat FT3
Nikon Nikkormat FT3 – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 46 - Nikon Nikkormat FT3
Nikon Nikkormat FT3 – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 46 - Nikon Nikkormat FT3
Nikon Nikkormat FT3 – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, Film Plus, Belle Arte Camera and Camtech, if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario. In Guelph there’s Pond’s FotoSource For those further north you can visit Foto Art Camera in Owen Sound. On the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

CCR Review 59 – Canon FTb

While I have shot only a handful of Canon products during my reviews, they’ve all given positive results in my books. The Canon FTb is not bucking this trend as a solid match needle, mechanical SLR it is certainly a top pick for me as a student camera. Simple in its operation, and yet provides a good solid introduction to 35mm film photography. Special thanks to Bill Smith for loaning out this black beauty!

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Dirt

  • Make: Canon
  • Model: FTb
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 36×24
  • Len: Interchangeable, Canon FD Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1971

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Good
The number one thing I love about this camera is the Quick Load function. Often with older cameras it takes a bit of fiddling to get the film loaded up, some cameras are easier than others, and then there’s the Canon Quick Load. It seriously makes it easy like my Nikon F5, lay down the film, close the door, advance fire, advance, fire and you’re ready to rock and roll. Everything else is fairly well laid out and in a normal place. A power switch to save on battery power, a short throw on the film advance and a pleasing weight in hand. And finally, it’s a match needle metering system very similar to my first SLR, the Minolta SRT-102, put the hole over the needle, nice and easy!

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Bad
By this point, reader, you will probably realize that there are some cameras that I try hard to find a fault in, and I normally will go for something petty, well the FTb is one such camera. And that fault is, of course, the battery. The camera does need a mercury cell to work, a power source that isn’t exactly easy to find these days. Now there are some alternatives such as an adapter to step down the power out of a current battery or an air-zinc battery. Then again as the FTb is a mechanical camera all the battery powers is the internal meter, so it isn’t that big of a deal.

CCR Review 59 - Canon FTb

The Lowdown
If you don’t want to spend a fortune to get a solid learner camera, then the FTb is certainly for you. With or without a working meter you get the most bang for your buck, and both the camera bodies and lenses are plentiful online and in reputable used camera shops. If I didn’t already have an extensive selection of Nikon cameras and lenses, an FTb would certainly be a welcome addition to my camera bag. So if you don’t like the idea of grabbing a cliche K1000 or FM, then give the FTb another look, it won’t let you down.

All Photos Taken in Guelph, Ontario
Canon FTb – Canon Lens FD 50mm 1:1.8 – ORWO UN54 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. A 7:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 57 – Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

If you think that you’ve seen this camera reviewed before, you’re right, in a certain way. I have written about the newer version of this camera, the Contaflex Super B before. Despite this, I figured it would be good to compare it to the battery-less version of the Contaflex. Despite the troubles I mentioned in the Super B review, the Super remains a strong camera and one I would take over the Super B any day. Special thanks to James Lee for loaning out this beauty for review.

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

The Dirt

  • Make: Zeiss Ikon
  • Model: Contaflex Super
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 36x24mm
  • Len: Interchangeable, Breach lock
  • Year of Manufacture: 1958/li>

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

The Good
The Contaflex Super is a strong camera right out of the box. Like the Super B, the camera body is bulky and has a trapezoidal shape which makes it easy to hold for extended periods of time, as you’re not just carrying a box. Then there’s the meter, selenium based so if you have one in good shape you don’t need a battery to get a good exposure. And you have a wonderful easy to read match needle right in your viewfinder. But one thing that I feel sets the Super apart from its battery-powered counterpart is the aperture dial on the camera body. This dial made shooting the camera easy because you just have to spin the dial to make sure the needle is in the notch! Add this that all the controls from the aperture dial to the focusing and shutter speed are well laid out making it a very comfortable camera to use.

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

The Bad
Like the Super B, my biggest issue with this camera is that it lacks automatic mirror return. The result is a heavier than normal film advance as it both cocks the shutter, advances the film, and returns the mirror. The second issue is setting the film speed, you need to know DIN, thankfully most film boxes do have that number on it so that it won’t be much of an issue, but you still have to think a little different. And finally there’s the loading of the film, I never got the hang of loading up the film by removing the entire back, it does slow down the use of this camera. I have to remember that the Super came into being in the days when photography was still a luxury, so one-handed loading was not something manufacturers thought would be an issue.

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

The Lowdown
The Contaflex Super is certainly a better option than the Super B. Not needing a battery, full mechanical operations, and that wonderful aperture dial just makes it that much better. Of course being a selenium powered meter, you can run across the Super with a non-functioning meter, but you shouldn’t let that stop you as there’s plenty of options for checking your exposure.

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

A little side notes about the film. I’ve used Kentmere 100 on a couple of occasions before this and have never liked the results. However, this time I enjoyed my results, I guess the developer of choice for Kentmere 100 is now HC-110 Dilution B, but following a different agitation pattern than I normally do, first 30 seconds of constant agitation then 5 seconds every 30 seconds following.

All Photos Taken in Bellfountain, Ontario
Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super – Carl Zeiss Tessar 50/2,8 – Kentmere @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:45 @ 20C

CCR Review 45 – Minolta Minoltina-P

If you have ever used the Olympus Trip 35 then, you’ll be right at home with the Minoltina-P. The camera is a fixed lens, semi-automatic point and shoot from the 1960s and honestly before I saw it on the shelf at Burlington Camera I had never even known this camera existed. But don’t let that scare you, Minolta produced a lot of underdog cameras through the 1960s that often were as good as their competitors. The Hi-Matic went up against the Olympus 35 and Cannonet Series, and the Minoltina, well it’s an Olympus Trip 35.

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Dirt
Make: Minolta
Model: Minoltina-P
Type: Point and Shoot
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Fixed, Minolta Rokkor 1:2.8 f=38mm
Year of Manufacture: 1963

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Good
I’ve always been a fan of semi-automatic cameras, and the Minoltina is no different and what a great camera to use. The Minoltina is a nice compact camera that easily slides into a pocket or a haversack. You can adjust the settings with a simple lens mounted dial then adjust to the match needle system on the top of the camera, and that will adjust the aperture and the shutter speed based on the readings taken by the front mounted selenium meter. Additionally, there’s a window on the lens barrel which shows an EV number so if you use an external meter should the selenium cell give up, you can set an EV number for exposure, and since it’s a selenium based camera, so no batteries required. The lens on the camera is a 38mm f/2.8 Rokkor, so the images it produces are sharp, and the fast lens means it works well in low light situations. And best of all it’s quiet so that it would make an excellent street photography camera.

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Bad
The first thing I dislike about the camera is the focusing. Unlike the nice icons that you get with the Trip 35, there’s no such luck here. The focus is done by a click dial on the lens barrel (probably to prevent you from adjusting the wrong dial, each has a different feel). The focus is marked in distances only, meters on the top, feet on the bottom. So you do have to guess the distance. I only missed focus on two images which is not bad, but I was also shooting in bright light and was affording a wide depth of field. An external rangefinder would certainly be a useful accessory to carry around. Or just be able to guess the distance, stop down, and pray. As for flash photography, you won’t be mounting a flash on a shoe as there’s none on the camera you’ll want a flash bracket and a PC Sync cord. I’ve always been a fan of match needle metering, so I’m not ragging on this camera for having the system, it’s more a placement issue. Having the needle on the top of the camera makes it hard to meter on the fly with an eye level finder. It did not cause me too many problems but in mixed light or changing light or waiting for a shot where the exposure may change having to lower the camera to see the meter reading may bring about some issues. Also the placement of sensor cell means that I often would block it with my hands. You will also have to look out for ones with dead meters, but with a light meter that gives EV readings you can manually set the camera without trouble.

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

CCR Review 45 - Minolta Minoltina-P

The Lowdown
The Minoltina is not a bad camera, although rare. As I mentioned in the introduction, I had never heard of the Minoltina line of cameras until I had seen one. But after using it I am pretty impressed with the results. The best part is that if you do find one they’re likely to be cheaper than your average Trip 35 as they don’t hold the same cult following. But don’t let the fact that this isn’t a Trip scare you away, it is a solid camera despite having a couple of what I would call design flaws. And I could even go as far as saying that I prefer the Minoltina over the Trip 35 because it does offer a much better manual functionality through being able to adjust the aperture/shutter speed via the control dial on the lens.

Photos take at Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown, New York
Minolta Minoltina-P – Minolta Rokkor 1:2.8 f=38mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock)

Film Review – Rollei RPX 100

Next in line is the middle-ground for the RPX line, RPX 100. And frankly, this is another winner in my book. Beautiful tones, fine grain structure and a tremendous latitude! The film is seriously the Portra 400 of the RPX line. I may even go as far to say this film is just a little better than my two favourite mid-speed films, Kodak TMax 100 and Ilford FP4+.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic B&W Negative Film
  • Base: Polyester (PE)
  • Film Speed: ASA-100, with a Latitude between ASA-25 and ASA-800
  • Formats Available: 35mm/120

52:500c - Week 15 - A Fort Named George
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 (Red) – Rollei RPX 100 – Rollei RPX-D (1+15) 6:30 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 27 - The Ships of Summer
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Rollei RPX 100 @ 100 – Kodak Xtol (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

The Good
If you’re looking for a solid middle of the road film with plenty of room on either side of the box speed, this is certainly one to try. I have not experimented with the range beyond box speed only because it looks just beautiful right at ASA-100. While I was worried about this film at first when I shot it back in October of last year, I felt that it lacked the contrast where I wanted it. But after playing around with other developers, I found that it could be done at a good contrast point. This film sings in almost any developer that you soup it in, especially the specifically designed RPX-D developer. In fact, I find this film a close cousin of Kodak TMax 100 and often behaves in the same way, in fact when I went to use FA-1027 I used the TMax 100 times with great results. I have also noticed that it does respond well to contrast filters especially with either Orange or Red filters to darken the sky on bright days with beautiful clouds. And finally there’s the grain, it’s a good structure and even in sharp developers like Rodinal, it doesn’t make the grain look terrible.

52:500c - Week 31 - Vieux-Québec
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 9:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 19 - The Gully
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-50 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:30 @ 20C

The Bad
The one thing I don’t like about the film is that in certain developers you can get a lack of contrast, mostly in Xtol cut 1+1, but I mean that’s just a personal preference. As I mentioned before the film is fine grain, which is true but you have to keep that agitation light. I’ve found that in HC-110 if I’m a little rough on the tank, you will get a bit of an uptick in grain.

52:500c - Week 22 - A Farmer's Life
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 17:00 @ 20C

52:500c - Week 26 - Close to Home
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Rollei RPX 100 @ ASA-100 – FA-1027 (1+14) 9:30 @ 20C

The Lowdown
If you’re balking at the price increase on Kodak TMax films then this might be a good alternative and it readily available both in Canada and the United States and offers similar times so even with the limited ones specifically for RPX100 you can experiment and begin to use the TMax times. Just remember if you’re a little unsure give a clip test first. I wish that Rollei would begin to produce this film in 4×5 as well, but hey, you can’t be too picky these days.

CCR Review 36 – Leica IIIc

Before the infamous red-dot there were the Barnack Leica’s. These compact rangefinders were designed by Barnack to take motion picture (35mm) film so that he could carry them around without giving him trouble with his asthma. The Leica III was the companies World War 2 camera and was the direct competitor to the Zeiss Ikon Contax line (which is why the Contax IIIa was featured earlier this month). I do like this camera but it really is one I like to hate so I don’t want to get rid of it really, it’s an excellent camera mostly due to the lens and it is small enough to fit in any sort of pocket and of course has the cache of being a Leica with everything that entails.

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

The Dirt
Make: Leica
Model: IIIc
Type: Rangefinder
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, Leica Thread Mount (LTM)/M39
Year of Manufacture: 1940-1951

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

The Good
Despite my personal issues with this camera which I will discuss in the next section this really isn’t a bad camera. It’s small, fairly light, without feeling cheap. Add a collapsible lens like the Summitar or Elmar and you can easily toss this camera into a pocket and go out onto the streets. And as for the camera it’s pretty low key, low profile and I can really see why street photographers and combat photographers would use them. Along with the simple construction comes a simple and easy to use design, remember these were designed by a man who had aesthma and needed something small and compact. And finally…I can’t let this go without mentioning the amazing optics that you can get for this camera!

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

The Bad
Despite this camera holding pretty high status among photographers there are two things that for me really keep this camera more on the shelf and the lens mounted on an M39 to E-Mount adapter for use on my digital camera. The first is the loading, drop in, from the bottom. Yep and it is really difficult to master and get it working as you also have to pull out the leader and re-cut it so that everything catches…if you’re lucky (I was lucky this time around and it worked the first time). The second is the dual window rangefinder/viewfinder. The rangefinder is incredibly small and hard to work with I have missed the focus several times because of this.

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

CCR - Review 36 - Leica IIIc

The Lowdown
I like this camera, I really do, but because of the two major sticking points, I tend to leave it at home in favour of something a little easy to use on the go. Not to say you shouldn’t get one, they are really well built cameras with top notch optics that are equal to Carl Zeiss. So if you like this style of camera and want to fashion yourself after Henri-Cartier Bresson and do B&W street photography in Paris by all means. On the plus side these are the cheaper of the Leica cameras on the used market. But if I had a choice, I’d spend the extra money and pickup a Leica M2 or M3 body and mount Voeitlander glass or use an adapter to mount the Summitar I have.

The one thing I will point out is on the used market there are a tonne of copies out there that are branded Leica but really aren’t. Probably the easiest way to tell is if they are marked with Third Reich (yes, Nazis) military markings you’re actually holding a Ukrainian copy by Zorki. If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area and have a Leica III series camera and need it identified I suggest North Halton Camera Exchange, one of the owners is a former Leica Employee and will gladly give you a hand!

All photos taken in Oakville & Burlington, Ontario
Leica IIIc – Leitz Summitar f=5cm 1:2 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-32 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:45 @ 20C

CCR Review 28 – Nikon F

The one that started it all. The ultimate ansestor of all Nikon single lens reflex cameras, the mighty F. This big clunky beast grew out of post-occupation Japan and introduced the professional 35mm System camera. This is an endlessly modifiable camera (hence system) with drives, winders, prisms, and magazines to turn it into exactly what you needed in a camera. From the streets to the jungles, the Nikon F was the professional camera of the 1960s. The particular model in this review is the Nikon F Photomic FTn.

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

The Dirt
Make: Nikon
Model: F (Featured in this review the F Photomic FTn)
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 35x24mm
Lens: Interchangable, F-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1959

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

The Good
This is a beast of a camera. Seriously you could use it as a personal defense weapon then return to your photography without missing a beat. I mean these are the cameras that survived the hell of the Vietnam War, so what we can put them through pales. But despite the size and weight it’s a surprisingly easy camera to operate, with a short film advance throw and and really satisfying shutter sound and mirror slap. You know you’ve fired off this camera. As I mentioned before this is a system camera so once you have the base body, you can turn the camera into whatever you want. This means that you can remove a non-working Photomic prism and replace it with a plain non-metered prism, if you can find/afford one. Plus I really can’t complain about image quality because you have access to all Non-AI, AI, and AI-S lenses which are all really sharp and plentiful on the used market.

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

The Bad
Probably the number one bad thing about this camera is age and wear. The newest cameras you can find from this line are late 1960s and being a professional camera most have been rather beat up. And while many are still working the real question is for how long and could they be fixed. So if you got one use it! And even if the meter doesn’t work at least the camera still will. The second thing isn’t really a bad thing just really weird is the film loading, you remove the entire back of the camera, which makes it next to impossible to single hand load the camera, and requires a bit of juggling.

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

CCR - Review 28 - Nikon F Photomic FTn

The Lowdown
Despite everything the Nikon F is a solid camera and if you got one, shoot it, you won’t be disappointed. And if you have the hankering for the grand-daddy of all Nikon SLRs or just want to complete your collection of Nikon pro bodies, then a Nikon F is certainly a solid camera. Another good application for getting one if you want to put a good authentic touch to your Vietnam War photographer historical reenactment impression or the finishing touches on your sweet Full Metal Jacket or Apocalypse Now costume. You smell that? That’s fixer son, I love the smell of fixer in the morning.

All photos taken in Toronto, Ontario
Nikon F – AI-S Nikkor 105mm 1:2.5 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Kodak DK-50 (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 15 – Nikon FG

A bonus review for you mostly because I have this camera temporarily in my possession, and if this camera tickles your fancy keep an ear to the Film Photography Podcast as you may have a chance to win it! So I took the chance to not only put the camera through its paces but review it at the same time. Don’t let the small size fool you, the FG is a solid camera and a bit of an odd ball in the camera lineup. The camera itself was the successor of the compact automatic Nikon EM, but where the EM fell down, the FG shined. The FG features both full auto exposure along with aperature priority and full manual functionality and worked with any AI, AI-S, Series E, and D-Type lenses. And is a generally pleasing camera to use!

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

The Dirt
Make: Nikon
Model: FG
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F-Mount
Date: 1982 to 1984

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

The Good
I wasn’t expecting to like this camera as much as I did, having used an EM before and generally not enjoying the experience the FG was a pleasant surprise. I would actually put this camera on par with the Canon AE-1 Program with full auto exposure (and a good meter, not as good as say the Nikon FA, but nailed the exposure) it also has a fantastic aperture priority mode as well, which for me is a must as I mostly shoot in that exposure mode on most of my cameras. Even for it’s small size the camera handled really well with all the controls within reach and a nice short throw on the film advance means I could shoot pretty quick even without a motor drive. And to top it all off the camera has a nice bright viewfinder with a small window to indicate the aperture and LED lights to indicate what shutter speed has been set or what speed you need to set.

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

The Bad
The biggest problem I have with this camera is the fact there is no dedicated on/off switch, even one like on the Nikon FM series that you just have to flip the film advance out and in to turn it on and off. On the FG you need to set the camera to Bulb on the shutter speed dial to turn the meter off, if not you’ll drain the batteries fairly quickly. Next is that there’s no indication of what shutter speed is set inside the viewfinder, only what speed you should set, which if you’re shooting outside what the camera’s meter is saying can be difficult.

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

CCR - Review 15 - Nikon FG

The Lowdown
I like this camera, I really do. Mostly because it’s one of those forgotten Nikon’s in their grand history, most people would go for the culty FM and FE or the Pro line of cameras (F, F2, F3, F4, F5, or F6), but the smaller ones that didn’t last long, the EM (actually avoid the EM), FG, FG-20, and FA don’t get as much love as they should. I would actually suggest that someone who is used to automation and want to take the first faltering steps into a more manual world of film photography the FG is for you. And you can use a whole host of excellent Nikon glass at the same time!

All photos shot in and around Southern Ontario
Nikon FG – Nikon Series E 50mm 1:1.8 – Ilford Pan F+ @ ASA-50 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+14) 4:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 1 – Nikon F4

The Nikon F4 was the first of Nikon’s modern professional cameras, coming from a long line of professional 35mm bodies that date back to the 1950s with the original Nikon F. The camera can only be described as a ‘workhorse’ in my books, and is one of my favourite cameras to use and generally a go-to for me especially paired with the powerful AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D lens, which was used for this review. With it’s ultra-quiet shutter this is my usual camera for street photography despite it’s general presence in a person’s hands.

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
The Nikon F4s in all it’s glory equipped with a AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D

The Dirt
Maker: Nikon
Model: F4
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F-Mount with built in AF motor.
Year of Manufacture: 1988-1997

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
Two Toronto police officers, even in the cold they’re out on bikes patrolling the downtown

The Good
This is probably the best manual Nikon camera ever produced, and one of the best interfaces. Now you’ll understand why I say ‘manual’ later. There are no menus, buttons, or anything to adjust your cameras setting, everything had a dedicated button or knob. Despite this, everything is within easy reach, and fairly well laid out to let a person accustomed adjust things quickly! If you have the F4s model, you also get a really handy vertical shutter release which when doing professional jobs is a great advantage and just makes the camera easier to hold and handle. The camera also wins points with the fact you can use every Nikon lens ever, right down to the non-AI and up to the modern AF-S G-Type lenses (however with the G-Type, lacking the aperture ring means you’re stuck with shutter priority and full auto mode). And finally my favourite part of the camera is the meter, this probably had one of the best matrix or averaging meters out there, it would take a serious amount of crazy light to throw it off. Outdoor, indoor, I’ve never seen it falter, even the spot and center weighted modes with the DP-20 finder work wonderfully. Another plus, is that the camera takes AA batteries, which is avalible pretty much anywhere, but with the F4s you are looking at 6 batteries, but they last.

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4

Sometimes I get caught while out doing street photography which really doesn’t bother me, I like some level of interaction between the camera and subject.

The Bad
As I mentioned earlier that this was Nikon’s best manual camera, that reason is the only real beef I have with the F4 is the autofocus. It’s a bit clunky and can take some time to find the focus. But with an old manual focus lens and a tried hand, it’s wonderful! Another issue that some have with the F4 is sheer size, it’s not a small camera and a big leap from the F3. And when you get into the F4s and F4e models you’re adding even more bulk. But on the plus side, you can easily swap out the three to get the size you want. The second beef I have with the camera is shutter speeds, you can only select down to 4 seconds on the selection when working in full manual or shutter priority, which while not a big issue, it would be nice to have. But when working with the other modes you can get up to 30 seconds. This really only comes into play when working with the modern G-Type Nikon lenses, which when the camera was being made weren’t in the eye of Nikon yet!

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4
Just missed the focus!

The Low Down
The Nikon F4 is still a highly sought after camera, but the good news is that you won’t have to give up your kidney to own one in good shape. Expect to pay between 200 and 350 dollars for one in decent shape if you’re paying anything more than that it better be new-in-box. If you’re looking to get beyond your normal mechanical camera or have a good set of Nikon Autofocus Nikon lenses, an F4 is a great camera for you!

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4

CCR - Review 1 - Nikon F4

I couldn’t think of better place to end the day but lunch and pints at Mill Street Brew Pub in the Distillery District

All photos shot in Toronto, Canada
Nikon F4s – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Ilford DD-X (1+4) 9:00 @ 20C