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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

SPUR of the Moment

There are plenty of developers out there that I have yet to try, some because they just aren’t made anymore and others because I just cannot get them in Canada. Plus I can be a creature of habit and stick to what I know and can get the results I want. So when a fellow photographer and CCR co-host Mike Bitaxi, started talking about this new developer he was working with my interest oddly enough grabbed especially after seeing the results.

TFSM - Winter '17

TFSM - Winter '17

The developer in question is SPUR HRX. SPUR, or Speed Photography, Ultra Resolution, is a company out of Germany that I had never heard of before. HRX, despite the name, is the latest developer in the HRX line, the predecessor being HRX-3, and is designed to deliver fine grain and sharpness. To me, that sounds a lot like Pyro based developers like my favorite Pyrocat-HD.

TFSM - Winter '17

TFSM - Winter '17

There is one catch to this developer, it comes in two parts, but you don’t mix it like you would Pyrocat HD because unlike Pyro developers there is just a single dilution ratio for developing. That’s right; you have to do a lot more math with it. But let’s break it down using a natural dilution. For Ilford FP4+ at ASA/ISO-100, you use a 1:20 dilution, so when using 500mL of developer you need 24mL of developer and 476mL of water. Taking that 24mL of developer and divide in half so 12mL of Part A and 12mL of Part B. It’s when you start getting into prime numbers like 1:17 that you’re going to run into trouble. But a plastic syringe with .5mL markings will make your life easier.

TFSM - Winter '17

TFSM - Winter '17

What you get from the developer is a classic black and white image, good blacks and whites and beautiful wide mid-tones. While the pictures are sharp, the grain is nicely reduced making the film easily scannable. Now I used a film that already has a pleasing grain structure and is relatively fine-grained by its nature. Does the developer behave like Pyro? I’m not sure of that yet; I have several boxes of 4×5 film to pit head-to-head using HRX and Pyrocat-HD for a later post. But for now, I’m enjoying HRX. If you want to give the developer a try, you can pick it up from either Argentix.ca (not at the moment) or Freestyle Photographic!

All Photos Taken in Toronto, Ontario Canada
Zeiss Ikon Contax IIIa – Zeiss Opton Sonnar 1:1,5 f=50mm – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Spur HRX (1+20) 9:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 50 – Olympus OM-1

When it comes to the 1970s, the market was flooded with some very similar, yet different 35mm SLRs. The decade saw the rise of names like Minolta, Olympus, and Pentax to counter the big two of Canon and Nikon. The second review I wrote for this series was on the Pentax K1000, a fantastic camera, but now let me introduce to you to the OM-1. The camera that the K1000 should have been (sort of).

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Dirt
Make: Olympus
Model: OM-1
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135, 35×24
Lens: Interchangeable, OM Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1972

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Good
I like the OM-1, I do. It’s a solid camera that’s great in the hands; lightweight yet has heft. Easy to carry, and even easier to use. I keep on saying you can’t beat a match-needle camera for learning photography on, and the OM-1 certainly doesn’t get the same level of praise as the school favourite K1000. And in many ways, the OM-1 is a slightly better camera for the student. The number one reason is that they are pretty cheap, you can pick up an OM-1 with a 50mm lens for under 100$. The camera is entirely mechanical, the battery only operates the meter, and the camera has a dedicated on/off switch, so you don’t need to fumble around for a lens cap like you do with the K1000. In general, the camera is well laid out with all the controls right there on the lens. Now if you’re unfamiliar with lens mounted controls, this might take a bit to get used to, I know I struggled with it on the Nikkormat FT3, but having experienced it there made going to the OM-1 easier.

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Bad
I feel I’m a broken record on this subject but the issue first and foremost is that the camera needs a mercury cell to operate. These can be hard to acquire, but they do last. Now you can use a 1.5v alkaline battery and in some cases it may work but in the case of the OM-1 I would not recommend it, the first roll I shot the metering was way off! The next trouble I have with the camera is the lack of an integral hot shoe. That’s right; there’s no built-in hot shoe but a separate accessory that you attach to the top of the prism to include that. Now the camera does have a PC socket so you can use a bracket to mount your flash. It’s almost as if Olympus had taken their idea right from Nikon. At least with Olympus, the hot shoe was a standard one, unlike Nikon where you had the weird over the film rewind mount.

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

CCR Review 50 - Olympus OM-1

The Lowdown
As I said in my introduction, the OM-1 is the camera the K1000 could have been. And sadly it’s lived in the shadow of that iconic student camera. The ultimate student camera would take the general size of the K1000, include lens mounted controls, an on/off switch, a hot shoe, and match needle metering. In all seriousness, the OM-1 is a fantastic camera with which you can easily learn photography that won’t break the bank or your back.

All Photos Taken in Hamilton, Ontario
Olympus OM-1 – Olympus F.Zuiko 1:1.8 f=50mm – ORWO UN54+ @ ASA-100 – HC-110 Dil. A 7:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 39 – Ricoh XR7

When Pentax developed their K-Mount, they decided that this, like the M42 they had used before would become the standard for bayonet mount SLRs. And while the K-Mount remains to this day pretty much untouched it did not become the standard with Nikon and Canon developing their own lens mounts. However this didn’t stop other companies from latching onto the K-Mount band wagon and several clones soon popped up. One such camera was the XR7 by Ricoh (oddly enough it was Ricoh that ended up buying up Pentax). And what a camera the XR7 is, this is a small light weight semi-automatic SLR that can use pretty much any K-Mount lens out there, but even the Ricoh lenses stand up to anything from the big P. Special thanks to Andrew Hiltz for loaning this camera for review.

CCR Review 40 - Ricoh XR7

The Dirt
Make: Ricoh
Model: XR7
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, Pentax K-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1982

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

The Good
As I kept saying as we walked through the High Falls area of Rochester New York this is a satisfying camera to use. And I would take it over any semi-automatic Pentax offering out there, hell if I didn’t have a family connection to my K1000 I would trade it for an XR7 and keep my Pentax lenses. Yes it is that good of a camera. First off the size and weight, you hardly feel this camera if it’s in your bag or in your hand it’s so compact and light weight you can easily take it on long walks shooting roll after roll without breaking a sweat. All the controls are well placed and even the film advance throw is beautifully short and can easily rapid fire without a motor drive. The view finder while a bit dimmer than others I’ve used has a diagonal split focus finder which means that you can easily get your focus nailed in both portrait or landscape without having to find a line that is better oriented to get that split screen focus locked in. And finally there’s the shutter and mirror sound, it’s a lot louder and more satisfying than you’d expect from this all plastic camera.

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

The Bad
No camera is perfect and while the XR7 comes pretty close there are a few things that I do take issue with. While some may light the shutter speed indicator I personally found the jumping needle distracting and often would find it hard to see if it was pointing at 1/30 or 1/60 while not that big a deal when I’m trying to compose a shot I would find my eye jumping to that. And secondly is that the body is plastic, while I’m not picky on my cameras and I do like the weight of the camera it does feel a bit like a toy at times not that it’s a bad thing in particular it just sometimes you want something a little more solid in your hands.

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

CCR Review 39 - Ricoh XR7

The Lowdown
Put a metal body on this camera and have a nice motor drive on it and honestly you’d have a serious contender for a professional camera for the early 1980s, which all the features a pro would ask for and a huge range of solid lenses behind it with the Pentax and Ricoh systems it really could have gone far. But if you’re looking for a solid budget starter camera and want some level of automation then keep an eye out for the XR7. Just don’t go driving up the price on them in the used market or Andrew would be very cross with me.

All photos taken in the High Falls Historic District, Rochester, New York, USA
Ricoh XR7 – Rikenon 1:1.7 50mm – Rollei Retro 80s – Blazinal (1+25) 8:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 33 – Lomography Horizon Kompakt

Probably one of my more interesting cameras in my tool kit, but one that I really like but don’t take out often enough. I guess that’s the biggest problem with having a lot of working cameras. This Lomography camera is a copy of the Zenit Horzion 202, a panoramic camera designed for use in the Soviet Space program during the height of the cold war. This odd camera certainly caught my eye so when I netted a good discount with Lomography I went and picked it up. While not one work with every day, it’s still a really fun camera for a different look.

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

The Dirt
Make: Lomography
Model: Horizon Kompakt
Type: Panoramic, Swing Lens
Format: 35mm, 24×70
Lens: Fixed, Обьектив ИНДУСТАР MC 8/28 (Objective INDUSTAR, 28mm 1:8)
Year of Manufacture: 2010

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

The Good
This is a fun camera, hands down. It gives you a very unique image as it’s panoramic, true panoramic not just cropped down like some point-and-shoot cameras. And even though loading the film is troublesome, it’s really easy to use, just point and shoot, from the hip even! And since it’s a swing-lens camera it produces some funky effects when you have objects in motion, it’s almost cartoon like.

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

The Bad
Probably the one thing I have a problem with in the camera is that it’s a bear to load. Seriously, you need to do it very carefully and properly for the camera to work its magic. If you do get one I highly recommend visiting a Lomography store and letting one of the staff members to show you how. Or visit YouTube to see if there’s a video explaining it. You will want to see it visually because it is hard to describe in text only. And while I don’t find it an issue personally another draw back is that this camera is simple, you have two “shutter speeds” so you really have to tailor the film you load into the camera for what and where you’re shooting. And finally there is the price tag, ringing in at 250$ in change which can be a bit steep for people.

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

CCR - Review 33 - Lomography Horizon Kompakt

The Lowdown
While many out there are detractors of the Lomography brand I actually really like this camera, it’s well made, just don’t be too rough on it, and produces a fantasic image. And most importantly it is fun. But again it’s not really for everyone, if you want a little more control check out it’s bigger brother the Horizon Perfekt for a lot more control over your camera settings.

All photos taken in High Park, Toronto, Ontario
Lomography Horizon Kompakt – Обьектив ИНДУСТАР MC 8/28 – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-200 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 10:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 25 – FPP Debonair

Found in a mysterious factory in Rochester, New York, the Debonair, or the FPP Plastic Filmstastic 120 Debonair is one of the strangest cameras I’ve reviewed for this blog series. But also one of the more fun ones to use. This funky toy camera is one of many Holga/Diana clones that started to pop up in the late 20th century. It uses 120 roll film in a 6×4.5 format but portrait orientation, light weight and produces actually really fun results with the nice soft plasic “Super” lens. And to make this review extra special the images shot were done on World Toy Camera Days the 17th and 18th of October, 2015!

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

The Dirt
Make: Unknown
Model: Debonair
Type: Point-And-Shoot
Format: 120, 6×4.5 format
Lens: Fixed, Super Lens 1:8/60mm
Year of Manufacture: Unknown, either 1970s or 1980s

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

The Good
This is a toy camera, so image quality and sharp images are not going to hit this review. The camera itself does have some good talking points. First off it has a hotshoe, so you can use a flash on it without any trouble and it really does change the way the image looks! Also despite being plastic it does still have decent balance and weight to it without it being overly heavy. Also if you’re into sprockets this is an easy camera to just fit your 35mm film into. And finally despite it being zone focus the f/8 lens does give you a decent depth on your focus even if you’re out by a bit.

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

The Bad
The only problem I have with this camera is the format, I do love the 6×4.5 image size on medium format, but the camera shoots it in portrait orientation which makes it awkward to shoot in landscape, but hey, it’s a plastic toy camera, if that’s all I can complain about it, it’s pretty great for what it is.

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

CCR - Review 25 - FPP Debonair

The Lowdown
If you’re looking for something a little different than your average Holga or Diana this camera is certainly worth a glance. And at a good price point from the FPP, you really can’t go wrong. It’s one of the few toy cameras I’ve actually been pretty happy with the results. No they’re not perfect, but it’s a toy camera, if you want sharp images, pick up a camera with a good glass lens. But what this camera has that many of the ‘good’ cameras don’t is magic. Seriously, I know that I can only pick this camera up once or twice a year when the fancy strikes me take it out with one maybe two rolls of film come back and bam, magic. It’s not complex, it won’t complain if it gets rained on, snowed on, dragged through the mud…it just shoots and you have something wonderful.

You can get one yourself at the Film Photography Project Store!

All photos taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
FPP Debonair – Super Lens 1:8/60MM – Ilford Delta 100
Ilford Microphen (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Ottawa on Large Format

Back when I visited Ottawa for the first time in several years this past September I lugged along my 4×5 camera, and while I wasn’t too pleased with every shot, I made a point when I was there this past weekend to really focus, slow down, and work with the 4×5 primarily and put the smaller formats away. The results were a much stronger set of images that I am incredibly proud of and do plan on getting these into the darkroom to print.

The Centre Block
Centre Block

The East Block
East Block

Chateau Laurier
Chateau Laurier

Short Days Ago We Lived
Details of the National War Memorial

Connaught Building
The Connaught Building – National Headquarters

National Gallery
The National Gallery – as seen across Major Hill Park

Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 & Schneider-Krueznack Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak Plus-X Pan (PXP)
Kodak Microdol-X (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

Montreal – Revisited

So why go back and revisit photos that are getting close to four years old now, I have plenty of new good content to share. However there is something to be said for taking a look back at your photographic journey, and to see where, everything changed. For me, that change really took place here, in Montreal Quebec during my vacation there in 2010.

Alley

narrow streets

Spectacular

I think my muse finally woke up in Montreal, especially in old Montreal. And film started to come back to me in a big way. But not just medium, but stylistically I finally got what I was looking for in my photography. I wasn’t just taking snapshots with big cameras, I was thinking, composing, and building an image.

Notre Dame Light

Window Detail

Untitled

There was clear definition. Lines, perspective, detail.

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours

What time is it Mr. Wolf?

Abandoned

So why Montreal? I don’t know, maybe because I just felt comfortable in the city, more so than any other big city I had visited to date. Or maybe something just clicked.

Chapel

Christ Church Cathedral

Old Doors

I also seemed to develop an obsession with photographing doors.

400TX:365 – Week 47 – Chicago II

I told you that I couldn’t capture all of Chicago in seven images…but fourteen doesn’t seem to work either. But anyways, for week 47 I decided to blow back to Chicago for a quick trip, mostly Chinatown but I did swing up into the Loop to take a visit to Central Camera (I needed fixer). Chinatown was fantastic, it felt very much like Toronto’s but with the Sears Tower looming overhead rather than the CN Tower, the same mix of north American and Asian influenced architecture (there was even a pagoda on the roof of a building). Not to mention tea shops, restaurants (I do recommend Three Happiness), plus the usual grocery and gift stores. The gift stores sell these ‘mystery’ packages all wrapped in newsprint for 5$, you buy it and unwrap it and see what you got!

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 - Week 47 - Chicago II

400TX:365 – Week 22 – Chicago

You just cannot capture Chicago in seven images, but I sure gave it a try…I loved this city, it felt right walking (quickly) along Michigan Ave, and it was clean. I mean I’ve visited New York, Boston, and Montreal, all great historic cities that maintain their historical elements to a greater degree than say Toronto, and Chicago is clean, Chicago has a good image, it’s citizens are proud of their city. While I was in the city I hung out with LeAnn, and she could not stop talking about it, and I don’t say this in a bad way! Now I can’t stop talking about the city, and I was only in it for a day and a half. I really don’t think I could say anything bad about the city, except maybe the gas prices! Since I said you cannot capture Chicago in seven images, here’s the rest from the Week 22 roll (with more to follow): Spring Holiday 2013 – Day Four on Flickr

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago

400TX:365 - Week 22 - Chicago