Tag Archives: hc-110

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

Frozen Shutters – The Dangers of Winter Photo Walks

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

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

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

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

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

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

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

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

TFSM - Phrozen Phingers

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

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

CCR Review 55 – Shanghai Camera Seagull 4A-103

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

CCR Review 56 - Seagull 4A-103

The Dirt

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

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

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

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

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

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

CCR Review 55 - Seagull 4A-103

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

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

Film Review – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400

So I’ve managed to shoot through my brick of JCH Streetpan 400 film and feel I’m good to begin writing an in-depth review of the film. I’m going to start off with saying that this is a fantastic film! Well worth the time and effort that Bellamy has put into researching, marketing, and tweaking to suit his amazing photography and now has taken the bold step in bringing it to the rest of us. You will have probably heard a lot of negative press related to this film, even recently someone put a comment on one of my Streetpan images to a video review of the film that stated that it was an old Agfa stock that Bellamy found a core roll of and just spooled and repacked. Well, I just can’t believe that, because the film edges are branded, and there’s a current expiry date on them, and from all my interactions with Bellamy, he’s not to type to pull the wool over the eyes of thousands. I’m glad I went ahead and invested in this film early. These days we hear too much about film stocks cut, but 2016 has been a great year for film, Rollei, Kodak, and Ilford all holding steady with their commitments to maintain traditional stocks, and the continued promise of Ferrania pulling out a new E-6 film. Streetpan, it was a bonus, an excellent bonus!

Product Highlights

  • Type: B&W Panchromatic up to 750nm
  • Base: Polyester (0.10 mm)
  • Film Speed: ASA-400
  • Formats Available: 35mm

So now that we’ve gotten the dirt taken care of let’s dig in. I decided to approach this review a little differently that my other reviews have been because it’s a film, not a camera it changes depending on how you develop it. Using my trusty Nikon F5 to make sure the film was being exposed with the same meter with every roll I set about using the developers I had access to and the times listed on the box.

Kodak HC-110
My first experience with Streetpan 400 was under cloudy conditions and developed in HC-110 Dil. B. I was hooked right off the bat with this combo. The contrast is dead on, the extended red sensitivity shows up by cutting through the haze that was 5000% humidity. For a 400 speed film paired with HC-110, the grain looks like something from a 100 or 200-speed film even when scanned. What makes this combo shine is the contrast, not too harsh, not too soft. You have blacks and white complete with mid tones across the spectrum.

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Summer '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Kodak Xtol
Now I’m a big fan of Xtol as a developer, but in this case, it wasn’t that good of a chemical to use with Streetpan. It made the images look soft, and not in a good way. The shots I took were on a dull day that was humid, but my lens was often working in the f/5.6 to f/8 range, and since it’s the same 105mm f/2D it should be sharp. But the edges appear soft. I actually had a bit of a scare when I first pulled the film out of the tank, I thought that I had over developed it, but once I got it in the scanner I realized I hadn’t. Development was again spot on with little adjustment needed in Photoshop with the levels/curves. The tone was excellent, with great blacks and whites with stable mid-tones. There was also no real difference in grain, it wasn’t any finer, compared to HC-110. Xtol would not be my first choice however for this film.

Reflection
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

The Brush Past
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

An Entertaining Conversation
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C

Ilford Perceptol
Now these are the results from Streetpan that I have come to expect from the film. Clean, fine grain, sharp and the contrast point is dead on. The only trouble was that the negatives were a bit dark and needed some heavy adjustments in Photoshop to pull up the images. So I would say that either an additional 30 seconds in the developer or a slight pull to say ASA-320 would be enough to produce a cleaner negative. But overall Perceptol is another winner for developing this film to give the best results.

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Fall '16
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 10:00 @ 20C

Ilford Ilfosol 3
Ilfosol 3 was one of the first developers outside of D-76 that I worked with so it remains a bit of a soft spot for me. And for Streetpan it does a fine job, despite me shooting the film in less-than-ideal conditions. The grain is acceptable but noticeable more than other developers, and the film shows off the tonality that it can produce. While Ilfosol 3 wouldn’t be my first choice for developing the film if it’s all you got, you’ll create some fantastic images! As for the time, I might opt to bump it up 30 seconds, but I’d have to test it out under better conditions.

Bending Light
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Halfsmoke?
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Ending the Day
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Ilford Ilfosol 3 (1+3) 5:00 @ 20C

Rodinal
If you had to pick two developers to use with this film, HC-110 would be the first. And in a very close second would be Rodinal. Usually, you would avoid using a sharp developer with a 400-speed film in 35mm. But in this case, the film itself is designed to produce a fine grain even with a sharp developer and the negatives look good! Right out of the tank I could see to fantastic tonality and stunning contrast that I saw with HC-110. And yes the grain is a little more noticeable but nothing that would take away from the quality of the images.

Deco
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

Heather
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

Everywhere
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Yellow-15) – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

The Final Word
Streetpan is certainly a film I’ll be working with again. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, I will have already ordered another brick of 10 rolls of the film from the JCH site. For use on my honeymoon in April in New York City and at a wedding I’m photographing in April. Despite all the praise I have heaped on Street Pan, there is one thing I have noticed with it. It likes light; it doesn’t need direct light, I would avoid shooting in it harsh light, but it wants gray days, soft even light or open shadow. But it does suffer in low light; I had a tough time pulling out good images when I was shooting it just after dusk or in darkened interiors. As for the developers, I do highly recommend using either Rodinal or HC-110 to develop this film as I got the best results from those with good tone, not overly contrasty and it shows off the sharp fine-grained nature of the film stock. It’s a good stock, and a welcome addition to my choice of shooting media.

Big thanks to Bellamy, the Japan Camera Hunter himself, for taking the plunge and bringing Street Pan to us hungry film photographers, he took a leap of faith, and the results are stunning. You can pickup the film directly from his shop and now you can buy single rolls, three and five packs, or a full brick of ten. I recommend the ten. If you’re in Toronto you can pick up the film from Downtown Camera, currently the only Canadian Supplier of the film!

First Impressions – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400

I’m not often one to give the first impression of a product, especially after only shooting it once. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been so impressed with a product I had to write a ‘first impression’ blog. The Nikon F2, Nikon F5, Sony a6000 are all cameras that I was so happy with I couldn’t wait to tell the world, now I add a fourth thing to the list, Japan Camera Hunter’s Streetpan 400. So when my order arrived the next photo walk, I went to I make sure my Nikon F5 was loaded with one film, Streetpan.

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

I was pretty excited when Bellamy Hunt, the amazing photographer behind Japan Camera Hunter, announced that he was bringing back a dead film stock. That’s right, using money out of his own pocket, to bring back a film stock. Sadly the world of photography instead of being excited along with him, tore into him. It’s a sad state of affairs when that happens. But I stayed on the positive side of things, defending the film stock. Many claimed that it was dead-stock found in a dusty warehouse or just Retro 400s in a fancy new package. But I’ve shot Retro 400s, and this film stock, while similar in the sample images, certainly did not look like Retro 400s and the developing times were different. This was infact a rebirth of a film stock, something we in the film photography world don’t see often.

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

What do I like about the film, well first off it’s a 400 speed film, as much as I like slower emulsions, when I’m out shooting in the streets or on vacation I want to be able to shoot quickly, see, think, shoot. So a fast film really is needed. It’s designed for scanning, the polyester base, while making it a little more of a pain to get onto the plastic developing spool, does dry and lay perfectly flat. And it’s really not as thin as other polyester base films I’ve shot like Retro 80s or the Svema line of films. And when it comes to scanning it is beautiful! I really didn’t have to make any real changes to the raw scans.

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

TFSM - Summer '16

So that’s about it, for now, once I start working with this film more and developing it in other developers like Rodinal and Xtol as well as more in HC-110. And see how it plays with other cameras in my collection I’ll do a more in-depth review, but for now, I’m leaving it at this. This film rocks, I’m looking forward to shooting it more, and if you like what you see head on over and give Bellamy some love and order yourself a brick. And just remember this is fresh stock, not dead, not rebranded. And today, a fresh film is always a good thing. Happy World Photography Day!

Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 43 – Yashica Contax 137 MA Quartz

While I was not a fan of the last Yashica camera I used in the project, the 137 is a fun camera that is super easy and great to use right off the bat. With squat almost Soviet styling, this camera is certainly one that many people just miss because they never heard of it. And the only Contax camera I knew of for the longest time was the G2. Then I started learning about the older German models, and finally through the Film Photography Project of their SLRs. Special thanks to Chrissie Wu for loaning out this camera for a review!

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

The Dirt
Make: Yashica
Model: Contax 137 MA Quartz
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, C/Y Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1980

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

The Good
The number one high point that sets this camera above many of its peers is that fact that it has a built-in motor drive, and it doesn’t add a lot of bulk to the camera as well the weight is fairly light, I had no issues carrying around in the summer heat. This camera is super easy to use, even without having used a camera like this before I was able to get the film loaded at my first try. As for controls, the camera is well laid out; everything is where it should be, and the controls are easy to operate. The meter is accurate, with the exposure settings (Aperture and Shutter Speed) shown in the viewfinder. And probably one of the coolest parts of this camera’s viewfinder is that it has a film count reading. Something we take for granted in modern film cameras, but not something I’ve seen in cameras from the 1980s.

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

The Bad
I honestly spent a good amount of time thinking on what I didn’t like about this camera and I can’t think of any. So what I will say the only thing that is bad about this camera is how rare they are in the North American Market. I will also have to speak on the optics, there are some pretty bad Yashica lenses out there, but there are several good ones, and of course the Carl Zeiss units that are available as well. One thing I did notice was some light leaks along some of my film frames, but I don’t think this is a fault of the camera as a whole but just the indication that this particular unit needs the light seals replaced.

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

CCR Review 43 - Contax 137 MA Quartz

The Lowdown
If you can find one of these cameras get it, the camera can easily give any of the major cameras from the 1980s a run for its money, and I’m talking about the Canon AE-1 Program, Minolta X-700, and even hazarding a beat down, the Nikon F3. So this certainly is a camera that is a bit of an underdog in the market which means you can pick one up relatively cheap. There is also a fantastic range of lenses available for you in the C/Y mount, both Yashica and Carl Zeiss (built under license) branded units. But watch out there are some bad lenses for it as well, but the 50mm f/1.9 I used for this review is a real winner.

Photos Taken in: Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Yashica Contax 137 MA Quartz – Yashica Lens DSM 50mm 1:1.9 – Kodak TMax 400 @ ASA-400 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:30 @ 20C

CCR Review 42 – Zeiss-Ikon Super-Ikonta 531/2

Indiana Jones, style, class and a taste for adventure. The 1930s were a great time save the crippling economic depression and Nazis but who needs to worry about those when you have a slick looking camera that can turn heads and take find photos as well? Two things that make the folding style of camera special. The first is that they don’t take up a lot of space, second, they look fantastic! And while I don’t use this style camera much, in fact, I don’t even own one; the Super-Ikonta is a beautiful camera and fun to operate. Special thanks to James Lee for loaning this camera out for this review!

CCR Review 42 - Zeiss Ikon Super-Ikonta 53 1/2

The Dirt
Make: Zeiss-Ikon
Model: Super-Ikonta 531/2
Type: Rangefinder
Format: Medium Format (120), 6×9
Lens: Fixed, Novar-Anastigmat 1:3,5 f=10,5cm
Year of Manufacture: 1938

CCR Review 42 - Zeiss Ikon Super-Ikonta 53 1/2

The Good
I like this camera, it’s fun to use and looks fantastic! Plus the images it produces are wonderful, aside from a bit of camera shake, the image’s optical quality is spot on. Plus who can complain when you have a nice big 6×9 negative. But one of the best parts of this size, despite producing such a large negative the camera itself, when folded, is actually fairly compact. It doesn’t take up a lot of space in your kit when it is folded up. The final key to this camera being far better than many other folders out there is right in the name, ‘super.’ Most German cameras in the era would add the “Super” in front of the name to indicate that the camera is a rangefinder. That’s right, this camera from the thirties has a complete coupled rangefinder that when you’re composing the shot makes it really handy to ensure you’re in focus. And speaking of compostion, the viewfinder on this camera, while it lacks any sort of optical qualities other than two metal frames you look through, it actually pretty easy to use and you get minimal error due to offset from the viewfinder to the lens which is a big deal!

CCR Review 42 - Zeiss Ikon Super-Ikonta 53 1/2

The Bad
Now despite actually being an excellent camera, there are some issues that I have with it. And those issues are mostly around usability. The Super Ikonta is not the fastest or simplest camera to operate. While the rangefinder is handy, the focusing window is pretty small, and unless you have superb contrast in the scene the image overlay is pretty dim, that could be due to the age of course. And don’t expect to be rapid firing this beast, not that you should, with 6×9. You’re looking at a three step process, advance the film first to disengage the double-exposure prevention lock, then advance to the next frame then cock the shutter. Trust me; I forgot this at least fifty percent of the time. Of course being a first time user it may just be due to not having the practice for the camera.

CCR Review 42 - Zeiss Ikon Super-Ikonta 53 1/2

The Lowdown
If you want more shots for your roll, this certainly is not your camera, but if you’re looking for quality over quantity than this is certainly a camera for you. But if you are looking for such a camera you have to watch out for a few things. The first being these are for the most part all timeworn cameras. The first thing to check for is the bellows, make sure they’re still light-tight. Use a flashlight inspection both on the inside and outside of the bellows will do the trick. Then check the shutter and make sure it’s working well and consistently. You may notice that there were several images included here that had a lot of camera shake, I think the shutter on this one is off slightly.

All photos taken in Marquette, MI
Zeiss-Ikon Super-Ikonta C 531/2 – Novar-Anastigmat 1:3,5 f=10,5cm – Kodak Technical Pan @ ASA-25 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. F 12:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 38 – Nikon FA

When it comes to game changing Nikon SLRs, the FA certainly is one of them, and one of a long line of game-changing cameras out of the company. For the FA the change came in the metering system. This was the first camera that featured full matrix metering out of AI and AI-S lenses and full program shooting. The camera accomplishes this by having a small built in computer storage system that has a selection of scenes and compares the scene in front of the camera and picks the exposure based on one of the scenes in the memory. A clever trick, while not perfect, was the start of the amazing meters that found their way into the Nikon F4 and Nikon F5. While short lived, the legacy of the FA lives on even in today’s digital cameras.

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

The Dirt
Make: Nikon
Model: FA
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 24×35
Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1983-1987

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

The Good
I love manual focus lenses, there’s something special about being able to easy track, pull, and push the focus just right. Even on digital cameras I love shooting manual focus lenses. There are times when I want to pick the focus and not worry about the exposure, and that’s exact what the FA gives me, and the exposure is dead on with any AI, AI-S, or D-Type lens. And when it comes to size and ease of handling the FA is the perfect mix of both. A small form factor that is easy to handle and compact enough that it would be a perfect travel camera. And of course the big part is that the camera works with all the Nikon lenses from 1977 onwards, minus the G-Type lenses.

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

The Bad
Here’s the trouble, I really can’t find any real sticking issues with the camera. So I will say one little thing the camera mode selector is a bit weird, naturally I want to use the indicator to move around rather than the actual switch, so there’s that, but I’m not usually switching modes in the field, Program or Aperture Priority. Deal breaker…not really, just a minor annoyance.

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

CCR Review 38 - Nikon FA

The Lowdown
If you can get your hands on a Nikon FA you should, especially if you’re a Nikon shooter with a pile of lenses. Honestly this is a great camera and holds it own against cameras like the Nikon F3, smaller, more compact and makes for a fantastic travel camera. If I had a larger bag and this camera before I went to Europe last year I would’ve taken the FA over the G2 along with a 28mm, 50mm, and 105mm lenses. And despite being on the market for such a short time, it has truly become a cult-classic from Nikon. I really don’t have anything bad to say about it.

Want to hear more about the Nikon FA? Give a listen to CCR Episode 16 or FPP Episode 129!

All photos taken along NY-31, New York, USA
Nikon FA – AI-S Nikkor 105mm 1:2.5 – Rollei Retro 400s – Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 6:30 @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 3 – Rangefinders

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A favoured camera of the street photography group, the rangefinder, is one of those niche cameras that is often associated with brands like Leica. However while none of us have a Leica to present this episode we have some fine (cheaper) alternatives to the Leica that are sure to get your attention. The main feature of the rangefinder is that the viewfinder is often off-set from the taking lens, and uses a super-imposed image that you ‘line up’ to get the focus. However, composing takes a bit of work. The first rangefinders were produced by Kodak back in 1916, but really got popular in 1925 with the first Leica camera.

The cameras featured on this episode are:

Minolta Hi-Matic 7s – The Upgraded version of the Hi-Matic 7, this beautiful fixed lens rangefinder has a Rokkor 45mm f/1.7 lens, hot shoe and an auto exposure system from the SRT line of SLRs. But since it takes a mercury cell is no longer usable. But being mechanical the camera still works like a charm!

The Collection - September 2012

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Kodak 35 RF – The coupled rangefinder version of the original Kodak 35, this ungainly looking camera was introduced in 1940 but don’t let the weird looks fool you, it’s a solid camera with legendary Kodak optics backing it up.

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Olympus 35 SP – Another cult favourite of Olympus with both a centre weighted and spot metering system built in, and a 42mm f/1.7 Zuiko lens to back it all up, this compact rangefinder is very user friendly with wickedly sharp optics!

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Voigtlander Bessa R – The only interchangeable lens rangefinder on the show today, the Bessa R, gives all those folks who are fans of the Leica Thread Mount (LTM/M39) a camera with TTL metering and easy loading! While not actually from the famous Voigtlander name, but rather designed and built by the Japanese company ‘Cosina,’ the the Bessa R is a solid contender.

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Of course, this is far from a complete list of rangefinders out there. In addition to the iconic Leica lineup there are some other good cameras to look at.  Such as the Yashica Electro 35G, Canonet QL17 GIII, Konica S3, and Olympus XA.

The Darkroom
A topic that will get any traditional photographer going for hours (thankfully it didn’t for this episode) is developers! Even today there are still a pile of different developers available for black and white films, and they come in two different varieties. First being powder which you combine with water to create a stock solution which can be used on its own in many cases or diluted down with water. Second is liquid, which can be mixed into a stock solution (like Kodak HC-110) or diluted straight with water into a one-shot working dilution, such as Rodinal.

Some of the developers mentioned in today’s show include.

  • Rodinal – The oldest commercial developer still in production today, however it’s known as Blazinal, Adonal, or Agfa R09 One Shot. Produces incredibly sharp images but does enhance grain.
  • Pyro Developers – These are staining developers that produce amazing tones, fine grain, and sharp images. They do leave almost a sepia stain on the negs. Two types are mentioned, Pyrocat-HD and PMK Pyro, both are avalible from Photographer’s Formulary.
  • Diafine – This unique two bath developer (don’t mix the two baths) will produce ultra-fine grain, and increase film speed, sharpness, and resolution. Oh and the stuff lasts forever!
  • Kodak Xtol – A powdered fine grain developer from Kodak that produces good sharpeness and fine grain. It’s also one of the more environmentally friendly developers out there being based on Vitamin C. The downside is that you have to mix it up 5 liters at a time. A jerry can is a good idea for storage.
  • Caffenol – a developer that you can mix up yourself and you can make it in so many different ways. At the core is instant coffee, then you add additional stuff to change the results. Best part there’s nothing really dangerous that mixes in with it, just don’t drink it. Co-Host Alex did a good experiment with Caffenol a year or so back.
  • Kodak HC-110 – One of the more interesting developers because of the alphabet dilution table, and introduced without much fanfare. You can mix it up as a stock solution and dilute from there, or just dilute straight from syrup. If you want that ‘Tri-X look’ HC-110, Dilution B.
  • Kodak TMax Developer – Designed for use with the T-Grain (TMax) films, but don’t let that scare you, this is a fantastic developer that makes most film (even Tri-X and Plus-X) sing! There’s a little more grain but you do get nice sharp negs.
  • Ilfosol 3 – A general purpose film developer designed for use with slower films with great results especially with Pan F and Delta 100

If you want to try mix up your own developers you can find a pile of great recipes online at the Unblinking Eye. Also check out the Massive Dev Chart to get starting developing times. If you’re just starting out with film developing a good one to start with is Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-11, as it’s cheap and works with almost every film out there! And more importantly don’t be afraid to experiment and find your favourites that get the results that you want! Just note that if you order liquid developers from US distributors you may not be able to ship them across the border, you may even face some restrictions with powder as well. New York City isn’t that far away and totally worth the trip just to see the awesomeness that is B&H!

If you are in the Toronto area be sure to check out host, John Meadow’s first gallery show: The Silver Path. Running from the 10th of April to the 19th. Check out his site for more details: johnmeadowsphotography.wordpress.com/the-silver-path-film-photography-by-john-meadows/!

Looking for a place to get this chemistry, check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, or Film Plus if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re 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.