Tag Archives: Oakville

Film Review – Fomapan 100

With my film photography, I have had limited experience with the Fomapan products. I’ve shot Fomapan 200 with okay results and the surveillance variant of Fomapan 200 available through the Film Photography Project with much better results. I’ve tried Fomapan 400 in sheet film and got no results. But after seeing some amazing work with Fomapan 100, I decided to pick up four rolls in 120 from Argentix.ca to give it a try. I certainly found the film pleasing to work with, a classic response with the four different developers I worked with over the course of shooting the film in several different situations.

Product Highlights

  • Type: Panchromatic Black & White Film
  • Base: Format Dependent (120/4×5 – Clear Polyester (PE), 135 – Cellilous Triacetate)
  • Film Speed: ASA-100, with a latitude between ASA-50 to ASA-400
  • Formats Avaliable: 135, 120, and Large Format

Rusted Out
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C

Opposing Doors
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Distagon 50mm 1:4 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C

The number one good thing about Fomapan films is the cost; these are very inexpensive films to shoot which makes them a great film to start with if you’re learning to develop your own black & white film. But if you want the best bang for your buck, Fomapan 100 is the film of choice. And don’t think you’re getting a cheap film, Foma 100 is one of the nicest mid-speed films I’ve ever used. It has almost a classic look and film, like the films of the mid-twentieth century, great if you want to shoot World War Two reenactments on film.

Summit
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

Grab a Pint?
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 12:00 @ 20C

The developers I used for the review are as follows, Rodinal, Kodak D-23, Pyrocat-HD, and Kodak HC-110. It was Rodinal that brought out that classic look and feel, while slightly more grain than you’d expect in an ASA-100 film, but nothing too serious. I saw a reduction in grain using Pyrocat-HD, but I felt that the film came out of the tank slightly under-developed, so it either needs about thirty seconds more in the developer or slightly warmer water, maybe 1-2 degrees hotter. Kodak D-23 is another winner, a bit grainer but brought out the tonality of the film and continues that same classic look that you get with Rodinal. I was also fairly pleased with the results of HC-110 Dilution H, kept the contrast on mark, and surprisingly the grain was hardly noticeable. My final say is that Rodinal is the best developer for this film as it gives you the shortest standard developing times with the best results and can easily be done in the field as you can just use water for your stop bath. I say standard developing times as Dilution B and A of HC-110 has shorter developing times but requires constant agitation.

TFSM - Spring '17
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 10:00 @ 20C

TFSM - Spring '17
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 10:00 @ 20C

Of course, no film is without fault. While many may target the film’s polyester base, it is not much of an issue. In Medium format, the PE base handles well and easily mounted onto the plastic reels of the Patterson system and will probably handle just as well on steel. No the biggest issue I have with Foma 100 is the long developing time. Most times are around the 10-minute mark, while not much of a slight against the product just a minor annoyance. Thankfully the Rodinal time is under the 10-minute mark. I mostly say this because often we do marathon developing sessions and working late into the night is tough because as you get tired, you’re more likely to make a mistake.

A Walk In the Park
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. H 10:00 @ 20C

A Walk In the Park
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak HC-110 Dil. H 10:00 @ 20C

My final word on the film, it’s certainly worth a shot if you’re on a budget or just learning. You can pick this up for under six dollars a roll (Canadian). And if you’re shooting the film in 4×5, you’re looking at a buck a sheet, only Arista.EDU and X-Ray film is cheaper. It’s also good if you want that classic look-and-feel that you often saw with Adox and Efke films, it works well in daylight and shadow and just sings in the right developer. I hope to pick up some of the 35mm version and see if there’s any difference between the two formats.

It’s a TMAX Party – Part I

The fine folks behind the film photography promotion website Emulsive have done it again! In the footsteps of last year’s FP4Party, they have started to run a couple of different monthly participation events for film photographers around the globe through the use of Twitter. Sadly I didn’t participate much in the FP4Party mostly because of time conflicts; I decided to make a point to join in on this year’s film parties. Being free of most projects it freed my hand to keep up this time around. This year’s first party is a celebration of Kodak TMax. Tmax a modern film emulsion that was released in the late 20th-Century and use a tabular grain rather than a traditional grain like Tri-X or Plus-X.

While I figured the easiest way to jump into the TMaxParty was to dig into my box of 4×5 TMax 100. While TMax isn’t always my first choice, I’m more of a classic grain shooter. But hey sometimes it’s good to jump a little bit outside of your comfort zone. So into Hamilton, I went, and while I had planned to shoot all eight loaded sheets that day but the cold weather told me otherwise.

HMCS Haida
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Craft Beers
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Whitehern
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Blazinal (1+50) 12:00 @ 20C

Well in Canada, March can be a bit of a hit and miss, and while the weather kept me from shooting outside, my shutters tend to get laggy in sub-zero weather I again had to dive outside of my comfort zone. Usually, when I’m shooting large format I stick to deep depth-of-field, we’re talking f/32 and up on my aperture. Sure it makes for longer shutter times, but it gives the images incredible sharpness. Well, the temperatures stuck below zero so open up the lens I did.

Retention
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

Take Flight
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

The Lights Above
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C

While I’m pretty happy with my results for this month, I hope next month’s TMax Party I’ll have some more outdoor shots. Of course, the big question is what format will I shoot, and in what camera! Current runners are my Contax IIIa, Rolleiflex 2.8F, or Hasselblad 500c. So we’ll see next month!

CCR Review 56 – Leica R3

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

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

The Dirt

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

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

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

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

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

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

CCR Review 56 - Leica R3

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

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

CCR Review 54 – Minolta Maxxum 5000

Sometimes a camera sings, sometimes a camera just sucks, and then there’s the Maxxum 5000. It’s a meh camera, K-Car of cameras, the Maxxum 5000 isn’t the bell of the ball, and it is a little meh on the handling, but for basic, no-nonsense SLR photography, the 5000 is a cheap option with an A-Mount. Let me explain a little bit more. Some cameras are amazing that they grab your attention as soon as you pick it up, for me that would be the Nikon F2, F3, and F5. Also the Rolleiflex 2.8F and several other cameras. Others are so downright terrible that you want to light them on fire. The Maxxum 5000 is one that you know it’ll take pictures; it’ll take decent pictures with good lenses, but it doesn’t excite you. Just like a K-Car, it’ll get you from point a to point b without hassle, but it won’t be an exciting ride.

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

The Dirt
Make: Minolta
Model: Maxxum 5000
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135, 35x24mm
Lens: Interchangeable, Minolta A-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1986

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

The Good
I’ve been sitting and stewing over what to write about this camera for its good features, and it’s hard with a camera that is just ‘meh’ there’s nothing wrong about the camera. It’s a cheap option to get into film photography if you have some A-Mount full-frame lenses for a digital camera, a nice easy way to learn without going into a fully featured camera that could cost more. The camera’s meter is accurate; controls are easily accessible and straightforward to identify as there isn’t much in the way of using it. The camera is powered by four AAA batteries so you can easily power the camera even in the middle of nowhere.

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

The Bad
The Maxxum 5000 isn’t an impressive camera, it looks and feels like a VCR from the 1980s, the first stumbling steps if you catch my drift. Sure it’ll take good photos with a good lens attached, but you won’t have to do any thinking beside composition. There are no options besides Program and Manual, and the manual control is difficult to operate. The Autofocus is slow and not very accurate I would often have to wait for the camera to lock onto where I wanted it to focus.

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

CCR Review 53 - Minolta Maxxum 5000

The Lowdown
Nope, Nope, Nope. I would not recommend this camera really to anyone, while a cheap way to get into film photography there are much better options out there. Yes, the 5000 will get you there, it’s not a camera I would choose. Look at the Maxxum 7000 or even the odd duck 9000 to get rolling into Minolta Autofocus cameras. The 5000 is a cheap camera, but I would recommend an inexpensive one.

All Photos Taken in Oakville, Ontario
Minolta Maxxum 5000 – Maxxum AF 35-70mm 1:4 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-64 – Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 9:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 52 – Agfa Ventura Deluxe

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

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura 66

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

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

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

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

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

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

CCR Review 52 - Agfa Ventura Deluxe

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

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

Polaroid Week 2016

This year it was a real shame that Polaroid Week just snuck up on me. It serves me right for not watching social media a little more closely. But I still managed to get out on the last day to get some Instant film shooting in. This year I was sort of limited. My wonderful Automatic Land Camera Model 250 has a dead battery and I didn’t have time to fix it up with the AAA battery fix. Also I didn’t get in any order from Impossible to run my Spectra (the only Integral Polaroid I have working), and didn’t get a couple packs of Instax Mini to run through my Lomo’Instant. But I did have a semi-shot box of Polaroid Type 72 film, a 545i back and my trust Intrepid camera. So I headed out into the campus on a beautiful spring day to get in some shooting! The Intrepid certainly garnered some looks as I went around shooting, and like most expired Polaroid (This stuff expired about ten years ago) there were some misses. One thing I did notice is that you really have to double check your alignment of the 545i holder so that it’s tight or you’ll get some light leaks, but overall it worked really well!

Polaroid Week 2016

Polaroid Week 2016

Polaroid Week 2016

Polaroid Week 2016

Intrepid Camera – Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125 – Polaroid Type 72
Meter: Pentax Spotmeter V
Scanner: Epson V700
Editor: Adobe Photoshop CC (2015)

CCR Review 31 – Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C

If you ever wondered how the average consumer took photos 100 years ago look no further. This is the oldest camera in my collection with a manufacturing date of 1916 but despite the age it still works perfectly! Mostly because it takes a still available film size! And even more impressive is that it still works like a charm. Oddly enough for the longest time I thought that this camera was some weird Canadian version of a No. 2 Brownie and had continued to all it as such it was only recently that I learned the actual name for the camera, the No.2 Hawk-Eye Model C, a simplified version of the No. 2 Hawk-Eye.

CCR - Review 31 - Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C

The Dirt
Make: Kodak
Model: No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C
Type: Point and Shoot
Format: Medium Format (120), 6×9
Lens: Fixed, Kodak Meniscus Lens 10cm f/11
Year of Manufacture: 1913-1924, this particular model was produced 1st of February, 1916.

CCR - Review 31 - Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C

The Good
For 100 years old this camera surprisingly takes some beautiful photos even with a single element lens you’re getting actual sharp images and having a beautiful 6×9 negative helps also. And for a camera made out of card stock on the exterior body it remains light tight. As for ease of use it is a point and shoot. Guess aim and pull the trigger. But it is hard to carry.

CCR - Review 31 - Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C

The Bad
Probably my biggest issue with the camera is that you are pretty much limited to portrait orientation and there is no viewfinder for landscape, not that you need it anyways considering you really just aim and shoot. Despite being a native 120 camera the film take up isn’t exactly even, and you do even up with some bulging in the taken up film so watching with the unloading of the camera. And finally the construction of these cameras were pretty cheap with exterior made of a stiffened paper/cardboard/cardstock product they are very easy to damage mainly the red window to show the frame number. Most cameras I’ve seen in antique stores are in rough shape.

CCR - Review 31 - Kodak No. 2 Hawk-Eye Model C

The Lowdown
Unless you really want to get down in the mud of reenacting World War 1 this really isn’t a camera I can recommend anyone get. And even for WW1 reenacting a Kodak Vest Pocket would be a better choice historically (and yes you can still get 127 film). This camera would make a better choice for a decoration piece or photoshoot prop than an actual camera out in the field. Mostly because of the age and construction they could easily be damaged. Of interesting note this particular model camera was so popular it was re-released in the 1930s at the 50th Anniversary of Eastman Kodak.

If you want to read more about the No. 2 Hawk-Eye, check out Brian Moore’s blog on the Film Photography Project site.

All photos taken at Bronte Harbor, Oakville, Ontario
Kodak Hawk-Eye No. 2 Model C – Kodak Meniscus Lens 10cm f/11 – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-50 – Kodak Xtol (1+1) 8:45 @ 20C

CCR Review 29 – Olympus 35SP

Playing along the same lines of the fixed lens camera rangefinders of the 1960s and 70s the Olympus 35 SP is one of the top models that you can get from that era, I’d actually rank it equal with the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. And the best part as many people go for the Cannonet line of cameras, the 35 SP again like the 7s is more of an underdog camera and like many Olympus cameras has gained somewhat of a cult following. But what made the camera stand out among it’s peers that a dual metering system that had both a center weighted and an on-demand spot meter as well that were both available even when the camera was in manual mode.

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

The Dirt
Make: Olympus
Model: 35 SP
Type: Rangefinder
Format: 35mm, 35x24mm
Lens: Fixed, Olympus G.Zuiko 1:1,7 f=42mm
Year of Manufacture: 1969-1976

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

The Good
This is a fantastic camera, light weight, easy to handle, the focus ring has a wonderful lever that makes it super smooth to focus without moving your hand from the bottom of the camera. And pairing that with the sharp just a little wider than normal 42mm Zuiko lens makes the images even better. But the thing that makes the camera really shine is the meter. This was one of the few fixed lens rangefinders that has a dual meter, both center weighted normally and a button you press that gives you a spot meter reading. And to make it even better the camera meter does this in both fully automatic mode and manual mode. And as for manual mode the camera meter display in the finder uses the EV scale, but on the lens barrel you can easy adjust the aperture and shutter speed and a display window will give you your EV number. Or just run full manually with Sunny-16 or an external meter as the mechanical body will run even without a battery.

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

The Bad
Like many of these cameras of the era the camera does take a mercury battery so finding one with a functioning battery is possible but rare and the replacements are out there but again cost a bit of money and don’t last as long. But on the other side of the coin being a mechanical camera means it will function even without a battery. The second beef I have with the camera isn’t the meter itself but the placement of the meter. The window is off to the side so if you want to use filters on the camera you do have to take the filter factor into account and even with my head it’s difficult to figure that out on the fly. So generally I don’t.

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

CCR - Review 29 - Olympus 35 SP

The Lowdown
These are certainly beautiful cameras to both shoot with and use, and being a bit on the side of the underdog you can get these for fairly cheap and they really won’t let you down. With a solid meter and great optics, as well as fantastic handling. If you’re looking for a good camera for street work or just a general travel camera that you can throw in your bag, the 35 SP or any camera from the Olympus 35 series will suit you just fine!

All photos taken in Oakville, Ontario
Olympus Stylus Epic DLX – Olympus G.Zuiko 1:1,7 f=42mm – Svema Foto 400 – Xtol (1+1) 14:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 27 – Zenit 122K

When it comes to bare-bones Mechanical SLRs, the Zenit 122K is as bare-bones as they come. This mostly plastic camera comes from the rather odd times right near the end of the Cold War and Soviet rule in Russia. I mean it’s pretty basic even for someone who just wants to learn how to use an all manual camera. But oddly enough the camera still looks cool, in fact at forty yards you might think it a Contax RTS III or similar camera with a squat prism and all black with white lettering, but don’t be fooled this camera is no Contax…not by a long shot.

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

The Dirt
Make: Zenit
Model: 122K
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 35mm, 35x24mm
Lens: Interchangable, K-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 1990

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

The Good
There are two redeeming features about this camera, and even finding two things I was pretty surprised. First and foremost is the lens mount. Unlike earlier Zenit cameras that used either an M39 (Leica Thread Mount) or M42 (Praktina) mount this camera used the Pentax K mount which immediately opens up many possibilities for using the plentiful and fantastic Pentax and Ricoh glass out there, not to mention all the clone lenses out there. On the flip side if the camera comes DOA or kicks the bucket in your care, you have a fun Russian lens to use with your good K-Mount cameras. I just have the Zenitar 50mm f/2 lens but they also had a Helios lens in K-Mount as well. The second good thing about the camera is that it’s mechanical, pretty sturdy construction, and being all mechanical even if the battery dies or light meter kicks it, you can still use the camera with an external meter or sunny-16 which may be best anyways.

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

The Bad
Probably my least favourite part of the camera is the build. The camera certainly looks cool, but it’s really hard to hold with ease, often times bits and pieces will stick in my hands and it really gets annoying even after holding the camera for even a short time. Add to that a really long throw on the film advance and a heavy shutter release, it’s not the most user friendly camera. This leads up to the second issue, the light meter. First off I think that the meter in my copy does work, as I’ve compared it to known working external meters and just can’t get a proper reading off the camera, or I’m reading the lights wrong. And that’s the kicker, the over/under/proper display inside the view finder is a couple red LEDs, later models had a green middle one but mine just has the two. And finally the operation of the meter is such that you have to drop the camera to adjust the settings as the meter is stop down only and with no setting indicators in the viewfinder makes it pretty hard to operate this camera quickly.

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

CCR Review 27 - Zenit 122K

The Lowdown
This isn’t a bad camera, it really isn’t. It is however a victim of the era in which it was made. The USSR was close to collapse, things from the west were starting to creep in and the people wanted things similar to what everyone else had. But there was no real control over quality. So the 122K is a camera I wanted to dislike, and I do stand by that it’s not a comfortable camera to hold and the meter is pretty shoddy, but it’s still a good camera, solid optics, and does take excellent photos as a result. But it wouldn’t be one I’d be quick to recommend to someone and you really do need to know what you’re doing to be able to work around the limitations of the camera itself.

All photos taken in Oakville, Ontario
Zenit 122K – Zenit MC Zenitar-K2 2/50 (Yellow) – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-125 – Kodak DK-50 (1+1) 6:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 18 – Kodak Signet 35

The Signet 35 was the top dog in the Kodak 35mm line following WW2, this beautiful all metal rangefinder had it’s top lens, the Ektar mounted on the front, a shutter that could go up to 1/300″ and an accessory shoe. This was the snapshot camera for the wealthy and the elite, and today it works as great as it looks. The Signet 35 like many other Kodak cameras of the day was designed by their top designer, Arthur H Crapsey. I was loaned this camera again by Mike Bitaxi to review and I was actually really happy with the results I got out of it!

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

The Dirt
Make: Kodak
Model: Signet 35
Type: 35mm Rangefinder
Lens: Fixed, Kodak Ektar 44mm f/3.5
Years Manufactured: 1951-1957

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

The Good
This is a solid, all American camera, cast aluminium body, legendary Kodak optics, and a full out coupled rangefinder. First off the lens, I’ve worked with Ektar lenses on 4×5 cameras, both the 203mm f/7.7 and 127mm f/4.7 with amazing results, so when I saw Ektar I knew I would get beautiful images with wonderful out of focus elements as well, and it didn’t disappoint. And well it’s only f/3.5 at the wide open, it’s still plenty fast compared to the cheaper models that Kodak had at the time. Next up a rangefinder, in an age of fixed focus and guess focus camera on the consumer side having a coupled rangefinder was great, easy to focus and use even with the age of the camera made composing shots nice and easy.

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

The Bad
There are a couple issues with this camera especially for a modern photographer. The first is that the shutter is designed for use only with flash bulbs nativly. Or M-Synced, whereas modern electronic flashes are X-Synced. Without some modification you’ll need to find a flash unit and flash bulbs which are becoming more rare on the used market and have jumped up in price. Next personally is the shutter release, the ‘button’ above the release catch doesn’t really hit the catch that well and I was forced to dig around to find it. I ended up using a release cable to trip the shutter. I would have gone in and tried to fix it but as the camera was on loan, I didn’t want to break anything or damage something.

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

CCR - Review 18 - Kodak Signet 35

The Low Down
This would make a solid camera for a Korean War reenactment impression, a wealthy officer, or a well off private soldier even to shoot around a camp during an event without breaking the impression over all. Plus you’d get top notch images of your army buddies in kit that fit with the period. Coupled with Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5, you’d be well on your way to having nice historical images. For the average person, if you’re looking for classic American style, with excellent build quality and second only to German optics, then the Signet is for you.

Photos shot at Sheridan College, Trafalgar Road Campus, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Kodak Signet 35 – Kodak Ektar Lens 44mm f/3.5 – Ilford HP5+ @ Approx. ASA-200
Ilfod Ilfosol 3 (1+9) 5:00 @ 20C