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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

CCR Review 58 – Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

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

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

The Dirt

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

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

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

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

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

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

CCR Review 58 - Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic

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

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

CCR Review 57 – Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

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

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

The Dirt

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

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

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

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

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

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

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

CCR Review 57 - Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super (Old)

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

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

CCR Review 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

Lens Review – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm

When the fine folks at Lomography began their Art lens line, they caught my eye right off the bat. Their first generation Petzval lenses looked amazing. And who wouldn’t want to have that retro style lens coupled with a modern camera system in either 35mm or digital? Sadly I would miss the boat on these lenses, not trusting in crowdfunding that could have given me the lens at a good price point. And the regular retail cost would be far out of reach for me. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. When Lomography announced, they would be continuing to bring back historical lenses their next product would harken back to the early days of photography using a design by Charles Chevalier from 1839, a design that pre-dates the Petzval. Compared to modern glass, the Achromat design is simple. Using only two lens elements in a single group fixed Chromatic Aberration by ensuring that all the wavelengths of light focused onto a single pane. An issue that plagued early optics.


The Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm certainly has a commanding presence when mounted on the a6000

Lens Details

  • Make: Lomography
  • Model: Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm
  • Focal Length: 64mm
  • Aperture: f/2.9-f/16, via Waterhouse Plates
  • Construction: 2 elements in 1 group
  • Focusing: Infinty to 0,5m with helicoid mechanisim
  • Mount: Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K

It's an FP4Party!
Nikkormat FT3 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

It's an FP4Party!
Nikkormat FT3 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

The Good
If you remember watching the original Star Trek series, you’ll notice that whenever a woman appears on screen, the image has this soft dreamy look about it. This lens gives you that effect if you shoot it wide open at f/2.9. And what a look it gives, I plan on using the lens when shooting weddings, especially when shooting portraits of the bride. But this lens isn’t a one-trick pony, as soon as you start stopping down the image sharpens up rather nicely, you start to see this around f/5.6, anything wider you start to see some softening around the edges that can give its own unique look. And if you pick up the creative plates, you can make out of focus light points into different shapes, like stars, snowflakes, and other shapes.

O Christmas Tree
Sony a6000 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm

Heather
Sony a6000 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm

The Bad
It’s probably just me, but probably the part of the lens I’m not a fan of is the Aperture control on the lens. The Waterhouse plates are easy to loose (I still haven’t found my f/4 plate, it’s either buried in a camera bag or somewhere in Washington DC), and they’re finicky to change on the fly. But installing a traditional aperture system would probably have increased the cost of the lens. The second issue is weight and balance, while it is a wonderful lens to use on my a6000 compact system camera, it throws off balance. On the other hand, if you mount the lens on a larger camera body, such as the Nikon F5 or even the Nikkormat FT3 it provides a fantastic short telephoto lens, and the weight isn’t an issue.

Waves
Nikon F5 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm – Kodak Ektar 100 @ ASA-100 – Unicolor C-41 Kit

FDR!
Nikon F5 – Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64mm – Kodak Ektar 100 @ ASA-100 – Unicolor C-41 Kit

The Lowdown
The Achromat isn’t a lens for everyone. It carries a large price tag (~500$) and isn’t designed to be a carry lens but rather for a particular purpose. But if you’re looking for a way to get a brilliant portrait lens that if applied correctly could open up your creativity and give you something unique to look. Not to mention a lens that you can get in the three major mounts and easily adapted to many other mounts without any loss of quality. It also means that you can use this lens for motion pictures. You can pick the lens up from your local Lomography store, or purchase it online!

Photo Notebook Show Down

For anyone who shoots a large volume of film and doesn’t always process it right away or sends it off to get processed. It can be difficult to retain a lot of the details in your head. So when I began to send film away to the awesome folks at Old School Photolab and The Darkroom. I needed something to record the date, camera, location, lens, film, and any other details that I may need for when I posted the images. I started carrying around a simple notebook and pen to record all this in. It worked! When I started shooting large format, I would also record the exposure information. I would then transfer the information into a spreadsheet, with additional information such as processing and where I stored the negatives. But there weren’t any dedicated notebooks on the market specifically for film photography. But in 2016 two dedicated photo notebooks entered the market and it’s those notebooks I’m going to talk about today.


(L-R): TWSBI Diamond 580 (for scale)k, The Galaxy Handbook, The Photomemo Book, and my normal notebook.

Galaxy Photographer’s Planer and Handbook (GPP&H)
The Galaxy notebook was a highly anticipated notebook from the folks at Galaxy who brought us a high speed direct positive photographic paper. The journal is based on one used by photographer George Murray Levick during the Terra Nova Expedition. The GPP&H is a beautiful journal, well made, leatherette cover, ribbon bookmark, and an elastic to hold it closed. The paper is heavy weight and holds ink well without any feathering (what happens when the ink spreads into other fibers of the paper). The paper texture is smooth making it easy to write on. Inside the book, you’ll find a wealth of information for almost everything related to photography. Exposure information, the Sunny-16 Rule, Online Resources, there’s even a pile of film and paper developer formulas. There’s also a calendar and plenty of space for your photography logs; this is where the book fails. While this keeps the book fairly thick, it isn’t too bad to carry around in your camera bag or even a pocket.


The large format log sheet, lots of space for all the gritty details of shooting LF. Most of which I don’t use.

The simple fact is that the GPP&H tries too hard. Is it a planner, Handbook, or journal? Well, it attempts to be all three and loses out because of that. The book contains a full history of the journal and its design, a pile of key dates, calendar, exposure logs, location scouting, and blank note space. It’s all well and good, but seriously it’s a bit overloaded when all I want in such a book is to record the film I’ve shot. The first of these logs is the Ansel Adams’ designed “Exposure Record” I can’t make heads or tails of these sheets. I know they have something to do with the zone system, but not knowing much about that system, beyond how I apply it (Shadows in Zone IV, thanks, Mat!). Next up is the Large Format records, these are my favourite part of the book. I pretty much have everything here that I usually would record and then some, the only thing missing is a spot to record any camera movements. The roll film section just asks too much information that I simply do not record such as lens and exposure data. So these sections just are a waste of space, to be honest. Also, the notebook states that it’s for all types of roll film yet there are only 12 spots per page, which means you’ll have to take over several pages per roll and heaven forbid you’re shooting half-frame on a 36 exposure roll. The area for darkroom prints is pretty handy, and I’ll probably give that some love when I get back into the darkroom printing. The location scouting section is well laid out also giving you plenty of space to make notes on spots you come across in your travels, and I’ll certainly use it to keep notes for future shoots and walks.


The Roll film log sheets, you only get twelve shots per page, and I just wrote a single roll on each line./em>

Despite some added bulk, the GPP&H isn’t a bad notebook; it just tries too hard. And with the calendar element to it, you loose out because once the year ends, two whole sections of the journal can no longer see use. And while I probably won’t be using it on a regular basis as one that comes with me on trips, it will have a spot on my shelf for various other uses like the formulas and journalling locations and darkroom prints.


A comparison of thickness between the two

Shot Film Co. PhotoMemo (SFPM)
If the GPP&H is the Moleskine, then the SFPM is the Field Notes of the Photography Notebook world. The SFPM does not try to be anything other than a practical book that does one thing and one thing only, record notes on roll film. But don’t let the small thin size scare you off, I don’t call it similar to Field Notes for nothing. This one is tough, having used several Field Notes books in the past this thing can take a beating. Inside you’ll find smooth paper, that is nominally thick and can hold pen ink well, and I’m talking fountain pen here. There is a small amount of feathering and some bleed through but nothing to cause me alarm.


A close up of the ink on the page, you can start to see some of the feathering from the ink

While the SFPM doesn’t try to be anything more than a book to record roll film notes, It does suffer the same problem as the GPP&H on the log pages; there’s way too much space for what I record, so I end up only using the top sections and recording some additional notes below. Which makes me feel bad that I’m wasting such a great notebook. But if you do record everything about every frame you shoot than there’s plenty of space for around 35 exposures per record. Honestly, if you don’t like drawing up your notes in a simple notebook, the SFPM is the book I would personally recommend, especially if you take a pile of notes on each roll. While smaller than the GPP&H you certainly have more space to record details in the PhotoMemo.


While the SFPM book gives you more room, I still only use the top section.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ll be using either notebook in any substantial capacity in the field. I’ve come to realize that I only record the necessary information when I’m in the field and my simple reporter style notebook is enough for me plus I can always fill in the gaps when I go to enter the data into the Excel spreadsheet. But if you’re the type who likes a dedicated notebook you can pick up both items online, The Galaxy Photographer’s Planer and Handbook from B&H and the PhotoMemo directly from Shoot Film Co. And to close I would like to give big thanks to Shoot Film Co. who graciously donated their PhotoMemo book to me for this review.

CCR Review 54 – Zenza Bronica ETRS

I have a love/hate relationship with Bronica cameras. If you listen to the Classic Camera Revival Podcast, I railed against the Bronica SQ-Am in episode 22, and I gave away my SQ-Ai because of ergonomic issues I had with the camera. But putting all that aside I went into shooting the ETRS with an open mind and discovered a rather fun camera. When it comes to 645 cameras, the ETRS is the real underdog while the Mamiya m645 and to a lesser extent the Pentax 645 get most of the glory. Which to people looking to crack into medium format the ETR line of cameras offers you the most bang for your buck if you’re just getting started. Big thanks to Mike Bitaxi for loaning out this beauty for review.

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Dirt

  • Make: Zenza Bronica
  • Model: ETRS
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Multiple (Back Dependent), 6cm x 4.5cm
  • Lens: Interchangable, Bronica ETR Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1979

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Good
The strongest aspect of this camera is that it is a system camera, you can change, adapt, and modify the camera into whatever configuration is most comfortable for you and your shooting style. Another plus to it being a system camera if a part breaks, you just have to buy that one section and put all your parts back on it. The configuration I was shooting in was one that was most familiar to me, with an eye-level finder and grip. Of course, the camera operates just as well with no grip and a waist level finder if you’re used to shooting with the SQ-A or Hasselblad cameras. And for volume shooting the camera is great, you get 15 shots per roll, and interchangeable magazines allow you to load up a handful of magazines in the morning and go out shooting without needing to sit down and reload after each roll. And don’t sneeze at the optical quality either the ETR line of lenses are beautiful. Combine all these with being an often unnoticed camera line means you can build up a decent kit without having to break the bank.

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Bad
The trouble with being an underdog system is getting the system repaired. When Roger (may he rest in peace) was operating his storefront in Hamilton, you couldn’t even darken his doorstep with a Bronica. These cameras are hard to get fixed and do rely on electronics to operate and battery power. At least in the case of the ETRS the battery door is better designed that the SQ line of cameras, but the battery is not a common one. Best bet is to carry some spares if you’re out on a big trip in an area where there aren’t any specialty stores.

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

CCR Review 55 - Zenza Bronica ETRS

The Lowdown
While Bronica does not remain my first choice overall, I can see the draw of the ETR line of cameras. These are inexpensive cameras and if all you want is to shoot in the 6×4.5 format go for it. Just make sure like any electronic based vintage camera that you know it works before you pay for it. Just know that with the ETR line you will be stuck with the 6×4.5 format, if you want more image versatility, pick up an SQ-A body. You get the same quality of optics, and with appropriate backs, you can shoot 6×6 and 6×4.5 with ease. If you do go with the ETR line of cameras, make sure that you get a kit that is setup the way you like it. System cameras are unique creatures, they are amazing with no grip and a waist level finder or eye-level finder and a grip, but start swapping stuff out and you’ll run into ergonomic problems.

All Photos taken in Downtown Milton, Ontario, Canada
Zenza Bronica ETRS – Zenanon-PE 1:2.8 f=75mm – Kodak TMax 100 @ ASA-100 – Kodak D-23 (stock) 9:30 @ 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

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!

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