Archive for the ‘film’ Category

The Polaroid Sun 600 Instant Camera & Impossible Project Film

July 4th, 2011 No comments

Models: Sandra Dario, Charlene. Hair & makeup by Rhi Yee.

Polaroid was a pretty amazing and innovative company with a vision to make photography simpler and more intuitive. Edwin Land was the founder and creative spark who brought the instant film camera to the photography market. Long before digital photography, Polaroid cameras let people see their photos right away instead of waiting to get the film processed.

Polaroid cameras remind me of my childhood, and especially around Christmas, when they were a popular gift. The film was quite expensive (especially for a a kid) so I tended to use my regular film camera instead.

You can often find Polaroid cameras at yard sales. The best ones are the SX-70 models. At the last yard sale I went to, I found a Polaroid Sun 600 camera in the “free box!”  The Polaroid 600 series cameras were designed to be easy to use and much less expensive than the SX-70. Unfortunately Polaroid stopped making film in 2008. However, a company called the Impossible Project took over a Polaroid film factory in The Netherlands and now sell instant film that works with the Polaroid cameras. I found some at a local photo supply and picked up a couple of packs – one Color Shade PX 680 and one Silver Shade PX 600. They were about $25 each for 8 prints – very expensive!

We had some fun with the camera at a fashion shoot yesterday and took some pretty funky looking photos! Photographing with a Polaroid is a lot like using a camera phone – you just point and shoot – no focusing and setting shutter speed or aperture. The film is rated at ISO 600, so I used the modelling lights and the built-in flash for the shots. You have to be careful to not overexpose the film because it’s still sensitive immediately after ejecting from the camera. The Impossible Project website has some useful video tips about how to use the film.

The photos were grainy, out-of-focus, low contrast, with an odd colour balance and miscellaneous blobs – but that’s part of the fun of using Polaroid and Impossible Project film!  Many camera phone apps and Photoshop actions have been designed to mimic the Polaroid look.  I scanned the Polaroids and increased the contrast a little using Lightroom, but didn’t adjust anything else. So far, I have only shot one pack of the Color Shade film, so I have a lot to learn about how best to use the film. I’m looking forward to trying out the Silver Shade film soon too!

Have you tried out the Impossible Project film? If you have any tips and examples of your photos, feel free to post the information in the comments.




9 Vintage Camera Ads from 1966

June 27th, 2011 No comments

Here are some camera advertisements that I scanned from the 1966 Photography Annual, published by Popular Photography (click on the thumbnails to enlarge). It’s interesting to see that most of the companies in the ads are still around, but a few have disappeared or been bought out. Konica and Minolta merged in 2003, and Sony bought their photography business 2006. Dacora stopped producing cameras around 1972.

It’s also interesting to look at the features and marketing strategies of the different manufacturers – it’s not that much different from today. Some are aimed at the professional and advanced amateur who want as much control and flexibility as possible, while others are aimed at the more casual user who wants to get great images without getting bogged down with too many accessories and features. Some of the ads were directed at the more technical-mided (Nikon especially), while others emphasized their reputation (Hassleblad, Rollei and Leica), quality and value (Konica and Minolta), and simplicity (Dacora and Konica). The only one that showed a photo taken by their camera was Asahi Pentax, which highlighted the creative possibilities of their camera.

In 1966, 35 mm SLR cameras were becoming very popular, and the introduction of built-in light meters (sometimes called electric eyes) was being heavily promoted in the ads.

  1. Asahi Pentax Spotmatic
    This is the only colour camera ad, although colour photography was becoming increasing popular in the 1960′s. The photo in this ad was the grand prize winner of the Asahi Pentax International Photo Contest.  It’s a pretty amazing shot using an 18mm fish-eye lens.
  2. Dacora D 202 Rapid
    I hadn’t heard of Dacora until I saw this ad. It was a German camera company that  specialized in inexpensive but high quality cameras. This model used Agfa’s Rapid 35 mm cartridges, making them easier to load and did not require rewinding after exposure.
  3. Hasselblad 500 C
    Hasselblad is positioning themselves as the “best camera in the world” in this ad. It’s hard to argue against that – they are still highly regarded today! I’d love to own one.
  4. Konica Cameras
    Konica advertised 5 different cameras including a the Konica Auto-S2 rangefinder, the Konica FM professional 35 mm SLR and similar FP (without an electric eye), the simple to use Konica EEmatic Deluxe, and the Konica Eye – automatic and lightweight. They also emphasize quality at an economic price.
  5. Leicaflex
    Leica’s ad is very simple and just states that this 35 mm SLR camera is a Leica. Leica was the top of the line 35 mm rangefinder camera, but SLRs had been recently introduced, and were becoming very popular with photographers. In response, Leica introduced their SLR, but it didn’t do so well, mainly due to its high price and limited range of features and accessories compared to Konica, Minolta, Asahi Pentax, Canon and Nikon.
  6. Minolta SR-1 & SR-7 35 mm SLRs
    The Minolta advertisement emphasizes their technical leadership (the Minolta SR-7 was the first camera with a built-in light meter), high quality and dependability.
  7. Nikkormat FT SLR
    The Nikon Nikkormat FT was positioned as a high quality camera for the 35 mm enthusiast, at a price of  $331.50 ($2277 in 2011 dollars) for the camera and 50 mm f/1.4 lens. Nikon was the only company that published their prices.
  8. Nikon F 35 mm SLR
    This ad is very technical in nature and describes the details of the new Photomic T meter system. The price of the camera with a 50 mm f/1.4 lens was $433, which is quite expensive. Adjusting for inflation, it is equivalent to almost $3,000 in 2011.
  9. Rollei Camera 1966
    The Rollei ad says that it is the best camera for the best results – used by press photographers and prize-winning amateur photographers. It suggests that you will be like the successful photographers if you use a Rollei.  Rollei has an impressive history and was using its reputation to market itself to serious photographers.

The magazine also has some very inspirational photography, but I’ll save that for another post!


Creativity with Old Cameras – Minolta Maxxum 7xi

February 28th, 2011 1 comment

Minolta Maxxum 7xi 35mm SLR Camera

Minolta Maxxum 7xi

Minolta Maxxum 7xi 35mm SLR Camera

I have been exploring photographic creativity using old “vintage” cameras. Although digital cameras offer a vast array of powerful features, old cameras and lenses often create images that I would not have thought about doing digitally. Of course, most effects can be duplicated in Photoshop, but it’s more fun and spontaneous to use older cameras directly. Combined with different types of film and processing, old cameras are a great avenue leading to creative image making.  Lomography, for example, emphasizes the use of cheap analogue cameras and different types of film.

Tiffany May, a very creative photographer who knows that I like to play around with old cameras, lent me her Minolta Maxxum 7xi (also known as the Dynax 7xi). Released in 1991, it was an advanced 35mm SLR camera, possessing many innovative features. One of the coolest things about it are the expansion cards. They’re intended to make the camera easy to use – just load the card and set the camera to P (program). I guess in 1991 it was not feasible to build all of the programs into the camera like modern digital cameras. The cards resemble SD cards, but would have much lower capacity!

The expansion cards that I have with this camera:

  • Intervalometer – for time-lapse photography. You can program up to 40 frames at intervals from 1 second to 24 hours
  • Sports Action – for fast moving subjects
  • Custom – stores custom settings according to the photographer’s preferences
  • Fantasy -  changes focus during the exposure. Here’s an example of the effects.
  • Multiple Exposure – up to 9 exposures in one frame
  • Data – stores exposure information (exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, focal length, iso, maximum aperture of the lens and exposure compensation for up to 4 rolls of film)
  • Portrait – automatically uses the maximum aperture to reduce the depth of field and blur the background
  • Bracket – can set exposure bracketing of 0.3, 0.5 or 1 stop over 3, 5 or 7 frames, and will work with burst mode at 4.5 frames per second
  • Closeup – for use with macro lenses
  • Depth – maximizes the depth of field
  • Shift – automatically uses different combinations of shutter speed and aperture to give the same exposure
  • Highlight/Shadow (H/S) – automatically compensates for bright or dark scenes.

I tried out the camera during a studio shoot using manual exposure, without the expansion cards.  I attached a CyberSync to the hotshoe using a Minolta/Sony hotshoe adapter because the Minolta uses a proprietary hotshoe system (same as the Sony Alpha system). I set the shutter speed to 1/60th sec because I wasn’t sure about the camera’s sync speed. I looked it up later and found it is 1/200th sec, which is pretty good.  I loaded the camera with Kodak Ektar ISO 100 colour negative film.

Here are a couple photos taken with this camera:

Model with Diffraction Filter

1/60th sec, f/13, 100-300mm f/4.5 zoom lens, Cokin Diffractor Univers 041 filter

Model with Smoke

Minolta Maxxum 7xi, 1/60 sec, f/13, Minolta 100-300 mm f/4.5 AF zoom lens

I addition to the camera, Tiffany had a large selection of Cokin A series filters with holders that fit the Minolta lenses. They look like a lot of fun to experiment with (but that will be the topic of another post)! I did try out the Diffractor Univers 041 filter, which gave a cool rainbow colour effect. I definitely want to try that filter out some more.

The interesting thing about the Maxxum 7xi camera is that it’s quite sophisticated, with many features that are not always available in DSLRs today, but simple to use with the expansion cards. In 1991, a decade before digital photography took off, Minolta was used computerization to help photographers get the most out of their camera without having to be an expert photographer.

I’m looking forward to getting more creative with the Maxxum 7xi and the expansion cards!

Related Links

Detailed specification of the Minolta Maxxum 7xi

Olympus Trip 35 – Vintage 35mm film camera

January 3rd, 2011 2 comments

The Olympus Trip 35 Camera

The Olympus Trip 35 is an interesting and very popular camera. It’s a compact 35mm film camera that was made between 1968 and 1984. According to the Olympus website, 10 million units were made, so it is quite easy to find at camera shops, thrift stores and, of course, eBay.  It’s simple to operate with a selenium photocell light meter that doesn’t use batteries. Just load the film, set the ASA/ISO and turn the aperture to A for automatic. For focusing there are settings for different distances between 1 meter and infinity. The camera has a high quality Zuiko 40 mm f/2.8 lens and a metal body. While it doesn’t have a built-in flash, it does have a hot shoe and a PC sync socket for external flash. Unlike modern cameras, the light meter does not communicate with the flash, so you need to set the aperture manually. I would use my Sekonic light meter for this, but you could find the correct aperture by checking the instruction book for your flash.

The camera has two shutter speeds – 1/40th and 1/200th second. You cannot manually select the shutter speed. When in Auto mode, the camera will use the appropriate shutter speed. If you are using flash, it will sync at 1/40th sec. The aperture range for the lens is f/2.8 to f/22.

Olympus Trip 35

Olympus Trip 35

I tested out the camera today and it worked great. The first shot I took was a landscape, but I forgot to change the focus to the landscape setting so it was blurry. Luckily, I noticed this and corrected it for the rest of the roll! I was using inexpensive 200 speed Life brand (EasyPix) film from Shoppers Drug Mart, and had it processed at their photo department. For comparison, I also took some shots using my Olympus Pen E-PL1 camera.

From my experience with using the Olympus Trip 35, it was indeed very quick and easy to use. The film was easy to load – it is the same procedure as most 35 mm SLR cameras. Once you have selected the film speed and focus distance, you can concentrate on composition as there are no other settings to worry about. After taking a shot, you must remember to advance the film! If there is not enough light for a proper exposure, a red flag will appear in the viewfinder and the shutter will lock to prevent you from taking an underexposed shot. Also, you must remember to change the focus if your subject changes distance significantly. If you are used to digital and SLR cameras, this will be a little unfamiliar and takes getting used to.

The photos were sharply focused (except for the first one!), and the exposures were excellent. I imported the photos into Lightroom 3.3 from the CD that was provided when the film was developed. I did a little post-processing – mainly tweaking the colours, cropping if necessary and slight adjustments to the levels. I also did similar post-processing with the digital images shot with the Olympus E-PL1. I love the camera and look forward to shooting with it again soon!

"Foggy Morning" shot with the Olympus Trip 35

"Morning Walk" shot with the Olympus Trip 35

"Foggy Vancouver Morning" shot with the Olympus Trip 35

"Boats in the Fog" shot with the Olympus E-PL1

"False Creek, Vancouver" shot with the Olympus E-PL1

Olympus Trip 35

Olympus Trip 35

Related Links

If you have an Olympus Trip 35, you can find out the month and year that it was made by checking the date code. The camera shown above has the code ⽇64, which means it was manufactured in April 1976.

Olympus Trip 35 instruction manual

Ken Rockwell Review of the Olympus Trip 35

Website dedicated to the Olympus Trip 35

David Bailey Olympus Trip 35 ad from the 1970s

Fujica STX-1N 35mm SLR camera (1983)

October 19th, 2010 1 comment
Fujica STX-1N Camera

Fujica STX-1N Camera

I learned the basics of photography using the Fujica STX-1N. I got it as a birthday present in 1983. It is a manual focus camera without any automatic exposure modes. It does have TTL metering with an LED display in the viewfinder, so I was able to learn the basics using this camera. The light meter uses the average method to determine the exposure, which means it can be fooled by certain scenes. It is important to adjust the exposure to compensate if necessary. The camera has shutter speeds of 1/2 to 1/700 s, bulb setting, and cable release for long exposures and night photography. It also has a self-timer.

The STX-1N is very similar to the STX-1, introduced in 1980, except the STX-1N has LED indicators for the light meter instead of a needle indicator.

One of the things I really liked about the camera was the split prism focusing screen, which made it really easy to focus the camera manually.

In addition to the X-Fujinon 50 mm f/1.9 lens, I have a

Makinon 80-200 mm lens

Makinon 80-200 mm Fuji X-Mount lens

Makinon 80-200mm f/4.0 zoom lens with macro capabilty, which greatly extended the flexbility of the camera. The camera uses Fuji’s X-mount lens system.

I used this camera until I bought my first digital camera in 1999. It has travelled with me and taken photos of my family when they were growing up, so I have happy memories of the Fujica STX-1N!

Fujica STX-1N

Fujica STX-1N

Fujica STX-1N

Fujica STX-1N

Fujica STX-1N

Fujica STX-1N - Back View

Nikon Pronea 600i APS SLR Camera (1996)

September 24th, 2010 1 comment
Nikon Pronea 600i APS SLR Camera

Nikon Pronea 600i APS Film SLR Camera

The Nikon Pronea 600i is an APS (Advanced Photo System) SLR camera. The APS film format was introduced by Canon, Kodak, Nikon, Fujifilm and Minolta (and others) in 1996 as an advancement over 135 (35mm) film. The film cartridge automatically winds and rewinds, and in some cameras, such as the Pronea 600i, mid-film exchange is possible – something that would be difficult with 35mm film. Another improvement was data imprinting on the film – date, time, captions and exposure information could be recorded on a magnetic layer on the film and then printed on the back of photos during processing. Not all APS camera took advantage of this feature, but the Pronea 600i has this capability.

The APS format was more popular for point and shoot cameras and never caught on with professionals or advanced hobbyists. The film size is 24mm, which was considered too small for high quality printing. Interestingly, the Nikon DX digital sensor is about the same size as the APS film, and in fact Kodak used it for some of their digital cameras – the DCS series in 1998. The APS-C digital sensor, used by Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Sony for their entry to mid-level DSLR cameras is based on the APS format size.

The film was more expensive to get developed than 135, and specialized equipment was needed – most smaller labs did not want to invest in it. There were also very limited types of APS film available compared to 135. In 2010, APS film is still available but tends to more expensive than 135, and some labs cannot process it. For an interesting history lesson on APS and the reasons that it was introduced and did not get widely accepted, check out this article. When digital cameras hit the market, the APS cameras became obsolete.

The Pronea 600i has specifications similar to the Nikon F70. It is an excellent full-featured SLR that originally retailed for over $800. Now, you can pick them up for about $50! One of the cool things about this camera is its compatibility with Nikon lenses. It works with the 35 mm and DSLR lenses as well as specially developed lighter weight IX-Nikkor lenses (however the IX-lenses only work on the APS cameras).

This is an interesting camera from a photographic history perspective, and is also a a great camera. The APS format is its major drawback as a practical camera for anyone who wants to shoot film. The film is getting harder to find and may eventually be discontinued, unlike 135 film, which will probably be around for a long time.

Related Links

Nikon Archives

Information on Nikon’s APS and IX-Nikkor lenses

The APS Film Format

APS and the Rise of Digital Cameras

Categories: cameras, film, Photography Tags: , , , , ,

Minolta Maxxum STsi 35mm SLR Camera (1998)

September 14th, 2010 5 comments
Minolta Maxxum STsi with 28-80 f/3.5 lens

Minolta Maxxum STsi 35mm SLR camera with 28-80 f/3.5 lens

The Minolta Maxxum STsi (also known as the Dynax 500 SI Super in Europe and the Alpha Sweet in Japan) is the most modern 35 mm SLR that I own. It has all the automatic features that you would get in a modern entry level DSLR but of course it is a film camera.

It has an automatic pop-up flash, price TTL metering, ambulance both spot and average, autofocus, a variety of exposure programs and a panorama mode.

The Minolta camera company merged with Konica in 2003, then sold their photography business to Sony in 2006. Sony took over and further developed the camera system as the Sony Alpha system.

The Minolta cameras use a proprietary hot shoe (the same type as the Sony Alphas). I use a Pocket Wizard to trigger an external flash unit, so I needed to buy a hot shoe adapter. They are available in most camera stores or online.

This camera is great to use, and being a modern camera, it feels a lot like using a DSLR. I occasionally look for the LCD screen, forgetting it is a film camera!

The autofocus is fast and sharp. It has an autowinder so the next shot is ready to go very quickly. I use the camera in the studio with a light meter and external strobes, on manual exposure mode, and it has worked very well. Here are some studio shots that I took with this camera using Kodak Ektar 100 negative film.

Lucy Lucy Lucy Tribal Belly Dancer Magda

Overall this is an excellent camera for people who want to use a 35mm SLR but also want the modern features of a DSLR. It is also compact and lightweight making it easy to carry around.

Here are some more images of this camera, as well as the 70-210 mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens and camera bag.

Related links

Features of the Minolta Maxxum STsi

The PDF version of the user manual is available online too!

Download the User Manual

Zenit-E Russian (Soviet) 35mm SLR Camera (1967-1981)

September 3rd, 2010 6 comments

Zenit-E Russian (Soviet) 35mm SLR camera This is a pretty cool camera, made during Soviet-era Russia. The Zenit-E was produced by the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory (KMZ – Krasnogorski Mechanicheskii Zavod) near Moscow starting in 1967. It is a fully manual SLR with a selenium light meter above the lens. The available shutter speeds range from 1/30 to 1/500 s, with bulb setting and cable release for long exposures. The flash sync speed is 1/30s. It is rugged and reliable. It was a popular camera because of its low price.

The lens shown with this camera is Helios-44-2 42mm screw mount 58mm f/2.0 lens. This particular camera was made in 1978 based on the first two digits of the serial number on both the lens and body.

The camera remains popular today and gets great reviews. Although film photography is not as popular today since digital has taken over, there are many fans, new and old, who like this camera! I haven’t tried it out yet but will post photos when I get the chance.

Here are some more photos of this camera:

Related links:

Zenit-E camera in Wikipedia

Zenit-E on Camerapedia

Zenit-E Antique Russian Cameras

Zenit users on Flickr

Soviet and Russian Cameras

Click here to check out more images of vintage cameras in my growing collection on Flickr!

Pentax P3 35mm SLR (1985-1988)

August 26th, 2010 No comments

Pentax P3 35mm SLR Camera (1985-1988)This is the Pentax P3 35mm manual focus SLR, shown here with 50 mm f/2.0 lens.  The camera was introduced in 1985 and was marketed towards beginner SLR photographers. It can use Pentax-A lenses allowing full auto exposure mode, but can also be used in manual mode with Pentax-A or Pentax K-mount lenses. It does not have a built-in flash, but has a hot-shoe for attaching an external flash. If a Pentax flash is used it can automatically set the exposure as well.

The camera has a built-in LED light meter, making it easy to set the exposure by manually changing the aperture and shutter speed. The maximum shutter speed is 1/1000 s and it has a 1/100 sync speed for external flash. Other features include a self-timer (up to 12 s) and a depth-of-field preview. It has a light weight plastic body, which is quite durable, making it a popular camera for traveling.  One of the best things about this camera is it is available for a low price – around $50, often including a 50 mm lens. Since it uses the Pentax K-mount lens system, there is a huge variety of lenses available for this camera!

Overall this camera is great for beginners or for photographers who want a basic light weight 35 mm SLR. It has some limitations. One is that it uses the DX coding on the film canister to detect and set the ISO automatically (ISO 25 to 1600), and it is not possible to override it. This is a drawback for more advanced photographers who may want to set the ISO manually.  Another limitation is the slowest shutter speed is 1 s, although bulb/cable release is available for long exposures.

Related links:

Bojidar Dimitrov’s Pentax K-Mount Page

Pentax P3 35mm SLR Camera (1985-1988)

Categories: cameras, film, Photography Tags: , , , , ,

Vintage Camera – Pentax ME Super

August 6th, 2010 1 comment

Pentax ME Super 35mm SLR Camera (1979) The Pentax ME Super featured aperture priority automatic mode and TTL light meter. It also has a fully manual mode and syncs at 1/125 s.  It was a manual focus camera and used the Pentax K mount lenses. The camera shown above is equipped with the Pentax 50mm f/1.7 lens. It was a very popular camera with advanced amateur photographers.

I haven’t tried out this camera yet but will test it and post some photos later – assuming that it works OK!


Wikipedia entry for Pentax ME Super

A look inside the camera

Pentax ME Super 35mm SLR Camera (1979)

Pentax ME Super 35mm Camera

Categories: cameras, film, Photography Tags: , , ,