Posts Tagged ‘SLR’

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

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: , , , , ,

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: , , , , ,

Canon T70 35mm SLR Camera

August 5th, 2010 2 comments
clinic on Flickr” href=””>Canon T70 35mm SLR Camera

Canon T70 35mm SLR Camera (1984)

I have a collection of film cameras and will be posting photos and information when I have the opportunity. I will also be testing them out and posting photos taken with these cameras (if they still work!).

The Canon T70 was a revolutionary camera when it was introduced in 1984, site with an LCD display, multiple program modes, and 2 through-the-lens (TTL) metering modes. It also was the second Canon SLR (after the T50) to have an “advanced on-board computer”. Another convenient feature is the autowinder. It is a manual focus camera so does not have autofocus capability.

Shown with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

For more information on the Canon T70 check out:

Canon T70 (1984)


Very detailed review

Canon T70 35mm SLR Camera

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