Yashica 44 (1958)

After purchasing the Camerhack FCK127 film cutter, one camera that kept calling to me was the Yashica 44. Small, grey, and admittedly cute. I spent a lot of time on eBay looking at 44’s, but most of them were beat up, dented, and missing parts. I found one that was in fair condition and made my purchase. When I received the camera, it was in good shape with the original box and paperwork. The only repair I made was replacing the red plastic window on the back of the camera, an easy fix. Shortly after cleaning the lenses and the rest of the camera, the shutter jammed. I asked my friend Maurice to inspect the camera to see what he thought. He confirmed that the shutter was stuck. I admit I was disappointed but refused to make it a shelf queen. I sent an email to Mark Hama and asked for a repair estimate. He responded with an amount that I thought was reasonable and shipped him the camera. Mark Hama is well known in the online film community as the expert on all things Yashica since he actually worked in Yashica’s Nagano, Japan, factory building cameras. Within a few days, he called me on the phone to tell me that the repairs were done and wanted to confirm my home address. We had a short conversation about the history of the Yashica 44 line of cameras. Mr. Hama is a genuinely nice guy. I worry about the future of camera repairs in a world without people like Mr. Hama.

The Yahica 44 is a twin lens reflex camera with a coupled waist level viewfinder. Originally manufactured from 1958 to 1965, the 44 was made in three different variations: 44, 44A and 44LM. If you’d like to read more about the variants, and colors, I recommend visiting Mike Eckman Dot Com and Paul Sokk’s Yashica TLR website. The viewing lens (top) of the camera is a 60mm f/3.5 Yashikor coated lens, and the taking lens (bottom) is a 3-element 60mm f/3.5 – 22 coated Yashikor. The shutter is a Copal SV leaf with speeds from 1 to 1/500th of a second and bulb. The 44 doesn’t have an internal exposure meter, so it requires no batteries. It originally sold for about $60 + $10 for a leather case. It’s no secret that the Yashica 44 bares a strong resemblance to the 1957 Rolleiflex “Baby Rollei,” including the color. The overall specs are the same (60mm, f/3.5, 1 – 500th), but the Yashica 44 doesn’t come with a Franke & Heidecke price tag.

This is a fun camera to use. It’s small, but not too small. It fits and feels nice in my hands. I’m finding more-and-more that I need to use reading glasses to see up close, so using a waist level viewfinder can be a challenge. I almost always rely on the flip-up magnifying glass to focus with TLR’s. The 44 is easy to focus and because of how you hold the camera, it’s also easy to set the shutter speed and f-stop. The Yashica 44 (and 44LM to be reviewed later) is a solid camera with excellent build quality. I prefer the film advance crank over a knob. And because the film advance is directly connected to the shutter (on the 44 only), there’s no risk of an accidental double-exposure. If I had to pick a 127 camera to use all the time, this would be it.

Camera: Yashica 44 (1958)
Film: Ultrafine Extreme 400
Process: FPP-110 (1+31) 7 Min @ 68°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 

Shooting the Yashica 44 - Photo by Maurice Greeson

Shooting the Yashica 44 – Photo by Maurice Greeson

 


127 Film & The Kodak Baby Brownie

When 127 film was discontinued in 1995, photographers were left to create their own ways of cutting film to use in their favorite cameras. The easiest method is cutting 120 film down, and re-spooling it, with the backing paper, to a smaller 127 spool. There are a few different ways that this can be done. Some photographers have used a cigar cutter method. This method uses a single or double-bladed guillotine cigar cutter normally used for shouldering cigars, to cut the correct amount of film directly off a 120 spool. There’s also a 3-D printed cutter that comes up every once in awhile on eBay that uses the same cigar cutter design.

Last summer, Claudio at Camerhack in Italy introduced his new FCK127, a 3-D printed kit that contains everything needed to cut 120 film down to 127, in the daylight. To summarize the process, you prepare the 120 roll, cut the film in the winding module, and you’re done. Without going into the details of using the kit, you can watch Claudio’s video here. There are several pieces to the kit, and it may appear to be complicated, but it’s not.

When I purchased the Camerhack FCK127, I had two cameras that used 127 film. A Kodak Brownie Starflash (1957 – 1965) and a Kodak No. 0 Brownie (1914 – 1935). The FCK127 gave me an excuse to look at buying some new cameras. So, I went to eBay and started to look at cameras and purchased not one, but three: Kodak Baby Brownie (1934 – 1941), Yashica 44 (1958), and a Yashica 44 LM (1958 – 1962).

The Kodak Baby Brownie is an art deco styled bakelite camera that was made from 1934 to 1941 in the United States. It’s a simple camera that has a flip up viewfinder with an f/11 meniscus lens, and a rotary shutter that’s approximately 1/40th sec. The following images were created with the Kodak Baby Brownie. I had an issue seeing the frame numbers in the red window on the camera, so I had several shots that overlapped. I’ve decided to leave them for the most part. I had much better results with the two Yashica TLR cameras. In the coming weeks I’ll share those images and details about the two Yashica 44 cameras.

Camera: Kodak Baby Brownie (1934 – 1941)
Film: Fomapan 100
Process: FPP-110 (1+31) 7 Min @ 68°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Long Exposure

It’s been a crazy summer for me. With some new job responsibilities, I worked some incredibly long hours at odd times of the day or night. On a Friday back in June, I had spent 12 hours working from home in front of my computer. I felt like I was going to go crazy if I didn’t get away from the screen. When I finished my work around 9:30 PM, I loaded up my Olympus OM-1 with some Kodak Ektar and headed down the street to a local carnival. With a tripod and cable release, I decided the best way to disengage and relax from work would be some long exposures. I’ve never tried long exposures on film, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. With my patient wife standing by me, I opened up the OM-1 in bulb mode, and just shot. It was actually a therapeutic way to end the day. The results aren’t stellar, but they’re not bad either. The next morning, I walked back down to the carnival to get a few shots of some wild looking horses that were part of the merry-go-round.

Camera: Olympus OM-1N MD (1979)
Film: Kodak Ektar 100
Process: CineStill C41 Kit
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Recently Abandoned

This summer, I spent an afternoon at two recently abandoned places with my Nikon F2 and a roll of Kodak Ektar. On the occasion that I shoot color film, I like the saturated colors of Ektar and the way it renders red, orange and green.

The house and pool in the images are a piece of property purchased last year by the Utah Department of Transportation. Several homes along US 89 in Fruit Heights, Kaysville and Layton in Davis County will be demolished because of a highway expansion project.

Raging Waters in Salt Lake City was operated under a contract starting in 2011 with Seven Peaks Resorts. The contract however expired in early 2019 and the owners decided not to re-open and the water park was abandoned. I know a few skaters that would love to trespass on this property.

Camera: Nikon F2 Photomic (1971)
Film: Kodak Ektar 100
Process: CineStill C41 Kit
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Haunted? Stricker Ranch – Hansen, Idaho

In 2019, I’ve tried to spend more time shooting film than writing. I’m finding myself returning to some of my favorite cameras and film stocks. This post is more about the destination and the subject than the gear or film. I thought it was worth sharing.

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family took a short road trip to Twin Falls, Idaho. Our first destination was Stricker Ranch/Rock Creek Station, in Hansen Idaho. I learned about the Stricker Ranch while looking for some ghost towns to visit that were within a few hours drive from home. Stricker Ranch, also known as the Rock Creek Station, was built along the Oregon Trail in 1865 and was one of the stops west of Fort Hall, Idaho. It was also home to the Overland mail stage route and the Kelton Freight Road. The remains of the ranch, or town, are currently being preserved by the Idaho State Historical Society and non-profit Friends of Stricker, Inc. The ranch and buildings are rumored to be haunted by friendly spirits. You’ll need to visit and decide for yourself. Many of ranch structures have been lost to time, but the original store, wet cellar, and Stricker home remain standing. The buildings and Stricker home are only open on Sundays for a few hours, but self-guided tours via markers and maps onsite are available year-round. The Stricker home is surrounded by beautiful shade trees and landscaping, making it a perfect place for a picnic, or séance, whatever you decide.

Camera: Leica M3 (1959)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: RepliColor, SLC
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 

 


The 2nd Annual Negative Positives Podcast Double-Exposure Challenge Photo Zine

The 2nd Annual Negative Positives Podcast Double-Exposure Challenge Photo Zine

 


Kosmo Foto Mono 120

Yashica Mat-124 G

When Stephen Dowling at Kosmo Foto announced the new Kosmo Foto Mono 120, I rushed to preorder several rolls. Why? Kosmo Foto Mono has been one of my favorite films. You can read my original review here, and view more photos here.

Kosmo Foto Mono is a fantastic ISO 100 black and white film. Just like the 135-36, the 120 medium format version has a nice balance of grain and contrast. I’m really looking forward to shooting more in my Yashica Mat-124 G.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a drive north to Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a stormy, cloudy, rainy day. However, each time we stepped out of the car, it stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy ourselves. Our first stop was Stricker Ranch in Hansen, Idaho. This ranch and homestead date back to 1865 and was one of the stops along the Oregon Trail. Then we drove on to Shoshone Falls outside of Twin Falls. With plenty of winter snow and spring rain, the roaring waterfall was incredible. I was able to created a panoramic shot of the falls with two 6×6 shots, stitching them in Lightroom. And then we stopped to walk along the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.

Camera: Yashica Mat-124 G
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 120
Process: RepliColor, SLC
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


The 2nd Annual Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast Double-Exposure Challenge

This year I organized another double-exposure challenge for The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast. Using some of the lessons learned from last year, I decided to simplify the challenge, and give photographers deadlines. The concept of the double-exposure challenge: one photographer shoots a roll of film, rewinds the film, and then sends it to someone else, who then shoots on the same roll. Listeners of the podcast signed up via a Google form and filled out their preferences to shoot black & white or color 35mm film. Something new this year, hosts from other film photography podcasters were also challenged to participate.

My partner for the Double-Exposure Challenge was Ben Mills from Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom. Ben runs an awesome website that connects photographers with film. If you have a stash of film that you’re not going to shoot, but want to trade it with someone that has something you’d use, Ben’s website can hook you up. Ben provided a roll of Fujifilm Acros 100 black & white film, and shot the roll around London. Me and Ben also decided to use the same camera body, hoping for a better chance to line up our double-exposed images. And it worked for the first half of the roll, but eventually drifted towards the end. The camera we both used was the Minolta X-700 (1983). These are some of my favorite images.

Photographer #1
Ben Mills
Buckinghamshire, UK
Camera: Minolta X-700

Photographer #2
Shaun Nelson
South Ogden, UT USA
Camera: Minolta X-700

Camera: Minolta X-700 (1983)
Film: Fujifilm Acros 100
Process: RepliColor, SLC
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Minolta X-700

I’ve been looking to buy a Minolta X-700 for a few years. I passed on a few of them because I thought they were overpriced. However, last month I found one in an antique store for $20. I believe they thought it was broken. With a set of new batteries, light seals, and some cleaning, the camera works great! This is one of the few cameras that my friend Mike Williams has raved about for a few years now. He likes this camera so much; he bought a backup. And he’s been eager to hear my thoughts on the X-700.

Minolta X-700

The Minolta X-700 was released in 1981 and was the top of the line from the X-series of cameras, boasting the largest number of accessories and part of the MPS (Minolta Program System). Initially produced in Japan, and then manufactured in China, the X-700 was produced from 1981 to 1999. While the X-700 was sold as a professional camera, it gained popularity with both amateurs and pros because of the camera’s Program mode. The Program mode made use of camera’s electronics, automating the camera, making it a high-end point and shoot, with perfect exposures every shot. The X-700 has three modes: Programmed Automatic Exposure, Aperture-Priority Automatic Exposure and Full Metered Manual Exposure Mode. During my testing, I stayed in the aperture-priority mode because I like control over my depth of field. I spend about 80% of my time shooting in AP on most cameras.

You can find dozens of X-700 reviews online, so I’m going to touch on a few features and specs. Like the Minolta XG I tested last year, the X-700 has the electromagnetic touch shutter button. Resting a finger on the shutter button activates the meter that is displayed by LED lights in the viewfinder. The camera features shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/1000th of a sec, plus bulb mode. The main power switch lets you select if you want audible beeps from the camera, indicating the shutter speed is 1/30th or slower. The camera has a silicon photocell through the lens, center weighted metering. Made of plastic with a metal frame, it weighs 505 grams, a little over 1 pound without a lens.

Overall, the X-700 is a fun camera to shoot with. The features are on a professional level, but the camera is simple to operate. It feels balanced in my hands. The plastic molded grip reminds me of the Canon A-1. Minolta MD lenses have a solid reputation of being sharp. The only downside to this camera that I can think of are the electronics. How well do electronics age? I think the only reason Konica-Minolta abandoned the X-700 was photographer’s preference for autofocus lenses in the mid 1980’s.

Camera: Minolta X-700 (1981)
Film: Fomapan 100 Classic
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Holga 120 WPC

The Holga Wide Pinhole camera was released in 2008, but hasn’t been produced for a number of years. Despite its plastic cheap feel you expect from a Holga, it’s gained a reputation for being a good pinhole camera. Over the last few months they’ve appeared twice on Amazon. Mike Gutterman of the Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast became aware of this and shared it with both the Negative Positive Podcast Facebook group, and the Lensless Podcast Facebook group. I ignored it the first time it came up but took the bait the second time it appeared. I’m blaming this purchase on Mike.

The camera itself features an f/125 aperture, and dual 0.3mm pinholes. The horizontal exposure can give you a maximum wide 120 degree shot on 120 film. The camera comes with two masks that can be inserted, allowing you to shoot 8 frames at 6 x 9, or a slightly wider 6 frames at 6 x 12. On the top of the camera you’ll find a spirit level and lines that represent your viewfinder. Because it’s a Holga, I used gaffer tape to keep the camera closed after loading the film. I also put a strip over the red exposure window on the back. The shutter button allows you to connect a standard threaded shutter release cable.

For my first roll, I shot some Kodak Verichrome Pan that expired in September 1989 and decided to use the 6 x 9 mask in the camera. After my first three shots, I remembered that I was shooting wide and needed to skip every other frame. The first three images created a unique overlapping double-exposure. The Holga 120 WPC is fun to use. I’m happy with my initial shots and looking forward to shooting more pinhole.

Camera: Holga 120 WPC
Film: Kodak Verichrome Pan (Expired 9/1989)
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo