Category Archives: Analog

Olympus XA (1979)

Back in August, my wife and I took our two teenage sons to New York for eight days. I knew this was going to be a great trip to get some photos, so I took 3 cameras; one digital, and two film. The digital was a Canon 6D with 24-105mm f/4 lens. The two film cameras were my Leica M3 with 7Artisans f/1.1 lens, and a borrowed Olympus XA. I always tell myself I want to travel light and end up taking too much gear. The camera that received the most use on this trip was the Olympus XA. Why the Olympus XA? I needed something that was wider than 50mm, and small enough to fit in my pocket.

The Olympus XA is a compact camera that was sold from 1979 to 1985 and has some not-so-compact features. It’s a rangefinder focus camera, aperture priority, with a 35mm Zuiko f/2.8 lens, and shutter speeds from 1 – 1/500th sec. The design of the XA is simple, you slide open the camera, uncovering the lens and activating the CdS exposure meter. The rangefinder focus is located below the lens, and the aperture is controlled by a vertical sliding switch on the front right-side of the camera.

Compact 35mm cameras are commanding higher prices on eBay, and the XA is no exception. The unique compact design and sharp lens are two features that set this compact apart. The electronic A11 flash can be detached from the camera, making the camera a nice 7.9 ounces. And how did they get such a sharp f/2.8 lens in such a small design? According to Modern Photography Magazine in 1979, “high-refractive-index glasses had to be used to control aberrations across the picture field, and optical elements had to be manufactured and aligned to very close tolerances.” Olympus was able to accomplish this with, “the XA’s “reversed retrofocus” [is] a 6-element, 5-group optic measuring about 31mm from front element to film plane. Focusing is internal, via moving third group. Achieving this extremely flat design necessitated high index crown rear element, special flint second element. Result is a super-compact, rigid camera body with rangefinder focusing.” Voodoo magic and pixie dust? No, just some super engineering and meticulous optics.

The size doesn’t predict the quality of images this camera can deliver. As you can see by the gallery below, the Olympus XA was used a lot on my trip. Unfortunately, the photos taken from the top of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center were subject to a few days of poor air quality in Manhattan. The only complaint I have about the XA is the sensitive shutter. The feather-touch shutter doesn’t take much pressure to fire, and it can take some getting used to. This is hard to explain, but this is the first film camera I’ve used where I knew immediately whether I got the shot I wanted. The images in the gallery were shot on both Kodak TMax 100 and Kodak Tri-X 400.

Camera: Olympus XA (1979)
Film: Kodak TMax 100 / Kodak Tri-X 400
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

Advertisements

Kosmo Foto

In 2017 Stephen Dowling, a Soviet camera aficionado, decided to release his own film called Kosmo Foto Mono. The 35mm film is a 100 ISO black and white stock that is a pre-existing emulsion from a European manufacturer. Since it’s release, there’s been a lot of buzz online about Kosmo Foto being a re-branded this-or-that, blah, blah, blah. Who cares! The majority of the online film community is very supportive and delighted to see a new film, and that’s what really matters.

After shooting my first roll, I consulted the development chart and found that Kodak D-76 was not listed. I remember Alex Luyckx talking about his experience with Kosmo Foto and developers on the Classic Camera Revival Podcast. A quick instant message to Alex on Facebook and he provided me with a developing time. Below are some of my favorite shots that show the impressive balanced contrast and grain. As a plus, this film lays perfectly flat for scanning. I’m looking forward to shooting and using more on this film stock.

Camera: Yashica Electro 35 GS (1970 – 1973)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono – 100 ISO BW
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:00 @ 20° C, Kodak Indicator Stop Bath 1:00, Kodak Fixer 5:00, Kodak Photo-Flo 2:00.
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo


Zorki 4

I have to admit something that every photographer has done at least a dozen times. I coveted my friends Leica cameras. Maybe coveted is too strong of a word, but I’m a sucker for a good rangefinder camera, but also aware that my funds don’t allow me to possess a Leica. However, I can afford a Zorki!

The Zorki 4 was manufactured by KMZ, Krasnogorsky Mekhanichesky Zavod, from 1956 to 1973 near Moscow in the former USSR. This model was one of the most popular because it was exported from Russia to the western world. The Zorki 4 features a cloth focal plane shutter, with shutter speeds from 1s – 1/1000s. According to some research, there were at least 32 versions of the Zorki 4 released during its 17-year run. All of the changes were cosmetic, either by changing the way the camera name was printed (or engraved) along with anniversary models or commemorative editions. The model that I purchased was manufactured in 1963 (Zorki 4B), indicated by the first two-digits in the serial number. The Zorki 4 uses the old Leica M39 lens screw mount. The cameras were sold with either a Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 or Industar-50 50mm f/3.5 lens. I chose to purchase a model with the Jupiter lens because of the reviews I’ve read and comments from friends.

Overall, this camera is built like a tank, a Russian tank. The camera is easy to focus, and the viewfinder is bright. If I compared it to a pre-war Leica, like most photographers do, I would say that the sound of the shutter, and the feel of the camera are exactly what I’d expect. One disadvantage of the Zorki 4 is the viewfinder. It’s is so big that you don’t know where the edges of your framed shot are, or where they should be. Ideally, it should have been designed like other rangefinders at the time with faint boarder lines in the viewfinder. Image composition is difficult.

I love that this camera is all mechanical, no batteries, and no meter. The Jupiter lens is easy to focus and provides nice depth of field. One of the best pieces of advice I read online before pulling the trigger on eBay was; you get what you pay for with the Zorki. Most are shipped from sellers in Russia and normally the price indicates the condition and functionality of the camera. Of course you always want to check seller feedback, current sold and shipping prices. My test images were shot on Film Photography Project’s Edu 200 BW Film. Currently I have some Svema BW Super Positive ISO .8 BW Film from the Film Photography Project loaded in the Zorki. Russian camera, Russian film, отлично!


Petri 7s

The camera review this week was a donation from Mike Williams in Hickory, North Carolina. Mike found the 7s at a local yard sale for $5.00 (US) and shipped it out west. Make sure to check our Mike’s current project on Youtube, 12 Months/12 Cameras, where he shoots an entire month with a single camera and shares a video review.

Petri 7s (1963 - 1973)

The Petri 7s was manufactured by the Petri Camera Company from 1963 – 1976. Features: coupled rangefinder focus, around-the-lens selenium light meter, shutter speeds from 1 to 1/500 sec, and a 45mm f/2.8 – 16 lens. The Petri company called their rangefinder focus system the Green-O-Matic because the overall viewfinder is tinted green while the focusing area is yellow. The idea was that contrasting colors made it easier to focus.

After the Petri 7S arrived, I purchased a telephoto and wide angle diopter set from a user in a vintage camera group on Facebook for $12. The diopters are screwed in to the 52mm thread mount, and the viewfinder is attached to the camera cold/accessory shoe. My results with the diopter set are mixed. This is the first time I’ve used diopters with a rangefinder camera. In the digital world, my experience with adding more glass in front or behind a lens results in difficult focusing and poor image quality.

The selenium light meter on the Petri 7s circles the lens. This design was initially created to allow the meter to read the light behind an attached lens filter. The camera has two match-needle meters. One is visible in the viewfinder, and the other on the top of the camera body. In this particular 7s, the needles on both do not display the same reading. In some of my images, I tried to split the difference between the two with little success. I had much better results metering with my Gossen Luna Pro S handheld meter.

You can find the Petri 7s for as cheap as $8.00 (US) on eBay, and there are a lot of them. While I really enjoy a good rangefinder camera, this one ranks towards the bottom of the list. And not because of the meter issue. That’s almost expected with a selenium meter on a camera that’s a) this old and b) you don’t know how it was stored. My test images were shot on Film Photography Project’s Edu 200 BW Film. There was some scratching on the negatives in most of the images that I intend to investigate. If I had to pick a rangefinder from 60’s or 70’s, I’d consider a Yashica or Minolta over the Petri. However, for less than twenty bucks, it was worth the gamble. Do you have a any of the Petri rangefinders? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.


Minolta Hi-Matic F

The Hi-Matic series was Minolta’s most popular line of consumer rangefinder cameras. The F was produced in 1972 as an economy model. Not only economic in price, but in size and weight. The Hi-Matic F weighs 350g and measures only 113 x 73 x 54mm.  With a small footprint, the camera does have a nice 38mm, f/2.7 Rokkor coated lens. The CdS meter on the camera automates the aperture and exposure for shutter speeds from 4 to 1/724 sec. On the lens itself, a flash guide number is printed so the photographer can select distance to the subject for flash photography.

While the camera is small enough to carry wherever you go, the absence of any manual controls make it feel like a point-and-shoot. The Hi-Matic F is a great all-purpose camera. It would make a nice addition to a street photographers kit because of its discreet size and shutter sound. My test shots were made with Kodak Tri-X 400, and scanned on an Epson Perfection V600 Photo.


Canon A-1 & Robots

Working in secret, my wife bought me this camera with the help of my friend Scott Smith. Being a Canon digital photographer for the past eight years, I knew I wanted a 35mm film SLR and at some point mentioned it to my wife. I was very surprised when I opened this gift on Christmas morning in 2013. To ensure the camera worked properly, my wife had Scott buy one from KEH.com. I’ve never purchased anything from KEH Camera, but it’s a great source for used gear because they inspect, test and rate every item in their used inventory so that buyers are aware of cosmetic condition and back it up with a 180-day warranty.

The Canon A-1 was manufactured from 1978 – 1985. It was typically sold with a 28mm or 50mm FD mount lens, but the three most common at the time were: 50mm f/1.8, 28mm f/2.8, or 70-210mm f/4. Because the A-1 was commonly sold in a kit, it was always discounted and the price ranged from $375 – $425. My A-1 came with the 28mm f/2.8 lens. It’s a good lens, but a little wide for what I wanted. So I purchased a 50mm f/1.4 on eBay. Over the past year I’ve spoken to several people who have this lens/camera combination and they all make the same comment. Canon had an issue with this particular lens at the time and you either bought a good or a bad copy, no in-between. When I heard this, I was a little hesitant, but the price was right. I must have obtained a good copy because the lens is sharp and fun to use.

The A-1 features both aperture and shutter priority modes. This was the first Canon camera to have sophisticated electronics. At the time it generated a lot of debate among traditional film photographers. The purists believed the computer did too much for the photographer as it was the first camera to have true automatic program modes. Since when have “purist photographers” not debated?

My son, Connor, is really interested in robotics. We decide to attend the 2015 First Tech Challenge at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. The FTC robotics competition consists of teenage teams that compete with robots they designed, built and programmed. I took my Canon A-1, 50mm f/1.4, and a roll of Ilford 100 BW film to photograph some of the students with their robots. The challenge was the film speed and the gym lighting. I had to open the lens up to f/1.4 at times and over-expose by +1. I knew I was taking a chance with this combination, but the resulting images have nice detail and contrast. These are some of my favorite images.

 
This Post Sponsored by:

B&H Photo – The Professional’s Source – B&H has an excellent selection of black and film from Ilford, including HP5, Delta, Pan F Plus, FP4 Plus and more! B&H has been serving professional and amateur film photographers for more than 40 years.

 
 


Holga 120S

My film camera collection is starting to be an obvious fixation. Last fall, a friend posted a comment on my Facebook page indicating that a local was selling a bunch of Holga cameras. The truth is, I saw the post a few minutes prior on another page and had already contacted the seller. Up to this point I knew I wanted to get a Holga, but didn’t feel like paying full price for plastic camera. When I met the seller downtown Salt Lake City, she told me that she had purchased a mixture of items from an estate sale. One of the items in the lot was a case of Holga 120S cameras. She decided to keep one for herself and sell the rest for $15 each. I purchased the last two from her, one for me, and the other for my friend Scott. They were both new cameras, each in a box, but one had been barely used. The seller told me that one of the two had been loaded with film and she didn’t know anything about it. When I met with Scott to give him a camera, I purposely mixed the boxes up, told him that both cameras were new, but one was loaded with film, and let him make a blind choice. Neither one of us cared because both were identical. I ended up with the camera loaded with film. I could see that the film had only been advanced to the second shot, but whoever had used it knew what they were doing because the body of the camera was carefully sealed with gaffers tape to prevent light from leaking into the film. The biggest part of the mystery was not knowing what film was loaded. How long had it been in the camera? Was it color or black and white? What brand and speed was it? I decided to take my chances and complete the remainder of the roll over the next month.

Holga’s history goes back to 1981 in China. The Holga was introduced to the Chinese as an inexpensive medium format camera. Despite Holga’s attempt to mainstream their 120mm camera, smaller and cheaper 35mm cameras dominated the market within a few years. However, the popularity of the all plastic Holga remained, and even grew. Holga sold more than 1 million cameras by 2001. The unique Holga look is created by a plastic lens, plus the possibility of artistic light leaks.

There’s really not a lot to say about the specs of the Holga 120S. It was the original Holga model produced in 1981, and has since been discontinued. It has a fixed shutter speed of about 1/100 sec, adjustable focus, a plastic 60mm f/8 lens, a two-position f-stop switch, hot shoe for external flash, and a 6×4.5mm film mask. It’s cheap, plastic, toy camera.

During the month of November, I took the Holga with me everywhere. Not knowing what film speed was loaded, I did my best to guess the amount of light needed. I used an old flash on a few shots. When I finished the roll, I found that the mystery film loaded in the camera was Kodak T-Max 400. My favorite images were done during a senior photo shoot. I admit that when I’m working on a paid shoot, I use my Canon DSLR. However, I’ve been slowly introducing film into my sessions. The next time I use my Holga, I’ll probably load it with some Lomography 120 film that I received from my wife and kids for my birthday.

This Post Sponsored by:
Lomography is a passionate Community dedicated to Analogue Photography. We stock a huge range of practical, charming, colorful and inexpensive Cameras and a wide selection of Films.


Donate That Old Camera

Cleaning house and found an old camera? Why not donate it to Utah Film Photography! Let one of our contributors shoot some film in your vintage discovery, write about the experience, and share it here on the website. Your classic camera can be lovingly placed in the Utah Film Photography vault, given a forever home with a new owner, or presented to a lucky film photographer here on the website. Old cameras don’t belong in the landfill or sitting behind glass on a museum shelf. Go look in the top of your closet, under the bed, in the attic, under grandpa, and send us your old film camera. Contact us at info@utahfilmphotography.com.


Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 Land Camera

After buying a box of old cameras at an auction for $13, I found that I had two original Polaroid Swinger Model 20 cameras. Doing some research and learning about them, it peaked my interest in these boxy-rigid-plastic-sixties-throwback cameras. I found someone local selling a Big Swinger Model 3000 and took the bait. Why? The original Swinger takes Type 20 roll film that hasn’t been produced since 1970. However, the Big Swinger Model 3000 takes 100-type pack film. The same Fujifilm as the other Land Cameras in my collection. The Big Swinger has a plastic lens, plastic body, creates black and white prints, so I was already hooked on this camera before the first shot.

Made by Polaroid from 1968 to 1970, the Big Swinger Model 3000 is the younger and slightly bigger sibling to the original Swinger Model 20. The Big Swinger Model 3000 has a 114mm single –element fixed-focus plastic lens. It takes 2 AA batteries, uses AG-1 flash bulbs, and only accepts 300 ASA (100-Serial Type) black and white film. The original price was $24.95, and you can still find many of them on eBay or in thrift stores for $5 to $30 depending on condition. The Big Swinger has some unique features like many of the similar models produced at the time like the Zip and Square Shooter. Many of the features seem to be Polaroid’s attempt to cut costs and make a more affordable instant camera. For example, instead of using metal rollers to apply the reagent (developing elements) to the film, the Big Swinger uses metal spreading bars to evenly spread the reagent. To take a photo, point the camera at the subject and then squeeze the red knob (that surrounds the white shutter release) and twist to set the exposure lighter or darker. In the bottom of the viewfinder is a small red window. In that window is a red checkerboard pattern. While slowly twisting, eventually the word “YES” appears clearly. This means that the correct exposure has been achieved. While twisting the knob to adjust the exposure, the camera opens or closes the aperture blades behind the lens, letting in more or less light to the film. The aperture on this model works like a pair of scissors opening and closing. It’s that simple, and it works. This must have been another way for Polaroid to cut costs. If a flash bulb is used in the camera, the exposure is set the same, however the twist dial is set for the distance from the camera to the subject. Polaroid has attempted to simplify this. For the most part, the output from the flash bulb is generally consistent, but the light reflecting back into the camera is going to change based on a number of things. The distance being the greatest challenge. For example, a close subject with flash might reflect much more light back, so a bigger aperture (smaller opening) is used. If the subject is further away, much more reflected light is needed to come back to the camera, so a smaller aperture (larger opening) is used.

My wife thinks this camera is really dumb looking, and she has a point, it’s kind of goofy. After a few test shots, it’s easy to get the hang of the exposure control. I even popped a few flash bulbs in it to test. Seeing the wisp of smoke and the smell of the flash brought back a few childhood memories. Along with testing out a vintage camera, I decided to scan both the negatives and the photos. Scanning the negative black and white Fujifilm FP-3000b gives a very dramatic and aged look to the photos. I’m really happy with the results.

Lost Art Tattoo on 25th Street, Ogden, UT
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b

Old Ovid Meetinghouse in Ovid, ID
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b


Abandoned Farmhouse in Bancroft, ID
Polaroid Big Swinger Model 3000 – Fujifilm FP-3000b


Film as an Artistic Medium

There’s been a YouTube video making its way around social media the past few months that describes why film photography will never disappear as an artistic medium. I’ve spent the last hour searching for this video and can’t find it, so let me summarize.

In the era of digital photography, there are an incredible and unlimited amount of options for artists to create. And because of this, some think that film photography will completely fade away at some point. If this is true then we must also think that it’s entirely possible for an artist to create any type of work, photography or otherwise, digitally. I don’t foresee a future where canvas and oil paints are obsolete like some have predicted for film. If artists selected nothing but a digital medium, why have colored pencils, paint brushes, sketch books, and watercolors? If it’s so simple for a digital medium to replace analog, why have acoustic guitars? Can you imagine your favorite classical music piece, composed for an orchestra, played entirely by a single digital device? Can you imagine visiting an art museum where all the pieces are displayed on a screen?

I know, I’m pushing this towards the extreme, but my point is this. Film will always be around as a choice for photographers. Yes, it may come in limited supplies and used by fewer artists due to expense.  That’s what makes film even more important now than it was in the past. Shooting analog in a digital world is not easy or cheap. For the artists that use it, it’s just as rewarding as creating a masterpiece with a paintbrush and canvas.