Category Archives: Camera Collection

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.

 
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Dr. B’s Minolta SR-T202

Last week while shopping at a local thrift store I found a large camera case full of various items. Of course the main piece that attracted me was the camera, but what were the other odd items? The inside of the case was grimy with black pieces of foam that had crumbled apart from age. I carefully inspected the camera and purchased it with the case and contents. Later that night, I removed the camera from the case and put it to the side. I knew cleaning out the case was going to be messy, so I put on a pair of latex gloves and started to slowly inspect each item. A 100mm Minolta Rokkor macro lens attached to a bellows on a rail that measures about 8 inches in length. There was also a Minolta pistol trigger grip with a shutter release cable. Odd shaped mirrors, wires and square plates that somehow attached to the bellows. What was all this equipment used for? Then I found a receipt. The camera was sold to Dr. Graydon Briggs in Salt Lake City. He purchased the camera on April 23, 1976 from Washington Scientific Camera Company. The description of the camera and contents are listed as: Complete Minolta SR-T202 Clinical Camera Unit, Clinical Camera Case, Dental Mirrors, Columbia wire retractor, Minolta F4 100mm lens, and Minolta 18LS Flash.

With a simple Google search, I found the original owner, Dr. Graydon Briggs, DDS, a successful Utah dentist that was known for thousands of root canals. He passed away on November 11, 2013 at the age of 66. The Minolta camera kit he purchased for $587 in 1976 was used in his dental practice. From the receipt, you can see that he made two payments for the complete unit. To put this price tag in perspective, in 1976 a loaf of bread was $.30, a gallon of milk was $1.42, gasoline was $.59 per gallon, a new car was $4,100, and the average price of a home was $43,000. In 1976, this clinical camera unit would have cost the 2015 equivalent of $6,600.

The handwritten note on the back of the receipt:

Dear Dr.

You made our day – yeh these turkeys can’t afford a phone but look at the bargains you get. We do not maintain a phone at the shop & warehouse as we are in & out so much – We do not operate a retail store – can give better bargains that way. If you find it necessary you may reach us at our home morning & evenings as a rule at (206) 863-7172 or call Mr. Cliff Freede (?) at the U of W Dental School who can relay messages or give all the answers on problems – his phone # 206-543-5953. We are no longer going to carry the #704 case – so I have sent you the #705 which is larger at the old price of $27.50 – it is now $34.00. We do have our new custom camera case at $38.00 but was hesitant in sending it. Enclosed is our new price sheets. Thank you for your order.

Sincerely H.E.K.

Minolta SR-T202 Clinical Camera Unit

The camera is mounted to the bellows at one end and the 100mm Rokkor lens at the other. A dentist would use their right-hand to focus by extending or retracting the bellows, and squeeze the shutter trigger with the left-hand. Based on the odd shape of the mirrors, they would be placed in the patient’s mouth so the camera could capture photos of those hard-to-reach areas. I haven’t included an image of the mirrors because they need to be sterilized or thrown away.

The Minolta SR-T202 was the top-of-the-line camera in the series. When it’s not attached to the bellows and used for macro photos of someone’s throbbing tooth, it has a sharp 50mm Rokkor f/1.7 lens. I plan to write a full camera review after testing it with some film next week. For this post I wanted to feature the unique use, history, and the original owner of this camera.
 

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Camera Collection

For the past month I’ve been running test film through various cameras so I can share the results here. This week, I want to show off some of the most recent additions to my collection.
 

Yashica A - 120 Film (1959 - 1969)Yashica A – 120 Film (1959 – 1969)

 

Pentax Spotmatic - 35mm Film (1964 - 1973)Pentax Spotmatic – 35mm Film (1964 – 1973)

 

Nikon EM - 35mm Film (1979 - 1982)Nikon EM – 35mm Film (1979 – 1982)

 

Pentax ME Super - 35mm Film (1980 - 1986)Pentax ME Super – 35mm Film (1980 – 1986)

 

This Post Sponsored by:

Adorama – Serving photographers for more than 30 years. Adorama is more than just an online camera store with the newest electronics, equipment rental, used gear, workshops, and legendary customer service. Visit Adorama online or experience their superstore in NYC.

MailPix – Save 50% on all photo books, 60% off all canvas prints, receive 100 free 4×6 prints for creating an account.