Category Archives: Film Cameras

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

 


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 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

 


Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera

Coca-Cola began using polar bears for print advertising in 1922. And the polar bears would appear occasionally in printed advertisements over the next seventy years. It wasn’t until 1992 that advertising professional Ken Stewart gave life to the Coca-Cola polar bears in the popular Northern Lights television commercial in February 1993. The Coke polar bears were one of the first digitally animated advertising campaigns. The television commercials featuring the polar bears touched on the emotion and magic that many of Coca-Cola’s previous ad campaigns had done. Starting in 1993, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears from the “Always Coca-Cola” (admit it, you just sang that in your head) series of advertisements and many more successful marketing campaigns came complete with matching Coke merchandise.

Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera

Manufactured in 1999, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera could be purchased in a Coca-Cola collector tin or bought by itself in a sealed plastic clamshell package. The camera came with two AA batteries and a roll of Kodak Max 400 color film, a Coke branded camera case, and camera strap. The camera is a simple point-and-shoot, with no special features other than being automatic and motorized. Sliding the polar bear, holding his beverage of choice, to the side reveals what I’m guessing to be a 35mm f/5.6 lens. The camera automatically senses light and fires the flash if needed. The top of the camera features a frame counter and a switch to rewind the film. The shutter is triggered by pressing the Coca-Cola bottle cap.

This camera was given to me last Christmas by my oldest son, Caleb. My initial test was an incredibly expired roll of Kodak Gold 400. The roll was not stored in a box, so I don’t know the expiration date, but the shifting colors are a good indicator that it was past its prime. I developed this roll with the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. I like quirky branded toy cameras like the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera. I wish they would make a camera featuring my preferred drink, Coke Zero.

 


The Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole

In the past, I’ve tinkered with pinhole cameras. Nothing too serious. My first attempt at pinhole was the Viddy cardboard pinhole camera . Then there was the pinhole lens cap for a Pentax Sportmatic. Next, there was my semi-successful attempt at making the Tie Fighter pinhole camera. Last year my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted a nice wooden pinhole camera. Her response, “Go buy it yourself.” So, I did. I found a local film photographer that sold me his Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole camera.

The Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole

Ondu’s success goes back to a Kickstarter in 2013. Elvis Halilović, a Slovenian industrial designer and carpenter, created six different types of pinhole cameras. At the end of 30-days, the Kickstarter was a success. Elvis manufactured and delivered cameras to pinhole enthusiasts around the world. The smallest and cheapest of these was the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole. Handcrafted in Slovenia, the Ondu 135 is made of chestnut and maple wood. The back of the camera and advance/rewind spools on the top are held in place by magnets. The pinhole size is 0.20mm, a focal length of 25mm, giving you an 81° field of view and an aperture of f/125. The camera has a standard tripod mount on the bottom. To trigger the shutter, you simply slide the horizontal wood piece on the front of the camera up, uncovering the pinhole, allowing light to enter the camera to expose the film. Since the initial launch in 2013, Ondu has continued to craft updated designs. Newer versions of the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole include a bubble level, shutter stop, and engraved lines on the camera making it easier to compose an image.

Before I continue with the pros and cons, keep in mind that my Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole is first model. This version lacks a few features that newer models have.

Cons:

  • The camera doesn’t have a bubble level, but that’s okay because my tripod has one.
  • This version doesn’t have the horizontal and vertical viewing engravings. I may need to make some markings on my camera so I can compose a better shot.
  • The takeup winding knob lacks any kind of information on which way to wind the knob, or how far to wind the knob. Newer models have an engraving indicating which way to wind the knob. I’ve made some marks on my camera to remind me.
  • While there is a strong magnet behind the shutter, there is no shutter pin on this model, making it easy to accidently move the shutter up or down.

Pros:

  • The Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole weighs 220g, making it a small but sturdy pinhole camera.
  • The camera comes with an empty take-up cartridge. As you advance the film, it’s rolled into an empty 35mm cassette, making accidentally exposing an entire roll of film impossible.
  • The camera is very easy to load. Even in the cold weather, I was able to quickly load a new roll of film.
  • It’s a good looking camera. The wood finish feels good in your hands and looks good.

Overall the Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole is a fun camera to use. The quality and craftsmanship of having a wooden pinhole is a nice change to cardboard pinhole cameras. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some additional photos taken with the Ondu. Being that I’m no pinhole expert, many of my shots were poorly exposed or composed. I’ve experimented with three different film stocks and used a simple development method. And though my images are far from the awesome pinhole photos found in The Lensless Podcast group on Facebook, I enjoy this camera so much, it’s worth the time and patience to learn more about pinhole photography.

Camera: Ondu 135 Pocket Pinhole (2013)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono
Process: FPP Super MonoBath BW Developer 3.5 Min @ 75° F
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo

 


Kosmo Foto Mono 100

One final roll from the the Canon 10S. This time using one of my favorite black and white film film stocks, Kosmo Foto Mono 100.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 100
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 10:00 Min @ 20°


Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 (Expired 3/1981)

Here are some additional photos taken with the Canon 10S. This time I experimented with some Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 that had expired in March of 1981.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS USM L-Series
Film: Kodak Plus-X Pan 125 (Expired 3/1981)
Process: Kodak D76 (1+1) 8:30 Min @ 20°