Category Archives: 135 Film (35mm)

Minolta XG7 (1977)

This camera was given to me by a coworker whose father owned it. I was told his father had another Minolta, accidently dropped it, and was told it would be cheaper to buy a new camera than have the repairs done. The XG7 is what he upgraded to. He gave me the camera with an awesome 50mm Rokkor-X f/1.4 lens, a Minolta Autowinder G, and a Quataray 85-210mm zoom lens. This camera and all the accessories are in fantastic condition. Normally, when I get a camera this old, I usually expect to replace the light seals or the mirror bumper, but not this camera. There’s no stickiness or crumbling foam.

The Minolta XG was the budget line or entry-level camera to Minolta’s XD series. Both the XD and XG series of cameras came after the SRT line from the late 1960’s. The Minolta XG7 (XG-E or XG2 in other markets) has the Minolta Bayonet MD lens mount, shutter speeds of 1 – 1/1000th second with bulb, TTL central zone CdS metering, and a hotshoe with PC X-Sync.

In 1977, the XG body and 50mm lens sold for $289 at B&H. That’s about $1200 today. For an entry-level camera, that’s a lot of money for 1977. From the information I’ve looked through on The Rokkor Files, I think this version of the 50mm Rokkor-X f/1.4 was made in 1979. The original owner must have purchased it a year or two after buying the body. And because this is a Bayonet MD mount lens, it’s highly sought after by digital mirrorless photographers.

The body of the XG7 is small, like a Pentax ME Super or Pentax Super Program, and is covered with a synthetic leather that has started to shrink a bit. One unique feature of the XG7 is the electromagnetic touch shutter button. This is the first time I’ve used one. How does it work? You lightly touch your finger on the shutter button, and the meter activates. The camera has aperture priority and manual modes. However, I’ve found that the autowinder only works in aperture priority mode and allows you shoot at 2 frames per second.

The viewfinder is bright and has LEDs on the right-hand side to show your shutter speed. The LEDs also have an up triangle above 1/1000th and a down triangle below 1 second to indicated that you are over or under-exposed. The LEDs in the viewfinder are bright but tend to jump around a bit as you place your finger on the electromagnetic shutter.

What this camera doesn’t have are some of the pro features that were included on the XD series. Things like depth of field preview, mirror lockup, and standard cable release. Because of the electromagnetic touch on the shutter, a cable release must be screwed into the side of the lens mount.

This camera requires batteries to operate the film advance and shutter. If you’re looking to buy one and the seller doesn’t think the shutter works, or they say it’s not been tested, there’s a good chance the camera doesn’t have fresh batteries. That’s another feature of the XG7. It takes two standard LR44 1.5v batteries.

The XG7 is one of those unknown cameras that pass by a lot of photographers. It doesn’t get much love compared to Pentax, Nikon and Canon’s from the late 70’s. You can usually find an XG7 on eBay starting at about $22 with a 50mm lens. And Minolta MD Bayonet mount Rokkor lenses have a reputation for being sharp.

Overall, I enjoy using the XG7. I like the size of the camera. Even with the autowinder, it’s not overly bulky or heavy. The body weighs 20 ounces.

Camera: Minolta XG7 (1977)
Film: Agfa Vista 200
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 

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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

 


Nikkor 35 – 200mm f/3.5 – 4.5s

Camera: Nikon F2 Photomic (1971). Lens: Nikkor 35 - 200mm f/3.5 - 22 - Macro.

I’ve really enjoyed shooting with the Nikon F2 Photomic (1971 – 1980), so I thought I’d like another lens. Since shooting film, I’ve gained a new appreciation for fixed prime lenses. The zoom lenses for older film cameras don’t appeal to me, but I wanted to give this one a shot (pun intended). Released in 1985, the Nikkor 35 – 200mm f/3.5 – 4.5s is a zoom lens with an Ai-S lens coupling, 17 glass elements in 13 groups, and apertures from f/3.5 to f/22. It also has a macro button that allows the lens to focus as close as 0.3m, about 12 inches.

These shots were taken at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 24th. Being a state holiday, the garden offered free admission for the day. My wife and I took advantage of the day off and headed up to the east bench of the valley to enjoy some colorful landscapes. Keep in mind, I’m not much of a landscape or macro flower photographer. My intent was to test the lens and see if it was something I liked. I found myself fumbling when composing shots. First, trying to zoom, and then focus, while checking the meter, etc. That says more about me as a photographer than issues with the lens. Maybe a larger learning curve than I thought, so not enjoyable at my first attempt. It’s like Scott Bourne says, “99% of the lenses are 100% better than the photographers.” Slightly off topic, next to Kodak Ektar, Agfa Vista is my favorite color film for saturated bright colors. It’s disappointing that Agfa Vista has been discontinued. I’m happy with the results from a technical standpoint. The images show some soft grain where I think it should be. When the lens is opened to f/3.5, it grabs a nice slice of focus. I think the ultimate test for this lens would be portraits, and that’s what I plan to try next.

Camera: Nikon F2 Photomic (1971)
Lens: Nikkor 35 – 200mm f/3.5 – 4.5s
Film: Agfa Vista 200

 


Leica M3 (1959) – Part 2

While using the borrowed 50mm 5cm Summicron-M f/2.0 (Rigid/2nd version) (1956), I decided that I really needed to purchase my own lens. Having just spent what I think is a considerable amount on the M3 body, I wanted to limit my lens purchase to something more affordable. Searching for an M-Mount lens on eBay led me to this lens, followed by some research, and a week of careful consideration.

The 7artisans f/1.1 50mm is a new lens made in China. According to the 7artisans website, a group of seven Chinese camera enthusiasts, having various professional backgrounds, came together to create this new lens. The 50mm lens is a Leica M-Mount and has an aperture range from f/1.1 to f/16. It has 12 aperture blades, and 7 elements in 6 groups. The lens itself is a heavy piece of glass and aluminum, with a copper core. It weighs nearly 14 ounces, so slightly less than 1 lb.

As I was doing some research on this lens, I wanted to see actual images taken with a Leica camera. However, all I could find were digital photos taken with Sony cameras. I determined that Sony users are the perfect market for an affordable prime 50mm f/1.1 lens. I found this review by Hamish Gill on 35mmc.com, where he used the lens on a Sony body. And then found this review by Emulsive, where he used the f2 version of the lens on a Leica film camera. Note/opinion: the f/2 50mm has a better review because the f/1.1 tested was a pre-production model.

The shots below are my initial results with the Leica M3. Being a Leica newbie, I must have done something very wrong because the first half of this roll did not come out. Overall, this is a solid lens. The build quality is good. The aperture and focus are smooth and easy to use. Unfortunately, a focus tab is not built on to this lens. They ship a rubber tab that you can stick to the lens barrel if you want, not ideal. The optical quality is what I would expect for the price. I expected the lens to be soft when it’s open at f/1.1, but was surprised by a few shots. The thin slice of focus is nice, but hard to achieve. And really, how often do you need something at f/1.1? This lens is also shipped with a focus sheet and some instructions on how to adjust the focus. Something I don’t think I’d attempt to mess with.

I spent a week in New York with the M3 and the 7artisan 50mm f/1.1. After a while, my biggest complaint became the weight. The 50mm Summicron-M would have been a better choice. Or anything smaller and lighter for that matter. Walking 7 to 14 miles in and around the city made me reconsider the choice I’d made. There were three days I left the camera behind. I’ll be sharing some photos of New York in the coming weeks.

Camera: Leica M3 (1959)
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 100
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 10:00 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 


Leica M3 (1959) – Part 1

Over the past few years of buying and shooting vintage cameras, there’s one camera I never thought I’d actually own, and that’s a Leica. Why? A Leica always seemed like a “bucket list camera.” Nice to look at, but too expensive to own. Of course, I had to ask myself, do they live up to the hype? Or do photographers tell themselves they are outstanding cameras to justify spending the money?

About a year ago, my friend Scott Smith purchased this M3 from our mutual friend, Maurice Greeson, who is a Leica collector and expert on all things Leica. Scott decided that after purchasing an M6, he wasn’t using this M3 as much as he used to. It was a hard decision for Scott to sell me the M3 because it’s in beautiful condition, and Maurice had taken excellent care of it. In a small way, I had to convince Scott to sell it to me. However, with all Leica camera owners, I consider myself the “current possessor” of this camera. The build quality will outlive me or any of its future owners. And as a side note, I’ve promised both Scott and Maurice visitation privileges as long as I have the camera.

Leica M3 (1959)

Production of the M3 began in 1954 and was the transition point for Leitz to move from screw-mount lenses to the updated Leica M Mount. The M Mount was able to give new M-series cameras a single viewfinder/rangefinder window. The M3 features a coupled rangefinder with an incredibly bright viewfinder, and a focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/1000th second. Early models of the M3 had a two-throw film advance, meaning you had to move the film advance lever twice to move the film to the next frame. And those early models also had German-based shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, etc. This M3 is a single-throw model and came with a Leicameter MR.

Several version of Leicameter’s were made starting in 1951. The MR was manufactured from 1965-1967 and has CdS cell behind a small lens. The meter mounts to the flash shoe on the camera and is coupled with the shutter dial. A meter reading is taken by pressing the needle release button for 2 seconds, then using the channel scale, you know where to set the correct lens aperture.

When I initially purchased the M3, I didn’t have a lens. Maurice loaned me his 5cm f/2.0 Summicron-M (1956). This lens is the second version of the Summicron 5cm and is a rigid lens, meaning it doesn’t collapse like the original. The updated lens increased the distance between the front lens elements. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of this lens on the camera. All the photos below were shot with the 5cm f/2.0 Summicron-M lens, making this part one of a two-part post. In the next post, I’ll share some images taken with the M3 and the new 7 Artisan’s 50mm f/1.1 lens.

Overall, I’m very happy to have an M3. A few friends have joked with me about becoming a Leica snob, or professing the “Leica lifestyle.” It’s been an ongoing joke with me and Mike Williams. I don’t see myself becoming obsessed with Leica gear. I may have champagne taste, but I’m always on a PBR budget. I’ve never used a rangefinder that has such a big, bright, viewfinder. That’s probably my favorite thing about Leica cameras. And the camera is so quiet to operate, you almost don’t hear the shutter click. And again, I could go on-and-on about the build quality of this camera because it is incredible.

Camera: Leica M3 (1959)
Lens: 50mm 5cm Summicron-M f/2/0 (Rigid/2nd version) (1956)
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:45 @ 20c
Scanned: Epson V600 Photo

 


The Negative Positives Double-Exposure Film Exchange

After being a guest on The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast with Mike and Andre, I offered to help with a double-exposure film exchange. The idea behind a double-exposure film exchange is that 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, color, etc. The resulting shots can be anything from artistic to crazy.

The response to the exchange was fantastic, being that it was the first time. Forty-two photographers from around the world signed up, shooting a total of twenty-one rolls of film. Some listeners were so enthusiastic to shoot and share that they signed up twice.

My partner for the Negative Positives Double-Exposure Film Exchange was Dan Cottle from Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Dan provided a roll of Ilford HP5+ black & white film, and shot the roll around his city, including Cadbury World where they produce some of the world’s best chocolate. Dan was even kind enough to send a Cadbury Egg to me with the exposed roll of film, which my wife promptly enjoyed.

After receiving the roll of film from Dan, I set out and exposed it a second time around my part of the world in Utah. Many of my shots included the Utah State Railroad Museum and the Hill Aerospace Museum. While Dan and I planned to line up our shots in the camera, it didn’t quite work out as planned. And from others in The Negative Positives Film Photography Podcast Facebook Group, their intentions were the same.

This film roll exchange was a great way to become acquainted with another film photographer. It was also a good exercise at some abstract previsualization. We didn’t set any rules and had no grand expectations. However, our resulting images are interesting, mysterious, and creative.

Photographer #1
Dan Cottle
Birmingham, UK
Camera: Nikon FE

Photographer #2
Shaun Nelson
South Ogden, UT USA
Camera: Nikon F2

Film: Ilford HP5+ 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (1+1) @ 20° 13:00 Min
Scanned: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


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


Konica Autoreflex TC

The Konica Autoreflex TC was manufactured and sold from 1976 to 1982. The body was lighter and smaller than previous Konica designs because the camera frame is metal, everything else is plastic. Looking at photos of the camera, you would never know that so much of this camera is plastic. It is however, very sturdy and well built. The Autoreflex features a metal focal plane shutter, shutter speeds of 1/8th – 1/1000th sec & bulb, an ISO range from 25 – 1600, split-image focusing on a microprism ring, and a CdS TTL light meter.

I found this camera in a local pawn shop for $10 and couldn’t pass it up. Why? Instead of the normal 50mm lens seen on most cameras of this age, it has a Hexanon AR 40mm f/1.8 pancake lens. This lens was typically sold with the Konica FS-1 and was eventually packaged with the TC. The lens is f/1.8 to 22 with auto exposure. With the light weight molded plastic body, and smaller lens design, the TC is a great camera for travel. The pancake lens has also achieved some recent popularity as an affordable sharp lens for Sony digital cameras with an adapter for photos and video.

I can see two problems in my images from this camera. One, this was one of my very first rolls in 2017 where I started to process all my own BW film in Kodak D-76. The negatives are spotty and have some residue on them. Second, the camera originally took two PX675 1.3v mercury batteries. I suspect using different batteries in the camera caused some meter discrepancies due to voltage differences.

Camera: Konica Autoreflex TC (1976 – 1982)
Film: FPP EDU 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Europe 2017 on Film

This year will always remain memorable because my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by taking a 3-week trip to Europe. We went with a small group and visited Italy, Switzerland, and France. I took three cameras: Canon 6D, Pentax K1000, and Olypus OM-1MD. I spent most days taking digital shots, but used the two film cameras for early morning walks and evening adventures. Trying not to pack around too much gear each day, I’d swap one of the two film cameras in and out of my bag. Many people have asked us, “What was your favorite place to visit?” There’s no way possible to answer that question. From day-to-day we kept thinking, “Wow, today was fantastic! It can’t get any better than this.” Only to be surprised by the sights and experiences we’d have the very next day.


A First Time for Everything

I came to know Bailey when my wife and I took a trip last summer with a group to Europe. Bailey is a senior in high school and enjoys playing the piano, Harry Potter, boys, and photography. After returning from Europe, I emailed Bailey and asked if she wanted a film camera to try. She quickly replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” I gave Bailey the Olympus OM-1 MD that I took to Europe, provided a short tutorial, presented her with a manual, and a roll of Ilford HP5+ black and white film. A few weeks later, we met and shot the Kulture Krash Car Show in Clearfield, Utah. After the car show, I asked Bailey if she would be interested in developing her roll of film. Again, she gave me another enthusiastic, “Yes!” A few weeks passed, and she came over to the UTFP Worldwide Headquarters (my house). I showed her how to load a Patterson reel, and explained the chemistry we would be using. Since I needed my roll of film from the car show developed, I had Bailey develop mine at the same time. After the final rinse, she took her negatives off the reel to hang up, and her first response was, “Oh cool!” She experienced that feeling film photographers get when they see the final results of something physical they’ve created. Overall, she did fantastic and had a positive experience. Through a Q and A, I asked Bailey if she would share some of her thoughts.

What camera and film did you use?

My first ever film camera and the one I used on this shoot was the Olympus OM-1, with 400 ISO film.

While you were shooting, did anyone ask you about the camera?

This sweet little old man sparked up a conversation about my film camera, asking me what kind of camera it was and telling me about one of his old film cameras.

What did you take photos of?

All of the photos I took were of different cars at the car show in Clearfield, most of them focusing on the cars, but a few with people in them.

What did you like about taking photos with a film camera?

I loved being able to adjust the settings manually and seeing how it affected the photo; I know you can do this on DSLR cameras when put on the manual setting, but most of the time before shooting with my film camera, I just set my DSLR on automatic. Shooting with a film camera makes you adjust the settings and really get familiar with the mechanics of photography.

What did you dislike about taking photos with a film camera?

You really have to take your time with a film camera, making sure you get the exact shot you want, which can be a good thing and a bad thing. It makes you better at composing your photos, but there are also times when I like to take lots of photos of the same thing, from slightly different angles or different composures, and then just choose the one I liked later on the computer. Obviously, with a film camera, taking lots of photos of the same thing isn’t very practical as the film does cost a bit and you don’t want to have a roll of film all of the same thing.

What was the easiest part about using this camera?

The easiest part of using the Olympus OM-1 was probably the accessibility of all the settings. Anything I needed to adjust, I could do so with my left hand on the lens, twisting and turning as needed. Another thing that was very helpful was the light meter; I could see how I needed to adjust the settings in order to have optimal lighting.

What was the hardest part about using this camera?

The hardest part of using this camera was getting used to adjusting all the settings by hand and not just having it done for me automatically, but it was, as I said earlier a very rewarding experience to now know how to do that.

What did you learn by taking photos with a film camera?

I learned a lot about lighting, aperture, and how to adjust certain things to make my photos better.

What did you think of the development process?

The development process was actually a lot easier than I expected! I was able to load the film much quicker than I thought I would, and developing the photos themselves is really just a lot of pouring in chemicals and waiting. It was really cool to actually develop the photos, though, rather than just have them printed off. I loved doing it.

Did you think anything was particularly hard or easy about the development process?

The easiest part was definitely just pouring in the chemicals and dumping them out. Once I got the film loaded into the tank, it’s a super simple process from there on out.

What advice would you give other teens about shooting and developing film?

1. Learning about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and all that in my photography class at first seemed confusing, but actually applying while taking my photos made a lot more sense. Don’t be afraid to play around with the settings and try new things out, it really helps you understand how everything works more.
2. Try loading film in the light before you do the actual thing in the dark (obviously with a roll of film you aren’t going to use). It helps.
3. Find someone in the field of film photography to help you out with everything. Ask them questions, have them show you how to do things, etc. Learning things for yourself online is good, but having someone in person to teach you is all the better.

You can see more of Bailey’s photography on her new website. With graduation and moving away to college, I hope Bailey continues to be creative whether it’s through her photography or music. Here are some of Bailey’s favorites from her first roll.

Camera: Olympus OM-1 MD (1974 – 1979)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo