Tag Archives: Ilford

Yashica Electro 35 GS

The Electro 35 GS was the third generation of Electro automatic rangefinder cameras made by Yashica from 1970 -1972. The Electro GS features a sharp Yashinon f/1.7 – 16, 45mm lens. A CdS cell on the front-left of the camera detects the amount of light and alerts you on the top of the camera and in the viewfinder. The yellow light on top of the camera, yellow left-arrow in the viewfinder, indicates the image will be under-exposed and requires a slow shutter speed. The red light, red right-arrow in the viewfinder, indicates the image will be over-exposed and requires a faster shutter speed. The camera sensing the light will automatically set the shutter speed, allowing the photographer to set the aperture. Overall, a super easy-to-use aperture priority camera.

The Electro 35 GS was given to me as a gift from my good friend, Mike Williams, in North Carolina. Mike discovered the Electro series and raved about them, so much that he bought himself a second and sent me this camera. I replaced the seals and was anxious to give it a try. Mike was also nice enough to send along a roll of Ilford Delta 100 film. We have an unofficial wager as to what’s the better rangefinder: Minolta Hi-Matic 7S (1966), Yashica Electro 35 GS (1970), or the Canon Canonet G-III QL17 (1972).

To test the Electro, I spent a Saturday morning at the Vee-Dub Club of Northern Utah Air Cooled Volkswagen No Show in Kaysville. It’s the non-show of summer car shows showcasing some of the best, and worst, air cooled Beetle’s, buses, and buggies. I’ve never owned a VW, but it’s a fun show.

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Pentax Spotmatic

One of my favorite looking classic cameras is the original 1964 Pentax Spotmatic made in Japan by Asahi. The Spotmatic was the first 35mm SLR camera to use TTL (Through the Lens) metering. The meter originally required a 1.35v mercury cell battery and is the only non-mechanical function on the camera. I found this camera at a local pawn shop for $10 and figured I would take a chance. After some research, I found the meter in my Spotmatic works great with a 1.5v silver oxide battery. I like the match-needle meters in the old Pentax cameras (i.e. K-1000 and ME Super) better than LED lights. There’s nothing simpler than matching up your aperture or shutter speed to a needle in the viewfinder. During early production of the Spotmatic, the TTL meter was designed to be a spot meter, hence the name Spotmatic. However, because it was difficult to use, the meter was changed to average. Averagematic? It’s a good thing they kept the original name.

The Spotmatic takes Pentax M42 screw-mount lenses. Many of these lenses can be found at thrift stores, flea markets, and eBay. They’re plentiful, solid, and relatively cheap. Shutter speeds on the Spotmatic are 1 – 1000 and bulb. Camera ISO settings are 20 – 1600.

To test my Spotmatic, I shot a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 BW film and developed the negatives in New55 R3 Monobath Developer. The negatives were scanned with an Epson V600 and finished in Photoshop CC. The results were better than I expected. They’re sharp, and the Ilford film has very fine grain. If I were a college student in a film photography class, it would be difficult to choose between the Spotmatic and the K-1000. The decision would really come down to price because these two cameras have a lot of features in common. Since my initial purchase, I bought another Spotmatic body on eBay, knowing the meter didn’t work. To accompany the camera, I also purchased a pinhole lens cap to do some simple 35mm pinhole photography.

Note: Because the film had been in the camera for a few months, I forgot and cracked the back of the camera open. This created some exposed spacing above and below the film sprockets. Several frames were exposed, but I salvaged what I could. This was before I started using Film Rolls on my iPhone.

 


Nikon FE & Nikon N8008

This week we’re featuring a guest post from Mike Williams, a film photographer from Hickory, North Carolina. While writing this, Mike confided in me that he was afraid his comments about the Nikon FE would be perceived as negative. Before you jump to that conclusion, read the entire post. I think at some point we’ve all owned a piece of gear that we wanted to love, but just couldn’t get beyond something that simply wasn’t working for us. I appreciate Mike’s honesty and I’m glad he found another Nikon that was a better fit for his photography.

So there I was, looking at the scans from my 5th or 6th roll of film through my Nikon FE. The FE is a super cool looking machine. It’s black and chrome and it just has that “look” of an awesome vintage camera. But as much as I wanted to love this camera and everything about it, I hated it.

Why you ask? Two reasons: First, about 1/3 (at least) of the shots I had taken with it were out of focus. I am still not sure if it was the camera’s focusing screen or maybe my 45 year old eyes, but focusing at f/1.4 just was not happening for me. The second reason was the shutter speeds maxed out at 1/1000. I like the look of Tri-X pushed up a couple of stops, so there was another reason I couldn’t shoot with the lens wide open.

So I decided to find a camera with auto focus and capable of higher shutter speeds. It was eBay time, of course. I didn’t have a specific camera in mind. It just needed to be a Nikon (only because I have a ton of Nikon glass) and I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of cash. I came across a Nikon N8008. I honestly had no clue about this model, so I turned to the expert, Google. I quickly learned that this late 1980’s SLR had the things I wanted; auto focus and shutter speeds up to 1/8000. I bid on it. Turned out I was the only bidder and got it for $10 plus $8 shipping. When I received the camera, it appeared to be in pretty good shape, actually a little better than I had expected. I put in the AA batteries, popped on a 50mm f/1.8 lens, grabbed a roll of Ilford Delta 100, and made my kids model for the test roll. I shot that roll in my favorite little alley downtown Hickory, North Carolina.

The very next day, that roll of Delta 100 was on its way to San Clemente, California, for the guys at TheDarkroom.com to process and scan. It was only a few days but it seemed like an eternity before I got the email that my scans were ready. I logged on, checked them out, and I was thrilled! The auto focus was perfect and the meter was dead on. The only bad images were the ones that I screwed up with poor composition.

Now my Nikon N8008 is one of my favorite cameras to shoot. And I was able to overcome wanting to shoot the “cool” camera and realize all that matters to me is the end product. I love the images I have been getting from the N8008. Images that I personally just wasn’t capable of getting from the FE.

Here are a few images from my first roll with the Nikon N8008.

 

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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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