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Celebrating film photography, gear, and artists. Check out gear talk and interviews in the blog!

14 Nov '17

The ELBAFLEX 35mm Mechanical SLR Kickstarter Campaign

Posted by Mike Padua in Cameras, gear

Elbaflex from Ihagee

Ihagee's Kickstarter campaign for an all-manual, mechanical 35mm SLR using Nikon's F-mount has gone live.

The camera is completely mechanical in function, has no light meter, and thus requires no battery, and will be manufactured in the Ukraine. Notably, it comes with a 2-year "guarantee", the details of which are unknown other than service will be done at a German-based repair center.

For the first 24 hours of the campaign, a $499 pledge will get you the camera, followed by a Super Early Bird pledge at $529, and the rewards climb from there. One reward option comes with a Trioplan 50, a lens from German manufacturer Meyer-Optik, at $1299.

After the campaign is over, the camera will be "made to order" with unspecified wait times and the retail price of the camera will be an estimated $1500. Looks like they're gunning for the "luxury" market with those kinds of dollars.

Check out the campaign here and let me know what you think.

11 Aug '15

VIDEO Gear Review: Yashica T4 Super vs. Rollei AFM 35

Posted by Mike Padua in Cameras, Gear Reviews, rollei, Videos, yashica

Two high end 35mm point and shoot film cameras go head to head in this video review! The rundown: The legendary and highly sought-after Yashica T4 Super, an all-plastic wonder with a razor sharp lens vs the less-popular but comparably-priced Rollei AFM35, an all-metal rebrand of the original Fujifilm Klasse. Which one do I choose to keep? Check out the video below.

 

13 Jul '15

VIDEO Gear Review: Rollei AFM35 35mm Point & Shoot Film Camera

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, Cameras, Gear Reviews, rollei, Videos

 

The short story: high quality 35mm point and shoot camera with a sharp lens and Rollei's HFT lens coating.

The long story: A small point and shoot released in the 90s that, at the time, competed with the likes of the Contax T2. It weights about 9 ounces, it has a more curved grip than the Contax T2. This camera is actually designed by Fujifilm, and is absolutely structurally identical to the original Fujifilm Klasse (not the Klasse S or Klasse W). It is, in essence, a rebranded Fuji camera. The one difference: it uses Rollei's HFT coating on the lens, instead of Fujifilm's EBC coating. Rollei's HFT coating is said to be the same as Zeiss' highly regarded T* coating.

The lens is a 38mm focal length slightly wider than "normal," but not that wide. Max aperture is f/2.6, slightly faster than most of the fastest point and shoots with models like the Olympus MJU II/Stylus Epic and the Contax T2 being f/2.8. Minimum focus distance is 15.7 inches. Shooting modes are Program Auto (the camera chooses both the aperture and shutter values--full auto, basically) or Aperture Priority, where you choose the Aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed. Reads DX code from 35mm film cassettes and sets ISO accordingly, from anywhere between ISO 50 and 3200.

There is no way to manually override the film speed like you can on the newer Klasse S and Klasse W, so if you want to do push/pull processing or want to shoot at lower-rated ISOs with your stock of expired film, you're out of luck. It  has a built-in flash with a guide number of 11. Meter is very accurate, as are most point and shoots from the 90s. Flash has a red-eye reduction mode. Highest shutter speed is 1/1000th of a second. It DOES NOT have an exposure compensation function; instead, it has a +/- half-stop or full-stop bracketing feature, where the camera takes three pictures total: 1 picture at the proper exposure, one picture below, and one picture above.

I was originally put off by this because I like using exposure compensation. I realized with color negative, there is so much latitude that it doesn't matter much to me in practical use. I've never used (and probably never will use) the bracketing feature. It uses a CR2 battery. For my point and shoot of choice (for now at least), I chose this over a Contax T2. I owned both for several months, and I wanted to go with the highly loved and appreciated T2, especially because it has exposure compensation. I had a LOT of trouble focusing the T2. About 1 in 5 pictures were mis-focused or back-focused. I thought something was wrong with my camera so I bought another--same problem. I talked to a couple friends that had T2s and I asked them if they had issues--they both replied with a resounding "YES," that they had issues with a lot of pictures being out of focus, and they both independently remarked that they felt like maybe was something wrong with their cameras, or that maybe people just didn't want to talk trash about the T2 because it's such a well-loved camera.

Don't let this turn you off getting a Contax T2 if that's what you want--by all means, try one, because you might love it. Take everything I say with a grain of salt because sometimes I don't know what I'm doing (that was for you Contax lovers; I said it for you so you don't have to!). By the way, I really loved the T2. Very much. I just didn't like the out-of-focus pictures I sometimes got. But I digress. I ended up selling this Rollei in favor of the T2, and frustration with the T2 made me sell that camera and I ended up getting the Rollei again. I decided I could live without exposure compensation. My one nitpick outside of the lack of exposure compensation: the lens assembly moves into place and locks focus on the half-press after a split-second delay, as opposed to other point and shoots like the MJU II/Stylus Epic where the lens does its focus move after a full press (inevitably causing shutter lag). However, after locking focus on the half-press, there is absolutely NO delay from between when you do the full-press to when the shutter opens. You could call it a quirk or an advantage (or both), but after getting used to it, it is nice to be able to have essentially no shutter lag as long as your focus is already locked.

Overall and fun camera to use. It's very sturdy and definitely nice looking. The silver color might be too bright for some people, but you can get the original Fujifilm Klasse in silver OR black. This is not a camera you hear a whole lot about, but it fits right in there in the lexicon of high end film point and shoots. The newer Klasse models have more features and custom functions, but naturally command a much higher price. Thanks for reading! Please visit the shop to help support this site.

14 Jun '15

Gear Review: Konica C35 AF2 35mm Autofocus Film Camera

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, Cameras, gear, Gear Reviews, konica, reviews

The Konica C35 AF2 is the successor to the original C35 AF, history's first production autofocus camera. It uses the "Visitronic" passive autofocus system invented by Honeywell, which detects contrast inside the autofocus frame to achieve optimum focus--to put it simply. There's a lot of other science-y talk about it all over the internet so you can find that stuff elsewhere if you're interested.

The main difference between the original AF and the AF2 are said to be only cosmetic, and in use that seems to be largely true. The lens is a 38mm f/2.8, with a programed leaf shutter using three speeds: 1/60, 1/125, and 1/250. Exposure is fully automatic, and ISO sensitivities range from ISO 25 to 400. ISO speeds are set by turning a ring on the front assembly of the lens, and the set ISO speed will show in a small window at the bottom of the lens. The nice thing about being able to set ISO manually is that you can manually rate films differently from their DX codings.

Other more modern cameras will rate film automatically based on their DX codes--the silver/black patterns on the film cassettes. This can be useful if you're shooting with expired film, as I did in this test. I shot a roll of Kodak Max 400 expired in 2004--11 years beyond it's expiration date. The general rule is to overexpose one extra stop over the film's box speed to compensate for loss of sensitivity for every 10 years past its expiration date. So even though the film is rated at 400, I manually rated it at 200, and the results came out great. The negatives are a bit more grainy than fresh film, but this is to be expected with expired film.

The viewfinder has brightlines, and features an underexposure warning light (a red light visible in the upper right hand corner of the frame), parallax correction lines to correct for subjects that are closer than 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) It has a flash that is activated by a switch that pops up the the flash unit. Turning off the flash is as easy as popping the flash back down into place. The Guide Number of the flash is 14.

For some reason there is a warning inside the battery compartment warning against use of rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries, although when I tested the camera, I used rechargeable Ni-Mh batteries which seemed to work fine. I guess use Alkalines to be safe, and Alkalines will recycle the flash faster anyway. There is a self timer. It's about 14 seconds long. Not much more to say about that. So the exposure is automatic, the focus is automatic, and the two things keeping this from being a fully automated camera are the manually-set ISO speeds (discussed above) and the film advance and rewind mechanisms. The film is advanced by the classic lever that sits in the top corner of the camera that you ratchet with you right hand thumb. I personally love the tactile feel of manually advancing film. The lever is metal and feels sturdy, not like it's going to snap off when you ratchet it. The film chamber door is opened by a switch on the door with an indicator arrow of the direction to push the switch--simple.

Cosmetically unique in this camera is the film rewind lever--it doesn't have the protruding "wheel" dial as seen on many cameras with a manual rewind--the lever is recessed into the body and flips out to be turned when you're finished with the roll. It makes the top profile of the camera look fairly sleek, as far as late 70's design goes. The flash exposure works quite well, and I shot a few flash pictures that exposed nicely. Despite being new technology in it's day, the autofocus works quickly and accurately.

My one main nitpick about the camera is that there is no focus lock feature--you can't grab focus on something then recompose the frame. Focus will always been on what is inside the center autofocus frame. I show a picture in the test gallery that shows the background is in critical focus--but my daughter in the foreground, who is not centered in the frame, is slightly out of focus. It was daylight and the camera used a fairly small aperture, so most of the shot was in fair focus, but you can still tell where the camera chose to focus right in the center of the frame. The camera I found came with a full leatherette fitted two-piece case and was in great condition, overall a very nice thrift store find. It's fun to use and for folks interested in the history of what is, these days, technology that we take for granted like autofocus, it's a nice piece to have in the collection.