Category Archives: Camera Reviews

Yay for the Yashica!!

I am solidly in love with my new Yashica 635. This TLR beauty, made in 1958, is actually a dual-format camera TLR. A film adapter kit was made to work with these cameras so you could use 35mm film in addition to 120 medium format film. Mine didn’t come with one, but that’s quite alright with me.

I’ve been wanting one of these cameras for a very long time and it was worth the wait. For my first roll, I took it on a walk in the woods on a foggy day. I got some nice, moody shots that were taken on Ilford XP-2 iso 400…it’s a C-41 processed B & W film.

Looking through the viewfinder was a little challenging. The image was pretty dark (that may have been the product of the diffused lighting that day) but otherwise, I have no complaints. I’m going to try some macro shots of tulips and flowers today using my diopters.

I would HIGHLY recommend this camera for your vintage collection! If you can get your hands on one, it’s worth the money.

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Lost Film Found

Funny things happen when you start to clean up your office, like finding rolls of film that you thought had been developed. Remember that cool FlashFun camera my friend Pam gave me?

I can finally share with you the first roll of film I ran through it. It was taken in the summertime on a hazy day at the beach. One of my best friends and her husband were visiting for the weekend. Brad is probably going to kill me for posting these pictures, but he’ll have to drive two hours to do it first!

This is Brad. My BFF Loretta just doesn’t trust him to put on his own sunblock. He burns in 5 seconds outside and she didn’t want to take any chances

Elias getting buried in the sand by Emme, one of Loretta and Brad’s daughters

Four of the kids tentatively going in the ocean. It was a little chilly that day.

Ruby, one of my favorite little people and the second of Loretta and Brad’s daughters

Random shot that I forgot I took with the camera. We were in Gettysburg for a soccer tourney.

Overall, I’m totally digging this camera. The light leaks are very cool and so is the overall exposure level. I wasn’t sure those beach shots would turn out, since the light was so grayish, but they look rather nice. My roll of 127 film should have yielded eight exposures but I only got five. That very well could’ve been my fault, but I can’t be sure until I run another roll of film through. If it is indeed a flaw of the camera, I’m going to have to try some microclick-type action with it.

Speaking of which, I also got a roll back from my Art of Waiting project from September. I ran some Fuji Velvia through my Holga (minus the 12 or 16 mask that usually fits in the back) got some wicked-cool melded-together pictures, but you’ll have to wait until next week for that 😉


Fuji Natura Classica Review

The Fuji Natura Classica is a small, 35mm film camera that boasts the ability to take pictures in low light without flash. When loaded with 1600 iso film, the Natura Classica’s shutter speed is very fast in challenging light situations, which eliminates the inevitable blurry subjects that appear after attempting to hold the camera still for a long exposure shot. After waiting a few years to get my hand on this fancy little camera I can honestly say that I am not disappointed.

It’s price, around $300, is pretty steep for a point and shoot film camera so I attempted to order one from the Lomography Society with piggy points, however they were sold out when I finally accumulated enough, so I purchased one from eBay instead. The price of this camera has come down a little bit in the past year or two, so if you’re looking for one eBay is a good place to start. Mine arrived very quickly from Japan and when I opened the instructions I discovered they were written only in Japanese. A search of the internet turned up this page from Moominsean’s blog that was extremely helpful. While it appears there’s no English version of the manual (because the camera was originally available for sale in Japan exclusively) his blog contains a translation of some very important steps. The writing on my camera’s buttons are in English, thank goodness. I know a couple of non-Japanese speaking photographers who have the version of this camera with Japanese writing on the buttons which would look pretty cool, but would be another layer of frustration.

Initial impressions of this little camera are that it is very lightweight, almost cheap-feeling. Kudos to the Fuji folks for including batteries for the camera in the package (a lithium CR2 3volt). The lens (f 2.8 to 5.4) goes from wide to telephoto (28mm to 56mm) with the push of a lever. My lens action was smooth and very quiet, but not as quiet as the actual click of the shutter and advancing of the film, which are virtually noiseless. It’s like a stealthy little spy camera.

I used 800 iso Fuji color negative film for my first roll since it was the fastest film I had in my supply. These first few pictures were taken in my kitchen and living room in the evening.

Overall, the pictures aren’t bad at all considering I’m not using 1600 speed. When I zoomed in to focus on the orchids in the top picture a little red light kept flashing when I depressed the shutter halfway, which I thought meant the picture was out of focus but clearly my subject is not blurry.

Next, we took a trip to the local big box hardware store.

Wow! I know this lighting would have totally confused a normal camera. I’ve tried taking pictures in this store with a 35mm point and shoot before and have gotten crappy results. These were outstanding.

On New Year’s Eve my little camera went on a trip to Bethany Beach.

The sun was hiding just behind the building in this shot, throwing the surfer (all decked out for NYE) into dark shadows.

Behind the counter of a diner. Sun was streaming in to the left so the scene was partly lit with natural light. I love that there’s no icky green-ish tint here from the fluorescent lighting. I got that weird blinking red light again when I was taking this shot. I’m beginning to think that it’s not a matter of focus but of being in low-light picture-taking mode or NP as they call it in the manual.

That night I saw one of my favorite bands at a local bar and got some pictures in a really dark setting.

That last shot was outside. I think my results would have been much better with some 1600 speed film but these results still far surpass what I would’ve gotten from an ordinary camera. There is very little blur in the band shots and the detail found in the places with good lighting is amazing.

Finally, I was anxious to get some pictures outside in full sunlight since I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Natura Classica’s performance in those conditions.

This was the beginning of a 5K that I ran on January 1, 2012. I don’t see anything wrong with these results. Here are some pictures taken from a walk on the beach. I was thrilled to able to capture beautiful images of the inside of a sub lookout tower.

In this dark picture, I was holding the camera out into the space of the tower as far as my arm would allow since you can’t actually climb into the towers. The only available light inside the tower comes from the slits that line it’s sides. I got much better results by keeping the camera close to the side of the tower and therefore, closer to the light. This is pretty much the same picture but with much better exposure and detail at the top.

Overall, I am hugely impressed by the Fuji Natura Classica. I love taking pictures without flash partly because I suck at using a flash and partly because I just love natural lighting. If you are the same kind of photographer the Fuji Natura Classica is well worth the investment. I failed to mention earlier that the camera does come with a flash that you can turn on and off in the menu but with results like these, who needs one?


Recesky DIY Camera Adventures

The Recesky is a do-it-yourself TLR camera kit, much like the Gakkenflex. The camera produces beautiful, soft pictures often with a sweet spot of focus in the middle. The pictures I’ve seen remind me very much of lensbaby-type digital photos. I’ve been wanting to construct my own for quite sometime and FINALLY got around to doing it earlier this month. It was quite an adventure.

It looked innocent enough when I opened the package so I figured I’d give it a go around dinnertime one weeknight (what was I thinking?). Then I opened the directions

They were in a language that I didn’t even BEGIN to know how to read! My husband and I had a good laugh about this for a few minutes before I dove into the project (directions are available in English on the web but I didn’t find out until I was finished the project. Thanks to Nic Nichols of The Four Corners Store for sending me the file).

In retrospect, assembling the camera just using the pictures was much more of a learning experience for me. I’m more of a visual learner and think the descriptions in English would’ve caused me endless frustration however, there were a few steps that just left me scratching my head.

For example, putting the body of the camera together was relatively easy compared to the guts. When I got to the shutter mechanism, it was pure experimentation that finally got the springs and doo-dads to work the right way. This piece came out of the package looking very much NOT like the one in the directions. After careful inspection, it appeared as though that little plastic piece in the middle of the arc needed to be removed in order to get the spring to nestle into just the right spot.

Turns out I was right…yay!!

Hurdle number two came when trying to mount the springs correctly so that the shutter would fire. After a good thirty minutes I figured it out, despite this cryptic picture.

I had the camera mostly together when I discovered an extra piece. Doesn’t that just figure?

I disassembled the camera almost completely (after a few choice words that my children shouldn’t have heard) and could NOT figure out where this left-over part was supposed to go. After some discussion with toy camera buddies Nic and Andrew, I figured out that no, it wasn’t something I had forgotten to put on the camera, it was in fact an extra part included with my kit. How kind of the Recesky folks!

The last hurdle was to get the film to stay taught while shooting. To accomplish this I mounted a piece of foam to the door backing. It held my film in quite nicely, but looking at these pictures from my first roll, you’ll see it may have been a little too tight.

It appears the door has some wicked leakage around the back hinge. These leaks appear to coincide with the advancement of the film, since they’re at pretty regular intervals and are straight lines. There were a couple of shots from the roll that I liked. I can see this camera’s potential for beautiful, fuzzy, selective focus in these shots despite the distraction of light leaks.

If anyone has any good suggestions of a material that would hold my film taught without bulging the door out, I’d love to hear them!

One more thing I discovered involves advancing the film. Take a look at this.

These arrows help you keep track of how far the film is advancing. The one in the middle turns from one arrow to the next as you are turning the knob. In order to advance the film one full frame you just need to turn the knob from one arrow to the next, 180 degrees instead of 360 degrees, which is what I was doing. My method got me lots of blank frames full of light leaks.

I learned a few lessons constructing this camera. 1) I discovered that, despite instructions that put Ikea to shame, it was a lot easier just using the illustrations and 2)I have a much better working knowledge of how a simple camera is constructed. I look forward to more fun with my Recesky and to sharing really good shots with you very soon.


Shameless LomoPromotion

Bear with me, dear readers, as I am trying to earn some “Piggy Points” to get the camera of my dreams—the Fuji Natura Classica!!This product actually looks INCREDIBLY cool, but I’m not really one for film-making so I won’t be splurging. The movies it makes are very reminiscent of silent-era films, which to me is truly cool.

And now….on to the shameless LomoPromo…

The LomoKino – Super 35 Movie Maker Lomography in Motion: Take the next step in Lomography with the first camera that makes your  Lomographs move on any kind of 35mm film

Unique Art: Become the director of your very own LomoMovies  and produce unique and precious pieces of movie art by simply winding a crank

True Gadget: Irresistible design and unlimited creative possibilities will make gadget  loversí hearts pound faster

LomoMovies Online: Upload, watch and share your very own LomoMovies  on http://www.lomography.com Lomography in Motion- How great it must have been to witness the first pictures as they started to move or to see the Lumiere brothers amazing the crowds with their  very first short films. After over 200 years of movie making, million-dollar-special-effects, big scale film studios and endless Hollywood dramas,  we give you the chance to return back to the roots of movie making and witness the very first steps of moving Lomography.  The LomoKino allows you to become a director yourself and capture Lomographic movies on 35 mm film of any kind: no sound, no special effects,  no post production ñ just simple Lomography in motion.

Unique Art- To become a true LomoMovie director, just simply wind the crank of the magic box to capture 144 shots on one roll of 35 mm film –  which makes 36 to 48 seconds of LomoMovie. You can use any kind of 35 mm film for different effects: Slide film, colour negative,  redscale or B/W. After developing the film, spool it into the specially developed LomoKinoScope and watch your Lomographs moving over and over again.  What sounds very simple produces a unique piece of art which can either stay in your hands only or can be given as a special present to somebody  who really deserves it. Show your sweetheart how fast your heart is really pounding or capture a flying birthday cake for your grandma who will  feel catapulted back in time.

True Gadget- A wise man once said ìform follows functionî ñ naaaah ñ we like to say ìform follows motionî and thatís why we designed this camera to become a true gadget.  Its irresistible design takes you straight back into the time when people left the audience screaming because a locomotive was speeding towards them on a  movie screen and the movies were still a true business without special effects. It comes in a package either alone or with the LomoKinoScope, one film canister  and a marvelous book. Its creative possibilities are so diverse that not even we can tell the limits. Itís up to you, gadget lovers, to take this baby in your  hands and explore what movies used to be like the Lomographic way!

LomoMovies Online -Unlike the very first filmmakers we can call a powerful tool our own: the internet! Linking the simple technology of the LomoKino with our website,  enables you to upload, watch and share your own LomoMovies. To give you a taste of the special LomoKino aesthetics and the sheer endless creative  possibilities, we asked filmmakers from around the globe to create their own LomoMovies. Visit our website to get some inspiration and start  shooting your first LomoMovie! http://www.lomography.com

Technical Details Film type: all kind of 135 roll film

Lens: 25mm Exposure area: 24mm x 8.5mm: 144 images/film

Continuous Aperture: f/5.6 – f/11 Shutter: 1/100

Hand cranked: approx. 3-4 fps, 36-48 sec. movie per roll

Film counting: volume display Focusing: (normal) 1m~infinity,(press button for) 0.6m close up

Tripod mount: yes

Retail price: tba

WHAT THE HELL IS LOMOGRAPHY? http://www.lomography.com/about The Lomographic Society International is a globally active organization dedicated to experimental and creative snapshot photography.  Boasting over a half-million members across the world, the concept of Lomography encompasses an interactive, vivid, blurred and crazy way of life. Through our constantly expanding selection of innovative cameras & photographic accessories, we promote analog photography as a creative approach  to communicate, absorb, and capture the world. Through the efforts and skill of our Lomographic Society members, we seek to document the incredible planet around us in a never-ending stream  of snapshots ñ literally a global ìLomographicî portrait as seen through the eyes of countless individuals and cultures. The Future is Analogue!


Love La Sardina

Lomography’s La Sardina is a great looking camera. I love my Marathon and the way the olive drab colored case is decorated with graphic prints that make this simple camera look like a sardine case. So, do I love how this camera takes pictures? The answer is a resounding yes.

Let’s start off with the basics. La Sardina is a 35mm camera with a rather wide 21mm lens that gives you an 89-degree look at your world (wow!). The aperture is a fixed f/8, which is relatively large in the toy camera world (the majority of plastic cameras have f/16 or higher making it necessary to use them only in bright sunlight). Two shutter speeds are available, bulb and normal (1/100). I love this feature in toy cameras and find it almost a necessity because of their tiny apertures. Here are some long-exposure shots.

It’s also possible to create multiple exposures with just a flick of a switch.

There’s a film counter on top and a window on the back door to view information on the film canister. This often-overlooked detail is huge because in many plastic cams it’s impossible to tell what kind of film (if any) is loaded in the camera. If you’re anything like me you’ve exposed many frames of film to direct light while opening the back of the camera to check what’s inside.

The La Sardina is one of the easiest rewinding cameras around. The process is simple and fast PLUS your film is always left with a bit of the leader exposed, making it much easier to shoot a doubles roll with your favorite photography buddies.

Also included on the body of the camera are a cable release connection, tripod screw mount and the ability to attach an external flash.

Now, enough about aesthetics, how does it take pictures? I have found that, like many wide-angle lens cameras, the closer I am to the subject the better the picture. Here are some shots of far away action

And close up

Since the closest focusing distance is 0.6 meters (roughly 3 feet) you can stay pretty close to the action and get some nice shots but only if you remember to set the focusing ring to the appropriate setting. The one drawback to the La Sardina is its two-step focusing system. There are three distances to choose from: 0.6m, 1 meter and infinity. It is important that you set the right distance on the camera otherwise your subject will be out of focus. I found this out the hard way, as you can see from these shots.

With other plastic cameras setting the focusing distance is irrelevant. In fact I don’t even bother with that step when using my Holga. I’m going to have to play with La Sardina a while longer before I figure out it’s optimum focusing distances and that’s OK. The other features of this camera make it a stellar addition to LSI’s line of cameras.


2011 through 1970s Canon Cam

When I was a kid I remember both my Dad and Step-Dad using their cool, fully automatic film SLR cameras. I loved being able to get my little-kid hands on them (whenever I was allowed to touch them) and look through the eye piece, moving the lens and aperture ring around to fuzz-out then re-focus the world. During one recent pre-retirement purge of his house, my step-dad’s Canon AT-1 kit became mine! I was super-stoked. His kit included the camera body and wicked-cool retro yellow, orange and white camera strap, a Quantaray 28-80mm lens, Tamron telephoto lens, Vivtar 70-210mm macro lens (which must weigh 15 pounds), a Power Winder that attaches to the bottom of the camera and advances the film automatically, plus an assortment of UV & polarizing filters. Pretty effin’ cool.

The day after I brought it home (sometime in January) I took it for a spin. I couldn’t find the battery compartment (this being the first piece of Canon equipment I’ve ever owned, I wasn’t sure where to look) so I started shooting away with the battery that had been in the chamber since sometime when Ronald Reagan was president. It worked for four frames before it died. Here are a couple of those shots that I got at my friend Tracy’s art studio.

I was pretty elated when I got them back. The light was perfect–just as it appeared in her house. These were shot on Kodak Elite Chrome slide film iso 200. All that time spent playing with a light meter proved to be very helpful.

It took me almost three months to replace the battery but last week on a nice, warm, early spring afternoon I brought it along on a family hike in Cape Henlopen State Park. The results were equally as nice.

Some of the lighting conditions were a little challenging. In the above picture of the rusty bunker door I had to set the shutter speed pretty slow and open up the aperture to get enough light for the slide film. Even still, it had to be lightened just a tad when I scanned it.

Because I was using a longer lens it was a little tough to keep the shot completely in focus, as you can see in these next few pictures.

I don’t think these are terribly out of focus besides, as one who works with toy cameras I enjoy a little fuzziness.

I’ve always wanted to get a shot like this of the road. I got it by just pointing the camera down at the road—didn’t have to bend down or anything.

I’m also proud of these two shots. They’re reflections of reeds in a puddle in the woods.

I can’t wait to develop more film! Right now it’s loaded with some hand-made Revolog film and has the kit lens attached. Hopefully I’ll get those shots developed this week. What a great gift it was to get this camera. After collecting dust for so many years it’s great to get it back in action.


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