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Mercury II 35mm F/2.7 review

 

This weeks review camera is a neat little garage sale find costing a mere $5 back when my dad picked it up in the late 1980s! The camera is a Mercury II made by the Universal Camera Corporation.  It’s an odd, but not unattractive looking mechanical contraption that was sold back in the late 1940s to very early 1950s.  …

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Olympus IS-30 DLX review

I've probably owned north of 100 film cameras just in the last ten years, and the Olympus IS-30 DLX is one of, if not thee best 35mm film camera bargain out there. This camera goes for an astonishingly low price on ebay, and picking up a decent working model will set you back about the same as a burger and fries at McDonald's.

The Olympus IS-30 has an excellent 28-110mm fixed zoom lens, along with all the conveniences and necessities that we demand today for our expensive digital cameras; such as predictive AF, TTL phase-difference detection system; TTL light metering and fuzzy logic ESP metering for back-lit scenes and ±2ev exposure compensation.  Also included are; auto advance, rewind and loading; powerful flash with high speed sync; aperture priority mode and a whole lot more.

The exposure system is first rate, and it nails slide film just as good as the Nikon 35Ti with its fancy matrix metering.  This super zoom bridge type camera focuses exceptionally fast...

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Pilot Super 6×6 75mm F/2.9 Review

The unique (or goofy) Pilot 'Super' 6x6 SLR was only produced for a very short period of time, (between 1939-41), and is not widely known even among camera collectors.  I just happened to be perusing ebay's film camera category late one evening and came across this model in excellent condition.  One word of caution here; alcohol and ebay's 'buy it now' option don't mix well, and you might be surprised at what shows up in your parcel box or front door a few days later.

The Pilot 'Super' (not to be confused with the Michelin tire of the same name), was a big upgrade to the simple, (and earlier) Pilot '6' and was produced by KW or 'Kamera Werkstätten' out of Neidersedlitz, near Dresden Germany.  Neat features include: a cubic form, (preceding the Hassleblad design by quite a few years), single lens reflex design, a guillotine type four speed shutter, eye level finder, extinction meter and at least four lenses to choose from...

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Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 105mm Tessar F/3.5

Our review camera for today is the Zeiss Ikon Ikonta with Tessar 105mm F/3.5 lens and Compur Rapid shutter.  This late pre-war folder is quite slim, fits in your back pocket, and takes very sharp pictures with proper technique; whether or not they're good pictures is up to you.  This is a 521/2 model, and It takes eight 2¼ x 3¼ (6x9) photos on a roll of 120 film.

This particular model is somewhat odd in that it's a less expensive Ikonta body, but has a four element tessar lens and Compur Rapid shutter normally found on higher end models of the day such as the Super Ikonta.  Likely production date for this camera is probably around 1940.

I bought this well used copy from the famed Certo6 for a mere $95 complete with a CLA, and it works great.

With the brief summary out of the way...

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Ricoh FF-3D AF Super review

Today's review camera is the Ricoh FF-3D AF Super; did you instantly guess it's from the 1980s?  It has that quintessential 1980s point and shoot 35mm camera look, especially with a silver finish and Pontiac dashboard inspired rear LCD panel.

Although the Ricoh FF-3D AF Super is a rather typical fully automatic point and shoot camera of the day, there are a couple of nice features to point out; such as the very bright flash, a manual ISO dial, (which doubles as an exposure compensation option), and a super sharp five element lens.

For a higher end mid 1980s fixed lens camera, it has a couple of annoying quirks...

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Crocker Highlands in Oakland CA, 1918

Welcome to a very early look at the upscale Crocker Highlands development, just east of Oakland, California.  High Society folks living here now describe the development as 'a neighborhood that overflows with an abundance of character and charm, and exhibits a genteel ambiance of an old Hollywood movie set.'  Crocker Highlands offers elegant examples of Tudor, Spanish, Arts and Crafts, Beaux Arts, and Art Deco period homes.

Zeroing in on the actual location is a bit tricky.  I see...

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Minolta Freedom III, AF-Z review

Our review camera for today is the compact Minolta Freedom III; featuring a quartz date back, AF, auto loading, advance and rewind; along with a nice 35mm F/2.8 lens.  The 'Freedom' line from Minolta were wildly popular during the 1980s, and competed with the similar Canon and Nikon offerings of the day.  This camera came out in 1986 along with three other 'Freedom' models; see a goofy wild west themed period ad here.

The fully automatic Minolta Freedom III (AF-Z) was at the top of the Freedom line, and fairly expensive back in the day.  So will it still take good pictures today?  Let's find out now...

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The Tavern in Mansfield MA, c1910

Here's a sample image from a roll of 122 film, taken in front of 'The Tavern' in Mansfield Massachusetts sometime around 1910 according to literature that came with the negative.  'The Tavern' was a Hotel and Restaurant built by Walter Lowney, who years earlier built a chocolate factory down the street, so in this scene the photographer may have been smelling baking brownies while taking the picture!  There isn't much online information of 'The Tavern' in Mansfield, MA, so it's probably not there anymore; and likely followed a lot of other wood framed buildings from the era and burned to the ground 'suddenly during the night.'

This picture is a good example of the kind of quality you could get with a simple folding pocket camera over a century ago...

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