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Spartus Spartaflex review

Our next camera up for review is the Spartus Spartaflex, where their famous marketing line is "you see the picture before you take it."  Of course all cameras have some sort of way to view the picture before you take it, but Jack Galter of the Spartus Camera Corporation was not shy about questionable marketing, and he even tried to register the name "Kodak" for his new line of cigarette lighters with the US Trademark association.

This item was yet another ebay impulse buy, and fortunately I got lucky and ended up with a nice working copy.  The Spartus Spartaflex was made in Chicago Ill, around the late 1940s to early 1950s and priced at $27.50 with flash in 1949.  When looking online for more info, I noticed it looks like there are at least three different iterations of this model through the years; the differences are mostly in the face plate and lens shapes and finishes.

The Spartaflex is a relatively well build plastic "box" type camera, with a waist level viewfinder and a coupled taking and viewing lens, which, by the way, means this is a real twin lens camera, not a pseudo type like this one.   You can actually see the focus change in the finder as you move the lens in and out, but getting perfect focus is another story since there is no magnifier.  It uses readily available 120 film, and takes 12 6x6 pictures per roll.

Spartus made some pretty dubious claims...

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Kodak Autographic Special No. 1 sample

Just a quick post to show the amazing quality of the lens on a Kodak Autographic Special No. 1 that's north of a century old.  The lens is a triplet of Zeiss origin, sometimes marketed as a Baush and Lomb Kodak Anastigmat, or Kodak Zeiss Anastigmat.

I have a bunch of these Kodak folding cameras from the turn of the century to the 1930s, and all of them have shutter problems, so plan on getting that fixed if you want to use one for walk around snaps.

The Kodak No. 1 cameras take commonly available 120 film today (6x9 size), as they did way back in the day using wooden spools with metal ends, but they will work just fine with modern film using plastic spools.  Beware of the Kodak No. 1-a, it takes a completely different size film that is no longer available, and it's often listed alongside the no. 1.

I used Kodak Portra 400 for this image, with the aperture set to F/22, at 1/10 second.  My camera shows some signs of a light leak, see the reddish blotches along the left bottom.  Once I get that, and some other issues fixed, I'll do a proper review and get it posted.

I see more resolution in this 6x9 negative...

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Re-visiting Rollei CR200 color reversal film

I had the chance to shoot another roll of Rollei Digibase CR200 E-6 film, (B&H, eBay), and the results are similar to the shots from the first time out.  The difference this time was that I took the shots in a harbor town setting, instead of Arizona desert fall colors.

One thing is for certain, Rollei CR200 has a very large dynamic range, almost like print film.  Unfortunately, I don't really care for the colors, which are muted warm, with a bluish hue to the shadows.  The colors just don't "pop" for me.  You can "jack" the colors in photoshop, but it's really hard to get a more "traditional" look back to the scene.  However, for the artistic type, the native look for this film might be right up your alley...

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HomeGoods, 1918.

It's April, (in 1918), and time for some spring cleaning, and maybe to replace your worn out stove with a new Detroit Red Star that can fry a thick steak in just 20 minutes!!  How about a One Minute washing maching, bench or floor model, (see it in color here), and some One Minute Cleanser?  The two electric sweepers brands look to be "America" and maybe "Hoover" although it's hard to tell.  I see a couple of clothes wringers at the sides of the image, and a floor scrubber too.

Believe it or not, this exposure probably took about half an hour.  I'm guessing (based on depth of field) F/22-32 with an ASA of around 10-20 in what was probably a dimly lit room.  My own exposures with 5x7 film at ASA 100 in similar lighting are about 8 minutes at F/32-45.

This image comes to us as a 5x7 glass plate negative...

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Fuji GA645W Review

The Fuji GA645W was a very modern and expensive camera for the professional photographer, or rich amateur back in the mid to late 1990s. This particular model has a wide angle lens, and covers about the same as a 28mm lens in 135 format.  There are two versions in this series, a wide angle as we have here, and a slightly longer version of 60mm, which covers about the same as 37mm in 135 format.  Both are very high quality fixed lens medium format cameras that are feature rich, including full manual operation, and fully automated controls for quick point and shoot snap shots.  And a side note here before I forget; with all the advanced features, I expected a lens cap warning device; but no, if you leave the lens cap on, the camera works fine, but you get no pictures(!)  A couple years later, Fuji introduced a new model (GA645Zi) with a 55-90mm zoom lens, which does have a cap detector.

People looking to step up to medium format from an automated 35mm camera like the Nikon 35Ti will love the simplicities of the Fuji GA645 models, they both function basically the same, of course size being another matter.  So you don't know how to meter light, no problem, the camera does that for you.  And you don't know how to focus rangefinder cameras, no problem, its auto focus system is very accurate, and there's no rangefinder to fiddle with.  Do you like to write down your exposure settings for future use; well, you can keep your pencil in your pocket, the camera records the date and exposure settings along the film margins, not in the picture area...

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Rollei CN200 samples—from a bad roll?

Either I got a bad roll of film, or this is the most pathetic film ever manufactured.  If you look at the picture of the Rollei Digibase CN200 negatives in the film preserver, you can see the color goes from a somewhat normal orange look, to cyan/greenish, and then totally blue.  Obviously, something must be wrong with the quality control, I don't think it was with the developing, as my local lab did it in standard C-41 chemistry, which is what the film calls for.

Rollie CR200 is a warm E-6 transparency film, which I thought had some nice qualities, even though I didn't like the grain and resolution, I posted some samples here.  So I decided to try a roll of Rollei CN200, which is C-41 print film that has no mask, (can be processed using E-6 with a shift in color),and is supposed to scan well because it dries flat, has fine grain, high sharpness and vivid colors.  Unfortunately, this roll has none of those qualities, so I guess I received a bad roll.  Oh well, with processing that's about $15 down the drain.  I'm quite sure that the exposures are appropriate, as that information is burned on the edge of the film with the Fuji GA645.  I'm also sure it was processed in C-41 as my lab no longer does E-6.

I may try the film out again...

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Fifty year old film, and a century old camera…

equals a typical digital camera in 2018.  At least in resolution, but ok, maybe not in ease of use.

I took this shot while testing a folding pocket Kodak 3A camera out a couple of years ago.  I used Kodak (Verichrome Pan ASA 80) 122 Roll film that expired in 1971, but probably made in 1969, almost 50 years ago!  You get six 3¼" x 5½" pictures on a roll, (the same area as a 4x5!!), and I bracketed the shots so I'd be sure and get a good one, however, that wasn't really necessary as all the images turned out pretty good.  The shot above was made at F/32, with a one second exposure time.  The sunny 16 rule puts my exposure about four stops longer than normal, and 'normal' being about 1/15s at F/32 with ASA 80 film.

I think I used Ilfosol 3 developer around 4-5 minutes in a tank.  It's expensive to do just one roll at a time, with the film about $25 a roll (a few years ago, now it's around $50-100 a roll depending on age), and developer, stop bath and fixer about half that, so about $5 a picture; save money and get the kodak combination back and use fresh 8x10 sheet film.  After cutting you'll get three shots, (which allows small try developing), that's what I'm doing now, and costs about $3 per shot.

I'll be doing a review of the Kodak 3A in the near future; it's quite a camera, especially when you get one with a good lens like the (Zeiss) Kodak Anastigmat, or Tessar types.

The image above was scanned on a Epson V700, which does a pretty good job, but there is more detail in the original.  Unfortunately, I don't have a good scanner that will accommodate the large 3¼" x 5½" negative.  I could cut it in half, or take a partial using a digital camera and macro lens, but I think I'll wait and show that in the review.

The resolution in the long expired film negative is about what you'd get with a good 24mp digital camera and top quality prime lens today, not bad for a camera from the silent film era.

Anyhow...

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Die Klassische Evolution, Contax Tix review

The Contax Tix was a super expensive "boutique" APS film camera that came out around 1997.  I doubt there were many, (or any other) APS cameras that were more expensive than this one.   Based on the hang tag of 120,000; street cost would have probably been about $999.   A premium 35mm camera would've cost about the same amount, like this one.

The presentation case for the Contax Tix is so nice you would think it contained the Hope diamond.  Rich people bought this camera for vacation snaps when it first came out.  Starting around 2000 and later, digital cameras started taking a serious bite out of the film business , and the price dropped enough so middle class folks could afford a very nice sub-compact film camera.  Unfortunately, a few years later, the film would no longer be made, and you wound up with a nice paper weight for your desk.  It's too bad because the Contax Tix is very small and convenient, with a lot of premium features and a really sharp Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens.

The Contax Tix is a sub-compact film camera, and uses APS film which has not been manufactured since around 2010-11...

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