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Film camera ads and prices from 1999

If you're bored at work, how about checking out a four page B&H Photo ad from a February 1999 Popular Photography magazine?  During the late 1990s the film industry was still going fairly well, but dark clouds were on the horizon.  As I look through the ads, I'm amazed at the prices they were charging, and apparently getting for some of the higher end camera gear.  Keep in mind these prices have been steeply discounted from high volume retailers; your local camera shop probably charged significantly more than what you see here. The swell, (and nearing the end of its life) Nikon 35Ti is $649, the newer Fuji GA645Wi is $1679, and the old, (and nearing the end of their lives) Fuji GW690III series are around $1250, which is actually much less than I would have guessed.

It's kinda fun looking through the old Photography magazines once in a while, not just for the ads, but the articles and reviews too.  These pages...

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CineStill 50D samples

As a follow up to this film, I thought I'd try out a roll of Kodak Vision3 film, sold byCineStill as CineStill 50D when the rem-jet layer is removed.  This removal process adds odd characteristics to the film, like forming red halos and tinged borders around dark to bright transitions; check out the shots below to see what I'm talking about.

CineStill 50D Xpro is actually Kodak Vision3 50D 5203 color negative film, which has a coating called 'remjet' for use in motion picture cameras; however, Cinestill has removed the coating so it can be developed in standard color print C-41 chemicals.  Kodak Technical info here.

Kodak touts its Vision3 50D as the worlds finest grain film.  Characteristics...

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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 to use on the unusually dim ground glass.  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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