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Surprise On The Rise

Think you need a $4500 Sony A9 and expensive trick lens to take fast action shots?  The photographer that caught this moment was probably using an early 1950s rangefinder, or a press 4×5 with sport finder; try using one of those today in a similar situation and see if you can come up with anything remotely usable.

Swedish amateur motorcyclist …

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Canon Snappy 30 review

I bought this weeks review camera brand new in 1989; it was a K-Mart blue light special blister-pack model and I think I paid about $45 for it.  I wanted to take some pictures of a house I was renovating, and did not have any other camera available.  At the time I thought I'd take a few rolls of what I needed, toss it in the drawer, and eventually it'd head to a garage sale or dumpster.  When I bought it way back then I didn't think I'd be using it almost 30 years later.  I still get a kick out of running a roll through it every once in a while; the technical image quality is pretty good, about the same as a top line $900 cell phone camera, but much quicker and easier to operate, and a whole lot less expensive; pick up a nice copy on ebay for less than $10, or even less at a garage sale.

Oddly, I can't seem to find a single page of information...

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Revisiting the Zeiss Ikon Ikonta

I've totally updated the Zeiss Ikon Ikonta review using mostly new pictures, along with the now standard mountain aperture test scene.  I've also added more information gained through additional use, and then put the whole review in the same format as the newer camera reviews.

My dad bought this camera new in 1953, and I've had it for the last 10 years or so.  Using it was a chore as the shutter speeds were off quite a bit, and the focusing was out of whack so to speak.  After a recent  shutter cleaning and lens calibration by the famed Certo6, it now hums along nicely, and produces much higher technical quality photos than before.

Head to the totally updated review here.

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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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