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...
The Argus argoflex Forty is one of the very best of the pseudo TLR 6x6 box cameras, and the best one I've used so far. This little gem is from 1950, and the model production years for the "Forty" ranged from 1950-1954. Oddly, Argus describes the camera in the owner's manual as a 'modified' twin lens type, with a 'built-in flash'---a big negatory on both claims.
The argoflex Forty has a lot of useful (and high-end) features such as; focusing lens, nine blade iris with six marked settings, four shutter speeds with bulb, tripod socket, and shutter cable release. And the best part; it will work just fine with 120 film as long as you use a 620 take-up spool...
Today we head back to late 1950s for a review of the Crapsey designed Kodak Pony II. This rather mundane camera has a simple one speed shutter, zone focusing, multiple apertures to choose from, a good Kodak Anastar four element lens, (supposedly loaded with radioactive thorium dioxide), and uses commonly available 135 type film, so it should be an easy camera to get good pictures from, even in poor shape.
The little black plastic Pony II was produced from 1957-1962 and was one of the simplest and least expensive 'Pony' cameras in the series. A couple of odd features on this version include a tripod socket, even though it has a single speed shutter and no bulb or long exposure modes; and of course the camera uses the dreaded 'Exposure Value' system, (popular back then), in which you set the aperture using information from an exposure card on the back of the camera that matches your film type. It was a confusing way to figure out the proper exposure, but it did work if you followed the instructions. A step up from the 'II' version is the 'IV,' which features a four speed shutter with bulb mode, traditional F/stop markings, and an accessory shoe.
The Kodak Pony II cameras are plentiful and relatively inexpensive on ebay, and also at garage sales and flea markets. The review model here is in excellent condition and working order, so let's take some snaps and see what happens!
Minolta produced some really nice film cameras back in the day, and the Freedom Zoom 160 is no exception. This camera is surprisingly small and lightweight for having such a large zoom range, which makes is very pocketable, and close to being as tiny as the Olympus XA! Main features include a zoom range of 37.5-160mm, earth shattering high tech auto focus, (really, read the next paragraph!), auto loading, film advance, rewind, self timer, flash, auto parallax correction, and even a +1.5 exposure compensation setting!
The Minolta Freedom Zoom 160 came out near the end of the film camera era, (around 2001), so it had a lot of sophisticated features that we take for granted today, such as predictive AF, eyepiece sensor metering/AF activation, and flash distance integration to name a few. In fact, Minolta claimed in a 2001 business ad the camera had: the world's largest AF area in a film camera -- the world's first film camera with subject detection -- the world's first compact camera with matrix AF indication and automatic LED brightness control -- advanced subject-weighted multi-segment metering -- eye start, a 32-bit RISC processor, and a high-speed AF drive creating the world's fastest focusing compact camera in its class.
All that sounds pretty cool, but how well does the camera actually work in real life? let's find out now!
Our review camera for this week is the Agfa Record III; a classic 1950s 6x9 self erecting folder featuring an uncoupled rangefinder, and a four element lens. This is my favorite camera, and I've taken more pictures with it than any other camera except maybe my old Canon A-1 I used back in the 1980s.
I really like the fact that it's very compact when folded; it'll fit in the back pocket of your jeans, or in a jacket pocket. These old folders take no batteries, they're fully manual; you advance the film, focus, set the aperture and shutter speed; then cock and press the shutter! Thankfully, the camera uses widely available 120 film, and any good photo shop should charge you about the same amount as your 135 film for processing, scanning and printing.
Believe it or not; this Agfa Record III with Solinar lens will come close to the resolution of the...
As the name suggests, the Fuji has a big, and delightfully bright viewfinder, which also happens to be very sharp. It's also very light-weight and easy to use.
Apparently, Fuji wanted to offer something different to the masses at the time, so they made a camera with a big bright view-finder, along with a wide angle Carl Zeiss 29mm lens, that's right, a 29mm lens, instead of the industry standard of 28mm. Well, the lens is not really made by Carl Zeiss, I just made that up for fun. I'm guessing it's a glass two element lens based on the poor side performance.
I purchased this Fuji along with 9 other cameras for $45 on ebay, so less than $5 bucks apiece. The Big View-Finder really isn't worth that much, since you can get a smaller single use camera that works just as well, and has the film already inside!
If you're bored at work and want to blow 5 minutes, by all means check out the review. If you value your off-duty time, go here for better offerings.
The Canon Sure Shot 85 Zoom is very impressive considering you can get them really cheap via ebay or garage sales. For the price of a pack of cigarettes, you can have a nice quality vacation or snap shot camera that will give you excellent prints up to 8"x10."
This late 90s black beauty is actually a swell camera; the lens quality is better than what I would've guessed, especially for a zoom; it has a 6/6 design with one aspherical element. Other nice features include excellent AF accuracy and exposure metering, a good zoom range, and a 'real time' shutter setting for super quick snaps!
Is this the camera we've all been dreaming of, or is it just another uninspiring cheap camera for the masses? Either way, let's take a closer look at the Canon Sure Shot Zoom 85...
The Canon 110 ED was one of the very best 110 cameras of the day. It had the fastest lens for a while (F/2), until Michael Landon of little house on the prairie started hawking the Kodak Ektramax a couple of years later with a F/1.9 design. The camera outfit you see above was expensive, and cost about as much as a good 35mm camera, but it did have some advanced features that were missing on most of the 110's, like a tripod socket, a shutter cable release, flash hotshoe, rangefinder focusing, manual aperture adjustments, and an excellent five element lens!
We're going to take a mid 1970s trip down memory lane for this review, so head to the closet or basement and dust off your old 110; it's probably under your bell bottoms and peace sign jewelry. But before your sentimental photo outing...