Film Cameras Archives - Photo Jottings

Film Cameras

Minolta Freedom Zoom 160 Date Review

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!

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Agfa Record III 105mm F/4.5 Solinar review

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...

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FujiFilm Big View-Finder Auto 10 review

Fuji BIG View-Finder----Fuji BIG dis-appointment!

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.

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Canon Sure Shot Zoom 85 review

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...

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Canon 110 ED review, Perfection in Miniature!

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...

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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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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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