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Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 105mm Tessar F/3.5

Our review camera for today is the Zeiss Ikon Ikonta with Tessar 105mm F/3.5 lens and Compur Rapid shutter.  This late pre-war folder is quite slim, fits in your back pocket, and takes very sharp pictures with proper technique; whether or not they're good pictures is up to you.  This is a 521/2 model, and It takes eight 2¼ x 3¼ (6x9) photos on a roll of 120 film.

This particular model is somewhat odd in that it's a less expensive Ikonta body, but has a four element tessar lens and Compur Rapid shutter normally found on higher end models of the day such as the Super Ikonta.  Likely production date for this camera is probably around 1940.

I bought this well used copy from the famed Certo6 for a mere $95 complete with a CLA, and it works great.

With the brief summary out of the way...

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Ricoh FF-3D AF Super review

Today's review camera is the Ricoh FF-3D AF Super; did you instantly guess it's from the 1980s?  It has that quintessential 1980s point and shoot 35mm camera look, especially with a silver finish and Pontiac dashboard inspired rear LCD panel.

Although the Ricoh FF-3D AF Super is a rather typical fully automatic point and shoot camera of the day, there are a couple of nice features to point out; such as the very bright flash, a manual ISO dial, (which doubles as an exposure compensation option), and a super sharp five element lens.

For a higher end mid 1980s fixed lens camera, it has a couple of annoying quirks...

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Crocker Highlands in Oakland CA, 1918

Welcome to a very early look at the upscale Crocker Highlands development, just east of Oakland, California.  High Society folks living here now describe the development as 'a neighborhood that overflows with an abundance of character and charm, and exhibits a genteel ambiance of an old Hollywood movie set.'  Crocker Highlands offers elegant examples of Tudor, Spanish, Arts and Crafts, Beaux Arts, and Art Deco period homes.

Zeroing in on the actual location is a bit tricky.  I see...

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Minolta Freedom III, AF-Z review

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...

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The Tavern in Mansfield MA, c1910

Here's a sample image from a roll of 122 film, taken in front of 'The Tavern' in Mansfield Massachusetts sometime around 1910 according to literature that came with the negative.  'The Tavern' was a Hotel and Restaurant built by Walter Lowney, who years earlier built a chocolate factory down the street, so in this scene the photographer may have been smelling baking brownies while taking the picture!  There isn't much online information of 'The Tavern' in Mansfield, MA, so it's probably not there anymore; and likely followed a lot of other wood framed buildings from the era and burned to the ground 'suddenly during the night.'

This picture is a good example of the kind of quality you could get with a simple folding pocket camera over a century ago...

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Argus argoflex ‘Forty’ review

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...

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Canon AE-1 Program ad from 1981

Here are four full page ads from Canon promoting their SLR line, with two pages dedicated to the new high tech ‘programmed’ AE-1 Program.  The reason this ad caught my eye is that I bought one new in 1983 with the kit 50/1.8 lens; I think it was about $200; a short time later I added the Canon FD …

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Kodak Pony II review

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!

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