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2018 in review

Well, another year has gone by, and thankfully It was a productive one, at least for the website.

I managed to review over 40 film cameras this year; (and now have around 52 total), much more than I thought I would be able to do---last year I said I'd like to do about two per month.  However, I did miss the mark on reviewing developing and scanning products; zero on that one, though I recently purchased a small and relatively inexpensive PrimeFilm XA Super Edition to help me keep up with all the film I've been shooting.  I also haven't been very good at posting old/antique film negatives and glass plates recently but I do have a lot in the hopper.

In 2018 I shot over 65 rolls of film, (quite a bit more than last year); mostly color print (C-41) with about 14 rolls of slide (E-6) and just a couple of rolls of B&W.  The film type was split closely between 135 format and 120. There were a few rolls of 127 and 828 too.

I did not shoot any large format this year, however, I still plan on reviewing a few cameras that I have, and have used quite a bit in the past.  I probably won't be doing a whole lot of large format anymore, it's just too expensive; 4x5" is around $5-10 per shot (depending on film type) with self-developing, and double that for 8x10." Even worse, have it developed for you by a lab, (I have E-6 film done) and you wind up paying around $35 (total) per shot with postage for an 8x10."  Oh, and it gets worse; add $50-100 per shot...

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Canon Snappy Q Review

Introducing the Canon Snappy 'Q,' it's 'Quirky and Queer,' it's Quintessential 1980s Qool!

The Canon Snappy Q (or Sketchbook) is sort of a ho-hum fixed lens camera, except that Canon made the lens cover double as a 'foggy corner filter' for those goofy 1980s Cokin moments that we all fondly remember.  BTW, I had a bunch of Cokin filters, including one similar to our foggy filter, except it was green!  The Snappy Q's filter doesn't really give you foggy corners, rather, it's a center spot filter with a clean central area, and will totally ruin your images if you use it for normal snaps; that's why Canon made it so you have to hold a button on the front with one finger, while pressing the shutter button with the other when the filter is in place.

Even though it's a run-of-the-mill focus free camera, there are a few surprises worth mentioning; for starters...

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Fuji GA645Zi 55mm-90mm Review

Nothing says '1990s' better than a 'Champagne' colored electronics product, especially an expensive camera.  The Fuji GA645Zi 'Professional' is the last, and most sophisticated model from Fuji's 'GA...' medium format line.  There were two others, the first had a 60mm,lens, the second model a wide angle 45mm, both reviewed here.  The'Zi' introduced a few handy features other than the zoom lens, like an adjustable viewfinder diopter; (great for people with less than perfect eyesight), a lens cap warning signal, (no more blank frames!), a more ergonomic placement of the shutter button, a revamped top plate, and a quieter focusing motor.   

The new features were apparently pretty expensive; a February 1999 big mail-order house advertisement in Popular Photography magazine listed the price as $1849, which may have been discounted too!  I'm guessing the...

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Rheinmetall Weltax 75mm F/3.5 Tessar Review

This week our review camera is the Rheinmetall Weltax self erecting, dual format folder, taking 6x6 images, or 6x4.5 with the addition of a reduction mask placed over the film gate.  It looks like this one was 'top of the line' as it has the four element Tessar 75mm F/3.5 lens, but ironically is equipped with an eight speed Tempor shutter, maxing out at 1/250, which was a bit slow for the times.

I purchased this Rheinmetall Weltax complete with the original box and all the paperwork, carrying case, and reduction mask.  The date of manufacture appears to be late 1955 if I read the identification card correctly.

The Rheinmetall Weltax and Welta Weltax are the same camera, but VEB Welta-Kamera-Werk, according to online gossip, was overwhelmed with orders, and shifted some production to VEB Rheinmetall for a period of time.

The Weltax looks and feels like a quality camera, and has a good lens, so how does it perform...

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Olympus Wide S 35mm F/2

I’ve been trying to get a good copy of an Olympus Wide S camera for quite a while, so when this one showed up on ebay, I jumped on it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received it and found it to be in excellent shape, even the shutter speeds were dead-on.  The lens was clean and all looked pretty …

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Agfa Reflex (Flexilette) review

This odd looking beast is known as an Agfa Reflex in the Americas, or Flexilette in Europe and surrounding areas.  It's quite large and heavy for a 135 (35mm) format camera, and one of the few TLR 'twin lens reflex' 35mm cameras made.  This was an impulse ebay purchase, and thankfully it showed up in good overall shape, and works correctly.

The gigantic circular front protrusion houses two lenses, one for taking the picture, and one for setting the composition and focus.   The taking lens is an Agfa Color Apotar 45mm F/2.8 three element type, and is surprisingly sharp with a smooth background blur, see pictures below.

The real oddity here is not just the two lenses in front, it's the viewfinder that springs up and allows you to see a bright ground glass reversed image, along with the split image rangefinder patch in the middle.  The viewfinder even comes with a handy swing-up focus magnifier, which makes precise focusing easy.  The owner's manual suggests different shooting situations where this type of viewfinder would come in handy; such as holding it over your head upside down to shoot over a crowd or fence, or at ground level while in a crouch position, or even sneaking shots around a corner so no one can see you...

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Kodak Ektachrome E100 samples

I received my roll of Kodak Ektachrome E100 back from the developers last week, and I've put together a few samples for you to check out.  Funny, but it appears the Darkroom (in San Clemente, CA), are using the Fuji Velvia profile for scanning the Kodak film, because the Ektachrome scans look almost identical to Fuji Velvia I've had developed from them in the past, see sample below.  I order scans from them just in case the film gets lost in the mail on the way back.  As a side note; I've had good luck with the Darkroom for developing my E-6 film, but they don't seem to be able to correctly scan images for shadow details, they're almost totally black, so I always do it myself at home using the...

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Agfa Silette-1 Review

The compact, inexpensive and easy to operate Agfa Silette-1 was introduced back in the early 1960s, when inexpensive and easy to operate cameras were a dime a dozen.  So why did I buy it, and what makes this camera any different than all the others?  Well, not too much to be honest, but it does have a few nice features that aren't all that common on cheap cameras, like a good quality lens, full manual controls, and a cable shutter release.

Speaking of 'easy to operate,' this camera is almost point and shoot simple; if you drop in a cartridge of ISO 200-400 negative film, set the aperture to...

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