Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Recent Finds

I was in Lansing on October 12 and on the way back, I stopped at an Antique Mall in Mason, and picked up a forlorn-looking Pentax Spotmatic with a slightly moldy Pentacon Electric 50mm lens. It was only 12 bucks, and I figured that it needed a good home. Once I got it home, I realized that the mirror was staying up at speeds below 1/125th sec. Otherwise, the camera was in reasonable condition except for a missing PC flash connector on the front, and grime and tarnish. The Pentacon 50mm lens isn't an appropriate lens for the camera as it doesn't stop down automatically for metering. In addition, the meter doesn't seem to be working, which isn't a big deal. After cleaning up the camera, I found out what I need to do do fix the mirror return -- some lubrication of an arm beneath the bottom plate may fix the problem. I'll eventually get around to it and then shoot some film. I put on a Chinon 50mm 1.7 lens -- which is a pretty good one. It'll make a nice combination.
I have owned a series of M42 cameras -- and the Spotmatics are the smoothest of the genre. In 1980, I used one a trip to the Southwest, and took many Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides in those 10 days.
The Spotmatic, all cleaned up:

A Pellix, at last! On Sunday, I was working the MiPHS Photographica Show in Royal Oak. I did not plan on buying any cameras, but there was a table that had a bunch of inexpensively-priced cameras. I saw the Canon Pellix for $15, and offered the seller 10 bucks, which he accepted. This is the first Canon Pellix that I have handled, and it fits in well with my collection of Canon manual-focus SLRs. The camera I picked up came with a 50mm f/1.4 FL lens, which alone is worth more than the $10 I paid. The camera was missing a battery cover, and I took one from a non-working Canon TX, put in a fresh zinc-air battery, and the meter sprang to life! What makes the Pellix special is that the mirror does not flip up. Instead, it is a transparent, partially silvered mirror (A pellicle, hence the name Pellix) that reflects some of the light into the viewfinder, and the rest to expose the film.

This would have made a great deal of sense for Canon if the camera were to be used with a motor drive, but this camera does not accept one. I see it as a way for Canon to try a lot of new things in the marketplace, and one can debate the pros and cons of a a pellicle mirror, but the main problem is that as soon as it gets dirty, the image will be degraded. The second problem (that Canon tried to overcome by selling this model with a fast lens) is that the viewfinder is dimmer, because not all of the light is reflected to your eye. In any case, the camera is interesting, and once I replace the light seals, I'll give it a go. It IS quieter without a mirror slap, but not enough to make it the best reason for trying out the design. Canon also put a pellicle mirror on the EOS RT - which was supposed to be great for rapid-fire sports photographers.
A really good page on the Pellix is maintained by Marc Rochkind. My camera is the first version. Later on, Canon made a Pellix QL, which featured Canon's "Quick Load" system. Now, Sony has introduced 2 DSLRs with pellicle mirrors. The old Pellix is now a modern camera...

It's fun finding a new classic camera!

1 comment:

Marc Akemann said...

Two nice finds, Mark! The Spotmatic looks good as does the Canon Pellix and it's beautiful 50/1.4 FL lens. Lately, it seems I've been attracted to Pentax M42 cameras. I recently picked up a Spotmatic SP and an Asahi Pentax SV. The SV needs some work but there are so many affordable lenses available for this system it's hard to pass on this stuff.
I have no experience with a Canon Pellix but I like when a camera manufacturer gets creative with features. Sometimes an idea works and sometimes it doesn't. I think the Pellix works for certain things and having less vibration doesn't hurt. Nice blog article there.