Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Look Through the Konica EYE

Half-frame cameras are few - and while the Olympus Pen models usually come to mind, other manufacturers produced some as well.  There was the Canon Demi, The Ricoh Auto-Half, The Agfa Optima Parat, the old Univex Mercury II, Yashica Samurai, The Soviet-era Chaika-2, and then, there was also Konica, with several models to choose from including an SLR that featured full and half-frame settings. I used to own an Olympus Pen D, but I rarely used it, and sold it after a few years -- long ago. It was totally manual, and it seemed to take forever to finish a roll of film.  Of course, there are other half-frame cameras out there that I have not mentioned, but Google is your friend.

Half-frame cameras use 35mm film, but the negatives are 18x24mm, rather than 24x36mm.  Half-frame images are the same as the cine-film area.  So, a roll of 24 exposure-film will give you 48 half-frame negatives.  For cost-conscious photographers, half-frame is indeed a money-saver. If you had an Olympus Pen F SLR, you were carrying quite a good bit of photographic equipment.  It also allowed for making some quite compact rangefinders and zone-focus cameras.

I recently obtained a Konica EYE, and the logo on the front looks like a text emoticon.  The camera has a clean design, not unlike an Olympus Trip 35, and has some nice features.

  1. Dial on the back of the camera to set the ISO, with the setting appearing on the top deck
  2. Shutter speeds (auto-set) ranging from B (manual) to 1/30 to 1/800, with the 30mm lens having an aperture range of f/1.9 to f/16. 
  3. Selenium cells around the lens control the metering - just like the Olympus Trip 35.
  4. Cold shoe with a PC-sync socket on the front of the camera
  5. Zone/scale focusing, no rangefinder
  6. ISO settings from 10 to 400.

The model I have is the EYE version 2, produced in 1964. I quickly figured out its quirks and loaded a roll of Eastman 5222 b&w film into it.  You push a tiny button underneath the rewind arm to pop open the back.  Very interesting feature.

I took the Eye out with me on Sunday -- it was a cold and windy day, but I managed to shoot nearly an entire roll before I called it quits. I could sense that the winding was having some problems -- as in perhaps tearing sprocket hols and overlapping frames. However, I persevered, and it went back to normally advancing the film. Other than that, the only thing I had to remind myself to do was to set the focus to the proper range.

I developed the film in D-76, in a 1:1 ratio with water for a 10 minute developing time.   That usually works out well.  Looking at the negs, some looked over-exposed, and of course, there were a bunch of overlapped frames, just as I suspected.  Most of the images look pretty good, and I will try this camera once again with some different films. Since I roll my own cassettes, I will make them 30-frame rolls instead of 72!

Here are some of the images - all taken on the UM campus. Overall, I am pleased with the results, and maybe I'll try some TechPan another time for nearly grain-less images.

the overlapping frames!

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