Sunday, March 19, 2017

First Impressions - Minolta Maxxum 5

I have only used a Minolta auto-focus camera a few times in the past -- A neighbor wanted me to sell her Minolta Maxxum 7000 and lenses for her, so I tested everything out with a roll of film before I did so.  While that camera had something going for it when it first came out, it was slow and a bit clunky in the user interface, compared to modern AF SLRs.  I also have seen a plethora of used Maxxums of various types in thrift shops, etc., sitting there, forlornly waiting for a new owner.  As I recently tested a Maxxum QTsi and was quite pleased with the results, it is just a P&S camera.  Since then, I acquired a Minolta Maxxum 5 with a 24-85mm lens.  Once I put new batteries (2 CR-2) in it, it came to life.  It helped that it had a manual, since this is a feature-packed SLR.  It features eye-start, and just about every setting one might want to use in a film SLR camera.    I am not going to go into a full review of the camera's features and settings, since they are already online elsewhere. One thing that caught my attention right away -- this has to be the lightest, compact and full-featured SLR that I have used.  If you have small hands, this is a great choice for an AF SLR.  The controls are easily accessed, and the wheel in the front of the camera controls the aperture when you are in A mode, and other settings as you rotate the mode dial are managed via the wheel.   The lens focuses quickly and the camera is very responsive to the user.
The Maxxum 5 is the top of the line in the compact SLR bodies, and the larger, more professional-quality Maxxum 7 and Maxxum 9 remain at the top of the Minolta AF SLR bodies, with features that rival and even surpass Nikon and Canon's top models.  However, the sun was setting on Minolta as the digi revolution was underway.  It's too bad, but on the other hand, you can pick up these SLRs for a fraction of what they originally cost, and the A-series lenses are rather inexpensive.  If you are looking for a auto-focus SLR and have no current investment in a system, take a look at the Maxxum 5, 7, or 9.
I shot a few rolls of b&w film for my initial testing, and have no complaints.  The camera handles VERY well, and I enjoyed using it.

Eastman 5222 film

Eastman 5222 film

Eastman 5222 film

Eastman 5222 film

expired Delta 3200 at 1600!

expired Delta 3200 at 1600!

expired Delta 3200 at 1600!

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!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Filmtastic Fun at the FPP HQ

I had a long weekend in NJ last week, as I drove out with Leslie Lazenby Hunsberger to the Film Photography Project HQ in Fair Lawn, NJ.  Mat Marrash arrived just a few moments after we did on Thursday, and Mike Raso met us at the door. John Fedele and Mark Dalzell showed up in Friday to be part of the recording sessions.  I'm not going to go into any details, as I'll "save it for the show."  However, we did manage to take care of the huge number of boxes of donated cameras, accessories and film that were sent to the FPP donation program, and were quite pleased with what we had accomplished by the time we finished Saturday afternoon. We recorded a lot of podcasts, and they will resume March 15 (yay! I like listening to them as well.).

While there, I had a lot of fun shooting film in the studio, doing the podcasts, and of course, checking out the donations. Mike made sure that we ate well, and those NJ diners are amazing. The time flew by and I had to head home on Sunday.  All I can say is that I am touched and pleased at how many people are getting back into film, and how others are trying it for the first time and enjoying the process.  The FPP is a conduit for our love of film to the world at large, and it seems more and more folks are enjoying shooting with film.

One thing that we discovered while doing the shows (what show?) is that B&H lists the FPP as a place to donate your film cameras.  That was a great surprise to us, and if you find yourself with more gear than you need or want, the FPP Donation Program is a good place for your stuff. It gets cameras in the hands of students in elementary, high school, and community college photography programs.

Much to my surprise, Al Roker had a segment on the analog processes in yesterday's TODAY show! Watch it and enjoy!