Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Pentax ME Post

For my birthday, I bought myself a nice Pentax ME, SE version from KEH.  I had one a few years ago and it broke when it fell from the back of my Ford Escape onto cold hard, asphalt.  I have always like the compactness of the ME, the nice viewfinder, and the simplicity of operation.  In short, a great camera for street shooting, and most everything else.  Even though most of my gear is Nikon-oriented, I have a soft spot for the Pentax ME.  I also ended up buying a nice 28-80 Pentax zoom.  I had one of those about 13 years ago, but got rid of it when I sold a bunch of gear to switch over to Nikon.
Pentax ME SE
I loaded b&w film and have been shooting with it for about 2 weeks, and finally have developed the rolls.  One roll has some fogging issues that happened perhaps while doing the bulk rolling, or perhaps via the cassette, as the camera has good light seals.  The other roll I exposed at 400 ISO, thinking I had put that speed film into it, only to realize afterwards that it was ISO 125 film.  See, even after doing this for years, I can still screw up.However, at least a few of the images were happy accidents, with the more contrasty image looking somewhat like moonlight at the observatory.
Abandoned observatory..shot at ISO 400!

Jenny, also at 400.

chair, Michigan Union

Ann Arbor Parking Structure

Argus C-4 with 300mm lens.

The next roll IS a 400 ISO film, and I will shoot it today and hopefully , all will be fine.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Plastic Craptastic Find

The Cortland CX-7, mint in box!
Last month, my mother-in-law told me she found this camera, still in the unopened box, while cleaning out some belongings that had accumulated in the garage.  It felt heavy, so she wondered if it was a valuable camera.  She gave me the name, and I looked it up. I told her that the Cortland name was yet another version of the timeless "Time camera" and that its value was about that of a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries, and that she should send it to me when she had the chance. Well, yesterday, the annual Christmas package arrived, and in the box was the Cortland CX-7.  It was heavy, and after I opened up the box and removed the plastic wrapping from the camera, I took off the bottom plate and yes, there is a pot-metal weight there, as well as weights either on the lens barrel or behind the front grip area.  I put it back together, and marveled at the attempt to make a cheap plastic toy camera look and feel like a more expensive SLR. The manual was also printed in 4 languages, making it much thicker than it ought to be.  The Cortland Optical lens?  Just like all the other "optical lenses" in this type of camera.  There is a somewhat adjustable aperture, and the shutter speed is about 1/125 sec.  There was an offer inside the box for a matching flash for $17 + $3 shipping.

I have had many of these cameras over the years end up at my door, and all are variants on the same basic specifications.
the Original TIME camera

The Sceptre 800
The great Photoflex MX-35

None of them would be called a good camera, and I believe that even the most basic Kodak Instamatics took better quality photos.  However, one never knows the results until a roll of film is put through one.  I'll slap a roll of b&w into the Cortland and see what results I get.    They do accept a manual flash unit, so they can be used indoors.   The actual value?  While there are those on ebay that might describe these types of cameras as something else, these are cheap plastic toy cameras.  Perhaps slightly better than a Holga 35. They are not worth much, but if you find one at a thrift shop for a buck, buy it and have fun.  I do have results on this blog for another variant, the CMYK camera.  Your results may vary, just as mine did.