Monday, January 27, 2014

Results from the Autoreflex T

I cheated here -- this is not a flipped mirror shot, it was taken with my Nikon 1J1.
In the previous post I explained my recent acquisition of a Konica Autoreflex T SLR.  I finally finished off the roll of Arista Premiun 400 and developed it in TMax RS developer.  Just looking at the negatives as they dried, told me that the metering was good - at least good enough.

One of the problem with many of these older cameras is that they required 1.35V  Mercury cells for the meters.  Fortunately, I can use Zinc-Air cells in this model without any adapter, and their voltage is plenty close enough. On top of that, some meters lose sensitivity at low EV levels, so while they may function well in daylight, the metering goes to hell in a room. Or, the meter may be non-functional due to corrosion, old solder joints, aged components, etc.  Picking up a camera made in the 1960s and expecting it to work like new seems to be a quality found only with photographers.  Even purely mechanical cameras can have problems caused by old seized lubricants, bad materials used in manufacturing, and things do age.  I know I don't work quite as well as I did 40 years ago.  This particular Autoreflex T seems to work fine, but I still think the metering is a bit suspect indoors.  However, since the shutter speeds are not electronic, I can always shoot in manually, instead of in shutter priority mode.  It certainly has a gratifying solid-sounding shutter and is built very well.

I shot some photos while out in the cold winter temperatures that we have been enduring for the past few weeks in Michigan.  Black and white film is great for winter, especially for subjects that have great contrast, such as snow and anything not snow.
The icy Huron River, just W of Zeeb Road.
On Jan. 18, my friend Cheryl and I checked out the Huron River near Zeeb Road.  There is a nice trail to some nice riffle areas, but i chose to shoot the more placid upstream with its reflections and ice flotsam coming down towards us.

It was only about 15°F, but for some reason I cold chilled more quickly than usual, and Cheryl's Nikon FM2N decided it didn't like the cold either.  I had also brought along my Nikkormat EL, and it too, decided to stop working in the cold!

Cheryl borrowed my tripod to shoot some scenes with her Nikon FM2N. 
I am pleased with the images that I got with the 40mm 1.8 lens.  It seems quite sharp, and I look forward to shooting more with it.

Is the Autoreflex series a good buy?  Back in the 1960s -1985 or so, there were a lot of different SLR brands.  Some makers, such as Nikon , Minolta, Canon, and Pentax were able to retain their following and incrementally improve their SLR bodies and features.  Konica, Yashica, Olympus, Topcon and Miranda all had some outstanding cameras with great glass.  None of them survived as top SLR makers after 1990.  Well, Yashica did, only because of the Contax contract.  Konica's last SLR was made by Chinon, though the Hexanon lenses were probably made by Konica.  Because the AR-mount lenses are so good, they often command a higher premium with people using them on mirrorless cameras.   If you find a good used Autoreflex T or T3, or even a TC, go for it.  You should be able to pick one up in the $30 and less range.

US 23 was closed due to another accident, so the truckers came through town.
As I stated above, older cameras with an unknown history may need to be cleaned, calibrated and freshened up with new mirror foam and door seals.  Most of the Autoreflex cameras required Mercury cells, too.  It's up to you whether or not a CLA costing about $70  is worth the trouble for a camera that you paid $25 for.  On the other hand, if the cosmetics are good, the mechanics are sound, and you want a reliable shooter, look into the Konica Autoreflex series.

My walk home is a lot more fun photographically with the sun up longer.

Youthful dedication.

My office at work.  The exposure looks dead-on.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another try with a Konica

Last fall, my mother-in-law gave me her old Konica Autoreflex TC with a 40mm 1.8 lens.  I had previously owned one a few years ago, but sold off my small assemblage of Konica stuff  (which is something I do when I realize I have too damn many cameras).   I liked the TC, as it was a fairly compact camera, and the 40mm lens is outstanding.  So, after I got the camera home, no amount of fiddling could get the shutter working.  That seems to be a problem with that model, and rather than spend more time on it, I bought an Autoreflex T with 2 lenses and a flash on eBay for $30.  It arrived last week, and it is in pretty darn good condition.  I put the 40mm lens on it, and loaded it with B&W film.  I should finish the roll sometime this week, and look forward to seeing the results.  The Konica Autoreflex T, like most of the Konica SLRs, is a shutter-priority and manual exposure camera.  I usually shoot in Aperture Priority with my other cameras, so this is a little  backwards, but still I ca get used to it.
new heavy metal
The camera is a hefty all-metal-bodied SLR with a cold flash shoe, but there is a PC flash socket.  It originally took two Mercury cells for the meter, but I used 2 Zinc-air batteries, and they should do just fine. Stay tuned for images...

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Polypan-F on the Ice.

Last Saturday, I did some shooting on Fleming Creek with my Nikon F2S and my Nikon 1J1.  The F2S was loaded with Polypan-F, an ISO 50 b&w film from Germany that I purchased in 2012.  Conditions were amazing, as there were some really incredible ice forms and some streams running above the ice.  I have shot at this spot repeatedly, and like many photographers, I revisit familiar spots because things do change, and there is always the desire to get something better than the last attempt.  Rivers and lake shores are places worth revisiting, as they can change dramatically when weather conditions are in play. Fleming Creek has been photographed quite a few times, and this creek always has something to offer. One just has to look.
Fleming Creek at Parker Mill
Taken with the Nikon 1J1 with a polarizer, ISO 100.
Winter photography has its own challenges, and my favorite film camera for this kind of work is my Nikon F2S.  The controls are easy to work with gloves, making cold weather shooting much easier.  You kmow what though, the Nikon 1J1 is also easy to use with gloves, which was kind of surprising. You can see in this photo that the water has frozen in large sheets, and some of it is flowing on top of the ice, rather than under it.  I shot the 1J1 in monochrome mode, because to me, winter IS monochrome.
I used a Tamron 35-135 zoom (in the old Adaptall2  mount), which is an excellent lens.  The Polypan-F was developed in Rodinal 1:25 for 6.5 minutes.  Some of my shots were bracketed, and all looked pretty good.
swirling ice

frozen streamscape

ice flows II

ice frills

As you can see, I like zooming in on the details, which obscures the scale of the features.  I had a show up on this topic at Matthaei Botanical Gardens in 2012, and I should do another one with the same theme in the near future.

One last photo, taken again with the IJ1, which I have to admit does a pretty decent job.  This is Fleming Creek on the N side of Geddes Road near Parker Mill. There was a lot of texture to the ice on the creek.

Fleming Creek above Parker Mill,

That's it for now.  We have had some serious cold the past week, with temps at -15F on Tuesday.  I hope to get over there early Saturday before it warms up and gets slushy.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Olympus Point and Shoots

Olympus is well-known for its classic line of SLRs, the OM series, and the compact metal-bodied rangefinder cameras such as the Olympus 35RC and similar models.  Later, as AF-bodied SLRs predominated the market, Olympus lagged behind Pentax, Nikon, Canon, and Minolta, and went to the point and shoot market.  Some classic examples from the 1980s are the XA series of compact cameras, and later, the Olympus Infinity series.  In the 1990s, the superzoom IS-series were amazing SLRs with fixed zooms and wonderful optics.  However, the Infinity series has aged well, and their tiny size and excellent optics earned them a spot in many camera bags.   Somehow, I have accumulated several different models - either as gifts or thrift shop finds.
Olympus P&S pocket cameras.
From the photo I shot here, the cameras are from rear to front, L and R:
Olympus Trip AF (1984) with 35mm f/3.5 with user selectable ISO 100 and 400 setting, thumbwheel film advance.
Olympus Infinity AF (1989?)(perhaps the first model)- 35mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens, auto-flash, focus lock, DX-code, self-timer.
Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic Zoom 80 Deluxe. (2000) -38-80mm zoom, AF, all-weather, panorama mask, quartz date, remote, and self-timer, auto-advance/rewind, DX coding.
Olympus Infinity Hi-Lite (date?) 35mm f/4.5 lens, auto-advance self-timer, flash setting, DX coding. A very slow lens for such a camera.
Olympus Infinity Stylus (1991) - the first of the "mju series" - 35mm f/3.5 lens, self-timer, flash setting, DX coding, auto-advance & rewind.
Olympus Infinity Stylus Epic (1996-2002) - 35mm f/2.8 lens, remote and self-timer, DX coding, auto advance and rewind, flash setting. By far, the most compact and most-desired of the mju series.

Today, you can pick up any of these cameras and their relatives for next to nothing.  All of them are competent point and shoot cameras, but the fixed focal length  and larger 2.8 aperture and Zuiko-labeled lens of the Infinity AF makes it a good buy.  The best of the lot is still the Infinity Stylus Epic.  If you have the remote control for it (a simple IR remote), this makes it even more versatile.  Used, the cameras still command the price of a really good pizza.  The excellent optics and compact form make it the clear winner. There are some good reviews of these cameras on the web - and I list two here.
Stylus and Stylus Epic
Olympus Stylus Epic

So, grab one, use DX-coded film cassettes and you are good to go.  Carry one with Kodak Tri-X for b&w and one with your choice of color film.  Great little cameras for wherever you go.