Friday, October 28, 2016

The Kiev 19 - A "Red Star" Nikon

A great many cameras have come from the Kiev Arsenal factory in Ukraine, and pre-Soviet breakup models started with the Contax II and III-clone Kiev series of rangefinder cameras.  There are a whole series of those, which ended with the Kiev 4m (1977-1987).   I briefly owned a Kiev 4, and had the shaft of the winding knob break.  Not a good sign of quality, but who knows how it was abused before I owned it.  Later, I owned a Kiev 60, which was a clone of the Pentacon Six, but a bit less elegant-looking.  I also once owned a Kiev 35A, which was a clone of the Minox 35GT. It actually worked pretty well until it didn't.  Probably no worse than the Minox models, which also seem to have a high failure rate.  My daughter once owned a Kiev-88, which was a clone of the Hasselblad 1000F.  It actually is a pretty nice medium-format SLR, and though it had its quirks, it was a reliable camera.    That brings me to the Kiev 35mm SLRs, of which there are a few,  Not as many models as the Russian Zenits, but certainly enough to make collecting them a challenge.  With all of the different lens mounts available, it seems that the M42 universal screw mount and the Pentax K-mount ended up being the ones used most.  However, the Kiev 19 has the distinction of being the only non-Nikon camera I know of that used Nikon F-mount lenses (Yes, I have long known about the Ricoh/Nikkorex models, but they don't count here).  My first experience with the Kiev 19 was the brand-new in-box 19M that I purchased around 2001 or so.  I think I paid about $90 for it. Comparing it to my Nikon FE at the time was like comparing an Argus C3 to a Contax III.  Both do the same things, but one does it more quietly with more shutter speed choices.  The 19M did feature TTL  aperture-coupled metering, and a range of shutter speeds from B-1/2 -1/500 sec. The body, as I recall, felt a bit plastic-like.   It used most Nikon F-mount lenses that I tried it with.
with expired Fuji Reala film, 2014

Two years ago I purchased a Kiev 19, the older model, from a seller in Russia.   It arrived with a Helios 50mm f/2 lens.  The Helios lenses are in general, very good.  My lens self-destructed last year, and I could not put it back together.  However, because the Kiev 19 uses stop-down metering, I can use non-AI lenses as well as AI- lenses, so I certainly did not lack for a lens.  In the photo above it has the very desirable and very good Vivitar 28mm 2.5 wide-angle lens attached.  

The Kiev 19 has a vertically-travelling metal focal-plane shutter, B, 1/2 - 1/500 shutter speeds, a hot shoe, and a PC flash connector.  It has a metal body, and in general, I believe is better made than the 19M.  It's no Nikon FM, but it isn't a Cosina-made FM10, either.

With current prices for real Nikon F-mount  film cameras being quite low, it may be hard to justify purchasing a Kiev 19 or 19M, especially considering the feature set.  The stop-down metering may be a bit archaic for some, but it does work pretty well. One thing to watch for though, is to avoid light coming in through the eyepiece, which will throw off the metering. It's very sensitive to sidelight coming in.

I haven't used mine in a while, so it may be time to take it on my next road trip, in the hunt for red October, or maybe gray November.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Some more Olympus Trip 35 images

I am usually pretty good about finishing a roll of film in any particular camera.  However, sometimes one gets used and then gets out of my lineup for a while.  Maybe it's a sign that I have too many cameras? Nah!  Anyhow, I recently developed some accumulating rolls of b&w white, and this one roll of Kentmere 100 from my Olympus Trip 35 had July - September images all over it.  The first half of the roll was from the mid-July Ann Arbor Art Fair, then a few shots from our trip to the Upper Peninsula, and finished off with a few images from my visit to the FPP headquarters in New Jersey.  The Trip 35 is rarely my main camera, but when it is, I can easily run through a roll of film.  As a secondary camera, it really shines, and I rarely find a shot from it that doesn't come out as expected.  In those rare instances, it's probably because I have exceeded the capability of the camera.

Ann Arbor Art Fair.  If there is ever a time to use a camera like the Trip 35, that is it. We get about half a million people in the city over the course of 4 days, and you can't escape the Art Fair.  This year is the first time I have gone to work without seeing any of it, as my workplace is now 5 miles from campus.  So, I went on a Saturday morning hoping to shoot some really slow film (discussed here), but also brought the Trip 35 for street shooting.

Then in August, a few shots from the beach at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The storms a few days prior had sent waves far up on the beach, and the wave forms were still there in the sand, which I found to be really cool abstracts.

While the Trip 35 can't do everything, what it does do under good conditions really points out how good a little camera it is. No batteries. Just pop in a roll of film and you are good to go.  One last shot, of Mike Raso pondering his TLR at a Film Photography Project podcast taping session.  We have a good time doing these.  This was the first time I had used a flash with the Trip 35, and am pleased that it worked quite well.
As I went through these images, it is clear that the Trip 35 really lived up to its name -- it went on a lot of trips, with just one roll of film.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Amazing Mr. Brown

Back in the summer, my Film Photography Project pals were involved in testing out some  odd films from the Svema factory (detailed on episode 152 of the FPP Podcast).   One of the films was uniquely brown, whereas the rest were yellow, lavender, blue, etc.  This unknown film became known as "Mr. Brown."  It has an ISO of 6, and while a bit punchy, is a film for "normal" photography. As if anything can be normal when using a camera with such slow film in it!  Those who have been following my blog know that I have been shooting slow films for quite a few years.  I bought a few rolls of Mr. Brown from the FPP store, and finally loaded up my Nikon N90s, set the ISO to 6, and went off to Fleming Creek yesterday.  I hoped to do some nice long exposures of the water while it was overcast.
 Using a 50 mm 1.8 AF-D Nikkor, and an 80-200 mm AF-D Nikkor on the N90s, I shot a roll of  Mr. Brown along Fleming Creek near Parker Mill. Exposures were at f/16 and f/11 in Aperture Priority mode, with the longest time at around 16 seconds, and many were in the 8-11 sec range.  The mushrooms were shot at f/8.

After I got home, I developed Mr. Brown in XTOL at 1:1 for 9 minutes at 20°C.  I just finished scanning in the negatives on my Epson V700 photo scanner.  To say I am impressed with the results would be an understatement!  The film is on a very strong and thin mylar base, and lies beautifully flat in the scanner. No curling, cupping, or other problems.  It scans beautifully.  Based upon my results, I may be tempted to try a roll at ISO 12 under similar situations.

Long exposures of water without using a ND filter is a plus, and this film warrants more experimentation.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Finally - A Lomo LC-A!

For all of the years that I have been a photographer, one would think that I would have owned a Lomo LC-A before now. Truth is, I have wanted one, but did not want to pay the crazy $ for what they were selling for in the US.  The newer models from Lomography did not excite me, especially at their price.  I wanted an original model. I have had many other "Soviet-made" cameras from Lubitels to Zenits, to Kievs to Smenas.  Lomo LC-As just didn't come my way, but that changed a few weeks ago, when Mike Raso handed me one.  "It might work, it might not."    I took it home, and put in 3 LR-44 cells, and realized that I had to adjust the battery terminal so that it pushed against the cells.  Voila! It worked.  I merely had to put some tape over the battery door to keep it shut.  I put in a short roll of Eastman 5222, adjusted the Gost dial to approximate ISO 200, and shot with it.    I developed the film last night, and here are a few of the shots from that test roll.  Overall, not bad for an automatic camera.  I took a few photos at night in the light of a Kroger parking lot, and am pleased how those came out, and overall, the camera performed quite well.
The size and compactness of the camera surprised me, as I had never owned one before.  I know that whole Lomo "shoot from the hip" thing is hyperbole, but one can take this camera anywhere and get something.   My overall impression is that I can see why the camera has been popular.   I'll do more shooting with it and see how it goes.

Here are a few images from the test roll.

street sitter 
Make the State Great Again?

Kroger, at night

pumpkins at Kroger

Pop-X on Liberty

me, taken by my buddy, Marc

late afternoon sun