Thursday, April 26, 2018

Yashica Fun - The FX-7 Super

It has been a while since I have shot with a Yashica SLR.   My experience with them to this point, was with the older M-42 screw-mount cameras, most notably the TL Electro X.

I recently came into possession of a very nice and refurbished Yashica FX-7 Super.  I certainly wasn't looking to expand into the realm of Contax/Yashica mount cameras (C/Y), but this one looked so beautiful that I had to have it for a while and try it out.  After doing some online research, I discovered that the FX series of cameras were made by Chinon (who also made the Canon T-60, Nikon FM-10, and numerous other low-end 35mm SLRs).  This is after Kyocera took on the Yashica brand.  I used to own a (Kyocera) Contax G1 rangefinder, and while it had many attributes that I liked, it was slow with the AF, and the top LCD was exhibiting bleeding. However, the Zeiss Planar 45mm T* lens was excellent. 

With Kyocera taking on the Contax marque, they of course, released some very fine 35mm SLRs under the Contax name, all with lovely Zeiss T* lenses.  Meanwhile, the Yashica bodies, aimed for a lower price point, came with Yashica-branded lenses. Mine has Yashica ML 50mm f/2.  The beauty is that the two brands shared the same C/Y mount, meaning that a lightweight, inexpensive body could have a fine Planar T* lens on it. That is certainly one attraction for the FX bodies.

My FX-7 Super has been recovered in dark blue leatherette by a previous owner, and new foam seals installed.  The camera is in excellent condition.  As a small SLR, it has the following features:

  • Shutter speeds - B, 1 - 1/1000 sec.
  • Flash Sync Speed - 1/125th sec
  • Top deck shutter release with threads for remote
  • Self-timer [10 sec]
  • Hot shoe with extra control contact
  • molded hand grip on right side
  • +/- LEDs for exposure indication in viewfinder
  • manual exposure mode only
  • viewfinder with center focus spot - split-mage microprism
  • requires 2 LR-44 cells for meter only
  • half-press of shutter release activates meter
  • Through-the-lens, full-aperture center weighted light metering with SPD cell
  • ISO range of 12-1600 set on shutter speed dial
  • 52mm filter thread on the lens with this body.
  • tripod socket centered on the bottom

This is a fairly basic set of features, but in practical use, it's all you really need to take photos.  The camera body has no sharp edges, and it is nice to hold.  Its fairly quiet copal square vertical metal shutter sounds "snappy". The camera weighs just over a pound, and it really is a joy to use. 

There are lots of sites with information on the FX-3 and FX-7 series, and I am not going to repeat it all here.  One feature they all share is the discussion on the disintegration of the leatherette.  If you have one, you would be wise to recover it, and I have to say that the navy blue on mine is gorgeous.

Shooting experience

This is an all-manual SLR camera that is compact, precise in operation, and everything is located just right.  It makes a Pentax K1000 seem like a cloddish camera.  I have been carrying it around with me for a few weeks now, and it's definitely going places.  The 50mm f/2 lens is just fine, and maybe in the future I will acquire a Zeiss T* 50mm lens for it.  For now though, it's all I need. 


Here are a smattering of b&w images taken in NJ and MI, and I have to say that the camera works great.   I can recommend this camera to anyone looking for a manual SLR that is lightweight and of relatively recent manufacture (mid-1980s).   While the Yashica C/Y mount may not have as many lenses and accessories as the Nikon/Canon/Pentax/Olympus systems, you will find the lenses that you need for most types of shooting.  Aside from the Yashica and Contax brands, there are lenses from Tamron (Adaptall-2), Soligor, Sigma, and others that have the C/Y mount.

Mat, hotel room, expired Plus-X

Mike's hula girl, expired Plus-X

hydrant, expired Plus-X

Mike Raso, expired Plus-X

 shadows on steps, Tasma NK-2

Ann Arbor Subraru, Tasma NK-2

Argo trestle, Tasma NK-2

somewhere in Ohio on I80, in the rain, Tasma NK-2

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tasma NK-2 Film Review

Over the past few years I have been able to sample the interesting films from the Film Photography Project store.  The Svema films such as the FN64 and Svema 400 are really nice films in my opinion, and I have been using them rather frequently.  One film that I have not tried until now is the Tasma NK-2 100 ISO b&w film.  I am not sure why I hadn't tried it earlier, but after shooting two rolls of it in the past week, I feel that I can offer a quick review.

First of all, the Tasma film originates from Russia, and is described as a b&w motion picture film.  The Russian site says that the factory dates from 1933, so Tasma has a long history. The film is on a PET base, not acetate, and consequently is extremely tough and will not tear like an acetate-based film.  It's also thinner than typical 35mm films, much like the Svema stocks that I have used, but seems not as flimsy as the Svema.  The Tasma NK-2 film is fresh stuff, according to the FPP site, and has a sort of cult-status. 

The Tasma NK-2 rolls are in 24-exposure cassettes from the FPP, and are DX-coded.  I would prefer 36-exposure rolls, but then again, with these limited-availability films, the shorter rolls are a good idea, especially for testing.  The film loaded easily onto the take-up spool in the Nikon F3HP and the Yashica FX-7 cameras that I used.  I set the ISO on the cameras to the box speed of 100. 


I checked the Massive Development Chart, and the information on the Tasma NK-2 seemed rather odd, so I consulted the FPP pages on Flickr, and found two developers that I use: D-76 and XTOL.  Leslie Lazenby's recommendation was XTOL stock at 7.25 minutes.  Another photographer (Tom Napier) recommended D-76 straight for 7 minutes.   I find the MDC listing a bit odd, as I have only seen examples with people shooting it at box speed.

Other developers and times that I have found (all at 20°C):
HC-110 B for 10 min
D76 Stock for 10 min
Diafine - 4 min each in A & B

I developed in D-76 for 10 minutes, and did a water stop, followed by 7 minutes in fixer.  I washed in water and used Permawash to remove any fixer followed by a good rinse.  Both rolls came out beautifully. The film dries perfectly flat, and scans beautifully on my Espon V700.

Nikon F3HP with 19mm Vivitar lens:

Yashica FX-7 Super with 50mm f/2 lens.

Overall, the Tasma NK-2 is a very easy film to work with, especially now that I have a developer or two that I can use to get satisfactory results.  The tonality is certainly acceptable, and it is fine-grained.  I can see no reason why anyone would not want to try some.  The fact that it scans so well should be a key point in using it.  I think a bulk roll of it from the FPP store is next on my list.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A REVIEW: HOLGA - Photographs by Michael Kenna.

I have long been a fan of Michael Kenna's photography. Many of  b&w photographs, often taken at dusk or dawn, possess dream-like qualities. Sometimes, the rich detail in the shadows invites us to linger over an image, so that we discern even more than we anticipated. With his array of landscapes, the often ethereal quality makes them timeless. His architecture-related images run counter to the notion that architecture photographs must be technically perfect. Instead, we are treated to a luscious world of tonality and keen observation of details.

When I first saw an announcement of Kenna's latest book, HOLGA, with the image of the white dove on the cover, I knew that I had to have it. After some delay, the book finally shipped in early March of 2018. I was not disappointed with the content. I know that Kenna has primarily used Hasselblads for his work, but to find out that he has also been carrying along a Holga on his trips was a surprise. It is not a surprise that his Holga images are wonderful. The very qualities that make a Holga an unpredictable camera - simple lens, limited aperture adjustment, and only two shutter modes - Instant and Bulb, are used masterfully by Kenna. I suspect that many of the images were done in B mode on a tripod. You don't have to be a fan of the Holga to appreciate the images in this book. Kenna wields the Holga as well as he does his 'Blad, and the luscious photographs are his forte. He uses the attributes of the Holga to produce images that  are enchanting, evocative, and soulful. The printing is excellent, and the 7x7 inch images are perfectly sized to view properly.

The old axiom, "It's not the camera, but the photographer that wields it" holds true here. Kenna's use of the Holga is indicative of his vision and his craft, and the book is a must-buy.

HOLGA - Photographs by Michael Kenna.  151 pp. Prestel Verlag, Munich, London, New York. 2017. ISBN 978-3-7913-8377-4  Price: USA $60.

Monday, April 09, 2018

On the Road Again

Tools and shot film, NC trip
I have been traveling a lot the past few months, and as a retiree, it's something that I had been looking forward to.  I was away in North Carolina the past week to check out Charlotte and Asheville, NC.  Aside from seeing the outer banks 24 years ago, I hadn't seen much of NC before, and I have to say Charlotte is a very nice city.  Charlotte has a great light rail system in place, and it really makes access quite easy.  I look forward to going back again. Asheville I like better, because it has a little grunginess, and as a photographer, I like to find interesting things to photograph.   I have turned into a flat-lander, having been in Michigan so long, but I really enjoy the mountains in NC.   I got back last night, so I won't have a chance to develop my film until after I get back from NJ next week. I leave for Fair Lawn, NJ on Wednesday to help out the Film Photography Project.

Hopefully, I'll have some material for some posts later this month, and I look forward to having some time to write and work on my photos.   The so-called spring weather has yet to take hold in Michigan, and I have to say it was a delight to be in a warmer climate last week.  Back at home in Ann Arbor, it is once again snowing (but not sticking), and spring weather would be welcome right now.