March 28, 2010

Discovering Vivian Maier - an amateur photographer

Last year, in Chicago, John Maloof bought at auction the entire photographic oeuvre of an amateur and unheralded street photographer, Vivian Maier.

The collection includes 100 000 exposed frames with 600 undeveloped rolls of 120 film. It is a fascinating discovery. More intriguing is Maloof's efforts to garner recognition for Maier's work.

March 25, 2010

Acquisition: Olympus Infinity Jr

Minimum focusing distance (the closer the better) is: 0.65m or around 26 inches.
It takes AAA or CR123A batteries.

Recent notes: December 2010 -

Aka AF-10 Super.

In December 2010, there was some recent discussion about how quickly this camera focuses.

I believe it is quick because it only has three focusing distances.\

I own an Olympus Trip AF (with a ZUIKO lens, even) but it only has two distance settings for the lens. Four to ten feet and ten to infinity is all you get.

I noticed in Camerapedia, Fedglass had posted an Olympus Infinity S with a 35mm f3.5 lens with three focusing options. I wonder if this Infinity Jr/AF-10 Super follows the same auto focus settings as the Infinity S or if it can go as close as 26 inches.

New notes of April 14, 2011 - I finally finished shooting a roll and was disappointed to find the motor advance was not working properly. Unfortunately this one has gone into the bin. Non-emoticon sadness and regret.

Advice: Any ideas on how I can jump-start my film shooting?

"Here's my dilemma:

I have some very nice, minty 35mm cameras (X-700, Autoreflex T, Elan II, etc). I've been shooting film since I was eight years old, and I taught myself to develop B&W film when I was in the eighth grade.I love film and I'd love to buy lots of it so I can do my part to convince film manufacturers that there is a demand. My problem is that I already have a ton of very good film in my fridge that I just can't seem to find a way to burn through.

Being 45 years old and working evenings, I don't spend too much time hanging out in coffee shops, bars or skate parks. I have countless photos of my yard and my cat. I shoot a lot when I travel, but I don't travel very often. Add to that the fact that I like to shoot with my digital cameras too.

Can anyone share any ideas on how you pushed yourself to shoot more film? I'd love to be one of those people who carries their camera with them everywhere they go, but I just can't seem to find a way to make that happen. If anyone has any creative ideas that helped you burn through more film I'd love to hear them."


One of the best ways to get going is making PHOTO DATES.

Ask a few good friends to let you take environmental portraits of them in their homes. I can be a gift to them.

Keep it simple and relaxed. Do it during the days or weekends. Use natural light (in other words simplify your rig). Bring a 50mm and that's all, a la Bresson. His photo-portraits are amazing.

It is a great way of catching up with people and a different way to spend time with them. You might even gain some insight into who they are through the exercise.

March 23, 2010

Raising 'hex' over Konica's late but still great series of SLR lenses

A very vibrant and so far polite discussion on a dead-tech lens series has taken over the topic posts of the I SHOOT FILM group on Flickr.

The lenses in question are Hexanons. They were made by the now-defunct Konica film camera division mainly for its SLR cameras series, the Autoreflex.

The Hexanon has a small but loyal following (including yours truly). They are apt to sing its praises as they have for the last week on Flickr at the instigation of a site user, Mark H.

He asked the simple question:

"What is it with Konicas?"

If you couldn't be bothered to read all 170 posts on the topic: final score is the T3N body is the best of all the Konicas for its durability, low maintenance, full mechanical operation. The finest lens in the series is the 50mm with a maximum aperture of F1.7. It made the mark for being the sharpest and one noted for its ability to give "roundness" to the scenes it documents.

For more info on Konicas, visit the on-line authority, Dr. Buhl of Germany.

Family Portrait

Point and Shoots, originally uploaded by *jj*.

March 22, 2010

Acquisition: Olympus XA-2

It finally arrived from Camera Traders in Victoria.

"Finally" is not quite the right word. I waited with impatience for it. Call it anticipation.

The question is why? Why did I need this camera?

Partly, I have had to sublimate my desire to shoot lately. I'm writing and the work keeps me from being out in the world taking pictures.

But hopefully, with the weather warming, I'll be back on the streets, shooting more and collecting less.

Plus I need to say a word about my penchant for automatic point and shoots and viewfinder cameras. My attraction to them is based on, and this is frightening to admit, I don't want to know what I'm shooting.

This is not to say I don't care to compose and take an active and creative role in making a photograph. But I need some elements to be out of my control.

I'm not a wild shooter. I don't usually fire and hope for the best. But I also don't preconceive my images in the studied manner Ansel Adams exhorts photographers to use.

I see a situation. I'm drawn to it and I want to take a picture in that instance. Or engage in that person photographically. Sometimes, I simply want their image.

I'll see the quality I need from the subject and try to obtain it but never know what the answer is. How does one get the quality, the special something from the subject? I leave it to the camera.

Some cameras seem better than others to do it.

One thing I dislike about digital is I constantly look at the LCD to see if I've taken the image I hoped for.

It takes me away from the moment. Perhaps I'm more interested in taking photographs than making pictures. Auto compact cameras do that for me. If it shoots wide, up close, in focus, witha flash and through a yellow filter and 2 stops over exposed, I'm a happy camper.

I'll try to do a better job of explaining in the near future.

Senseless camera rig set-up of the day

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic SP
Yashica Tele Wide Viewfinder
M42 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar f3.5/28mm
Olympus 3.5/28 screw on lens hood

Film: Yet to be purchased. The folly.

March 19, 2010

King of the compact cameras

Arty_Smokes is a serious collector and Camerapedia documentor of point and shoot or automatic compact film cameras. Based in the UK, I find we often cross paths on the discussion boards. Very nice collection.

3 things I would tell a new photographer

1. Always shoot what intrigues you, never worry if it looks good or would even make a good photograph.

2. Move closer to the subject. I mean really close. Make it fill the frame, if your camera doesn't let you do this, you have the wrong camera.

3. WAIT. Click when something special happens. The poser stops posing. A breath is exhaled. In the case of the napping fishers on a dock, wait for an arm to be raised or an ass to be scratched.

Think of it this way, if the subject is a dog (ugh), make sure the dog is panting or scratching or begging. Dogs pant, don't they. Even if it's waiting three minutes for the forced smile of your subjects to disappear, WAIT for it to happen.

EXTRA ADVICE by way of precedence: Andres Kertesz (Hungarian-American) used to set "visual traps". He would identify areas that would make great backdrops for a shot and then wait for something or someone to enter the trap. Then he would take the shot..... Really I should follow my own advice.

Happy clicks to you.

Taken with a Konica Big Mini BM-302 plus specifications

Click image below to make it larger:


Andreas blogs at He's an avid shooter of black and white with his Minolta CLE (jealous).

Last September he posted a series of images from his three weeks of national service in Switzerland. It is a great photo essay.

March 18, 2010

Beautiful camera blog

I don't know who Zeno Felkl is. All I know is his blog, Classicameras, on blogspot is gorgeous.

What makes it work is the elegant documentation of the old cameras which the site features and the very plaintive but beautiful prints taken with the camera.

Felkl is able to create a connection between the apparatus and the image made.

From a camera collector's perspective, he finds camera I've never heard of and makes them so desirable. There is a brown leather Olympus Infinity Stylus, you heard me, brown leather and a Linhof medium format that looks like a movie camera. Amazing finds from a brilliant blogger.

March 17, 2010

Amazingly ridiculous pictures of the week

"Mummy dressed me up as Hitler."

The New York Daily Post pretty much hates the artist's photo essay.

As art it doesn't impress me much but it does demonstrate the extraordinary lengths parents will go to to have people look at their baby pictures.

The artist's Nina Maria Kleivan's drivel, and I quote, "Even though comical, you're not supposed to only laugh at these pictures; you need to contemplate them, ponder where this evil comes from..." is also a total joke.

The answer, yes it is art. It is BAD art. It would have been better without the pretension. You don't see William Wegman blabbing on about his dogs, do you?

Acquisition: Olympus XA-2 leads to selling two faves OR You buy some you sell some, such is life

A Pair of Olympus XA2s, originally uploaded by Arty Smokes.
I just ordered this camera by phone.

Arty_Smokes is a compact camera connaisseur has a good flickr post about them. His picture is featured above.

I put it on credit. Yikes. It will be coming in from Victoria, BC. I usually buy in person and I only go for deals. But I couldn't resist the design, look, and capabilities of the camera.

To pay for it, I've had to post two cameras on Craigslist locally.

One is the Pentax UC-1 or Pentax Espio Mini:

Pentax Espio Mini

...the other is the Konica Big Mini BM-302.

Very sad indeed but sometimes you have to make a choice. The above cameras will only attract true fans which is fine by me.

**Update, December 2010 - I never sold this Big Mini. I have fostered it to a friend and I've kept one for myself!

Here are the Big Mini BM-302 specifications:

Click image below to make it larger:

March 16, 2010

Minolta Hi-matic S2

Minolta Hi-matic S2, originally uploaded by *jj*.
I think I have found it. The camera I've been looking for.

It has a manual advance and rewind AND an on-board flash. My search for a replacement for my Nikon L35AF may be over.

There's not much about it on the internet. It is a sleeper with some of the great performance you would find in a Lomo LC-A or a Minox 35.

To wit: It has a great autoexposure/shutter system. I believe it can go as slow as 2 secs to4 secs. Which makes it quite the nighthawk. I've covered the CdS sensor and the shutter stays open a good long while.

It also has a minimum focusing of 30 inches!

Okay, one problem, it beeps if the shutter speed drops below 1/40. I may disable it if I can find the noisemaker. It's annoying.

The lens is a tad of a mystery. It doesn't carry the Rokkor tag. Hoever, this camera was released during Minolta's design heyday of the Leica CL period.

I may have hit a sleeper.

From camera-wiki:

  • Focus: Manual, zone focusing
  • Focus Range: 0.8 meters to infinity
  • Exposure control: CdS cell, auto-exposure
  • Lens: Minolta 38mm focal length/ minimum aperture of f2.8
  • Filter Thread: 46 mm
  • Film Range: ASA 25 to ASA 400, set manually
  • Battery: 2 x AA alkaline batteries

Yashica T2 (Kyocera)

Yashica T2 (Kyocera, originally uploaded by *jj*.

TYPE: - 35mm Lens Shutter camera with auto exposure and automatic Exposure control
LENS: - Carl Zeiss Tessar T* 35mm F3.5 (4 elements in 3 Groups)

Auto Lens barrier: - Opens only when shutter is released - then closes

SHUTTER: - Programmed electronic Shutter (1/8 - 1/500 sec)

SHUTTER RELEASE: - Electromagnetic release

SELF-TIMER: - 10 secs. Can be cancelled midway

EXPOSURE CONTROL: Programmed AE system with SPD sensor.

Metering range. EV 6.6 - 17 (Iso 100) FILM

SPEED SETTING: - Auto with DX film of ISO 50 - 1600

FOCUSING: Auto focusing 1m to infinity with Focus Lock


BUILT IN FLASH: - Flashmatic type, automatic firing ion low light. Flash range 1-2.5 m (ISO100). Daylight synchro flash.

BATTERY: - 6V Lithium battery. (2CR5) capable of 1000 frames (50% with flash) - equivalent to about 40 rolls of 24 exposure film.

March 10, 2010

One reason I'll never buy a really old Leica

....even though I really want to.

It`s a wild and wooly world in craigslist.

Today, I saw the most intriguing listing. A Leica for auction in Abbotsford. A perfect piece of screw mount lens engineering in cow country.

Then I looked at the picture and looked at it some more (see above). Is it real?

It says Leica. You want it to be Leica. Because we all want the greatest film cameras in the world to be within reach of ordinary joes on a budget but is it real? Is it?

I looked on line. I flickr'd to see if the Camera Porn pool had Leicas documented just like the one on sale. Nope.

I jotted down the serial number and visited Stephen Gandy. He distributes Cosina lenses and is a camera expert. He also posted an exhaustive and verified list of Leica serial numbers. The number on the camera was never assigned to a Leica as far as Leica knows.

Then I visited the Leitz Collection. There I found the above Zorki 2C in the collection. Notice the top plate. Around the shutter timing knob, the top plate is on the same level as the Zorki tag or badge.

None of the the Screw Mount Leicas with uncoupled rangefinders or viewfinders looked like this. All the top plates step down. The shutter speed knob steps down from the badge and flash bracket. The Leicas' top plate step down again to the film advance knob. The camera in question doesn't do tis.

It may very well be a Zorki C (like a 2C but with no timer) or a Zorki 2 (with no PC sync on the left) faked into looking like an early Leica.

The question is, what is the protocol? Do you call up the seller and the auctioneer and let them know something may be wrong with their Leica? What happens if they are knowingly selling a possible Soviet, though vintagey nice, knock-off as the real thing?

Sigh. I want an old school Leica. For reasons why, next time.

March 8, 2010

My most viewed on flickr photo is this

Royal City - At the Playground, originally uploaded by *jj*.

I took it with a very beat-up black Konica NT3 slr.

Konica Autoreflex NT3 SLR

Hanimex 35 Micro Flash

Hanimex 35 Micro Flash, originally uploaded by *jj*.

This is my most viewed camera on flickr.

It is popular because it falls into alignment with passionate lomographers. It seems like such an underdog device - which is part of its charm.

This month I became more enthusiastic about viewfinder cameras...see posts the same way I like compact autos. I think it's because I want to lose control and not know exactly what I have captured.

The last few weeks, I've thought about getting this odd and very tiny VF camera back into action but its only major flaw is the attached flip-up lens cover/flash. It's doesn't look innocuous when street shooting.

I've thought of taking off the flash cover but haven't been able to bring myself to do it.

In Japan, you can even buy them deadstock minty!

March 4, 2010

March 3, 2010

Acquisition: Yashica Tele-Wide Finder

Yashica Tele-Wide Finder, originally uploaded by *jj*.
Yashica Tele-Wide Finder

Made by Kaligar for Yashica Electro 35 GSN.

Wide: 37mm
Tele: 58mm (NB:  April 28, 2011, Ebay listing mentioned the Tele focal length to be 55mm)

Focal lengths according to Photoethnography.

Suntone Focus Free MM-253

Suntone Focus Free MM-253, originally uploaded by *jj*.

I have moved into the area of toy cameras.

f/8 or f/11
I'll wildly guess it's 1/125 for shutter speed.

The thing I like is it has a hot shoe. Big trick is I'll have to figure out what the minimum focusing distance.

5 feet maybe.

Very fragile frame advance wheel.

My father's camera (a gift)

My father's camera (a gift), originally uploaded by *jj*.
This is the camera that started my collection obsession.

My father gave me his Konica Autoreflex T3 SLR camera on my wedding day.

It seemed an off-hand gesture. We were estranged most of my life.

I only invited him to the ceremony on the insistence of my mother.

Once the vows and registration took place, there was a kiss as well, of course, my father simply handed me the camera.

He always enjoyed photography. I remember sneaking looks at female nudes in his photography encyclopedia. It had red-binding and gold letters and the best black and white female torso I've ever seen.

My father owned Nikon and Canon. He had in the past given my sister a Nikon. I received the Konica with some disappointment.

As far as I knew, it was a lesser camera. I'm ashamed to say I was embarrassed for him.

After my father died, my twin boys were born. I started taking pictures. I purchased an HP digital camera the night they were born.

It was some time in their third month, perhaps they had started crawling or something momentous like that, I grabbed for the HP to document the event. The camera failed. No power.

It was then, three years after his death, seven years after my wedding day, I loaded my father's Konica and began taking photographs with it.

I noticed it took images, round or dimensional, in a way I had never noticed or thought possible before. I assumed two-dimensional images were two dimensional. But there it was in my father's camera and lens. I liked how it made the background soft and out of focus while the main subject was so sharp. I didn't know anything about depth of field or bokeh either but I figured it out.

I'm not sure why my father gave me this camera. Did he forsee me using it to document his future grandchildren? Was it meant to be a bridge of connection to rebuild our relationship?

My father didn't have much money. Was it one of the few things he felt had any value? Did my last-minute wedding invitation catch him empty-handed and the camera was a convenient present?

Does it matter? Every time I use it, I think of him. a new obsession

Konica C35 EF aka C35 New EF aka Pikkari

Okay, I've been distracted. And a bit of a procrastinator. I'm supposed to be working on my father's suit. But lately, instead, I've been visiting and editing I've been tending this stub on the Konica C35 EF. Partly because another camera encyclopaedian ASSUMED the C35 EF was the same as the other C35's.

It is not. It has fewer shutter speeds on the negative side but on the positive, it was the first compact camera in the world with the on-board electronic flash.

My stub editing is a result of my excitement regarding this camera. However, last night I saw some schmata in the lens which I didn't notice before. It's on one of the inside lenses. I despaired but only for a moment.

I rarely buy a perfect used camera. My excitement always makes me overlook detecting any flaws. Still, I hope the camera works out. Ted Grant of Magnum (a Canadian) once said lens flaws gives your pictures some character. I think I'll subscribe to this view.

March 1, 2010

God bless the lomographers of the world

I don't consider myself a lomographer. But they deserve a lot of credit for the persistence of film in the early 21st century.

Recently on my flickr post, Richard Moratin, a photographer in the Phillipines commented on my new C35 (or simply scroll below).

Well, guess what, Moratin was featured in a full-page piece about shutterbugs in the Manila Bulletin. The cool part: he gave his Konica C35 EF big love. Keep shooting, Richard!

Also check out his blog.