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Yashica vs Nikon

My Yashica Electro 35 GSN has a 45mm f/1.7 lens which makes for a comparison with my Nikon D300s with a 30mm f/1.4. My DSLR has an APC sensor which with the 1.5 crop factor makes the 30mm equivalent to 45mm.

It’s not often when I can compare a digital camera with a film camera like that and recently I took both cameras to a family event. In good light most cameras will perform well and that restaurant was well-lit.

I like shooting with film cameras and using a rangefinder is cool. The focusing is completely different from a DSLR. With the Nikon I look through the lens but with the Yashica I need to frame the image in the view finder and line up an overlaid image.

The experience also different because with the DSLR you get instant gratification. It took me over a week to get the roll of film developed and copied onto a DVD but with the digital camera I was able to upload the images the same day.

In the rangefinder I ran Fuji Superia XTRA 400 through it and shot the Nikon at 200 ISO. I also used a fill flash on the Nikon since the background was really bright.

The film images are good but if you have a good DSLR (and I do ;-) ) you can get just as good results without the wait.

Yes I know that’s obviously the case but I’ll continue to shoot with film and the DSLR. For me shooting with both is fun. I like taking photos and collecting old cameras and occasionally I capture some really good images.

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Yashica ME 1 Camera: Not bad for $4.88

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I got my test roll back today from Costco for the Yashica ME 1 and I’m sharing the ones that I like below. I bought this camera at a thrift store last week for less than $5 so I can’t really be unhappy with any of the results.

The Yashica ME 1 camera was made in Brazil in the 70s and except for the fact that is has a built-in battery powered light meter and a 38mm f/2.8 lens I don’t know an awful lot about it. The Yashica Guy has some info on his page but the ME 1 is just not a popular model to collect.

It’s an all plastic model but it doesn’t feel cheap or poorly built. It’s light and sits in my coat pocket easily. Unlike my favorite Olympus Trip 35 it doesn’t weigh my coat down.

Like the Trip 35 this camera uses zone focusing and has a “Judas window” so you can see what the aperture setting is well as the focus distance are from the view finder.

The metering is different from what I’m used to. With the Trip 35 if the camera thought there was not enough light then you just set the aperture to f/2.8 manually and took a 1/40 second exposure. I did the same thing on this camera but some of the results were really underexposed.

This  photo came out alright so I may just need to practice some more.

I don’t think this will replace my current walkabout camera but it’s not bad either. When spring arrives I’ll use up a lunch hour or two and walk around Union Square. There you can see some real interesting sights when the weather gets warmer and having a small black camera might be more inconspicuous.

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Latest camera additions

It’s called “collecting” and I’ve got it under control and can stop at any time…

collecting

I had been looking at the Yashica Electro 35 GSN for a long time and on Saturday I purchased one from a seller on eBay. It arrived Tuesday and it’s in amazing condition.

I selected this seller because he’d described what he does to make sure it’s fully operational. Part of his routine is to clean out the viewfinder, check for the Pad of Death, replace the battery, etc.

The quick picture I took above (it’s the one on the right) does not do it justice. It looks like a brand new camera and not one that was made in the 70s. It’s gorgeous and the viewfinder is bright and sharp. I’ll take and post some more photos of it this weekend.

The black camera on the left is a Yashica ME1 all plastic camera made in Brazil after 1977. Monday Lily and I stopped in the thrift shop and I picked up that one for less than five dollars. It’s a zone focusing camera with a battery powered light meter.

The ME1 has a judas window just like the Olympus Trip 35 but does not have the solid feel that the Trip has. Like the Trip it has a fast f2.8 lens but I’m pretty sure the similarity ends there.

After I cleaned it up I put in a LR44 battery and have been shooting with it. I’m not expecting too much from it but I’ll see how the photos come out.

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Think I'll have a problem at the airport?
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No, they are not miniature grenades

Think I’ll have a problem at the airport?

I like film photography and use up a lot of film. I also needed a new key chain as my old one was made out of leather and was falling apart.

Light bulb! I take my film to the local Costco and Lily is on friendly terms with the people behind the counter. So I asked them if they could spare the old used 135 film cartridges.

Boy, could they. I got about a dozen and picked out some different color ones. I got some 1″ key rings from Home Depot, Dad has a drill press in his work room and in a few minutes I had new key chains.

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New skin for an old Olympus Trip 35

I wish I thought to take a “before” photo.

Last year I purchased another Olympus Trip 35 for 2 reasons. The first reason was to replace the camera that had taken a hit and stopped working. The second reason is that I wanted to try to re-skin one. Since the replacement camera cost less than $40 on eBay why not?

No turning back now

Back in December I went online and ordered a Cobalt Kid Skin (Goat) for my camera from Cameraleather.com. They have quality products but are really backed up. I received my order about 60 days later.

That’s not a complaint and I really am happy with what I received, but keep that in mind if you want to order from them.

Removing the old leatherette was not difficult and I started with the back. I pulled out my old Swiss army knife and began peeling the edge up in no time at all. Yes, yes I did.

Oh yeah, don’t do that. You’ll just scratch the metal underneath and tear the old cover. Instead use your thumbnail and lift up the edge. With a little effort it will come right off as long as you proceed slow and smoothly.

On the back I didn’t do that and later on I had to remove the scraps. The front pieces came cleanly off with just my fingers and some patience.

Applying the new skin was very simple and straight forward. I had originally gotten some Purell so that I could use the wet method but I eventually went with just applying the new cover directly on.

Future Film Camera enthusiast

It worked. The pieces lined up and I now have a Cobalt Blue colored Olympus Trip 35. Looks cool! My only concern is that I have 4 Olympus Trip 35 cameras lying around. But that’s alright for now.

Here’s a gallery of the newly re-covered camera.

I included a photo of my Nikon for size comparison. Compared to the compact camera it’s huge.

This was a fun thing to do and took hardly anytime at all. But unless one of my cameras gets broken (again!) odds are I won’t do this again soon.

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An example of film vs digital

Last weekend my family was having dinner at my in-laws, looking at photos from their recent trip to China, and having a good time. Since I knew there would be a lot of us there I took my cameras.

Here’s a photo I took with my DSLR  and no flash.

Nikon D300s, f/2.8, 30mm (45mm equivalent), 1/25 second, ISO 640

It’s a good capture and I’m shocked that a 1/25 second exposure worked out so well. My hands shake and that lens is not a stabilized version.

A few minutes after this someone asked why I wasn’t using my film camera. So I shot this next photo using my Olympus Trip 35 loaded with Fujifilm Superia 200 and also with no flash.

Olympus Trip 35, f/2.8, 40mm, 1/40 second, ISO 200

If I had thought about it, I would have set the D300s to 200 ISO! But this is still a good comparison. The film version is more grainy and, thanks to the lighting, a little underexposed. Here the Nikon clearly beats the Olympus film camera.

My DSLR takes awesome photos but next to the Olympus Trip 35 it’s a tank. My film camera is not small enough to go into my pocket but just the right size to go with me everywhere in my backpack or even outside coat pocket.

In the year that I’ve been shooting with film I’ve shared 500+ photos on Flickr and I won’t get tired of it anytime soon. But it’s good to know my DSLR really is a better camera than the one I purchased via eBay.

It ought to be better, that film camera was manufactured in 1975.

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Kodak BW400CN Film

Just for comparison, I ordered two 36 exposure rolls of Kodak BW400CN film. This is a black and white film that, like Ilford XP2 Super 400, can be developed anywhere using the C-41 process. That means cheap film development at Costco.

Somehow the Kodak B&W film is cleaner. I’m going to explain it poorly, but the Ilford comes out developed with dust particles. Not every frame but some do.

At first I thought it was just a bad day at the developing machine but it’s not that. Every Ilford Super XP2 400 roll I have used has samples where you get that look of scratched film or small particles of dust.

I don’t mind it as it adds character, but the Kodak doesn’t have that. It generally looks sharper and cleaner to me.

Shooting in B&W remains a surreal experience. It’s not like using Photoshop to make the image black and white, it’s got a separate character to it. With digital photography I almost always do some adjustment. It’s an automatic part of my process and makes for better images.

Not so with film photography. Even though it’s digitized and modified by the developer/scanner I never make adjustments. I don’t crop or change anything although I have re-sized the images for presenting here.

I’ll keep ordering both B&W films but for now I think I appreciate the Kodak more than the Ilford version.

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Holga 120 CFN for Christmas

For Christmas, one of my brothers gave me a Holga 120 CFN. This is a camera that takes 120 film and is entirely made out of plastic. Even the lens element is plastic.

Considering my infatuation with older film cameras, this really was a great gift. I’m always looking at eBay for a new vintage camera and this one is in that spirit. It’s all plastic; I’d never have bought one myself. But trying out 120 film was fun and I enjoyed shooting with it.

The Holga and the whole Lomography shoot-from-the-hip idea always struck me as silly. Switching to film still means you should still compose your shot and think about framing your image. While some out of focus images can be insightful, Lomography seems to me to be based on light leaks and poor photography.

That’s not to say that you can’t get good shots from one of these cameras, and I do admire the gallery. It’s just some of the examples look like the photographer wasn’t really trying.

After shooting a couple of rolls I can say that my opinion has been changed. The Holga is just for fun and intentionally taking soft picture is part of that.

This model comes with a built-in flash with color filters. You rotate the dial and get red, yellow, blue, or plain white. For black and white I used the white flash, for color I liked the yellow filter.

With 120 film there are two mask inserts, one for 6×6 cm and another for 6×4.5 cm. The 6×6 gets you 12 shots and the 6×4.5 gets 16. My first two rolls were shot with the 6×6 and I haven’t developed the 6×4.5 rolls yet.

Once thing I really need to watch out for is double exposures. On my 35mm cameras, the film advance cocks the shutter and you can’t take more than one exposure. On the Holga, the shutter and film advance knob are not mechanically connected. You can expose the same shot multiple times and that ability is part of the appeal.

I ruined a few of my B&W T Max shots because I hadn’t realized that I had already exposed that film. That’ll teach me to pay more attention.

Overall it was fun but I don’t expect this to replace my Olympus Trip 35. When the weather gets warmer I’ll take some outdoor shots with my remaining roll.

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