Monday Mystery Camera: The Chinon Infrafocus 35F-MA

Someone said “Samster, get a REAL job!” And that’s just what I did. I’m working a regular j-o-b now, all the overtime I can get, which helps put food on the table, feed the family, and maybe even buy a new toy with the leftovers, whatever is left and sometimes there’s nothing left. However, it doesn’t leave me with a lot of time to devote to my passion which are the cameras.

This one was a result of a few days worth of writing. I don’t know how you guys with full time jobs do it, but I admire you! I really do! It takes work and dedication to work full time and run a daily blog. I canโ€™t seem to do it!

As promised, there will be more quirky cameras coming your way and one of the funkier ones I have is this one, the Chinon Infrafocus 35F-MA (that’s a mouthful!).

I got this a couple of years ago and like a growing list of cameras in my collection, I’ve never shot it. So this is by no means a technical review. I’d like to shoot it, sure I would, but any day of the week I’m probably shooting with something that interests me more so it always gets put in the back burner.

I mean, I have shot with cameras like the Nikon L35AF and Canon AFM which can be seen as the Chinon’s contemporary competitors in the 1980s as well as a few others that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

They’re all quite similar. That is, theyโ€™re all plasticky, they all have good optics and somewhat antiquated autofocus systems. Everything I’ve read on the Chinon leads me to believe it will be more of the same so nothing against the camera but it doesn’t really excite me optically and functionally.

I mean if I read someone saying something like “Oh my God, this camera has a Zeiss like lens!” I’d put a roll in right now but the thing is NOBODY has said that about the Chinon and if they did I’d say they’re BS’in! ๐Ÿ™‚

I mean camera fanatics are an educated bunch. If it realistically had anything close to a Zeiss like lens you can be sure the prices of this camera would be through the roof but it’s not.

INTRO

The Chinon Infrafocus 35F-MA was an autofocus 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Chinon Industries of Japan in the 1980s. I could not find the exact year, but I’m leaning towards 1984. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know and I’ll update this!

The lens is a 38mm f/2.8 “Chinonex Color Lens” (that’s what’s written on the lens!) and the camera autofocused using an early infrared system, which is what you see with the two big “bug eyes” as this camera is also sometimes called in nickname.

The camera is auto wind, auto rewind and runs on two AA batteries. Close focus is 2.9 feet.

The 35F-MA appears to be automatic exposure with no manual controls other than ASA selection.

POP ICON & TIDBITS

The camera, as mentioned, uses a fixed 38mm f/2.8 lens. As I mentioned in my Contax T2 review, “38mm f/2.8” was very popular on point and shoot cameras of the 1980s and 1990s. Don’t ask me why they chose this specific focal length and starting aperture but it always made me feel that a quality 35 to 40mm f/2.8 lens is NOT hard for any manufacturer to make and thus it shouldn’t be expensive.

The 38mm f/2.8 was a very common and popular lens choice on the point and shoot cameras of the 80s and 90s. However, it’s probably fair to say the 38mm f/2.8 Chinonex is nowhere near the T2’s Zeiss Sonnar lens optically. Then again, it doesn’t cost near as much either!

Actually, it was probably a good compromise kind of lens. I mean, anything faster would have been very expensive. Anything wider would have been too wide for most people and anything larger than 40mm and faster than f/2.8 might have been challenging for the point and shoot autofocus technology of that timeframe, which was the early 1980s.

Well, the T2 with its Zeiss lens may be expensive, but the Chinon is most definitely not! Prices can be found below in the “Prices & Availability” section.

Another interesting thing about the Chinon Infrafocus 35F-MA is that it was apparently one of the cameras favored by the late great pop art icon, Andy Warhol.

When I got the camera, I didn’t know Andy had used one. I knew he used the Polaroid Big Shot and other cameras, but I didn’t know he used the Chinon until I saw an episode of “Autopsy: The Last Hours Of…” and I saw a photo with the Chinon hanging around his neck.

Right then and there I said to myself, wow, Mr. Warhol was not fluff and hype, he was the real deal! If there were any doubts, it was gone when I saw the Chinon around his neck because it says to me that the man was ahead of his time! He knew the camera looked cool and quirky and that its unique “bug eyes” were enough to make a fashion statement.

Never mind whether the camera sucked or not. It’s all about the looks, it’s pop art!! ๐Ÿ™‚

The good thing is that while Andy Warhol was seen with the Chinon, it doesn’t seem to have increased its price or value in any way. Nothing like what Kendall Jenner or Chris Hemsworth did to the Contax T2.

This is perhaps because Andy Warhol was better known in the 1980s and perhaps not so much by today’s social media hipsters.

LENS QUALITY

Iโ€™ve had this camera for a couple of years and I still havenโ€™t shot it thus Iโ€™m not qualified to speak of its optical qualities.

However, from the few fine reviews I have read, the 38mm f/2.8 Chinonex lens is a good performer. Sharp but not Zeiss spectacular.

Quite in line with what Iโ€™d expect from it. Maybe thatโ€™s why I havenโ€™t shot it. It doesnโ€™t excite me in that way. The fact that it appears to be a fully automatic camera doesnโ€™t help.

Still, perhaps it would surprise me. Perhaps I should pop a roll of film in it right now. Perhaps I shouldnโ€™t put baby in a corner ๐Ÿ˜€

BOTTOM LINE

I’m a huge fan of odd, quirky cameras and of all the lesser known manufacturers, Chinon nears the top of my list of has-been camera makers. In my opinion, they were at the crest of making it into the big leagues but never did. Chinon as we knew it was bought out by Kodak in 1991 so we’ll never know what could have been.

But the name Chinon remains in my head as always a bit of a mystery so while the Infrafocus 35F-MA may never be a Camera Legend, the Chinon name I would argue could well be.

PRICES & AVAILABILITY

The Chinon Infrafocus 35F-MA is not a rare or much sought after camera which makes it cheap on the used market.

If seeking one of these cool, quirky cameras prices are trending from $15-40 USD.

The Chinon meets almost all of my criteria as a camera collector. It looks cool, it has some interesting history and itโ€™s cheap. For me, cheap cameras are the best!

Flashback Friday: The Taal Volcano Plus The Industar-61 55mm f/2.8 Lens

As some of you may have seen in the news, the Taal Volcano in the Philippines erupted on January 12, 2020, the first time it had done so since 1977.

Usually when I hear news of amazing natural events such as hurricanes or volcanoes, I’m fortunate enough to be nowhere nearby. It’s usually in some far off land that I’ve never been to. You probably know that feeling!

But the Taal Volcano is different because while it is far away from where I live, I have seen the volcano in person many times over the years during my trips to Southeast Asia. Even though I’m not Filipino I love the Philippines!

Seeing a natural wonder such as a volcano whether it’s erupting or not is amazing. And its proximity, being just about an hour or so away from the capital of Manila, made the Taal Volcano a popular destination for quick getaways for many urban Filipino families.

In fact, a whole slew of businesses have been built around this volcano. Businesses such as hotels, restaurants, sightseeing and even amusement parks are built on the scenic views of the volcano in this region. Even wedding photographers are known to use this area and the Taal Volcano to enhance their images. It’s a natural wonder and a great photographic subject!

From my own experience, the four or five times I’ve been there, it’s hard to get a good detailed shot because there is perpetual haze, probably due to the high elevation and the fluctuating temperatures caused by simmering volcanic activity underneath the Taal Lake in which the bulk of the volcano resides.

But in 2011 I caught my best and clearest shot ever of the volcano! Now keep in mind I’ve always been told that the front “cone” you see is not the volcano itself. The actual volcano resides behind it.

The part that looks like the volcano is just a part of the whole volcanic system but it is the view most people actually see and photograph when they go to see the Taal volcano. To get to the heart of the volcano I understand you have to arrange a boat trip.

For this shot I used a Canon EOS 5D MKII, my main digital camera at the time. The lens used was the EF 135mm f/2L.

The damage to the nearby areas and loss of life have been reported to be low but it’s still a bit early to assess and scientists think there’s a chance a second eruption could come soon.

My sympathies and prayers to those who have suffered losses during this natural even which could have been a disaster had it caused more damage than it did. Stay safe, praying that the Taal does not blow its top again!

FLASHBACK LENS SPOTLIGHT

Industar 61 L/D

Hereโ€™s our lens spotlight for today and itโ€™s the Industar 61 or otherwise known as the Industar 61 L/D. It supposedly has lanthanum, a rare-earth element in the coatings. Some people say it’s radioactive some say it’s not. All I can say is it’s a wonderfully affordable lens with character! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ธ

The Industar 61 comes all the way from Ukraine and is said to be a Tessar formula. While mine is the 55mm version, Iโ€™ve also seen 52mm & 53mm versions of the same lens!

Iโ€™m not usually a fan f/2.8 prime lenses only because usually you get a choice of faster f/1.4-f/2 in the 50mm range of lenses but I can vouch for the nice sharpness and lovely and characteristic bokeh out of this lens if you get a good copy.

Best of all itโ€™s $20-30 if you donโ€™t mind waiting a month or more for it to arrive from our friends in the Ukraine! Why spend more on a Leica Elmer? ๐Ÿ˜€

Happy Friday you guys! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ˜˜โœŒ๐Ÿป

Sunday Morning Reflections: Canon 1DX MK III, Nikon D780, Nikon D6 Plus New YouTube Video

Good morning everybody! Well there was a lot of big news last week. Canon announced their newest flagship, the EOS-1DX Mark III a 20.1mp professional DSLR offering the latest advancements Canon can muster up including a 191 point AF system, “Head Detection” (wtf?) technology, 4K video and 5.5K Raw video, just to name a few of the things available in this jam packed camera.

Nikon also announced the D780, a 24.5mp DSLR in the legendary D700 line and the successor to the very popular D750. Perhaps destined to be the greatest, and some say the last, in this line.

Nikon also showed, under protective glass, the Nikon D6 flagship DSLR. No specs were given however but we can guess it will have enough of the things it needs to make it competitive with the 1DX MKIII.

It seemed to be a big week in the camera world last week and Sunday morning is a great time to talk about it so let’s start!

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“Sunday Morning” 2017. Fuji X100 12.3mp. Anyone still using their original X100? ๐Ÿ™‚

LATEST YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s a video I made earlier in the week. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to post it, but I decided to do it just to get something out for you guys. The video starts out with a “new” old school singer you never knew existed! ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s really a bit silly, but that’s just me being me. Hey listen, I love cameras! I know there’s so much serious work that goes into the manufacture of these cameras. The serious electrical and optical engineering have already been done, I don’t need to add to that seriousness. The worst thing I could do is act like a pretentious dweeb who knows it all so I’ll just be the dweeb who don’t know nothing ๐Ÿ™‚

Also in this episode, I reflect on the “low budget” look of my videos. You guys know I tell it like it is and I know my early videos on YouTube had cringe worthy production, and hey I’ll admit they’re still cringe worthy but we’ll continue to improve. The majority of early YouTube efforts are cringe worthy anyway so learn from me and make better videos if you want to try YouTube!

When I was a kid my Dad always said “Don’t make fun of people” because as he noted, it always comes back to you. Well, of course I didn’t listen and I’m paying for it now!

When we were kids, we would stay up with Dad and watch the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, then Jay Leno, etc. But once in a while, we’d scan the channels (there weren’t that many in the 80s and early 90s) and we would see a man named Joe Franklin on WWOR, Channel 9 in NYC.

Joe Franklin was the king of vaudeville and nostalgia and pretty much started the late night, late show genre but never got his just desserts because he wasn’t national like Johnny Carson, he was local to the NYC area. Later on, he eventually got more of the recognition he deserved when Billy Crystal imitated him on Saturday Night Live.

Mr. Franklin had a really low budget look to his shows and if you weren’t paying attention you might have even thought his show was “boring” because of his low key speaking style but if you actually paid attention to his shows, they were actually quite entertaining.

Towards the end of his television run, they started using “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop as the theme song for his show and when they did that, I just about lost it! I thought it was the funniest thing ever!

Anyway, at the end of my YouTube video, I’ve included a clip that I posted only to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook last year and it’s called “Joe Franklin’s Revenge” because when we were younger, my friends and I would record ourselves making fun of his shows and now he has come back to get the last laugh! ๐Ÿ™‚

I know this is not what you expect when you are watching a “camera review” site but as I mentioned in the last article, camera reviews are passe man! I want to do things differently. I will continue to keep you guys informed and share my experiences with you but I believe that whenever you put yourself out there in these videos is you got to remember the bottom line is that is stuff is strictly for your entertainment ๐Ÿ™‚

LONG LIVE THE DSLR!

So with all the talk of the imminent death of the DSLR why did Canon and Nikon come out with these cameras when it seemed like they finally embraced Mirrorless? As I mentioned in my DSLR VS Mirrorless YouTube video last year, the “Big Dawgs” Canon and Nikon are very comfortable making these “big ass” cameras ๐Ÿ™‚

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Today’s mirrorless cameras are just as capable as the huge DSLRs but you got to admit some of them sure look wimpy compared to these “big ass” cameras ๐Ÿ™‚

 No seriously, these two companies have been eternally embraced in a legendary rivalry. While both are on the cutting edge of camera technology and while both offer some of the best and most advanced cameras on the market, both camera companies are also philosophically old school to the bone.

The big DSLR flagship cameras represent their greatest. It represents strength, it represents power. The big bodies can be traced back to many models including the Nikon F and the Canon F1, the F5 vs EOS-1, the D1 vs the EOS-1D, and so on and so on.

And let’s face it, even though making cameras as big as these pro models are really unnecessary with today’s technology, they still represent an undeniably powerful and maybe even fearsome look. Just like the huge SUV’s that nobody needs, it tells people that the person driving it is the Big Daddy, the Bull of The Woods! And that’s what Canon and Nikon want with their HUGE DSLR cameras!

Now imagine if Canon came out with the big bad 1DX MKIII and Nikon’s F6 were to be a smallish mirrorless looking camera? Nikon would never live it down how “wimpy” their flagship might look if that were the case. It may sound silly, but I think this is real folks as you can see by this week’s introduction of these two new behemoths.

MY PERSONAL OPINION OF THE NEW DSLRs

While I can understand why Canon kept the 1DX at a relatively low 20.1 megapixels, I personally believe they had room for just a bit more megapixels. I understand that the camera is aimed for those people who really need to get the shot, ie, sports photographers, photo journalists, wedding, etc, and that 20 megapixels is plenty. Heck, I said myself most of us won’t need more than ten megapixels!

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The original EOS-1DX as seen at the PhotoPlus Expo 2011 in NYC.

I mean yes, in reality not many people will need more than 20 megapixels but still, in a world of 30-50mp and even 100mp in some medium format digital cameras, surely they could’ve squeezed in a few more quality pixels for us!

In 2020, 20mp is a bit too low for me. Not because I need more mps but because I would want more for my money if I had the money to buy one! Even their own mirrorless EOS R has 30.3 megapixels!

My old Sony A7R, released in 2013, has 36 megapixels and yes if I’m deliberately looking for it, I can see a difference in details between 36mps and the 16-24mp cameras. Not all the time mind you, but if I’m looking for it, I can see it.

The original 1DX was released in 2011 and had 18 megapixels, so come on Canon this is 2020, you should have made the 1DX MKIII at least 25-30 megapixels. Just my take on this! What do you think?

As for the Nikon D780? I think it’s going to be a great camera but I’m not really sure it’s going to be an image quality improvement over what they’ve already put out with the D600/D610, D750, D800, D810, D850, etc, etc. At this point, it seems like just a product refresh.

The D6 I’m curious about! As I said, no one yet knows the specs, but it’s not hard to guess a 20-25mp pro DSLR with all the amenities you’d expect like 4K video, etc.

Really, at this stage, we have such an abundance of great and capable cameras on the market and on the used market that these cameras are not really necessary as far as image quality is concerned but probably only being put out to keep the market alive.

It almost seems as if the Canon R and Nikon Z mirrorless, while successful, are still not at the heart of Canon and Nikon’s game. Like they just made them because that’s what the market and the masses are demanding they make. But it’s not their true love.

It may take them a little more time for Canon and Nikon to fully cross over into Mirrorless territory but at this point, the big bad assed DSLR still remain what these two Camera Legend companies love most.

What do you think of the 1DX Mark III? The D780? The D6? Feel free to drop a comment and happy Sunday good peeps!

 

Pre-Order The NEW Canon EOS-1DX MK III Now!!

The rest of us mere mortals could probably get by on the hot new and way more affordable Canon EOS 6D MKII!

January 2020 Camera Talk: The Number One Thing That Happened To The Camera Industry Since The Last Decade

Good January morn you happy war torn camera loving people and a belated Happy New Year! The New Year is always a good time for reflection but it’s also a time for moving forward.

Well, I was getting a little misty about the end of 2019 and the end of that decade but this year I resolve to be less nostalgic (if that’s possible!) so let’s dive right in…

THE NUMBER ONE MOST SIGNIFICANT THING TO HAPPEN TO THE CAMERA WORLD IN THE LAST DECADE

Perhaps the most significant thing I have seen in the photography world as we end the years from 2010-2019 and enter the new decade of the 2020’s is this:

Smartphone and the cameras in them have taken over as the most popular means of taking pictures. It seems that Steve Jobs vision of doing everything with our phones has more wide ranging implications than anyone ever thought possible! From shopping to dating to photography, we can do it all on our phones.

It’s something you probably already know but perhaps had not thought deeply about its implications and effects. Here’s the first effect:

“REAL CAMERAS” ARE BECOMING PASSE!

Now some might even say that “real cameras” are not just becoming butย areย passe! And what do I mean by “real cameras?”

I saw a report on a major NYC ย television station about this a few months ago. The reporter spoke of how “traditional cameras” as they called it, are disappearing in light of the capable smartphone cameras. First thing I thought of when I saw the report was, oh this must be a slow news day ๐Ÿ™‚

But secondly, I thought the reporter was just stating the obvious. Even when walking around a big city like New York, I see less and less of what I call “real cameras.”

Well, first off I’m not even talking about film cameras at this point. To the vast majority of the general public, film photography and film cameras truly are a thing of the past and so far out of their train of thought that it’s not even a consideration. It’s really only relevant to us hardcore camera geeks and their importance to us shows that we just live in our own little world.

Cameras like the Sony A7 series or Canon 5D series are awesome but to the general public, “real cameras” such as these are becoming passe as smartphone cameras get more capable.

When I speak of “real cameras” I mean anything that could be perceived as a real camera vs a cell phone camera. It could be a DSLR, a mirrorless, a digital point and shoot. Basically anything that can be viewed as a real camera is becoming passe.

“Snap Shooter” 2005. Canon EOS-20D, EF-S 18-55mm. In 2005 I posted this photo to one of the photo sharing sites and joked that one day the cell phone camera may take over the world of photography. Fifteen years later, it’s not a joke any more! ๐Ÿ™‚

This is not just my observation, I think anyone can see that the cell phone cameras have taken over the world. They are the reason for the decline in camera sales worldwide. They just keep getting better and better and to a large majority of the world the best cell phone cameras have gotten to the point where it’s “good enough.”

THE “GOOD ENOUGH” ERA

Friends we are living in the “Good Enough” era. Just like someone told me how much better the vinyl record is versus the compact disc and I told the next person how much better the cd is from their mp3 and it went in one ear and out the other, a large majority can get by on “good enough” because of one factor: Convenience.

Just like streaming music and movies have become so popular because of their convenience so too has mobile photography. And I’m not trying to sell the people short. People are smart. They still want quality but unlike true camera fanatics the general public can stop obsessing at a certain point. Camera fanatics cannot.

The fact is, just like streaming movies and music, the quality is “good enough” for most consumers. The convenience tradeoffs between having to physically put a vinyl record on the turntable and having to sit down and listen to it, versus just downloading it and listening to your music anywhere is too great for a large majority. However I firmly believe, if the quality of the downloads really sucked it wouldn’t be as popular. But to the contrary, the quality of the downloaded movies or music are extremely good. Certainly better than anything we had in the VHS days ๐Ÿ™‚

In 2005 or 2007 or even 2012, cell phone cameras were nowhere near good enough. That’s why cameras like the Canon EOS 7D or Nikon D7000 we’re so popular and seen often on the streets and everywhere in the real world. But today, for many people, they don’t feel the need for “big ass” (excuse my language!) cameras. The best of the cell phone cameras have gotten good enough.

***BREAKING NEWS***

January 7 2020: Oh you say you like “Big Ass” DSLR cameras? Well today Canon has announced the EOS-1DX Mark III, perhaps the greatest DSLR ever! Check out the specs and pre-order from our trusted affiliates below!

Pre-Order The NEW Canon EOS-1DX MK III Now!!

The rest of us mere mortals could probably get by on the hot new and way more affordable Canon EOS 6D MKII!

In 2016, I wrote an article on how good the cell phone cameras have become. I mentioned that I have already recommended to anyone who asked to just keep their point and shoot digital home because I felt the cell phone cameras even then could get the job done. I said it was “getting close.”

With last year’s release of phones such as the iPhone 11 and Google’s Pixel 4, it’s gotten even closer. You can now shoot low light with these phones the way a few years before people would be looking at an APS-C point and shoot like the Ricoh GR series. Plus you can now do even more with these phones, 4k video, slow motion, time lapse, etc, etc. Plus you can with some simple steps process the images or even make whole movies on the phone then upload them very quickly to your favorite social media platform. The “real cameras” are still quite clumsy in this way.

“Pine” 2020. Take a look at this night exposure from an “old” 2015 model iPhone 6s Plus. It used to be that you had to use big “serious” cameras to get this! Sure the faces are dark, but it was dark outside. I could have easily lifted it post process but that would take away from the night mood.

Now I’m not saying these phones will beat the best from Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. Of course, if you blow up the photos, print them large or pixel peep you are going to see a difference. But a large majority of the world are not doing that.

They like what they see from their phones. They are not printing. Or if they do, it’s primarily 4×6 greeting cards. They don’t care if the bokeh is fake, they just like that they can now (in the latest phones) blur the background using some clever processing that the phones can do automatically. They like that they can use a myriad of filters on their phones to give the images are different look and feel. And they love that they can share this within minutes or seconds.

“Fire & Brimstone” 2019. Apple iPhone 6s Plus and some in camera processing made for an easy and dramatic photo.

I’m not just saying all this stuff from a generalized view of things. I see this in the real world with friends, family, coworkers etc. People I know who used to be big time DSLR shooters. You are probably seeing the same things.

And in all honesty, the phones have gotten good enough where in small prints you will not see a lot of differences. A good example, recently a friend showed me an 8×10 print from a Nikon D3300 with the 18-55mm Nikkor kit lens vs an 8×10 from an iPhone 11 of the same subject. It was really hard to spot the difference. Now if ย it was one of Nikon’s better lenses, maybe the differences would be more obvious but as it is I can see why to a lot of people out there, the phones have gotten “good enough.” The scary thing is that this is just beginning. The smartphone cameras will get even better!

Of course, the phone cameras still cannot compete for wildlife or sports but these are specialty segments. For a broad range of shooting, ie, street, portraits, parties, even product shots, a modern cell phone camera in the hands of a skilled photographer can get the job done.

So this explains why we see less and less people carrying around big camera gear or even little mirrorless camera gear. Especially with a big DSLR and big lens, you will look like a fossil from 2005! ๐Ÿ™‚

I admit that I myself am guilty of not bringing out my serious gear as often these days. I’m more selective on where and when to bring them. If I’m going to a wedding or important event, I’ll bring it. For a house party with friends, I keep it home.

And the second and sad byproduct of the rise of the cell phone camera is something most other bloggers won’t tell you.

Shhh…Can you keep a secret? If yes, ok then, come closer. Let me whisper in your ear:

CAMERA REVIEWING ISย PASSE!

Ok, I said it, now let’s keep it a secret ok?! Alright, in all seriousness, I’m being serious. I mean, it’s hard for me to say such a thing because this is a camera review site after all and yes from time to time I do review cameras and even more so, I’m just a camera and lens fanatic.

Even if I’m not posting as often, cameras and lenses are my passion, other than my family or music. And I’m an old school camera guy to boot.

That said, I’m realistic and I’m on with the times. I see what’s going on. The camera review thing is just getting outdated. It’s overdone, over saturated, and just too much these days.

Every day a new kid on the block is reviewing cameras and lenses. I’ve lost track and everyone begins to look and sound the same. Talking about the same cameras, same lenses. I should know. Five years ago I was the new kid on the block! A new old kid I should say ๐Ÿ™‚

When I first showed up on YouTube in 2018 I’m sure people felt the same way about me. Like, who is this guy? Who is this jerk? ๐Ÿ™‚

The “Night Stalker?” The “Midnight Rider?” Who is this jerk? ๐Ÿ™‚

Funny thing is this is actually not new to me. In the mid 90s I was leaving comments which were basically like “mini reviews” on sites like photo.net because in those early days of the internet, it was something new and I found it really engaging to interact with people who had the same interests.

Photo.net was one of the original “Granddaddy” photography sites and some great reviewers like Thom Hogan come out of that site. I remember when he was just posting his opinions there! I then started sharing pictures and reviewing cameras and lenses on sites like Pbase in the early 2000s where I remember guys like Steve Huff and Sylvain Halgand starting what would eventually lead them to their current blogs or websites right now, so I’ve been around. I just haven’t gotten as famous or successful as those guys ๐Ÿ™‚

But that’s ok. I’ve never been driven by the need to make money out of this. But in 2020, camera reviews to me seem passe. I’m not saying it’s over. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. I’m just saying I don’t see it as something all that interesting any more in its current state. I mean, how many reviews of the Canon R or Nikon Z do we need? Similarly, how many times can we read or look at a review of the Canon AE-1? Leica M6? Contax T2? It’s all been done folks!

The truth of the matter is the majority of the world shoots with their phone cameras or mobile devices. And if I review a relatively uncommon camera, say a Polaroid 110B or Speed Graphic who is going to be reading or watching? Two, maybe three people max? Needless to say, it doesn’t give me a lot of motivation to put the work into it, especially when I have family and other businesses to tend to.

GOING FORWARD

So if camera reviews are passรฉ whatย will I do going forward. Well, for one I’m always going to try and give you guys a different perspective on things. I mean, it’s not going to be any better than any one else, but I want to use my experiences to give you a somewhat different take on things. For example, the one time I spoke of the Canon AE-1, I didn’t dwell on what a great camera it is. Everyoneย it’s a good (if not great) camera. Instead, I spoke of how the prices were going up because as I said…You guys are buying them up!ย ๐Ÿ™‚

Same for the Contax T2. I didn’t review it in the traditional sense. I spoke of five reasons why youย don’tย need it. And I’m going to keep on doing it like this whenever applicable! I don’t need to repeat what all the other great reviewers have already said.

In the same token, I’d love to learn from YOU. I read a lot of blogs but don’t necessarily comment on them. I should really comment more than I do but despite looking like a guy with the gift of gab, I’m painfully shy. The great Lou Mendes, the famous NYC street photographer with the trademark Speed Graphic, once gave me his phone number and said call him and we can go out shooting. I never called. Not because I didn’t want to, of course I do! But what would I do in the presence of a true Camera Legend? I still bump into Lou every now and then so we’re good ๐Ÿ™‚

This year I plan on going back to the roots of this blog, going back to the Camera Legends that this blog is built upon. More Contax, more Rolleis, more Leicas, more Olympus more Nikons, more Pentax, etc, etc. Plus more oddball cameras that you never knew!

Cameras and lenses like the Olympus Pen-F and the 42mm f/1.2 Zuiko are still high on my review list.

And more rare cameras. In the early days, this site was built upon cameras not many have reviewed such as the Contax N Digital and the Minolta XK Motor for example. There’s not many rarities left in my stash but there might be one or two ๐Ÿ˜Š

I also plan on reviewing or spotlighting more digital cameras too. I have been neglecting them as I concentrated on film cameras, but I’ve never been a digital hater. I grew up on film but was young enough to appreciate digital when it came around. I also plan to do more lens reviews.

And speaking of YouTube, I hope to continue growing the channel. Hopefully, better production, more content. But honestly, while I loveย watching YouTube, I don’t necessarily enjoy producing content for it.

And lastly, above anything else, I plan on doing more personal shooting. I enjoy photography, I love photography! But I have learned over the past few years that the thought of producing content for this blog and for YouTube gets in the way sometimes. If I’m out shooting, I’m now always thinking…maybe I should write an article about this. Or maybe I can turn this into a video. With that frame of mind, I find that some of the joy of photography gets lost and that is a sad thing.

My main goal for 2020 is back to roots shooting, and maybe get more sleep ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you think? What are your plans for 2020? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment if you wish. Many thanks for your support and I wish every one of you a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Unboxing What I Got For Christmas: Leica Summicron Destroyer? ๐Ÿ˜€

Good day you guys! Well, they always say all your best laid plans can go awry. And yes, that is what happened to your buddy Sam here!

Just when I was on a roll cranking out three videos in a month (a lot for me!) and working on the next one, I came down with either a nasty cold or a mild flu. I don’t know because I didn’t go in to have it evaluated. All I know is it started up slow, and then all of a sudden BAM! Coughing, sneezing, fever, etc.

It’s funny because a couple of months ago, I got the flu shot, which I needed for work. Now in the years when I didn’t get a flu shot, I never got sick. So is it because of the flu shot? Or is it perhaps, as a friend said to me, perhaps I’d be sicker if I didn’t get the shot? Food for thought!

Today, I feel much better but still not quite 100 percent. This whole episode taught me the value of not taking your health for granted. I mean, I was always somewhat health conscious but one thing I took for granted was sleep. I always got by on very little sleep. Like less than four hours a night sometimes.

But I would see friends get sick, catch the cold or flu, etc, and I never did so I wondered if it was just genetics. Anyway, I found myself up late editing videos for YouTube. I mean my Contax T video is like 95 percent done yet I found myself continually editing and reediting parts. And it’s not like it’s going to be a masterpiece video or anything!! I’m kind of like Kanye when he dropped the last album, haha, just edit and reedit till the last minute. But the lack of sleep caught up to me and my immune was down I guess.

Anyway, needless to say, all the videos I was planning have been pushed back a bit. But to make it up to all who read the blog and subscribe to the channel on YouTube, here’s a video you didn’t see coming! Why do that? I don’t know, I like throwing things out of left field, keeps it interesting I think! ๐Ÿ™‚

YOUTUBE UNBOXING VIDEO

Here’s my Christmas gift unboxing video! In order to save time, and also to keep me from getting sick again, I’m going to keep this article short because everything is in the video already.

WHY AN UNBOXING VIDEO?

I have done a couple of unboxing videos but in general, I do not do a lot of them. That’s because I usually don’t buy my photo gear new, so I don’t usually have the box and its extra contents. But on the rare times I do buy new I figured someone might like to see it.

Now, I was never a big fan of unboxing videos. I don’t really get the appeal. Yet, there must be something to it because there’s a guy on YouTube with millions of subscribers who does nothing but unbox stuff! Granted, his videos are very nicely produced, but I guess he has the money now and the time to do that.

WHAT AM I UNBOXING?

The 7Artisans 35mm f/2 in Leica M mount has gotten a lot of press with some calling this $289 lens a real challenger to the legendary Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron. Is it a true Summicron killer? Stay tuned to find out!

Well, since you guys who follow the blog are the backbone of my world, I’ll let you know what it is. It’s the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens in Leica M mount. If you look online people have been comparing it to the Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH or IV versions! For a lens from China that cost $289 (I got it for $260) that is a mighty high complement!

Anyway, I’ve always been curious about the lens, but I needed another 35mm lens like I need another camera so I waited until the right moment. I sold my 35mm Summicron IV “King Of Bokeh” a long time ago and didn’t hold on to it too long because I already had the 40mm f/2 Summicron and the 50mm f/2 Summicron. And at that time in my life I was fascinated with bokeh lenses and a 35mm f/2 lens just doesn’t give you dreamy backgrounds like a 0.95 lens.

Anyway just like you guys I go through thick and thin times, financially, and this was a “thin” year. Money’s tight.

So I sold off a bunch of stuff just to make sure I had enough to buy gifts for my loved ones, and with the money left over (which wasn’t a lot) I got myself this lens. You know when Sam is happy about a $260 lens, it’s a “thin” year! ๐Ÿ™‚

In all seriousness, I do understand that $260 is a lot for many people, and in hard times, it’s a lot for me too.

But as photographers, camera lovers, etc, we ALL know that photography isย no doubt an expensive hobby but $260 for a lens that is supposed to rival the $2000 plus Leica Summicron is a steal. If it can even approach the Leica in any way, it has done its job and done it well!

I have already put the lens on my trusty Leica M8, a camera which I’ve had since 2010, and am comfortable with. It’s my only digital Leica in fact. Anyway, I am using it first on my M8 so I can get results to you guys sooner so stay tuned.

Can this lens compete with the Leica at a steal of a price? I know what other people have said, but as always, I’m curious to find out for myself. We’ll see. Thanks for reading and catch you in the new year camera lovers!

CURIOUS? GET YOUR OWN, IT’S CHEAP!

If you would like to try this lens for yourself, click on the link from our trusted affiliate below. You will find it for the usual price of $289. But if you browse around a little bit, you might still be able to find it for $260!

***USED CAMERA TRENDS***

I have noticed that the 50mp Hasselblad X1D-50C has gone down in price and you can now find them used for around $3000 USD! That is a heck of a deal for a camera with superlative image quality. If you ever wanted to get into high fidelity imagery and try your hands at Medium Format digital, this might be it!

Flashback Friday The 13th ๐Ÿ˜€

Just for fun here’s something to celebrate Friday the 13th. It’s the Ultimate Camera MONSTER ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ“ธ

Here’s the true DANGER of loving cameras too much! It turns you into a Camera MONSTER ๐Ÿ˜€

Some of you might have seen this one before. I tried to blend a selfie of myself with a Mamiya Press and Jason Voorhees and something went hideously wrong! But just like Frankenstein these tragic mistakes make the best monsters ๐Ÿ˜‚

Have a great weekend camera geeks and hey stay lucky will ya? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ˜˜โœŒ๐Ÿป

Rewind ’99: The Nikon F100 Review 1999-2019

Hello there you hardcore camera lovers! Now even though my postings all have a twinge of nostalgia in them, every now and then I like doing a post like this where I look back on the gear that I used at a specific point in time.

As 2019 is rapidly drawing to a close, I thought I’d go back in time and look at a some of cameras I used twenty years ago in 1999! There’s going to be about two or three of them and we’ll go through them one by one until the year is done.

PHOTOGRAPHY IN 1999

1999 can be seen as a pivotal year in photography. Film was holding strong, but digital was rising fast. As in really fast!

In 1999 the vast majority of the world were still shooting film. That’s right folks! Even though the digital photography market was making inroads in a big way, the cameras sold to the general public were 1 to 3 megapixel cameras and they were expensive so for most of the world, film was still ruler of the day. But its days were numbered.

Now it might be hard for you youngsters and hipsters who find shooting film cool and different to realize that at one time, not that long ago, film was a format that was used by their “unhip” fathers, mothers, uncles, aunties, grandparents, and heck everyone! If everyone were using it, how unhip is that? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Now if you were born in 1999, you may feel “old” but really you’re not! You’re still a baby in many ways, and I say that in the best of terms. Be happy about it! I wish I were twenty years younger! ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s why I say 1999 was not that long ago even though sometimes it feels like it! And yet sometimes it doesn’t.

Black Friday Deals!

Black Friday CAMERA Deals!

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YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who are YouTube fanatics, and admittedly there are millions out there, here’s our video companion video. I’m trying to get these videos out sooner for you guys!

MY GEAR BAG IN 1999

Not that anyone would or should care what I was using in 1999, but I use my gear only as a reference point. I’d love to know what YOU were using back then? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Now believe it or not, in 1999 I did not even get my first digital camera yet! That would happen a year later in 2000. That means all photography I did up to the year 2000 was only done on film. That’s even hard for me today imagine living in the digital world of 2019!

And while I’m sure I had other cameras, today I am talking about what I considered to be my main camera in 1999 and that camera is the Nikon F100. There will be more to come!

THE NIKON F100

The Nikon F100 is an autofocus 35mm film SLR that was introduced in 1999 by Nikon. It was born of the legendary Nikon F5 of 1996 and indeed has the same Multi-Cam 1300 AF system.

The Nikon F100 has a shutter speed range of 30 secs to 1/8000th of a second. It has the standard P/S/A/M modes. It relies on four AA batteries.

F100 vs F5

The F5 was introduced in 1996 and in 1999, it was still the top camera in the Nikon family. The F5 and F100 both share the Nikon Multi-Cam 1300 AF module and five AF points so their AF should be similar except that the F5 can track up to 8 frames per second while the F100 can go up to 4.5fps by itself or up to 5fps with battery pack MB-15.

What it does better than the F5 is the inclusion of the familiar red AF points that the F5 did not have. Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember reading back then that this was due to patent issues.

The F5, as the pro model, offers interchangeable viewfinder prisms, and can offer up to 100% viewfinder coverage depending on the prism. The F100 offers a 96 percent coverage and the prism is not removable.

The F5 has a mirror lock-up option, the F100 does not. In 1999, this mattered more to people than it might today. Check the video for a better explanation of this.

The F5 employs 1005 pixel RGB sensor for its 3D Color Matrix Metering. The F100 uses Nikon’s “exclusive” 10 segment 3D Matrix Metering.

Now I’ve never mentioned this, but (surprise!) yes I have used an F5 as well! And in all honesty, I never saw a difference. Both cameras produced near perfect exposures in all but the most extreme lighting situations. In fact the only Nikon that I felt I had exposure issues with was the N90s. But I used only one body so I feel that could’ve just been my copy of the camera.

The F100 came in at a much lower price ($1400) than the F5 ($3000 original price!) which made it an instant hit among the photography crowd. I remember reading forums like Photo.net where folks couldn’t wait to get their hands on the camera.

In some ways, it was like a pre Nikon D3 vs D700 magic! Two cameras. One pro model, one enthusiast model. Same AF system. One much more expensive, one much less.

Note: By the way, the Nikon F100 has 22 Custom Functions and if you’re interested in them, look it up! I only ever used one function which is to leave the film leader out ๐Ÿ™‚

F100 vs F6

I can’t comment on this because (surprise!) I have NOT used an F6. I have no doubt the F6 is the more technically capable camera but as far as results, I’m going to take an educated guess and say that, with the same lenses, same film, results will look identical ๐Ÿ™‚

F100 AS A MAIN SHOOTER IN 1999 VS 2019 PERSPECTIVE

In 1999, even though I had other cameras, the F100 was my main shooter. In a 2019 perspective, that’s the equivalent of someone using say a Nikon D750 or D850 for example. But unlike today where you’d use a D750 and maybe have an F100 as a secondary camera for film, the F100 was my main camera in 1999.

I’m not sure who this guy is, but he looks like a little bit of a nut ๐Ÿ™‚

That means that I used it for almost everything! I go to a party, I bring my F100. I go to restaurant, I bring the F100. I go to the beach, I bring my F100. I go to church, I bring my F100. Ok, well sometimes I brought my Pentax IQ Zoom point and shoot but you get the idea. I used the F100 the same way I use my iPhone today. That means even my lamest pictures were taken with the F100 ๐Ÿ™‚

Any of you remember the cool and handy Magic Lantern guides? I didn’t buy too many of them but I did for the F100. I thought I might need it to learn all of the cameras advanced functions. As it turns out, I never really needed the book because for basic shooting the F100 is easy to figure out!

We are so spoiled for choices today and unless you lived in a pre digital world you might not fully understand the profound effect digital photography has made on our lives, for better or worse.

I had another film body as a backup but in 1999 there were no digital backups for me! Simply because there weren’t any real digital cameras at the time capable to even delivering close to what film cameras can and even the 1 to 3 megapixel digicams were expensive!

Today, I carry a digital camera and still carry a film camera no matter where I go. Old habits die hard. Living in a world where I carry digital cameras more than capable of replacing film, it’s an amazing thought that the roles are reversed and that I’m only carrying a film camera because I love film and because it’s going to give me results that are different, maybe more artistic, moody, etc but certainly not technically better than my best digital camera bodies.

PICS

I have a lot of personally memorable images with the Nikon F100 but the majority of them are in the old school photo albums that need to be scanned.

And unless I’m showing a photo that demonstrates its autofocus in action I really don’t think it matters much because, for the most part, for example, a Nikon F100 or N80 with the same lens, same film would take the same pictures. But here are a few pictures for the sake of this article and for nostalgia ๐Ÿ˜˜

“Legends” Circa 1999. Nikon F100, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. In 1999, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were still standing.

“Ho Hum Day” 2011. Nikon F100, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens, Kodak Tri-X in HC-110. The F100 is capable of working with a modern Nikon lens, even digital lenses such as the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens used for this shot!

Here’s a shot I’ve never posted anywhere. How much did I love the F100? So much that I used it at my Dad’s funeral in 2011. RIP Dad, God Bless.

HOW I CAME ACROSS THE F100

I’m not usually an early adopter but I was able to get one only because a photo forum member had bought one and sold it at a pretty steep discount. I had the money and I jumped on it. As I said in one of my videos, just like that Steve Winwood song says “While you see a chance, take it!”

Back in 1999 there weren’t as many photo forums so I’m thinking it was on photo.net but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I loved the camera  then and I still do today! The build was and is superb. It’s not as bulky as the F5 yet not small in any way, especially when compared to today’s mirrorless cameras.

F100 IMPRESSIONS

The camera feels perfect in the hands. The build quality is superb. The magnesium alloy body keeps it strong yet light. Even though it is second tier to the Nikon F5, the F100 is weather sealed like a pro oriented body should be.

All the controls are where you would expect them to be, but if there’s anything that confuses you, read the manual! It is an electronic camera after all with all the complications that might go with that.

The 5 point AF is speedy and accurate. It can run on 4 AA batteries that last a long time. The shutter speed range is 30 secs up to 1/8000th of a second which is always a sign of a top camera. Even though its position was secondary to the F5 which makes it the “prosumer” or “enthusiast” model, it was also marketed to and loved by professionals.

I remember the lenses I used most with the F100 were my ever trusty Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D and the 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D Zoom. That’s a very good general purpose zoom for film and full frame cameras.

I sold the F100 maybe two years later because I either needed the money or wanted to upgrade. Can’t remember now, but that’s usually my reasons for selling!

I must’ve gone through about three of these and my current one was bought in 2011. I still hang on to it, despite not using it as much as I should.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens available for PRE-ORDER NOW

ISSUES

As much as I’ve been enthusiastic about the F100, it doesn’t mean the camera is flawless. No camera is. More attention should be paid to potential problems when the cameras are electronic in nature.

One area to keep an eye on is the rear Focus Area Selector. It’s that thing that looks like a pad from a video game controller. The controls may malfunction or not be as responsive over time. The possible culprit could be that the electrical contacts underneath may be effected by oxidation or wear out from use, just like a video game joystick. Some people try electrical spray or resetting the camera. Since I have not faced the problem, I do not have the solution. I’m just giving you leads to help you to find your own answers.

The rear focus area selector is a potential problem area.

Another thing to watch for is “ERR” or error messages from the camera. Many times it’s just the batteries or the electrical contacts may need cleaning but other times, you don’t know! Try changing the batteries first. Clean the electrical contacts on the lens mount. Try a reset. If nothing works, get a repair estimate. You might find it cheaper just picking up another F100!

The last thing I found on two of the three F100 cameras that I have used is that the rubber grip becomes sticky with time. This is due to the sweat, moisture, humidity, water, etc that wear it down over the years. This doesn’t happen with all cameras so that means whatever material Nikon used for the F100 (and F5) grips do not wear well over time. The digital Nikon D70 has become infamous for this problem!

Though she looks beautiful right here, keep an eye for sticky grip surfaces on the Nikon F100. Or “Surface Sticky” as a famous used camera dealer calls it!

If you ever looked at used camera dealer descriptions, this is what they call “Surface Sticky” as I often see at KEH Camera.

For usability, it’s a non issue, but you might want to keep an eye on it. Some possible remedies are to use an isopropyl alcohol rub, hand sanitizer, or even baby wipes! It’s really a process of experimentation and these remedies do not work for every camera.

I’ve never tried to fix the sticky surface on my F100 because it’s not that bad yet, but I have used a combination of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and baby powder to cure the sticky surface of my other cameras.

Keep in mind you may end up doing more damage so if it’s not that bad leave it alone!

BOTTOM LINE

The Nikon F100 is a modern classic and a true Camera Legend. It took the legend of the Nikon F5 to the masses. It’s a perfect Nikon camera in my opinion!

Many people consider it Nikon’s second or third best AF film camera, behind the F5 and F6 respectively. Technically, I may agree with that but in the context of being the best choice for “the people” which is 95 percent of the world, I’d say the Nikon F100 is the BEST! And not just “for your money” but because it is a very capable camera!

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed this ride back in time. What’s next? Find out in my YouTube video!

But more importantly, I’d love to know: What camera/lenses were YOU using in 1999? And if you weren’t around in 1999, then what gear has been most endearing to you on your photographic journey?

I’d love to know so leave a comment! Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

PRICE & AVAILIBILITY

The Nikon F100 is plentiful on the used market. Because it runs second to the F5 in the Nikon hierarchy, it’s prices have been stable over the years. And today, maybe more so because big SLR cameras in general are seen as almost passe, I hate to say it!

Prices for the F100 are trending at $150-300 USD which makes it a bargain. And indeed, when we talk about cameras like the Contax T2 (which I’ve talked about a lot) and the inflated prices for that camera, $150-300 to me is a STEAL for a camera like the F100!

If you have one or get one, I’d love to hear from you!

Get Your Nikom F100 Here!