Recent Items February 2017

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I know I work at a snail’s pace and maybe slower than a snail, and I apologize for that, but as you can see I’m certainly not in it for the glory. As I said many times, there is no glory to this blogging thing! Well, at least not for me anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

As you can see from the photo above, I’ve managed to find another Nicca 5L/ Tower 46 rangefinder. This time I have paired it up with a 5cm f/2 Leica Summtar that I’ve had for a long time. I have film in it now and the results from this combo will be interesting for me to see.

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Flashback Friday: Baby Zay at two months old. Canon EOS 5D Classic, EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

The photo above was Baby Zay’s first sit down portrait attempt at two months old in 2015. In a couple of days, she will turn two years old. My friend, does the time fly or what? Allow me to post just a few more of her photos in the next few days in celebration.

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“Pool Sharks” 2016. Fuji Klasse W, 28mm f/2.8 Fujinon, Arista EDU 400 in D76.

Right now I’m looking at images from a Fuji Klasse W, which is the “wide” 28mm version of the Klasse film camera in preparation for some kind of review on this beautiful point and shoot. The above is a crop from a larger, wider image and the Fujinon lens is very sharp, retaining fine details.

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“UGG Enviable” 2016. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. Yes, I still use my original, from 2006, GRD. This was shot using the 21mm add on lens. Sure there’s some distortion. Still love it though!

Found a new “ugly” building off the West Side Highway in Manhattan. Why do they build these things?! Will we ever get new classics in the shape of the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building? I’m afraid this is the new face of NYC.

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“Happiness.” Nikon D700, 60mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor. Baby Zayda is all smiles as she approaches two years of age.

I recently procured another D700 which was had very cheaply because the camera had over 200K shots on it. In 2008, I had a D700 when they first came out which I later sold to fund a D3 which was also sold. Both cameras used the same 12mp sensor.

Though Nikon has released numerous full-frame models since that era, I’ve always loved the sensor in the D3/D300 cameras. The new models are better to be sure, but I’ve never felt the need for anything more from a DSLR than what I got from the D3/D700 sensors. It was a sweet spot for full frame I think.

The Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro has got to be one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used. Mine was had cheaply in “UG” condition from KEH, which means there’s some defect they found in it, but if there were any optical defects, I certainly didn’t see it. The above image looks like it was shot with flash, but it wasn’t. That was the beauty of the D700 sensor when mated with a good lens, it’s alive and vibrant just like Baby Zay here. Happiness is a Nikon D700!

With Nikon’s recent financial woes, I would say, go out there and buy some Nikon right now! Support Nikon. After losing Rollei, we cannot let another one of photography’s greatest names go down! And no, I get no kickbacks from Nikon though I wouldn’t mind if they did give me some, but I know they cannot afford superfluous spending at this time ๐Ÿ™‚

Alright, I wish you all a great weekend!

Monday Mystery Camera: The Nicca 5L aka Nicca Type 5/ Tower 46

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The Nicca 5L/Tower 46 with the 5cm f/1.4 Nikkor in ltm mount. A rare combination!

The Nicca 5L is a rangefinder camera made by the Nicca Camera Company of Japan around circa 1957.

Nicca wasย one of several Japanese companies that brought Leica screwmount clones to the market. The most well known of these clone companies is Canon, but there were also many more companies from Japan and the USSR. Nicca is said to be the predecessor to the Canon company.

The camera pictured above is the Tower 46. It is the same camera as the Nicca 5L/Type 5, but was sold in the USA by Sears Roebuck under their “Tower” brand.

AS A CAMERA

The Nicca 5L like most Leica screwmount cameras has two separate windows, one for framing and one for the rangefinder.ย The shutter speed range is 1/25 to 1/1000, plus B.

The Nicca’s main claim to fame is the winding lever and the Leica M type back, easier film loading than Leica’s screwmount bodies.

Stephen Gandy has a much more extensive write-up on his Camera Quest website, the online authority on rangefinder cameras. In his article, he says it “outshines Leica’s own renouned IIIg.”

I don’t have any experience with the IIIg, but compared to the IIIf I have, it is indeed better. The film loading, the winding lever, the beautiful, large and clear rangefinder all add up to a more pleasant user camera.

PRICE AND COLLECTIBILITY

The Nicca 5L is rare, but not ultra rare. Well, the Nicca version itself is quite rare. As I read on Camera Quest it’s “never been seen.” The Tower 46 (the one seen here) is the one you will usually encounter. If you ever see the Nicca version, let me know!

The Nicca is one of those cameras I bought but sold before I could use it. As I already had the IIIf, I preferred to keep the Leica, despite the Nicca being a much better user camera, as I stated above. Sold it when I needed to pay the bills. Of course, I regret it! ๐Ÿ™‚

I got the Nicca/Tower 46 for about $130 body only, which was a bargain. I don’t see them often, but when I do, I usually see this camera on auction sites, usually paired with the 5cm f/2 Nikkor sell for around $350-500. The 5cm f/1.4 Nikkor in ltm mount is more uncommon and sells for around $300-400 by itself.

Sometimes, people will try to pull for a lot more on that auction site, but as the Leica IIIg (the apex of screwmount rangefinders) go for around $400-700 at legitimate dealers like KEH, I can only say that the Nicca should not sell for more than that.

The Nicca 5L/Tower 46 is an awesome camera to add to your collection and I’m sure, to use. Someday, I will find another and this time, I’ll keep it!

Note: Sorry for the placement of the “cameralegend.com” logo. I now put it closer to the photos because I had found some of the content of my pages used without authorization. I usually hate copyright logos, but it only takes one bad apple to ruin it for everyone and it only takes seeing your work copied to make you think twice about it.

Flashback Friday Photos

Just a quick and random posting of photos that can now be filed under “Throwback” or “Flashback.”

The years roll by rapidly my friends! Let’s cherish every moment and photograph as many of these moments as we can. Before you know it, they’re all “throwback” or “flashback” photos! ๐Ÿ™‚

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“The Beach” Part II, 2011. Bronica RF 645, 65mm f/4 Zenzanon lens, T-Max 400, Wildwoods, NJ. It’s been a mild winter so far, but with the cold weather forcasted to come soon, hmm, I think I’d rather be on the beach! Ah, I loved that RF 645, wish I could get another one.

 

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“White House” 2007. Sigma SD-14, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX. It’s hard to believe President Donald Trump has been in the White House for only a week! Ten years ago, I’d never imagine this man that I knew from “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous” would be the President of the United States!

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“Bangkok Traffic” 1995. Canon EOS 10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Gold film. This is how Bangkok traffic was in the 1990s.

FUTURE FLASH

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“Holy Prominent!” 2017. This is NOT a Flashback Friday pic. This is a “Future Flash” of a camera we plan to review for you in the near future. What is it? Ho! Why it’s the legendary Voigtlander Prominent with the equally legendary original Nokton 50mm f/1.5 lens. This was a top system from the 1950s and 1960s and still highly desirable today for collectors as well as shooters.

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“Nik Cam” 2002. An old school type “selfie” with the Nikon N8008s ๐Ÿ™‚

The Digital Harinezumi Guru (Final 2011 Special Edition)

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Here at Camera Legend, we don’t just love old, classic, and decrepit cameras, we love ALL cameras! Especially the strange, weird, and interesting. Today, we have one of the weirder ones. It’s a very small and strange thing in the shape of an old 110 film cartridge and it’s called a “Digital Harinezumi.”

WHAT IS A DIGITAL HARINEZUMI?

What is a Digital Harinezumi you might ask? Well, first let’s start with “Harinezumi” which means “hedgehog” in Japanese. Thus with the Digital Harinezumi we have a Digital Hedgehog ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok before we go any further, just for the record, the camera we are looking at today is the “Digital Harinezumi Guru (Final 2011 Special Edition).” That’s the whole name of this camera!

The Digital Harinezumi Guru is a digital camera made by Superheadz of Tokyo, which is a branch of a company called Powershovel Ltd. of Japan. As far as I can tell, the “DH” series is now up to version 4. Please keep in mind I am only talking about the Guru, the “Final 2011 Special Edition.”

The company makes some unique and as they like to call it, “artistic” lo-fi cameras such as the Blackbird Fly, the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim clone cameras, and the Digital Harinezumi cameras among others. They are, to me, very much like a twin of the Lomography company and in a world ruled by the Big C’s, Big N’s, and Big S’s, I think we need companies like this to add some variety to life ๐Ÿ™‚

THE DIGITAL HARINEZUMI GURU AS A CAMERA

The Digital Harinezumi Guru (2011) has 3 megapixels (2048×1536 resolution) on a tiny sensor. It features a 35mm f/3 fixed lens. Closest focus is 3cm (about 0.098 ft) when used in Macro mode.

The camera has no manual controls whatsoever. There is no viewfinder. There is a plastic “frame window” that acts as your “viewfinder” but I find it pretty useless. The tiny LCD is about 1.5 inches, not very high resolution, but usable.

There are only two ISO selections, ISO 100 and ISO 800. The camera can record video that some say is reminiscent of 8mm video. It can record video at 30 fps, 8 fps, and 1 fps respectively.

There is also a host of selectable filters for your photos or videos, i.e., monochrome, vivid, “old” etc.ย There is a switch on the bottom that takes you from “normal” mode to macro mode.

The camera runs on one CR2 battery. In my use, the camera eats batteries pretty quickly especially when using the video mode and CR2 batteries can be expensive. Best solution is to have some rechargeable CR2’s on hand.

IMAGE QUALITY AND IMPRESSIONS

I’ve only had this thing for a few months, although I’ve been interested in Digital Harinezumi cameras for years. First of all, let me say that it seems for most people, the reaction to toy cameras is that either you “get it” or you “don’t get it.” There doesn’t seem to be much of a grey area.

To be clear, when I speak of toy cameras I’m talking about “serious” toy cameras like the Harinezumi is supposed to be. I’m not talking about V-Tech or Fisher Price cameras, although I have seen cool results from some of these cameras intended for children.

However, for me, with the Superheadz Digital Harinezumi, I get it and yet I don’t get it. Let me explain. I have used other toy cameras before. My favorite one was the Yashica EZ F521 which I reviewed in 2011. I loved that camera, despite of and maybe because of its low-fi images. But at last, its flimsy build led to a broken SD card slot.ย But I really liked the images.

The Digital Harinezumi? Hmm, not so much. The color images are frankly disappointing. The b&w images will wow me one day and let me down the next. It’s not consistent. To be fair, perhaps it’s meant to be that way. I mean, just like developing a roll of film and not knowing what you’re going to get is part of the thrill of film, I think it’s supposed to be part of the charm of this digital camera.

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The photo above is a good representation of what you can expect with the Digital Harinezumi Guru at ISO 800, indoors with typical house lighting. To me, very reminiscent of old Sony Ericsson or Nokia phones.

In color, indoor shots have way too much color noise. I expected the noise, but it’s worse than I thought it would be and it’s not the beautiful “film-like” digital type. At its worst, it closely resembles old phone cameras of the late 90s or early 2000s. You remember those old Nokia or Sony Ericsson phones don’t you?

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“Wheel Of Fortune” 2017. Digital Harinezumi Guru 2011 Final Edition, ISO 800.

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“December Dusk” 2016. Digital Harinezumi Guru, ISO 100. Much cleaner than ISO 800, but noise still present.

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“Autumn Leaves” 2016. Digital Harinezumi Guru, ISO 800. The lighting was dimmer than it looks here and the shots I got at ISO 100 were shaky. I switched to ISO 800 and here you can see an example of the exaggerated colors that these cameras can produce and I think, some people want. For me, it reminds me of a still frame from an old video camera.

The “hard” monochrome mode has a cool and strong b&w look that I like. It appears very dramatic, very dark and contrasty. At its best, it can be quite “film-like” but most of the time, I think it might be too dramatic, so much so that it appears obvious that you’re using a special effect of some kind. But when the camera (or photographer) gets it right, it’s quite a good attempt at copying grainy film.

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“Ghostbusters” 2017. Digital Harinezumi Guru, ISO 800, “Hard Monochrome” mode. I think this represents about the best “film-like” grit and grain you can get out of this camera.

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“Mirror Baby” 2017. Digital Harinezumi Guru, ISO 100, “Hard Monochrome” mode.

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A 100 percent crop of the previous image. Note the grain structure, pretty nice and somewhat “film-like” I think.

I will say I did like the way it records videos, especially at the 8 fps setting and perhaps I’ll try to upload some video for you.

As mentioned before, there is a cool macro mode that you access by sliding the switch on the bottom of the camera. The problem for me though is that you have to get in close, and I mean real close like right near the subject for the image to be in focus.

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“Skull” 2016. Digital Harinezumi Guru 2011 Final Edition. Macro mode, ISO 800.

BOTTOM LINE

Right now, the Digital Harinezumi is an enigma to me. It has a real cult following, so much so that some say it’s iconic. It might even be Camera Legend to some, though I’m not so sure about that. I’m going to reserve judgement until I have worked it a little more.

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“The Dark Cat” 2017. Digital Harinezumi Guru 2011 Final Edition, ISO 800.

Consider an extra tool in your arsenal of cameras and it could work. It’s certainly something unique and while it doesn’t always take the greatest photos or videos, it can take great photos in its own way and the camera does take those photos and videos with character. Whether that “character” is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder I guess.

WHY?
Why would you get a Digital Harinezumi? Well, for one thing, you get one if you’re a gearhead like me ๐Ÿ™‚

Secondly, I suspect most people who buy these cameras are looking for something different, indeed perhaps as an artistic tool.

Third, a lot of people would be interested in that lo-fi look which to me is really an attempt to recreate the look and feel of film. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want the film look, shoot film.

Ok yes, I am a fair man, and in all fairness we know this is no longer the film era and not everyone has the time or the means to shoot film and have it processed.

A camera like the Digital Harinezumi can, to some extent, recreate the film look, but it’s not going to be consistently great like real film. Please understand the photos I have posted here, especially the b&w shots, represent my best attempts at capturing the elusive “film-like digital” look with this camera. However, it is not something achieved as easily as you can with other digital cameras, some of which I have reviewed on these pages. You’re going to have to work at it to achieve this with the Digital Harinezumi.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

As mentioned before, the Digital Harinezumi series is up to version 4 now and from what I can see, they’re asking $500 and up for these. Why anyone would pay that much for this kind of camera is beyond me.

The Digital Harinezumi Guru reviewed here can be had for $100 and under, if you can find one. If not, just try to find any of the older versions and I’m sure you’ll get similar results. These cameras are most abundant on eBay and Amazon.

These cameras can be a lot of fun, but take it from me and don’t spend too much on one. Get one on the cheap and then you can really enjoy it! ๐Ÿ™‚

***NEW CAMERA NOTIFICATION***

The HOT new Fuji GFX-50S Medium Format Digital system camera is coming to your store really soon. In your quest for greater and greater, you probably bought tons of stuff just like I. It gets to a point when it’s all too much. If you ever thought of getting rid of everything and just going for that one “Ultimate” system, this might be it!! Here’s a link with all the details on the camera and how you can put yourself on the waiting list to be among the first to receive this HOT new camera. If you do get one, I’d love to hear about it!!

THE FUJI GFX-50S System

The Return Of Kodak Ektachrome

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“Sunrise” Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand, 1995. Canon EOS 10s, Sigma 28-70 f/3.5-4.5 UC, Kodak Ektachrome. The return of Ektachrome. Perhaps the dawn of a new day for film lovers?

I’m sure many of you hardcore film fanatics have heard by now of Kodak’s decision to bring their Ektachrome slide film back from the dead.

That is the best thing I have heard out of Kodak in the past ten years!! A snippet from Kodak’s press release: “Sales of professional photographic films have been steadily rising over the last few years, with professionals and enthusiasts rediscovering the artistic control offered by manual processes and the creative satisfaction of a physical end product…”

I used Ektachrome film mostly in the 1990s and early 2000s. It was a great slide film, but also considered a lower cost alternative to Kodachrome which was Kodak’s gold standard for slide film.

If memory serves me correctly, I remember Ektachrome to produce neutral colors with perhaps a shift towards cool, strong on the blue and greens.

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“The Sun Never Sets” Krabi, Thailand, 1995. Canon EOS 10s, Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 UC, Kodak Ektachrome. Colors shifting a bit, but this photo is almost as vibrant as that day I took it twenty-two years ago. The two beloved family members, on the far left and far right are gone. And so too did we think Ektachrome was gone. But Kodak is bringing it back from the dead. Unbelievable news in many ways.

The reasons I didn’t use Ektachrome more was because I was and am a negative shooter rather than a slide shooter. And when I did shoot slides, I always went with either Fuji Velvia or Kodachrome. I tried Ektachrome just because. Not because I wanted to, or didn’t want to, just because I had to try it.

But with Kodak’s announcement of the return of Ektachrome, I’m itching to try it again. It was an iconic film in its own right.

Again, this is the best news I’ve heard out of Kodak in ten years and it is awesome news for film in general. With the demise of Fuji’s FP-100C packfilm, this was certainly unexpected.

People, including myself, have been quite hard on Kodak in recent years. This time, let me say that they are doing something amazing. Now if they would concentrate in this direction, they might have a chance of not only reclaiming their legendary name but maybe even be the king of the hill for film again.ย Kodak is doing what they do best…make film. Kudos Kodak, wishing you the best of luck on this!

 

Photo Of The Day: “The Dark Cat”

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Just taking test shots with a Digital Harinezumi Guru, a 3mp “toy camera” that has a cult following, but probably not well known by the mainstream.

I’ll have more on this camera soon. All I can say for now is I wasn’t liking this camera, but the monochrome mode is growing on me. However, all this digital b&w stuff is really an attempt to emulate film and for that I should probably be shooting real film, shouldn’t I? ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy New Year 2017!!

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“Countdown To The Future” 2016. Samsung NX1, 30mm f/2 Samsung NX lens.

Just want to wish everyone a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2017!

Just like the babies above, we’re just counting down the time. While waiting, I just want to thank all friends, fellow bloggers, and readers for their visits and support, really appreciate it! Yes, I know it’s been a bit of a slow drag at times, but I do appreciate you being there. Readership is up despite not doing daily postings.

I did state somewhere that my original goal was to make these pages like a book or something that people can come back to. I think it’s working out like that. I’ve notice our pages coming up more and more when searching for certain cameras. That was the goal and I have to thank all of you camera lovers for it. THANK YOU. Can 2017 be better? It sure can, but it’s a one man crew so we’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

See you in 2017 and bring your cameras and lenses good people!