Photo Of The Day: “Cold Cold Morning” Agfa Ambi Silette & 55mm f/2 Solagon Lens Plus New YouTube Video

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The above photo was taken on a cold overcast day in 2018 using a vintage Agfa Ambi Silette 35mm camera and the mythical Agfa 55mm f/2 Solagon lens. The film was Kentmere 400 developed in D76 developer.

I got the camera outfit primarily for the lens which is like a scarce cult favorite not known by many. There’s just very little on the web about it and I would like to add to that knowledge base if I could.

The internet has a way of distorting reality and since there’s so little on this lens, I was well prepared to shoot down all the praise I read online as maybe “over enthusiastic” love from a handful of people. Not that I didn’t believe them but there’s just not enough of them.

But now that I’ve seen the results for myself, I’m inclined to say they might be right! Even in the above photo, the lens shows excellent sharpness and very little distortion. Considering it’s an older vintage lens, I think it’s performance is quite exceptional!

Now I haven’t shot enough rolls to make a full judgement but for now I think it’s safe to say, it’s a great lens!

NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO

As I mentioned here before, the slowdown in my postings here has a lot to do with me making it a priority to provide new content to our Camera Legend YouTube channel.

Today I posted a video on one of my favorite cameras of all time, the Rolleiflex 2.8C with the Schneider Xenotar lens. Consider it a complement to our 2017 review of the camera.

You’ll see some additional photos including one I took while having dinner in 2009 with famous photographer Manuel Libres Librodo, aka Manny Librodo. Great guy!

Eventually, I hope to have most of the cameras I’ve reviewed here on YouTube as well.

Making these videos AND writing a blog while also managing work and family can certainly burn you out and I discuss that as well in this video. This is why I’m seemingly only online when I post something πŸ™‚

I do apologize for that! Do not run too many projects, it’ll burn you out!

It’s a one man operation but I’m determined to give you the best I got. Thanks for your support!!

 

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The Worst Cameras Of All Time #2: The Kodak Disc Camera

Ah man, I hate doing this! I hate doing this so much that it’s been almost three years since the last time I wrote one of these “worst camera” articles. Most of you regular readers know that I am proud and fond of saying I love all cameras right?

Well, I do, I really do! That said, we can’t always have winners, not even in the camera world! So today we have another candidate for worst camera of all time, and again, as a prerequisite for me, it is another camera I have used.

Our first recipient of this distinction was the Nikon N70 film camera with its “FAN” shaped thingy! The reason I feel bad writing this today is that when I first wrote the article on the N70 in 2016, I never expected that the article would still show up on Google’s front page whenever someone types in “Worst cameras of all time.”

How could I have known that nearly three years later it would still be there?! It makes me feel bad. It makes me feel like I have “wronged” the Nikon N70 in some way!

It’s not the worst camera ever, but it might just be the worst designed Nikon and so I stand by my writings.

Today, we will take a look at a camera that I think most camera nuts and historians would agree should certainly be on this “distinguished” list and that camera is the Kodak Disc Camera.

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INTRODUCTION

The Kodak Disc Camera system was introduced by Kodak in 1982. There were several different models, of which the best known was probably the Disc 4000, the cheapest model. Other models included the 4100, the 6000, the 8000, and even a telephoto model called the Tele Disc.

If you want specifics on any on these models, please do a search on them. It is not my intention to review each model here.

MY RECOLLECTION & EXPERIENCES WITH THE KODAK DISC CAMERA

The year was 1983. My Mom, perhaps noticing my budding interest in photography got me a Kodak Disc 4000.

Now I’m not sure if I was pestering her for it or she did it herself, but somehow she brought home a Kodak Disc 4000 camera one day.Β As Mom had no photographic inclination, I would imagine me and my brother nagging her about it!

I remember well, Kodak had a big television and print advertising campaign on this camera! They even used celebrities if I recall correctly. It was indeed their next big thing…or so they wanted us to believe.

Using the camera was the simplest thing in the world. You drop the film in and the camera did the rest! You press the shutter and the camera winds, rewinds, decides whether or not to use flash, etc. It’s a straight up point and shoot in the best sense of the word!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer watching videos, here’s our video on the Kodak Disc Camera. The only thing missing in this article that’s on the video is me explaining how I feel about Kodak in an era where a rap star “Kodak Black” is more well known than Kodak the film company! That’s nuts! πŸ™‚

THE KODAK DISC FILM

I don’t want to jack some picture off the internet so please do a search if you’re interested. I’ve always told people that the Kodak Disc film reminded me a lot of those circular slides they used in the children’s ViewMaster toys. You know, that classic red binocular looking toy that would illuminate slides of animals and such for children.

The disc/film itself was quite solid and thick. It didn’t bend like a 35mm negative would. It felt like a plastic disc. Apparently the thickness of the Kodak Disc film was comparable to 4×5 sheet film though it felt more solid to me, if I recall correctly.

The negatives were about 10mm x 8mm and you got 15 shots per disc. To get the best out of this film the labs had to utilize special Kodak lenses for printing, but apparently a lot of places did not use these special purpose Kodak lenses which may or may not account for lowered quality in the final print.

THE PICS

Here are just a few shots I took using the Kodak Disc 4000 circa 1983-1984. A lot of these images are like a 1980s time capsule! They are not artistic masterpieces. However, if you look at the photos you will see quite a few legends of the era in there! Plus I also think this camera helped me learn how to capture “the moment” so to speak.

Ed Koch, NYC Mayor, 1983. Kodak Disc Camera. I shouted “how am I doing?” to mimic Ed Koch’s famous slogan and he repeated it back to me! Haha!

You got to remember this was like a 13 or 14 year old kid with his first camera living in a time, pre iPhone, pre digital camera. I could not take a thousand photos and edit them to find the ones I liked best.

“Daddy Boombox” 1983. Kodak Disc 4000. Just like Archie Bunker, Dad sits on “his” couch and plays around with the new Panasonic Boombox he just bought us. The 1980s were an awesome time for electronics!

I was shooting not to post online because there was NO online! I was learning photography and shooting the moments in life, the “Kodak Moment” and I loved it! πŸ™‚

Science Fiction Legend Isaac Asimov, 1983. Kodak Disc Camera. I shot this at a little known event in Manhattan called the “Comic Convention.” Today I believe this has grown into a huge mega-event called “Comic-Con.”

“Roddy Piper vs Jimmy Snuka” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. The Pro Wrestling boom started in the 1980s and here Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka is about to unleash on “Rowdy” Roddy Piper!

“JC & Hoss Funk” 1983. Kodak Disc Camera. Ah I miss the 1980s. Fun and friends, that’s what it’s all about!

“Brothers” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. Do you know any of these guys? πŸ™‚

“Mom In D.C.” 1984. Kodak Disc Camera. The soft grainy image works well for this photo of Mom in Washington, D.C., I think.

WHY IS THE KODAK DISC CAMERA ONE OF THE ALL TIME WORST CAMERAS?

I loved the photos I got from the camera, I really did! But on a technical level, yes, I’d have to say the Kodak Disc Camera was one of the worst!

And it’s not so much the cameras themselves. The cameras were thin, sleek, automated. In many ways they were a precursor to today’s digital point and shoots.

Just like the APS Camera System, the main drawback of the Kodak Disc Camera system was the film. The 10x8mm was much smaller than 35mm film. You only got 15 shots as opposed to 24 or 36 shots with 35mm. Plus development costs were high, certainly no cheaper than 35mm.

All these factors added up to another thoughtfully designed but ill executed product. The images were soft and full of BIG GRAIN. They did not enlarge well.

And so most of the Disc cameras were off the market by 1990, though Kodak continued to produce the film until 1999. Personally, I cannot recall anyone past 1988 or so using one!

IN HINDSIGHT

The power of hindsight is a great thing. As horrible and grainy as those images were, I loved the shots I got out of the Kodak Disc Camera!

It may be part nostaligia; yes Mom gave me the camera. Yes, it was kind of like my first “official” camera that I used regularly.

But at the same time, living now in a world of beautiful, noiseless, grainless, homogenized digital images, I can appreciate the Kodak Disc Camera images more.

I would even say that if someone made this camera today, it would be a hit with a certain niche market. Lomography, lo-fi, Polaroid enthusiasts, etc. You know the crowd!

I like that stuff too but not all the time. But yes, I can appreciate it!

PRICE. AVAILABILITY.Β 

If seeking one of these Kodak Disc Cameras, they are plentiful on auction sites and elsewhere for very low prices. The prices are trending anywhere from $3-25 and the films are averaging $8-10.

I wouldn’t pay any more than $10 for either. This is not a product that’s likely to increase in price or regain any appreciation, which is good for us camera geeks!

CAN YOU STILL USE IT? WHERE TO DEVELOP?

Assuming you find a camera in working condition and you’re inclined to take a chance with film that’s been expired for over 20 years, chances are good that you can still get pictures out of this thing!

The development part is a little harder but apparently a few places will still develop Disc film! The one I know off hand is Dwayne’s in Kansas. The shop that famously developed the last official roll of Kodakchrome.

I’ve heard of others developing the discs themselves. I’m not sure if I’ll ever shoot Kodak Disc film again, but if I do, I’d probably try that route.

BOTTOM LINE

The Kodak Disc Camera system was an enthusiastic attempt by Camera Legend Kodak to introduce a new film format along with new cameras to take this film.

It offered conveniences such as autoload, autoexposure, and autorewind, all packaged in (then) new and slick looking cameras that explored the wonders of the electronics boom of the 1980s.

It was ultimately let down by poor image quality and high cost per shot. It gave people convenience over quality.

It was yet another example of a big company making a calculated move, assuming they knew what people are willing to accept and in the end they were dead wrong.

People want convenience, but they want quality too. The Kodak Disc Camera did not deliver the latter and eventually became one of Kodak’s biggest photographic flops and earning it a distinction as one of the Worst Cameras Of All Time!

COUNTERPOINT. COMMENTS?

How do you feel about it? Were we too hard on the Kodak Disc Camera?

Did Kodak try their best to deliver a product that offered a good compromise between convenience and quality?

Or was it yet another example of Kodak’s lack of vision and big company greed? Did they not learn from their attempts to sell and capitalize on the proprietary films (and cameras for them) they developed such as the 126mm or 828mm films?

What do you think? I’d love to know! And please don’t be mad at me for bashing Kodak. I did say that on a personal level, I LOVED the Kodak Disc Camera!

 

Monday Mystery Images & The Quality Of Walgreens Film Scans

It was bound to happen. I had several rolls of color film to be developed. I’ve been procrastinating.

With b&w film, I take care of the development myself which is probably one of the reasons I prefer to shoot film in black and white. But with color film, I still send them out for development.

I have developed color film at home, but every time I did, it came out “funky.” Either it was too grainy or there were streaks that ruined the images thus I take the trouble to send out color film.

I’m not a big fan of CVS and Walgreens color film development these days because they are no longer returning your negatives, which is one of the main requirements when I shoot film! Since the first roll of film I ever shot as a kid, the golden rule was if you shoot film, you get the negatives or slides back.

Well, we must live in different times because whatever company is developing for CVS and Walgreens have decided it’s too much trouble to return your negatives.

MY FIRST MISTAKE

I generally have a failsafe system of marking my film rolls with a permanent marker after I’m done. Usually, I’ll write the camera used, ie “Leica” or “Canon” etc and the camera model, etc. My first mistake in this saga was using a different marker than the one I usually used. Over time, my writing rubbed off without me noticing it till it was too late.

I was however confident it was a roll that I just finished using a Mamiya U point and shoot. The film is Kodak Gold 400 no doubt about that!

Considering that the film back hatch broke on the Mamiya U and opened on me, I figured I must’ve ruined at least some of the photos so I decided to break my “no Walgreens or CVS processing” rule and said, ok why not see how this turns out? I figured maybe the whole roll was ruined anyway.

THE PICS, THE SURPRISE, AND THE MYSTERY

When I got the photos, after going through about five photos, I realized this was NOT photos from the Mamiya U!! πŸ™‚

I used the Mamiya U in 2018 when I got it. The photos I got back are from 2017. I know that because there are some pics there that I also shot in digital and I remember well the time and place that they were taken.

The thing I can’t remember is: What camera/lens did I use for these photos?!!

“Sisters” 2017. Mystery Camera! The field of view and neutral background blur makes me think this is a 35mm or 50mm lens perhaps with a f/2.8 starting aperture.

“Bunnies” 2017. Mystery Camera! There is a general softness in these images. Some seem due to images being off focus which indicates to me that this is a camera/lens I’m not familiar with or do not use often.

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“Burlington County Jail” 2017. Mystery Camera! A historic jail in Burlington County, New Jersey. Even if this were an old camera and old lens that I used, I’m sure I stopped down for this shot which is why it is reasonably sharp.

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“Sunshine” 2017. Mystery Camera! Check out the bokeh in this shot. It’s very neutral. And to my eyes, quite nice. This looks to me almost like f/2.8 and shot at close range. I feel almost as if it’s very familiar yet I can’t pinpoint what camera or lens I used! Can you?

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“Olaf” 2017. Mystery Camera! Indoors, I generally shoot wide open. Look at the neutral bokeh. This definitely does not seem to be a 50mm f/1.8 lens as I originally thought. But then again, it could be!

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“Curves” 2017. Mystery Camera! Note the “haze” or lack of flare control. As I was on the ground at the base of the tree, is it possible that it’s a 28mm lens?

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“Zay’s Bokeh” 2017. Mystery Camera! This image was slightly off focus. Note again, the “haze” or lack of flare control. The bokeh on this one has me second guessing that maybe it could be a 50mm f/1.8 or f/2!

 

WORKING ON THE MYSTERY

Well, doing a little detective work, I can tell that this was indeed one of those rolls where I was specifically “testing” as opposed to taking pictures for the sake of taking pictures. I can tell by most of the subjects I shot. Trees, buildings, and of course, my kids.

I have come to the conclusion that it must be an old camera with either a 35mm or 50mm lens in the f/2-2.8 area. Problem is, that could be ANY number of cameras I could’ve been using lol πŸ™‚

There seems to be some visible “haze” or something causing a “look” in the photos indicating it’s probably a very old lens.

My initial thought was that it might be from the Contax I rangefinder and 50mm f/2 Sonnar that I had been using in the early part of that year. However, I remember well that the very first roll of b&w from that camera was almost blank. Either due to a processing error on my part or it could be me ruining the film with some very old developer. However, I cannot remember if I tried another roll in the camera.

And since some of the images here were from a trip to New Jersey, I seriously doubt I would’ve taken the Contax I since the rangefinder is so dim it would be certain that most of the close up shots would be out of focus.

LESSONS LEARNED

Always make sure your film is marked. ALWAYS! Otherwise, a roll of film with no way of identifying the camera/lens is worse than a digital file! A digital file can almost always be deciphered by its EXIF or codes.

I’ll have to double check every roll I label from now on. How do you manage your films?

CONCLUSION? CAN YOU SOLVE THE MYSTERY?

For now, I have to say that it’s very likely I may never know. I have tried to check the photos for any reflections that may have me in it but I could not find any. I’ve also checked my phone to see if there’s a shot of me and the camera but there’s none to be found.

If the bokeh or any other aspects of the images look familiar to you, feel free to share your thoughts. You might just be right!

If I ever do find out, hey I’ll let you guys know!

HOW ABOUT THE WALGREENS SCANS?

What can I say? They’re decent! Better than I expected. The resolution is 3072 x 2048 which would put it at roughly 6 megapixels. I wonder if they are using one of those popular stand alone scanners that pretty much use a CMOS sensor similar to that on a digital camera?

On my scans, the images run a little cool or blue. I did no color correction on these photos.

Anyway, if you’re sure you don’t have that once in a lifetime shot, I’d say the scans are perfectly usable for testing purposes.

How about the price? I believe it was around $14 for the scans and prints. There did not seem to be an option for scans alone and a lower price. I think it would cost less if shots didn’t come out or not all your shots are scanned.

Honestly, for this price you’re probably better off sending it to a place like the Darkroom out in California.

Why didn’t I do that? Because I thought it was going to be a wasted roll and sending it out to California would cost me an extra week! The Walgreens scan took six days with the Christmas holiday. Generally they say it takes a week from the time you bring the film in.

Thanks for reading and Happy Martin Luther King Day! Respect to a good man and let’s remember that.

 

 

Monday Mystery Camera…Solved! πŸ˜€

If you’ve been through as many cameras as I have, chances are you’re going to forget some of them! I know some of you folks have been through this!

Here’s a shot from a few years back. I’m going to say maybe 2010 or 2011?

Because it was out of focus, I never posted it and in a moment of brain fog I had a hard time figuring out which camera it was.

I originally thought it was a Yashica GSN or Olympus SP or maybe even a Nikon S series rangefinder, but I quickly figured it wasn’t one of those.

I posted this a couple of months ago on my Instagram account to see if other camera lovers would chime in and help me figure it out.

I think everyone who chimed in made an educated guess and I was impressed with their answers. I came to the conclusion that it was probably a Leica M3 based on a guess of what I was shooting with at the time.

So what is this “Mystery Camera” in the blurry photo? As it turns it really is the Leica M3! The M3 and 50mm f/2 Summicron-M.

As it turns out, I had another frame that I scanned and hadn’t seen in years. I cannot locate the original negative but I’m willing to bet this photo was sequential to the above photo. The hair might look different but sometimes I part my hair out of my eyes πŸ™‚

I’m not sure if you can see it here but the “M” can be partially seen above my right middle finger. And the lens says “Leitz Wetzlar” very clearly.

The smaller rangefinder windows in the blurry photo is just an optical effect, an optical illusion.

I always tell people, even though I doubt they believe me, but my camera selfies are not a narcissistic love fest! πŸ™‚

Firstly, I’ve done them for years as a way of checking critical focus. Secondly, as in the case here, they help me remember the camera and lens I used! And the fact that people like looking at photos of cameras? Well, that’s just an added benefit!

Happy Monday folks!

Five Reasons Why You DON’T Need The CONTAX T2…Though You May Want It! πŸ˜€

The CONTAX T2 is one of the most famous cameras in the world, maybe more today than in its heyday in the 1990s.

It is arguably one of the greatest point and shoot cameras of all time. Heck, even I asked in my 2016 review of this camera “Is It The Greatest Point And Shoot camera of all time?”

Today I want to offer a counterpoint so you might consider this an addendum to our original review. My admiration for this little gem of a camera hasn’t changed but due to recent and dramatic increases in price things should be seen in that context.

The T2 has, if anything, become more popular, desired, and expensive on the used market since the last time I wrote about it here. Prices are reaching what I consider ridiculous levels!

The T2 is a great camera, no doubt. But just like a rock star who passes away, its reputation only gets bigger with age and mythology begins to cloud reality.

As part of my “community service” to my fellow camera lovers, I have decided to buck the trend in this article. Instead of continually glorifying a camera that doesn’t need any more glorifying, I’m going to give you FIVE REASONS why you DON’T need a CONTAX T2!

It might seem hypocritical that someone who owns the T2 is writing this but it actually makes more sense that you should hear this from someone who owns and uses the T2 don’t you think? 😊

WHY HAVE THE PRICES GONE NUTS ON THE T2?!

The CONTAX T2 prices are trending as of today at $700-1200 USD more or less, depending on model, condition, package, etc, etc. In comparison, when our review came out in the fall of 2016, it was around $500.

And in comparison to that, I picked up my current T2 in 2013 for around $300. Can’t remember exactly, but it was the low $300’s.

“Nice!” 2018. CONTAX T2, Kodak Gold 200. We can all agree that the CONTAX T2 is awesomely “nice” but at today’s prices, do you actually need it? πŸ™‚

The CONTAX T2 was already popular and “hip” for years with camera lovers and hipsters alike. It’s been said that the recent upsurge in prices of the past couple of years is perhaps due to celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Chris Hemsworth using and flaunting their possession of the T2 on social media.

Hemsworth has apparently declared he had gone “total hipster” with the T2 and shooting film.

I can’t blame the celebrities for wanting to shoot the T2. Don’t we all? And the more film shooters, the better it is for all of us who want to keep film alive.

However, the T2 was hip and cool long before Jenner or Helmsworth picked it up! In fact, it’s very likely that they picked up the T2Β becauseΒ they knew how cool, hip, and iconic it has become. And their social media presence may have caused a spike in interest in this camera and film photography. Not necessarily a bad thing.

What we didn’t need was a spike in prices because celebrities are shooting it! Come on now, really? Why is it that this society worships celebrities so much?

I also think it’s the crazy collectors stockpiling on this camera that’s raising its prices as well. And of course, the shysters on eBay trying to take advantage of the situation.

In any event, the prices on this camera are getting to the point where I don’t think it’s such a good value any more. Don’t forget, one of the main things I touted as a positive in my 2016 review was the fact that it was much easier to find and MUCH cheaper than the T3. But now it is approaching T3 prices, and that’s in only two years!!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

In my longest (15 minutes!) and most candid video yet, I talk about why you really DON’T need the CONTAX T2…though you may want one! πŸ™‚

There’s a lot of information in the video that did not make it here. I like the use of captions to help my viewers scan through parts if they need to, I know no one has 15 minutes to look at the whole video! πŸ™‚

I also offer a few good alternatives for your money and there’s actually many more alternatives that could’ve been talked about but no one has that much time to put in the video and YouTube has a time limit!

Frankly, if you listen to the reasons, it’s all pretty much matter of fact, common sense. No one really NEEDS the T2, not even I! We just want it! πŸ™‚

CONTAX T2 FOR SALE IF YOU WANT IT!

PERSONAL NOTE

I know there are a lot of “Crazy Passionate” people, as I always say, to whom anything sounding remotely negative will set them off so as a warning, I do say some things in this article (and related video) that might sound negative but understand this…

The things I am writing and saying are from a person who has used CONTAX and Yashica since the 1990s. I’ve used all the cameras in the T Series and currently still use a T2 and T3 for my personal family pictures. Needless to say I LOVE the CONTAX brand!

But that doesn’t mean these cameras can do no wrong. And I have no vested interest in selling cameras or anything so I’m just telling it as I see it. It’s just my own experience with these cameras, your experience may vary! And of course, it’s just my opinion and as an unnamed actor once said to me about himself “I ain’t nobody!” Ah, a lesson in humility that I’ve never forgotten πŸ™‚

So without further ado…

Reason #5: Everybody & Their Mother Wants The T2!

Since it seems everybody and their mother wants the T2, what could be more unhip and uncool than doing what everybody else is doing? πŸ˜€

Get yourself a cheap, lesser known camera and make it famous! Now if Kendall Jenner or Chris Hemsworth had done that, THAT would’ve been really cool!

Don’t do something or buy something just because everybody else wants the same. And don’t, in heaven’s name, get it just because some celebrity shoots it!

Reason #4: The Contax T2 Is Made By Yashica/Kyocera

This is the part that might bother some “crazy passionate” people but if you’re paying up to $1000 for this camera, you’re buying a Yashica not a Leica.

I’m no brand loyalist or camera elitist I’d probably take a Yashica over a Leica any day because I could get them cheaper but just like cars, just like watches, there’s such a thing as prestige and brand reputation in the camera world too. Sometimes it’s perceived and sometimes it’s real.

The Yashica Family Tree. From left is the Yashica 230-AF (1987), the CONTAX T2 (1990), and the Yashica 300 Autofocus (1993). Yashica could make awesome AND not so awesome cameras πŸ™‚

A CONTAX might be a better cut of Yashica, but it’s still made by Yashica. Please refer to the video for a better explanation of this.

Reason #3: It’s A Near Thirty Year Old Electronic Camera

All electronics are prone to failure as they age. The Contax T2 is no exception. The problem here is that the T2 is MUCH more expensive than your typical point and shoot film camera, even great ones like the Olympus Stylus Epic, the Konica Hexar, or the Ricoh GR-1. They’re all going up, but not so much as the T2 has.

There is only one place I know of that will officially repair them. It’s in Nippon Photo Clinic in New York City. Their contact information is:

Nippon Photo Clinic,Β 37 W 39th St #401, New York, NY 10018 (212) 982-3177

I spoke to them a few months back and they confirmed at that time that they work on Contax T series cameras.

Now here’s the thing. If it’s something simple, a competent repair shop can fix it, but if it’s something specific, ie, circuits, etc, you may be out of luck and have an expensive paper weight.

REASON #2: Not A Good Value At Current Prices

As the prices continue to go up, the T2 is really not a good value for money. But you didn’t need me to tell you that! You know it! You just want it! πŸ˜€

There are many options on how to get more camera for the same $700-1200 that you might pay for a T2.

Again, I am myself a CONTAX fan and I say you could possibly swing a CONTAX G2, maybe with a lens for the same money. I also give a few other options, please refer to the video for that.

REASON #1: It’s Too Damned Expensive These Days For What It Is!

And what is it? It’s a nearly 30 year old point and shoot film camera that relies on electronics. It has moving parts and could potentially fail on you at any time. It’s quite a gamble really!

The Sony RX1III: A Modern Day T2?
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PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF YASHICA/CONTAX ELECTRONIC ISSUES

Just for folks who may think my warnings/hesitation about Contax/Yashica electronics are baseless I have included this as a reference.

It may have been a quality control thing but some folks claim to never have had a problem with their Yashica and/or Contax cameras. And others report they are unreliable. I’ve experienced more than my fair share of Contax glitches and here are a few:

Contax AX: Two cameras. Focus problems. Shutter siezed right at the end of my CONTAX AX YouTube video review!

Contax T: Loose screws from prolonged use. Bad meter.

Contax T2: Lens won’t retract. Camera won’t fire. Loud motor. Focus issues. Batteries were new. Removing batteries remedy most problems but they happened again.

Contax T3: Camera freezing up when least expected. Lens wont retract. Batteries were new. Removing battery remedies the problems but they return unpredictably.

Contax TVS Original: Died in the middle of first roll! Fatal! Returned for refund.

Contax N Digital: Sensor died on camera I reviewed. Fatal! Friend reports it’s not repairable and now an expensive paperweight!

It’s not that the T2 is unreliable. It has been one of their more durable and reliable models, I give them credit for that. But I’ve had two T2’s at different times in my life and experienced glitches with both of them.

You have to understand an electronic glitch doesn’t always mean an electronic failure. But it could lead to that!

I find that I can use CONTAX cameras comfortably, within reason. Mindful that something could go awry when I least expect it, thus I’m gentler on them than I would be to say, my Canon or Nikons.

Thankfully nothing fatal has happened to my only T2 now but I always get the feeling something’s about to give. Knock on wood hope not! πŸ˜€

BOTTOM LINE

I hope this article (and video) help some of you who are on the fence about the T2. Maybe it has the side effect of making you want it more! Wouldn’t be surprised, such is human nature πŸ™‚

As I said at the end of my video…Hey it’s just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt and do as you wish! And I can’t blame you for wanting to shoot the T2, I really can’t! Whatever you do, I’d love to hear from you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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The Best Camera I Never Knew: The Super Ricohflex

Hello everyone! Looking back on my writings, it seems we haven’t had one of these “Best Camera I Never Knew” postings in a while! Over a year in fact!

So today we’re back with a camera that may not be well known to the masses, but is quite popular on photo sharing sites like Flickr and elsewhere. And you guys, my dear readers, are NOT the masses! It is a cult favorite, the Super Ricohflex.

THE SUPER RICOHFLEX

The Super Ricohflex was introduced in 1956 by Ricoh of Japan. It is a Medium Format twin lens reflex camera that takes 6×6 images on 120 film.

At its heart is the taking lens which is an 80mm f/3.5 Ricoh Anastigmat. It uses a geared focusing system much like the Kodak Reflex of 1946.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/10-1/200 secs plus Bulb in a Riken shutter. I have read of other models with higher shutter speeds, but I have had three of them at different points in my life, from different random sellers and they all had up to 1/200. If you have a model with a higher shutter speed range, I’d love to hear about it!

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“Super Ricoh Man” 2009. Super Ricohflex, Ilford HP5 Plus in T-Max Developer. More than a narcissistic selfie, I hope you can see that stopped down a little, the Super Ricohflex is capable of nicely sharp images πŸ™‚

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE SUPER RICOHFLEX

When in working condition, the Super Ricohflex is capable of giving images with “character” especially wide open at f/3.5. That is the best way I can describe it.

The 80mm f/3.5 Ricoh Anastigmat is one of those lenses capable of giving you that ever popular on Flickr “swirly bokeh” look.

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“Escape To Reality” 2009. Super Ricohflex, Ilford HP5 Plus in T-Max Developer. An example of the swirly “dreamy” image that the Super Ricohflex can make.

In my opinion, this usually comes from a lens that is optically not at its technical best, and the swirly bokeh is somewhat overplayed by bokeh fanatics, but that said, if used judiciously it can produce “dreamy” memorable images.

Stopped down, the images can be very sharp at f/5.6-f/8 as are most decent lenses.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer to watch a video, here is my first “The Best Camera I Never Knew” episode on YouTube starring the Super Ricohflex! 😎

It may seem like a shameless plug, and it is, but I am trying to expand your experience here and I’ll be tying in videos as I can so get used to it! πŸ™‚

Think of it this way? Why would I want to do double work, blog and video, when I could just do one or the other? If it weren’t for you guys, my fellow Camera Lovers, I’d not bother with the videos!

And because I had received a critical comment from a reader who did not understand what Β this series is about, I address this in the video too. Plus trying out some new theme songs haha! πŸ™‚

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME?

Simple. I had three of these cameras! I got my first one in 2009. I sold one and I still have two. All three of them ended up having the infamous “Frozen Focus” issue. And what is that?

In the introduction, I mentioned that these cameras use a geared type of focusing mechanism. What that means is the viewing lens and taking lens are geared together and by moving one you move the other.

That in itself shouldn’t be an issue, but whatever grease Ricoh put into these lenses have been known to notoriously seize up with time.

Out of my three copies, only one was working, and even that one was already on the outs when I got it. It was not perfectly smooth. I left it on the shelf for about, I’m gonna guess cause it’s been years, but approximately 3-5 months. The next time I picked up the camera…stiff as a rock!!

So as of today, the two copies I have are pretty much worthless as shooters. Thankfully, they did not cost me much!

REPAIR?

A competent camera technician should be able to repair these cameras. From what I have heard, it’s not a simple matter of taking the lenses off and regreasing them yourself. It’s a bit of a delicate process. Therefore it’s better to leave it up to the experts if you have no experience with camera repair.

One person I remember offhand that might do the repair is Mark Hansen out of Wisconsin. He’s a great repairman with a solid reputation for working on Zeiss and Rolleis. I believe he is still in business though I do not know if he’s willing to repair the Super Ricohflex and if he is, how much it will cost. If you contact him, tell him Sam from CameraLegend.com sent you!

PRICES & WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these cult classics, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $20-60. Keep in mind, due to the possibility of the camera needing a CLA, the low price you might pay belie the true cost after the camera has received a CLA.

However, once you get a CLA from a good repairman, I can attest that the Super Ricohflex is a good and fun budget shooter.

BOTTOM LINE

As I love all cameras, it is not my goal to pick on the Super Ricohflex. Ricoh is a Camera Legend whose cameras I have used and praised often. I do totally understand that a camera this old may need a CLA as most cameras of this vintage would benefit from also.

However, as I mentioned in the video…This is no Rolleiflex. And it was not intended to be. It cost much less than a Rolleiflex or even most Rolleicords, the budget Rollei TLRs.

A Rolleiflex could be sitting there for 30 years and I’d be willing to bet, most would still be functioning. Not so with the Super Ricohflex. If you have one, use it often, keep exercising those gears! Whatever grease Ricoh used in these cameras are infamous for freezing up.

That said, when it worked, this camera gave me some memorable images that left me curious for more. That’s why I ended up with three of them only to find out that the Super Ricohflex is indeed, one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew! πŸ™‚

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Camera Collecting Part I: Two Super CHEAP Camera Legends

Here’s a topic thats very near and dear to my heart! But first, a fair warning: Collecting cameras can be ADDICTIVE and EXPENSIVE!

The former (addictive) is incurable, the latter (expensive), well it doesn’t have to be. And you couldn’t do better or cheaper than these two cameras I am profiling today.

I specifically chose these two specific cameras based on their prices, availability and their importance as Camera Legends. Especially for the beginning collector, these two are the easiest to find and buy.

The two cameras profiled today are the Minolta Maxxum 7000 and the Canon EOS 650.

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MINOLTA MAXXUM 7000

The Minolta Maxxum 7000 is the camera that launched the autofocus revolution back in 1985. And it was revolutionary!

Before it, “autofocus” cameras were clunky things such as the Nikon F3AF of 1983 which attempted to autofocus the “easy way” by using an AF motor in the special lenses designed for these cameras while retaining the classic Nikon F mount.

Though I say the “easy way” maybe I should have said the “logical way.” After all, if you consider the technology at that time and the boxy, mechanical nature of cameras, it just seemed easier to put the autofocus motor in the lenses right?

Well, as is often the case, the idea was better than the execution. I don’t want to go full length into this topic right now, though I would agree it would make for a fascinating discussion!

YOUTUBE COMPANION VIDEO

For those of you who would prefer watching a video version of this topic, here’s our latest video:

MAXXUM 7000 CONTINUED

In many ways, they were on the right track because as you may or may not know, when the EOS system was released in 1987, one of the selling points was indeed lenses with AF motor in them! But Canon had to ditch their old FD mount and make a whole (then) new EOS mount to accommodate this.

Anyway, Minolta too had to create a new mount. A mount which we know today as the Alpha mount or more specifically in today’s world, the Sony Alpha mount. Not the Sony E mirrorless mount. Yes, folks your Sony Alpha cameras carry the rich legacy of the legendary Minolta Maxxum 7000! 😊

Anyway, today’s topic is camera collecting and the Minolta Maxxum 7000 is a true Camera Legend that can be had VERY cheaply these days.

As a camera the Maxxum 7000 has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode. Basically all you need! AF is ok but first generation. It’s good enough to get the job done, if the subject/subjects are not moving much! The camera runs on four AAA batteries.

PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Although one of the most important cameras of the autofocus revolution of the 1980s, perhaps the most important, today the Maxxum 7000 is also one of the cheapest on the used market.

Prices are trending at $3.00 to $50 USD average seems to be around $25. I got mine for $3 bucks! It cost me a lot more than that in the 90s!

I believe the Maxxum 7000 prices are so low because they are plentiful and they do not age well.

The grips become white and sticky or powdery. The LCD goes bad or bleeds.

The good news is many are perfectly usable as it is. In my opinion, it is unrealistic to expect to find a Maxxum 7000 without any flaws today. If you do have one without flaws I’d love to hear from you!

THE CANON EOS 650

The Canon EOS 650 was released by Canon in 1987 and is the very first EOS camera.

Its claim to fame is the introduction of the EOS Mount. I believe the EOS 650 prices are so low simply because it’s just not the most exciting camera to look at or shoot πŸ™‚

No offense, it’s a nice looking and shooting camera. Just not super exciting compared to anything else EOS you could shoot with. But it has one very important thing on its side…It’s the first. The first EOS camera! And that has to count for something right? πŸ™‚

It has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode just like the Maxxum 7000 so that means it has everything you need. It runs on one 2CR5 battery. AF is ok but first generation. Not good for running subjects but ok for static.

PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Just like the Maxxum 7000, the Canon EOS 650 is also dirt cheap on the used market.

Prices are trending from $10-50 with an average of $25 body only. I got my current copy for $10 bucks!

Generally these cameras have stood the test of time so your chances of a working model is pretty good.

Sometimes you’ll find one with no power, doesn’t turn on. Sometimes parts have come loose or the buttons and dials may be sticky.

Even at the highest average prices they’re cheap get the best one you can!

BOTTOM LINE

I hope with these two cameras I have shown you that collecting Camera Legends does not have to be expensive!

With these two, you have cameras with history and a story to tell about the evolution of autofocus.

And on the Used Market you can get them dirt cheap. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re actually pretty good shooters! Good luck on your journey to camera collecting nirvana!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you are interested in these two Camera Legends, there are a ton of additional resources on the internet. To cut through the bunk and junk, I recommend these two reviews by my blogging buddy and a prolific blogger Mr. Jim Grey. I can’t speak for a lot of bloggers but I unquestionably trust Jim’s reviews and opinions.

His Maxxum 7000 review is HERE

And his Canon EOS 650 Review is HERE

Plus I also recommend you check out Mike Eckman’s blog…

This is the best new review I have seen on the Maxxum 7000 in years, written by Mike Eckman, a passionate photographer and camera reviewer whose passion for photography and film cameras is contagious and whose dedication I admire. I’ve enjoyed his work for years and his Maxxum 7000 review is much more thorough and much better than mine, I happily admit that! πŸ™‚

Mike’s review is HERE and as I said, if you love film cameras his whole site is worth checking out. I guarantee it will keep your reading for hours!

Tell them Sam sent you! πŸ™‚

***MODERN EQUIVALENTS***

It’s been said that the new Canon EOS-R Mirrorless is the incarnate of the EOS 650. In a way, many things from its looks to its use for the introduction of the EOS-R mount, I’d say they might be right! Anyway, the EOS-R can do things the 650 could’ve only dreamed of in 1987! If you decide to buy one, please do so from our trusted affiliates simply by clicking on the photos or links. You will pay nothing extra other than what you’re buying, and help support Camera Legend at the same time. Putting these articles, reviews, and videos take time and work. We do appreciate all you support, thank you very much!

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