Cult Camera Collection: A Look Back At The Nimslo & Nishika 3D Cameras

Today, in a world of virtual reality, it can be argued that 3D or stereoscopic photography is a thing of the past. And it is! The first documented stereoscopic “3D” photo can be traced as far back as 1839.

3D photography, in its best intentions, blends two or more photos together in an attempt to emulate the way we see dimensions in the real world, giving the viewer a sense or illusion of depth and movement.

That sounds so amazingly awesome you would think that 3D photography would have caught on having been around since 1839 but it hasn’t. It never did.

Yet every few years, now maybe every decade or so, someone, somebody, some company attempts to reignite the 3D flame by reintroducing it to the public. This has happened not only in photography but in the movies as well. Hollywood knows it!

The results are usually the same: initial excitement which then fades quickly into oblivion.

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT THIS ARTICLE

I just wanted to note that this article is NOT about how to make 3D photos using these two cameras. That would take a whole other article! Plus while I have done a few 3D photos, I still do not feel that I am all that proficient at it.

Below is a quick shot I did with the Nishika N8000, Kodak Gold 200, and flash. Just to show how a 3D image can transform an everyday picture into something different 🙂

This was from last year and looking back now, I’m not even sure how I did it! I don’t think I remember all the steps needed in Photoshop and when I think of putting in that work for just a few seconds of fun, well, I’m glad I did it once or twice and I’m glad I bought this camera basically for my collection!

I did process the image with a retro VHS effect and added some music to give it that extra funk 🙂

 

 

Making the GIF files from these cameras require some savvy Photoshop skills. In 2004 or 2005, as a younger man who enjoyed Photoshopping all my photos, I would’ve been all over this! But in 2019, as a family man, I neither have the time nor the inclination to do it.

Ok maybe in all fairness, it’s not all that hard if you are Photoshop savvy and have a lot of time on your hands. I may give it another try should I be bored or looking for something different one weekend!

If a tutorial on how to make 3D GIFs from your negatives is what you’re looking for, you are better served seeking out the fine articles already on the web or on YouTube.

This article is strictly about the cameras themselves, some history, and my impressions of them, from the viewpoint of a camera fanatic, collector, and sometimes historian.

A lot of this stuff is available on the internet, if you scour and search. I’m putting the information all in one page for you guys!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer a more dynamic video experience, here’s our video review on the Nimslo and Nishika 3D cameras. In this video, I get you guys as close as possible to these cameras without actually touching them. Basically, “camera porn” 🙂

Also in this video, we go around the world for an exclusive preview of upcoming videos and then by the end of the video I became “unhinged” lol which is my favorite part of the video! But I don’t know, you tell me!

I didn’t think I’d make another video, but you guys inspired me to do it so thanks!

THE NIMSLO 3D CAMERA

The Nimslo is a quadrascopic stereo camera introduced in 1982 by Nimstec, which was a part of the Nimslo Corporation of Atlanta, which was a subsidiary of Nimslo which was based in Bermuda. The origins of the company goes back to Hong Kong! Confusing right? It’s all business folks. You know how businesses and corporations work!

The Nimslo 3D camera with box. What a flashback to the 1980s!

The exact year of introduction is a little vague online. Wikipedia says the camera was “introduced in the 1980s” which is technically correct but not specific.

My research and my own memory points me to 1982 as the year the Nimslo 3D camera became available to the public, at least here in the USA. In fact, a quote from an NY Times article that I’ve included below pretty much confirms it. The actual camera may have been around since 1980 and the concept before that. I may even have a magazine with the early ads…if I can find it!

I still can recall seeing this camera in the magazines and being excited by it back then, even as a kid. 1982 was also the year my favorite game console, the ColecoVision became available to the public.

The Nimslo is a quadrascopic camera. It has four lenses and takes four half-frame images at once. That is, on a single frame of 35mm film, the Nimslo takes two half frame images and with each shot it does so on two 35mm frames for a total of four half frame images. Sounds a little confusing right?

In actuality it’s not, it’s just mathematics! Just remember: two 35mm frames, four half frame images. Anyway you would get 18 photos on a 36 exposure roll or 12 on a 24 exposure roll.

The Nimslo a is a fixed focus camera with an automatic exposure system. It uses glass for its four triplet type lenses. The aperture range is f/5.6-f/22 and shutter speeds range from 1/30-1/500. The camera uses three Eveready 386 1.5 volt batteries.

“Nimslo” is not just a cool nonsensical name they thought of out of thin air. It’s the name of the cameras two creators, Jerry Nims and Allen Lo.

Although the two men are often cited as the camera’s co-creators, multiple sources point to Mr. Lo as the actual inventor. Mr. Nims appeared to have been the salesman, pitchman, “marketing genius” behind the camera.

In fact, I remember reading somewhere that Mr. Lo was quoted as saying Mr. Nims “insisted” he should also have his name (Nims) on the camera too. Whatever the case, the camera will link these two forever.

Another interesting tidbit is that the actual cameras were originally manufactured for Nimslo by Timex Corporation in Dundee, Scotland. But a workers strike there caused Nimslo to miss their delivery dates during the crucial first batch of deliveries. Talk about bad timing!

This caused Nimslo to cancel their contract with Timex and they contracted Sunpak in Japan to produce the cameras thereafter. That’s why you may have read that there’s two versions of the camera. Mine is the built in Japan version.

Despite the build up and the hype, the Nimslo never really caught on. Looking back now it’s easy to see why, but maybe back then it wasn’t, as I’ll explain later. Here’s a quote from the NY Times:

Demand for its unusual camera system, which produces the illusion of a three-dimensional image on flat paper, has never lived up to expectations. The product was first offered to consumers last fall, with the company anticipating sales of 500,000 units for the last quarter of 1982. In reality, however, only 50,000 units were sold.” Source: NY Times, September 1, 1983.

At the time, Nimslo was touted as perhaps the next Polaroid in the photography business. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that their target audience was a small, niche market at best. And in my opinion, I believe it’s been proven that the 3D photography market will always be a small niche market.

But back then, in a world without digital photography, it’s also easy to see how one could dream big! So I give the company and its creators credit for having the vision, will, and guts to put their camera on the market. It was really something unique and different. But unique and different usually means it’s not for everybody, which means once again, a limited market.

Both the Nimslo and Nishika were originally intended to be used in conjunction with lenticular printing, which produces prints with the “illusion of depth” (as quoted from Wiki; I couldn’t have said it better!). At that time in the 1980s, only Nimslo could and would develop and print your images through their “secret” process. It seemed like a sure fire money maker!

But waiting for the prints, which could take weeks and by some accounts, months to return to the consumer was a red flag. People may not have been living in the “I want it now” era that we live in today, but even back then waiting that long for prints is a sure fire way for one to lose interest.

Today, these cameras are sought by people who will primarily want to turn their images into 3D GIF files. You have to understand, these cameras were introduced before we knew anything about GIFs or JPEG files!

As far as I can tell, no one out there today has either the machinery or the will to do the traditional lenticular prints for you. That is not to say you couldn’t find a company that might do it, but probably at a price that’s not worth it.

THE NISHIKA N8000

The Nishika N8000 is also a quadroscopic stereo camera aka 3D camera introduced in 1989 by Nishika Corporation of Nevada. The actual cameras were made in Hong Kong by Nishika Optical Systems. A little confusing? It’s a business thing remember!

The Nishika N8000 in all its glory. The icons next to the lenses are your three aperture control settings.

Though they appear quite different in many ways, they are in fact “blood relatives” if you will. Nishika Corporation acquired part of  the Nimslo company, as well as their parts and patents, and the N8000 was in many ways a continuation of the Nimslo experiment.

As a camera, the Nishika uses four plastic lenses (vs the glass lenses on the Nimslo) and has a fixed mechanical shutter speed of 1/60. The aperture range is f/8, f11, and f/19 which can be selected by the user via a dedicated aperture lever. The camera runs on two AA batteries which is used for the light meter.

The Nishika may not seem to have the same interesting background as the Nimslo but as a family member, the story of Nimslo is the story of Nishika and the Nishika is seen by many as the continuation of the Nimslo project.

“Nishika” sounds Japanese but the Nevada company apparently was not Japanese at all, just named to sound like it! Which probably to this day makes some people think it’s a Japanese camera when it’s actually made in China for a company based in the USA -)

I won’t get deep into this, but there was apparently some kind of scam involving the company marketing the Nishika, where people were duped into sending hundreds of dollars only to receive this camera as their “prize.” Look it up!

Needless to say, both the Nimslo and Nishika companies folded and went out of business.

IMPRESSIONS OF THE NIMSLO AND NISHIKA 

The Nimslo is the smaller of the two cameras but appears to be better built. Not much better, but better. A disclaimer should be made right now:

I bought my Nimslo, new old stock from a seller who made it clear that it was for parts and “not working” and indeed it’s not working so I’ve never shot it. That is fine with me because I only wanted it for my collection and for $30 dollars, it’s perfect for that!

The Nishika N8000 and Nimslo 3D camera side by side.

The Nishika is much larger and its build quality is placticky but once you hold it in your hands, it feels decent at first. By “at first” I mean, first impressions. But after you use if for a while, you begin to feel like this thing could fall apart after extended use.

Certain parts feel fragile to me. The film advance lever, for example, feels like it should be handled with care, like it might break off if I advance too vigorously. The film advance started feeling “rough” not smooth after using it for a couple of rolls.

On the other hand, in a sort of complementary way, the Nishika build reminds me a little of the Minolta Maxxum 7000. If any of you have both cameras on hand, put them together to see what I mean!

Some of you might remember that I did mention this on my Maxxum YouTube video. But Minolta lovers take heart, the Maxxum is much better built and needless to say, a much better camera! They’re not even comparable actually.

The Nishika is cheaper looking and more plasticky. Yet it’s also heftier and heavier than it looks and doesn’t feel so bad in the hands. Apparently, there’s a lead or metal bar inside the camera which gives it the added weight! Some people think this makes the camera unnecessarily heavy while others think this helps stabilize the camera. And some even think this was done to give the impression of “quality” to the camera. Talk about deception!

The Nishika to me looks a lot like those horrible “fake” cameras that I saw selling in those shady electronics shop near 34th street in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The picture below illustrates what I am talking about.

The Nishika reminds me a lot of the faux “pro” cameras that were selling in shady electronic stores in NYC back in the late 80s and 1990s. Note that the “LCD” is not an LCD at all but some kind of sticker or something printed to look like an LCD. Go Nishika! 🙂

GLASS VS PLASTIC OPTICS

The Nimslo uses glass for its lenses, the Nishika uses plastic.

Now some of you may remember me talking about telescopes and how very high tolerances are needed to make a quality telescope. And of course I’ve used many camera lenses, good and not so good, over the years in pursuit of optical perfection (I haven’t found it!). I’m an optics guy.

But you don’t have to be an “optics guy” to know that, lens for lens, a glass lens is going to be better than a plastic lens!

So it might surprise some when I say that I see very little difference between the Nishika N8000 and the Nimslo based on my own results with the Nishika N8000 and the Nimslo samples that I have seen online. In fact, I read a Popular Photography article which came to pretty much the same conclusion.

Now why is this the case if a glass lens is usually always better than an equivalent plastic lens?

There are three possible reasons I can think of; One, the lenses on both the Nimslo and Nishika are slow to begin with. The Nimslo start at f/5.6, the Nishika start at f/8. Because these cameras are fixed focus this maximizes the chances of a sharper image from the get go. And because of the slow lenses you often have to resort to using flash with these cameras, again maximizing chances of getting sharp images.

Two, these lenses are creating four half frame images in any one shot. That is smaller than an already smallish 35mm image. And three to see any difference the glass elements on the Nimslo might make, you’d have to enlarge the images to a certain degree.

The problem is that nobody is going to be enlarging the GIF files people make with these cameras. A GIF file is basically a short animated video. And I’ve never seen a large 3D print from these cameras. Nothing larger than 4×6 or 5×7.

Now if you have HUGE prints, 8×10 or larger from these cameras I’d love to hear from you!

ISSUES

It’s easier to find a working Nishika than a working Nimslo. That’s because the Nishika has a mechanical shutter that works without batteries. The battery is only needed for the light meter. The Nimslo relies on the batteries for its shutter.

If you have a working model of either camera, it’s possible that it may serve you well but both the Nimslo and Nishika are prone to possible failure.

The Nimslo is well known for not working after extended periods of non-use. The culprit is usually (but not always) an issue with a lever or levers that controls the shutter. Apparently, it’s an easy fix but it does require taking the camera apart. I may try to repair mine myself, and if I do, I’ll be sure to let you guys know.

The Nishika’s most common problem seem to be shutter failure or the film advance getting stuck. While it’s cool that it has a mechanical shutter, you have to remember it’s probably not the world’s most high quality shutter!

These are not Nikon or Leica folks. They were not intended to be. These cameras should be handled with care. And if so, they can be fun to use.

PRICES & AVAILABILITY

The Nimslo & Nishika 3D cameras can be easily found, especially on your favorite auction site. but their prices vary greatly.

The Nimslo is trending at $30 for a parts/repair camera to $250 for a working model. The average prices people seem to be paying are between $150-225.

The Nishika is trending at $80-200 with an average of over $100.

I bought my Nimslo as mentioned before, for $30 as a parts/repair camera. I got my Nishika for $50.

Personally, I wouldn’t pay more than $100 for any of these cameras (and I didn’t!). In some ways, I feel like I paid too much! I mean, if you really think 3D photography is your thing, and you don’t mind paying over $100 for a working sample, by all means do it!

But once you have it, and the initial excitement is over, you’ll know what I mean. That plus the work required to make these GIF files is enough to kill your enthusiasm. Don’t pay a lot for these cameras guys!

As someone who is holding both of them as we speak, I just don’t think it’s worth it. But what do I know? I’m just a peon so take whatever I say with a grain of salt and do as you wish! 🙂

If you have one of these cameras, I’d love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment with your experiences.

BOTTOM LINE

Stereo cameras have been around for a long time, and while there are much higher quality stereo cameras, for example the David White Stereo Realist, it can be argued that none has left the lasting impression that the Nimslo 3D and Nishika N8000 from the 1980s have done.

Certainly, few have the interesting and somewhat controversial history of the Nimslo and Nishika cameras.

They brought the promise and excitement of 3D photography to a whole new generation and continue to do so, based on the popularity of these cameras with people seeking 3D film cameras today.

In my opinion, these two are crap cameras at worst and decent cameras at best. Why do I call them crap cameras? Think about it; when was the last time you got excited by a 35mm camera that starts with an aperture of f/5.6 (Nimslo) or f/8 (Nishika)? When was the last time you thought a camera with plastic lenses (Nishika) and a fake lcd was a great camera? When was the last time you thought cameras with spotty reliability were awesome?

Probably never! But these are specialty cameras without a lot of competition. That’s why their prices stay relatively high compared to their low quality. Their calling card is 3D photography.

And despite the fact that 3D photography has never caught the general public’s adoration nor has it been able to live up to that promise of being the next big thing in photography, it can be argued that while not the highest quality cameras, the Nimslo and Nishika can be considered Camera Legends (though maybe not true Camera Legends) in their own right because they continue to bring that 3D fascination to a segment of the population, however small that segment may be.

If you can find them at a good price, and in working condition, then you may end up with some mighty fun cameras and certainly something different from anything you’re using today. Heck, they may even savvy up your Photoshop skills!

 

Tuesday Trends: DSLR vs Mirrorless…Is The DSLR About To Go Extinct?

The “trend” we will be looking at today is the topic of the Digital SLR (DSLR) versus Mirrorless cameras and the prevailing thought that the DSLR may be going into extinction soon.

I read the same articles and watch the same videos as you guys do and I saw that this topic was trending on YouTube for a couple of weeks.

Funny thing, I had thought of doing an article about this some time back as part of my “Tuesday Trends” series but I hesitated to post the video because I thought people might not find it relevant. It’s actually a topic of debate that’s been going back for several years!

I’m guessing what might have reignited this debate was this article on Petapixel in which Ricoh marketing general manager Hikorki Sugahara decided to buck the trend and stated that “mirrorless is a newcomer” and seems to imply that because of this people are flocking to these new systems but he predicts that the same people will return to the Digital SLR in 1-2 years. It’s an interesting article of which you can read in full here:

Ricoh Thinks Mirrorless Shooters Will Switch Back to DSLRs in 1-2 Years

I have my own views on this which I will share with you here, but first let’s look at what each system is.

WHAT IS A DSLR?

As mentioned above, a DSLR is a “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The word “reflex” basically means it has an optical system of mirror, ground glass, prism, and eyepiece to form an image.

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA?

A Mirrorless camera is just that. It does not make use of a mirror between the lens and sensor. There is no mirror to move up and down. Some models may use mirrors elsewhere such as for the viewfinder but the important thing for “mirrorless” cameras is that there is no mirror between the lens and sensor.

The image is transferred electronically to the rear LCD. Higher end mirrorless cameras sometimes also have an EVF or electronic viewfinder.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s the accompanying video I made for this article. While the written article you are reading contains more information, the video makes up for it with raw grit and candid humor 🙂

I didn’t want it to go on so long, but I guess I yak too much! Anyway, in this video I introduce some new “videography techniques” if you can call it that lol 🙂

I will attempt to refine these production techniques in future videos. Remember folks, this is all for your entertainment!

DSLR PROS & CONS

The DSLR has been taking a beating recently by the “experts” and mirrorless proponents but still has a lot of things that make it highly desirable.

First off, it is the last link to actual film SLR cameras. Despite the “film vs digital” thing, a Digital SLR is in many ways an extension of the film SLR in the digital realm,

The most obvious link is the optical viewfinder. While DSLR’s may have sensors and other electronic elements, the good old optical viewfinder is built upon the same concept and engineering as your good old fashioned film cameras SLRS.

Before I start drifting off, let me just put the pros and cons into a more easy to follow numerical scheme:

DSLR PROS:

  1. Optical Viewfinder The view from a large, high quality optical viewfinder is still hard to beat, especially if focusing in daylight. “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!” as the song once said 😊
  2. If the LCD ever fails, and sometimes it does, a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can still function for picture taking. A mirrorless camera with a broken EVF or LCD will be completely useless.
  3. Usually fast shot to shot times, less lag.
  4. Battery life is better on the newer DSLR cameras because it does not need to continually supply the LCD or EVF with power.
  5. Very fast AF possible.
  6. Focus Peaking may be available, depending on model, via Live View
  7. There are a ton of native lenses available for the DSLR and for potentially lower prices if buying used.
  8. A large DLSR balances better with long and/or heavy lenses
  9. This is subjective, but many people report that the DSLR feels more solid or better built than their mirrorless counterparts.
  10. Superb video options available on today’s DSLRs
  11. Choice of APS-C and Full-Frame options
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Nothing compares to using a true optical viewfinder especially outdoors!

DSLR CONS:

  1. DSLRs are often large, heavy, and bulky
  2. Lenses are often larger than the equivalent mirrorless lenses
  3. Many older DSLR lenses were optimized for film cameras, not digital sensors.
  4. The Optical Viewfinder cannot support focus peaking
  5. Contrary to what I’ve read, I find it harder to focus manual lenses at night or low light through the optical viewfinder.
  6. Focus confirmation chips not as accurate as focus peaking with fast lenses
  7. Limited ability to adapt lenses due to mirror being in the light path between lens and sensor
  8. Not inconspicuous or stealthy
  9. Potential shakiness at low shutter speeds due to mirror slap.
  10. You look old and unhip with a DSLR!

“Roar!” 2019. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. DSLR’s can shoot fast and offers tons of options for native lenses at more affordable prices on the used market. For example, Canon’s new 85mm f/1.2 RF for their R Mirrorless cost $2699 new. The 85mm f/1.2L in EOS mount versions I & II can be found on the used market from $1000-1500 respectively.

Ok, next up is mirrorless…

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS PROS & CONS

Mirrorless cameras have a lot of virtues and benefits but they also have their shortcomings. Here are some pros and cons for mirrorless:

MIRRORLESS PROS:

  1. Smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalent cameras.
  2. The easier it is to carry, the more likely you will take it with you and use it.
  3. Image Stabilization in body more common in mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.
  4. Lenses are also smaller and often lighter, but still of high quality.
  5. Very fast AF possible, but usually with higher end models.
  6. Focus peaking. Very useful with manual focus lenses
  7. Easier to focus at night or in low light due to LCD or EVF “gain” which makes for a brighter image in the viewfinder or on the LCD.
  8. The ability to use many more legacy lenses through the use of adapters. The absence of a reflex mirror in the light path makes this possible.
  9. Potentially less vibration at low shutter speeds due to no mirror slap.
  10. Superb video options available.
  11. Choice of APS-C or Full-Frame or even smaller 1″ sensors.
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r above are incredibly popular for use with adapted legacy glass.

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7r, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Rangefinder “Dream” lens. Focus peaking and the EVF on the mirrorless A7r made it much easier to achieve sharp focus with fast lenses. In fact, I find it invaluable for this purpose.

MIRRORLESS CONS:

  1. May feel too light and flimsy, depending on model.
  2. EVF may still feel like looking at a computer screen vs the DSLR optical viewfinder.
  3. Lag time. I find both my Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Sony A7r to have slow startup times and sometimes a lag after a shot is taken. This might be due to the “refresh” of the screens but it could make a difference between getting the shot and losing the shot.
  4. Potentially shorter battery life as battery is needed for everything.
  5. Native lenses, while growing, is still limited compared to DSLR lenses thus less native options, but plenty of alternative options if you’re willing to use adapters.
  6. Does not balance as well with larger lenses.
  7. Because of the small size, controls can feel cramped and ergonomics can suffer.
  8. You look like a modern day camera geek with a mirrorless camera! 🙂

CONCLUSION

Wow, that was a mouthful! And more than I ever wanted to write! I even missed on one of the main points I wanted to make and that is…

If we do not see a Canon 1DX Mark III or Nikon D6 for the Olympics or even in a couple of years, then it is very possible that the big badass PRO DSLR bodies will go extinct. But I still think the DSLR will survive in the from of the “little” cameras such as the Canon Rebel series, Nikon D35xx series, and maybe even the mid-tier 7D or D7000 bodies.

Personally I say, have one of each! Now you might say something like “That’s too rich for my blood,” to which I would say come on now, you know photography is an expensive hobby but with the options you have these days, especially on the used market, you could easily have a good quality DSLR and mirrorless for under $500. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest folks.

DSLR or Mirrorless? Life is short, have both! 🙂

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic so if you have one, feel free to leave a comment! Happy shooting folks! 😎👍🏻

***TOP SELLING DSLR & MIRRORLESS CAMERAS ON SALE!***

Canon T6i Kit

Nikon D850

Nikon D750

Sony A7III

Olympus OM-D EM-10 MKIII Kit

Olympus OM-D EM1X Ultimate Olympus!

Photo Of The Day: “Quiet Town” Contax T3

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“Quiet Town” 2018. Incheon, Seoul, South Korea. Contax T3, Kodak Gold 200

The businesses and buildings of Incheon are amazingly colorful. Yet, for some reason this part of town was very quiet even during midday. I believe this was a Saturday, though I’m not 100 percent on it. All I know is that most restaurants were closed and it was already past noon. Very few people were out. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone! 🙂

If any of you guys out there know exactly where this area and why it was so quiet here, feel free to drop a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

This was shot last July as I wandered through this outskirt of Seoul, South Korea, on an unplanned layover due to airline delays. The camera in my hand was the Contax T3, loaded with Kodak Gold 200.

It’s funny, whenever I’m here in the States my preferred film stock is usually at ISO 400 or above but whenever I’m on an overseas trip, I prefer a film like Kodak Gold 200. The main reason is that I anticipate doing a lot of outdoor shooting in hot and sunny weather whenever I’m in Asia. In New York, I prefer shooting indoors or when the Sun goes down. It all makes sense!

I’d love to explore Seoul again, this time for an extended period. I want to try more of the food and photograph more of the sites, especially at night.

On the camera side of this article, which I know you guys have come to expect… 🙂

You guys know how I feel about the Contax T2 especially in light of the dramatic price increases. I used to recommend the T2 over the T3 because only three years ago you could find the T2 for $300-500 but today, the prices for the T2 have gone so sky high that it is approaching T3 prices which is anywhere from $1500-1900.

At these prices I no longer recommend either. That’s mostly due to the potential electronic issues these cameras have demonstrated, both personally on my copies and from other accounts. The prices are too high now for such a risky buy!

But, if you have your heart set on a T2 or T3, today I will say that if you could find a T3 for not much more than a T2, get the T3! Why? Much sharper optics. Less finicky focusing.

Sure, I remember in my 2016 review, I stated that I liked the T2 better because even though the lens is softer than the T3, it was sharp enough and has “character.” Yes, I said that but it was more charming when the camera was like $300-500! 🙂

At the prices the T2 commands these days, you might as well go for broke and get the T3 if you must have one of these Contax cult cameras.

Happy shooting folks!

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

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? 🙂

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 T2 because 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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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 🙂

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? 😀

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 🙂

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, 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! 😀

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! 😀

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 🙂

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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Canon EOS M 18mp (Original) Images

With the recent release of the Canon EOS R system, and the Nikon Z6/Z7 just before that, it seems that these big two Camera Legends have finally embraced the mirrorless camera segment.

Fans and critics (myself included) have complained that the big two did not give it their all when entering this market back around 2012.

Instead, their initial offerings, Canon’s 18mp EOS M and Nikon’s 10mp V1 and J1 respectively, seemed more like an appeasement to their base and to those who might otherwise have been enticed by mirrorless pioneers Olympus, Panasonic and/or giants like Sony. But this criticism seems to have been rectified with the new full frame mirrorless releases.

Today, we will look at some images from the EOS M, Canon’s first foray into the mirrorless camera segment.

The 18mp EOS M was praised for its APS-C sized sensor and image quality but criticized for its slow, subpar AF. Not what Canon fans expected.

As mentioned before on this site, I’ve had my EOS M since 2013. I only got one when they were having a close out sale which included body and the 22mm f/2 STM lens for under $300.

I’ve used it sparingly over the years. Somehow, I never sold it. The turtle slow AF was reason enough to sell it but I think it’s the camera’s image quality when combined with that superb 22mm f/2 STM that made it a keeper for me. All pics here, unless otherwise noted, were made with the M and 22mm f/2 lens.

Looking on these pics now, it does make me think quite hard about how I might acquire one of the new full frame mirrorless bodies from either Canon or Nikon 😊

But don’t sweat it folks. I stand by my statements that I no longer crave the latest and greatest but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider the new cameras once the prices come down 😀

There is something great about the older EOS M and you know what that is? Despite its slowish AF, the camera is capable of excellent images and…It can be found on the used market for MUCH cheaper than the new EOS R! Have a great day good peeps!

“Kiss” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Funnel” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. I’m not a huge fan of “state fair” type food, including funnel cake, but the light on that plate was delicious 🙂

“Ride” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Note, the EOS M gives images that at first glance are reminiscent (in a good way) to photos from the latest generation iPhones, such as the iPhone X., in terms of color and sharpness. Of course, with an 18mp APS-C sensor, it also offers higher detail retention and resolution.

“Hey You!” 2014. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. This photo was shot using the built in “Miniature” Creative Filter. The filters can be fun if used sparingly.

“AMC” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Elmwood” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 18mp EOS M is capable of excellent night shots, low noise and good retention of details.

“Turbulence” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. In my opinion, the EOS M original is not well suited to action shots due to its turtle slow AF. But a shot like this is easy for the M 🙂

“Boy Wonder” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The 22mm f/2 STM is capable of nice portraits with good bokeh, provided your get in close and your subject can stay still for the shot 🙂

“Primates” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines.

“What You Want?” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.using the EOS M’s Grainy B&W Filter.

“Ghetto Blaster” 2013. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Many people rave about the Olympus B&W art filters, but to me the Grainy B&W filter on the EOS M is better!

“Flower” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. The versatile 22mm f/2 STM is capable of “florals with bokeh” as well as street work.

“Bottled Water” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Manila, Philippines. They sure love their purified water in this country and in hindsight they were ahead of the game on this! But a lot has to to with not wanting to get sick from that tap water 🙂

“Twisted Sister” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM. Farmingdale, NY. The pic says it all 🙂

“AutM Leaves” 2015. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

“Hello, Goodbye” 2018. Canon EOS M, 22mm f/2 STM.

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Manila In B&W With The Ricoh GR-1 Film Camera

“Hotel City” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. There are so many hotels in this city! And so many beautiful hotels at that. This one is the Rizal Hotel near Manila Bay. I was very close to the building and despite having the GR-1 with its 28mm lens, I wish I had a wider lens. Yes, there is such a thing as not wide enough! 🙂

Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, is a fascinating, lively, and colorful place that in my opinion is better suited to color photography than it is for black and white photography.

“Mall Town” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Mall culture is alive and well in the Philippines. They love their malls! I hate to admit it, but I frequented many malls during my visit and they were all great. They take their malls seriously in Manila! 😊[[[[[[[[[[[[

However, as a B&W fanatic, you and I both know that everything looks good in B&W anyway 😀

With that in mind, I couldn’t help but take my Ricoh GR1 along for this recent trip.

Now you may or may not recall, but in the last post I mentioned bringing along two of the greatest point and shoot film cameras along for this trip.

I used those cameras with color film so that means the GR-1 was NOT one of those two cameras, despite the fact that it could easily be in that same list of “greatest.” So what does this mean? It means I hope you’ll stay tuned as I have more goodies and surprises coming your way!

This article will show some photos taken with the GR-1 and Kentmere 400 B&W film. I developed this roll in D76.

Looking back on the photos, I wished I had shot more than one roll with the GR-1. That’s the problem with taking too many cameras 😊 In fact, I could’ve easily used it as my only film camera and I would’ve been happy with that.

Here are just some photos from the trip. Not meant to be an artistic showcase, just the things I saw in Manila and some thoughts on them. Where I can, I will try to give you some commentary.

“Intramuros” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. This is the famous walled city at the heart of old historic Manila. I shot this through a dirty window using both the iPhone X and the Ricoh GR1. I was surprised at how much detail came through from both! The detail here is really limited mostly due to the film grain when compared to the iPhone photos.

“SALE” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. I love fashion photography but mannequins are as close as I usually get to fashion models 🙂

“BGC” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. A scene from Manila’s vibrant “BGC” district, a hip financial and social center.

“Manila Floods” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. It rained nearly every day of the two and a half weeks I spent there. They don’t call it the “rainy season” for nothing.

“OOMA Sushi” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Had a good meal here. Not sure why the man is smiling, but I certainly don’t know him! I just took a quick grab shot 🙂

“Lucban Church” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 Developer. Heading out a couple of hours southeast from Manila, I visited the small municipality of Lucban in the province of Quezon where I saw this beautiful and historic church that dates back hundreds of years. This is the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church otherwise know as “Lucban Church.”

“Free Fall” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76. Youngsters having fun at this man made waterfall at the Vila Escudero, a resort about an hour away from Metro Manila.

“Night Lights” 2018. Ricoh GR1, Kentmere 400 developed in D76 developer. The lights on the open air rooftop at the SM Aura mall in Manila. Considering this is ISO 400 film, I think the Ricoh GR1 did pretty good with this shot.

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GRD Love: The Original Ricoh GRD Revisted

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“Moose” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp 🙂

It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!

Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂

Here’s a link to my original review The Original Ricoh GR Digital Review.

That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.

Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!

Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp

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“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂

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“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.

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“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!

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“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.

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“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂

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Monday Mystery Camera: The Polaroid X530 Foveon Sensor Camera

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The Polaroid X530 is a 4.5mp digital point and shoot camera introduced by Polaroid Corproration in 2004. It is the first point and shoot camera to feature the Foveon sensor.

Founded in 1937 by Dr. Edwin Land, the creator of the famous Land Camera series of instant cameras, Polaroid has over the years strayed far from the original company and became known more for selling items they imported/distibuted and rebranding them under the “Polaroid” label, rather than actually making the products themselves.

The actual maker of the X530 camera is somewhat of a mystery which we’ll try to solve today. At its heart, and the thing that distinguishes the X530 from any other low budget point and shoot camera is the tiny but powerful 1/1.8″ Foveon X3 sensor. The official specs say the camera has 4.5mp, but compared to Bayer sensors, it is something more like 1.5mps. I suspect most of our readers will already know about the Foveon sensors used in popular Sigma cameras.

If not, just know that the Foveon sensor is laid out differently from the well known Bayer sensors found in the majority of digital cameras. The difference, as is often said, is that the Foveon sensors can, pixel for pixel, deliver higher clarity, color fidelity and resolution. So a Foveon sensor with for example, a 5mp sensor delivers almost 15mp’s in Bayer terms. That is the theory anyway. As always, if you’re interested in this technology, I recommend my readers to do a little research with that “search” bar on your favorite web browser 🙂

Back to the camera though, while it has the Foveon X3 sensor, the 3x optical zoom lens was made by Ricoh and the camera body itself, apparently made by a company called “World Wide Licenses Ltd” which according to Bloomberg’s company description: “World Wide Licenses Ltd. designs, develops, and markets digital imaging products.”

THE POLAROID X530 IMPRESSIONS

The X530 body itself, to me, looks like it could fit right in with the cheap Vivitar, Sakar, and yes, even Polaroid point and shoot cameras that you might find at CVS, Walgreens, and Best Buy. You know, those really cheap, under $50 cameras that you see while you’re waiting on line in those stores. Let’s face it, we sometimes get curious about those cameras, but since we are more “serious” photographers, we could never get ourselves to buy one of those cheap cameras, could we? 🙂

Anyway, as I said before, the main thing that distinguishes the X530 from those pharmacy store cameras is the Foveon sensor in it, and to its credit, that’s a biggie.

If it sounds like I’m cutting down, aka “dissing” the X530 body, I’m not but maybe I am! For me, I was actually attracted to its low budget looks. I’ve always loved cameras that looked like underdogs, but had monster sensors under their covers. That’s why I loved the Ricoh GR series. That’s why I wanted to love the X530.

The zooming action was smooth, albeit slow. The AF was moderately slow, but perfectly adequate for stills I would imagine.

IMAGE QUALITY

Now right here is where I have to stop. I have to tell you image quality remains a mystery to me. Why? Because the damned thing is not working!!

Well, the camera itself works fine. Everything seems to function, but the sensor itself is dead or seems dead. All I get are black frames. I have tried everything I could to resurrect it, short of taking it apart, which I’m tempted to do.

But most of what I have seen on the very few X530 links on the web shows this camera to have very good to excellent image quality, at its best. It does seem to show that Foveon “pop” that I have seen in the Sigma cameras. This is probably as much of a testament to the talented photographers who used the X530 as it is for the X530 itself.

THE X530 URBAN LEGEND

Legend has it that the X530 was recalled before it was supposed to go to market, but that some shipments were sent without this knowledge or without approval, thus making it into the hands of a few lucky photographers. At least, that’s what I’ve read on the web.

At the same time, I also read a press release from 2005 saying that Polaroid was announcing the X530’s availability in the U.S. through Circuit City and Walmart.

My opinion is that it was indeed available, but only for a very short time before Polaroid pulled the plug on it.

This is not unprecedented. It has happened very recently with a Polaroid product called the Polaroid Socialmatic. The Socialmatic was an Android based camera with a cool “Instagram” look to the design and what appeared to be a working tablet on its LCD screen plus an onboard printer for quick prints.

This product received a lot of hype prior to its release in 2014, but Polaroid quickly pulled the plug on it shortly after it came to market. As I had been curious about the Socialmatic myself, what I gathered by looking at sales and auctions was that the camera had some reliability issues relating to its battery and operations. Most of the ones for sale had dead batteries and could only be used while plugged in using a charger.

The apparent replacement for the Socialmatic is the Polaroid Snap which is still on the market and seemingly doing well. The $99 or under Snap seems to be what Polaroid had hoped the Socialmatic should have been. For me though, I wanted that on board tablet and the Socialmatic’s cool looks so I’ve passed up on the Snap for now. And I’ve stayed away from the Socialmatic too because of its issues.

And I would’ve stayed away from the X530 except I got it for $30 and because I collect old, weird and decrepit cameras 🙂

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Polaroid X530 is scarce. At the same time, it’s not like there’s a lot of people looking for them, save for hardcore Foveon fanatics.

I like the Foveon concept and its images, but I don’t think I’m what you would call a hardcore fan. I was a very early Foveon enthusiast in 2003 or 2004, I greatly enjoyed the Sigma SD14 in 2007, and have used several DP models. However, there was always something that kept me from crossing the line into fanboy territory. That’s a subject for another time, another post.

Again, I did not seek out the X530. I was actually looking for something else entirely when I came across this one. I did have a passing interest in the camera many, many years back, but I could never find one when I was looking, plus there was and still is very little info on it.

I got the camera with box and everything for $30. It looked mint, the functions performed smoothly, but as I said the sensor is dead. I use it now as a decoration in my homemade camera “museum” 🙂

It’s hard to put a value on this camera, but I would say a fair price would be, maybe $30-50, certainly under $100.

Do remember that you can get a Sigma DP1 for a little over $100 these days and the DP2/DP2s for a little more than that and they will do everything better than the X530 could.

BOTTOM LINE

The Polaroid X530 is an interesting camera. But as they say, “Pics, or it didn’t happen!” For me, it didn’t happen.

I would not call the X530 a Camera Legend, but certainly an interesting model in the legend of the Foveon sensor with an interesting history behind it. If you can find a working one under $100, consider yourself lucky and I’d love to hear from you.

The Contax T2: The Greatest Point & Shoot Camera Of All Time?

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The Contax T2 is a high end autofocus point and shoot film camera released by Kyocera in 1990.

While many cameraphiles consider the T3 the “Ultimate” point and shoot film camera, the T2 has, over the years, developed such a cult following among camera fanatics that it might be considered THE greatest Contax camera of the Kyocera era. Is it really the greatest? 🙂

The T2 is one of the most popular point and shoot cameras of all time and there are many other reviews and testimonies better than mine. I’m just giving you my two cents on my experiences with this camera.

I have been a Contax lover since using the original Contax T back in the 1990s and have used all the cameras in the T series, including the T2, T3, TVS, TVSIII, and TiX APS film camera.

THE T2 CAMERA

As a camera the T2 features a Carl Zeiss 38mm f/2.8 T* lens, Program and aperture priority modes. Aperture range is f/2.8-f/16. Shutter speed range is 1 to 1/500th seconds in Program mode. ISO range is ISO 25 to 5000. The camera relies on one CR123A battery.

The camera is primarily an autofocus camera, but you can opt for manual focus if necessary.

One neat feature that I love on the T2 is the ability to change lens aperture via a ring around the lens mount.

The camera is rather large and long for a point and shoot, quite in line with its peers from the 1990s such as the Leica Minilux or Konica Hexar, which are all larger than most high end point and shoots of today, i.e., the Ricoh GR, Leica Q, or Sony RX100 series. The camera is not jeans pocketable, but perhaps coat pocketable depending on your coat 🙂

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The Contax T2 was one of my film companions overseas. While large, clunky and not small like today’s point and shoots, the T2 exudes that Contax charm and Zeiss power that still seduces camera lovers to this day. Please forgive this bad phone pic. It was late night and I was just giving the T2 some lovin’ 🙂

PERFORMANCE

As mentioned, the T2 is primarily an autofocus point and shoot. I have found its AF to be generally reliable in good light or when using flash, but less accurate in low or challenging light situations.

The center point AF seems to need something solid to lock on to and not just sharp edges, as many cameras do. Solid objects with good light helps.

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“Sister Samui” 2016. Contax T2, Tri-X 400. On Koh Samui island, Thailand, I met a wonderful lady whose grace and elegance made me think of her as a “Thai Lauren Bacall.” I’m getting used to going to these places now, but it’s the people I meet that keep it interesting for me.

I have mentioned many times that I do not like using manual focus on similar cameras because it’s really electronic vs real manual focus and clunky to use. It’s more like a “guesstimate” system using the distance indicators vs physically manually focusing the lens which you cannot do on the T2 and most comparable point and shoot cameras. However with the T2, using its electronic manual focus is sometimes necessary.

When the AF is in its zone however, the 38mm f/2.8 produces excellent, sharp images with lots of contrast. The high contrast is what you have come to expect and love from Contax Zeiss lenses and it accentuates the appearance of sharpness.

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“Pak Nam Klai” 2016. Contax T2, Tri-X 400 developed in D76. The Klai River in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand. Not as famous as the “River Kwai” but just as nice and it looks just the way it did when I visited as a child.

However, in very bright lighting situations, the high contrast can be problematic and it’s easy to get blown highlights with this camera. Thankfully, due to the high dynamic range of film, I can generally bring the levels down and recover detail with post processing.

The lens seems to be more in line with the original Contax T, which produced sharp images with a more classical look that I liked as opposed to the T3 which produced bitingly sharp pics with a more modern look. Many people prefer the T3 probably for that reason, but to me, the T and T2 produces images with more “character.” Hard to explain, but I suspect many of you will know what I mean.

Oddly enough, whenever I’ve used a 40mm f/2.8 lens on my film or full frame cameras, I’ve always found that focal length a little “boring” especially because it reminds me a lot of a 35mm f/2.8 lens which is a generic old school focal length that can be found very cheaply. Yet everyone including me has no complaints about this on the T2. Hmm, perhaps it’s the T2 “legend?” It’s like seeing five apples that look exactly the same, but you were told that one was special so you believe it and it tastes better than the rest 🙂

Keep in mind I’m not saying the T2 lens is just like any other 35-40mm lens. I’m just talking about the focal length and the f/2.8 aperture which I find boring. A 35mm f/2 or 40mm f/2 is preferable to me, even if it’s less than a stop faster. Your milage may vary. That said, I do think the lens on the T2 has that special something! I loved the original T which was my first T series camera and I suspect it’s the same lens.

The tiny original T was and is my favorite of all the T series due to the lens and the ability to achieve accurate focus using its true rangefinder system. It is manual focus only, but I found I had a higher rate of keepers with the T than with the T2 and its AF.

The bokeh on the 38mm f/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar can be a bit “nervous” or “busy” and in line with what I have seen and mentioned here about most Zeiss lenses that I have used. However, you can also get very nice bokeh out of it. To achieve this, you need to get in close on your subject and make sure the background is uncluttered.

The camera is not silent, but the AF and motor advance/rewind are quite quieter than, say a Ricoh GR1. In fact, if I weren’t spoiled by other cameras like the Konica Hexar, I would say the T2 is very quiet indeed.

BOTTOM LINE

The Contax T2 has achieved an enviable status among cameraphiles and camera collectors alike. Despite Kyocera/Contax being out of the camera business for quite a while already, these cameras are still actively being sought.

There’s a lot of love, respect, and perhaps even a bit of romanticism involved in the cult of Contax T2 lovers.

The T2 is not without its flaws however. It does not have the most accurate AF that I’ve ever used, but it is generally reliable in good light. The results can sometimes be inconsistent. When the camera (or the photographer!) does get it right, the results can be superb. The good will make up for the bad with this camera, and there IS a reason it has earned its reputation. The lens can be fantastic, but you got to earn your keeps with this camera.

The T2 is a camera that I have bought and sold, and then bought again. Usually I would say that means it’s a great camera, but one could argue that if you sold it in the first place then maybe there was something about it that was not so great? No, it could just be that I needed cash at the time 🙂

Anyway the T2 is a “Bad Ass” camera! I’m on my second one and I’m glad to have it, despite its AF issues. I’m holding on to this one as long as I can this time around. I still have a couple rolls of undeveloped T2 pics, but that will be for a later time. I just wanted to give something to you wonderful fellow camera addicts 🙂

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“Little Badass” 2016. Contax T2, Tri-X 400 developed in D76. I was just taking some test shots when this cute little “badass” stopped me in my tracks 🙂

It’s been said that the T2 was beloved by famous fashion photographers like Terry Richardson and Juergen Teller, but I haven’t seen any pictures of these guys holding one. I know Terry used a Yashica T4 and have seen pics of Juergen with a Contax G2.

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“Double Trouble” 2016. Contax T2, Tri-X 400 developed in D76. In Manila, Philippines, I met these two beauties who I called “Double Trouble” 🙂 This was shot with direct flash in dark conditions and I was surprised it came out! This is my salute to Terry Richardson and Juergen Teller who made the “point and shoot with flash” shots hip and fashionable in the 1990s.

However, I think the main point was that cameras such as the T2 (if not the T2 itself) were made famous by photographers like Terry and Juergen who took that once dreaded “point and shoot with flash” shot and turned it into something hip, cool, and fashionable. Of course, if they can turn a point and shoot photograph into art, it doesn’t mean I or just anyone can! However, with enough savings we mere mortals can all own (or someday own) the T2 🙂

The Contax T2 is one of the most beloved 35mm point and shoot cameras of all time and certainly a Camera Legend. Is it the greatest? Well, I wouldn’t call it that, based on its AF performance, but I will say it could certainly be considered one of the greatest, if not THE greatest. However, if you’re a camera fanatic, you probably need to have one in your collection 🙂

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“Number One” 2016. Contax T2, Tri-X 400 developed in D76. Not the greatest picture, perhaps one of my worse, but I decided to post it anyway to show that yes, you can use the T2 to take those lousy pictures point and shoot cameras used to be known for and besides that, Baby Zay thinks the T2 is “Numero Uno” 🙂

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these gems, I hate to tell you that prices seem to have gone up on these babies, even from just a couple of years ago. Prices are trending at $500 and up for the camera in EX and EX+ condition on eBay.

The silver T2 is the most common and therefore quite often the cheapest ones you’ll find. There’s also black, titanium gray, gold, black, and something called “platin” (most beautiful to me). All these are much more rare than the silver models.

Contax T2 For Sale

The good news is that the T2 is almost always available on eBay. While the T3 will probably always be thought of as the ultimate Contax point and shoot, it also cost more and is harder to find, which probably adds to its appeal and iconic status.

The great thing is that the T2 is cheaper and to me, no less iconic. However, if buying one proceed with caution as these cameras are aging and no one is repairing them as far as I know. That doesn’t mean a good repair shop wouldn’t attempt to fix it, but the parts are no longer available so most shops would probably not try to repair it.

On the other hand, while I’ve been critical on Contax electronics in the past, the T2 is probably one of their more reliable and durable models. Just be sure you buy from a place where you can return it if a problem arises. For a safe purchase try here Contax T2 Silver 35mm Camera.

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The Minolta AF-C

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The Minolta AF-C is a compact, autofocus point and shoot 35mm film camera introduced by Minolta in 1983.

The AF-C comes from the late 70s/early 80s era of small, boxy compact cameras such as the Nikon L35AF or Pentax PC35AF, and just like those cameras, it features a fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens.

The camera most closely resembles the Lomo LC-A or Cosina CX-2 and like those cameras, the camera is turned on when you open the sliding cover which protects the lens. Unlike the Lomo or Cosina which rely on scale focusing, the AF-C is an autofocus camera.

THE AF-C CAMERA

As a camera, the Minolta AF-C is completely automatic. It is a point and shoot camera where to take pictures you simply point and shoot 🙂

As I’ve said in previous articles, today’s advanced point and shoot digital cameras can do almost everything. From 4k video to in-camera editing to wifi sharing. Many of these cameras have astonishing lenses, such as the Leica Q, and price tags to match. However, it seems to me that they’ve lost the soul of what it means (or meant) to be a point and shoot camera.

And what is that you might ask? Well, for me, a point and shoot camera has to be simple. It has to be humble; all you need is a good, decently sharp lens, not a lab chart killer with an astronomical price tag. And lastly, it has to be cheap. By having a good/great little lens and not a lens with some “premier” name on it, they can do that.

And they did all this with the Minolta AF-C. It meets all the criteria I stated: Simple, humble, good/great lens, cheap. The lens on the AF-C is a 35mm f/2.8 Minolta lens and it is a very good, even excellent one. There is no “Rokkor” or “Rokkor G” designation on the lens, so it has no pretenses of being anything more than it is 🙂

The lens is a 6 elements/6 group design and has an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/17 and again, all automatically chosen by the camera.

Don’t let any “premium” designation fool you. It’s not that hard for any decent camera/lens manufacturer to make a great 35mm f/2.8 lens so it’s not necessary that it be expensive. I’ve used the Nikon 35ti and it’s a better looking camera, but I do not think the Minolta lens on the AF-C gives up anything to the 35ti.

The Minolta AF-C relies on active infrared autofocus. There is no way to manual focus this camera, so tinkerers and gadgeteers get that out of your mind.

If you want some control of the camera, it will let you wind/rewind it using a thumbwheel on the rear of the camera. The camera has no autowind/rewind function. Additionally, you can adjust the ISO in 1/3 values.

The Minolta AF-C runs on four SR44 or LR44 button batteries or two CR1/3N batteries. I used the cheaper 675 hearing aid batteries bought at CVS and they worked fine, no exposure problems.

PERFORMANCE

The Minolta AF-C is small and compact, perhaps not as small as many of today’s digital point and shoot cameras, but still pocketable as long as you don’t have the accessory flash attached.

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“Princess Of Messy” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. This is a crop from a larger picture. The AF-C displays good sharpness despite the film grain.

The AF-C has two leds in the viewfinder. The green light, which indicates correct focus and the red light, which is a low light warning.

When shooting with the AF-C, the autofocus is so quiet, I wasn’t sure the camera was working properly, whether it was actually focusing at all. But knowledge is power and I have read before acquiring one that this is exactly how the camera focuses and you simply have to learn to trust it.

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“Redrum” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. Check out the nice contrast and range of b&w tones. It seems no one is safe from harm in NYC! Ouch, love hurts! 🙂

When I developed my first roll, any fears I had were laid to rest. Indeed, the majority of the time, the camera achieved correct focus. The shots that had blurriness were due to movement and the camera correctly choosing slow shutter speeds in low light (something I have a habit of doing to challenge my cameras and myself).

Even better was that nearly every shot on the roll was correctly exposed. Not surprising for me as I’ve always known Minoltas to provide excellent metering.

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“That Funky Building” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Alford Delta 400, D76 developer. This is the IAC (InterActive Corp building) as seen from NYC’s West Side Highway. This has always been an intrigueing eye sore for me whenever I see it.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta AF-C is a brilliant example of beauty and simplicity that represents the best of the early 1980s era of compact autofocus cameras.

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“The Evil Camera Boy” 2016. Minolta AF-C, Ilford Delta 400, D76 developer. He’s evil and he loves cameras. The Evil Camera Boy is back! 🙂

It delivers excellent results most of the time under the right conditions. I guess you could see the slick caveat right there “under the right conditions.” What does that mean? That means if you use the camera as it was intended, the right amount of light, the right film, flash if necessary, then the camera will generally deliver excellent results. If you try to challenge it too much, i.e., low light, slow film, you might get less than excellent results 🙂

I read somewhere that it was thought of as the ultimate film street camera by some European magazine and I can’t disagree. While some will of course refer to the Ricoh GR-1 (which I love and have reviewed here) as the “Ultimate” I have to say the AF-C betters it in some ways. The AF is much quieter and the manual winding and rewind  makes it even quieter still, both of which are benefits for unobtrusive shooting.

The Minolta AF-C takes you back to a time when “point and shoot” cameras were point and shoot cameras. Give it a little love and faith and this little camera will produce. Today, the AF-C enjoys a cult following among camera lovers, but is largely forgotten by the masses as are many of its peers. But should you come across one, get it because you will have in your hands a point and shoot Camera Legend that will deliver the goods without a lot of fuss or headaches.

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $20 to $100, with $100 being a bit on the high end. The most abundant place for the Minolta AF-C is obviously eBay.

However, you may also find them in flea markets, garage sales, and Craigslist. If you’re lucky, you may even find one for $5 or maybe free 🙂

***NEW CAMERA ALERT***

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