FBF: โ€œV-Techโ€ Contax Aria & 45mm f/2.8 Zeiss Tessar

From nine years in time 2010, we start ’em young in this family ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜

Shot with a Contax Aria & 45mm f/2.8 Zeiss Tessar On T-Max 400 and developed in HC-110.

If you like the “Contax look” you don’t need an expensive T2. If you want the Contax or shall I say Contax/Yashica look, get a small SLR like the Aria or 139 and a lens like the 45mm f/2.8 Tessar pancake. A high sharpness high contrast film like T-Max 400 helps a lot too.

The Contax look to me is a combination of high sharpness and contrast. But it’s really more in the high contrast which will always accentuate the appearance of sharpness.

If you want the Contax look without using Contax gear there are plenty of options and I’ll put a few choice picks for you guys once I have time to compile a list. Happy shooting good peeps! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ท๐Ÿ˜˜โœŒ๐Ÿป

Advertisements

RIP Ken Hansen

RIP Ken Hansen

Good morning everyone. A sad #fbf for you. Some of you may know that Ken Hansen passed away a few days ago on April 27, 2019. Ken was a true Camera Legend who specialized in selling Leica. I want to thank my friend here, the great Bob Matter, a great photographer out of Chicago for dropping me the word on Ken’s passing.

Hereโ€™s a shot of me & Ken from 2010. I was just another customer of his but like all his customers he treated you special. He made you feel special. And I can tell you, as someone whoโ€™s well aware of camera and lens values, he gave me great deals for which I was very appreciative!

He was one of a kind and there wonโ€™t be another one like him Iโ€™m sure about that. I’ll have more of my interactions with Ken in future postings.

So today when you take a shot, do one in honor of Ken! It doesnโ€™t have to be a Leica but Iโ€™m sure he wouldnโ€™t mind if it was! ๐Ÿ˜Ž Godspeed Ken Hansen you were the best!! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Camera Legend Camera Style :-)

On Instagram, “Camera Style” postings are seemingly very popular. In case you’re unfamiliar with what that is, it’s just shots of people with their cameras around town in cities and countries around the world. I’m not sure who started this trend, but I think it started with Tokyo Camera Style.

It’s a great idea actually, a win-win especially for views I guess. It’s basically “Camera Porn” and “Lens Porn” or  “Eye Candy” for a more softcore word! And what camera gear lover wouldn’t want to look at more cameras and lenses? ๐Ÿ™‚

So in the spirit of Tokyo Camera Style and all the other “Camera Style” accounts out there, here’s mine…

Above…

Today I spotted in the light NYC rain, a woman in Central Park, NYC, shooting with the original Canon EOS-1Ds, 11mp monster from 2001! A true digital Camera Legend. And on top of that, she had the delicious Super PHAT 85mm f/1.2L ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

I said that’s awesome kid! Youโ€™re right down my alley with that gear! ๐Ÿ˜ I know a lot of you guys and gals shoot with the older stuff like I do, but Iโ€™ve not met too many in the real world whoโ€™s shooting with a digital camera this old. Everyone wants the latest and greatest. I said ROCK ON girl!

Above…

Hereโ€™s what I shot with yesterday. Film was Fuji C200 color print film. The camera is the Olympus OM-3 that you may have seen before but what you have NOT seen until now is my favorite manual focus zoom lens and itโ€™s the Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8 ๐Ÿ˜

I got the lens like ten years ago. These lenses go for over $1000 but mine was under $300 ๐Ÿ˜Š

Why? It was the most optically โ€œuglyโ€ lens Iโ€™d ever seen! Inside looks like fungus, coatings deterioration, flakes inside the lens ๐Ÿ˜ข

I was so bummed out when I got it. But even with all those flaws, this is the sharpest manual focus zoom Iโ€™ve ever used!! Praise the Zuiko gods! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

Why did I shoot it this weekend? Hopefully to do a review for you guys! ๐Ÿ˜€

Hope you guys enjoyed this little bit of “Camera Style.” Maybe there will be more to come. Happy Tuesday folks! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ท๐Ÿ˜˜โœŒ๐Ÿป

 

Flashback Friday: โ€œGrandmaโ€™s Rollersโ€ ๐Ÿ˜€

Good morning everyone! For your #flashbackfriday hereโ€™s a real flashback from almost 12 years in time! It’s 2007. Grandma sits with her granddaughter. She’s someone who has always kept up appearances, I was happy I finally caught Grandma with her rollers ๐Ÿ˜€

I donโ€™t think Grandma ever saw this photo, and if she did she probably wouldnโ€™t like it but I love the shot because itโ€™s a candid shot of a loving moment which Iโ€™m always trying to do with people portraits ๐Ÿ˜

For this shot I used a Minolta Maxxum 7D which used the amazing Sony 6.1mp sensor. As you may or may not know, this sensor or variations of it were used in other famous models most notably the Nikon D70 and the Epson R-D1. Perhaps even the Pentax 100D among others.

But just as amazing is the Minolta 85mm f/1.4 G lens which to me was as good or better than any 85mm out there! I’m not talking technical quality, but on an aesthetic level it was made for portraits!

To me, Minolta came closest of any of the Japanese companies to getting that third spot with Canon and Nikon. They fought hard and gave us some great cameras and lenses.

Unfortunately Minolta as we know it, folded camera production in 2006 with the camera division sold to Sony. But guess what? With Sony hugely popular in the camera game, and by some accounts number three behind Canon and Nikon, “Minolta” lives on after all as Sony! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Get some shooting this weekend guys, time moves fast! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ท๐Ÿ˜˜โœŒ๐Ÿป

Photo Of The Day: “Quiet Town” Contax T3

000477240007

“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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย 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… ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Happy shooting folks!

Photo Of The Day: โ€œCold World Warriorsโ€ Nikon D1

Once in a while I like to use the “oddball” stuff. Now I don’t think anyone would consider the classic Nikon D1 from 1999 an “oddball” but at only 2.7 megapixels, I gather it’s not something most folks would be using everyday.

Heck I don’t even use it every day, much as I love this digital oldie. But once in a while it’s refreshing to see what old tech can do.

The lens used was a 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. I did do some color processing to give it some extra funk ๐Ÿ˜Š

Cause and effect are never as we imagine. The result of global warming is an increasingly cold cold world. Here’s my warmth in these troubled times ๐Ÿ˜

Interestingly, I read it some years back that a Nikon executive once stated in an interview that the D1’s sensor was actually 10 megapixels but that the extra megapixels were used for improved color, noise, etc, but the actual resolution was still only 2.7mp. All this tech in 1999?! Interesting and possibly a topic for another day!

Happy Easter vacation good peeps! This is a great time to get your cameras and lenses out! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ“ท๐Ÿ˜˜

Mystery Camera: The Great Wall DF Chinese Medium Format Camera

Today for your Throwback Thursday we will take a ride on the Time Machine and go back to the 1970s & 1980s to retrieve a mysterious camera from the Forbidden Kingdom Of China ๐Ÿ˜Š

In a world where almost every other camera is “Made In China” it’s still relatively uncommon to find a camera from China here in the States, especially a film camera that was actually manufactured in China and made by a Chinese company, for the Chinese homeland market.

Behind the vast Chinese Empire and behind the Great Wall originated a camera they actually called the “Great Wall” or more officially the Great Wall DF camera! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Today, we will try to unlock the mystery of this intriguing Chinese Medium Format camera.

I feel like Leonard Nimoy on “In Search Of” haha! And even though I’m getting older, I’m not that old! So how come it seems like nobody else remembers “In Search Of?” Did the show even exist? ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

INTRODUCTION

The Great Wall DF is a 6×6 medium format film camera produced by the Beijing Camera Factory. Although no information I could find list the exact years, they are stated to have been made during the 1970s and through the 1980s.ย It was marketed as a low budget camera for the masses.

WHAT IS THE GREAT WALL DF?

What is the Great Wall DF specifically? As mentioned it is a medium format camera that shoots 6x6cm images on 120 roll film. But it was also marketed as being able to shoot 6×4.5 via the insertion of a mask.

The camera is a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) in that it uses a reflex mirror for viewing. The difference between this and most SLR’s is that the mirror is part of the shutter mechanism and thus it uses what is called aย guillotine shutter.

This is a similar shutter mechanism to the one used in the German Pilot cameras of which the Great Wall DF is based.

The lens mount is also interesting in that it is said to be a Leica M39 screwmount. Now this sounds good on paper but apparently due to technical issues, you cannot use the lenses the way you might think you could.

First of all those lenses are made for 35mm and this is a 6×6 Medium Format camera. If you could use it as a medium format lens, there would probably be vignetting, an image circle, etc. Secondly you probably won’t get infinity focus.

I can tell you that the few Leica screwmount lenses I have do not actuallyย screwย into the threaded mount of the DF. In other words, to use these lenses you’d have to use a technique called “freelensing” in which you hold the lens to the mount and just take the shot while holding the lens.

I have done this, especially in the good old days when adapters were not readily available. But trying this with a pricey lens, I’m not inclined to do! Don’t want to drop the lens or the camera!

I can alsoย attest that with a lens such as the 28mm f/1.9 “freelensed” in front of the camera, it appears I could get some nice macro shots but it would have to be really close!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

As part of my attempt to integrate video into your experience, here’s my YouTube video for the Great Wall DF. It is close to 15 minutes which it really shouldn’t be! This is a cheap camera that not many know and my “Mystery Camera” segments are usually five minutes tops. But I’m trying to give you guys my all so this might be my new norm. Sorry I haven’t gotten back to some of you guys like I usually do but the edits and reedits kill me! I just want to make sure all my information is correct.

Besides, as a huge Bruce Lee and Martial Arts fan, I’ve always wanted to star in a “Chop Socky” Kung-Fu flick and the intro to this video shows my MMA skills or lack thereof haha ๐Ÿ™‚

MY EXPERIENCES WITH THE GREAT WALL DF

As someone who has stated over and over again that I loveย allย cameras, I’ve always been fascinated with the very few Chinese film cameras that pop up on the used market here in the USA.

My very first China based camera is the Seagull medium format TLR that is much more common on the used market.

It’s strange that even though Communist China has been trading goods with us for decades, especially since President Nixon opened China’s doors in 1972, we still have seen precious little of their photography gear market, or shall I say their film photography market.

The few companies that stand out in my head for film cameras are Seagull, Pearl River, Great Wall and perhaps a couple more that I can’t recall at this time.

Today, we may have a lot more Chinese companies like Yongnuo, 7Artisans, for example, selling digital gear (mostly lenses) but the film stuff from even decades ago, it is harder to come by.

Perhaps it’s because they were intended for the home market? Perhaps the Chinese knew that most of these cameras were not high quality items? Who knows. That’s why it’s a mystery!

IS IT A CULT CAMERA?ย 

It might possibly be, but if it is a cult camera, the “cult” must be very small because there is just so little on this camera. In fact, my YouTube video posted today seems to be the only video I can find on YouTube as of this writing.

There is actually another video of this camera that has been on the internet for a while. It’s a short clip showing how to work the camera, but it is very short and only hosted on the author’s webpage not on YouTube.

The very little that’s on this camera is scattered through blogs and forum postings. But I give credit where credit is due and those guys who have used this camera before me, their information is GREAT! I’ve tried to put all I’ve learned here and on my video.

PRELIMINARY SAMPLE IMAGES

Here are just a few quick and dirty samples from my first roll. They are not intended to be artistic masterpieces. I was just testing the camera and was actually just happy and relieved that the camera was working properly.

“Saturday Morning” 2019. Great Wall DF, 90mm f/3.5, Ilford FP4 in D76.

“Zen Camera” 2019. Great Wall DF, 90mm f/3.5, Ilford FP4 in D76.

“Sunday Star” 2019. Great Wall DF, 90mm f/3.5, Ilford FP4 in D76. This might have been my best shot in the roll had it not been soft and off focus! Note the tiny bit of overlap from the next frame.

Please do not judge the technical merits of this camera based on these photos. There are in fact much sharper samples from this camera on the internet to look at.

This was a test roll from a first time user of the camera. The photos were every day photos taken around the house just to see if the camera was working and I’m happy to report it works!

I made some mistakes and encountered some issues with this camera. First mistake was using Ilford FP4 which is rated at ISO 125. This was disadvantageous when using a camera with a slowish f/3.5 lens but the reason I used the FP4 was because I had a problem getting film into the film chamber of this camera! This is addressed below in the “Issues” section.

Overall, I’m encouraged enough to try another roll in this camera!

MODEL DIFFERENCES

From all accounts on the internet, there may be as many as five or six different versions. Here’s my observations, not just from the scattered information I’ve read but from observing photos of the camera and comparing them to my copy. Feel free to correct me if any of this is wrong:

DF: Earliest model. No self timer, flash shoe, or PC socket.

DF2: “DF-2” imprinted on front name plate. No self timer, flash shoe, or PC socket.

DF3: Has self-timer, cable release socket, but no flash shoe, no PC socket.

DF4: Has self timer, cable release socket, flash shoe and PC socket.

DF5: ???

DF6: ???

Based on what I can tell, my model might be the DF4! In fact, I took the plunge on it because it was advertised as a DF-2 “Parts” camera and upon looking at the photos and the low price I said why not?! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now if you can’t find a DF-3 or DF-4 don’t sweat it, they’re all basically the same cameras. Unless you really need to use a cable release or need a flash socket, I wouldn’t worry about it.

ISSUES

This camera has all the FUNK you’d want! It starts with getting a roll of film into the film chamber. The main reason I used the Ilford FP4 in it, despite it being a slower film for indoor use, is the fact that it was the only roll of film I could get to fit in it! Even then, I had to slightly bend the edges to get it in.

From what I’ve read, some films fit in there better, easier, like perhaps Fuji films vs Kodak. But the Fuji roll I tried was also stiff to get in.

Next issue is I could not see any of the frame numbers through the window for the “frame counter” so I had to guesstimate the spacing.

Next issue is sometimes when pressing the shutter release, the mirror flips up but I felt as if the shutter was not coming down. Since they are both a part of that guillotine shutter, I felt the shutter should’ve come down. Hard for me to explain but when you’re holding the camera and shooting it, you can tell when the shutter has come down by the feel and the “clunk” and when it is not coming down.

Next issue was frame overlaps. I had expected some of this based on the reviews I had read and to be honest, it was not too bad for most of the shots but on one shot it seemed like I had three exposures on one frame! Perhaps it was me, but I can’t imagine shooting and not advancing the film three times.

Part of the reason I did not take the camera outside for prolonged shooting was I got the impression that I might be wasting my time, fearing nothing was getting exposed but I’m glad I was wrong!

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Great Wall DF is somewhat rare on the used market but that doesn’t not mean it should be pricey.

First of all, not many people are looking for this camera. Only someone “special” or weirdos like me haha ๐Ÿ™‚

Secondly, the build quality is not high. It feels solid enough but does not feel like it would take a lot of abuse. The seller even stressed to me it was on the flimsy side.

That said, it feels better in my hands than you would think based on people’s descriptions. Plus it’s one of the smallest and lightest 6×6 SLR’s you could buy.

I got mine for $75 but if you’re seeking one of these, do so carefully. Prices are trending at $60-160 USD. They usually come with the 90mm f/3.5 Great Wall lens. I wouldn’t pay over $150 for one of these.

The shutters have been known to fail so useย gently.ย I’m not trying to scare you. It’s possibly that yours could last years, but it’s also possible it could fail tomorrow. That’s one great thing about cheap cameras. If they fail, you’re not out for much. But if this was a $1000 plus camera, I’d worry about it!

BOTTOM LINE

The Great Wall DF may never be a Camera Legend. Perhaps it is in China, I don’t know, but in the overall annals of history I don’t think it is or ever will be.

That said, it’s one of the more interesting cameras I have tried in a long time! There’s something addictive about “Cheap Plus Results” as I say. If it’s a cheap camera that gives me decent results, and it seems like it could do even better than the results I got? I’m in!

In closing, I know there’s just a small group of people fanatic enough about cameras to be interested in this camera but I hope that I have helped to demystify the Great Wall DF a bit for you if you are one of those uncommon people!

Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a line if you have this camera!

***SONY REBATES ALERT***

4/15/2019: Got huge returns on your Tax refund this year? Spend it before you lost it! If you want a camera system where there’s NO mystery that it will be great then our affiliates can save you up to $1000 on the following packages It’s only for a limited time so get it now while you can!

Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera, Full Frame - With RODE VideoMic with Rycote Lyre SuspeAlpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera, Full Frame – With RODE VideoMic with Rycote Lyre Suspe$3498BUY NOWAdorama

Alpha a7II Mirrorless Camera with FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens - Bundle With 128GB U3 SDXAlpha a7II Mirrorless Camera with FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens – Bundle With 128GB U3 SDX$998BUY NOWAdorama

Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital 4K Camera, - Bundle with Camera Bag, 32GB SDHC U3 Card, ClAlpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital 4K Camera, – Bundle with Camera Bag, 32GB SDHC U3 Card, Cl$1998BUY NOWAdorama