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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO

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

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

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

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

Making these videos AND writing a blog while also managing work and family can certainly burn you out and I discuss that as well in this video. This is why I’m seemingly only online when I post something ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

 

Flashback Friday: โ€œGimme Your Best!โ€ ๐Ÿ˜€

This photo was shot about two, almost three years ago in 2016. I said to Zay, give me your best smile and this is what she gave me! Ah the baby’s already a natural in my biased opinion ๐Ÿ™‚

Sure yes I know it’s not a real “flashback” but hey when you’re a 3 year old toddler, yeah it’s a flashback! ๐Ÿ˜€

I wonder though, could anyone figure out the camera setup being used in the picture? Hint, it’s not something I ever alluded to on these pages before lol but perhaps this is the year for it! This is the year we go BIG…or is it not? Haha

Happy February good camera loving peeps! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜˜

Photo Of The Day: โ€œCold Cold Worldโ€ Part II Sony A7r & Contax 35mm f/2.8 Biogon

In anticipation or celebration of the complex snow storm that’s hitting the Northeast here’s a shot from my latest test lens. According to the weather report, it’s going to be much colder than this in the next couple days!

It’s the 35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Biogon. No it’s not one of the new modern day iterations. It’s the old lens made for the Contax rangefinder cameras.

The Sony A7r was one of my last major purchases when it came to modern day digital cameras. I bought it in 2014. I mainly use it to test out vintage lenses. It gives me an idea what I might expect when I use the lenses on film bodies.

As I said many times here, I’ve always found the 35mm f/2.8 a rather “boring” lens in the sense that a 35mm f/2 is much more interesting to me. There were so many generic 35mm f/2.8 lenses back in the film era that I’m convinced it’s not that hard for a decent optical manufacturer to build a good one and thus it shouldn’t be expensive.

That’s why, as I explained in my Contax T2 video, even the 38mm f/2.8 on the T2 is quite a general lens which was only made special due to the Zeiss design and T* coatings. However, for the old Contax rangefinder this is about as wide as I’m going to get without spending a fortune so it completes my set for the Contax RF, ie, 35mm/50mm/135mm ๐Ÿ˜Š

There’s more to this lens and its history, including several different versions of the same lens and compatibility issues with some Contax bodies, of which I’ll get to in a future posting.

For now what I will say is that it’s a very good lens, surprisingly good on the A7r. A bit boring on digital which tells me it’ll be GREAT on the Contax film bodies I’m currently shooting it with!

Till next time, stay safe and have a great day!

Five Reasons Why You DON’T Need The CONTAX T2…Though You May Want It! ๐Ÿ˜€

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? ๐Ÿ˜Š

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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 T2ย becauseย 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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? ๐Ÿ˜€

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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,ย 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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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You may want the Contax T2 but you really don’t need it! Now this, this you might need! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Happy Turkey Day!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends here in the USA and Happy Holidays to my friends around the world!

My apologies for the inactivity here as well as on your blogs. I’ve been spending my free time trying to build up content for the YouTube channel such as my latest pre Black Friday special just posted tonight ๐Ÿ™‚

Still decidedly very low budget, but working on the production values haha ๐Ÿ˜Š

I personally feel that for a kid, teen, or someone starting out just wanting to learn photography, you DO NOT have to pay an arm and a leg for the latest and greatest. The cameras I am recommending in this video are well suited to the beginning photography student. Truthfully, besides from their “low” megapixel count, they are actually very advanced cameras, well suited to enthusiasts as well. I know you guys remember these cameras!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Photo Of The Day: “Saturday In The Parkโ€ Mamiya 6 75mm 3.5 G Lens

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“Saturday In The Park” 2016. Mamiya 6, 75mm f/3.5 Mamiya G lens, Kodak T-Max 400 in D76 developer.

In my effort to be more active for you good people, here’s a shot and short article for today. Shot with a Mamiya 6 and 75mm f/3.5 Sekor. I actually shot this a couple of years ago before I sold the camera. It was in Central Park.

Speaking of “Saturday In The Park” I recently saw a CNN documentary which I think is a couple of years old, on one of America’s oldest and greatest pop/rock bands, Chicago. I loved their stuff from the 70s and 80s although admittedly they went into the “soft rock” category with the rise of (then) lead singer Peter Cetera, not that it’s a bad thing mind you.

I always thought the band broke up because of Cetera and his ever growing star in the 80s. But now I’m not so sure it was really a case of someone getting a big head or whether he and the band could just no longer get along.

Just like another great 80s band Journey, I’ll always associate Cetera’s voice with Chicago just as I associate Steve Perry with Journey.

Anyway, I’m drifting off course! Music just happens to be my other passion. I especially like rock and popular music from the 50s through the 90s. Not much for music after that ๐Ÿ˜€

The Mamiya 6 is a Camera Legend. I had a complete outfit in 2009 including the body, 75mm f/3.5, 50mm f/4, and 150mm f/4.5 telephoto. I started selling off the lenses first, then the camera and 75mm because I wasn’t using it enough and needed funds for other things. You know the deal ๐Ÿ˜Š

I’ve always thought of giving the Mamiya 6 a formal write-up on these pages and I’m sure I’ll get to it one of these days, but I’m not sure I could write enough to do it justice. It’s a fantastic medium format rangefinder. In fact, if I had the funds I could easily talk myself into it again!

If you look at the photo, you’ll notice some blotches, most notably on the bottom right, a result of my imperfect developing. Not making any excuses, but many people actually do not mind, and some even “want” these imperfectons these days! Don’t believe me? You should see what people are liking on Instagram! I guess it’s part of what people today consider a part of that “film look.”

Back in the day, I don’t remember people loving imperfect pictures all that much, but since this shot is imperfect…ok, I’m cool with it! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve always said and it’s worth repeating that T-Max 400 is a beautiful film that develops best in T-Max Developer. As I did not have any T-Max Developer on hand, I decided to take my chances with D76.

I’ve noticed that when in D76, the T-Max will have a tendency to produce streaks and blotches. Sometimes I get lucky and get a clean set, but T-Max 400 seems more finicky than other films and results with T-Max Developer are consistently smooth.

Well, that’s it for this morning. Oh one more thing, these are not all my kids! ๐Ÿ˜€

Flashback Friday: Olympus OM-D EM5 Images

The Olympus OM-D EM5 (right) next to the Olympus M-1 (original OM-1).

The original 16mp Olympus OM-D EM5 was introduced by Olympus in 2012 and quickly became a favorite of mirrorless camera fans.

Its retro styling brought back memories of the classic Olympus OM cameras of yore such as the OM-1 film camera.

When I first saw it in the flesh, I knew I had to have one. So in late 2012 or early 2013, I did something I don’t normally do. I bought the camera new!

Right away I was impressed with the OM-D’s performance and image quality. It was the first mirrorless camera that I felt gave me images as good as what I was getting from my full frame DSLR cameras. And I’d used many of the highly rated mirrorless cameras before it, ie, Olympus E-P1, E-P2, Panasonic GF1, GH1, GH2 and a few others.

“Twins” 2013. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital lens. The EM5 captured these “twins” with beautiful color and depth of tones.

I loved the fast touch shutter, it was great for quick and rapid street work.

Indeed, the Olympus OM-D EM5 became one of my favorite cameras to use and you know that’s not easy considering all the cameras I’ve tried ๐Ÿ˜Š

I had originally planned to do a review on this camera but it was not to be. Why?

Because last year the shutter started to conk out on me. It started taking blank images. Checking further it seems the shutter curtain is no longer opening.

A little research on the internet shows that many other people have the same issue with this first generation of the OM-D.

This is indeed disappointing as I bought the camera new, it has probably less than 5k on the shutter, and never been dropped or abused.

It’s out of warranty and I hear Olympus will charge around $175 to fix it. To me, that’s pretty unacceptable for a camera with such low shutter count. I have a Nikon D700 bought USED with over 200k that still takes great pictures!

Of course you can say that the D700 is a more pro oriented body. But 200k and still shooting vs 5k and dead? Come on now Olympus!

So Olympus, if you come across this and you want to do right please contact me! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Sounds like I’m joking but I’m not. I’m seriously disappointed as I loved the camera. I know cameras can give out at any time but I think there must be more to these EM5 shutter issues. Just do a search.

Anyway sorry for my rant, here’s a few OM-D EM5 images during better days. Have a great weekend folks!

“The Mean Lady” 2013. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital lens. Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand. The kids called this lady “the mean lady” but to me she was always nice! The EM5 performed admirably on black and white images too.

“The Human Touch” 2013. Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Samut Prakan, Thailand. As Rick Springfield once said, we all need the “human touch” ๐Ÿ™‚

“Smoker” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Samut Prakan, Thailand. A charming fellow who enjoyed his smokes ๐Ÿ™‚

“Thai Miyagi” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Samut Prakan, Thailand. Maybe I’m nuts, but this man reminded me a lot of “Miyagi-San” Pat Morita.

“Asiatique” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Bangkok, Thailand. The EM5 was superb at capturing night and low light images.

“Gator Riders” 2013.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Pattaya, Thailand.

“Big Hair” 2015.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Did Baby Zay have big hair or what?! ๐Ÿ™‚

“Blue Pool” 2016.ย Olympus OM-D EM5. Olympus OM-D EM5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Digital. Manila, Philippines. Kids in a portable “baby” pool. It works! ๐Ÿ™‚

***NEW CAMERA ALERT***

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Please check the links from our trusted affiliates and get yourself on the pre-order list. It will cost you nothing extra and help support this site to bring you more reviews of the cameras and lenses you want to see. If you get one before I do, please report back! Thanks for your support!


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