Good morning you awesome and beautiful war torn camera geeks! Well even though I started on an upbeat note, today’s topic is anything but upbeat.
As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th 2001 terror attacks that changed America forever it is bittersweet to see how the world today, specifically Afghanistan, is seemingly back to its pre 9/11 state.
As a New Yorker, I remember the events of that day very well. I remember the sadness afterwards. I remember the unity of the country. And I remember the pledge to “Never Forget.” Sadly, it seems like a lot of people have forgotten and/or have already moved on.
Just like many of you, the events of last month, August 2021, caught me a little off guard. Looking at it now it’s clear that while certain events may have taken the US government off guard, the bigger picture is no surprise to them.
That “bigger picture” is having the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan.
Now I do not wish to make this a political column. If there is any blame, I would say all administrations, all the US presidents of the past twenty years are to blame.
You could blame George W. Bush for bringing us into Afghanistan by taking Osama Bin Laden’s bait. But then again, after your country has been attacked in such a dramatic fashion what else could he have done?
You could blame Barack Obama for doing pretty much nothing that I can remember with Afghanistan during his tenure. Oh wait, during his tenure he did get Osama Bin Laden so I gotta give him some credit for that.
You could blame Donald Trump for making a deal with the Taliban (supposedly we don’t deal with terrorists) in the first place and you could blame Joe Biden for not taking presidential leadership to change some of Trump’s plans when he got the data that the Taliban were making substantial gains.
You could also say that Afghanistan is, sadly, a war torn country in every sense of the word. A country with beautiful and tough people but with a very complex mix of religious and cultural influences that could never be overcome by the influences of another country. Russia tried for ten years. They failed. Now the USA has left after twenty years with really nothing to show for it.
What irks me is the notion given by the media, who ultimately got their information from the government that everything was going great in Afghanistan and thus the world felt safer for a while.
Today the same people who sheltered Al Quaeda in 2001, the Taliban, are back in power.
Apparently in their agreement with the US government, the Taliban pledged not to harbor terrorists. The problem is they have shown time and again that their word means almost nothing. Whether or not they keep their word remains to be seen.
On one hand maybe we should have stayed and reshaped the country for the better. On the other hand, Afghanistan is not our country to reshape. And for the US government, there is no oil, no treasures to be had. If there were I’d bet the plans would be different.
Anyway this is not the forum for politics so I’ll leave it at that but as you can see Afghanistan is complicated! It’s not an easy topic.
Oh by the way, the above photo was taken with a Yashica Electro 35CC and Kentmere 400 film.
What is your opinion? I’d love to hear it! Keep it civil though. As I said this is not the place for politics.
My Latest YouTube Shorts!
YouTube now has a feature called “Shorts” and it’s perfect for me because while I enjoy sharing with my fellow camera lovers, I don’t necessarily enjoy making long videos that nobody watches 🙂
I’ve done a few of them already and they are lots of fun! And perhaps they may lead to full length videos in the future, who knows. Anyway, today’s shorts features is a sort of “old Canon meets new Canon.” It’s the EOS RP with the vintage Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens. Check it out!
Good morning you awesome camera geeks! Over the years, I’ve catered to camera and photography lovers of every kind.
Perhaps because I’m a collector myself, I’ve written a lot for camera collectors. I’ve tried to do both film and digital reviews because I love both but there’s one group I’ve not done a lot for. That group are the humble beginners.
I actually did a video on YouTube a couple of years ago called “The Benefits Of A Cheap Camera” in which I talked about the Vivitar V3800n, a cheap and affordable 35mm slr and although I tried to give some useful advice in the video, I don’t think a lot of people liked or understood my lighthearted approach and humor 😀
So today I will try to be more gentle and serious (if that’s possible!) in my approach
The bulk of my advice today will be on my YouTube video. The young film beginner today is more likely to watch a video rather than read an article. For the rest of this article I will concentrate more on things I didn’t touch on in the video.
People can be funny sometimes. I’m sure a some people might say “Ah he’s just pushing his video!”
And the funny thing is, if the video is on Camera Legend YouTube and this is the Camera Legend blog, shouldn’t I be doing that?! It would be unwise of me not to 😍
But as you’ll see, this article touches on a lot that’s not on the video so consider it an addendum to the video.
Big Beginner Mistake
As beginners we all make mistakes. Heck even when not a beginner we make mistakes! At least I do still today 😀
To me though one of the biggest mistakes I see the beginner in 35mm film photography make is the notion that they have to be an expert camera operator first.
It’s not the beginners fault really. It’s perhaps all the “super photographers” they read about or see on YouTube but it seems to me they feel the need to learn aperture, shutter speeds, lighting, flash, everything all at once!
And yes it IS important to learn those fundamentals of photography but the truth of the matter is mastering these things take time and lots of practice.
Obsessing about learning camera function so much can make you overlook perhaps the most important aspect of photography: the actual picture. Taking the picture. Learning to focus the lens. Learning to compose. Developing an eye for a good picture.
So you say Sam, if I don’t know how to operate the aperture and shutter speeds then how am I going to take good pictures?!
Fear not! Let me introduce to something I call “The 1985 Method” 😀
The 1985 Method
No this isn’t actually a “method” I came up with but it’s how I developed a love for photography.
Back in the 80s as a youngster starting out, I usually shot sight unseen. Before I really got into photography, the camera was just a way of capturing my family, my friends, my world.
All I did was shoot and shoot. I knew nothing about aperture or shutter speeds. I knew nothing about composition or the rules of photography. I learned by discovery. And that still shapes a lot of how I approach things today.
The knowledge of light, aperture, shutter speeds, composition, that came later as I started buying books and magazines. You could say I started out photography the wrong way! Yet, some of those early photographs are the ones I cherish most.
It was photography in its purest form in my opinion before it became the “game.” A game of “you should do it this way or that way.” You should use this camera, buy this lens, etc, etc. I guess you could liken the experience to the innocence of a child before the realities of the world corrupts them.
As mentioned on these pages before, I dabbled in photography in the early 80s with my parents cameras with mixed results. It wasn’t until 1985 when Mom bought us a Minolta X-700 that I started getting (to me) great results, certainly better than I was getting previously. I’ve always considered the Minolta X-700 that I got in 1985 my first “serious” camera.
Even as a teen, I was getting roll after roll of consistently good results. As I got older, many of the photographers I met encouraged me to go back to all manual camera like the Pentax K1000, Nikon FM or Olympus OM-1. They told me I should do more “serious” photography. I did try those cameras and I loved them but I didn’t always get consistently good results like I got with my old Minolta.
With time and a lot of practice, I started getting results as good or better than the Minolta. I found out why…
It was because I often used the X-700 in the green P or Program mode. In this mode, the camera figured out the exposures for me and it mostly got it right most of the time! The Minolta was doing most of the hard work for me!
I was getting good pictures consistently and that inspired me to continue doing photography. And I have the Minolta X-700 and its great Program mode to thank for it!
Doing It The“Wrong” Way!
You see it all the time. Many photographers recommending a beginner start out with an all manual camera such as the Pentax K1000 or Olympus OM-1. Heck I’m a big pusher of that “hardcore” method 😂
So it may be a surprise to hear me say that for the beginning 35mm film photographer today I am not recommending they start out with an all manual camera any more. Even though in this YouTube generation things are easier than ever, I now advocate the beginner to start with a little bit of automation.
If you’re a beginner at 35mm film photography, I recommend you get a camera with a Program mode like the Minolta X-700 and I want you to use it! In addition, your first camera should also have an aperture priority or manual mode. I’ll explain more later.
I’m not the first person to advocate using the Program mode and I won’t be the last. And although the old “hardcore” method of having the beginner start out with an all manual camera is still near and dear to my heart, I realize it is actually a little bit of a “cruel” thing to do to a beginner 😍
A True Story
As a good example, back in the late 1970s my parents had a good friend who was really into photography. He had the great cameras like the Canon F-1 and A-1.
He was especially fond of his multimode A-1 and always got these great shots. He was always showing us slides and projections of his work.
I think I’ve mentioned before that this family friend was probably more responsible than anyone else for my interest in photography, cameras and lenses!
Anyway seeing all his great work, my parents asked his advice on getting a camera. He helped them choose the Canon AT-1. That’s right folks. Not the AE-1 or AE-1 Program but the no frills, manual mode only AT-1.
Guess what? My parents knowing nothing about aperture and shutter speeds, never bothered to shoot with the camera. It was never used until it was stolen from our apartment in 1982.
To this day, I wonder why our dear family friend, God Bless his soul, I wonder why he would recommend this camera to them and not proactively try to help them use it?
But as I said that was then. Today, young beginners can find everything they need to know online!
And since I’m in a kinder “ask what I can do for you” mood I am not going to be cruel and have them start on an all manual camera the way our friend did to my parents 😍
That may change though! 😂 And yes, it will change once we get into medium and large format cameras where automation is much less available.
The World Has Changed For 35mm Film Beginners
The main reason though why I no longer recommended the all manual camera “hardcore” method is because many different dynamics have changed. But one factor above all is a game changer. I’ll explain…
Back in the late 80s and all throughout the 1990s until perhaps the mid 2000s, I had one distinct advantage that film photography beginners today don’t. And that is something we took for granted called the “One Hour Photo.”
One Hour Photo?
What is a one hour photo? There was a movie starring Robin Williams called “One Hour Photo” but that’s not what I’m talking about 😀
I’m talking about the places that develop your film in about an hour. At its climax, they were everywhere in nearly every country. You remember, don’t you? Well old school photographers will remember it well but kids born after the year 2000 may have no clue.
Basically, before digital came around and shattered everything, film photography had developed to its highest point of convenience where in the USA stores like Costco, CVS, Walgreens, and even local camera shops and pharmacies offered to develop your color print films in about an hour or so. Many times it took longer than the advertised “hour” but you’d still get your prints back rather quickly.
Companies like Fujifilm and Konica often supplied the machines necessary to do this.
So if I were trying out a manual camera, I could theoretically finish the roll and get the results back the same day and I did so, often!
But as digital began to put a stranglehold on film in the mid 2000s, these one hour photo labs began to fold. Many were gone years earlier when they saw the writing on the wall.
Today, you would have to send your film to a dedicated lab. The usual time for you to get your results back is around two to three weeks for most labs. Costco stopped developing or sending out film for most of their stores but CVS and Walgreens will still send your film out for development. Sadly, a few years ago they began this bizarre policy of not returning your negatives so if you have them send out your film, the negatives are gone forever.
The disappearance of the one hour photo labs is perhaps the main reason I relearned to do my own black and white development. I couldn’t stand the wait!
For the budding beginner in 35mm film photography, it is unlikely that they would be developing their own photos and so they must wait.
Why Great Results Fast?
We live in a world where we want and usually get everything fast. I can’t just blame today’s kids for being impatient because I myself have been spoiled by the convenience of it all.
Before the internet, and even as recently as the late 1990s when there was some internet, you’d sometimes have to wait weeks for an order to arrive. Today, I get most of my online orders in two days! That’s a game changer and no one wants to go back.
But in the world of film photography, sadly 35mm film development (as far as the wait goes) has gone back to something worse than it was when it was at its best in the late 90s and early 2000s.
It is my feeling that waiting two to three weeks just to get back lousy results from that first roll of film will do nothing but curb the enthusiasm of all but the most determined beginner photographers.
So I recommend the beginner start out with the much maligned Program mode, get some good maybe even great results right away and get excited about 35mm film photography.
Yes you should know the Program mode is not foolproof. Most old cameras have center weighted metering that can be easily fooled by bright light sources. However I’m willing to bet that the Program mode is going to yield a better percentage of results than if one were going in blind or trying to remember what they read or saw in a tutorial.
Shoot in Program mode. At the same time watch some good YouTube tutorials, read a book and take notes. After a few rolls in Program mode, then start experimenting by gently going out of the Program mode.
In my video I recommend and do a mini review on three cameras; the Nikon FG, the Ricoh XRX 3PF, and the Minolta X-700.
All three I have used and they all have a Program mode as well as manual mode.
I went into a lot of detail in the video so for the sake of time, I’ll just leave the details there for those interested. I also make recommendations on what to get for your first lens and also recommendations for film.
The photos below are extra samples from the humble 50mm lenses that I recommend a beginner start with.
By “humble” I’m talking about the 50mm f/1.8 or f/2 from any manufacturer and 50mm f/1.7 from some manufacturers.
The first shot was scanned with an Epson flatbed in 2010. The other two were crude iPhone X scans so they may not show the true nature of the images.
My Epson flatbed has gone caput and I’m trying to decide whether to go with a mid level scanner or a high end one. In addition to devoting time to YouTube, this one of the reasons you haven’t seen my work here. I’d really hate to continue giving you guys low quality scans! Y’all deserve the best 😍
As mentioned this article is an addendum to the YouTube video. Most of what’s on the video is not here and most of what’s here is not on the video. I’m not pushing you to the video for the sake of views. If that were the case I’d be making videos like crazy but I’m not. Note how long this article already is! 😀👍🏻
I figure those interested will check it out and those who don’t won’t.
Another point I didn’t touch on enough in the video is that it doesn’t have to be Nikon, Ricoh, or Minolta. You could get a Pentax Super Program if you like Pentax or Canon AE-1 Program if you like Canon. Any camera with a Program mode and a manual mode will do!
The main point is to get a camera with a good Program mode to start getting good results right away.
I however am NOT recommending that the beginner gets an autofocus film slr for their first film camera at this time. If you start with an autofocus camera and autofocus lenses then in my opinion you’re probably better off shooting with a DSLR.
I want you to have the Program mode for automatic exposures because exposures are probably the trickiest part for a beginner to understand, but I’d still want you to learn the “art” or the craft by learning to focus and compose. Get great results, get excited, and the rest will come to you with time, practice, and experience!
I can’t believe it took me all that space and time to basically say: Start out in the Program mode, get good to great results, get pumped about photography and work your way through the rest! You’ll be more interested in learning the camera when you start getting good results! 😀
Anyway this was the most I could put in one article but in future articles and videos we’ll work our way out of the Program mode so that you can work the camera and feel like a “real” photographer even though the Program mode will deliver 80-90 percent of the time! 😎
What is your opinion? Do you agree? Disagree? How did you learn 35mm photography? Leave a comment I’d love to hear it! In the end though, it’s just one man’s view so take it with a grain of salt and have a great day folks! 😍📸👍🏻
Hello there you hardcore camera lovers! Now even though my postings all have a twinge of nostalgia in them, every now and then I like doing a post like this where I look back on the gear that I used at a specific point in time.
As 2019 is rapidly drawing to a close, I thought I’d go back in time and look at a some of cameras I used twenty years ago in 1999! There’s going to be about two or three of them and we’ll go through them one by one until the year is done.
PHOTOGRAPHY IN 1999
1999 can be seen as a pivotal year in photography. Film was holding strong, but digital was rising fast. As in really fast!
In 1999 the vast majority of the world were still shooting film. That’s right folks! Even though the digital photography market was making inroads in a big way, the cameras sold to the general public were 1 to 3 megapixel cameras and they were expensive so for most of the world, film was still ruler of the day. But its days were numbered.
Now it might be hard for you youngsters and hipsters who find shooting film cool and different to realize that at one time, not that long ago, film was a format that was used by their “unhip” fathers, mothers, uncles, aunties, grandparents, and heck everyone! If everyone were using it, how unhip is that? 😎👍🏻
Now if you were born in 1999, you may feel “old” but really you’re not! You’re still a baby in many ways, and I say that in the best of terms. Be happy about it! I wish I were twenty years younger! 🙂
That’s why I say 1999 was not that long ago even though sometimes it feels like it! And yet sometimes it doesn’t.
For those of you who are YouTube fanatics, and admittedly there are millions out there, here’s our video companion video. I’m trying to get these videos out sooner for you guys!
MY GEAR BAG IN 1999
Not that anyone would or should care what I was using in 1999, but I use my gear only as a reference point. I’d love to know what YOU were using back then? 😎👍🏻
Now believe it or not, in 1999 I did not even get my first digital camera yet! That would happen a year later in 2000. That means all photography I did up to the year 2000 was only done on film. That’s even hard for me today imagine living in the digital world of 2019!
And while I’m sure I had other cameras, today I am talking about what I considered to be my main camera in 1999 and that camera is the Nikon F100. There will be more to come!
THE NIKON F100
The Nikon F100 is an autofocus 35mm film SLR that was introduced in 1999 by Nikon. It was born of the legendary Nikon F5 of 1996 and indeed has the same Multi-Cam 1300 AF system.
The Nikon F100 has a shutter speed range of 30 secs to 1/8000th of a second. It has the standard P/S/A/M modes. It relies on four AA batteries.
F100 vs F5
The F5 was introduced in 1996 and in 1999, it was still the top camera in the Nikon family. The F5 and F100 both share the Nikon Multi-Cam 1300 AF module and five AF points so their AF should be similar except that the F5 can track up to 8 frames per second while the F100 can go up to 4.5fps by itself or up to 5fps with battery pack MB-15.
What it does better than the F5 is the inclusion of the familiar red AF points that the F5 did not have. Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember reading back then that this was due to patent issues.
The F5, as the pro model, offers interchangeable viewfinder prisms, and can offer up to 100% viewfinder coverage depending on the prism. The F100 offers a 96 percent coverage and the prism is not removable.
The F5 has a mirror lock-up option, the F100 does not. In 1999, this mattered more to people than it might today. Check the video for a better explanation of this.
The F5 employs 1005 pixel RGB sensor for its 3D Color Matrix Metering. The F100 uses Nikon’s “exclusive” 10 segment 3D Matrix Metering.
Now I’ve never mentioned this, but (surprise!) yes I have used an F5 as well! And in all honesty, I never saw a difference. Both cameras produced near perfect exposures in all but the most extreme lighting situations. In fact the only Nikon that I felt I had exposure issues with was the N90s. But I used only one body so I feel that could’ve just been my copy of the camera.
The F100 came in at a much lower price ($1400) than the F5 ($3000 original price!) which made it an instant hit among the photography crowd. I remember reading forums like Photo.net where folks couldn’t wait to get their hands on the camera.
In some ways, it was like a pre Nikon D3 vs D700 magic! Two cameras. One pro model, one enthusiast model. Same AF system. One much more expensive, one much less.
Note: By the way, the Nikon F100 has 22 Custom Functions and if you’re interested in them, look it up! I only ever used one function which is to leave the film leader out 🙂
F100 vs F6
I can’t comment on this because (surprise!) I have NOT used an F6. I have no doubt the F6 is the more technically capable camera but as far as results, I’m going to take an educated guess and say that, with the same lenses, same film, results will look identical 🙂
F100 AS A MAIN SHOOTER IN 1999 VS 2019 PERSPECTIVE
In 1999, even though I had other cameras, the F100 was my main shooter. In a 2019 perspective, that’s the equivalent of someone using say a Nikon D750 or D850 for example. But unlike today where you’d use a D750 and maybe have an F100 as a secondary camera for film, the F100 was my main camera in 1999.
I’m not sure who this guy is, but he looks like a little bit of a nut 🙂
That means that I used it for almost everything! I go to a party, I bring my F100. I go to restaurant, I bring the F100. I go to the beach, I bring my F100. I go to church, I bring my F100. Ok, well sometimes I brought my Pentax IQ Zoom point and shoot but you get the idea. I used the F100 the same way I use my iPhone today. That means even my lamest pictures were taken with the F100 🙂
Any of you remember the cool and handy Magic Lantern guides? I didn’t buy too many of them but I did for the F100. I thought I might need it to learn all of the cameras advanced functions. As it turns out, I never really needed the book because for basic shooting the F100 is easy to figure out!
We are so spoiled for choices today and unless you lived in a pre digital world you might not fully understand the profound effect digital photography has made on our lives, for better or worse.
I had another film body as a backup but in 1999 there were no digital backups for me! Simply because there weren’t any real digital cameras at the time capable to even delivering close to what film cameras can and even the 1 to 3 megapixel digicams were expensive!
Today, I carry a digital camera and still carry a film camera no matter where I go. Old habits die hard. Living in a world where I carry digital cameras more than capable of replacing film, it’s an amazing thought that the roles are reversed and that I’m only carrying a film camera because I love film and because it’s going to give me results that are different, maybe more artistic, moody, etc but certainly not technically better than my best digital camera bodies.
I have a lot of personally memorable images with the Nikon F100 but the majority of them are in the old school photo albums that need to be scanned.
And unless I’m showing a photo that demonstrates its autofocus in action I really don’t think it matters much because, for the most part, for example, a Nikon F100 or N80 with the same lens, same film would take the same pictures. But here are a few pictures for the sake of this article and for nostalgia 😘
“Legends” Circa 1999. Nikon F100, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. In 1999, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were still standing.
“Ho Hum Day” 2011. Nikon F100, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens, Kodak Tri-X in HC-110. The F100 is capable of working with a modern Nikon lens, even digital lenses such as the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens used for this shot!
Here’s a shot I’ve never posted anywhere. How much did I love the F100? So much that I used it at my Dad’s funeral in 2011. RIP Dad, God Bless.
HOW I CAME ACROSS THE F100
I’m not usually an early adopter but I was able to get one only because a photo forum member had bought one and sold it at a pretty steep discount. I had the money and I jumped on it. As I said in one of my videos, just like that Steve Winwood song says “While you see a chance, take it!”
Back in 1999 there weren’t as many photo forums so I’m thinking it was on photo.net but I could be wrong.
Anyway, I loved the camera then and I still do today! The build was and is superb. It’s not as bulky as the F5 yet not small in any way, especially when compared to today’s mirrorless cameras.
The camera feels perfect in the hands. The build quality is superb. The magnesium alloy body keeps it strong yet light. Even though it is second tier to the Nikon F5, the F100 is weather sealed like a pro oriented body should be.
All the controls are where you would expect them to be, but if there’s anything that confuses you, read the manual! It is an electronic camera after all with all the complications that might go with that.
The 5 point AF is speedy and accurate. It can run on 4 AA batteries that last a long time. The shutter speed range is 30 secs up to 1/8000th of a second which is always a sign of a top camera. Even though its position was secondary to the F5 which makes it the “prosumer” or “enthusiast” model, it was also marketed to and loved by professionals.
I remember the lenses I used most with the F100 were my ever trusty Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D and the 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D Zoom. That’s a very good general purpose zoom for film and full frame cameras.
I sold the F100 maybe two years later because I either needed the money or wanted to upgrade. Can’t remember now, but that’s usually my reasons for selling!
I must’ve gone through about three of these and my current one was bought in 2011. I still hang on to it, despite not using it as much as I should.
As much as I’ve been enthusiastic about the F100, it doesn’t mean the camera is flawless. No camera is. More attention should be paid to potential problems when the cameras are electronic in nature.
One area to keep an eye on is the rear Focus Area Selector. It’s that thing that looks like a pad from a video game controller. The controls may malfunction or not be as responsive over time. The possible culprit could be that the electrical contacts underneath may be effected by oxidation or wear out from use, just like a video game joystick. Some people try electrical spray or resetting the camera. Since I have not faced the problem, I do not have the solution. I’m just giving you leads to help you to find your own answers.
The rear focus area selector is a potential problem area.
Another thing to watch for is “ERR” or error messages from the camera. Many times it’s just the batteries or the electrical contacts may need cleaning but other times, you don’t know! Try changing the batteries first. Clean the electrical contacts on the lens mount. Try a reset. If nothing works, get a repair estimate. You might find it cheaper just picking up another F100!
The last thing I found on two of the three F100 cameras that I have used is that the rubber grip becomes sticky with time. This is due to the sweat, moisture, humidity, water, etc that wear it down over the years. This doesn’t happen with all cameras so that means whatever material Nikon used for the F100 (and F5) grips do not wear well over time. The digital Nikon D70 has become infamous for this problem!
Though she looks beautiful right here, keep an eye for sticky grip surfaces on the Nikon F100. Or “Surface Sticky” as a famous used camera dealer calls it!
If you ever looked at used camera dealer descriptions, this is what they call “Surface Sticky” as I often see at KEH Camera.
For usability, it’s a non issue, but you might want to keep an eye on it. Some possible remedies are to use an isopropyl alcohol rub, hand sanitizer, or even baby wipes! It’s really a process of experimentation and these remedies do not work for every camera.
I’ve never tried to fix the sticky surface on my F100 because it’s not that bad yet, but I have used a combination of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and baby powder to cure the sticky surface of my other cameras.
Keep in mind you may end up doing more damage so if it’s not that bad leave it alone!
The Nikon F100 is a modern classic and a true Camera Legend. It took the legend of the Nikon F5 to the masses. It’s a perfect Nikon camera in my opinion!
Many people consider it Nikon’s second or third best AF film camera, behind the F5 and F6 respectively. Technically, I may agree with that but in the context of being the best choice for “the people” which is 95 percent of the world, I’d say the Nikon F100 is the BEST! And not just “for your money” but because it is a very capable camera!
I hope you enjoyed this ride back in time. What’s next? Find out in my YouTube video!
But more importantly, I’d love to know: What camera/lenses were YOU using in 1999? And if you weren’t around in 1999, then what gear has been most endearing to you on your photographic journey?
I’d love to know so leave a comment! Thank you 🙂
PRICE & AVAILIBILITY
The Nikon F100 is plentiful on the used market. Because it runs second to the F5 in the Nikon hierarchy, it’s prices have been stable over the years. And today, maybe more so because big SLR cameras in general are seen as almost passe, I hate to say it!
Prices for the F100 are trending at $150-300 USD which makes it a bargain. And indeed, when we talk about cameras like the Contax T2 (which I’ve talked about a lot) and the inflated prices for that camera, $150-300 to me is a STEAL for a camera like the F100!
If you have one or get one, I’d love to hear from you!
Here’s a topic thats very near and dear to my heart! But first, a fair warning: Collecting cameras can be ADDICTIVE and EXPENSIVE!
The former (addictive) is incurable, the latter (expensive), well it doesn’t have to be. And you couldn’t do better or cheaper than these two cameras I am profiling today.
I specifically chose these two specific cameras based on their prices, availability and their importance as Camera Legends. Especially for the beginning collector, these two are the easiest to find and buy.
The two cameras profiled today are the Minolta Maxxum 7000 and the Canon EOS 650.
MINOLTA MAXXUM 7000
The Minolta Maxxum 7000 is the camera that launched the autofocus revolution back in 1985. And it was revolutionary!
Before it, “autofocus” cameras were clunky things such as the Nikon F3AF of 1983 which attempted to autofocus the “easy way” by using an AF motor in the special lenses designed for these cameras while retaining the classic Nikon F mount.
Though I say the “easy way” maybe I should have said the “logical way.” After all, if you consider the technology at that time and the boxy, mechanical nature of cameras, it just seemed easier to put the autofocus motor in the lenses right?
Well, as is often the case, the idea was better than the execution. I don’t want to go full length into this topic right now, though I would agree it would make for a fascinating discussion!
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MAXXUM 7000 CONTINUED
In many ways, they were on the right track because as you may or may not know, when the EOS system was released in 1987, one of the selling points was indeed lenses with AF motor in them! But Canon had to ditch their old FD mount and make a whole (then) new EOS mount to accommodate this.
Anyway, Minolta too had to create a new mount. A mount which we know today as the Alpha mount or more specifically in today’s world, the Sony Alpha mount. Not the Sony E mirrorless mount. Yes, folks your Sony Alpha cameras carry the rich legacy of the legendary Minolta Maxxum 7000! 😊
Anyway, today’s topic is camera collecting and the Minolta Maxxum 7000 is a true Camera Legend that can be had VERY cheaply these days.
As a camera the Maxxum 7000 has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode. Basically all you need! AF is ok but first generation. It’s good enough to get the job done, if the subject/subjects are not moving much! The camera runs on four AAA batteries.
PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Although one of the most important cameras of the autofocus revolution of the 1980s, perhaps the most important, today the Maxxum 7000 is also one of the cheapest on the used market.
Prices are trending at $3.00 to $50 USD average seems to be around $25. I got mine for $3 bucks! It cost me a lot more than that in the 90s!
I believe the Maxxum 7000 prices are so low because they are plentiful and they do not age well.
The grips become white and sticky or powdery. The LCD goes bad or bleeds.
The good news is many are perfectly usable as it is. In my opinion, it is unrealistic to expect to find a Maxxum 7000 without any flaws today. If you do have one without flaws I’d love to hear from you!
THE CANON EOS 650
The Canon EOS 650 was released by Canon in 1987 and is the very first EOS camera.
Its claim to fame is the introduction of the EOS Mount. I believe the EOS 650 prices are so low simply because it’s just not the most exciting camera to look at or shoot 🙂
No offense, it’s a nice looking and shooting camera. Just not super exciting compared to anything else EOS you could shoot with. But it has one very important thing on its side…It’s the first. The first EOS camera! And that has to count for something right? 🙂
It has Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual mode just like the Maxxum 7000 so that means it has everything you need. It runs on one 2CR5 battery. AF is ok but first generation. Not good for running subjects but ok for static.
PRICES AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Just like the Maxxum 7000, the Canon EOS 650 is also dirt cheap on the used market.
Prices are trending from $10-50 with an average of $25 body only. I got my current copy for $10 bucks!
Generally these cameras have stood the test of time so your chances of a working model is pretty good.
Sometimes you’ll find one with no power, doesn’t turn on. Sometimes parts have come loose or the buttons and dials may be sticky.
Even at the highest average prices they’re cheap get the best one you can!
I hope with these two cameras I have shown you that collecting Camera Legends does not have to be expensive!
With these two, you have cameras with history and a story to tell about the evolution of autofocus.
And on the Used Market you can get them dirt cheap. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re actually pretty good shooters! Good luck on your journey to camera collecting nirvana!
If you are interested in these two Camera Legends, there are a ton of additional resources on the internet. To cut through the bunk and junk, I recommend these two reviews by my blogging buddy and a prolific blogger Mr. Jim Grey. I can’t speak for a lot of bloggers but I unquestionably trust Jim’s reviews and opinions.
Plus I also recommend you check out Mike Eckman’s blog…
This is the best new review I have seen on the Maxxum 7000 in years, written by Mike Eckman, a passionate photographer and camera reviewer whose passion for photography and film cameras is contagious and whose dedication I admire. I’ve enjoyed his work for years and his Maxxum 7000 review is much more thorough and much better than mine, I happily admit that! 🙂
Mike’s review is HERE and as I said, if you love film cameras his whole site is worth checking out. I guarantee it will keep your reading for hours!
Tell them Sam sent you! 🙂
It’s been said that the new Canon EOS-R Mirrorless is the incarnate of the EOS 650. In a way, many things from its looks to its use for the introduction of the EOS-R mount, I’d say they might be right! Anyway, the EOS-R can do things the 650 could’ve only dreamed of in 1987! If you decide to buy one, please do so from our trusted affiliates simply by clicking on the photos or links. You will pay nothing extra other than what you’re buying, and help support Camera Legend at the same time. Putting these articles, reviews, and videos take time and work. We do appreciate all you support, thank you very much!
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I don’t mean to make light of the nation’s opioid epidemic which is very serious indeed. I just couldn’t think of a better title 😊
This image was shot with a vintage Agfa Ambiflex and the mythical 55mm f/2 Solagon. The film was Kentmere 400 and developed in T-Max RS. I can’t say much about this outfit now, consider this what I call a “future flash” because I will have a write up on this camera and lens soon. It’s one of those outfits that has a cult following but it seems there’s not a heck of a lot out there about it. We’re going to change that for you! Have a nice day camera lovers 😊✌🏻
Hmm, does this look familiar? If it seems like something I posted before, well yes, yes it is! It’s THIS picture.
Same VG “Evil” Buggy. Different camera. The previous was shot with a Canon G1X, digital point and shoot. This one was taken with a Minolta TC-1 point and shoot film camera. The film was Fuji Superia 400 color print film.
Other than the slight graininess of the film version and the art filter I used on the digital version (which caused the color differences), do you see any differences? If anything, it’s very slight. Some might prefer the G1X version, some might prefer the TC-1 version but to my eyes they’re nearly identical. The fact that I shot them both within the same minute from my car might have something to do with that, but photographically, I don’t see a lot of differences.
I’m re-testing the TC-1 because while I have a short write up on this classic film camera from a couple years back, I didn’t have any photos in that article and as I always say…Pics or it didn’t happen!
Anyway, being that I tend to favor film cameras it might surprise you that I was this close to saying save your money and stick with your digital camera but I won’t say it right now until I evaluate my next roll of film from the TC-1.
All I can say right now is, the TC-1 is a beautiful little camera, a classic, a Camera Legend. However, today, your digital point and shoot is likely to give it a run for its money and probably cost less too.
I was looking to do something in honor of the 4th of July Independence Day holiday on Tuesday. I think classic American cameras don’t get enough spotlight.
I thought to myself, what is the most iconic American camera? What camera would qualify as an American Camera Legend? There have been quite a few of them, but for some reason none came to my head right away. When you think of iconic German cameras, right away you probably think of Leica, Rollei, or the early Contax cameras. Japan, you easily think of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc, etc.
American? First thing that came to my mind was Kodak, but Kodak was iconic mostly as an American film manufacturer. Sure they had a bunch of cameras too, but a lot of them were rebranded imports or cameras that were part American, part foreign (usually the lenses). It was films like Kodak Kodachrome or Ektachrome that made Kodak an American icon.
I thought of Polaroid too and certainly some of their cameras such as the Land Cameras or the One Step series would qualify. But again, a lot of the best Land Cameras had Japanese lenses on them.
The only one I could clearly say is an American Camera Legend is the Argus C3. Well, let’s say it might be the most iconic American camera in my collection. So if you can think of a more iconic American camera, feel free to let me know. I’m just saying this is the most iconic made in the USA camera in my collection.
AS A CAMERA
The Argus C3 is a 35mm rangefinder camera made by Argus of Ann Arbor, Michigan from around 1939 to 1966.
The camera features a 50mm f/3.5 Cintar lens which was made by other companies among them the most well known was Bausch & Lomb, another famous American optical manufacturer.
The lens can be removed and there are a few other lenses which can be used on the C3, though in my personal experience, I’ve never seen a C3 in the flesh with any lens other than the 50mm Cintar. The Cintar is actually the fastest at f/3.5 while the other lenses (35mm/100mm/135mm respectively) have a very slow and boring f/4.5 as their fastest aperture.
The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/10 to 1/300 plus B and the lens as an aperture range from f/3.5 to f/16. The rangefinder focuses from around 3 feet to infinity and is coupled.
There were a few revisions to the C3, but I think they are all pretty much the same cameras or at least nothing really earth shattering in the revisions. The original “C” model has an uncoupled rangefinder.
The first thing that strikes you about the Argus C3 is the awesome retro look. But this isn’t a Fuji or Olympus digital camera dressed up as retro. This thing is from 1939 to 1966…it IS retro! 🙂
Its nickname is “The Brick” and it does look and feel like a funky, chunky brick! In pictures, it looks smaller to me than it actually is in real life. I remember being quite surprised by the size of this camera when I first got it.
I remember seeing the camera numerous times on television, as a prop in print ads, and in movies, most notably in one of the Harry Potter movies.
It makes a great prop I must say!
I know without pictures “it didn’t happen” but I’m not going to lie, I don’t have any photos from this camera that I’d consider remarkable.
The lens, at least on my sample, was of average quality and many of my shots were in poor focus or blank. The ones that were sharp seemed decent but nothing I’d call spectacular. Don’t forget, this was a camera designed and priced to sell to the masses, it was not and is not a Leica. I can and do blame myself for not producing decent pictures with the camera, but I don’t think the Argus C3 would mind if I blamed it too 🙂
Sure, don’t get me wrong, you can get some nice pictures with it, but then again you can get nice pictures with almost any camera. If you want a camera to take those shaky, out of focus, softish hipster images, this might be the camera for you.
I’m not sure if the rangefinder was off or the shutter or something else I was doing wrong. It might just be my particular camera and lens. Nevertheless, it’s not a camera I’m really interested in putting another roll of film through as I have a lot of other film cameras to review!
PRICE & COLLECTIBILITY
The Argus C3 is a good example of “collectible” not translating to “expensive.” Argus made millions of these mass produced cameras and while beautiful (to me), it is not an out of this world picture taker. People know that and it shows in today’s used prices which can go as low as $10, though the average prices for these cameras seem to be trending at between $15 to $30.
The C3 is also a good example of a camera looking like it’s worth more than it is. I’ll bet on any given day, someone comes across one of these in their attics and knowing today’s appetite for anything retro, they probably think it’s worth a lot. Then they check prices on eBay only to be disappointed by the low prices these cameras command.
AS AN ICON
As I said at the start, the Argus C3 is an American Camera Legend. The camera sold in the millions and helped to popularize 35mm photography in America.
By doing so, they probably helped Kodak sell a boatload of film in the USA as well. So even though the C3 wasn’t and isn’t (in my opinion) a great shooters camera, it is indeed a legendary camera. A Camera Legend.
So if you’re a camera collector, and a patriotic American, you don’t just want one, you need to have one in your collection!
The looks alone will bring a smile to your face and amazement to your non camera knowlegeable but retro loving friends. Just think twice before you waste any film on it. My two cents! 🙂
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“Love RIP” 2016. Polaroid 180 Land Camera, 114mm f/4.5 Tominon with close up lens attachment.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t been reviewing a lot of cameras as of late. It’s not for a lack of cameras to review, believe me. Much respect to my fellow bloggers especially the ones who do it so regularly. There is no glory to this!
However, I do have a new hobby; camera repair. Or “attempted” camera repair anyway 🙂
Here’s my most recent repair attempt. Some of you may remember my review on the wonderful Polaroid 180 Land camera. If not, and if you’re interested in that camera, you can check out the review here.
THE SHUTTER JAM
The camera was great. However, it started not being so wonderful a few months ago. First it started with the shutter intermittently not firing. It would just jam up for no reason, but then with enough pressing of the shutter release it would fire. Then one day, it stopped firing altogether.
Bummer. I thought this might be it for the mighty 180, but somewhere in the back of my mind I suspected it was not the leaf shutter in the lens itself, but that it was the release mechanism.
I remember reading about loosening up the cable that fires the shutter. On the 180, as with most Land cameras, the shutter release is attached to the main head board which also houses the lens. That area is protected by a metal part that is attached by three very, very tiny screws (if this stuff is confusing you, just refer to the pictures, they tell a much better story than I can!)
“Slow Jam” The shutter release started to jam intermittently, eventually refusing to fire at all which prompted the attempted repair.
When you press the shutter release button (the red one), it actually fires the shutter through a cable, much like a cable release that you attach to your old school SLRs.
Anyway, I did loosen up the cable, but it did not solve the problem. I then tried the opposite, pushing the cable higher thinking perhaps it needed to be closer to get enough tension to fire the shutter. It still didn’t work.
Finally had to loosen up those three very, very tiny screws to take off the part that hides the actual shutter release. This turned out to the the hardest part of the job. It wasn’t supposed to be hard, but I found those screws to be so tiny, even my smallest “eyeglass kit repair” screwdriver wasn’t getting them raggedy screws out.
The space between the front board and the camera means your screwdriver must also be very tiny. There’s not a lot of room to work on this. I don’t have the biggest hands and yet I was having trouble fitting my hand in there while trying to turn the screws loose.
“Screwed” The actual shutter release is located behind this metal part (top) held together by three very tiny screws.
Eventually, I got them off and I’m able to fire the shutter with my finger. It still got jammed so I put in a dab of WD-40 and it’s better now, but not completely fixed. I tried putting the pieces back together, but I found the shutter would release only intermittently with the cable to I just left it off.
I can use it now as is, but since I have to push up the shutter release by hand, I fear it might induce camera shake. Fortunately, the 180 Land Camera has a self timer function and that is what I use if I’m taking shots lower than 1/60. This plus my limited supply of the soon to be extinct packfilm means this is not a camera I’d use any more for taking shots of the kids, especially since they’re always moving around 🙂
This is still an ongoing project and I figure it might be helpful for anyone having similar issues with their Land Camera.
Just like vintage cars, it’s an awesome thing and a lot of fun to shoot with a Camera Legend like the Polaroid 180. However, just like vintage cars, these classic cameras require maintenance and are not so fun when they start getting funky on you.
Just for the record, I did seek out service from a repair place that services these cameras. Never heard back from them. And perhaps that’s a good thing since they saved me money 🙂
THE FILM JAM
While taking my test shots, the film jammed in the 180 as pack film has been known to do. The film is discontinued, pricy, and every picture counts so I did not want to waste anything.
In the past, I have ruined whole packs by trying to force it out. In my 180 review, I mentioned of opening the film back ever so slightly which usually eases tension and allows you to get the film out, but sometimes even that doesn’t work.
In that case, what you need to do is in total darkness, open the film back slowly, pull out the exposed film which should be the one on the very top (assuming you had already pulled the tab enough) and manually put it through the rollers. Again, this must be done in total darkness.
The very top photo of the the dead flowers was actually a saved print using this method.
THE BURNING QUESTION
With the shutter jam and the film jam, I had a whole bunch of “slow jams” to deal with while shooting that Polaroid.
The burning question is, with regards to Polaroids and film altogether: Why Bother?
My best answer for that is: You gotta love it man!! 🙂
I know there’s a lot of folks way more experienced at repairing Land Cameras than I am and I’d love to hear from you!
So another 4th of July has come and gone and indeed the year is more than half done. Is there any way to slow down time short of getting on a spacecraft and cruising at the speed of light? 🙂
I still remember as a kid watching on television America’s “Bicentennial” in 1976. That was a big deal the Bicentennial. Anyone remember that? Gerald Ford was the President of the United States (thanks to reader Kevin Thomas for pointing this out!). You’re telling me that was forty years ago?! Hot damn man!
Anyway, here’s one in the spirit of the 4th of July. I shot this twenty years ago in 1996, the last time I actually visited the Lady. If anything, I hear she looks better than ever!
Any New Yorker knows that you visit the Lady once or twice and then you’re content to see her from afar, i.e., from a bridge, from a boat, etc. Only tourists actually want to go there and brave the long lines 🙂
The gear I was using at that time was the Canon EOS A2E which was a semi-pro/enthusiasts camera, much like the 7D is today. It had a unique feature called “eye control” focusing which is what the “E” in A2E stood for. The camera also had a twin without the eye control feature called the A2 and was also known internationally as the EOS-5.
The camera used technology that followed your eye movements to predict focus. It didn’t work really well for me, but I heard that it was fine for others. I did try it on the EOS-3 later on and it worked much better on that body. Overall though, being somewhat of a traditionalist, I just thought it was a fun gimmick and went back to focusing the “normal” way. Choose focus point, compose, shoot 🙂
The camera was actually quite great to use. Good build quality, speedy and accurate AF. It had one fatal flaw however. That flaw was that the mode dial was prone to breaking rendering it useless. The good news is that it did take a lot of usage for that to happen. Mine happened after about five years of ownership with moderate use.
Canon did repair them at one point, but the cameras are so cheap now it’s just better to grab another one if you really want to try it.
The lens used was an el cheapo EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 which was a decent, if not great lens. And the film I believe was Kodak Gold as it was my film of choice back in those days.
Ah those were the great days when I got by on one camera and two lenses, far from the gear lust monster I have become today. I always tell anyone starting out, if they have a decent setup like a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, to just stick to what they have and work with it. Of course, they don’t listen and I can’t blame them I guess 🙂