The Yashica 35CC Review

Good day you awesome war torn camera geeks!

Over the past few months, and indeed over the years some of you have reached out to me here, on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube asking me basically something that sounds like this:

“Sam I really want a Contax T2, or a Konica Hexar, or a Nikon 35ti, or a Ricoh GR1 but the prices on those cameras are insanely high. Can you recommend a low cost alternative that delivers the goods?”

Now if you’re one of those people who asked, or if you echo those same sentiments then I would ask you…why do you want those cameras?

For some, it’s most likely because those premium cameras are among the most wanted on the YouTube playlist. In fact, the YouTube reviews by young millennials might be the driving force to why these cameras have skyrocketed in price. Kendall Jenner was just a catalyst with the T2 but the YouTube reviews thereafter took the prices into the atmosphere!

Now for you guys who are really into photography, you may have wanted one of those premium cameras for street photography. By and large, the premiums like the T2, Hexar, 35ti and of course the Ricoh GR1 have a deservedly good reputation as street cameras.

But the insanity of the high prices on those cameras keeps the thinking man from jumping in. Can you really get comparable quality from cheaper cameras?

Today I have an alternative for you that I believe is an excellent choice, and at perhaps at 1/10th the price of most premiums.

And that camera is the Yashica 35CC. It is a camera I believe to be Yashica’s hidden gem.

INTRODUCTION

The Yashica 35CC/CCN is a compact, 35mm rangefinder with a 35mm f/1.8 Color-Yashinon fixed lens.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 8 seconds to 1/250 and a flash synch of 1/30th of a second. The camera runs on one 6 volt 544 or equivalent battery.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those who are interested in this camera, this video review may have the answers to your questions. It’s a pretty deep dive into this camera!

IMPRESSIONS OF THE ELECTRO 35CC AND IN USE

While I’ve used several Yashica Electro models over the years, the 35CC was a late addition to my collection and I got it around 2018-2019.

My first impression is that the camera is much smaller than more well known models like the Yashica Electro GS/GSN.

According to the Camera-Wiki, the Yashica Electro 35CC is “wrongly” thought by some to be part of the Yashica Electro family. However as I show on my YouTube video, you can’t blame people for “wrongly” thinking that when it actually says “Electro 35CC” on the top of the camera! 😀

But the thing that stands out right away and the thing that is indeed the star feature of the Electro 35CC/CCN. It is that bright 35mm f/1.8 lens!

Traditionally, rangefinders from this era have fixed lenses in the 40-45mm range. Think the Olympus SP, the Canonets, or even the aforementioned Yashica Electro GSN.

And even premium compacts like the Contax T2 has a 38mm f/2.8 lens. So the lens on the Electro 35CC at f/1.8 is a stop faster than the 2.8 on the Contax T2, Nikon 35ti, Leica Minilux, and marginally faster than the Konica Hexar’s 35mm f/2.

What does that extra speed buy you? The ability to shoot in lower light conditions and hopefully getting a good shot. And even though the 35mm focal length has never been known as a bokeh monster, the extra fast f/1.8 might help coax out that extra bit of bokeh.

What doesn’t it have that the premium compacts mentioned above does? It doesn’t have autofocus for one thing. It doesn’t have a Carl Zeiss lens or a Ricoh GR lens but without those brand labels, the prices can be kept low. That’s a positive thing!

IN USE

The Yashica Electro 35CC is small and compact and feels good in the hand. It’s a little on the thick side so it’s not exactly pocketable for the usual pant pockets.

The rangefinder patch on my copy is nice and contrasty making it easy to focus. There are dual focus tabs on the lens which is a nice touch.

The controls are sparse. The camera is basically aperture priority. You select the aperture via the markings on the lens and the camera selects the shutter speed. The shutter speed range is a whopping 8 seconds to 1/250th for the top speed.

The camera gives no indication of what speed it chooses. The only indication is a + or – for over or underexposure.

On my particular camera that indicator no longer works. I can’t see anything indicating over or underexposure. The battery check on my camera is also not working. However, that did not stop the camera from producing mostly well exposed images.

If you run out of batteries there is a default mechanical speed. Some sites say it’s 1/250th but others say it’s 1/30th. In my opinion, based on usage, it seems the default shutter speed without a battery is 1/30th.

SAMPLE PICS

All images below were taken with the Yashica Electro 35CC and Kentmere 400 film developed in Xtol.

Based on my own tests, I believe the 35mm f/1.8 Color-Yashinon DX lens to be excellent.

In the above images, I can see that the lens is really only held back by the film (Kentmere 400) and/or my developer Xtol.

At f/1.8 there is a touch of softness (as are most lenses wide open) but it’s actually sharper at f/1.8 than I expected so I’m perfectly fine with its performance.

From f/4 to f/11 you can expect excellent sharpness and good contrast, assuming the camera chooses a fast enough shutter speed.

PRICES, AVAILABILITY & WHERE TO BUY

The prices for the Yashica Electro 35CC are trending from $80-130 USD.

I’ve read that this camera is hard to find but I don’t think it’s that hard to find. I got mine from KEH in 2018 or 2019 for around $100.

In fact, while working on this article I saw one last week, again at KEH for $133 in EX condition.

It is true that you don’t see them too often from USA dealers. However they are plentiful on eBay, from sellers in Japan.

As mentioned before, I have bought many times from Japan without issues. However, you must do your research on the seller, as always, no matter what country it comes from.

BOTTOM LINE

The Yashica Electro 35CC is a hidden gem! It may not be as well known or as desirable as say a Contax T2 or Nikon 35ti, but especially for street photography I find the images it produces just as satisfying.

And the fact that you can find these cameras for about $100 USD on average, well, that adds incredible value and enjoyment to using this camera!

The Yashica Electro 35CC/CCN may never go down on its own as a true Camera Legend (but it might!), but there is no doubt that the Yashica Electro series as a whole are Camera Legends that have made memories for people for decades.

In my opinion, the Yashica Electro 35CC is one of the best that you can get from this series, even if Camera-Wiki doesn’t consider it part of the Electro family 😀

If you see one at the prices I mentioned, buy it! And tell ‘em Sam sent you 😎📸👍🏻

The 1985 Method For 35mm Film Beginners 😎

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

YouTube Video

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.

Circa 1986. A selfie of two wannabe rockstars 😂 Shot with a Minolta X-700 and 50mm f/1.7 MD lens. I knew nothing about aperture and shutter speeds but those early days of photography experimentation are the ones I cherish most.

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.

The Minolta X-700 was my first “serious” camera and served me well as my only SLR from 1985-1994 by giving me consistently well exposed images.

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.

This photo from 2009 is probably my last shot taken on my original X-700. The lens used is the 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD lens and the film was Kodak T-Max 400 developed in T-Max Developer. Twelve years already?! My how time flies.

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 “WrongWay!

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.

My dusty and war torn Minolta X-700 from 1985 with its legendary Program mode.

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 😀

A few of my “one hour photo” packets. The one hour photo developers have all but disappeared in today’s world. I still have a ton of old photos that I haven’t scanned but I know it’s a treasure trove of memories.

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.

Recommendations

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 😍

This shot from 2010 was taken with a Nikon F3HP and 50mm f/1.8 Series E Nikkor. I am a big advocate for the good old and cheap nifty fifty. Scanned with Epson flatbed scanner in 2010.
“Dark Horse” 😀 Circa 2010. Nikon FG, 50mm f/1.8 Series E Nikkor. Film unrecorded. Scanned using iPhone X.
This image was shot with the Ricoh XRX 3PF and 50mm f/2 Rikenon stopped down to roughly f/4-5.6 With the humble 50mm you could shoot wide open to blur the background or stop down mid aperture for more subtle bokeh such as this. Scanned with an iPhone X.

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.

No Autofocus!

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!

Conclusion

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! 😍📸👍🏻

Flashback Friday: Kodacolor VR 1000 Pics

Good morning awesome war-torn camera geeks! Last night I was going through a bunch of photos I haven’t seen in a long long time. They were all stored in boxes I haven’t opened in years.

Today I want to share some of them with you. These pictures are basically just snaps from a New Year’s Eve party all the way back in 1986!

Our parents had a rich doctor friend who often threw New Year parties in his New Jersey mansion. He had an elevator in his house! He had a Mercedes, a Range Rover and even a DeLorean.

We were poor kids who lived in NYC and we always appreciated a chance to get out of the apartment. No jealousy, we loved the doctor and loved seeing all his toys 😀😎

If this was in today’s world I probably wouldn’t share these photos especially if shot on a phone camera but due to the passage of time and the technical information on the photos, I thought some of you may find it of interest.

Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 MD lens, Kodacolor VR 1000 film. No flash. Shot on December 31, 1986. Here’s Dad in the corner of the basement at a New Year’s Eve party taking a smoke break. Note the grain structure and soft colors.

So to set up the story for you, I was a geeky teenager in 1986 and looking back now I was lucky to be shooting a Minolta X-700 that Mom got for me & my brother. The X-700 has become one of the most desirable Minolta cameras on the used camera circuit.

The Minolta X-700 was my main camera from 1985-1994.
“Party Animals” 1986. A flash was used for this shot.

The lens I used in these pictures was the 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD lens which was a lens I would use for the next ten years. Simply because Mom didn’t want to waste money on more camera gear because cash was tight. But it’s ok. I learned a lot using one lens 99 percent of the time. And it’s probably why even to this day I still prefer using prime lenses.

Anyway the film is the star of the show here. It’s a Kodak film and it’s ISO 1000! Now back in those days “High ISO” was nothing like we know it today and high iso film were few and far in between. Surprisingly or not high iso film is few and far even today!

The film used in these pics was Kodacolor VR 1000 color film. Based on my research it was the only Kodak ISO 1000 color film that would have been available in 1986.

“New Year’s Day” 1986. Shot on January 1, 1987. The morning after the party. “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day” as the U2 song says. I love the grainy look of this shot!

The general consensus back then was that these high iso films would be grainy, not very sharp, and intended to be used for low light or dimly lit shots. Back then the compromises were not objectionable to me because the high iso film gave me the chance to take photos without the Minolta flash I used for all my indoor party photos.

Kodacolor VR 1000 apparently used the same T-Grain technology used in some of Kodak’s Disc Camera films. No wonder the big grain looked familiar to me!

If some of you may remember I reviewed the Kodak Disc Camera here. You may find it by using the search bar.

So what do you think? I personally love the grain and grit! I wish I had more photos to show you. I might but I have to look around. Seeing these photos actually made me wish a similar film was around today but alas there isn’t.

In today’s world you could take pictures way better than these with your cell phone but then again what fun is that?! 😀

As I always tell people, try not to throw away or delete your photos, no matter how trivial. You may look back on them one day and find memories that are priceless.

SEASONS GREETINGS

The “Wacky Bunch” wishes you the best for a safe and Happy Holiday season! Stay in touch with us on social media:

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Appreciate your support, many thanks!

YouTube Video: How To Load Film In Leica M6 Quick & Easy!

Good morning camera geeks! Today’s YouTube video is perhaps my shortest! And surprisingly no words from a guy who seems to be able to gab endlessly 😀

This is not part three of “The Lonely Art Of Film Developing.” That is part of a longer series on black and white photography. I was almost done with that video but allergies and lack of time has set me back.

But I didn’t want my subscribers to wait as long as I used to make them wait for a new posting and I had this video already made months ago. I never posted it for some reason or another. I guess I was waiting to do a full M6 review but I knew that would take forever so I posted it tonight as a way of saying thank you to the camera geek faithfuls so they have something new to watch. I have a bunch of videos I made and never posted. This is just one of them.

The Leica M6 is perhaps the most popular Leica camera in the world. They sell every one of them! Have you ever noticed an M6 go for sale on your favorite camera dealer’s website and within a day, sometimes hours, it’s guaranteed to be gone.

This is a testament to the M6. It’s a great and reliable camera. It’s an icon. It’s a Camera Legend!

However, its popularity is more complicated than just the fact that it’s a good camera. It’s a mesh of several factors, ie, the resurgence of film, it’s a Leica, it was at one time “affordable,” it’s been reviewed ad nauseam, it’s been touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread and oh yes, the hipsters love it!

All these things and more have worked in the favor of the M6 driving up the prices and continuing to cement its legend.

In many ways, the rise of the Leica M6 reminds me a lot of the Canon AE-1. Two totally different cameras I know, but both have benefited from similar circumstances. And yes, hipsters love the AE-1 as well!

Like many cameras before, I’m just so glad to have bought it at an earlier time when the prices were sub $2000.

Anyway today is not a Leica M6 review. Today’s video will show how easy it is to load the M6 and it is EASY!! It is in no way intimidating like older Leicas.

Extra Tip: Once you have the film secured in the camera, just start taking shots, no need to wind to “0” to get that first shot. If you do it this way, you may be able to get a couple extra frames from the M6!

If you are thinking of getting an M6 or just got one I hope this helps! Thanks for reading and watching and have a great week my friends!

Photo Of The Day: “Sisters” Rolleiflex 3.5F

Good September morning camera lovin’ geeks! Here’s a photo recently developed using the methods shown in my previous two YouTube videos.

The camera used was a Rolleiflex 3.5F 75mm f/3.5 Planar lens, film was Ilford HP5 Plus, developer was Ilford ID-11.

I’m pulling together the rest of the roll as well as some from a roll I developed tonight for the next video.

As seen in the YouTube videos, I’m not always textbook when I comes to developing. Perhaps I’ve gotten sloppy and I’m certainly not advocating you get sloppy.

Many years ago when I started developing film again, I was always by the book. The exact amount of developer, fixer, the exact number of minutes.

But over the years, and not on purpose either, I began to get off the books. I would sometime miss a minute of agitation here and there. Sometimes I would forget and leave the stop bath for an extra two minutes. Sometimes I had little fixer left but used it anyway with an extra dilution of water and extra minutes.

To my surprise, my results were almost always the same as when I did it by the book.

So when I say black and white film development is not an exact science it’s from my experiences. It’s not an excuse to be sloppy and for the absolute beginner I do advise going by the book. That said, black and white film developing at home is very forgiving of variations in time and temperature.

Of course if you do more esoteric b&w developing like stand development or cafeinol you might want to follow the recipe more closely.

Now C41 color film development I do find to be much more of an exact science when it comes to time and temperature. This is what I want to explore in the coming months.

As for the above photo, I do love any chance to have the girls stand still for a photograph and while I’m happy to have this portrait I was testing for something very specific with regard to the Rolleiflex 3.5F. I will share this with you in upcoming posts. Why not today? It’s not because I’m trying to build anticipation lol but simply because this would take up a whole article in itself! 😀

Thanks for your time and happy Tuesday good peeps!

Monday Mystery Camera: The Minolta X-700 Chrome

minx700c

Chances are you’ve never seen this camera in person. Neither had I until recently. The Minolta X-700 in chrome finish.

THE MINOLTA X-700

Although this is not meant to be a formal review, I feel I should give you at least a little information on the Minolta X-700.

The X-700 is a manual focus SLR introduced by Minolta in 1981. In its time, it was praised for its AE modes, flash automation and ease of use. As a classic camera it is very basic by today’s standards.

The camera offers Aperture Priority and (a much praised at the time) Program mode. You can use it in manual mode as well. Shutter speeds from 4 secs to 1/1000. It runs on two S76 batteries and can accept a motor drive and other accessories.

I actually did a lengthy review on the X-700 many years back on another site and I’ll try to transfer that over here.

I have to admit I have a soft spot for the X-700 as it was my first “real” camera as a kid back in 1985.

THE X-700 CHROME

Cameras have traditionally come in either black, silver, chrome or all of the above. Of course, there are special editions like reptile, ostrich, etc, etc, but we’re not talking about those.

Some cameras were always seen in silver or chrome trim such as the Pentax K-1000. I’m not sure I ever saw a black one. Indeed, I don’t think there ever was a black one made by Pentax.

The X-700 on the other hand is almost always seen in black. I had never seen a silver or chrome (whichever you prefer to call it) version in the flesh. In fact, for many years I never even knew it existed because of the fact that I have only seen the black ones.

But here it is in the flesh! It is real and it is beautiful! Well, to me anyway.

COLLECTIBILITY

Now if you have one of these beauties, take pride that you have a pretty rare thing. However rare does not translate to valuable.

I got this one for $65 and again, I found it when I was not even looking for it. I see a couple now on eBay, and with prices around the $400 mark with lens and other items to entice you.

No disrespect intended, but I highly doubt anyone would pay that much for one unless they really, really, and I mean REALLY wanted a chrome X-700 🙂

When I got mine last year, I checked eBay auctions and found one that sold for $149 I think. That being the case, I would put the fair value on these cameras from $65-150 or $200 tops for the camera body alone.

Keep in mind that the “regular” black versions can be had anywhere from FREE to $100 and regularly averaging on eBay for around $30-60 body only and $60-90 with lens.

BOTTOM LINE

The Minolta X-700 was Minolta’s most advanced model in 1981. I would say that it could very well have been the most successful Minolta SLR ever, although SRT fans will disagree with me. It was the camera that put Minolta on the map for the 80s and within striking distance of taking the top spot from the likes of Canon and Nikon.

Of course we know that did not turn out to be the case. But man, they were close with this camera. The camera, coupled with the “Only From The Mind Of Minolta” campaign were an indelible part of 1980s camera lore for me. Never before or since have I seen a film SLR get that much press and television advertising. It was classic.

The Minolta X-700 may be a very basic camera by today’s standards, but there is no doubt the camera is a Minolta Camera Legend. And if you come across a chrome one, all the better! Take pride and keep it.

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The Ricoh GR1 Film Camera

The Ricoh GR1 Film Camera Review

UPDATE 9/3/2018: As a companion to this 2015 review, I am adding a new video on the GR1 for those folks who enjoy watching videos more than reading, and yes, even though reading is better for your brain, I do understand the need for videos 🙂

If you’re on YouTube, I would love to hear from you! Please don’t forget to LIKE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE for new videos and updates. Thanks for your support!

The Ricoh GR1 is a 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Ricoh in 1996. It was considered a high end or “luxury” point and shoot camera.

The GR1 came from a unique era in the mid to late nineties when manufacturers such as Leica, Nikon, Konica, and Contax put out several point and shoot cameras with high specifications, forever changing the way the lowly point and shoot camera was perceived. Ricoh’s first entry into this market was the GR1, and while the luxury point and shoot cameras from all the manufacturers have their own cult following, the GR series might be right there at the top, or second only to the Contax T series in terms of following and reverence.

BUILD AND HANDLING

Among the GR1’s many useful qualities, the best may be its size. It is small, light, thin, and truly pocketable which is one of the reasons why it was and is considered a great street camera.

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“Black Or Silver” 2015. Take your choice of black or silver for the GR1. Either way, you have a very capable, non-flashy point and shoot that’s perfect for street work.

As you know, the best camera is the one you have with you, and with the GR1, there’s no excuse not to have it with you at all times.

This was especially relevant in the 90’s, but maybe not so much today with the advent of high quality phone cameras now on the market. In fact, the phone cameras have largely replaced even digital point and shoots, let alone film versions. However, for the classical street photographer, film remains THE medium of choice.

The GR1’s body feels lightweight with a mix of plastic, metal, and a magnesium alloy chassis.

While the camera is really a point and shoot, with programmed AE and aperture priority only, one of the things that made the GR1 stand out from your standard point and shoot cameras was the ability to control some aspects of the shot. For example, on the top right dial, you have “P” for programmed AE, and then your aperture selection, i.e., f/2.8, 3.5, 5.6, etc, etc.

On your top left, you have an exposure compensation dial that gives you plus or minus two stops.




The original GR1 and GR1s have no manual ISO selection. The GR1s added supposedly better coatings, a backlit lcd, and the ability to use filters, but is pretty much the same camera. The GR1V has it all, plus manual ISO selection, in addition to a few other features like a more flexible SNAP mode. Of course, you also have the GR21 with its super wide 21mm f/3.5 lens, but that’s another animal altogether.

On the GR1, I will just use the exposure compensation dial should I need to make adjustments and it usually works fine for my purposes.

THE LENS

The GR1 is equipped with a super sharp 28mm f/2.8 GR lens. As a guy who lives at 50mm, I initially thought as many people do, that 28mm might be too wide for me. But I have been able to do portraits with it, and it’s perfect for street work.

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“A Portrait Of Dad” 2006. Ricoh GR1, Kodak Gold 400. An example of using the GR1’s 28mm wide angle for portraits. Dad relaxing with a smoke while sitting on a bench in Riverside Park, NYC. After his passing in 2011, I found it hard to look at this shot, knowing that a lifetime of smoking cigarettes killed him. However, with the passing of time, I’ve come to accept that cigarettes were a huge part of his personality and they gave him immense pleasure and relaxation, despite the final outcome. RIP my Papa, I’ll always cherish our moments.

The lens is very good at f/2.8, but is extremely sharp from around f/5.6 and up. For a wide angle, the lens has very little distortion. Maybe some slight barrel, but not significant enough to worry about, especially for street work.

PERFORMANCE

Among the GR1’s great qualities are its fast and accurate AF, and a SNAP mode where the camera will set focus for 2 meters or 6.5 ft to infinity, which cuts down shutter lag allowing for quicker shots. This was a very popular feature with street photographers, and Ricoh has kept this unique feature on every GR camera ever since, including the latest GR 16mp camera.

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“Car Wash” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford FP4 Plus 125 in D76 developer. Wildwoods, NJ. Note the flaws in the sky, a result of my imperfect developing.

The camera, while stealthy in its look and size, is certainly not quiet. In a silent room, you will hear the motor advance. However, on the streets, this is generally not a problem.

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“Tribute NYPD Officers” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford FP4 plus 125. It was good to see the unity that people in Wildwoods, NJ, feel about the recently fallen NYC officers.

ISSUES

The GR1, while certainly a classic, is not without its “issues.” Main problem I have seen on these cameras is the fact that the top lcd goes bad. It’s more common to find GR1’s with bad lcd’s than it is to find one with no lcd issues. Sometimes you will get a partially functioning lcd with missing segments. For example, you press MODE and you will get the “mountains” or infinity symbol, but press again and you’re missing the SNAP symbol. Or you will get a partial frame counter or none at all.

This seems to be a problem on all GR1’s, including the GR1s and the GR1v so inspect carefully before you buy.

This will indeed be a problem for many folks. It is too bad that Ricoh used some very poor lcd’s much like the Contax cameras of that era. All lcd’s can go bad over time, I understand that, but I definitely see this more with Ricoh and Contax. Surprisingly, the Canon EOS line had some of the most trouble free lcd’s of cameras of two decades ago or more.

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“Backwards Time Traveler” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford Delta 400.

Another issue is the viewfinder indicators such as the framelines, and focus confirmation goes dim and in some cameras, are barely discernible.

The last and probably most troubling issue would be if the shutter or motor are dying. If this is the case, you can forget about it because Ricoh does not service these cameras any longer. You can usually tell these problems by a shutter that won’t open or close, and a motor that gets progressively noisier.

All that said, the LCD issue which is the most common, is not really a make or break for me. As long as I can set the aperture, I’m good. I do not usually use SNAP mode anyway, and if in doubt, I’ll leave it on “P” mode and pray 🙂

I try to remember that this IS a point and shoot, and if you use it that way, you will generally not be disappointed. At 28mm, you can usually get a sharp shot if you focus on anything five feet away or more. I only worry if I’m trying close portraits.

BOTTOM LINE

The Ricoh GR line is most certainly iconic. No doubt helped by the works of legendary Japanese street photographer Daido Moriyama who helped make using a point and shoot in the streets “hip.”

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“The Golden Man” 2006. Ricoh GR1, Kodak Gold 400. I loved the light shining down on that afternoon in Riverside Park, NYC. I originally titled this “The Man With The Golden Ear” and Dad was truly a man who would listen to all my issues and offer great advice. He was there to accompany me to an interview. I got the job. He was really a man with the golden touch 🙂

If looking for one of these, prices are trending at $250-350 for the original GR1, $350 and up for the GR1s, and $450-650 for a GR1v, depending on condition.




The Ricoh GR1 is a Camera Legend, and a legend of the streets. It is THE superstar point and shoot camera of street photography. If you can find a rare flawlessly working one, or can live with its known “issues” you will have a very special camera that will reward you with the ability to take fantastic shots in a small and truly pocketable form.

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“Softees” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford Delta 400. Probably a slow shutter speed and some movement resulted in a soft image. Almost didn’t put it in the review, but I love the faces 🙂

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