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.

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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

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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.

11/28/16 ***Cyber Monday Specials***

Special sales, deals, and rebates from Olympus.

$350 off Canon EOS 5D MK III Bundle.

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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