Kodak Plus-X (expired, cold-stored)
Some old film cameras are so inexpensive that when one breaks, you don’t fix it — you buy another one.
My Konica Autoreflex T3’s light meter was dead on arrival. I shot it anyway, using a handheld meter — and then the photos I got back blew me away. See some of them here. The 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR lens that came with my T3 was outstanding. I knew I’d want to shoot that lens again. I also knew I would prefer a working meter, so I bought a second Autoreflex T3 body, fully working this time, for just $23 shipped.
The T3 is typical of early-1970s SLRs in that it is sturdy and heavy. But its shutter-priority autoexposure made it distinctly atypical. Other manufacturers were starting to build that feature into their SLRs at that time, but it was far from common. Yet Konica had offered it in its Autoreflex line since 1966.
The T3 is mechanical except for the light meter. The camera takes two PX675 mercury batteries, which have long been banned. I substituted two SR44 silver-oxide batteries, which are the same size. The SR44s have slightly higher voltage, which theoretically could lead to misexposures. But I got great exposures. Perhaps it’s because I shot Fujicolor 200, which has wide exposure latitude.
This. Oh my, this. This is why I wanted a fully working T3. That 50mm f/1.7 Hexanon AR is just sublime. Just look at the color and detail. The bokeh is like an impressionist painting.
I shot most of the roll around the yard as spring flowers bloomed. Here are my Lily of the Valley. A fellow from Germany who follows me on Flickr commented that in German, these are called Maiglöckchen — little May bells. Perfect!
This lens and film love, love, love red. These are peonies working on opening. The buds are always covered with tiny ants.
I was less impressed with how purple was rendered. My grape hyacinths are more vivid than this.
So are the petunias I keep in a planter on the corner of my front stoop. In real life, these are dark purple, almost black. At least this dusky purple is interesting.
But the warm colors I got when shooting this doomed ash tree in my back yard pretty much make up for the inaccurate purples.
I shot most of the roll at close range. There was just so much early-spring detail to focus on! Just to show that this lens does all right at a distance, here’s some construction equipment.
To see more photographs, check out my Konica Autoreflex T3 gallery.
I’m putting the Autoreflex T3 into rotation — I will use it again. Its 50mm f/1.7 lens begs to be brought up close to a subject, set nearly wide open for shallow depth of field. I’ll bet it would go to town with some Ektar or some Velvia 50.
Do you like old cameras? Then check out all my vintage gear reviews!
Happy Independence Day! Here are this week’s best blog posts, chosen by me:
I like to be 100% prepared before I make a move. But sometimes an opportunity comes and goes while I’m preparing. Seth Godin uses a great game-show metaphor to help people like me get past this: sometimes you have to press the buzzer before you know the answer. Read Buzzer management
Pastor Jim Somerville went on a short vacation last week off the grid. When he came back, the massacre happened at the South Carolina church, Obamacare had been upheld, and gay marriage was legal nationwide. I like his thoughts on all of this, which were his sermon that Sunday. Read In Light of Recent Events
David Lacy considers our society’s bias toward grouping people by age, and how those age groupings become broader the older one gets. To wit: he is in a seniors group with people who were once his students when he taught elementary school. Read Homogeneity
Once again, Matt Appling has something useful to say, this time about patriotism on this 4th of July. His post reminds me of what Pogo famously said: we have met the enemy, and he is us. Read Why Americans Love Their Country and Hate Each Other
The tiger lilies and the phlox in my front garden always bloom last. Their annual emergence is my sure sign summer is here.
The days on either side of solstice are my favorite time of year. The days last so long, with 15 hours of glorious daylight. It’s usually temperate in Indiana, with highs in the 70s or 80s. The trees are fully leaved, young bunnies hop all around the neighborhood, and the flowers just keep coming. It’s so easy to feel happy as spring fades into summer.
And thanks to unexpectedly working only part-time right now, I’m getting to enjoy these days like I haven’t since I was a boy. The time I have! The things I can do that I keep saying I want to!
Except that I’m not really doing them. I started a couple long-neglected yard chores but they remain unfinished. Except for a few long walks and one good bike ride, I really haven’t launched that fitness regimen I’ve long talked about. I haven’t finally cleaned and reorganized my garage. I haven’t given more time to the church or to the nonprofit I help run.
What I’m finding is that everything I normally do has expanded to fill most of the extra time — I’m taking things slower. With the rest of the time, I’m sleeping in a little and I’m stopping more often to breathe the air and look at my flowers.
There are two reasons, I think. First, I think I don’t really want to do those things. They’re just things I think I ought to be doing, and I blame lack of time for not doing them. I think we tend to naturally prioritize the things we want to do, within the time available to us. It turns out that sleeping and enjoying a little idle time were actually next on my must-do list.
But second, my life was too busy before. I frequently burn the candle at both ends. Working only part time has let me ease up. It feels like a vacation. I’d like to keep some of this when I eventually return to full-time work.
Does this resonate with you? What do you say you want to do if you had more time? What do you think you’d actually do with that time?
When I go to the Mecum Spring Classic every May, I always take my digital camera and a pocketful of extra batteries — I take upwards of a thousand digital photos there every year. But I usually take a film camera along too, loaded with black-and-white film. This year, I used my film camera to move in close and study styling details. Iconic details, like this tail light on a 1963 Ford Galaxie.
And the tail lights on this 1970 Chevy Camaro. Chevy’s round tail lights were always the height of cool, whether on a Camaro or a Malibu or an Impala.
I also have a thing for headlights. Their design is clean and pleasing on this 1965 Porsche 356C.
And who doesn’t love the delightful, delicate binnacle on this 1956 Continental?
Pontiac’s front-end treatment on its 1967 full-sizers took a different tack, dropping the then de rigueur round lenses into dramatic, sculpted pockets.
And for 1939, Ford placed its headlights in an upside-down teardrop shape.
Staying with that ’39 Ford for a minute, the prow promises V8 power.
But that Ford V8 badge whispers where this V8 badge from a 1955 Plymouth boasts at top volume.
I’m pretty sure I snapped this Forward Look badge on the flank of that same 1955 Plymouth. What a great design.
Badging remains a favorite subject for my camera lens. I make a cameo appearance in this photo of a 1960 Pontiac Catalina.
Bold serifed letters in the hub of this 1966 Ford Mustang say that this car means business.
Sometimes I step back a little bit to take in more of a car, without capturing it all. I wanted to study the lines of this 1963 Corvette from this angle.
Right next to it was this 1966 (I think) Corvette, with its one-piece backlight. I’m partial to the split window for looks, but I’m sure that if I drove one of these I’d prefer this car for its better rear visibility.
The light played deliciously off this 1960 Rambler’s snout, and my camera captured it beautifully.
Here’s the camera I used to shoot all of these photos: my circa-1977 Pentax ME. I used a 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax lens with Kodak T-Max 400 film – a fast lens with fast film because I was shooting primarily inside in available light, and needed all the light-gathering ability I could get. The pictured, slower f/2 lens would have made some of these shots a lot harder to get, if they were possible at all.
People sometimes ask me how to get started in film photography, and I always tell them to pick up a Pentax SLR body and a SMC Pentax lens on eBay. You can pick up a kit like that right now for well under $100, and if you’re patient you can snag one for under $50. They’re unsung bargains – try pricing classic Nikon film SLRs and you’ll see what I mean. And the Pentax lenses are first rate.
A version of this post also appeared on Curbside Classic, an old-car blog, a couple weeks ago.