Film Photography

Looking through my photo archives

Have you been clicking through to read my updated camera reviews as I publish them? It’s been quite a project to undertake this year, consuming a surprising amount of time. I thought I’d be making little tweaks here and there, and on the older reviews resizing the photos to fit my current template. But I’ve found myself heavily rewriting some reviews based on continued usage of the cameras, and adding photos from outings I made after I wrote the review.

My camera reviews have become the cornerstone of this blog, and they’re worth this time and effort.

I shot but one roll in my Kodak Signet 40 (review here) before passing it to its next owner. I kind of regret that. It was a decent little Kodak; it and I might have made some lovely images together had I put a few more rolls through it. This is my favorite photo from the Signet 40, of an old AMC Jeep I found parked. Kodak Gold 200.

Seven Slots

I satisfied my Canon EOS curiosity several years ago and don’t feel compelled ever to return to the series. I liked my semi-pro A2e best, but the second-place winner was the first ever EOS camera, the EOS 650 (review here). It did everything I needed it to and handled well. While I owned it I aimed it at another old camera on my desk. While most of my subject isn’t in focus, I like the image anyway. Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.

Kodak 35

I would have enjoyed my Polaroid Automatic 250 (review here) a great deal more had the Fuji film packs been more rigid, like the Polaroid packs had been. The camera squished the pack so hard you couldn’t get the first three or four photographs out without opening the back slightly. I brought it to work one day to show Roger, my colleague and fellow film photographer. He was suitably impressed. Fujifilm FP-3000B.

Roger

I put just one roll through my folding Voigtländer Bessa (review here) and that was enough for me. I shot the whole roll one evening within 20 feet of my front door. Here’s a tree in my front yard. Even though my Bessa had the lowest-spec lens, it delivered pretty good sharpness. Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros.

Trunk

I threw out my original review of the Pentax ME and started over. Read it here. I’ve shot this camera more than any other. It just suits me, enough that I published a book of my favorite photos from it. Buy your copy here. It’s hard for me to choose just one favorite photo from my ME, but I’ve always really liked this one, of Rife’s Market, now closed, in Columbus, Ohio. Kodak Tri-X 400.

Rife's

One more from the ME. Meet Mitchell, who attends my church. I made this photo at a pitch-in lunch in our basement. He was barely a teenager when I made this; he’s now an adult living on his own. I don’t know what became of the fellow behind him, and sadly I can’t remember his name. Kodak Tri-X 400.

Mitchell's muscle

My Kodak Brownie Hawkeye (review here) was a nice enough box camera, plenty easy to use, but I had bad luck with the expired 620 films I put through it. I made this photo in Springfield, MO, on Route 66, and it’s the best of all the images I made with that camera. Kodak Gold 200.

Rest Haven Court

I didn’t fall in love with the Voigtländer Vito II (review here). I shot a couple quick rolls for a review and then never used it again. It’s in someone else’s collection now. I took it on a photowalk Downtown and paused on Monument Circle to make this image of Christ Church Cathedral with some modern buildings rising behind it. I believe this church is the oldest building on the Circle. Kodak Plus-X.

Christ Church Cathedral

My Kodak Retina Automatic III was a fine camera, surprisingly usable and useful. But I knew I wouldn’t use it enough, so I passed it along to a new owner. Before I did, I photographed some of my family on the deck.

Grilling out

Finally, my Kodak Monitor Six-20 came with a line-topping Anastigmat Special lens that does very nice work. My favorite photo from it is of this fence in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis.

Fence

I’m enjoying revisiting my old reviews and the photos I made with these cameras, but it’s taking me a lot more time than I anticipated. I have about 30 more reviews to go. I’m managing two per week, so this project should wrap early in the new year.

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16 thoughts on “Looking through my photo archives

  1. I have wondered if there have been second thoughts about some of the gear that did not survive Operation Thin The Herd. Apparently one or two?

    • There are a few cameras I miss, but I still wouldn’t shoot them enough to justify keeping them. I really do need to whittle the collection down to the regular shooters.

  2. How to approach anything like this once one has started to build a sizeable archive (say, posts getting into triple figures) becomes an interesting dilemma.

    I know we slightly disagree on this, but I like the concept of the blog as an ongoing journal of the author, how they change and grow. I like that you can pick any post in someone’s archive and see what they were saying then, which might be quite different to more recent posts.

    Because of this I never go back and edit my old posts. That’s what I wrote at the time, it’s there as an archive of that moment.

    With camera reviews I’ve not been anything like as organised as you Jim (and haven’t written anything like the volume!). Sometimes it’s been an occasional spontaneous post about a specific camera I’ve used and enjoyed. Sometimes I’ve been writing about something a little off tangent, but it has included so much about using a specific camera that for all intents and purpose it serves as a review of that camera too.

    With my One Month One Camera project this year (I’ve done five months out of the ten so far), I’ve written a series of updates as I’ve gone through the month, reflecting how my feelings are on the particular camera, and the concept of the project. So these are reviews too, a kind of multi-part, sequenced review.

    Partly inspired by your approach, I decided perhaps a year back to start a page called Digital Classics, which has a list of reviews of digital cameras I’ve enjoyed in the last few years, mostly the older, lower spec ones that I favour. I think it’s a fantastic idea to have one review page where people can go, rather than have to search or wade through the archives.

    If I want to write about a camera I’ve written about before, I do a new post, then perhaps link it back to any previous posts on the same camera.

    Again, it’s that idea of the blog being a series of snapshots in time. I find it interesting going back to older reviews and seeing what I felt then, and like to preserve that, rather than overwrite it. Like if you kept a personal, hand written journal, you wouldn’t go back and scribble out stuff you’ve written in the past and over write it with your current thoughts, you’d just write a new entry.

    If you wrote a new post each time you reviewed (or re-reviewed) a camera, wouldn’t that favour better with searching? First because you’re posting a fresh post (I don’t if Google can even tell if an old post is updated, or gives it any credence?), and second because then you’ll have two posts of the same camera, so in theory your site is twice as likely to be found via a direct search on that camera.

    I know you’ve kind of done this anyway by publishing a new post with the camera title then linking it back to the updated old post, but it’s not the same as having two full reviews.

    It will be interesting to see how this evolves as you come to the end of the project. And I know you are using far fewer different cameras these days, and of course you have your Thin The Herd project too. I wonder what place camera reviews will hold on your blog in the future?

    As usual, I didn’t mean to write so much Jim! Your site must be one of the biggest resources for film camera reviews online today!

    • Most of this blog is a journal. But I decided that the camera reviews were different, as they have a different audience. Especially for those cameras I use a lot, they deserved a more rounded, thorough treatment.

      I think, but am not certain, that Google will see my updated posts and count it as newer content.

      I’m also using an SEO plugin now to help me optimize the SEO on the camera reviews I consider most central: those about cameras I’ve used all over the site. I need to go back and link to the reviews from posts that use those cameras.

      • So do you mean you have a main review page for a particular camera, then when you mention it in another post in the future, you say “you can check out my full review of this camera here” with a link back to the main review? That makes a great deal of sense!

        I read a post the other day in praise of blogs, and one of the things they were saying they enjoyed most was as your blog grows you can build your archive and then self reference yourself, linking back to previous posts on a similar topic, so this then gives the older posts more exposure and so on. Over time you have this beautifully interconnected insight into that person’s world, that becomes an organic web, it’s more than just a linear series of posts.

        How does the SEO thing work Jim? You type in which camera you’re reviewing and it gives you the most popular related keywords to include in your tags?

        • That’s exactly right: you link back to your past work. SEO likes that as it creates a link structure within your blog that tells it what the most important posts are.

          I don’t pretend to get SEO. I’m doing what the plugin I use tells me and hoping for the best.

  3. SilverFox says:

    Just saw that pic of the Kodak 35, didn’t realize that you had one of those and reviewed it (just read your review).
    I have one on my shelf (the special version) and haven’t been able to try it out yet (initially the focus ring was seized).
    It seems hella complicated to load film but seeing you pics and review makes me think it might be worth it.

      • SilverFox says:

        Seems OK as far as I can tell. Correct me if I am wrong but the shutter won’t cock without a film loaded?

        • I sold my 35 on and don’t remember anymore. It would be very weird though if the cocking mechanism were in any way connected to film being present.

        • SilverFox says:

          Some Voigtländers are like that, I think the mechanism is driven off the sprockets. Anyway this is probably not the right place to discuss camera specifics I’m distracting from your topic.
          I like your approach in keeping your reviews current and making them a source for others.

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