Ups and downs with recent camera acquisitions

This year I’ve caught the bug again of putting film through a bunch of new-to-me old cameras. I’ve reviewed nine so far this year, with three more to come in the next month or so. And I’m not done yet.

Some of these cameras have not been awesome. An old folding Kodak has been a particular source of challenge. It came to me with a bellows full of pinholes, and despite two attempts to seal them with black fabric paint as I do, I still can’t make that camera light tight. Look at this weird squiggly pattern in the light leaking onto this frame!

Utility box
Jiffy Kodak Six-20, Series II, Arista EDU 100, Clayton F76 Plus

Other times I’ve had smashing luck, such as with a very nice Nikon FE that a reader sold me for a very good price. I’ve put a few rolls through it and so far I like my 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E lens on it. That makes for a light and compact kit.

On Park Ave. in South Bend
Nikon FE, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E, Fujifilm 400

I plan to keep a couple of these cameras but not any of the others. I still have my rule: once I have more cameras than comfortably fit in my camera cabinet, every camera that comes in means one must go out. This has been a good rule that has kept me from repeating the problem I had just five years ago: cameras crammed into every nook and cranny of my house.

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13 responses to “Ups and downs with recent camera acquisitions”

  1. Charlie Audritsh Avatar
    Charlie Audritsh

    That light squiggle almost looks like a double exposure of a deer or a dog?

    That’s a lovely purple home!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have no idea where that light squiggle came from. There was nothing in the frame but those utility boxes!

  2. Lyn Avatar

    I think the Nikon E series lenses are under-appreciated. While their build quality may not be up to the regular Nikkor standards, I find their image quality fully satisfactory for my amateur use. I especially like the 75-150 zoom.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve only ever used the 50, but I like it a lot. I’d buy other Series E lenses based on that experience.

  3. Warren W Jenkins Avatar
    Warren W Jenkins

    I bought 2 used FE’s, first one came in 1993, and was probably almost 10 years old then. I also had a FG for a time, but it got shutter problems, and I got my 2nd FE in 1999.
    Used both until 2007, when I replaced all of my SLR’s (2 Nikon, 1 Minolta) with a new FM10, used the FM10 until 2016, then went fully digital with a rebuilt D7000.
    Only problem on the FE’s was shutter release arms wearing out, both of mine had to be repaired during their service lives.
    It figures that I haven’t had a film camera since 2016, but I just found 2 unexposed rolls in a cabinet. What to do?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the alert on this common FE failure point.

      You could sell the film on eBay!

  4. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Could there be some fungus or dust somewhere in the light path of the Kodak folder, or scratches on the lens?

    What I’m noticing is the dark lines across the bright ones. That almost looks like the shadow of something. That picture seems to have been taken looking towards the sun and I’m wondering if just the right angle is lighting up some physical thing inside the camera.

    Also, that lavender house is wonderful.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The lens is clear. I don’t remember what time of day I made that photo — if I did it after noon I was not wise as I know better than to shoot an old folder into the sun!

  5. JR Smith Avatar

    I think the mystery image in the Kodak folder shot is most definitely a UFO.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      IT’S BIGFOOT!!!!!!1!

  6. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    I have a suggestion: buy a bigger camera cabinet. Then your camera collection can grow – and grow – and grow…..

    1. Jim Grey Avatar


      At my last house I had cameras EVERYWHERE. In boxes under the bed, in bags in the bathroom cabinet, on the shelf in the coat closet, in every drawer of my living room and family room end tables, and out on display (including eight on the fireplace mantel). It was NUTS. Especially since I didn’t shoot 90% of them.

      Then I had to move them all when I married Margaret.

      So I did Operation Thin the Herd and whittled the collection down to about 50. Then I bought a cabinet big enough to hold that many. And now the cabinet is deliberately my limiting factor so I don’t end up with camerapallooza in my house again!

      1. Kodachromeguy Avatar

        Hah, so funny! I’m in the process of moving, and we have junkapalloza (possessions-apallooza) in our old place after 30+ years. But I am down to 9 film cameras total and one Fuji digital, so they will all transfer.

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