Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Yashica-12

Marathon

As a frugal film photographer with GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), I buy well-used cameras. Scuffs, dings, and even minor faults are part of that game. Every now and again I enjoy a camera so much I want to include it in my regular-use rotation. That’s when I invest in repairs, or even in buying another one in near-mint condition. That’s what led me to buy this Yashica-12 which had been serviced by premier Yashica repairman Mark Hama. To own it I forked over the most I’ve ever paid for an old camera. It’s not like it sent me to the poor house at just $135. But I’m used to paying under $50.

Yashica-12

I loaded Kodak Tri-X 400 and took it on a road trip. The camera performed well and returned flawless images, such as of this little cafe on the square in Lebanon, Indiana.

Please be seated

For this outing I loaded my last roll of Kodak Ektachrome E100G and brimmed with confidence that I’d get twelve colorful, sharp, and perfectly exposed images. What I got was a light leak. What the what?

Garrett & Damion

The seals can’t be bad, can they? That Mark Hama overhaul happened only a few years ago. Was I careless in spooling the roll into the camera? Was the roll a little loose after it came out of the camera? All I know is that the shots at the beginning of the roll were most affected, and the shots at the end (like the one below) very little.

Thorntown Carnegie Library

I shot this roll over my birthday weekend. My sons came to visit. We hiked some trails in a nearby nature park and I took one son up to Thorntown and told him the story of the time his mom got me out of a speeding ticket there. (Read it here; it’s kind of funny.) That’s the Carnegie library above and the main drag below.

Thorntown

I had such a nice time with the 12 that as I sent the E100G off for processing I loaded some Ilford Pan F Plus and kept going. I bought several rolls of this stuff thinking that at ISO 50 it would be a good match for my old box cameras. It wasn’t. It turns out this film needs precise exposure — not exactly the bailiwick for a camera with one aperture and shutter speed. The 12 was going to be a much better match.

Available

The 12 handled just as clumsily as I remembered. But I say so in the most affectionate way possible, as I just love the TLR experience. It feels deeply satisfying when an image comes into focus in that big ground-glass viewfinder. All of the 12’s controls feel great to use, full of heft and precision.

Entrances

My only gripe with the 12 is that you have to juggle the camera from hand to hand as you use it — the winding crank and the focusing knob are on opposite sides of the camera. I have yet to grow used to it. My Yashica-D places the winding and focusing knobs on the same side of the camera, which avoids the juggling. But the D’s winding knob isn’t as quick and easy as the 12’s winding crank, and the camera lacks a light meter. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs.

Carpentry Hall

I suppose another gripe with the 12 — with any TLR, really — is that it’s ungainly to carry. At the nature park I had forgotten to clip on a strap so I just held it in my hands. That got old fast, and I constantly risked dropping it. I clipped on a strap before we left for Thorntown and left it on for this trip to the old Central State Hospital grounds, but the 12’s form factor and weight made it ungainly even at my hip.

Ruins at Central State

The Pan F Plus turned out great. Look, no light leak! I don’t know what the deal was with the roll of E100G. It’s a shame that’s how my last roll of the stuff turned out.

To see more photos from this camera, check out my Yashica-12 gallery.

I wrote most of this review in August, but am just now getting around to posting it because I could not decide whether to keep this camera or not. I really need only one TLR in my life. My Yashica-D is so brilliant that I know I’m keeping it. (Though I might give it a turn in Operation Thin the Herd anyway, because autumn color is just around the corner and I have some Velvia in the freezer…) Yet the 12’s onboard light meter is such a convenience. I’ve decided is to defer this decision, which is a defacto decision to keep this camera. The 12 survives to fight another day.

Verdict: Keep

Advertisements
Standard
Collecting Cameras

I have added several cameras to my For Sale page (here), all at attractive prices. I’ve listed some really wonderful cameras, so move fast!

Canon AE-1 ProgramIf you want one, contact me via the form on the For Sale page to make sure it’s still available. (I remove cameras that have been claimed, but sometimes there’s a lag.)

To streamline the process, prices now include shipping via USPS anywhere in North America.  If you buy more than one camera in a single order I’ll knock $5 USD off the second and each subsequent camera since combined shipping is cheaper. If you’re outside North America, I’ll charge actual shipping (which, I warn you, will be super expensive) but knock $10 USD off each camera you buy.

I accept only PayPal for payment. After I receive funds, I’ll pop your camera(s) into the post within three working days.

You’ll find everything I’m selling listed here.

Another batch of cameras for sale

Aside

K1000

Pentax K1000 fresh from CLA
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

Last winter I loaned my K1000 to my son with the promise that if he enjoyed using it, I’d let him keep it — but first, I’d send it to Eric Hendrickson for a complete overhaul. When he came home from college in the spring, he gave me the word: he’d had a great time with it and would enjoy keeping it.

Along the way I picked up an ME body at a good price. I love shooting my ME — its aperture-priority shooting suits me, and its smaller size makes it more pleasant to carry. I figured my son might like one, too. So I sent both cameras to Eric, who returned them to me recently, smelling factory fresh, ready to serve for at least another 20 years.

Both cameras are in my son’s hands now. A longtime reader of this blog offered me a spare 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-A lens that he no longer wanted, for my son’s ME. It was a generous gift, and my son gratefully accepted it.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

 

Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

single frame: Pentax K1000 fresh from CLA

.

Image
Collecting Cameras

The most expensive free camera ever

MEF

Old Camera Rule No. 1: never force anything that seems to be stuck. But I was so sure that I knew better this time. The result: a broken battery door.

This Pentax ME F is a gift to the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras. It came with a 35-70mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax AF Zoom lens that, because focus motors were in the lens itself, made this kit the first mass-produced autofocus 35mm SLR. It’s a historic camera, and until that moment mine had been in mint condition.

After I finished beating myself up for my stupidity, I bought a non-functional ME F on eBay. When it arrived I robbed it of its battery door. It’s easy: remove the three screws that secure the bottom plate and there it is. You need first remove a tiny metal clip and then the door lifts right out. I repeated the procedure on the minty ME F and then swapped in the good door.

Before I could screw the bottom plate back on I accidentally bumped the battery-door release button, a tiny piece of black plastic, and knocked it off. That revealed the ittiest-bittiest, teeniest-tiniest spring I’ve ever seen. I picked up the button with my fat fingers and gently lowered it over that spring. I must have nicked that spring, as it vanished instantly. It was there, and then it simply wasn’t. I spent a few fruitless minutes searching for it.

But no worries: the parts camera’s spring was still intact. This time I used fine needle-nose pliers to remove the button, gently grasp that spring, and gently set it in place in the good camera.

But as I released the pliers, that spring instantly disappeared as well. I didn’t even see it go. As I stared right at it, it suddenly wasn’t there. I sat dumbfounded for a minute. Then I spent an hour combing my desk, the surrounding furniture, and the floor.

I had no luck. I know those springs have to be here somewhere, but I don’t know what else I can do to find them. So I went back on eBay and bought yet another ME F for parts. It arrived last week. I haven’t mustered the courage yet to try again with that tiny spring.

Maybe I should send both cameras off to premier Pentax repairman Eric Hendrickson and have him set that infernal spring. The meter needs calibrated anyway. Maybe he’ll buy both of my parts cameras to reduce my bill!

Click here to get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week!
Standard
Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Expired film in a new-to-me old camera — what could go wrong?

It all started because I gave my 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens to my son to use on the Pentax K1000 I also gave him. I didn’t think I needed that lens anymore, as I own a 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M lens. How many 50mm primes does one need, anyway? But that 50/2 imparts a wonderful warmth on color film that the 50/1.4 simply does not. I came to miss that 50/2 look.

So I turned to eBay. I had my selection of good ones for very little money. Mine cost $20.

But while searching I also found a 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax-M lens. I’ve heard good things about this lens, but have never tried one. It is an optically better lens than the 50/2. So is the 50/1.4, however, yet in everyday shooting I prefer the look I get from the 50/2.

Would the 50/1.7 be more like the 50/1.4 or the 50/2? I decided to find out, since finding out would cost me just $40. It didn’t hurt at all that at that price the lens was attached to a Pentax ME body.

When the kit arrived I put some Kodak Max 400 through it. This film was left over from the end of my wife’s film-shooting days; the expiration date was October of 2007. I found it in the fridge, but I couldn’t say for sure it had always been there.

So: I put film of iffy provenance through a new-to-me old camera which could have any number of faults. At least the lens was obviously clear and clean, and its aperture and focus rings functioned properly. It was the only variable in the equation that I felt sure about!

The results show the muted colors and pronounced grain of poorly stored old film. So this wasn’t the best test roll to show the 50/1.7’s capabilities. At least the ME body appears to be functionally sound where it counts: the meter and the shutter both seem accurate.

I’ve been taking long walks a lot more lately, trying to regain some lost physical stamina and drop a few pounds. My wife shared her two-mile neighborhood loop with me. This fire plug is on it.

Plug

That loop takes me down an old alignment of State Road 334, past a fallen State Right-of-Way marker. I photographed it twice, once wide open and once stopped down to the minimum aperture the poor light would allow. It’s hard to tell for sure because of the expired film’s condition, but it looks like this lens may be capable of some lovely bokeh.

ROW

ROW

I forget where I made this leafy photograph, but it, too, suggests that this 50/1.7 is a lovely performer. Next time, fresh film for sure.

Leaves

I also took a walk through Indianapolis’s Broad Ripple neighborhood one morning before meeting a colleague for coffee. I loved how the sun played across this terraced garden.

Sunlight

I also strolled through Daubenspeck Nature Park on Indianapolis’s far Northside one day before stopping by my mom’s nearby home for a cup of coffee. I’d never been in there before and didn’t know it had lovely views.

Daubenspeck

Just for giggles I shot this on my desk at work. Every time our young company reaches a milestone, or when an individual participates in a key project, a Lego is issued to commemorate it.

Legos

Last and least, this Zionsville cop car with lights flashing. I had stopped at my nearby Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee on my commute, and a community event there had the chief of police shaking hands with folks. The car was probably supposed to announce his presence, but rather it made me wonder if a crime had gone down at the Dunk.

Popo

I don’t need this lens. But since I’m doubling down on my Pentax SLRs, both screw- and K-mount, I might as well own the trifecta of 50mm SMC Pentax-M lenses. And the Pentax ME body this lens came with worked fine, except for a shutter button that sticks the first time you press it after you turn the camera on. Since I already own (and love) a like-new Pentax ME, I’ll probably send this one out for CLA and to get that shutter button repaired and then give it to my son. If he’s anything like his old dad, he’ll like the ME better than the K1000 too.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.

 

Standard
Collecting Cameras

Nikon N8008I have added several cameras to my For Sale page (here), all at attractive prices.

You’ll find a few truly wonderful cameras listed. You’ll also find some that are more beautiful than wonderful. And then there are those that are at least interesting for what they are, and are priced to move.

You’ll find everything I’m selling listed here.

Still more cameras for sale

Aside