Ferris wheel at night
Pentax ME, 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M
Fujicolor Superia X-tra 800
Ferris wheel at night
Every now and again, a photograph I take pleases me very much. This is one of those photographs. I love how light and dark play to draw the eye onto the woman working this booth. And the boxes of Oreos. That’s accidental. Actually, the whole shot might best be called an accident, as I was working fast. People were milling about and I wanted the worker’s face free and clear.
I shot this last August at the Indiana State Fair, but then forgot all about the film. I discovered it in my Pentax ME on Easter Sunday when I got it down to shoot our traditional Easter service at church. This film is Fujifilm Superia X-tra 800. I don’t love its grain, but it does let me get low-light shots, especially with my 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M. This fast film and fast lens are just right for night shots under the midway’s bright lights.
I’m a sucker for a fast lens. Whenever that magic f number sinks below 2, I’m a goner.
And so I can’t believe it took me more than a year to shoot the f/1.8 Konica Auto S2 that John Smith donated to my collection. But at long last, this camera has come up in the to-shoot queue.
I’d never heard of the Auto S2 before this one fell into my hands. But a quick Google search yields reviews by all the usual film-camera collectors — and they all love this black-and-silver rangefinder camera. Produced for a couple-three years starting in 1965, the Auto S2 succeeded the earlier, similar Auto S. The S2 bettered the S with a slightly faster lens (f/1.8 vs. f/1.9) and moved the meter’s CdS cell from the body to the lens housing, where it adjusts for filters. A dreaded, banned 625 mercury battery powers that meter, enabling shutter-priority autoexposure. Everything else about this camera is mechanical.
The 45mm f/1.8 Hexanon lens is of six elements in four groups. It’s set in a Copal SVA leaf shutter that operates from 1/500 to 1 sec. The S2 supports films from ISO 25 to 400. In its day, f/1.8 at 1/500 sec on ISO 400 film was about as good as it got when you needed to shoot in low light or to stop motion.
The Auto S2 has a couple super nice features. First, not only does the aperture show up inside the viewfinder, but it also appears on a readout atop the camera. But more importantly, the Auto S2 makes focusing and framing easy and accurate. You focus by moving a lever on the lens barrel. It’s easy to find your left index finger while your eye is at the viewfinder. The rangefinder patch is bright and large enough even for my middle-aged eyes. And then frame lines in the viewfinder adjust as you focus to show how the photo will be framed. They are pretty accurate. A pet peeve of so many viewfinder and rangefinder cameras I’ve used is that the viewfinder shows considerably less than the lens sees. That’s not a problem with the Auto S2.
This is a big camera, the same size as a Yashica Electro 35. And it’s heavy, though not unbearably so when it’s strapped across your shoulder.
I dropped in an alkaline 625 cell and some Kodak Gold 200, twisted the aperture dial to Auto so I could enjoy the autoexposure, and got busy shooting. And right away I found my two disappointments with the Auto S2: the flimsy feel of the shutter button and the ratchety sound and feel of the winder. I’d expect as much from a cheap point-and-shoot, not from a heavy camera otherwise so well built. But they worked reliably enough through my test roll, which began on a trip to photograph The Pyramids.
I visited a post office on that trip, and something about this scene across the street spoke to me. I still like this shot, but I can’t put my finger on why, as nothing in it is terribly exciting.
I felt pretty uninspired during the time I had film in this camera. I hadn’t visited New Augusta in a while, so I drove over there with the Auto S2 and ended up getting the same kinds of shots I always get there. Ho hum. But at least they show you that the lens is sharp and contrast is good.
I spent a while on the railroad tracks around which New Augusta was built. I’m more a roadfan than a railfan; perhaps you can tell me what the heck this thing is. But as you can see, the lens is capable of some nice, smooth bokeh.
I drive over these tracks almost every day on my way to and from work. Multiple times, actually, as they run diagonal to the streets in this part of town. Fortunately, they get light use. I’ve been stopped by trains on them only two or three times in the more than 20 years I’ve lived in this part of the city.
At the tracks, I wasn’t sure the Auto S2 was firing properly. This shot I dashed off to check the camera’s function ended up being another good example of the lens’s sharpness and ability to capture detail.
But that was the last shot I got, even though the film counter read only 20. I couldn’t wind any further. But after I rewound the film, the camera operated fine. I don’t get it.
To see more photos from this camera, see my Konica Auto S2 gallery.
I liked the Konica Auto S2. But I liked my Yashica Electro 35 and my Minolta Hi-Matic 7 as much; they’re all similarly specified. And of course there’s my delightful Yashica Lynx 14e with its outstanding f/1.4 lens. In a fast-lens contest, that Yashica wins hands down. But any of these cameras is a great choice.
Do you like old cameras? Then check out all of my old-camera reviews!
Howdy Roadies! Here’s my weekly Saturday roundup of the blog posts I enjoyed most this week.
Even if you don’t shoot film, you have almost certainly seen photographs shot on Kodak Tri-X. Its iconic look makes it arguably the best black-and-white film ever made. So says Stephen Dowling and I agree with him. Read Kodak Tri-X: The best black-and-white film ever made?
Fellow introvert Marzi nails it: sometimes we’re either excessively polite, or excessively rude. Read Get lost, ma’am.
TV writer Ken Levine writes in praise of The Golden Girls. Seriously. Read Here’s to The Golden Girls, the Rodney Dangerfield of Sitcoms
Late. I hate being late. My brother waited for me upstairs in the bar. I’m most comfortable in cozy, local places, especially those with far smaller prices than this high-end chain steakhouse offered. But a gift had been given us: here’s enough to more than sate you, and please sober up before you drive home.
The joint had just opened in this new, upper-end development. Many of the parked cars spoke of higher aspirations, if not higher realities – five-year-old Lexuses, new BMW 3s, and the high-trim trucks ubiquitous in the Midwest. Such is the look of those on the way up or wanting to appear on the way up. Fat car payments filled this lot. There I was in my paid-for, squeaky old Ford Focus, feeling out of place — and hustling to reach my brother. But still, I made a moment to take in this Mercedes.
I don’t know much about Mercedes-Benzes. In my childhood working-class reality, Buick was as high as anyone aspired, and always five years used. New cars were Chevys and sometimes Pontiacs. Thanks to engineering school, hard work, and luck, my adult reality far exceeded working class a long time ago. But my old Ford attests: orientations die hard. Still, it’s easy for a low, lithe, red convertible, top down, to pause a man.
No pretense: I needed Wikipedia to learn a little about what I’m looking at. So these were sold in the US from 1973 to 1980. They packed a (probably thirsty) 4.5-liter V8, and were prone to rust. A quick jag through eBay Motors, however, showed any number of rust-free examples just sold. There I learned the sly wisdom of modern 450 SL convertible ownership: most of them sold for around $15,000. This is how you look good at a trendy nightspot without enormous debt.
Classic low, long looks never lose luster, even though the burst headrest seams speak of a not-perfect car. I’m sure a few more minutes’ inspection would have found other signs of wear. Instead, I hurried upstairs to start pounding Manhattans and cutting choice beef with my brother.
I wrote this in 2014 for Curbside Classic, the blog about old parked cars. When I came upon it recently, I liked it enough to re-run it here — and encourage you to join us over there. We have a lot of fun talking about old cars. Check us out here.