Collecting Cameras

I’m continuing to work through my camera reviews to freshen them up and fix little things that need fixing. I have a pair of SLRs to share with you today.

The first is the Minolta XG 1, which leans heavily into electronics but is a delightful performer. See it here.

Minolta XG-1

The other is the mechanical, metal, manual Canon TLb. I think it’s the great bargain among Canon FD-mount cameras, and is the one I recommend. See my review here.

Canon TLb

Updated reviews: Canon TLb and Minolta XG 1

Aside

Pink and white, the sequel

Pink and white flowers
Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C.
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

Do you ever get tired of flower photos? I sure don’t get tired of taking them. I like to get in close with my camera and really look at the blooms.

I prefer to photograph wild flowers by the roadside, but sometimes I make do with cultivated flowers in professionally landscaped beds. As here.

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Film Photography

single frame: Pink and white flowers

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R/T

R/T
Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C.
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

I love to photograph cars, especially when I can move in close and photograph their details. But have you noticed how I almost always post such photos of classic cars? They have so many interesting details to focus on.

Cars today so often have flowing lines, and even their lights are molded into the overall shape. It makes it challenging to even find a good angle for an interesting composition.

Thank heavens for Chrysler, which still puts good creases into its designs. As on this Dodge Charger R/T. It makes it pretty easy to find an interesting up-close composition.

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Film Photography

single frame: R/T

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Continental dash

1972 Lincoln dashboard
Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C.
Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
2018

Notice how the turn-signal and gear-selector stalks have no buttons or switches on them? They do just the one thing each. I can’t remember the last car I owned where that was the case.

This whole dashboard seems so strange now, with its strip speedometer and gauges in individual binnacles, rather than big, round gauges in a pod mounted high. Heck, even gauges are going away, replaced with screens that simulate gauges.

And when was the last time you saw a car with a blue interior? They all seem to be black, gray, or beige now.

As a kid I remember thinking how primitive and strange cars from before World War II were. But now this car is that old to a kid today. What is a modern youngster’s impression of such a machine? Do kids even dream of cars anymore?

Film Photography, Old Cars

single frame: 1972 Lincoln dashboard

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Collecting Cameras

Operation Thin the Herd: Canon TLb

Hudsonly

It doesn’t surprise me one bit that the one Canon SLR I like is the most mechanical, most metal one of my bunch. It’s also typical of me to like the simplicity of entry-level gear, which the TLb certainly was upon its 1974 introduction. Its 1/500 sec. top shutter speed is the tell. More expensive cameras go to 1/1000 sec.; top-tier cameras to at least 1/2000 sec.

Canon TLb

On earlier TLb outings the 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C. lens that came with it delivered creamy results on consumer color film like Kodak Gold 200, as here:

Allied Van Lines

Not one to mess with success, I loaded more Kodak Gold 200 for this outing. This time, however, I exposed it at EI 100. I like Kodak Gold 200, but sometimes its highly saturated colors are a little much. Exposing at EI 100 softened them beautifully.

Super Bird

Something is wrong with my 50/1.8 lens — when I adjust its aperture, the viewfinder dims or brightens. This doesn’t happen with other FD-mount lenses I own, so the mechanism that keeps this lens wide open for composing is broken. It made for some frustration on this full-sun day, as shooting at f/11 or f/16 made for a dim view. I took to composing at f/1.8 and then setting aperture and shutter speed as I wanted.

Mustang dash

You have to set both aperture and shutter speed yourself on the match-needle TLb. Even though I prefer aperture-priority shooting for its ease and speed, I never felt frustrated or hindered setting exposure on the TLb. It does what every good camera does: performed well and got the heck out of my way.

Another dashboard

To begin this TLb outing I met my buddy Jim at a cars-and-coffee gathering. I met Jim through writing for Curbside Classic, the site for old parked cars. He lives across town. He brought his little red Miata out for the occasion,

Buddy and his car

We spent the most time lingering over a lovely blue 1972 Lincoln Continental. Here’s my favorite photo of it, with a Mustang reflected in the paint.

Mustang reflected

Jim knows his Lincolns: his dad owned a few during Jim’s childhood. Here’s a story of Jim, his dad, and a ’72 Mark IV.

Continental

The event was at a dealer of classic cars, and of course they invited us inside to see their inventory. I bumped the camera up to EI 200 to get more depth of field.

Camaro light

The TLb functioned well and was a pleasure to use. Yes, I said it: a pleasure. You might know that I haven’t been a giant fan of Canon SLRs, but this metal, mechanical camera feels and works great.

bloom

I shot two rolls with the TLb, finishing up the second roll on some usual subjects around Fishers, where I work. I’m so impressed with how this lens rendered color and bokeh. This 50/1.8 FD S.C. should be optically the same as the later 50/1.8 Canon FD lens I shot on my Canon AE-1 Program, but I like the results this older lens returned much, much better. If I were going to keep my Canon gear, I’d invest in another one of these FD S.C. lenses.

McD's

To see more from this camera, check out my Canon TLb gallery.

I guess I’ve tipped my hat: this camera is not long for my collection. I made the choice easily, with my head: I’m planning on using my Pentax and Nikon SLRs going forward, meaning this TLb will get little or no use. It deserves a new owner. But my heart aches a little, because this camera is such a gem. I use a simple heuristic when judging a camera: if the rest of my cameras vanished, could I just get on with making great images with the one that remained, and be happy? The answer for this TLb is hell yes.

Verdict: Goodbye

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Road Trips

Visiting Cambridge City, an Indiana National Road town

Along the National Road in eastern Indiana, a lot of the action is in Wayne County. From Richmond through Centerville to Cambridge City, there’s plenty to see and do. Dawn and I easily spent half of the time on our trip just in these three towns.

When we got to Cambridge City, the sidewalks were lined with antiques for sale. It’s an annual event, and we stumbled right upon it.

Cambridge City

Several details had changed around Cambridge City since our last visit, back in 2009. Here’s what this great old sign looked like then.

Cambridge City

A new owner changed the center plastic panel, but unfortunately hasn’t kept up with repairs to the fragile glass tubes.

Bob-O-Link

This great sign from 2009 is no longer there.

Cambridge City

And while this building is still there, the food mart present in 2009 has been replaced by a restaurant.

Cambridge City

As you can see in this shot, the shingled awning has been removed, revealing the building’s original entrance. It was a shame to cover it up.

Cambridge City

One thing that hasn’t changed is the wonderful Vinton House, built in 1847 at the intersection of the National Road and the Whitewater Canal, which has long since been filled in. Here it was in 2009:

Cambridge City

Here it is in 2015. It was an inn and stagecoach stop back in the day.

Vinton House

This little log cabin still stands, too. Built in 1830, it was also an inn for travelers. The cabin was built a few miles away, but moved to this location at some point. This is a 2009 photo.

Cambridge City

While walking along, looking at the antiques for sale, we came upon this 1967 Pontiac Bonneville. It’s in nearly original condition, with some fading paint. It’s wheels aren’t original, but they’re sized to take modern tires.

1967 Pontiac Bonneville

I had my Canon TLb along as we walked through town, and on Kodak Gold 200 film, the images I got looked like postcards. I’m sure the local convention and visitors bureau would approve.

Downtown Cambridge City

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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