photography

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

Happy New Year! I hope your 2020 is off to a great start.

I recently added a new member to the camera collection. I stumbled across this Yashica Electro 35 GSN at a thrift shop and purchased it for a very fair price (< $35) considering its condition.

I’m excited to add this classic rangefinder to my arsenal.

Poor Man’s Leica

I’ve seen the words “poor man’s Leica” more than a few times while researching this camera. I wanted a budget rangefinder, and had narrowed my search to either a Canonet Giii QL17 or some form of the Yashica Electro 35. Both garnered favorable reviews and create beautiful images despite their individual quirks & flaws.

Not My First Electro 35

In fact, I found an ORIGINAL Electro 35 (there are numerous iterations) last year at an estate sale in pristine cosmetic condition. I was extremely excited and bought it, only to discover it was marginally functional and beyond my capability to repair. Sadly, I sold it for parts or hopefully to someone more savvy than myself to resurrect.

After that disappointing venture, I was happy to run across this GSN which by most measures is the superior model. It has a hot shoe and higher max ISO rating among other things. Plus its prior owner had included a snap-on lens cap, the original hot shoe cover, and a nifty Vivitar UV filter.

While not pristine this GSN is still in excellent cosmetic condition for its age, and the fixed lens is flawless. Looks can be deceiving however, and it suffered from a common issue called the “Pad of Death” that eventually afflicts nearly every Yashica Electro. Luckily the Electro 35 is mostly mechanical with some old school electronics and is repairable.

Fixer Upper

After a night of research on YouTube, I resigned myself to the fact that it needed a CLA. I wasn’t willing to sell ANOTHER Electro 35, and I obtained this one for such a bargain that fixing this common problem was still within my budget. Plus, when you’re dealing with vintage equipment, cosmetics count. Internals can be replaced/repaired but sometimes body restoration is impractical. This particular GSN is still pretty at over five decades old.

I sent the camera to Mark David Horn who specializes in Yashica repairs (great guy!) and he performed a full CLA overhaul, plus sent me a battery adapter which is a bonus since the old mercury battery these took is no longer legally available (yet another endearing quality).

His work was excellent, and the camera returned flawless, looking and working like it was built yesterday.

Ready to Rangefind

I’m pumped to get out and start using my shiny “new” Yashica. The pics I’ve seen online from other Electro 35’s online are pin sharp with a pleasant bokeh effect at open apertures. Also, I wanted a film camera that has more control than a point&shoot but is a bit “quicker” than my SLR’s. I hope the Electro fits that bill and I plan to post a review once I’ve run a few rolls through it.

Thanks for reading!

photography

Reviewing Flickr One Year Later

flickr logo

When it comes to putting your photographs on the internet, the options are overwhelming.

Instagram, Facebook, Amazon Photos, Google Photos, Flickr, 500px, and many others are all competing for your your images.

When I got back into film photography, I wanted to find a place to present my best images, and also have the option to link them here.

Right around the same time, Flickr was purchased from Yahoo by a company called SmugMug, and they began a long and painful restoration of the service from years of neglect by the previous owner.

Since I don’t use Facebook and didn’t use Instagram (at the time), I thought Flickr would be a nice option given that it doesn’t compress uploads and I wanted all the grainy goodness from those negative scans.

That was in late 2018, and there have been a number of changes and updates to Flickr since then. Some for better, some worse.

Positives

  • High-Res Photos: Whether you’re free with a 1000 photo limit, or pay for their “Pro” accounts, Flickr let’s you upload full resolution photos, no compression, and within a few parameters view them in up to 6K. Being able to push photos up to the internet without the cropping and compression of most social media sites is really nice if you want to show off images in their full glory.
  • Prints-On-Demand: Flickr also has functionality to purchase prints within the site/app and that is a good feature if you’d like high-quality physical copies of your full res uploads.
  • Groups: Flickr has an extremely knowledgeable photo community that is very focused. With Instagram having transformed into a marketing/Influencer playground, it’s nice to see groups, Events, and a community solely dedicated to the craft of photography.
  • No more Yahoo login : Thankfully, you no longer need a Yahoo email to log into Flickr, and they updated their mobile app as well. It has a nice, clean and easy-to-navigate interface.

Negatives

  • Limits on Free Accounts: I questioned whether to list this. I will, only because so many people complained about the 1000 photo limit after SmugMug bought the site. Yahoo had let Flickr decompose into a photo-hosting dump over the years. It was basically a crappier Imgur. The new Flickr has a narrower focus, and it imposes limitations unless you pay for an account. That said, if you’re a photographer who wants unlimited online storage of uncompressed photos, it’s not a bad deal. Or if you’re a hobbyist like me, 1000 photos and a few occasional ads isn’t really horrible, especially considering they let you keep the rights to your images and don’t share any of your personal data like the larger social sites do.
  • Site is “slow”: I do not mean technically. What I mean is, other than exploring photos, there isn’t much to “do” on Flickr. It doesn’t have the same level of interactivity as Instagram. To my point above, its very useful if you’re a photographer, but it doesn’t have the wider appeal of the major social media sites. One of the problems they seem to have is after combating all the image spammers Yahoo ignored, they have a bunch of abandoned groups. I think Flickr would do well to clean house and improve their community capabilities so the existing active users and newcomers can find one another more easily.
  • Long-Term Viability: I received an email from Flickr’s CEO that the site is still losing money. This doesn’t bode well at all for its long-term viability, and I hope that it survives. I think there is a lot of potential, and from what I understand a number of photographers are starting to move away from Instagram in its current incarnation. Hopefully Flickr and other dedicated photo sites can catch that population.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in photography as a hobby/craft (or a business) and are looking for a site as a quick portfolio, I think Flickr has made some huge strides in recovery and is worth at least checking out. Yahoo really let it languish, and my hope is that it manages to financially stabilize and eventually recover as the team there makes continued improvements. If you have an old account and haven’t logged in for a while, give it a look.

photography

Point And Shoot Film Camera Hype

Contax T2 35mm film camera

I was discussing film cameras with a photography friend this weekend, and the conversation of Point n’ Shoot cameras came up. While I love Point & Shoot Cameras, I think there is some serious hype going on that should be avoided, or that film photographers (especially new ones) need to be aware of.

The Hype Bubble

I won’t go into the details of Kendall Jenner’s Contax T2 and her effect on film photography, but I’ll start this post with a nod to it.

I harbor no resentment. In fact, I think it’s great when more people get into film because demand keeps production going and anything that keeps film alive is OK in my book.

My problem isn’t even with the prices of PnS cameras skyrocketing either. Because the Contax T2 is in fact, an excellent camera. My issue is with the overall value of the tool versus what people are now willing to pay for it.

A Camera By Any Other Name

Contax’s and Olympus MJU’s are excellent cameras. No doubt.

However, I came across a Youtube “influencer” yesterday who was using a Contax G-series in a video for FILM BEGINNERS. That is a problem in my mind.

I think beginners shouldn’t be given the impression that they need a $900 camera from the early 1990’s, or that those are the only option. It seems more and more people are grabbing them as status symbols. And that’s fine, if that is all you are looking for.

For someone who is just starting out with 35mm film and wants the simplicity of a Point and Shoot (though I’d argue an SLR like a Pentax or Minolta will teach you more) there are so many inexpensive alternatives that will produce nearly-as-good photos as something like a Contax. They might not look as cool, but they will work.

Mechanical Animals

I still firmly believe mechanical is the way to go with old cameras. They are sturdy and can be repaired in many cases.

Point and Shoot Cameras are often electronic, and if something malfunctions on them, you’ll have a hell of a time trying to find parts and a repair/service shop. This makes investing in an high-priced PnS camera a risky proposition.

The other thing to consider is that Point and Shoots are by their nature limited. Their convenience comes with trade offs. You can stuff them in your pocket, but they’ll never give you the control and flexibility of an SLR or even a rangefinder. Often that’s fine, but I think there is a kind of intangible “value cap” on what they are capable of. I personally go digital when it comes to PnS. I stick with SLR and Rangefinder for film.

If you want to get into film photography, $1000 could buy you multiple SLR’s, lenses, a rangefinder, and a couple of decent point and shoots. Plus lots of film!

It is What It is

This post may sound a bit rant-ish, and perhaps it is, but I’m not complaining for the sake of it. I feel the same way about beginners being exposed to Leica’s on the internet as teh defacto rangefinder.

To round things out, Here’s a quick list of questions to mull over before you purchase ANY camera:

  • What functions do I need it to perform?
  • Can it be easily repaired?
  • Is it within my budget?
  • Are there comparable cameras that provide the same quality at a lower cost?
  • Do a lot of people on Youtube and Instagram hype this camera up?

Those questions along with twenty minutes of research should set up anyone looking for a 35mm Point and Shoot Camera for success. Honestly, there are probably quite a few well-loved ones waiting at your local thrift store for $15 right now.

 

photography

Kodak Increases Film Prices in 2020

 kodak colorplus 200 film

Time to hoard some Kodak film!

If you read the film photography news or follow the film photography socials, you might have seen the big announcement that Kodak Alaris is raising prices on all film beginning January 1st, 2020.

The Bad News

While I’m no alarmist, and don’t mind a paying a little more, the word “significant” in a press release is somewhat concerning when talking about a price jump. Especially since this is for all of their film stocks.

I was curious and looked back at my last purchase of ColorPlus 200 in 2018. I paid roughly $17 for five rolls, and one year later they are averaging $35 for that same number. If Kodak really is discontinuing Gold 200, then I’m glad I snagged a bunch of it at Walgreen’s clearance, because Kodak ColorPlus 200 might become the cheapest consumer option at an increased price point. Fuji C200 (which is a great summer landscape stock!) has crept up too.

Since I want to get back into Black & White, and maybe even developing at home someday, I grabbed a pack of Kodak Tri-X 400 as well before it goes up. If the price increases truly are significant in 2020 I may start looking into Ilford HP5 since I’ve heard really good things about it.

The Good News

In the long run, it’s positive to see demand is high and film photography is “back”. This announcement, along with the increasing prices of film cameras, are a bummer on the wallet. However, I’d rather have film be more expensive than not available at all.

Kodak also stated that their supplier should show results of capacity increase by late 2020 and 2021. I’m hoping that means prices will settle back down in the long-term and it will result in a healthier, competitive market for film. Only time will tell…

photography

Comprehensive Photo Film Index

film cannister

Here’s one for all my film photography followers.

The Darkroom just opened up a “comprehensive” index of available films. You can check it out here.

While it’s not 100% exhaustive, and I’m sure hardcore film geeks will debate some of the different film stats (except the insane latitude of Kodak Tri-X) it’s still a very nice, handy guide, and I’m sure it will be of value to anyone who is either new or returning to the wonderful world of film photography.

I tend to trust The Darkroom, as I send all my color rolls to them and they do a nice job for a reasonable price.