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four years of film cameras
as i wrote this, i realized i’m a hater. deep down i love film and everything that it encompasses, but some of the camera builds and designs are so stupid. anyway, here’s a poorly written review consisting of my thoughts regarding the film cameras i’ve owned and the maximum price i think you should pay for each camera. (market price is generally higher but good deals come along often.)
HOLGA TIM + FLASH & 5 GELS
This was my first actual film camera. About $75 in total which in retrospect was a huge ripoff. Takes 35mm film unlike the stupid holga 120. half frame camera essentially (see olympus pen f) which also has a convenient double exposure button. super crappy quality. lens sucks so bad. obviously, its a toy camera with a plastic lens. i hate lomography. overrated hipster company. fun/cute little camera but shitty. oh so shitty. if you’re buying this, you’re probably a hipster that likes those “lo-fi” images so, whatever. this suits you.
Inherited this from my seastar whom inherited from les padres. great great great camera. can not stress this enough. all manual with needle light meter. i’m really regretful of selling it as i have yet to find a camera that is as basic but handles well and is as comfortable as this one. i could do with a slightly better/sharper lens, but honestly, pentax kx gets it done plus some. standard in weight and size. don’t get the ones made in hong kong/china. they have plastic chrome bodies that not only feel cheap but are cheap. ones made in japan are all metal and could survive extensive abuse. i can attest to this. number one camera if you want to start doing film. best minimalistic camera to start learning film. also, the camera you can always fall back on.
YASHICA 35 ELECTRO GSN
“the poor man’s leica.” my first rangefinder. i honestly don’t understand the allure of rangefinders, or at least this one. yes, the lens may be superb but the build of the camera is ridiculous. it’s noticeably larger than your standard slr. wtf. isn’t one of the main reasons for buying a rangefinder vs. slr the fact that rangefinders are smaller? it’s bottom heavy and light on top. super weird feeling. it’s just really uncomfortable to use. the aperture ring is impossible to spin and you most likely will need to have the rubber piece replaced to get the notorious “clunk” when you advance the film. without it, something about the camera is off. can’t remember what. but overall, hate this camera. big, bulky, awkward, doesn’t live up to it’s hype. if you’re into hype, i’ll have you know this is the camera andrew garcia was carrying in the spierman movie. anyway, overrated “poor man’s leica.” good lens if you like poorly thought out designs.
OLYMPUS XA + A11 FLASH
coveted amongst real hipsters and photography buffs who want a pocketable weekend camera. blehhh. i’m not impressed. it has a clamshell build so there’s no need to worry about losing or hanging on to a lens cap and when you’re done, the lens will always be protected. needs batteries to operate. so, if you find one but the shutter button is jammed, it most likely just needs new batteries. people rave about the lens being fast/sharp and that its a rangefinder. again, it’s not anything amazing. it doesn’t feel good in my hands. kind of feels like a toy camera. very small though. small camera you can take on your travels. beats lugging around a full sized camera to dinner with your parents.
rangefinder. one of the smallest, if not the smallest camera you will find. i didn’t take it seriously because it was so small. nice because its super light and convenient but if you have big hands, its hard to use. shutter speeds are limited. i think its 300, 100, 50, and bulb. something like that. i’m probably wrong, but trust me when i say extremely limited. the other weird thing about this camera is the film advance. its like olympus cut a piece of metal out of the back of the camera and stuck a lever there. i was always afraid of dust and other junk getting into the crevice as it’s considerably large for such a small camera. why couldn’t they just put the film advance on top of the camera where it should go. why. the simplicity kind of put me off to the camera but the zuiko lens is amazing. this lens is no joke. super sharp. great lens, maybe a little too simplistic body. definitely my favorite rangefinder.
mistakingly bought this rangefinder. size and layout is similar to the olympus 35rc. however, obviously shitty. do not buy. complete crap.
YASHICA TL SUPER + HELIOS 48MM PRIME
not to be confused with the coveted hipster t4 super. moving on, i like underdogs. all manual camera that matt denton has called a “under dog work horse.” i don’t know why i even care what matt thinks. anyway, very similar to the pentax k1000 but isn’t as charming. also has a needle meter. the build is heavy as fack and taller than a standard slr. it may be thinner as well. not quite sure. feels like it though. i wouldn’t choose it over the k1000 but i would choose it over cameras with any type of priority mode.
the helios lens is a zeiss biotar copy that is known for “swirly bokeh.” personally, i think swirly bokeh is ugly.
CANON AE-1 PROGRAM
fat ass camera. so fatty. the layout and knobs feel nice, but the camera is just too big to be convenient. it is nicely constructed and has an even weight distribution. kudos. but besides that, it doesn’t really live up to its hype either. it has aperture & shutter speed priority. it can also do both automatically for you. i don’t understand why people would do automatic settings if they’re shooting film. i had the 50 1.8 prime on this one. plastic dials, not a spectacular lens. just so-so. canon, you are a disappointment.
i love this camera but i hate this camera. so the om series is famous for being replicas (body wise) of the leica m series. i really love this aspect because it makes the camera super small compared to the standard slr size. however, i really don’t like that every camera in the om series, disregarding the om 1, needs batteries to operate. even in manual mode. whatdafuq. besides that, the om’s are amazing. the om-pc has a rubberish body with a hand grip. feels really nice. i think my perfect camera would be an om-1 with an om-pc body. anyway, the real reason why i love om’s are because of the zuiko lenses. they’re my favorite.
tlr cameras are le shit. the viewing screen is not so bright on this one but just the fact that it’s a tlr is enough reason to own one. plus it’s a yashica which means its an underdog to the overrated (but probably not) rolleiflex & mamiya tlrs. the one i had was junky and i honestly can’t tell you that much about it since i never even put a roll of film through it. but, i think that if you’re looking for a reasonably priced tlr, the yashica mat is a winner. i don’t think it has a light meter, but who needs one when there’s a light meter iphone app. (credits to sir sipat). its very minimalistic which means less parts that are prone to breaking. overall, yashica lenses are good performers. except for the yashikor? i heard to stay away from those so aim for the yashinons if you have a choice.
i shoot 400 because it’s safe. kind of a loser but yeah, i stick with 400 because it’s sensitive enough but isn’t grainy. I’ve only shot kodak and fuji. with fuji, colors are more saturated and vibrant but overly contrasty. shadows are underexposed (read: black/no detail) and highlights a little blown out (read: pale face). kodak is nice across the board but doesn’t have that in your face color. i suppose its because kodak is more true to life colors. i like attributes of both. whatever suits your taste i guess.
expired film : i used to like it, but now i don’t.