3.23.2017

Point and Shoot Pity Party Part 4: The Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom

This is Part 4 of a recurring series on basic point and shoot consumer cameras, the details of which can be found here.

To most bargain hunters, the term "As Is" can often be a deterrent, but to the savvy film camera bargain hunter, is is not often a deal killer, due in large part to the excess challenges for the average seller to find a battery and film, and to process it to test its functionality.  As such, I really didn't blink when I saw these words on the price tag affixed to the Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom as I browsed through the downtown hospital thrift shop.  While its specs didn't wow me over, the price of this camera and the inclusion of the original box and manuals made it a pretty easy buy after a morning of jury duty.  It seemed a good candidate for this pity party! 

Front View (closed)

Front View (open)

Top View

Through the small viewfinder.  Note the centering focus marks and the close framing line near right top. 

Name: Olympus ∞ Stylus Zoom
Format: 35mm
Type: Autofocus Point and Shoot 
Year: 1993
Features: Weatherproof, Self Timer and Remote, Red Eye Reduction, Slow-sync Flash Mode.
Lens: 35-70mm, f/4.5-6.9 (6 elements in 5 groups).
Battery: 1 CR-123 cell.
Manual: http://www.derrybryson.com/manuals/Olympus/35%20MM%20CAMERAS/Stylus%20Zoom%20instruction%20manual.pdf

3.22.2017

Oh Me Too? (What more can I add?) The Olympus OM2

Some camera reviews are easier than others for me.  Give me an overlooked quirky model and I can readily reveal the fun aspects of shooting one of these unique models supplemented with what little bits of interesting information that I can discover about the model and its maker.  It's a fun process that makes for a fun to write review that I always feel proud to share.

But give me a well-known and well-loved model with oodles already written about it, and I will be crippled by a severe case of writer's block.  After all, what more can I add to a conversation that has already been so extensively covered from more or less every conceivable angle.  And that is just where I am in trying to pen a fitting review of the Olympus OM-2N.

A special thanks to my Minolta 5D for producing such a wonderful vanity shot of the OM-2

The Olympus OM-2 is perhaps the most well known camera for which I have in my stable and I've yet to write a post.  On its debut in the 1970's (arguably the prime period of manual focus SLRs), the OM-2 was very well received for its compact size and easy to use feature set. Forty years later, the OM-2 is still a darling of a camera for many of today's film shooters, and has any number of positive write-ups online.  Two of my film shooting buddies, Mike and James both have favorable reviews posted of the OM-2 that can relay more about the camera's history and attributes than I can ever hope to convey here.

3.21.2017

All Weather Friend - The Nikon Action Touch

Confession time: I can't swim.  Throughout my younger years, I held a certain trepidation towards the water after falling into a river while fishing with my brother early on.  He pulled me from the cold waters of the Gunpowder River, but I never quite pulled myself from my aversion to bodies of water, despite trying to learn to swim in the years that followed.

And while I may not savor the feeling of swimming across a pool in a way that many people do, I do enjoy visits to lakes and beaches, and even can find a certain enjoyment in rain soaked days at times. Oh, and yes, as you may know, I like taking pictures.

In an earlier photographic life, I was admittedly guilty of trying to use a less than all-weather camera in all sorts of situations.  I held my Minolta X-700 under an umbrella as I took photos in a rain storm, or tucked it in a coat pocket as I wandered through falling snow to capture winter scenes.  Perhaps this abuse is what led the EV compensation dial to throw off the meter in this classic camera.  Who knows?  I'm not giddy about the outcome of the camera, but am at least glad to have captured some long lost scenes in less than fair weather.



If only I had elected to use a more weatherproof camera during these days for such scenes, I might still have the X-700 as a member of my arsenal to use in more optimal settings.  If only I'd had a camera like the Nikon Action Touch!



3.20.2017

Innocuous and Impressive: The Konica I

The hobby of film photography on classic cameras is a road often fraught with perils and temptations, particularly when it comes to resisting expensive items with prestigious name plates.  Fortunately, my budget and sensibilities are right about in line with each other to keep this in check for the most part, leaving me to stay with more affordable cameras and options, rather than to splurge on fancy models such as those that begin with "L" and end in "ica."

However, the form factor of an early Leica is certainly intriguing, and has often been mimicked by other makers, particular in the 1950's and 1960's.  I found a stellar buy back in the Summer of 2016, in which I found a camera with the Leica form factor and which also ended in "ica" but started with "K" rather than "L."  And with a $22 splurge, I elected to become the owner of a Konica I Rangefinder!

The classic rangefinder look is handily accomplished by the Konica I, seen here in its "collapsed" state.

While the 1948 vintage Konica I is hardly a candidate for a complete doppelganger for a Leica, it certainly bears a favorable resemblance to early model 35mm cameras of Ernst Leitz.  It has a collapsible lens that gives it a very compact form factor when folded up, and a nicely polished set of finishes that evoke a very stately look.  Pulling out the compact Konica I, extending the lens barrel, and then getting a photo feels very satisfying photographically.


3.17.2017

Point and Shoot Pity Party Part 3: The Kodak Cameo Motor EX

This is Part 3 of a recurring series on basic point and shoot consumer cameras, the details of which can be found here.

It is the kind of camera that was typical for most of us "Newbies" to try out the world of photography in the 1980's and 1990's: a fixed focus 35mm compact with a flash.  But the 1996 vintage Cameo Motor EX is a tad splashier than the Kodak Star that I picked up in 1989.  For one, it is small, streamlined, and easily portable.  The design actually reminds me of the a Bantam f/4.5 in some ways since the lens actually springs out when you open the clamshell.  A "bonus" camera that I picked up in a bulk lot that had a desired rangefinder model, the Cameo Motor EX offered just enough rounded 1990's styling to encourage me to give it a try.  


Front Views: Collapsed (above) and Opened (below)


Top View

View through the reverse-Galilean viewfinder.

Name: Kodak Cameo Motor EX (Olympic Edition)
Format: 35mm
Type: Fixed Focus Point and Shoot 
Year: 1996
Features: A Flash that you can't turn off but can force on should you choose, Self-Timer.
Lens: 34mm f/5.6 3-element lens typically shooting at f/11 in daylight.
Battery: 2 AAA Cells.
Manual: http://wwwca.kodak.com/global/en/service/cameo/motorEx/ownerManual/toc.shtml

3.16.2017

Extraordinary in the Ordinary: The Nikon N60

Admittedly, there is much to be spoiled about for those who shoot today's digital SLR camera technology, permitting feature after feature that simply didn't exist in the heyday of film.  And while there are some film cameras from the later years that show some pretty remarkable uses of technological advances of their era, there are any number of other models that would seem to compete for the title of the most "plain vanilla camera" of their respective categories.  And if indeed such a contest would have existed for later model film cameras, Nikon's N60 would have certainly been among the stronger contenders for capturing the title of "Most Plain Vanilla SLR Camera Model."


Facing the reality of it all, the N60's feature set admittedly is a pretty short read rooted in the basic, carrying the usual suspects of a handful of "scene" modes in addition to the expected presence of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes.  It seems that aside from an EV compensation button, the N60 offers nothing in the way of extras.  If the N60 were a car, it would almost certainly be the "base model" that lacks the panache of the deluxe trim package.

3.15.2017

A Deal in Teal: The Vivitar 5500PZ

I call her Viv, and she's the 90's type!


Potentially insensitive remarks aside, some cameras make clear reference to the decade in which they were made. One look at a Kodak Bantam Special and it is rather quickly apparent that it is a product of the 1930's. A Kodak Brownie Hawkeye certainly exudes the postwar design of the 1950's. And then there is the Vivitar 5500PZ, a camera that more or less screams that it was made in the 1990's. 

Perhaps screaming is an overstatement. Perhaps a more fitting depiction would be to say that this camera strongly echoes its early 1990's origins.  And this embodiment is proclaimed in the simplest of forms: a few accents in teal. 

Teal was, perhaps more than any other, the official shade of the 1990's. The color spread through furnishings and fashions and seemed to be the mandatory color of choice for sports franchises born in the era. Fresh at the time, the tone gradually grew out of favor and presented a dated look. 

This Vivitar spotlights teal to contrast with its black body to present a look seemingly right out of the Jacksonville Jaguars uniform template. As a result, looking at it makes me crave a game of Super Street Fighter and a cup of TCBY.