Cameras

Camera collecting is an enjoyable and satisfying hobby even though some would disapprove of it saying that cameras are made for use and not to collect dust on a shelf.   That is probably true for cameras and lenses of recent manufacture, but when technological advances make something obsolete what do you do?   Throw it out?   Now, it would be a shame if the better of those precision equipment would end up on the rubbish heap.   After all, they are not only beautiful or sometimes intriguing to look at, but can also tell things about our past either directly or indirectly.   Directly though their style, the technical solutions employed, the materials used, etc.   Indirectly through the research a typical collector would do to learn about the origins of the camera.

Like many others I am also fascinated by these wonderful photographic tools of the past and managed to accumulate a good many of them.   The digital revolution made this possible, because formerly I could not afford to purchase more than a few cameras.   My initial hunting ground were second-hand shops (in particular, an amazing second-hand shop in Budapest, Hungary) and markets.   When internet shopping became a new and seductively easy way to get rid of one's surplus cash, my collecting eventually started to look more like an addiction.   (I am sure, some of you who are reading this are nodding knowingly.)   Therefore, I decided to put and end to it and nowadays restrict my hobby to playing with what I already have.   Although I still turn up at camera fairs, it is mainly because I enjoy the company of people with a similar interest.   I stay clear of eBay.

So, my next project is to take photos of my cameras and write about them here on this web site.   This is very much a work-in-progress that will take me some months, even years, so do come back from time to time.

Another section that some of you might find useful deals with camera restoration and lens cleaning.

Canon

Minolta

Mamiya

Nikon

Pentax

Russian Cameras

Hungarian Cameras



I welcome your feedback.

17 comments:

  1. Just came across your site whilst looking for info on my "new" Canon FX (same viewfinder line problem!).
    I spent a thoroughly enjoyable half hour which struck many cords, particularly that I should be playing (or using!) with the many cameras I already have rather than surfing ebay for more when it's getting increasingly difficult to find anything which interests me that I haven't already got.
    Learnt the hard way many times as we all do and did the same unnecessary dismantling on my Nikon 135mm f2.8.
    Thanks for your insightful and well written work.

    regards,

    Phil Smith

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  2. Thanks for all the information on your site. Many of us are the same. These are cameras that we could not afford during their hey day. I bought in 1979 a Contax 139Q with a Zeiss Planar 1.7. The cost was my entire wages for working all year long. I used it very lovingly.....I wanted other lenses but could never afford any. After many years I put the camera away......a couple of years ago, I bought it out of retirement and cleaned it up and prepared to use it. Initially I had problems....the lens had become slow and hazy. I bought several lenses...off of E bay ....and all were lacking. Finally I came across a Tokina ATX pro......the, I found a good lab to develop my slide film. I persisted.....and just as I was about to consign the camera to the display, I found a good pro developing shop in the UK which offered fantastic service. Result....stunning slides that I also scan......so haveing thebest of both worlds. The collecting bug has the better of me and I now have added Canon F1n...both models as well as many other Contax and Yashica models and a couple of Nikons. Keep up the good work!!!
    Martin, Narbonne France

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  3. Minolta didn't offer a mirror lock up on the XE, XD series because the Copal Leitz shutter was so vibration free that is was deemed unnecessary by Leitz. Furthermore the mirror action is unique. When the camera is fired, the mirror "decelerates" as it flips up preventing camera shake. The minolta XE is has the smoothest firing shutter of any 35mm ever built. It's much smoother than and Leica M camera and the wind on action is in a class by itself. The XE is the finest camera minolta ever built and is a joy to use. I have shot them professionally for decades now.

    Norman

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  4. I have a couple of Agfa Ambis and the film advance is tough to go and slow to return. Now I can see how to fix it, UI hope.

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  5. Best of luck with your Agfa Ambis! By the way, as you'll probably find, it is helpful to have more than one of the same camera, because you can use the other as a reference when you try to put together the first. At least it saved my day on occasion, when I could see how things originally looked / worked. :-)

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  6. Nice place keep it up!
    As i tinker my old cameras also i research about their history. So in your article about the Fed 2 you mention "The Russians did purchase the license for manufacturing these cameras in 1932" Is there any evidence about that? I am leaning to the opposite direction but then again i can not be sure. I will be glad if you can provide any sources about the matter.

    Thanks again, Chris

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    1. I got this info from a Hungarian photographer / educator while I was staying in Hungary. Years ago he was active in publishing articles on the history of photography and cameras in magazines and on the net. Here is a Google translation of some text which can still be found on-line:

      "The Leica was imitated by many. There were manufacturers who bought the right to manufacture. Despite all rumors, the Stalinist Soviet Union was among them in 1932. The Leica II (D), manufactured between 1932-48, the F 3.5 / 50mm Elmar and the dual-walled Leica cartridge were included in the license agreement. ..... no sign of a signed contract, but Leitz did not refute or support the co-operation."

      Admittedly, this is not "hard evidence", but given the body of work this gentlemen has produced I regard him as a reliable source. But then again, no-one really knows. Those who knew are dead.

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  7. Thank you George for the reply.

    From what i read about the USSR patent system there was given credit to the inventor (person). The inventor had some short of little "reward" and then anyone could use his invention. Also through a translate from a period soviet article about the soviet "Leica" the author credited Barnack about his invention, and then continued about how in the capitalistic world companies take advantage blah blah blah. This make me think they wouldnt gave much credit to the capitalistic company named Leitz. And also i do not believe they would trace Barnack in 1932 and give him a reward of any kind.

    And after 1933 USSR-Germany relations went realy bad as far as i know. Thus i am very skeptical about all that patent thing.
    Who knows...

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  8. Nice review of the groundbreaking 9000 (at the time!). I sold cameras when both the 7000 and 9000 were launched and remember the fanfare and the great expense to Minolta of the launch. The 9000 was an expensive camera in it's time selling for close to $700 USD (about $1,500 today). A week ago I won one at a camera auction for a bid of $10!!! Yep, you read that right... $10, in mint condition, no case or body cap but works fine and included the winder! I had bought my wife a Minolta 7 about 15 years ago and all of her lenses will fit and work on the 9000 no problem but they operate quite slowly compared to the 7 or her newer Sony DSLR. It's amazing that such equipment decreases in value by so much. By comparison, a well used Nikon f2 body with standard meter prism sold for $170. Pro's weren't interested in this camera that much as they had already learned how to focus quickly and invested their $$'s in Nikon or Canon systems or maybe Hassy's or Mamiya if they shot MF. When Nikon and Canon finally got serious with AF the writing was on the wall for Minolta cameras despite the great tech that they built in their day. Thankfully Sony didn't let Minolta die in vain, still utilizing some of their patents in some of their equipment today.

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    1. Thank you for your interesting account of these past events.
      It is often the case that those who are at the forefront of innovation are soon overtaken by others who come in their footsteps. (Can anyone remember Netscape, for instance?) It is very expensive to develop something new and groundbreaking. Those who come later have the benefit of building on top of what had been done before. In addition, it takes time for customers / users to get accustomed to a novelty. I also remember that autofocus was looked upon with suspicion initially. I liked Minolta cameras and it is a pity they had done away with their camera manufacturing arm. I sold my 9000, but kept a 7000 as I find it a more mature design.

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  9. thanks a lot for sharing a information about the camera and photography hobby. since 10 year i am doing photography and its really best thing for me which give me real joy. know more

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  10. You have Canon Pellix QL, not Pellix. Most people seem to be confused with these two different cameras.

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    1. QL simply means Quick Load and it is a mechanism invented to make film loading easier. After its introduction Canon applied this design to their other cameras of the era as well, such as the TL, FT, and EX. In my post on the Pellix I did not make a distinction between the QL and the earlier version, concentrating instead on the unique features. I hope it did not cause a confusion for the majority of readers as there is really no other difference than the film loading mechanism, which, for the sake of brevity, was left out of the description. (I will discuss variations on film loading in another post.)

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  11. I was having trouble changing lenses on a Fed 5. Now I’m cool. Thanks!

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  12. I was reading your review of the Minolta XE-1 thanks for an informative article, Since then I have acquired a reasonable example of this camera and am now wondering why you comment on the on/off and battery check switches I'm more than normally cack handed and haven't found them a problem. I initially missed the mirror lock up as I'm used to SRT101s I dont think that there's enough vibration to warrant one however.

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  13. Came across your site searching for Canon FP information, very informative! I found a Bell & Howell/Canon FP in an antique mall a few days ago. 50mm f/1.8 Lens, cap, strap, leather case, all original. It is in exquisite condition! 20% off so I could not pass up a Canon for 28 dollars. I knew it was a good find, I guess it is a pretty rare camera now. I am enthralled with this SLR, it is beautiful in its simplicity. Strange thing is we were going around the block to park on a side street we passed to go into another junk store when we came across this little mall. Sitting there on a shelf in a booth at eye level. It was sitting next to a dirty plastic Hong Kong camera for 5 dollars. Amazing, small town Valdese, NC.

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  14. Ho anch'io questa fotocamera col 21mm non retrofocus, il 50 e il 100 f 2,5, la uso a scopo didattico per la sua essenzialità, semplicità d'uso e parco ottiche secondo me di tutto rispetto per uno che vuole imparare a fotografare.

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