Poolside fun with the Weathermatic

The ice and snow finally came last Thursday.  Then it left again, but now it’s back in full force, having somewhere around 6in on the ground up in Divide.  And since I don’t have easy access to a fireplace and glass of scotch at this precise moment, I can at least look back on a warmer time, 2 1/2 months ago.

Ah, the Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35.  I was glad to dig this camera out of the garage and put it back to work!  Staying at my friend’s house while on vacation, most of what we did during the day was hanging out in his pool.  Most everything else we did is captured here.  Again, there aren’t too many outstanding pictures here (and I wasn’t even wearing my glasses when I took any of these).

Those 223 batteries are getting expensive!  I picked a Duracell-made one at Batteries Plus just before I left, cost me $18…should have bought one online a few weeks before, I guess.  At the cost of a new battery every two years, this camera is costing a lot more than I thought it would.  I guess I need to use the camera a bit more here and there (and it does well outside of the pool as well) before the battery runs out by itself.

Knowing that the Weathermatic handles slide film well, I took along a roll of AGFAPhoto Precisa CT 100 (AKA Fuji Provia 100F), as well as a roll of Kodak Gold 200.  The C-41 was scanned at my local shop using the Pakon F235, the Provia was shipped to Mike’s in Boulder and scanned using their Noritsu.  I still have it in my head to gather up all my slide film and do a comparison between the Noritsu, Fuji Frontier used at Mike’s in Colorado Springs, and my own Pakon F335.  Maybe someday…

The Kodak Gold looks pretty good to me, especially when overexposed one stop, looks like lots of detail in the shadows, but I didn’t bother with dodging and burning.  I’ve shot other rolls of Kodak Gold, but they’re still waiting to be developed.  What I’ve seen of Kodak Gold so far made me want to try it out, and I’m glad I did.  I’m still in love with Fuji’s colors though!  At least I remembered to make sure that the lens didn’t have water droplets on it when taking pictures.  I wonder if being in a private pool helped (chemicals, I assume), as last time we were in a lake.  In any event, the water seemed to pour off of its own volition and wasn’t a problem.

If one looks close enough, a little motion blur can be occasionally seen, something I noticed last time I used it as well, and knowing that the camera only shoots at ASA100 and 400, I should have loaded up some 400 speed film in it, but forgot.  Even in bright sunlight, there can be motion blur from me holding the camera, and other times the motion is quite frozen.  I can’t quite say I understand it.  One thing else I found out is that occasionally, the Weathermatic’s exposure isn’t quite spot on, like below.  Of course it had to happen when shooting the Provia:



We lived in this house 1994-2002, the longest I’ve consecutively lived in one place.  The house was built in 1820 by J.C. Hayes, a veteran of the War of 1812.  War veterans were given land in that part of Ohio as a reward for their service–many of them became farmers and this house is still surrounded by 3000+ acres of farmland, all owned by one man.


There was originally a red wooden barn behind the summer kitchen that among other things, held a tunnel that had been filled in.  There was talk that this house might have been a stop on the underground railroad, though I don’t know that my parents ever looked into it.  Unfortunately the current owners demolished the barn, so I don’t know if any evidence is left of that.  In the 1970s, the band McGuffey Lane used it as a practice space, I’m told.  Our next door neighbor and dear friend, a construction contractor, had owned this house for years, and at that point was in quite bad repair, to the point of deer living inside.  He put a lot of work into that house, and is responsible for much of the electrical work and plumbing.

There was a lot of work still left to do, but my parents saw the potential in the house.  When our friend died in the early ’90s, we bought the house from his parents, and continued the renovation, and opened a bed & breakfast.  I have a lot of hard memories growing up, but the house itself was home, a sanctuary away from the madness of life.  My grandpa died in that house.  My brother and mother insist that it’s haunted–I’m not quite as spiritually aware as they are, and the house never bothered me.  My mom had a premonition (if you want to call it that), and wanted to sell the business in 2000, but my dad refused; revenue had been steadily climbing since they opened.  Unfortunately after Sept 11 happened, a lot of people stopped traveling and pretty much anything connected to travel and tourism took a big hit, including us.  We sold the house and the business less than a year later.

The people who bought the bed & breakfast after us didn’t do too well and went under.  They owed us quite a lot of money but escaped that by declaring bankruptcy, as well as making off with several articles of antique furniture, etc before they moved down South.  I also think they took an industrial waffle iron that I was quite fond of, and would have loved to have owned.  Oh well, life goes on.  My dad knows more about the current owners and I didn’t ask him too many questions, though apparently the house is still operated as a bed & breakfast.  If I ever become filthy rich, I will definitely own that house again.


The scans were a bit on the green side for some reason, and I had to do a little correction in Photoshop.  Strangely, it didn’t affect the rest of the roll.  The artifacts on the left side of the second picture are tears, I believe: it was the last shot on the roll, and the Weathermatic would be damned if it didn’t give me one last exposure.  God bless it…

Washington by moonlight

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned my new job but I drive jeep tours in Colorado Springs.  While we were in Manassas, VA for a wedding, I and a few relatives took the opportunity to go into Washington, DC and get a bus tour of the nation’s capital, by moonlight.  As I was halfway through a roll of T-Max 400 (and not pushing it), I didn’t have too high hopes for these pictures shooting 1/2 and 1 second exposures.  Still, I quite like the ghostly quality of the results…

Just a reminder: don’t be asshole cheapskates like my relatives, tip your tour guides well!

The days of drugstore 1-hour photo are gone

At least in my town.  I’ve been up at my mom’s recently, and noticed that the Walgreens where I did my film processing back in the day no longer has their minilab, sadly.  Now this doesn’t affect me at all, but was still a bummer to find out.  Maybe I should have asked one of the employees about it all, but really I was done with that store years ago.  The last time I took film there it cost me $18 for three rolls of film and they didn’t scan them, because evidently they started some racket where they wouldn’t give people scans unless they bought prints as well.

Even then, I’d still try to give them business–though I was never successful, I’d encourage my Woodland Park friends to shoot film and get it developed at Walgreens.  They never took me on, and sadly it’ll be that much harder for anyone in this area to try film.

The local processing may be gone, but the film remains.  City Market sells Kodak Max 400 and Gold 200 (plus single-use cameras) and the Wal-Mart sells 4-packs of Fuji.  The last time I went to Wal-Mart though, which was right after Christmas, I noticed that they no longer sold Fuji Superia 800, and that seems to be all across the board, at least in Colorado.  Too bad, because I love that film and now I don’t know how to get ahold of it cheaply.  Then again, I haven’t used it since experiencing the wonders of Cinestill 800T, so how does this all affect me?  Not at all.

A grown-up birthday

A friend of mine from church turned 37, so the guys all decided to celebrate…by hanging out in a garage.  I guess this will probably show my young age, maturity level, what have you, but still, it sounds like kind of a lame birthday.  I suppose when you and everyone else you know is 30-something and married with a family, grabbing a few hours in a garage for a few beers and a pipe is kind of all that can be expected.  I don’t know, it’s not really a part of “growing up” that I can say I’m looking forward to all that much.

That said, it was still more socialization than I usually get, and I haven’t gotten to hang out with these guys nearly at all since I moved down to the big city.  Also, I haven’t celebrated my own birthday for years now, really.  It always falls on finals week so my friends never wanted to do anything, and after a while I just stopped feeling like my birthday was anything worth celebrating.  Besides, after you turn 21, there really isn’t much point to aging is there?

This is the last roll of film I shot through my (first) Canon 7 before it broke down.  My replacement came just yesterday, and hopefully that camera will be problem free.

Ha, this made me chuckle…


There is a hierarchy in digital photography, and firmly at the bottom, it seems, are people who take pictures with their tablets.  I get it; too many people don’t really experience concerts, speeches, artist talks, anything that they go to, they miss real life because they’re too busy looking at it behind a screen.  Like the screen on your iPhone, right?  Like the screen on the back of every DSLR, perhaps?

It’s quite entertaining how concerned the author gets over things like the tablet’s battery life, quality of the tablet’s camera compared to a smart phone, and how ridiculous tablet photographers look (a point made several times).  Best quote: “To make matters worse, Apple keeps improving the iPad’s camera. With the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the company had the audacity to add a camera flash and 12-megapixel sensor to the tablet…”  The author also jokingly reflects on a dystopian future where lenses are obsolete, but I don’t see that as all that far-fetched.  I can see the end for DSLR technology; it might be closer than one thinks, if the majority of the consumer base moves away from “real” cameras.  It should be mentioned that what the average consumer considers good enough is quite underwhelming, one of the reasons digital photography became popular in the first place.  Convenience will trump quality, so why carry a bulky DSLR and zoom lens around when you can pull a thin tablet out of one’s shoulder bag?  Or a smart phone from one’s pocket. 

The comments are wonderfully entertaining as well, and it seems emotions run high over this subject.  At least there’s one badass on there who still shoots with single-use cameras; that guy is my hero.

I do wonder, with the larger size of the tablet, does that give increased room for larger and better sensors over a smart phone?  Will the tablet actually overtake the smart phone as the user camera of choice for the unwashed masses?  Will people frantically scramble to get extra sensors for their favorite DSLR and mirrorless cameras, will they cry when they give up the ghost after a decade?  Will they shell out huge amounts of money for the few remaining models, or scour thrift stores hoping for something a little nicer than an early ’00s 1MP point-and-shoot?  Will they bemoan the death of photography?

As time marches on and professional digital cameras are abandoned in favor of tablets with lenses on them, I will watch and cackle like a crazy person.  Me and all the others kooks still hung up on our light-sensitive little pieces of plastic…

My precious…

It’s finally happened.  Took a few months, but I finally sunk some major dough on a camera body and lens, and it very nearly eclipses the total amount of money I’ve spent on camera equipment since I started in 2009.

My history with rangefinders:

First of all, the Minolta Hi-matic 9, which wasn’t at all a bad camera, but my copy had a problem with the shutter only firing about 50% of the time.  Then, there was the Petri 2.8 Color-corrected Super, which handling-wise wasn’t too bad, but with an annoying self-timer lever that I wanted to break off…also it was badly infested with fungus.  Interestingly enough, I mentioned the Canon P back then, so I guess I was already on my to wanting a good Canon rangefinder.  I suppose I’ll also mention the Olympus Trip 35 which is a great little AE camera with zone focusing, and one I used quite a lot last semester for photo projects.

On the mirrorless film body food chain, if you start from the bottom, you have the point & shoots (though some, like the Olympus Stylus series are considered quite good), followed by zone-focusing viewfinder cameras like the Trip 35 or XA2, then all manner of fixed-lens true rangefinder cameras from Canon, Minolta, Olympus, Yashica, and others.  These are where the true value lies as there are plenty of great quality cameras out there for bargain prices.  I bought that Hi-matic 9 for $25, the most I’d spent for a camera up to that point, and as recently as December I came across a Yashica Electro 35 also for $25 (sadly I was completely broke at the time and didn’t buy it).  At the top of the food chain, is of course all the Leicas…$5000 new for a body alone, and probably $1200 for a beat up M3 with a lens, more than I can afford, and the gulf between the Leicas and a good fixed-lens Japanese rangefinder has me continuously asking the question, starting at 50 times the price, are you really getting 50 times the camera, 50 times the image quality?  That question is especially relevant in my class right now, because our resident Leica guy sold the lens he had and now owns the exact same lens that I do (it’s in worse condition and he paid more for it).


My local camera store just put out a handful of vintage M39 Leica screw mount lenses, of which I snagged a Leitz 5cm Summarit f/1.5 (you convinced me, Mark).  I then immediately started shopping around for a body.  I’ve been doing my research for a while, and ultimately chose the Canon 7, though I also considered the P and VI-L models.  There are a lot of these coming out of Japan right now so it’s the best time ever to buy one (or two?) of these great old cameras, a body can be had for under $100 if you’re patient.  It’s a great camera, and has all the modern features: integrated rangefinder/viewfinder, thumb winder, swing open door with SLR-style film loading (which Leica will never adopt, it seems), and a selenium light meter (which still works and appears to be accurate).  And it’s a solidly-built hunk of brass, not at all unworthy of carrying a well-made Leitz lens (and that lens is a beast, weighing more than the body).


So I think I’ve found the perfect middle-of-the-road price point for me to get into rangefinders without having pay more than I did for my last car, yet still having the ability to shoot a wide variety of Leica glass (the older and more affordable kind), plus lenses from many different manufacturers if I want them.  There are even modern lenses out there from Cosina/Voigtlander, and this just came out as well.  I’m going to have to save up quite a bit but man, I do so want a brand new Jupiter 3+ kind of badly…


So how is shooting the Canon 7?  Pretty nice.  Despite its reputation of not being as well-made as the Canon P, to me it feels extremely solid.  It has the same style thumb lever as my AE-1 in that it can be moved out from the body a good ways without locking, which can take a bit of getting used to, but aids in rapid winding situations as my thumb fits in between the body and the lever.  The strap lugs seem a bit oddly placed, and from what I’ve read the camera only balances correctly when sporting the f/0.95 dream lens.  The shutter is definitely quieter and smoother than any of my SLR shutters, and I expect sharper handheld shots down to 1/8sec.  The light meter works and appears to be relatively accurate, though I would prefer something that reads through the lens, but for that I’d need a much more modern (and expensive) camera.

Considering that I bought the camera for the purpose of mounting Leitz screw mount lenses, I should be talking more about that lens.  It has a bit of a bad reputation for being really soft wide open, but then again that might be because Leitz had them optimized for f/2.8 (I hear they can be modified).  I’ve seen pictures around here and there, and it seems like the lens has the potential to give just stunning bokeh wide open.  It’s not something I’ve really obsessed about in the past, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far, especially for black & white, where the lower contrast does not prove a hindrance.  And being a lens that was made in 1953, it definitely doesn’t have the multicoating, flare resistance, contrast, and look of modern lenses.  For color work, I’m not convinced, but then I’m not doing a lot of color work; that said, a low contrast lens like this could work great taming the wild colors of films like Ektar and Velvia 100, and right now I’m testing that assumption by shooting some Ektar.

But that said, I’m happy with the results I’ve had so far in black & white.  The lens is plenty sharp stopped down, and contrast is good as well.

Edit: OK guys, I’d better own up…mere hours after posting this, it developed a problem with the shutter speed/ASA dial, to the point where it no longer changes shutter speeds now.  I tried taking it to my local camera store, but they don’t have the parts to fix it, so unfortunately I had to contact the seller.  Per the money-back guarantee I would still have had to pay shipping back to Japan, we came to an agreement and I was refunded the price minus shipping costs but kept the camera.  I’m going to donate it to my local camera store as a parts machine.  So much for trying to get a good deal on this one.  Looks like it’s back to the hunt…