federico buchbinder / shadows and light: Blog https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog en-us (C) federico buchbinder info@federicobuchbinder.com (federico buchbinder / shadows and light) Sun, 13 Sep 2020 14:39:00 GMT Sun, 13 Sep 2020 14:39:00 GMT https://federicobuchbinder.com/img/s/v-12/u156367058-o734906130-50.jpg federico buchbinder / shadows and light: Blog https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog 120 120 Tokyo Koki Tele-Tokina 135mm f/2.8 preset lens: the old world of creamy blurred backgrounds https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2013/3/tokyo-koki-tele-tokina-135mm-f2-8-preset-lens-the-old-world-of-creamy-oof-backgrounds A couple days ago a preset lens fell on my lap. It came as one of three lenses included in a package with a Minolta X-700 camera. When that happened I didn't know that this was a preset lens, or even what a preset lens was. So I was surprised to find what I thought were two aperture rings instead of one – see the second photo. (Read more about preset lenses here.)

My "new" lens is a Tokyo Koki Tele-Tokina 135mm f/2.8. It has a T/T2 mount, a sort of universal mount like Tamron's Adaptall 2, so there are adaptors to mount the lens on cameras of different makes. My lens came with adaptors for Minolta SR and Nikon F, which made me very happy because it meant I'd be able to try the lens on my digital bodies for instant gratification. I'm on a manual-lens kick, so the timing was perfect. 

There's not much info on this particular lens online, so I've no clue when it was made. Since the SR mount was replaced by the MC mount in 1966, I assume that the lens is at least 46 years old. The Tokina quality is immediately apparent on the build, regardless of the age.







As you can see, the old guy is in mint condition. The focus ring is smooth, as well as the aperture rings. The blades are a bit oily, but that's not an issue with preset lenses – what opens the aperture blades is not a camera/lens mechanism but it's the user instead (this is explained in the article I linked to above). UPDATE: the guy that services my gear pointed out that the oil on the blades is actually something desirable in preset lenses. He even said that most likely the blades have looked oily like this since the lens was brand new, and that I should expect the blades to look oily like this for a long time, which is good news.

A cool thing about preset lenses is that most of them have a boatload of blades, which contributes to the creamiest out-of-focus areas you can find. This particular lens has 15 blades, compared to 5-9 blades that most popular lenses have these days. Another factor that likely contributes to the smooth background blur is the fact that the diaphragm is positioned farther from the rear element than in regular modern lenses. 

In addition to the creamy backgrounds, and maybe even as an associated result, it is said that images created with preset lenses have a distinct 3D feel. Judging by samples of a 200mm f/3.5 lens I saw online earlier today, I'd have to agree with this. I'm looking forward to playing with this lens myself and see what kind of images with 3D feel it can produce.



 

A perk of preset lenses is that you don't need to limit yourself to the apertures marked on the barrel (f/2.8, f/4, et cetera). The lens can be stopped down in increments as small as one wants, to achieve with surgical accuracy the depth of field one needs. For example, if f/5.6 gives you too much depth of field but f/4 doesn't give you enough, you just set the aperture somewhere (anywhere!) in between. This is an advantage over traditional lenses (albeit a minor one). 


With this lens, background highlights are almost perfectly circular at all apertures thanks to the crazy-high number of blades (see above how they create a nice circle when stopped down). Here are some samples taken with the lens mounted on a Nikon D700, all of them basically straight out of the camera (no sharpening, contrast or anything adjusted). Each was taken using a different aperture. Focus was on the word "Chaudair".


f/2.8


f/4


f/5.6


f/8


f/11



The areas in focus look pretty sharp. A couple crops from the first photo (f/2.8):

1) Area in focus (not too shabby for wide open on the edge of the frame on a full-frame camera... Again, remember that no sharpening was applied to these photos):
 

 


2) Area out of focus – look at those delicious highlights!
 




Minimum focusing distance is somewhere around 1.80-2.00 metres (5-6 feet), typical for an old lens of this focal length. 

I may update this blog post with more photos once I get a chance to shoot with the lens out in the field. Winter is still here, so those photos might have to wait for a few weeks. 


Old manual lenses are a lot of fun. You don't get autofocus, hyper-coating or VR, but you get to play with some awesome glass for a fraction of the price of a new lens.

As usual, thank you for reading.

 

June 13 update: I finally had a chance to play with this lens out in the field. All I can say is that it was a blast. The bokeh is nothing short of spectacular, particularly wide open. The sharpness suffers a bit at f/2.8, but gets much better as you stop down. The following images were taken at maximum aperture – honestly, with a stellar out-of-focus performance like that, you really don't want to go with a smaller f-number. 

 

 

This one was taken slightly farther from the subject, and the bokeh shows a tiny bit of nervousness compared to the image above.

The lens was mounted on a Nikon D700 camera, which was on a tripod and activated with a remote release. ISO was 200 in both cases and the shutter speed 1/40 and 1/30 respectively. While these images were post-processed, they were already bright, colourful and pretty contrasty in camera.

The day was overcast.

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info@federicobuchbinder.com (federico buchbinder / shadows and light) 135mm 15 aperture blades 15 blades 15 diaphragm blades 200 mm 200mm blog blurred background bokeh camera collectors Camera collectors in Manitoba Camera collectors in Winnipeg creamiest bokeh creamy bokeh f/2.8 f/4 f4 Federico Buchbinder Manitoba camera collectors manual focus lenses manual lenses old lenses old photography lenses photo photographer photography preset lens preset lenses sixties smooth bokeh smoothest bokeh Tele-Tokina tokio koki tokio koky Tokyo Koki tokyo koky vintage camera blog vintage camera blogs vintage lenses vintage photography lenses Winnipeg camera collectors https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2013/3/tokyo-koki-tele-tokina-135mm-f2-8-preset-lens-the-old-world-of-creamy-oof-backgrounds Mon, 18 Mar 2013 06:23:18 GMT
Early Mamiya Prismat with curved nameplate: lucking into rare https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/8/early-mamiya-prismat-with-curved-nameplate So there was this guy offering a 1960 Mamiya Prismat 35mm SLR camera for sale on Kijiji, asking for offers while claiming that the item usually went for $200-$600 in online auctions. Since I knew next to nothing about Mamiya, I jumped into Google but couldn't find any of those auctions. Similar Mamiya cameras were going for $55-$100, so I offered this guy something along those lines and – after a brief negotiation – we agreed to meet up. In my mind, it was obvious that he had been bluffing about the going prices.
 

A brief inspection showed that the camera was in pretty good cosmetic condition (as advertised) and looked really cool. Included in the package was also the original protective leather case! So I took the camera home, feeling good about the purchase. I had some questions about it, so I tried to contact the seller by email, a few times, but to my surprise he never replied... Suddenly, I wasn't sure if the price I had paid was right or if there was anything wrong with the camera. 

As it turned out, there was nothing wrong with the camera... and I got a bargain. 

Mamiya Prismat 1


The camera was interesting, I thought, still clueless. The design lines were absolutely beautiful, the top section in particular. The curved faceplate looked nice and different – I had never seen the Mamiya logo rounded like that. Neat.
 

So I went online again to try and find more information on the new acquisition. The seller had said that this was a Mamiya Prismat, but the word "Prismat" was nowhere to be found on the body. None of the many photos of Prismats that Google was showing seemed to match my new camera... until I finally found a matching photo that led me to Ron Herron's excellent Collecting Mamiya 35mm site.  From the site's Prismat page:

"The Mamiya Prismat NP, released in February 1961, was Mamiya's first production single-lens reflex (SLR) 35mm. The very first Prismat is readily identifiable by its distinctive curved nameplate on the front of the prism housing. It was soon updated to the more familiar rectangular Mamiya nameplate".

Mamiya Prismat 2 (lens detail)

 

It seems that Mamiya had been developing what would be its first 35mm SLR since 1952, designing prototypes of different cameras that never made it into the market. My camera, known simply as the "Mamiya Prismat" or "early Mamiya Prismat", hit the market in 1960 and was Mamiya's first official 35mm SLR. Ron Herron says that records of the number of units of this camera produced are not available, not even from Mamiya. By early 1961 it had been replaced by the more well-known version – the Mamiya Prismat NP mentioned above. 

Made in Japan, it looks like "the Mamiya Prismat was not officially imported into the USA except for at least one mail-order house", per this write-up (which also includes other interesting information about re-badged versions of the Prismat NP in different markets).


The early Mamiya Prismat was a rare camera back then, and it's even more rare these days – so much that there are more photos of it on this page than Google can find on the rest of the internet (and I'm not kidding). I got my mitts on one of them thinking it was just another well-designed machine. The amazing thing is, it cost me much less than market value – prices out there, as far as I've been able to find, range from $250 to $700


More about the camera on Ron Herron's Collecting Mamiya 35mm site's Prismat page:

"It has no meter, and its available lenses featured a semi-automatic aperture with an external Exakta-type linkage (actually introduced by Ihagee) for aperture function. The known Mamiya-Sekor F.C. lenses include a 35mm f/2.8; a 48mm f/2.8; a 58mm f/1.7; and a 135mm f/2.8. There was also a 50mm f/1.9 available, made by Canon."
 

[Quick pause for a fun tidbit found here: "At the same time that Canon was making this lens for the Mamiya Prismat (something not ever mentioned in the Canon official history that I can find), Mamiya was also collaborating with Nikon to make a "consumer grade" camera called the Nikkorex. This is the "lost camera" also for Nikon, since it does not exist, really, in their official histories."] 
 

My camera came with the fastest of the available lenses – the Mamiya-Sekor 58mm f/1.7. The lens rim has a few scratches. Other than that, and apart from some resilient dust particles on both the front and back elements, the lens looks OK. It's a bayonet-mount lens, with apertures ranging from f/1.7 to f/22.

Mamiya Prismat 9 (lens damage detail)

 

Regarding the "external Exakta-type linkage" of this lens: there is an "outrigger" to the left of the barrel (visible on the very first two photos of this blog entry, above). When the camera's shutter is depressed, a "shaft" protrudes from the body to this outrigger, causing the lens to stop down to the set aperture.

The shutter speeds range from 1 second to 1/500 of a second. There are also two long-exposure settings: "B" for shorter long exposures and "T" for longer long exposures. In addition, there's a built-in self-timer.

Regarding the lever found at the top of the lens (see it on the second image below), this website explains: 

"There is a lever on the lens that must be turned to open the aperture for viewing. The aperture then closes down to take the photo. It remains at that aperture until you turn the lever on the lens again to view it at full aperture. It is hence not an "automatic" lens."


My camera also included a flash shoe. None of the (few) images of the Prismat that I found online showed this flash shoe, so it's possible that this was an accessory... But was it a genuine Mamiya accessory? Its brushed-metal finish is basically identical to the finish of the camera. I removed it to find out more but, other than the word "Japan", there was nothing on either side of the shoe. 

Mamiya Prismat 4 (viewfinder & accessory flash shoe)
Without the eyepiece (which looks much more weathered than the rest of the camera), the viewfinder is still good but the flash shoe cannot stay in place. So was the eyepiece part of the camera? Or was it a a component of the flash shoe? Uninformed conclusion: the eyepiece came with the camera, and the shoe was a genuine Mamiya accessory. (If you have any information on this, please share it in the comments or contact me directly.)

The design of the top of the camera, like I mentioned above, is pure beauty. This Prismat was released in 1960, possibly designed the previous year. More than 50 years later, the design looks timeless to me. I'll let the image below speak for itself.

Mamiya Prismat 5 (top & lens)

 

The film-record dial (above, the one on the left, around the rewind crank) allows you to set the ISO rating of the film that's inside the camera. In addition, a dial on the back lets you select the number of exposures of the film cartridge, colour-coded depending on the type of film (colour, black and white, infrared), plus two other settings ("sp." and "EMP.", for empty). The exposure-counter dial appears within the stylish film-wind lever, and the shutter release within the shutter-speed dial.
 

To open the camera back and access the film compartment, you have to follow three steps: first, unlock it using the lock found at the bottom (see the second photo after this paragraph); then, pull out the rewind crank; and finally, open the compartment by pressing the back latches on the side of the camera. Note the cloth focal-plane shutter below.

Mamiya Prismat 7 (film compartment)

Mamiya Prismat 6 (base)

 

There's a small lever (seen under the lens, to the right in the image above) that needs to be depressed in order to unlock the lens and allow for it to be removed.


The leatherette has started to show signs of aging and is getting loose – see detail below. I was told that this is easily fixable, but for now I'll leave things as is. [March 2013 update: The leatherette has now been fixed, as part of a complete CLA performed by Computech Camera Repair in Winnipeg.]

 

Mamiya Prismat 8 (peeling back detail)

 

The serial number on my camera is 3346509. In seven years since this blog entry, I've been able to find only four other serial numbers of this model on the internet, and three more through emails sent to me by readers of this blog: 33459393346018, 3346101, 3360082, 3360242, 3360324, and 3360497. This could be just a coincidence, but it might also mean that there were only three series of 1,000 cameras made (3345xxx, 3346xxx and 3360xxx), which would be an indication of just how limited the production of this early Mamiya Prismat really was (and would also explain why so few of them are showing up on the internet today). If you have one of these and want to share the serial number, please contact me.

Mamiya Prismat 3 (back & viewfinder)

 

Everything in the camera seems to work well, and I might even try it out with a roll of film. The question I need to answer is, should I keep or should I sell? For now, it's not going anywhere.

That's all for today, folks. It took me more than two months to publish a new blog entry, but I hope it was worth it. My blog posts have not received many comments yet, but Google Analytics tells me that you've been reading so thanks for that.

Federico

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info@federicobuchbinder.com (federico buchbinder / shadows and light) 135 film 1960 1961 35mm blog camera collectors Camera collectors in Manitoba Camera collectors in Winnipeg curved faceplate curved nameplate early Mamiya Prismat Federico Buchbinder Mamiya Camera Co. Ltd. Manitoba camera collectors old cameras old photography cameras pentaprism photo photographer photography rare rounded nameplate sixties vintage camera blog vintage camera blogs vintage cameras vintage photography cameras Winnipeg camera collectors https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/8/early-mamiya-prismat-with-curved-nameplate Mon, 06 Aug 2012 08:26:55 GMT
Colin Creevey's pick: the Argus C-3 Match-Matic https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/5/ArgusC-3Match-Matic [Disclaimer: although the photos below are mine, the camera is not – it was in my possession for a short period and I had just enough time to shoot it... but not to clean it prior.]

Something I would have never expected to learn about the camera I’ll blog about today is that its “family” of cameras (the C-3) is the best-selling 35mm ever. The C-3, “the camera that made color slides popular”, was an inexpensive interchangeable-lens rangefinder camera produced between 1939 and 1966. Its price was $39.95 and millions of them were sold, in particular during the 40's and 50's when the C-3 was present in what seemed every other American household.

Match-matic 1
This particular model, the C-3 Match-Matic (the camera that was “as easy to set as a clock”), was only produced between 1958 and 1966.

This camera was affectionately known as “the brick”. This wasn’t just for its shape or weight (30oz / 850g!!) but also because of its rugged build. In fact, this product came with a great warranty: the camera and the meter were “guaranteed to be free of defects in workmanship or materials during their lifetime. If any servicing is necessary because of imperfections in materials or workmanship, your camera and meter will be factory-serviced without charge”. Today’s cameras are infinitely more complex, but their one- or two-year warranties look sad in comparison.

The three things that cosmetically stand out about the Argus C-3 Match-Matic are:

  • the tan leatherette finish

  • the dials on the front that resemble a set of toothed wheels in motion, conveying the idea of a complex mechanism (also present in previous C-3 incarnations); and

  • the LC-3 clip-on selenium meter (which was included with the camera, but is not shown in the photos here).
     

Match-matic 4


The rest of the finish is black Bakelite and chrome metal. Even if it was a very affordable camera with a pretty basic design, the Match-Matic had (and still has) a bit of a regal look about it. (Well, maybe not this one in particular.)

On the basic spec side, this camera used standard 135 cartridge film, and featured a 50mm Argus Cintar lens, “color corrected, coated anastigmat”, six different apertures and five shutter speeds (plus bulb for long exposures), and of course a tripod socket.

To make the aperture and shutter-speed controls more user friendly, the Match-Matic featured a unique numbered system in which, for example, a shutter speed of 1/125 was referred to as “7” and 1/300 as “8”. If you were new to photography, this supposedly made picture-taking much simpler. Some might say that this re-naming of the apertures and shutter speeds was unnecessary, but judging by the resulting sales the engineers and marketing guys at Argus knew what they were doing.

Match-matic 3
Available accessories included a flash, the Argus 500 “electromatic projector” for slides, and 100mm telephoto and 35mm wide-angle lenses. Third-party lenses were also produced.

The Match-Matic’s original instruction manual can be found here. (Note the spelling of the model’s name with a hyphen in the middle, as opposed to how the brand name spelling is found almost everywhere these days – “Matchmatic”).

To compose and focus, the Match-Matic required that you first composed your image using the viewfinder, and then shifted your eye to the separate rangefinder window to focus (or vice versa).
 

Match-matic 2
Due to the sheer number of units sold of this camera, it is fairly widely available in the used market. As such, its price used to be low ($10-$20), even with the über-cool selenium meter and the leather case. However, ever since the Match-Matic was featured in one of the Harry Potter movies as Colin Creevey’s camera (see here and here), its price has "skyrocketed" to about $50-$75. There’s someone currently offering it on eBay for $242 (down from their original asking price of $485) – good luck with that!


[Side note: A previous version of this camera (the C-3) was featured in “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” as photo-reporter Gwyneth Paltrow/Polly Perkins’ weapon of choice.]

Thanks for reading.

Federico


 

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info@federicobuchbinder.com (federico buchbinder / shadows and light) 135 film 35mm Argus C-3 Match-Matic Argus C3 MatchMatic Argus Match-Matic C-3 Argus MatchMatic C3 Camera collectors in Manitoba Camera collectors in Winnipeg Colin Creevey Federico Buchbinder Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Manitoba camera collectors Winnipeg camera collectors blog camera collectors old cameras old photography cameras photo photographer photography rangefinder vintage camera blog vintage camera blogs vintage cameras vintage photography cameras https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/5/ArgusC-3Match-Matic Wed, 30 May 2012 01:12:17 GMT
Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/4/kodak-brownie-target-six-20 I have two Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 cameras in my collection. One of them is in incredible shape (especially considering the age of the item), while the other is pretty banged-up (see it below). [Related note: For this blog, I’ve decided that I’ll photograph my few banged-up cameras on location, i.e. in some abandoned house.]
 

"Kodak Brownie Target Six-20" "box camera" "620 film"Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 on location_Final
The Brownie family of cameras (introduced by Kodak Eastman in 1900) made photography affordable for the first time to the general public. The Target Six-20, one of the later models of box Brownies produced, was marketed between July of 1946 and May of 1952 and could be had for a mere $3.00. It was designed to be used with 620 film, which was discontinued in 1995; however, Brownie fans always find alternate ways to shoot with this camera, the most typical being re-spooling 120 film. Fairly-recent photo samples taken with this camera (using one of these alternate methods) can be seen here. (The sample photos are not mine.)

Much like most other box cameras, the Six-20 looks boring. The vertical-line design on its faceplate makes it cooler than most others out there, though. The one pictured here is the Canadian-made version of the Six-20 – the US version has a slightly different faceplate.

As dull as it looks, this camera makes a very nice display item and a great prop for photography as well.

The design is ultra simple: a box with two viewfinders (one for landscape photography, one for portraiture), a shutter release and a film wind knob. The fixed-focus meniscus lens can focus everything sharply from about 8 feet onward (approx. 2.40 metres). (A close-up attachment, No. 6A, was available to shoot subjects from 3 to 5 feet.) Even if it was intended to be a cheap camera, planned obsolescence was not in Kodak’s engineers’ minds when they designed this one: the Target Six-20 was built to last. (Case in point: when released, this camera’s shutter – at 60 years of age – makes a smoother sound than my buddy’s Scott’s Canon 40D’s shutter.)

The fixed shutter speed is moderately slow (1/50? 1/100?), so shooting in bright light must have been an uphill chore back in the day.

One of the things that made this Brownie camera an upgrade over earlier Brownies is that this one featured two different aperture options (apparently f/11 and f/16) as opposed to one, and the ability to shoot long exposures in bulb mode – the shutter remains open for as long as the bulb lever is held. I wonder if anybody tried shooting startrails in 1946?

If you have any interesting/fun/meaningful details about this camera, please share in the comments (using the link at the top left of this post).

Thanks for reading.

Federico


 

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info@federicobuchbinder.com (federico buchbinder / shadows and light) 620 film Camera collectors in Manitoba Camera collectors in Winnipeg Federico Buchbinder Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 Manitoba camera collectors Winnipeg camera collectors blog box cameras camera collectors old cameras old photography cameras photo photographer photography vintage camera blog vintage camera blogs vintage cameras vintage photography cameras https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/4/kodak-brownie-target-six-20 Thu, 19 Apr 2012 23:22:00 GMT
Welcome to my vintage camera blog https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/4/blog_welcome A few months ago I started collecting vintage photo cameras, with the goal of using them as props when shooting my usual fare in abandoned properties. (A secondary idea was to eventually use them as props also in portraits... but who knows when I'm going to venture into portraiture, if ever.) I've always had an interest in industrial design, and it only made sense for me to develop a particular interest in well-designed old photo gear.

So I've been looking for cameras that have quirky designs, or are otherwise classic.

At the moment, I own cameras from as early as 1926 and as recent as the mid-80's. Most are from the 50's, 60's and 70's. Some still work, some don't. A few are missing parts, like the Yashica-C below. Most look in pretty good shape considering their age, a couple show the wear 'n' tear of a lifetime of use or neglect; others look minty like they're right out of the box – and some even came with the original packaging, manuals and warranty cards!

But all have, in my mind, a certain coolness to them.
 

TLR cousinsThree Cousins


My collection, almost without me noticing, has ballooned to about thirty items, including a handful of video cameras (mostly 8mm). I hunt down the cameras locally when I receive a hint from a friend or a photographer, or just by scanning local online second-hand sale sites. Some sellers are people trying to get rid of old stuff so they can reclaim their basement, probably to store other newer stuff that they will one day sell too. Others, however, are full-fledged collectors who have reached a point in their lives when they don't have any more patience to keep their old cameras clean, organized, or safe from damage.

One of these old-time collectors asked me about my cameras and wondered if I had an online showcase for them.

Enter this blog.

I don't know what the entries will look like, though – I'll just play it by ear. I might upload a photo of a camera every week (or couple weeks), include a brief description, ramble a bit, throw in a personal/curious note or two, and maybe add some specs. We'll see.

As soon as I figure out how to open the comments at the bottom of each entry, I will. For the time being, please use the link at the top of this post.

Thanks for reading.

Federico

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info@federicobuchbinder.com (federico buchbinder / shadows and light) Camera collectors in Manitoba Camera collectors in Winnipeg Federico Buchbinder Manitoba camera collectors Winnipeg camera collectors blog camera collectors introduction old cameras old photography cameras photo photographer photography vintage camera blog vintage camera blogs vintage cameras vintage photography cameras https://federicobuchbinder.com/blog/2012/4/blog_welcome Mon, 02 Apr 2012 13:36:00 GMT