Lomo’Instant Automat – plastic fantastic

I’ve been a fan of Lomography ever since we collaborated on a Dinohoodie photowalk back in the mists of time, and I’ve loved seeing all their new cameras and cool lenses come out over the years. Recently, their instant cameras have been really popular, with a few versions using the easily-obtainable Fuji Instax Mini packs.

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17mm lens testing – Kilve Beach

I’ve always been drawn to super wide-angle lenses. I don’t know why – a combination of the distortion (reminds me of 90’s skate videos) and being able to get REALLY CLOSE to things and still get a whole background in, maybe. A kind person over on the Talk Photography forums kindly lent me theirs – a 17mm Tamron lens, which I quickly picked up an adaptor for.


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Olympus OM10 – good and bad

The Olympus OM10 – a staple SLR, launched in 1979 and going strong ever since. Aperture-priority (unless you attach a little converter) and pretty sturdy, it takes OM-mount lenses and 35mm film. Light, easy to use and with so many lenses available, it’s lovely to hold and to use, with a big, bright viewfinder.

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Hasselblad Xpan review

Now that I’ve run a couple of rolls through my Xpan, I thought I’d write up a little review. I bought it from West Yorkshire Cameras, whose customer service is always fantastic, and they included a free roll of their b/w C41 film, which was nice. The Cam-in strap was very kindly sent to me by Dan K, and has been really useful – it’s a weighty beast at just under 1kg with lens.


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Paris & camera reviews

Went to Paris, took lots of photos. Posted them all on Flickr!

Took the Olympus XA4 (for b/w) and the Fuji Tiara (for colour). The percentage of shots shows which one I enjoyed using the most – the XA4 is just so quiet. So easy to use, the shots come out so nicely. I can’t fault it, it’s the perfect snapper’s film camera. It needs a clean though, on the outside anyway – it’s covered in drawer crud from living in my parents’ kitchen drawer for years and receiving no love. I’ll get some isopropyl alcohol and cotton buds and have at it over the holidays, I think. Re-discovered how much I like Ilford HP5+ too – such contrast and deep blacks, I forgot how nice it was, and how it fits my ideal of what a black and white photo should look like.

Just before the holiday I also splashed out on a Zorki 4K, a Russian “Leica copy” with a nice Jupiter screw-mount lens.

Phwoar, look at the knobs on that.

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Fujifilm TL Super Mini (Tiara) – tiny and sharp

Fujifilm TL Super Mini (Tiara) + Jessops cheapy film
Fujifilm Tiara – click through to Flickr set

I picked up a Fujifilm TL Super Mini (also called the Tiara in Japan) from a boot fair for £3 a while ago. It’s got a cute lens action when you open the cover – I’m a fan of clamshell designs, as my Olympux XA4 is one too – and a really easy to use drop-in loading action. It’s also got a nifty “panoramic” function, which isn’t truly panoramic, like an XPan or similar, it just masks a 35mm frame. The lens is pin-sharp though, and the colours it produces are just gorgeous. I’d love to try it with some really contrasty black and white film. Watch this space, more to come from this little camera.

Film scanner comparison

Recently I have been lucky to find myself in possession of two film scanners. Going from “no film scanner” to “two” is a bit of a leap, but that’s what happens when you see two bargains on eBay and decide that driving to Milton Keynes is a good idea.

So I now have a Nikon Coolscan IV and a Canoscan 9000F in my possession. Both scan 35mm transparencies and slides, but the Canoscan also scans 120 transparencies. The Nikon is the mouch older of the two, it’s about 10 years old, but sold for much more than the Canon when it was new. As it’s got the ability to be fed film in strips of four, it was often used as a mini lab, scanning in batches. Flatbed scanners are more common nowadays, being as they are, multipurpose – you can also scan documents, photos, pictures etc with it.

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Grubby little camera…

As any parents are wont to do, mine took photos of my brother and I when we were little. Trips to the beach, to grandparents’ houses, holidays, sports days, the lot. I remember one camera being used throughout my childhood. It was black, a clamshell design, and there was a dent on the back cover. The dent was from when my parents went on holiday to Portugal, while my mum was pregnant with me – it got dropped by a swimming pool.

So this camera is now 27 years old. My parents stashed it away in a drawer, no longer wanting to bother with the hassle of getting film developed – my mum takes all her photos with her Android phone now. For a while I’d been thinking about it, but today I decided to dig it out. It was none other than the (rather rare) Olympus XA4, a wide-angle rangefinder. I was over the moon – I was expecting the much commoner XA1 or 2.

Olympus XA4

It really needs a clean, as it has accumulated the kind of unspecified grub only found at the bottom of kitchen drawers. But after two new batteries, the shutter seems to work fine on all speeds. I can’t wait to put a film in it and get using it!

Recesky TLR – first roll, Headley Common

Recesky TLR - Fuji Superia
Recesky – click through to Flickr set

My first roll of Fuji Superia through the DIY plastic TLR by Recesky.

All images are very tweaked in PP. I’ve never scanned + processed colour film before, so this might be normal, or it might not.

I need to remember not to wind on so much next time – I had massive gaps in between frames, only got 16 or so photos to a 36-shot roll. ¾ of a turn should be enough.

EDIT: A couple of years on, this is one of my favourite sets. After chasing perfection for a while, these images have an atmospheric quality that is hard to find. The Recesky has hidden qualities!

Recesky TLR – DIY camera

Aaaaages ago I bought a Recesky TLR from eBay for about a tenner. It’s a tiny TLR in kit firm, that takes 35mm film. Today I thought I’s actually sit down and make it!

Ooh. Err…. hmm. That’s a lot of bits. I needed a tiny Philips screwdriver and some tweezers for fiddly bits, but that’s all. Had a look at the manual:

Aha! Chinese! Shame I don’t speak it, but the drawings were quite clear, so I did ok. It took me about an hour and a half to put together, the only thing I got stuck with was the shutter mechanism. For anyone who has problems with this, see below:

The middle bit was slack at first, and the spring underneath kept dropping off, so the shutter wouldn’t fire. You have to wind the peg up, then screw it in!

I ended up with three leftover screws, but that seems to happen with every DIY project I do.

Ta-da! I’ve put a roll of 35mm in it, I’ll take some shots and post them up soon 🙂