Film Photography Podcast – Episode 173 – November 15, 2017
Topics include a TLRaPalooza, New from Beseler, Ilford Film Supply, Nikon Autofocus, Listener Letters and More! So grab your treats and lend us your ears!
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Notes By: Alex Luyckx
Hey, folks, we’re back, and the whole gang is around the table! That’s right joining Michael Raso today in a studio is Leslie Lazenby, Mat Marrash, Mark Dalzell, and Mark O’Brien! Topics include a TLRaPalooza, New from Beseler, Nikon Autofocus, Listener Letters and More! So grab your treats and lend us your ears!
November 15th, 2017 Podcast 173 Chapters
0:00:35 Introductions Michael Raso, Leslie Lazenby, Mat Marrash, Mark Dalzell, and Mark O’Brien
0:00:51 Letter from Lance who sends candy. FPP gang loves treats from different parts of sugar, er, the world.
0:07:17 Letter (from April 2017)
0:10:02 Photostock 2018 June 21st to 24th (Google Photostock Fest or directly https://www.photostockfest.com/ )
0:11:43 TLRaPalooza – first off is the Minolta Autocord LMX
0: 19:45 Yashica-A (covered later in the prodcast)
0:21:55 Lubitel 2 Leslie covers all the shortcomings of this camera. No love.
0:37:10 Beseler new darkroom timer to be out in 2018 USA made.
0:41:30 Break FPP store has film so fresh it should be slapped
0:43:28 Letter from New Zealand
0:49:24 Yashica-A features covered
1:05:15 Mark’s film in many refrigerators….
1:10:50 Letter asks a question and Leslie covers her Ilford vs. Kodak
1:18:38 Justin says Hi. (FPP store customer service guy)
1:22:54 Nikon N2020 (or F-501 outside the USA) Autofocus.
1:24:50 Nikon N8008 (F-801 outside the USA)
1:25:23 Signoff and Music to close
The topic of TLR cameras is not a new one for us on the FPP, but of course, for those who are just getting into film photography or have never even heard of TLRs, the question is asked, what is a TLR? TLR or Twin Lens Reflex is a style of camera that has been part of photography since almost the very beginning, 1870. But the modern iconic look of TLRs today comes from the Rolleiflex first released in 1929. The name itself indicates fully what the camera is, Twin Lens. Yes, these cameras all have two lenses, the top one is to compose and view the subject while the bottom one is what exposes the film. The Reflex is for the mirror that reflects the light up through the viewing lens onto the ground glass on the waist level finder. For the most part, TLRs take either 120 or 220 roll film and shoots 12 frames at 6×6 (or square format). However, there are some 127 TLRs and even 35mm.
The first TLR table is a recent camera from Mark Dalzell, the Minolta Autocord LMX. For many years Mark had no idea that Minolta produced a line of TLRs, the Autocord series started in 1955 (though Minolta had TLRs much earlier), but Mark’s LMX dates to 1958. The camera is impressive on every level Mark explains from the beautiful Rokkor lenses to the general look, feel, and operation of the camera. If you’re already familiar with Yashica or Rollei TLRs, the Autocord isn’t too much different, but there are two things that stand out. The first is the focusing, this is done with a lever at the bottom of the front plate, and it’s also a bit of a weak point for the camera and can often be broken off. The second is the light meter; now the camera does use a selenium cell to power the built-in light meter. However, the readout on the side of the camera uses the popular EV scale. When you set the exposure on the aperture and shutter controls, you need to take the EV number, say 12, and then make the two numbers between the aperture and shutter speed add up. Of course, if you look at the top you’ll get the normal values if you’re using your meter.
The TLR of choice for Mark O’Brien is one that is well loved by the FPP, the Yashica-A. This budget TLR was at the time the least expensive of all the mid-century TLRs at the time, costing only one-tenth of what a Rolleiflex would have cost. This is a budget camera, cheap, nothing fancy. The lens a simple three-element Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 but still gave excellent optical quality. Film advance is done by a normal red window, with nothing preventing you from rolling through the whole roll without shooting or accidently double-exposing the film. Both Mark D and Michael both use and love the Yashica-A. And on the used market they can be had for a good price. A normal black version can run between 60 to 80 dollars and in good condition. There was also a grey coloured version but being a little rarer you’ll pay 80 to 100 for it. Of course, you can find them for cheaper.
For Mat, working at Midwest Photo Exchange presents his views on TLRs as many customers walk in looking for the Vivian Maier camera. Of course, the camera used by the noted street photographer was a Rolleiflex, and those cameras still carry value on the used market. Of course, Mat does have a solution, the Yashicamat-124G. The 124G was the last TLR produced by Yashica running from 1970 to 1986. A massive improvement on the Yashica-A, a built-in CdS light meter and a four-element Yashinon 80mm f/3.5 lens provides the best bang for your buck. And as Mat always sells it as a good option to get into TLR photography when you don’t have the cash for something a little more high-end. Also being slightly newer they are often in better condition and easily repaired in the case you need it done. Mat does recommend the folks at GEM camera (email@example.com) for quality work at a low price!
Leslie’s TLR was lackluster, straight out of the Soviet Union, the Lubitel 2 was more trouble than it was worth. While she remained initially excited about shooting the camera, that soon faded at how much trouble it was for her to operate. The camera itself is a copy of the Voitlander Brilliant but other than the general shape and form, it is a poor copy. Produced between 1954 and 1986, the cameras troubles start right from the design. The focus is achieved by manually twisting the viewing lens that is connected to the shooting lens with gears and can easily slip and get out of sync. The lens itself, a Lomo T-22 75mm f/4.5 is of poor build, and Leslie even says that Box Cameras have better optical quality. No Light Meter, focus marks on Meters, small controls just make the camera frustrating for Leslie to use. While it still maintains a cult following, and even Lomography has released a modern version of the Lubitel 166U.
New from Beseler
Another perk of working for a major camera store for Mat is the ability to test out the latest gear, and something recently came across his desk that caught his eye. Besler, you know the folks who make enlargers (and still make new enlargers) have come out with a new darkroom timer. While it hasn’t hit the market yet, they’re estimating end of 2017 or early 2018 this new timer is a beauty according to Mat. With the ability to do long exposure times or ones timed down to one-tenth of a second this will certainly make printing much easier and not have to rely on ageing products. While we don’t have a price yet, it’s expected to be around or over 200.
Nikon AF – The Underdogs
Mark O’Brien has a couple of cameras to show off, both Nikons from the late 1980s. The first being the 1986 N2020 (or F-501 outside the USA). This beautiful AF camera was the first popular, and native Autofocus camera from Nikon. While retaining the look and feel of the older and manual focus N2000 (F-301), it provides full auto-exposure and autofocus capacities and will work with any AF-D lenses. The camera got an improvement with Mark’s second camera the N8008 (F-801 outside the USA) produced from 1988 to 1996 with an improved version (faster AF and Spot metering) in 1991 with the N8008s (F-801s). The N8008(s) provide a streamlined look more akin to the N90 (F90) of the same era. Both cameras are fun to shoot with explains Mark. They also are both underdogs, so can be bought at a low price but provide excellent shooting.
That’s it for this show, but you won’t have to wait two weeks for our next episode! Yes, we have another bonus episode next week! So why not head over to join in the community over on Flickr, or you can write us a note either by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular post Film Photography Podcast PO Box 264 Fair Lawn, NJ 07410! We’ll see you next time!