Cameras Behind the Blog

Although I try to tag each blog post with the camera with which the photos were taken, I thought it would also be nice to provide an encyclopedia of sorts for those interested in a deeper understanding of the equipment I use and/or those seeking to begin their own collection of useful vintage cameras. While photos from other cameras occasionally make an appearance on the blog, below you’ll find a listing of the cameras I use the most, including the pros and cons (in my personal opinion only!) of each.

Also, to any camera experts reading this, please know that I am not at all a camera expert myself, so I know my knowledge and terminology and descriptions might be simplistic. Bear that in mind!

Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic F

This fairly basic manual 35mm camera from the 1960-70s is my trusty Old Reliable. In fact, I now have two, although one doesn’t get used due to a broken light meter. I also have an extensive collection of lenses and filters for it, which were passed down from both my dad and my Grandmama, but my go-to lens is the 50mm you see on it there. Read more about Pentax Spotmatics here.

Pros:

– With just a bit of practice, it is simple and easy to use.

– Produces some pretty amazing bokeh.

– Images tend to come out with a soft and dream-like quality.

Cons:

– The light meter is one of the most common things to break on these cameras, and it is pretty expensive to get them fixed.

Yashica J

The Yashica J is a 1960s rangefinder, which was a low-quality camera in its day, but is a fun and easy-to-use “toy” camera for me. Read more about the Yashica J here.

Pros:

– Exceptionally easy to use due to the limited settings available.

– Very quiet, which makes it a great choice for sneaking stealthy shots in certain locations/situations.

– Has a fast lens that helps get better photos in low-light situations.

Cons:

– Does not have very close focusing range (closest is about 1 meter).

– My Yashica J has a very bad light leak due to a loose back, and it seems from a quick internet search that this is a universal problem with this type of camera. See my solution to this problem here.

Polaroid Land Camera 230

This is a favorite in our household. We now have three of the Polaroid 230 cameras. This is a rangefinder model with a lighten/darken wheel. This is not the kind of camera that spits out your photo; rather, it uses a peel-apart film pack. Read about the Polaroid 230 here.

Pros:

– Instant gratification.

– Relatively low cost per print (compared to other Polaroid cameras), depending on brand of film used. Fuji makes a film that is compatible, and it is cheaper than the films currently produced specifically for Polaroid cameras.

– Double exposure capabilities.

– Color accuracy is good (this is more an advantage of the film used, but we’re not being picky here!)

– It looks cool! People notice it and love it and start conversations with me about it. In short, it’s the best marketing tool I’ve got. 🙂

Cons:

– They require a battery that is extremely expensive and (I’ve heard) does not last long. We have modified all three of ours to accept AAA batteries instead. The modification process can be a bit harrowing unless you’re handy or you’ve got a handy dad or husband to do the soldering for you.

– Film is available online-only in most places. Not too big of a con, except that it requires planning ahead.

– Best results in bright sun.

– Takes practice framing, as final image is never framed exactly as it was through the viewfinder.

– Does not have close-up capabilities by itself (requires a separate portrait lens for a closer range).

– The film pack creates a lot of non-recyclable waste!

*Please note that all of these cameras are fully manual cameras, and require at least some knowledge in exposure (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO). A basic tutorial for exposure principles can be found here. In other words, these cameras do not do all the thinking for you, so it does require a bit of learning through reading and experiments (but that’s part of the fun, right?!).

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