Olympus 35RC – another film gem

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The Olympus 35RC first went on sale in 1970, one of a series of cameras that built on the breakthroughs of the Pen family, with auto exposure (EE).

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It’s a beautiful camera, to look at, to hold and to use. Simple, with a sharp 42mm F/2.8 lens. The camera has nicely smooth and precise rangefinder focussing, though the focus spot is a little on the dim side. Close focus is 0.3m.

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The 35RC delivers accurate shutter-preferred automatic and manual exposures. In Auto mode, the 35RC shutter locks if its settings would lead to a bad exposure. And, unlike any contemporary Leica, it shows apertures and shutter speeds in the finder.

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Admittedly the shooting range is narrow, 1/15 to 1/500, and the ISO range is limited (ASA 25 – 800, but skips 40, 320 and 640). So it makes a lovely second camera – good on the street, too, especially given its tiny size.

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You can easily get the Wein PX625 zinc-air replacement battery on Amazon, by the way.

All shots taken with Kodak Portra 400.

Posted in Local & Bath, Photography, United Kingdom Tagged , , , , , |

Pentax KX is a wow, just as in 1976

I dug out my Pentax KX a few weeks ago. It was my first “real” SLR, bought in 1976, and was my workhorse for 10 years. It accompanied me through Europe, the USA, India, China, Japan and more. And I had forgotten just how great a camera it is.

Pentax KX WM -1

I was lucky enough to use the breakthrough Spotmatic when a I was a photographer for the Leeds University student newspaper, in the late 60s. The K series was essentially based on this Spotmatic, but introduced the then-new K bayonet mount to replace the original screw thread. Ks came in three varieties.


The simplest, the K1000, has become a kind of cult student film camera.  The KX added features such as SPD centre-weighted metering. It was only in production for a couple of years, so is fairly rare. The K2 was the professional version. That said, whilst there are some operational differences, all are built like a tank with the same body. And you can see above how beautiful the camera is. You can buy the K series bodies on eBay for less than £100, usually in really good condition.

The KX has a nice, matched needle meter metering system, fast to use and really accurate.

Woodlands WM-3

The accompanying prime lenses were also breakthroughs at the time. They were branded SMC Pentax (Super Multi Coating). I had forgotten just how sharp these lenses are. Like many others, I have gotten used to the interminable debates about “which Leica lens is the sharpest”. In shooting with the Pentax 55mm F/1.8, that question is academic. It’s outstanding glass. Period.


I loaded with Kodak Portra 400, and off we went. Here’s a few more shots.

Just loved the bokeh of the 55mm. And sharp … wow!

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Portra skin tones are just so good. Not sure I could do this with digital, even with serious plugin help … By the way, I left the WB exactly as shot here, and only tweaked the levels a bit.

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Also, I shot a few with the Pentax 135mm, F/3.5. This lens is a little more modern, but not much. And you can get it, just like the 55mm, for around £40 on eBay. A fantastic bargain.

This was shot against the light.

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And the 135mm has great bokeh, too

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So, I am blessed. For film, I have the Leica M6, which is an absolute classic in design and operation. The Nikon F4s was a technological breakthrough, and works as well today as any modern autofocus camera. A speedy, indestructible tank!

Now, the Pentax KX re-joins that elite list. Go try one for yourself.

Spoilt for choice.

Posted in film, FilmIsNotDead, Kodak, Pentax, Photography, Portra Tagged , , |

Do they make them like this anymore?

Nikon F4s

No wonder my F4s seems indestructible. Just came across this fantastic “dissection” of the construction and electronics.


It’s a rather old site, but don’t let that detract from the wealth of information here.

To quote the article:

Just like the F3, the priority is how to protect all the sensitive electrical and electronic components within. So, it started with the Nikon F4 backbone which uses a solid aluminum-alloy die-cast body structure for superb strength, rigidity and resistance to corrosion. The die-cast body consists of a front body, rear body, finder mounting section and hand grip. To ensure stability when changing numerous accessories, including lenses, finders and focusing screens, the Nikon F4’s body has to be rugged, yet manufactured to exacting tolerances. Therefore, Nikon selected a special alloy of Copper Silumin Aluminum, which is less susceptible to blowholes during manufacture.

Nikon F4S diecast


Every lever and dial of the F4 has been designed to resist intrusion by moisture or dust – Virtually every dial axis uses an O-ring or rubber bellows to seal the mechanical junctions.

There are also numerous reviews on Nikon lenses, including on one of my “old faves”, the autofocus 24mm F/2.8 from the 1990’s.


For anyone interested in classic cameras, especially Nikon, this site is well worth a look.

Posted in Nikon, Photography Tagged , , , , |

Fringe Arts Bath – PhotoMarathon

Bath is a great city. It has thousands of years of history, is a World Heritage City, and is very popular with tourists from all over the world.

The local Arts and Music scene is also exceptional. The Bath Literature Festival has just finished, the International Music Festival is coming up, and so is the Fringe Arts Festival, which is the pre-eminent annual visual arts event.

There is also an excellent new group, Photo|Bath, planning a range of activities, including an exhibition later this year.

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So yesterday, it was a lot of fun, and more than a little challenging, to be part of the PhotoMarathon, organised by Fringe Arts Bath.

The idea was to take 20 photographs to illustrate a given idea in a fixed sequence. Some were fairly straightforward – “shadows”, “texture”,  “reflection” – and some required real thought – “I wish…”, “undercover”, “contrast”.

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I took the opportunity to blend the challenge with my ongoing street portrait work. Bride-to-be Tracey and her friends were happy to oblige.

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And having to do things in sequence meant that even if you saw something better, later, you couldn’t use it unless you wanted to start all over again. So, having a few favourite places in Bath was useful knowledge.

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I opted to shoot everything with the Leica SL and the Vario-Elmarit 24-90, rather than carry a bag full of kit. The flexibility and close focussing of the two was perfect, and the zoom gives a very nice bokeh when shot wide open.

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We were given 10 hours to complete the task, in two sessions, although a few of us opted to go straight through with all 20 images. My iPhone told me that I had walked almost 6 miles around the city, and it took about 6 hours to fully complete the task.

At the end, we gave either the unexposed film or the 20 raw, unedited images to the FaB organisers. No editing allowed, and the files all had to be clearly in the sequence of the challenge set.

Everyone’s images will be printed out by the organisers, and they will all be exhibited as part of Bath’s Fringe Arts Festival, 27th May until 12th June.

I Wish …
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The challenge also got me looking anew at people and places I know well. This protest group are by the Abbey most Saturdays, and with “I Wish …” as the photo challenge, there seemed to be a different meaning in how I viewed their cause.

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I also visited a few places that I hadn’t been to in Bath before, like the Victoria Art Gallery.

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Some images seemed to pop into my mind quickly. But for some I had to wait, and keep shooting. In “reflection” I think I must have taken 20 or more shots before the lady actually looked properly at her hair in the mirror.

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Yesterday was also the final day for entry to the Bath Open Art competition, which I entered, thanks to prompting from Anna Kot. The fun and the sunshine meant it was a great day for photography in Bath.

You can find all of my 20 images here (and I admit to the odd bit of cropping 🙂

Posted in Art, Leica, Local & Bath, Photography, United Kingdom Tagged , , , , |

Leica SL & Nikon Lenses

SL & Nikkor14mm WM -1I am loving the Leica SL – it solves all of my focusing issues with the M and then some. Has the very best technology of the Q, terrific dynamic range, and the adaptability of a proper system camera.

The flash system is still not good enough for pro use, and there are some tweaks needed to a rather odd Auto ISO algorithm. But otherwise the SL is a big breakthrough for Leica.

One of the attractions of the Leica SL is also its ability to use, with adaptors, lenses from other professional systems. I purchased the Novoflex LET/NIK adaptor from B&H a couple of weeks back, and finally was able to give it a spin today.

I used the Nikkor 14mm F/2.8, which is a superb lens in its own right. The Novoflex is really well engineered, so coupling was instant. Felt very solid.

Of course, the acid test is the image. I took a short series in the garden, and very pleased with the results.

In each case, I set the SL on Aperture priority, using Auto ISO. The Nikkor 14mm was set at F/5.6, which delivers pretty much edge to edge sharpness and no vignetting (any vignetting here is because I liked the treatment in post processing – I used Color Efex Pro inside Lightroom). The focus-peaking worked brilliantly, so allowing me to really get tight on the subject area I wanted.

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Daffodils were taken at 20cm, the closest focussing of the Nikkor, ISO 50 and 1/640th sec.

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Blossoms also taken at 20cmm. ISO 50 and 1/500th.

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And this interior shot, also at 20cm. ISO 125 and 1/30th sec.

Really pleased with the end results, and plan to put that 14mm in my SL kit bag when out and about in future.

Posted in Color Efex Pro, Leica, Nikon, Photography Tagged , , , , , , , |