Film cameras: It started with just one.

Yashica Electro 35 GS

Yashica Electro 35 GS

I’ve been on a buying jag the last couple of months, picking up about a dozen film cameras. I started out looking for a digital SLR to replace the Canon F1 I’ve been using since the 80s, but kept running into the wall of having to lay down more than $1,000 to get a starter package that even began to replace the bag of lenses I had for the F1.

Then I happen to look on e-bay, hoping for a bargain DSLR, and came across several rangefinders from the 70s. They had fast lenses, great, if partisan, reviews from enthusiasts on the Internet and could be had for as little as $20.

I stared with a Yashica Electro 35 GS for about $20 including shipping. Learned how to replace the foam seal and fix one of the indicator lights that had fallen into the body. I also cleand up the rangefinder glass. Not only was this cheap, but I liked the idea of owning a piece of equipment I could service myself.

Then I picked up a second Electro, this time a GSN to get the hot shoe. I paid $20 for this as well, but no shipping since the seller was local. I picked up a Rollei 35 with the Tessar lens at a garage sale for $10. This came with a flash and the accesory lenses and finder.

After that was the Olympus Trip 35. I liked the idea of no batteries required, but found the scale focusing a bit of a pain for quick shots. Too long with an SLR. I’ll get used to it. Still, a nice camera to carry around. I then got an Oly 35, ED, virtually a point-and-shoot but with a true¬† rangefinder. This has become my carry around piece, and did yeoman’s work during the family vacation last month.

I picked up a blakc Minolta Hi-Matic 7s for the lens and the all manual capabilities. This turned out to produce nice photos, but it’s a bit heavy to carry around every day. This came in a bumdle with a Polaroid 250, which I have no use for, but it was $20 for both. The battery compartment was totally corroded, so I’m working on replacing it with a AAA bracket.

The most expensive purchase so far has been the Olympus Pen EE-2 I paid about $30 for this with shipping, but the half frames are popular. I’ve just loaded my first roll in this.

Other purchases: A Yashica EE with the 1.9 lens. I think the shutter needs cleaning, but I’ll hold off until I have the proper tools. Also the rangefinder patch is awful dim. Useless except in the best light.

Then there are the oldsters: A Vloigtlander Vito B. Lens looks a bit scratched. See how the first roll turns out. An Agfa Billy Record I. This is a 6×9 folder. This needed heavy patching of the bellows with liquid electrical tape, and had to soak the front lens elements in nail polish remover to free up the focus. Now it seems to work fine.

I also picked up a Ansco Ventura 66, which is currently out of commission. Not all of my acquisitions have been happy stories. On deck for tests are a Balda Jubiletter folding 35mm and a Welta Weltix, also a 35mm folder.

I also picked up an auxiliary rangefinder to work with some of the old scale focus models.

Got an eye on a couple more folders, especially a 6×6. On the wish list, a Zeiss Ikon folder (515?), a Voigtlander folder (Bessa 66 or a Perkeo). This is quickly getting out of hand.


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