Photo a day – a rangefinder project for 2011

By now, the “photo-a-day” bit has been played out so often as to become a photographic cliche. The driving force behind this practice has been, obviously, digital cameras — specifically, the vast improvement in the quality of pictures you can take with a cell phone, something many people have with them all of the time. In fact, some industry watchers see compact, point-and-shoot digital cameras being squeezed out of the market soon by cell phone cams.

What I propose to do is to carry out this photo-a-day bit with a good old-fashioned rangefinder and film — the same camera-lens-film combination for a year. Not doing digital means, of course, that I won’t be able to see the pictures until  I’ve finished off a roll of film and had it developed. The question is, does “photo a day” mean just one photo or at least one photo. The latter, I think.


Sears 35rf

The camera above all has to be reliable. I’ve had a run of cheaply bought vintage rangefinders that have crapped out on me. The camera also will have to be small enough to carry around, and versatile enough for a wide range of situations. I’m thinking one of my compact fixed-lens Japanese rangefinders from the 70s. Candidates include the Sears 35/rf (Ricoh 500G clone), Olympus 35 ED, Minolta Hi Matic E or F,  Mamiya 135,  Konica C35 and the /Chinon 35ee/GAF Memo 35ee/GAF Point Five triplets. All the cameras sport 38mm or 40mm lenses. I really like the lens on the Konica and love the feel of the Olympus. The Sears is the only one with shutter priority AE, the other are full automatic, And the Hi Matic E has the bright f1.7 lens, while the others come in at f28 or 27.


Olympus XA

The other options is to go the Olympus XA route, either the original XA or XA2. This kit had the advantage of size and a flash attachment, as well as being just all out great cameras.

The film will probably be something I can get anywhere — Kodak Gold 200 or Fujcolor 200 which seem to be still available even in drug stores and convenience shops.  I’m not talking about great art here, and I’m not a big fan of “lomo” type photos. Just trying to be realistic.

Finally, there’s something to be said for making a habit of taking at least one photo a day. Making a habit of taking pictures is a sure way to train the eye, not only to frame shots but to consider lights and shadows. Shooting every, particularly with the same camera, also helps to learn what’s possible with a certain camera/lens combination, its quirks and features, and to make to advantage of them.

Not to be discounted is making a habit of carrying a camera around at all times. As Chase Jarvis says, “The Best Camera is the One That’s With You,” a phrase he’s trademarked.


2 Responses to “Photo a day – a rangefinder project for 2011”

  1. So, are you going to share the results daily? Will you keep on posting about your old camera adventures as well? I look forward to seeing how you work out the details.

    • I will be posting the results, but not daily, obviously, because I have to finish a roll and have it processed, etc. I do plan to keep shooting my other cameras as well. Thanks for the interest.

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