Category: Film Photography

The Vivitar 90-230mm f4.5 Review

The lens that you didn’t know you didn’t need.

This is almost a review of a lens. I don’t do technical reviews, this is just a usability review.

Without going too far into Vivitar’s history, Vivitar is an American photo-equipment company that didn’t actually make their own equipment. In regards to their lenses, they would contract independent lens manufacturers, mostly in Japan to make the lenses that they would re-badge with their name on it. These lenses were generally very high quality. Often the lenses were just as nice as Canon, Pentax and Nikon in the 1970s and 80s.

This particular lens was a popular zoom range for nature photography enthusiasts. This lens was made by Tokina and has a very interesting TX lens mount interface. Tokina had four versions; T1, T2, T4 and TX. This allows the lens to mount to different cameras. This came with the Konica AR adapter. I don’t have any Konica 35mm cameras, but I do already own an M42 TX adapter. So, that made it easy to test.

How I came to own this lens?

I found this lens in a thrift store, it was $9. The lens doesn’t have a scratch on it. The lens doesn’t even look like it’s ever been used. So I bought it.

Let’s talk about how it handles.

I mounted to my Fujifilm X-E1. The first thing I noticed, it’s weight. It is a heavy lens and long, just about 7½ inches. It was quite awkward to hold. However, despite it’s weight and size it actually felt better when I mounted it to my Pentax Spotmatic 35mm film camera. My favorite feature though, the length of the lens doesn’t change when zooming or even when focusing. It’s a fun lens to use, 90-230mm seems odd nowadays, but it works well for photographing in the ducks in the park. It has a long focus throw, so it’s very easy to get fine focus.

How is the image quality?

Image quality is fine. It’s not going to get any awards on DxOMark. You don’t buy this lens for image quality, you buy it because it’s a really cheap zoom. Another feature it has that I had not mentioned, the lens also has a “close-focus” mode on the zoom ring, it moves the rear element further away from the image plane. In a similar fashion as the Sears 28-200mm f4-5.6 lens I reviewed in November. When in CLOSE • FOCUS there is a fair bit vignetting and distortion. Personally, I don’t mind that so much. The lens is sharp enough for my taste. Can it go head to head with a modern zoom lens? No, I don’t think so, but again, that is not why I would use this lens.

Final thoughts on this lens.

I like this lens, but it’s not an every situation lens. Personally I prefer to shoot with prime lenses, if I know I’m going down to the river to photograph the waterfowl I think I would still prefer my 200mm f3.5 prime. This would not be great as a portrait lens because of the f4.5 maximum aperture. It would work, but not ideal. A lot of its shortcomings are about its size. If you don’t have shelves full of vintage lenses like I do, then this thing just might be right up your alley.

Shot on Fujicolor Xtra 400 film:

Shot on a Fujifilm mirrorless camera:

Fujifilm DL MiNi Zoom, After One Roll of Film

A One-Roll review of a small and useful point-and-shoot film camera.

Fujifilm has been building high quality cameras for a long time. When I spotted this little 35mm camera at the thrift store for $5, I didn’t hesitate to buy it. The camera has some minor ding on the top corner of the camera next to the flash. Fortunately the camera has a sturdy aluminum body. It’s built quite well. The camera also came with the manual, which is really nice. As I read the manual, I was really impressed by all the features this camera has. The camera is very usable and pretty stylish.

I rushed over to Dot Dotson’s and bought a roll of film and loaded it. The film door only opens just enough to drop the film canister in. Once you close it, the camera rolls the film on to the take-up spool first. Then winds it back in to the canister as you take pictures. I appreciate this feature, but it puts the frame numbers backwards. I’m just being picky I guess.

The lens focuses very quickly, but it is a bit noisy. So it’s not a very discreet camera. The lens quality is good, the lens however is very slow and the zoom range is far from impressive. 28-56mm at f4.5-f7.5. Compared to other cameras of the time and type, the specs are a little over par. Like a lot of cameras in this class, there is a learning curve, because you don’t know what your shutter speed it, you really have to hold the camera steady in subdued light. My first roll of film was Fujifilm Superia 200. I like this film, but Dot’s was completely out of consumer ISO 400. They do have a fridge with professinal grade film, but I did not think it was necesssary at the time.

Do I need another point-and-shoot film camera?

Since owning only one camera is not an option for me, having a film camera of this type is required for my lifestyle. A few months back I reviewed a Rollei Prego 70. This is a p/s camera of the same ilk as the Fujifilm DL Super Mini. The Rollei is a 35-70mm zoom. However, the DL is a far more impressive camera. It has a ton more features and hands down an easier and more satisfying camera to use. I think my Rollei Prego will have to be given to a deserving sort of photographer, because this camera has taken the Prego’s spot in the camera bag.

PROS:

  1. The body is metal.
  2. Quick auto-focus.
  3. Manual focus capability. (Range focusing).
  4. Easy film loading.
  5. Exposure compensation +/- 2 stops in ½ increments.
  6. Positive feedback on shutter button. Half press to focus is very easy to do.
  7. Sliding to door to cover lens and turn off camera.

CONS:

  1. The body is metal, so it’s a little slippery with cold hands.
  2. Slow, I mean really slow lens. (f4.5-7.5)
  3. Loud. Auto-focus and zoom motors are quite noisy.

This is a very nice camera, and with the auto flash modes for fill, back-light and auto it is very useful. Being a photographer is more about how you feel when you are taking pictures than the gear you are using. This camera will be taking the place of the Rollei Prego in my camera bag. In doing research on this camera I learned that Fuji made a prime version of this camera. It’s just named the DL Super Mini AKA Fujifilm Tiara, with a 28mm f3.5 lens. Read Benn Murhaaya’s blog post about that camera here on 35MMC.

Joy Riding the Petri Racer

Another day-in-the-life of vintage 35mm film shooter.

A couple of days ago Berg swoops me up at my place and head to the Bunk Bar for his band’s show. I get into the car and he hands me this retro looking rangefinder. He found it at a thrift store for $20. It looks so retro it’s difficult to believe it was built in the Sixties and it’s not some funky Eighties throw-away camera. Berg wanted me to give it a good run and let him know how it stacks up.

The test drive of the Petri Racer.

I did some Google-reconnaissance and I learned a little about it. The camera had a light meter, but it’s not tied to shutter or aperture. Shutter speed goes 1 second to 1/500 of a second and it’s all mechanical. It uses a mercury battery that is no longer in production. However, everything is mechanical so it doesn’t rely on the battery to shoot, unlike other fixed lens rangefinder cameras of this ilk. This version has a 45mm f1.8 but they made a 45mm 2.8 fixed lens camera too.

Five frames into shooting this camera, I was hooked. The rangefinder patch is a little tough but the distance scale on the lens barrel is easy to read so ranging in the distance is great too. The film advance is nice and positive and snaps back against the body and doesn’t poke you in the nose.

The most fun thing about this camera, the shutter button. The shutter button is on the front of the camera. It’s right on the body instead of the top plate. It took some getting used to, but it’s actually is quite a nice placement for it.

Here is a picture gallery. The film Berg loaded in the camera was Scotch 3M 200 35mm film. I bet the film was at least 15 years old. I exposed the film at e.i. 100, and managed to get a couple of keepers.

My First Roll of Film – Rollei Prego70

On Friday I bought a Rollei Prego 70 at a local thrift shop. The Prego is a small 35mm point and shoot film camera.
When I saw this in the shop, I couldn’t resist. It was only $18.00 and in like new condition. I looked the camera up on eBay and I saw asking prices starting at $50.00 and up.
When I saw this camera, it satisfied three “needs”:

  1. It’s a Rollei.
  2. It’s very small.
  3. It’s completely automatic.

This camera has some features I really like. It also has some draw backs, so I will break it out into pros and cons.

PROS:

  1. Excellent optics.
  2. Compact size.
  3. Recessed power button. (it is difficult to accidentally turn the camera on.)
  4. Powers off automatically after a couple of minutes. (batteries are expensive.)
  5. Easy to find CR2 lithium batteries.
  6. Easy to read LCD display.
  7. A nice, big, adjustable wrist/neck strap.

CONS:

  1. Not particularly sturdy.
  2. The zoom buttons are too close to the shutter button.
  3. There is a long shutter button lag time.
  4. Small viewfinder.
  5. The flash defaults flash into AUTO mode when the camera is powered on.
  6. The battery is expensive.

I took the camera out on a photo-walk and for the most part, I really enjoyed using it. The flash is set to auto and it takes several presses of the recessed flash setting button to get it to turn off. The flash can also be set to turn to fill flash which I think is a nice feature.

I found the metering system to be ok, but the lens is very good and flair is minimal, even when shooting straight into the sun.
My day with the camera was shot with Kodak Tri-X, and I processed the film in ID-11 and the negatives seemed a little thin, I just feel like the development time I used from the Massive Dev Chart App is a little short. This is a camera I will always keep in my bag loaded with a roll of film.

Samples:

Also read this:

the Fujifilm DL Mini Zoom