Friday, April 2, 2021

Spotlight: Konica Auto-Reflex P

 


Half-frame cameras are pretty rad; you get twice the amount of frames on a roll than with a full-frame camera. However, sometimes you want more image quality than those tiny 18x24mm half-frame negatives can offer. What if you could switch between half and full-frame exposures on the fly, without having to change cameras? Well, that's where the gimmick of the Konica Auto-Reflex comes into play. Released in 1965, the Konica Auto-Reflex is the only camera that can switch between half and full-frame formats mid-roll. 

I bought the P version, which came out a year later 1966, and is the same as the original camera in every way except it doesn't have an internal meter, and the rewind knob is a different styling. But, who needs a light meter, anyway? 


Immediately noticeable on top of the camera to the right of the prism is a little switch that toggles between "Full" and "Half." Flipping this switch changes the size of the negative. As you can see below, little metal curtains pop out between the shutter curtain and film plane to form an 18x24mm negative. There are lines etched into the focusing screen to help you compose your half-frame images (or preview what they might look like while still in full-frame mode). When in half-frame mode, black arrows appear at the top of the focusing screen to help remind you. 

This may be obvious to most, but keep in mind, that the field of view changes when switching between formats. The field of view of the 40mm f/1.8 lens I used with the camera became around a 60mm equivalent when I switched to half-frame. 



In addition to changing the negative size, the Full/Half switch also changes how far the advance lever advances the film, and how frequently the frame counter counts frames. With "Half" selected, the frame counter only ticks up once every two shots. A cool little detail! Below is what a roll of film looks like, after switching between full and half-frame multiple times. 


Besides the ability to switch between formats, the Konica Auto-Reflex is a pretty standard 60's SLR. Shutter speeds (1~1/1000 + B) are selectable via a knob on the front of the body. There's a self-timer, which also locks up the mirror for less vibration, which is a nice touch. The viewfinder is frustrating for eyeglass users such as myself, as your eye pretty much has to touch the finder to see the entire focusing screen. With my glasses between my eye and the finder, I can probably only see about 3/4 of the frame. The focusing screen has decent brightness with a large microprism assist, and is not interchangeable. Build quality is about average. The Konica doesn't feel cheap, but it isn't nearly as robust as a Nikon or Pentax from the era. 

Below are a few photographs I made with the Auto-Reflex P, using a 40mm f/1.8 Hexanon and Ilford Delta 400 film. 









Monday, March 29, 2021

Collage: "Popular Photography"

 


Popular Photography, 8" x 10", collage on wood board. 


All of the collage material was taken from issues of photography magazines from the 1960's and 70's. The man in the upper left is Alfred Stieglitz, one of photography's first champions, and a notorious pervert (just read about his relationship with Paul and Rebecca Strand). The man on the right is the cover boy for Miranda camera, which featured a hyper-sexual ad campaign in the 60's that completely objectified women. While I'm happy that more women are getting recognized for their work behind the camera these days, we still have a ways to go. 



Rebecca Salsbury Strand

Alfred Stieglitz, Rebecca Salsbury Strand, 1922


Miranda Camera Advertisements, 1960's




Friday, March 19, 2021

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Spotlight: Nikkormat FT2


The Nikkormat FT2 is a mid-range, enthusiast level 35mm SLR camera from 1975. Some camera nerds call it a "poor man's F2" (Nikon's top-of-the-line offering at the time). While this is in many ways true, the Nikkormat is actually quite distinct from its bigger brother, and provides a very different shooting experience. When it comes to price, though, the FT2 certainly is cheaper than the F2 on the used market; I bought mine with a 50mm f/1.4 lens for under $100. 


First off, the Nikkormat FT2 is a very handsome camera. I usually prefer my cameras in black, but the chrome version of the FT2 simply looks fantastic. I love how the chrome contrasts with the black leatherette on the prism housing. The oversized frame counter bubble window, along with the secondary light meter readout on the top panel, remind me of a luxury timepiece. Like a classic watch, the FT2 is completely mechanical, and requires a battery only for the internal light meter. The Midwest was absolutely frigid the past few weeks, but my FT2 operated just fine in crazy cold temperatures where electronic cameras might have struggled. Along with being fully mechanical, the FT2 is nearly all metal. It's a hefty, dense son-of-a-bitch that's made to last through at least one nuclear apocalypse. 


Controls on the FT2 are similar to other models in the Nikkormat line, but very different from any other Nikon cameras. Instead of the front of the camera like on other Nikons, the depth of field preview control is located on the top of the camera in the form of a little plunger. Depth of field preview is something I never personally use, but boy does that little plunger look cute! Most notably, there is no shutter speed dial on the top panel of the camera. Instead, the shutter is adjusted via a lever attached to a ring around the lens mount. This is so, in theory, all exposure and focusing adjustments can be made with the left hand, while all the right hand has to do is trip the shutter and advance the film. 


The shutter speed lever also doubles as a release for the ISO/ASA selector, which is located on the bottom of the lens mount. It's a bit inconvenient and fiddly located down there, but it's not like ISO is something you change very often, so I'll let it slide. 

In terms of extra features, the FT2 has anything an enthusiast photographer from the 70's could ever desire. There's a self-timer, mirror lock-up, and even multiple exposures! However, while multiple exposures are indeed possible, the frame counter will continue to count up for each exposure made (not only when the film is actually advanced). So if you take a lot of multiple exposures, the frame counter will not be reliable. One cool little feature of the FT2 is that its shutter button accepts both regular cable releases, as well as Nikon proprietary release cables (a la the F and F2). 

The finder, as well as the focusing screen, are not interchangeable. That being said, the viewfinder is big, and fairly bright. Unlike earlier Nikkormat focusing screens that had a simple microprism assist, the FT2 has a split image + microprism assist on the screen, which is awesome, and makes focusing fast. Shutter speeds are also viewable through the viewfinder, which is a feature you don't get on the professional F or F2 unless you attach a bulky metered finder. 

Speaking of meters, the FT2 has one built right in! It takes common 357 button batteries, unlike past Nikkormat models that take those Mercury ones that can't be bought anymore. The FT2 is one of the last pre-AI Nikon cameras, and the meter only works with lenses that have the little rabbit ears. The meter is of the match-needle variety, and is located on the right side of the focusing screen in the finder. As previously mentioned, there's also a meter readout on top of the camera for when you have the camera on a tripod and don't want to keep bending over to check light readings.  It's a nice touch. Unfortunately the meter in my camera is busted, so I didn't get to try it out. 

Below are some photographs I made with the Nikkormat FT2. The film was Ilford HP5+. 



















Sunday, February 21, 2021

Photograph: Katie at Tom & Tina's

 


A photographic multiple-exposure collage of Katie at Tom & Tina's house. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Photograph: View from My Apartment, February 2021

 




A digital photographic collage made from exposures taken over the course of an afternoon.