Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spotlight: Exakta VX 1000



The Exakta VX 1000 is a 35mm SLR that was made by Ihagee, and was first released in 1967. It's an update to the Exakta VX, which came out more than a decade prior. The VX 1000 conveniently accepts the same lenses and finders as the VX.

The most noticeable improvement with the VX 1000 over the VX is the implementation of an instant-return mirror. This means, once you make a picture, the mirror returns to the viewing position automatically. With the original VX model, you had to re-cock the shutter before the mirror would reset. Other improvements include a more comfortable advance lever, and a film rewind crank (as opposed to a knurled knob).

The VX 1000 retains Ihagee's trademark left-handed operation, which can be strange at first. The camera is designed for you to operate the shutter speed dial, film advance, and shutter release with your left hand. Your left hand is then consigned to adjust the focus and aperture. Personally, I couldn't adjust to this layout (right-hand focusing is just too foreign feeling), and my left hand ended up taking care of all the controls, while my right hand simply held the camera steady.


The best part about the Exakta VX 1000 is its waist-level finder, which is extremely bright and fun to compose with. Prism finders are also available if you want to be lame. Finders are easily interchanged by depressing a switch on the front of the body. The standard VX 1000 focusing screen is all-matte with no aid, which makes focusing on moving subjects a near-herculean task. However, there are split-image screens out there if you're willing to spend some extra cash on Ebay. For non-moving subjects, however, the standard matte screen is great; details pop when in-focus. 

Fast speeds (1000th-1/30th, plus B) are set using one dial, while the slow speeds and self-timer are set using a confusing wind-up dial on the opposite side of the focusing hood. In all honesty, I didn't even mess with this dial during my time shooting, as I was hand-holding the camera for all of my exposures.


Rewinding the film is performed by depressing the metal button next to the advance lever while turning a crank on the bottom of the camera. There seemed to be more resistance to the crank than with other cameras I have used, but with a little extra effort my film rewound without a hitch.

I took my Exakta VX 1000 with me on a camping/renaissance faire trip over the weekend. Here are the photographs I made. For all the images I used a 50mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens and Ilford HP5+ film.





















Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Plates: Myself, Through Time and Place

Myself, Through Time and Place is a new self-portrait series I've been working on lately, with the help of Katie Baer. 

The images within this growing body of work speak to the transient nature of humanity. We, along with our surroundings, are in a continuous state of flux. Always moving, always changing, always aging, there is no true constant in life. Everything moves way too fast. Whenever I travel to Chicago to enjoy the company of family and friends, I can't help but think, "I'll be back on the plane before I can fucking blink," and then I pretty much am. The ephemerality of existence is overwhelming, a feeling I attempt to express through these self-portraits. 

Each photograph is comprised of four separate exposures at different times and places in my life. I used my Nikon F2 with a 20mm lens and Ilford Delta 100 film. 







Thursday, November 2, 2017

Spotlight: Minolta SRT Super


The Minolta SRT Super is a 35mm SLR that was first produced in 1973.

Generally speaking, I'm not a huge fan of Minolta cameras. Compared to the other big Japanese brands of the time (Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Canon), Minolta never really made many cameras that were especially interesting or innovative. Their 35mm bodies are comparatively large, clunky, and ugly. Even "Minolta", sounds kinda gross, like the classification name given to an insect. All this being said, the SRT Super actually impressed me quite a bit. It's definitely my favorite Minolta camera I've ever used.

It honestly feels like a slightly larger and more archaic Nikon FM, but with more features, and less annoyances. The whole package is very utilitarian. It just works.


The SRT Super is fully mechanical, and requires batteries only for the internal match-needle light meter. The meter is operated by a little on-off switch located on the bottom of the body. The focus screen is fixed with a split-image/microprism assist. The prism finder is not interchangeable. All shutter speeds along with your selected aperture are viewable through the finder, so you never need to take your eyes off the subject. Speeds between 1/1000th and 1 second are selectable, along with bulb. ASA speed (8-6400) is changed by lifting the shutter speed knob and twisting. Mirror lock-up and self-timer functions come included, and are easy to operate. I didn't realize until after I shot my roll with the camera, but the SRT Super has a true multiple exposure function! Just hold down the film rewind button as you cock the shutter, and your film will not advance.

The SRT Super is simply a great camera. It doesn't try to do anything innovative or fancy, but pretty much all the creative features you could ever want in a film SLR are present. It's cheap, too! Much cheaper than a Nikon FM. You can buy a body for around $60.

With my wife, I took my SRT Super and 50mm f/1.4 Rokkor lens along with me on a weekend trip to Pensacola, Florida. The film was Ilford HP5+. Here are the results:































Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Plates: Durations (Continued)

 Matthew John & Harper Play a Round of Soul Blade


 Serious Talk with Matthew John


The Drive Home from Goodwill (Katie Flipped Me Off)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spotlight: Pentax ME Super


First released in 1979, the ME Super is a compact 35mm SLR targeted at advanced amateur photographers. It's the electronic counterpart to the fully mechanical MX, and the successor to the original ME model. The ME Super is nearly identical to the ME, with the addition of manual shutter speed selection and a faster top shutter speed. Batteries are required for operation, but there is a mechanical speed (1/125th) you can use in case of battery failure.

The two little black plastic buttons control shutter speed in manual mode

Along with its predecessor, the ME Super is the smallest full-frame 35mm SLR ever produced. Combined with the tiny Pentax 50mm f2 or f1.7 lenses, you can even fit the ME into a jacket pocket. It's totally tiny and easy to take anywhere. I biked 20 miles with it slung over my shoulder and barely noticed it was there! Even with its small size, the ME is ergonomically pleasing, mostly thanks to the huge shutter release button. There's a decent amount of plastic used in the ME's construction, but it still feels pretty sturdy. The top and bottom plates are still made of brass, to the best of my knowledge.

Me and ME (Super)

Shutter speeds between 4 seconds and 1/2000 (pretty good for a consumer SLR) are selectable via two buttons on top of the body. All available speeds are viewable through the viewfinder, and a little green or yellow light pops up next to the speed you have selected. Little red lights display if you are over or under the correct speed. It's not as practical as a physical shutter dial, as it's impossible to tell your selected speed without putting your eye to the finder, but it gets the job done. The split prism focusing screen is fixed, you unfortunately can't interchange it with Pentax MX or LX screens.

I took my ME Super with me up to Abita Springs, Louisiana, where my wife and I rode bikes and visited the "Abita Mystery House." I shot almost entirely in aperture priority mode and my negatives came out perfectly exposed! The ME Super's meter was never fooled, even under a few tricky lighting situations. The film used was Ilford HP5+.