Friday, June 28, 2013

Spotlight/Roll: Ricoh TLS 401

I've always had a fondness for the Ricoh brand. My first real film camera was a Ricoh A-100, which served me well for the time that I used it (It was also the camera I took with me to Italy). Ricoh primarily made high quality consumer-grade and semi-professional 35mm cameras. I've always liked that a lot of Ricoh cameras have a K-mount or 42mm screwmount, which allows for the use of many awesome Pentax lenses.

The 1970's era Ricoh TLS 401 is a pretty standard 35mm camera, with one pretty cool innovation. The feature that made me buy it (for $7.95 off ebay mind you) was that it has two viewfinder windows. Two! On one camera! The TLS 401 has a normal eye level finder window, but then at the twist of a knob, you can compose your shot through a waist level finder window!

The two viewfinder windows, with the knob you use to switch between them.
A lot of professional-grade 35mm cameras had the option to install a waist level viewfinder for low angle shots. However, waist level finders are really inconvenient to use for vertical compositions. Many photographers would end up attaching different finders for whatever situation they were in. Some smart guy at Ricoh came up with the idea of having both eye level and waist level finders installed... at the SAME TIME. In fact, Ricoh's advertising slogan for the camera was, "It doesn't waste time getting to waist level", or something along those lines.

The waist level finder, top view.
Does this innovative feature work in practice? Yes. To a degree. While actually shooting with the camera, having the option to do super low angle shots without lying down on the ground was pretty convenient. However, as you can see from the above shot, the waist-level viewfinder is pretty small. One of the advantages of a "real" waist level finder is that you get a much bigger image than a pentaprism finder. The waist level image you get with the TLS 401 is a bit smaller than with the eye level finder, which was a bit disappointing.

Overall, however, I really enjoyed shooting with the Ricoh TLS 401. The camera has a nice, solid build. It's big, but not monstrous. The shutter speed dial is in a slightly odd place on the front of the body, but it was still very easy to adjust. I took the camera to Novelty Golf and Games, our favorite local mini-golf course, which was established in 1949. I used a Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm 1.4 lens that I ripped straight off of my Pentax Spotmatic. Take a look!

So yeah, I found the TLS 401 a lot of fun to use. It's definitely a camera that I'll use again. Thanks for looking!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Print: Piggy Rider

Here's another spring rider from the drive-in theater I visited in Galesburg. This time, it's a pig! I quite like his bow-tie, and admire how he wears a shirt with no pants. I did a fair amount of dodging on the left side of his face, which was in pretty heavy shadow. I'm really trying to get better at dodging and burning, but it's haaaaaard. I think I did I fine job with it here, though.

I used my Mamiya C330 with a 105mm lens. Thanks for looking!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Spotlight: Argus AF

I've been sick with a cold the last few days, so I thought I'd show off a camera I bought a few years ago. Enjoy!

The Argus AF
The Argus AF (1937) was the second camera made in the "Argus A" line, and is one of the first American made 35mm cameras. I bought this little guy at an antique shop back in Galesburg a few years back. The camera features a pop-out focus ring that focuses from 1.25 feet to infinity, and shutter speeds ranging from 1/200th to 1/25th, plus Bulb and Time modes. The 50mm lens needs to be zone focused; no rangefinder to be found here.

Deco lines!
I really love the art deco lines that accent the front and back of the camera. Even through the Argus AF was pretty much a cheapish point-and-shoot, the design team clearly didn't cut any corners in the camera's design.

I used this camera a couple of times, with pretty disappointing results. Granted, I didn't really know what I was doing back then, so it wasn't completely the camera's fault, I'm sure.  Here are a few shots I got with the Argus AF (please don't loose respect for me!):

Well, thanks for looking! Hopefully I'll be feeling better soon. I have a few projects I've been meaning to complete, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Extra Frame: After the Nuke

Here's a photo from my last OM-2n roll that didn't quite fit in with my golf shots. This is the same doll from "The Marsh" print that I did a couple of months ago. She's decayed quite a bit more since then. I choose to photograph her in bright sun, to make it look like she was nearly burning.

...Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Roll: For the Love of the Game

A couple days ago I went golfing with my dad and my two friends, David and Sparkles. I hadn't been golfing in about 6 months, so I was pretty rusty... not to say I was ever any good in the first place. I brought along my Olympus OM-2n and a roll of Fuji Color 200 film to document the occasion. I'm always shocked by how sharp my Olympus Zuiko 50mm 1:1.4 Lens is. Most of these shots were taken in aperture priority mode, and I was impressed on the exposure accuracy, given the very mixed lighting I was dealing with. Take a look!

Oh, and it was Katie's birthday yesterday! Here's a photo I took of her with her birthday rose:

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Print: Humble Bumble

This bumble bee was one of the several spring riders I found in the Blue Moonlight Drive-In Theater. He looks real friendly! I used a my Mamiya C330 with a 105mm lens (with a yellow filter to bring out the distant clouds). The print has some flaws, but I quite like how it turned out just the same.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Roll: Avon and Quincy on the Retina iiiC

I hate rolls of 36 exposures. Even 24 exposures is a lot to have on one roll. When you're thinking carefully about each shot, 36 is a lot to get through in one day. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been working on a roll with my Retina iiiC. I took it to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and a trip to Quincy Illinois for a juried show my dad and I were in. I saw a lot of interesting things on both excursions. While passing through Galesburg to get to Quincy, we stopped at an old drive-in movie theater to take some shots. I used my Mamiya C330 in addition to the Retina, so I expect to turn out some sweet darkroom prints sometime soon.

Here are my Retina iiiC shots:

Thanks for looking. I'm going to try to get in the darkroom this week and make some prints of the theater. Stay tuned!