I've been travelling for a couple weeks now with this nice old brick.
After starting the Asian leg of my trip in Hong Kong, I quickly regretted not bringing my cherished Canon A-1 (a different, similarly venturous tale of analog revival). Luckily, I was entering a land chock full of flea markets and dubious salesmen. Finding and buying another film camera sounded like the right kind of adventure.
So, while wallowing in Hong Kong, I did some research and hit up a variety of recommended locations and stores. The result surprised me in their dirth and price, although ultimately proving fruitful.
My main theory was to try Apliu Street, a flea market in the working class neighborhood of Sham Shui Po. Stalls and shops pack together with everything from high end electronics to piles of grimy power tools a meter high. The line between groceries and street food really begins to blur here. A perfect street market, or so I thought. (I'm going to make a separate post for more of those photos, this one is all about the camera.)
To my dismay, however, there were not nearly as many camera vendors as rumored. After three trips I was frustrated. The first vendor I found had plenty of vintage rangefinders, but that's not what I was seeking. The second had some Canon and Nikon SLRs, but was asking prices similar or higher than what you could get in the US! Even haggling couldn't get them reasonable. Dejected, and ironically cursing the hipster culture that made these cameras popular again, I moved on. The third shop I found was similar to the second and refused to be reasonable on my first visit.
On my second trip, I visited this third stall again. The owner had placed out another few cameras, including an Canon AV-1. The AV-1 is an FD mount, aperture priority 35mm SLR, brother of the much more seen AE-1. While the vendor still wanted absurd prices for the other bodies, I managed to talk him down on the AV1. I guess its beat up black finish didn't sell as well as the vintage silver bodies. In the end, I managed to buy the body for 130HKD, about 17USD. Not bad for a body that works fine. It even had a decent battery!
Sadly, he still wanted absurd prices for his lenses (50 bucks for a dirty FD 50mm? Please.). I looked around some more, came back another day and even visited some other shops- but no dice. My lenses would have be found elsewhere.
Soon after, I moved on to Singapore, to begin my travels up through Malaysia and Thailand. The night of my arrival I set out to find the much discussed "Chicken Rice", with ambitions to check out a local market on the way.
As good as chicken rice is, what I discovered at the camera market was better! The Thieves Market, called so because it previously sold stolen good, is now a couple blocks of scummy flee market. Using big blue tarps for both floor and ceiling, the vendors peddle a variety of cheap goods and antiques- think a thrift shop dumped on the street. Just my thing.
It's here that I managed to score a pair of lenses for 32SGD (25.4USD), after haggling thoroughly in broken English. I also managed to grab a roll of (hopefully) unexposed Ektachrome 100 Elite color slide film, traded for a pack of cheap cigarettes I had with me. In addition to this, I found a local processing lab near the hawker center (a collection of street food stalls similar to a food court) where I got my chicken rice. I inquired about cheap film and was directed to a bin full of expired Polish mystery film. It was color and only a couple years out of date. "Solution VX200" sounds like a nerve gas, but it seems to be legit.
I bought three rolls.
Not bad for about fifty bucks.
The lenses were a beat up 28-70 F3.5-F4.5 and a 50mm F3.5 Macro. That second lens is actually something I've been looking at for a while, generally going for 50-80 bucks on Ebay back in the US. While neither of the lenses are particularly fast, they'll do, and I'm pretty excited about the prime. The 50mm Macro is, like all FD lenses, easily adaptable to mirrorless cameras, providing cheap and good macro capability. I took the shot below with one of these lenses attached to a GH2 I used to have. A neat find for sure!
Tune in later to see how film shots turn out. Let's just hope I remember not to X-Ray them.