Minolta AF-C

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I followed The Seller deep into a fire marshal's nightmare of rented rooms below a supposedly standard domicile.  The deeper we penetrated, the stranger the smells became. Some miles later, we came to a baroque cabinet adjacent to a combination bedroom / laundry room. I was distracted from thoughts of emergency rations and suicide by the glint of my prize: The Minolta AF-C

The little brother of the Minolta AF-S I bought previously, the AF-C is a 35mm compact with entirely automatic exposure controls (save the ISO dial). While it also uses auto-focus, the  AF-C has a manual film winder, unlike the excellent AF-S. However, the size and weight savings are significant, giving this device a pocket-ability approaching the Olympus XA. 

I ran through a roll of expired Velvia 100F and cross-processed it in C41 chemicals. While the camera generally performed well, the meter was tripped up a couple times in difficult light and with the EF-C flash attached. Still, it performed admirably for a compact of its age.

I can't help but be disappointed though. It doesn't have the feel of slick Olympus Mju compacts, the rugged pragmatism of the Infinity series, nor the methodical charm of the XA. This camera left me wanting, despite hitting the right marks on paper.

 
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Fuji Tiara

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I continue to be fascinated with 35mm point and shoots; the Fuji Tiara here is new to me.

Vacillating on a couple of lesser cameras, the Bauhaus design of this camera caught my eye from the shelf. 
A web search turned up some nice results from its fixed-lens twin (in addition to a decent resale value). Further inspection revealed a surprisingly full set of features. It's well worn, but fully functional. 

Sold.

(Update: It was actually broken.) 

Olympus XA4

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Another fun thrift find. 
The XA4 appears similar to the XA, but replaces the lens with a 28mm F3.5 and zone focusing.

Olympus XA

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I got very lucky and found this lovely machine at a local thrift store for just a few bucks. The Olympus XA was one of the smallest 35mm cameras ever produced, combining a sharp F2.8 35mm lens with a true rangerfinder mechanism inside a minimal clamshell body. Despite its small size, the camera offers full focus control, aperture priority and a meter; it's a pocket camera with pro features.

 
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Olympus Infinity

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This is an interesting little camera. While the Mju and Mju-ii are often the subject of the compact 35mm wet dreams, the Olympus AF1 (AKA the Olympus Infinity in the US) is a predecessor with some interesting features and peculiar notions. It also has an excellent 80s cyberpunk stylistic sense, done in the same vein as the early Toyoto MR2s. Rounded rectangular forms and bulbous sensors compete with a minimalist design sense, culminating in a camera that is both simply approached and pragmatically executed- but not without depth.

 

Fun with Film: The 35J

I picked up an adorable toy camera this previous weekend: The Bell and Howell 35J

Taken with a Canon 300HS on 'Toy Camera' mode. 

Don't be fooled by it's gorgeous appearance however, as it is entirely plastic. I found it at the "Unique" thrift store (a poorly rebranded Savers). It was a dollar! Who could resist such a deal on Bauhaus styling? Its only adjustable control is a plastic aperture with three possible settings: sunny, cloudy and the mysterious 'clouds with lightning'. Research suggests that these correspond to F/8, F/11 and F/16, but I wouldn't hope for more accuracy at this price point. Case in point- the aperture isn't actually a bladed diaphragm, instead just a pinwheel with different sized holes. 

After buying it, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to try shooting film for the first time. A quick trip to the nearest Walmart lent four rolls of Fuji X-Tra 400 for around ten bucks. I chose ISO 400 solely based on the reccomendation of Yahoo Answers

I shot my first roll over the remainder of the day, trying out the various aperture and lighting combinations. The next day I took the finished roll to my location camera shop, Mike's Camera. After some discussion with the rep, I learned that they will cross process your film for you. Cool! I had them develop my C41 in E6 and push it one stop, as I'm told cross processing C41 in E6 needs a bit of a push.

After a day of eager waiting, I picked up my film and scanned it with a film scanner I found at work. Some Photoshop color correction was done on the more washed out photos, and I threw out a whole bunch that weren't exposed right. Crappy scan job though. 

I also discovered that my strobe works on the 35J. This turned out to be critical to getting proper exposure indoors. 

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It's a lot of fun to shoot with. Obnoxiously, it's about ten bucks to develop-only with cross-processing, so I may try taking my film to a photo-killer like Walgreens. More experiments on the way!