The Itty Bitty Pentax Auto 110

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If a camera can be described as cute, the Pentax Auto 110 is surely the cutest of them all. It is absolutely tiny with little interchangeable lenses about as big around as a quarter, the only SLR system where one can hold a kit of lenses in the palm of the hand.  It was the only 110 film SLR made with interchangeable lenses.

Unlike many cameras of its size I found the Auto 110 easy to use, it is well designed, not so small that the shutter and advance lever are difficult to use, and simplified enough with automatic shutter speed that there are no dials bunched together.  If I were shooting something more seriously I would want manual shutter speed, but the Auto 110 isn’t for formal shooting, its an advanced pocket camera and it shouldn’t be compared to full sized SLRs.

All in all I loved using it, the only real downfall being the small negative size, a necessary result of such a compact little camera.

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Kodak print film, taken with Pentax Auto 110 24mm f2.8

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Kodak print film, taken with Pentax Auto 110 24mm f2.8

Argus C3, The Brick!

DSCF7825The Argus C3 is one of those cameras everyone who spends any time looking for old cameras will find time and again. And for good reason, it was made for decades; virtually unchanged from 1939 to 1966.

I instantly had a certain affinity for the C3. Its simple functional design and goofy charm are hard not to like.  On top of that it was made in my home state of Michigan.  Despite liking it, when I finally decided to use one I had pretty low expectations. It was still a mass produced clunker of a camera, or so I thought. Despite the complete lack of ergonomics it was rather enjoyable to use.  I was quite surprised when I saw my first photos.  I had been expecting dreamy soft focus images akin to many American cameras of its era, but they were clear and sharp, and had a unique look of depth for a f3.5 lens.

Sadly, it was the last time I would use that particular camera. I dropped it about halfway through the roll.  Despite looking like a brick it doesn’t hold up to being dropped on concrete. I can attest that bakelite explodes particularly well in below freezing temperatures. It did however keep light from getting to my film. Rest in peace my beloved C3.

Argus C3

Abandoned asylum shot with Argus C3 shortly before its demise.

Canon AE-1 Program

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Single Lens Reflex

Introduced 1981

35mm film

Canon FD or New FD lens mount

A544 6V battery

B, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60(Flash Sync), 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, PROGRAM

The AE-1 Program was one of Canon’s biggest successes, and for good reason.  It combines classic design with simple effective program modes, it offered all the control and quality experienced photographers expected along with program modes that made shooting easy for quick shots and beginners.

Ergonomics are an improvement over many cameras of the day with the addition of a small protruding grip and a light plastic body that make handling easy.  Controls are familiar and streamlined, there are no wacky features or ill placed buttons to get in the way of your shooting experience.  Light up aperture settings in the viewfinder make it simple to adjust with the camera up to your eye.

If the camera has any real failing it is the weight-saving plastic parts inside and out that make it easier to break and faster-wearing than its predecessors. But with thousands sold and and many of them still in operational condition over 30 years later, who can complain?

The AE-1 Program was one of the cameras that introduced me to photography, and its reliable meter helped me keep my Kodachrome slides balanced and properly exposed in unusual lighting.

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Shot on Kodachrome using Canon AE-1 Program & Canon 50mm f1.8 lens

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Shot on Kodachrome using Canon AE-1 Program & Canon 50mm f1.8 lens