Down the yellow brick road, from Keat Camera to YL Camera in Pudu Plaza.
Kingsley‘s uncle’s Yashica Electro 35 GSN rangefinder (click for manual) was out of juice. The PX32 5.6 volt battery originally used was no longer sold as it had mercury inside; so, we had to improvise using a CR123A 3 volt battery, padded with two 1.5 volt LR44 batteries. We put it in, in that order, and it didn’t work… until we figured that the LR44 batteries were upside down (in this picture, negative is up.)
(Pardon the graininess, this was a cropped picture.)
The Yashica was a cheap rangefinder with a fixed 45mm F1.7 Color Yashinon lens that could not be changed. However, it came with a wide-angle and tele converter. We could not see the double-image until Desmond pointed out that it was the faint yellow image. (The second image had a yellow plastic over it.) This image could only be seen when pointing at lights!
I was disappointed. So what was the big deal about rangefinders anyway, other than the quiet leaf shutter sound and luxuriously-marketed lenses? Neither image was through the lens, so you could take pictures with your lens cap on and not know it. Also, you do not get depth-of-field preview (similiarly, choosing a darker aperture does not darken either image.) That answered my question.
I bought the Olympus OM-2000 with Olympus 35-70mm F3.5-4.8 lens and Olympus 70-210mm F4.5-5.6 one-touch push-pull zoom lens. (Seen on left is the Vivitar 24mm F2.0 for Olympus Zuiko mount; having that lens alone made me choose an Olympus system.)
The Olympus OM-2000 isn’t a true Olympus SLR; it did not have the shutter speed dial on the lens mount itself or the Olympus porroprism viewfinder (which makes it shorter since there’s no prism on top). It was actually made by Cosina; it is very similiar in design to the Cosina E1 Solar (minus the solar cell and depth-of-field-preview button, plus the spot metering, something rare that time on a cheap student’s camera.) (Click for manual.)
Yes, it’s a film SLR. Not a digital SLR. I figured, if I go manual, I might as well go all the way manual. Everything, except the lightmeter (which uses two LR44 batteries) is manual. The film is winded in manually. The film is advanced manually using a film advance lever. When the film has reached its end, you’d have to manually wind it back into the film canister. The shutter speed and aperture are set manually (there’s no Program or Aperture Priority mode; it’s like Manual Exposure all the time.) There is no autofocus. There is no LCD screen (since frame count, shutter speed and aperture are all visible outside.)
Thank goodness there’s the shutter speed dial, which goes from 1/2000th of a second to 1 second, plus Bulb mode (for those 4-hour-long star tracking shots which digital SLRs would just burn up and die trying to shoot.) Oh, and the curtain speed is 5.8-6.1ms.
What about popular digital SLRs? Canon 400D? 100ms. Canon 30D? 65ms. Nikon D70s? 106ms. Nikon D80? 80ms. Interestingly, the Sony W1 has a 9ms shutter lag. (Click for more.)
You can actually see what’s behind the viewfinder when the mirror is down. Don’t worry about dust, as there’s no sensor, and the film is protected by a metal shutter. (Digital SLRs should also have metal shutters, but I guess dust swims around inside.)
You can’t do this with a digital SLR. 😀 (Inspired by Xian Jin when he was testing my camera.)
Solid, heavy metal.
Sadly, there was a major problem with the shutter mechanism; when the film advance lever was cranked, the shutter would sometimes trigger! If I held it out (anti-clockwise) it would hold the mirror up and shutter open, thus overexposing the film. There’d also be camera shake. If I cranked and quickly released, it would expose with the correct shutter speed, so if it was on a tripod when I crank it, it would look alright.
Fazri tried cranking it too; sometimes, it worked perfectly, sometimes, it would trigger itself at every crank. My luck with it was mostly at every alternate crank. Desmond of YL Camera offered to fix it, but I figured I’d take the camera for one 36-frame Fuji ISO200 round before getting it fixed.
And so, before every shot, I’d frame, focus, set the exposure, and crank the lever. If the shutter didn’t trigger itself, I’d press the shutter. 😀
It was only after sending the camera to be fixed that I realized that I could’ve saved on accidental exposures by using the multiple-exposure lever. How?
1. Cover the lens with its cap.
2. Crank the film advance lever.
3. If shutter triggers, hold down the multiple-exposure lever (which stops the film from advancing) while cranking it again. If shutter triggers, repeat step 3.
4. Remove lens cap.
5. Frame picture, set aperture and shutter speed until lightmeter says it’s good, and press shutter.
The ISO film speed dial is interestingly hidden under the shutter speed dial; I’d have to pull it up to change it. Unlike digital cameras, ISO sensitivity is set by the film in the camera itself. The ISO dial is just to tell the camera what ISO it is, so it can calculate and tell you whether your picture will be exposed properly. You can fool it by setting ISO 400 on the dial while using ISO 200 film, to underexpose all shots by 1 stop (if you find that the camera’s lightmeter isn’t accurate.)
Split prism rangefinder focusing screen. Make manual focus real fun; the center of the screen has a circle which is split in half; you focus by turning the focus ring until the top half aligns with the bottom half of the circle. It also tells you which way to turn; clockwise to move the upper half to the right and the lower half to the left, for example.
This does not have the quiet air-dampened sound of the true Olympus cameras, and Xian Jin said that it sounded quite loud. If I was adventurous I’d drill an air tunnel which has holes on both sides of the mirrors, to dampen the sound. More interesting reads are in the interview with Yoshihisa Maitani.
Olympus has an obsession with making their cameras and lenses as small as possible; it was no wonder that they chose the Four Thirds system, which had 2x crop factor (very similiar to their half-frame Pen F series), allowing smaller, shorter telephoto focal length lenses, like the cheap 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 zoomer, which gives a 80-300mm equivalent! 300mm at F4.5! What a bargain! At a tiny 52mm screw thread size too!
Sadly, the Zuiko Digital lenses are focus-by-wire, so I’m doubtful of its manual-focus capability. If I got an Olympus E-330 with Live View (and Live View B has the mirror up, making it work just like my Fujifilm Digital Q1) I would get the Olympus Zuiko-to-Four-Thirds-adapter and use my old manual focus lenses on it, since those have true dampened manual focus.) Live View B mode does not have auto-focus.
I haven’t heard of image stabilization mode on any Four Thirds lenses or camera bodies so that cancels out this option. (Sigma intends to support Four Thirds in 2007, and they have Optical Stabilizer coming up.) Plus the 2x crop factor gives a really dark screen, with a smaller sensor and more noise.
From left to right: Cosina 19-35mm F3.5-4.5 MC Pentax-K-mount lens, my superglued 52mm-to-K-mount adapter, UV filter, Hoya R72 filter, 49-52mm step-up ring, Seagull 50mm F1.8 MC Minolta-MD-mount lens, my superglued 52mm-to-Minolta-MD-mount adapter, Hoya 25A red filter, Raydawn circular and linear polarizers, Olympus 35-70mm F3.5-4.8 lens, my superglued 52mm-to-Olympus-Zuiko-mount adapter, Olympus 70-210mm F4.5-5.6 lens, Olympus OM-2000.
This combination can actually see something; the Vivitar 24mm F2.0 reversed, with my superglued 55-52mm reverse adapter.
The Olympus mount can fit the Seagull 50mm F1.8 MC lens, albeit loosely, with some added distance. It makes the lens somewhat macro and unable to focus on infinity. Same went for the Cosina, which was trippingly wide and macro.
This is just disturbing. The infrared-modded Fujifilm Digital Q1 with Olympus 70-210mm F4.5-5.6 lens meets the reverse adapter of the Vivitar 24mm F2.0 on the Olympus OM-2000.
I sold the Cosina to Tan Yee Wei who has a Ricoh KR-10 Super Pentax-K-mount SLR and could fully enjoy its 19mm wideness. I threw in the Hoya 2x K-mount teleconverter which I got for free as well as I had no more Pentax-K-mount lenses.
I wish I didn’t superglue the spring inside my Vivitar 24mm F2.0 lens; now when I choose a darker aperture and take a picture, I have to wind it back to F2.0 to open it again. Also, the aperture blades may not close fast enough in time for the exposure (which may cause overexposure and less depth-of-field than intended.)
For more scanned manuals, click here.
Of course, I attached the 70-210mm to my Fujifilm Digital Q1; who could resist the idea of 1260mm equivalent zoom?
Left to right, top to bottom: Railway platform step at 210mm; focused differently; a satellite receiver in a petrol station; a streetlamp; an old lady looking wistfully at traffic passing Pudu Jail; KL Tower; a couple, stalked from Pudu STAR LRT (note it’s the she that’s on the steering
wheel handle); the M dial on my Canon Powershot A520 (using the Vivitar 24mm F2.0 on reverse.)
This was originally cropped to 460×422 pixels before resizing to 400×367! It is easier to get 1/2000th of a second at 7:45am, when the moon is still up but the sky is bright enough to fool the camera. I also set EV -2 to underexpose it correctly. I also used the Hoya 2x K-mount teleconverter to get a whopping 2520mm, giving a 840×840 pixel moon, but that setup could not focus on infinity and was thus considerably more out-of-focus than this one.
Next in the camera geeking series: The film prints! (Yeah, I printed them already; the Vivitar 24mm F2.0 has horrible vignetting.) And nope, the camera shop isn’t done with it yet.