I recently acquired (yet) another medium format camera: a Mamiya C220 TLR. It was offered on eBay (a place I normally avoid like the plague), but the fact it was fully complete — including boxes, manuals, all body and lens caps, etc. — and in great condition made it sort of a no-brainer to take the risk. I’m glad I did, because what arrived was every bit as good (or better) than the eBay listing photos. Full-form reviews on this camera are virtually non-existent, so it also seemed like a no-brainer to take a deep dive and explore its allure in detail.
There are already multiple reviews, history lessons, opinions, and so forth regarding the Pentax 645 medium format film camera (my favorite being Todd Reed’s on Emulsive), and as I begin this piece, I’m not sure I’m necessarily going to be bringing deep, new insights to the table. But after shooting with this camera through over a dozen rolls of 120 film, I feel I’ve experienced its capabilities pretty well at this point, know some of its foibles, and have a basis to pull together some cogent thoughts. If you’re considering adding one of these cameras to your collection, read on.
The camera purchase I made in July 2019 was one I didn’t see coming: A lovely Yashica-A twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera. But when I saw it in the display case at Englewood Camera with a $125 price tag on it, it got my attention. Then when I looked closer, I just couldn’t not take it home with me.
It’s been nearly 20 years now that film photography started its downward trajectory, and while the vinyl-record-like resurgence of film is encouraging, and all signs suggest that film has stabilized,* it’s not been helped by a general decline in photography over the past 10 years or so — essentially the point at which smartphones came onto the scene, and became everyone’s default camera.
You can argue the timing, and you can argue the facts, but one thing is tough to refute: Camera shops have basically died off, helped by the rise of e-commerce, and we’re left with scant choices when it comes to photography gear in general, and film photography gear specifically. So what’s a photographer to do?
In early April, I did a blog post on Polaroid, right at the very beginning of my renewed interest in film photography. (On another note, I can’t believe it’s only been a month and a half; it feels like it’s been a year, given everything I’ve been doing.) As fascinated by and happy as I am about the former Impossible Project (now Polaroid Originals), I’ll be honest: I’ve been pretty disappointed in the reality of it. Just yesterday, I read this blog post over at Emulsive that really resonated for me.
In Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, I talked at length about getting reacquainted with old friends: film cameras. While I’ve not taken the Polaroid out since Part 1, I have shot film in my old Duaflex (Part 2), and my Minolta XG 1 (Part 3), and have finally received them back from the lab.
It may surprise you to see a picture of a package of Duracells as the featured image for this post, considering the title. But as you might well guess, the two are related. I’ll jump to the point: When you camera requires batteries to function, always, always carry extra batteries, because they will fail you when you need them most.
One thing I’ve done too much in my life is asking the simple question, “Why?” I’m trying to do a lot less of that these days, especially when I consider the ebb and flow of my multipotentialite-driven passions — some of which end-up being quite ephemeral.
But as I’ve begun to re-embrace film photography, I’ve been asking, “Why?” Not questioning the fact I’m doing it, but more to wonder why and how it appeals to me. I think I’ve unearthed some answers.
Readers of this section of my blog will know I’ve recently rediscovered some old friends, including my Polaroid OneStep, my old Kodak Duaflex II, and finally, the Minolta XG-1 I used in photography class back in high school, <cough> years ago. This week, I made a brand new friend: a Pentax 645 medium-format film camera.
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this unplanned series of posts, I dusted-off my old Polaroid OneStep and my even older Kodak Duaflex II cameras. Digging through boxes that have remain untouched since moving here over four years ago, I found another camera relic: My old Minolta XG-1, a 35mm SLR, which I bought for photography class when I was in high school after draining a small savings account someone had set-up for me as a kid.