Film Camera 2019/5 – Olympus IS-3

I recently picked up this camera for next to nothing (the film and the processing cost significantly more than the camera did). It’s an Olympus IS-3 (also known as IS-3000 in Europe and L-3000 in Japan) and it came out in 1992. I was interested in it because it’s a bit out of the ordinary (as an early attempt at a bridge camera) and was reputed to have an excellent lens.

Cosmetically it’s not in the greatest shape, but everything seems to work as it should (we’ll see). The only problem I’ve noticed is an LCD bleed in the viewfinder. It’s still just about usable (except in really bright light) and in any case I can always take a quick look at the large rear LCD screen if I need to so it’s not all that much of a problem.

This particular camera features the date back (which I’ll never use) and is called the IS-3 DLX QD.

It has a 35-180mm f4.5-5.6 lens comprising 16 elements in 15 groups focusing down to 1.2 meters (0.6m in macro mode).

Shutter speeds range from 15 seconds to 1/2000 second plus ‘B’. Manual shutter speed range at F8: 60 sec.~1 sec.; Programmed shutter speed range: 4 sec.~1/2000 sec. Flash synch is 1/100 second.

Focus modes include Single Auto Focus; Continuous Auto Focus, and Power Focus (manual focus).

The viewfinder (85% coverage) includes: the following information: Autofocus Frame; Spot Frame; Panorama Marks; Autofocus Indicator; Shutter Speed; Aperture Setting; Spot Metering; Macro Mode; Exposure Compensation / Manual Exposure; Flash Symbol.

Exposure consists of a TTL light metering system with fuzzy logic ESP light metering including center-weighted average light metering and spot metering (don’t ask me what that last sentence means). Exposure compensation is in the range of +/- 4ev in 1/3rd step increments. ISO is determined by DX coding in the range of ISO 25-5000. The following exposure modes are supported: Aperture Preferred AE; Shutter Preferred AE; Manual Exposure; Program; Sport Program (Stop Action); Portrait Program; Landscape Program; Night Program.

The camera has a built in flash with guide number of 28 (auto tele) or 20 (auto wide, manual). A dedicated flash unit (G40) was also available.

Power comes from two 3V lithium batteries (CR 123A or DL 123A).

It’s a solid feeling camera weighing 960 g. with the following dimensions (width, height, depth): 112x93x173mm.

Wide angle, tele and macro converters were also available.

For an overview of of the series see: Olympus IS-Series, which is complete up to this model.

Film Camera 2019/4 – Canon Sureshot Owl – Results

So how did it go with the camera. In a word – disastrous!

When I got the scans back I could barely see anything. Looking at the histogram everything was clustered into a small area in the middle, indicating that there was virtually no contrast at all (I think).

I’ve used quite a number of old film cameras and even though I’ve lost a few frames here and then I’ve never had something like this: a complete roll that’s useless. I’ve no idea what went wrong. Was it something I did? I doubt it. The camera has little in the way of controls so I doubt I could have set something incorrectly. I noted that the camera already had a film inside when I got it. I have no idea how long it had been there. Could it have degraded to such an extent that this happened? Maybe a problem with the camera itself? It seemed to be working, but who knows?

After some tweaking in Lightroom I managed to make the images visible if nothing else. I’ve posted a few here since I think it’s worth celebrating failures as well as successes. They remind me of some of pictures I’ve seen from the very early days of photography.

I’m tempted to try the camera again with a fresh roll of film to see what I get. But the cost of the film plus the cost of processing and scanning deters me. But I can be stubborn and I’d really like to know if the camera is working even if, at its best, it’s probably not such a great camera. We’ll see.

Film Camera 2019/4 – Canon Sureshot Owl

This wasn’t supposed to be my next film camera. I had hoped to use a recently acquired Minolta Maxxum 7. In fact I was actually rather excited to use it, but unfortunately it was dead on arrival (See: A couple of Ebay experiences for more info).

So I reached for the nearest film camera. It turned out to be a Canon Sureshot Owl, which was one of a number of old point and shoot cameras given to me by a neighbor a while back (See: A bag full of cameras). One of the reasons I selected it was because it already had a film in it.

It’s a very basic, point and shoot camera with little in the way of controls. There’s a review of it here: The Canon Sure Shot Owl / Prima AF-7. I probably would not have paid much attention to if it weren’t for one thing: it has a really huge, clear and bright viewfinder. As the review states:

The first thing that strikes you about this camera is the viewfinder: it is bright and beautiful! It is a really great viewfinder.

I guess this quote also from the review just about sums it up:

Shooting the camera, for a modern DSLR user, takes some getting used to. Firstly, there is nothing to do except point the camera and press the shutter button. There is no feedback from the camera on what is happening. You don’t know what shutter speed was used, you don’t know what f/stop was used, and you don’t know what focal distance was used. Very disconcerting for someone used to controlling every aspect of the process.

So a fairly typical point and shoot camera. Off we go. Results to follow.


A couple of Ebay experiences

I recently had a couple of very different ebay experiences.

The first was very positive and relates to the camera above. I’m very fond of Minolta cameras and have several. I came across a listing for a Minolta Maxxum 7 and 28-80mm lens at a very attractive price. It was shipped quickly and when it arrived I tried it and everything seemed fine. Then I turned it off and tried again. This time I got an error message. Turned it off. Turned it on. Again everything seemed fine. Pressed the shutter release. Error. After ‘googling’ a bit I discovered that this is a known problem. Apparently there’s a small plastic part that breaks. It’s essentially unfixable as the parts are no longer available. So I communicated with the seller telling him that the camera, advertised as working, in fact wasn’t and giving him the information I’d found on the web. After a couple of messages over a few hours he sent me a message apologizing and saying that he would refund my money (including the shipping). Since the camera was non functional I shouldn’t send it back, and I should keep the lens for my inconvenience (which was a nice thought even if I already had two or three of these lenses, purchased with Minolta bodies I wanted).

What a wonderful experience!

The second – not so much. A large piece of metal fell off our cooktop hood and fell on a blue and white china spoon holder and broke it. My wife was a little upset so I decided to see if I could find something suitable on ebay. Eventually I found a nice, vintage delft blue and white spoon holder that I felt sure she would like. So I purchased and paid for it. Time (about three weeks) went by and nothing was received so I contacted the seller to ask what the status was. He replied: “I’m sending it now I haven’t had any help until now so sorry for the inconvience (sic)”. Ok, fair enough. More time went by so I contacted the seller again. This time he replied: “I can’t ship this item for $2.16”. $2.16 was the advertised amount. I contacted him again asking what price he could ship it for. No response. All this time the item was marked as shipped even though it hadn’t been. Finally I sent a formal request through ebay. This time the seller responded: “The item has been stolen that’s why it never got shipped. And PayPal is holding my money”. I responded that this wasn’t my problem and that he should refund my money. After waiting the required amount of time I requested ebay resolve this and they very quickly refunded my money. So in the end all’s well that ends well. Not such a pleasant experience though. I’ve been using ebay for several years and this is the first such experience I’ve had.

That Minolta camera is lovely though. I’ve still got my eye out for one.

Film Camera 2019/3 – Minolta XD

This is the Minolta XD (as it’s known in Japan), also called the XD11 in North America and the XD7 in Europe.

This was given to me a while ago by a friend but I forgot about it and didn’t try it. Then I got to try a Leica R4 for a while. I didn’t really like it that much, but I discovered that the Leica was a result of a collaboration between Leica and Minolta and the the R4 and the XD had a lot in common. This encouraged me to dig out the XD and give it a try.

There’s lots of information on the web relating to this camera – these articles to name but a few:

I liked it much more than I liked the R4. It’s a solid, feature packed camera that did everything that I would want to do. The only problem I encountered was in framing. On a couple of occasions it was off. In future I must remember to not frame too tightly

In it’s day it was Minolta’s top of the line camera and I’m not at all surprised to read that it is considered by many to be Minolta’s all time best manual camera.