Sunday, January 18, 2015

Yashica FR-1, First Shots

I am a weather wimp! I freely admit it. I hate cold weather.  I don’t particularly like rain. I certainly don’t like snow or anything that puts frozen water on the ground or on me. Are you getting my drift?
This is why I haven’t been taking many pictures lately. The weather has been – shall we say, disagreeable.

Fortunately I live in beautiful South Louisiana where such disagreeable weather is less frequent and of shorter duration (when it does occur) than almost anywhere else so I am looking forward to better weather soon.

In the meantime I offer the photo above for your consideration. This one shot with a Yashica FR-1 on Kodak BW400CN film during one of my infrequent winter shooting sprees.

Last year I stumbled upon a deal I couldn’t pass up for a Yashica FR-1. I had been given a bag with various accessories and a couple lenses for another Yashica a few years back and have always wanted to reconcile that bag of goodies by getting a camera to go with it. I resisted the urge mainly because as a dedicated Pentaxian already suffering from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) I didn't want to over complicate my life by starting another camera system. 

Recently however, my son has become interested in film photography and I saw this as a way to reconcile the Yashica gear and get him started with his own camera bag. So when I saw a FR-1 in great shape available for less than $10 I just had to jump on it.

The Yashica FR-1 is a surprisingly sophisticated 35mm SLR manufactured from 1977 to 1981. The big bright viewfinder has the apertures spread across the top and the shutter speeds arrayed down the right side with the selection indicated by a needle sliding along both scales. It also features a fully automatic aperture priority TTL metering and exposure control system with full manual override.
The “feather touch electromagnetic shutter release” allows seamless shutter control from 4 seconds to 1/1000 of a second and can be used with a number of accessories including wireless remote release (which I do not have).

The Yashica FR-1 design was based on and includes many of the features of the much more expensive Contax RTS. It uses the Contac/Yashica mount and indeed this one has an excellent Carl Zeiss f1.7, 50mm lens.  

I only shot one roll of film with this camera before giving it to my son for Christmas but was really surprised and impressed with it, so much so that I briefly considered keeping it for myself but reason prevailed. This is a really beautiful camera with a great solid feel and perfectly placed and arranged controls. It just feels good! The big bright viewfinder with all the exposure information clearly shown and accurate aperture priority exposure system makes using this camera an amazing experience.

I will try to post some more photos from this camera as my son shoots more with it. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking Back

That’s what we do at this time of year, isn't it? New Year just seems to invite introspection and reflection and so that’s what I’ve been doing, reflecting back to when this “new” film journey began. You might say the photo above started it all. This is a shot of a 150 year old fire hydrant located on the banks of Bayou St. John in New Orleans, taken back in 2010 shortly after buying a new 35mm SLR.

As I relayed in my earliest blog posts I lost all my film camera equipment in Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. If I am honest though, I had been slowly converting over to digital for a few years even before that. When I decided to “get back into” serious photography in 2007 I tried to do it all with digital and became very frustrated. This was probably as much my fault as that of the technology but I was frustrated none-the-less.

In 2010 I decided to buy another film camera. There wasn't much new 35mm equipment available at the time and I ended up with a $150 Promaster 35mm SLR which was a basic, all manual, 35mm SLR. It had a 50mm f1.8 K-mount lens and the picture of the ancient fire hydrant above was from the very first roll of Fugi 200 color film I shot with it. The pictures, including this one, were not that great. Let’s face it, by that time I had not shot an all manual 35mm camera in several years, the film stock was certainly not the greatest and although the processing was first rate, the scanning (by a local lab) left much to be desired.

What this new 35mm camera and this first roll of film did do for me, was remind me of how much fun flim is and how comfortable I was working with the kind of equipment I had used to make pictures for over 50 years.

So my New Year’s blog message for everyone out there is, whether you’re an old fart like me or a newbie discovering film for the very first time – forget all the technical stuff and either remember or discover for yourself that “film is fun!”