Monthly Archives: April 2015

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{Praktica MTL 5}

My first SLR was a Ricoh Singlex TLS, which wasn’t a proper name brand, but it took a very common lens mount called m42. I have had various m42-mount cameras over the years, but since I have been using Nikon film cameras the last several years, my m42 cameras and lenses have fallen into disuse. I had a mind to change that here of late, so I started looking at m42 cameras again. There are so many brands with that lens mount, you’re actually spoiled for choice if you decide to buy one! I have a Praktica that I like but which needs a new focusing screen (I kind of tried cleaning the one it had and things went very wrong…) Rather than investing in a new screen for my existing Praktica, I happened upon a different model for a steal! I seriously got this camera body for $7.50. Isn’t that crazy! I didn’t need to buy a lens with the camera because I already have numerous ones.

Photo of the Praktica MTL 5, taken with an Olympus Stylus Epic

The Praktica MTL 5 is pretty basic. It will run without batteries, but it does have a built-in meter that needs a mercury battery that is no longer legal in most places. I initially tried to adapt a smaller battery (of the proper voltage) to fit in the camera, but the meter needle was jumpy (meaning I didn’t know if its readings would be accurate.) I eventually bought a battery called a WeinCell that is actually meant as a replacement for the outlawed mercury one that the MTL 5 needs. Unfortunately, the meter needle was still pretty jumpy.  Compared to meters in cameras that I knew gave accurate readings, the Praktica seemed to be about a stop too fast (meaning it would underexpose the photos if I shot film at the “box speed.”) I decided to just go ahead and shoot a test roll to see how well the meter was working anyway. Because I was worried the photos would be underexposed, I shot most of the roll at 50 instead of the film’s actual ISO of 100 to compensate for the meter’s inaccurate readings.

One of my frequent camera test subjects lately ^^^

My sister’s kitchen decor

My sister’s dining room table

The rope: another frequent test subject

David recommended I read Jaws *eep!*

Scanning prints for blogs which I have since published (Olympus Stylus Epic, Fuji Mini 90)

^^^my sister’s life philosophy

Cookies and cream cake I made at work

Afternoon spent alternating between crocheting and reading, whilst drinking tea

First signs of spring

 Super charged


“This is what a strawberry tastes like!” after having subpar strawberries for so long, I had forgotten what they should really taste like.
(taken with a my shortest macro extension tube attached to the lens.)


Praktica MTL 5 • Fujinon 55mm/1.8 lens • Lomography Color Negative 100 film


Well, the thing that makes photos good or bad is usually the lens. The lens I used for these Praktica test photos is one of my favorites, and it certainly proved itself worthy of being held in high regard by me! The MTL 5 though?  I can tell that a lot of the photos were a little overexposed, so I probably should have stuck with shooting the film’s actual ISO. And, yes, the exposures were pretty good, but the meter needle still didn’t give me a very confident feeling that it was giving me accurate readouts. I mostly had to use my intuition/experience to decide whether or not I trusted what the meter was telling me at any given time. Because I didn’t feel comfortable with the meter, I actually ordered another m42 before I got this film back. Perhaps I shouldn’t have jumped the gun, since these photos were not wildly under or over exposed. However, if I’m out shooting with a camera, I don’t want to feel iffy about the exposures the meter is indicating, and buying a second camera made sense to me (especially at such low prices!) I won’t be tossing the MTL 5 by the wayside though, I’m sure. I liked using it a lot!

{Instax Mini 90} Upgrade U

You know I procured an Instax Mini 50s last year, right? I wanted to test the waters of Instax Mini before investing in the ultimate Mini camera: the Mini 90. While I did enjoy the results I got from the 50s, I found some of the features (or lack thereof) to be limiting. Therefore, I decided it was time to give myself an UPGRADE. Enter: The Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic (which is quite a mouthful of a name for a small camera!)

Can you blame me? Phwoar!

About the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic: 

  • Film type: Fuji Instax Mini (800 ASA)
  • Shutter speed range: auto range of 1.8s – 1/400s, maximum of 10s exposure in bulb mode
  • Two shutter release buttons (one on top for shooting landscape orientation and one on front for portrait orientation)
  • Focusing: 3 user-selectable settings: .3m-.6m macro mode, .6m -3m normal mode, 3m-∞ landcape mode
  • Exposure system: automatic, with the ability to choose to Lighten or Darken each exposure (+2/3 or -2/3, or +1 on extra Lighten)
  • Power supply: rechargeable proprietary battery (I believe the only Instax to employ a proprietary battery)
  • Flash: auto (with brightness control available,) forced flash (flash on,) flash off, red eye reduction mode
  • Modes and exposure settings achieved through buttons on the back of the camera or in conjunction with a mode dial wheel around the lens.
  • Double exposure mode
  • “Kids mode” (faster shutter speed to capture a moving object such as a child or pet)
  • “Party mode” (slow-sync flash)

mode buttons and LCD screen which shows battery power, mode selected, and the number of shots taken

The main draw to the Mini 90 for me, and for most people I know who have that camera, is the fact that you can switch off the camera’s flash. All the other Mini cameras only offer auto flash. I personally found this to be irritating, because there were times when using the Mini 50s that I KNEW the flash wasn’t needed but the camera chose to use it anyway.

The other reason I wanted the Mini 90 was its built-in macro setting. With such small photos, I often wish to fill the frame more thoroughly than was allowed by my 50s and its minimum focus distance.

I am going to admit right here and now that these features I was so keen on having in an Instax camera also have brought with them a learning curve. I wrote which settings I used on the back of each photo after it was taken so I could chart my successes and my failures. The thing I didn’t know about this camera’s macro feature is that it stops the lens’s aperture down to f/22. YIKES. My first attempts at using macro + no flash + bulb didn’t go too well.

Left to right, failed macro exposures: 1) flash off, auto exposure, Lighten, macro 2) flash off, macro, bulb, 2 seconds 3) flash off, macro, bulb, 6 seconds 4) flash off, macro, bulb, 10 seconds

flash off, auto exposure, macro, Lighten

no flash, auto exposure, Darken

flash off, macro, bulb, 6 seconds
My Tower Bridge platter – aka “the most beautiful thing I own.” Thanks Clark 🙂

flash off, auto exposure, Darken
Sonja moved during the exposure, so her eyes are blurry. But I like how vibrant and glowing her eyes are in this photo! Guest appearances made by my purse and scarf in the background.

flash off, auto exposure, Lighten

flash off, auto exposure, Darken
Oh, Wyatt

Pack two shot with the Mini 90 went MUCH better than the first pack did (plus it was my fave: rainbow frames!)

Flash off, auto exposure, macro, Lighten
Jar of conversation hearts

Left: flash off, macro, bulb, 6-7 seconds. Right: flash off, macro, bulb, 10 seconds
🙁 Trying to photograph my new candy apple red stand mixer. Bad luck with macro again.

flash off, macro, bulb, 2-3 seconds
Mini vegan pear pie ♥

flash off, auto exposure, macro, Lighten
Pie and conversation hearts

flash off, auto exposure, Lighten
Luv bots ♥

flash off, auto exposure (macro mode on shot #3 of the bikes)
Rainbow bikes and rainbow frames!

flash off, macro, bulb exposure, 10 seconds
Finally success photographing my new KitchenAid stand mixer! I had to draw the curtains back to try to get more light to the mixer.


I have no doubt that the Instax Mini 90 and I are going to be good friends. I just have to learn how to make the best of the very features which were the reason I upgraded to this camera in the first place. Now that we are exiting the winter of our discontent and heading for spring, I hope to make better use of the Mini 90. Watch this space. I expect it to be filled with more Mini 90 photos soon!