Category Archives: Camera Equipment

{Nikon for Girls}

I’m a few years late in writing a post dedicated to this camera…

I got a Nikon EM in 2012. It’s a Nikon “for girls.” Oh yes, you read that correctly. When the EM was released, it was supposed to be appealing to women photographers who were newly entering the world of SLR photography. It is a small, simple to use “budget” camera.

From the Nikon EM Wikipedia page:

Called internally “the Nikon for women”, the EM was designed to provide style (exterior contours sculpted by Italian automobile stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro), convenience (a system of dedicated accessories), ease of use (as much automation as possible in 1979), low cost (simplified manufacturing process) and the prestige of the Nikon name (prominently displayed on the pentaprism housing) for initiates to SLR-dom.

Spoiler: Nikon’s strategy to snag female buyers with the EM didn’t work. They bought nicer, more fully-featured cameras instead…

Decades after its release, I picked up my EM for about $25.  Which actually might have been overpaying, since it didn’t have a lens! (I already had lenses to fit it since I have other Nikons…)

A little about the Nikon EM:

  • It’s a manual focus 35mm SLR camera
  • Exposure is aperture priority, meaning the user selects the aperture and the camera selects the appropriate shutter speed
  • Auto shutter speeds of 1 sec. to 1/1000 sec. Bulb mode available by turning the mode dial to “B”
  • Shutter speed is indicated with a needle in the viewfinder
  • Warning beeps if the shutter speed needed for proper exposure would be out of range (over 1/1000 sec.) or cause a risk of camera shake (under 1/30 sec.)
  • Manually selectable film speeds of 25 ASA – 1600 ASA
  • A battery is needed for the automatic exposure system to work, but there is a manual shutter speed of 1/90 sec. available if your battery dies OR if using a flash. Bulb mode also works without need for a battery.

B (bulb)/M90 (1/90s)/Auto dial
Shutter button and film advance lever
Battery check button and LED light

Here’s something: I have owned the Nikon EM for over five years, and I just noticed this little silver button on the front. I had to look it up in the camera manual! It’s an exposure compensation button! According to the manual, the button adds about two stops of exposure in situations with backlighting. I wish I’d known that sooner!

Exposure compensation button near the top front of camera

Now, as to how I never got ’round to blogging about this camera on Shoot with Personality before, I think it’s because most of the photos I have taken with it were in England. It earned a spot as my main camera during two of my trips to England (2012 and 2014,) so those were posted on my “Amanda Goes to England” blog. I chose the EM as my travel camera because it’s relatively small and quick to use due to its exposure system (I choose the aperture, the camera chooses the shutter speed.) So I guess the things I like about the EM are the features that Nikon though would appeal to women buying their first SLR? Except I was far from a beginner when I bought it 🙂

Why am I finally compiling Nikon EM photos here now? I recently dusted the camera off, tried to replace the faulty light seals in the camera, and ran a roll through it. After using a beautiful Nikon F3 most of 2017, (THANKS DAVID!!!) I had forgotten how teeny the EM is! It’s so small!

Nikon F3 size version Nikon EM size:
According to Wikipedia, the EM is 86 mm (3.4 in) high, 135 mm (5.3 in) wide, 54 mm (2.1 in) deep and weighs 460 grams (16 oz)
According to its manual, the Nikon F3HP is 101.5 mm (4 in.) high,  
148.5 mm (5.8 in.) wide, 69.0 mm  (2.7 in.) deep and weighs 760 grams (26.8 oz)

In using the EM again, it was nice to have just a little SLR to carry around with me anywhere and everywhere. I thought I’d finally discuss the camera and share some of the photos I’d taken with it through the years. I managed to find a few on my computer that I hadn’t posted elsewhere before now too!

 

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012 (I didn’t remember this photo, but I really like it now that I’ve seen it for the first time in five years!)

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012

Memphis Zoo. Summer 2012

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

Summer 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Summer 2012

Summer 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Summer 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Summer 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Summer 2012

London. November 2012

London. November 2012

London. November 2012

Merstham, England. November 2012

Brighton, England. November 2012

London. November 2012

London. November 2012

London. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

London. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

London. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

London. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

London. November 2012

London. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Merstham, England. November 2012

Merstham, England. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

London. November 2012

London. November 2012

London. November 2012

London. November 2012

Memphis Zoo. November 2012. (Never-before-seen SO THIS WAS A TREAT FOR ME! A photo of my niece from when she was younger that I have no recollection of!)

Memphis Zoo. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Memphis Zoo. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Memphis Zoo. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Memphis Zoo. November 2012 (Never-before-seen)

Winter 2013

Winter 2013 (Never-before-seen)

Winter 2013 (Never-before-seen)

Winter 2013 (Never-before-seen)

Winter 2013 (Never-before-seen)

Winter 2013 (Never-before-seen)

Mississippi. Fall 2013

London. May 2014

London. May 2014 (Never-before-seen. I accidentally opened the back of the camera because I forgot there was film in it)

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

York, England. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

London. May 2014

So, as you can see, the Nikon EM can be a versatile little camera and a great way to use the Nikon system and its wonderful lenses. Paired with my 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor pancake lens, I have found the EM to be to be a great everyday shooter, at home and abroad 🙂

{Two Rolls In} {Three Rolls In} Holga 135

I actually had a Holga 135 a handful of years ago, so this is not a camera that is entirely new to me. I bought one in 2011 but felt like a hipster for doing so because it came from Urban Outfitters. That inspired me to do a photo series call “Things Hipsters Like.” After running a couple of rolls through the Holga 135, a piece broke off of it, then I tried unsuccessfully to paint it a color I liked better, and that was the end of my relationship with the Holga 135. Fast forward a few years, and I started looking back at some of the photos I’d taken with that camera, and I thought “Hey, some of those were pretty cool!” Couple that with the fact that the Holga factory shut down earlier this year, and I decided that I wanted another Holga 135 while I could still get one. I found one online and bought it. It was described as “fuchsia.”  My friends, it’s actually a bright neon orangey pink. It’s a LOUD color.

I was SO excited that my new Holga 135 arrived just before I left to see Mallory up in Midtown Memphis on a beautiful afternoon. I knew it would be a great day to try out the Holga!

Roll #1 was Agfa Vista Plus 200

Crosstown

I kinda went overboard photographing the cool sculpture outside Crosstown 🙂

Around Midtown

HI!

It was February, and they still had Christmas decorations up!

Roll #2 was expired Fuji Sensia 400, cross-processed 

Now. This isn’t a full roll, because when I was photographing the Impala you’ll see below, someone at work saw me doing so and insisted on taking a bunch of photos of me with the car. It wasted a good bit of that roll. AND I accidentally opened the camera because I forgot there was film in it. OOPS! I was going to wait to get this roll developed, because there had been so many missteps with it, but I decided to throw it in with the most recent batch of film I sent off for processing.

Example of the aforementioned photos of me with the car…

I didn’t really think it was fair to the camera or this blog post for me to accept Roll #2 as a proper test roll, so I put a third roll through the Holga 135 for this post!

Roll #3 was Fuji Superia 400, expired in 2007

Admittedly underexposed, but they’re of SPIKE! 

Como, Mississippi

Double exposure, probably in Como, Mississippi

Pro tip: don’t leave your camera in bulb mode and then take a photo in broad daylight!

HI!

Double exposure at the zoo and winner of “best of the bunch” for the photos in this blog

Another zoo double exposure

Crepe myrtles 

Underexposed double exposure. But I like it?

Conclusion?

Aside from the mishaps with Roll #2, I actually am really pleased with a lot of the photos I took with my new Holga 135! Hopefully it won’t break like its predecessor did!

Agfa Isola I {Two Rolls In. Again}

Photo borrowed from my 365 Project blog

The Agfa Isola I is a camera I have had for nearly ten years now. I relayed my backstory with this camera in a post in 2009, but to give you an overview: I bought it in 2006 at a camera fair during my first trip to England. I believe I paid around £10 for it. The Isola I is a medium format camera that produces 6×6 cm photos. I don’t know exactly when my Isola I was produced, but the camera was manufactured from 1957-1963. It is a basic camera with zone focusing, two shutters speeds (Bulb and 1/35s) and two apertures (f/11 and f/16.) There’s also a built-in yellow filter you can use for contrast on black and white film. Through my recent usage of Lomography Diana cameras and my Holga 120N, I thought I’d try to show people what can be done with a vintage camera that’s less plasticky than its more modern counterparts and not as expensive as the toy cameras a lot of us use.

Heretofore, I had only shot two rolls in the Isola I, both of which were black and white films. I had always been reluctant to try color in it because some of these older cameras don’t handle color very well due to the fact that they were made for black and white film (it has to do with lens coatings or lack thereof.) I decided it was high time I changed that! 

Color Roll #1 was Kodak Ektar 100

Usually I couldn’t get by with ISO 100 film on an overcast day while using a fixed shutter speed camera, but because the Agfa’s fixed shutter speed is a 1/35s, I had some leeway there. The Holga and Diana F+ take in about half that amount of light as the Agfa, for reference.

Most of this roll was taken at the Memphis Zoo when I visited there with my family. Given the age of the Agfa, I thought “Back in the late 50s and early 60s, a visitor to the zoo might have used a camera like this.” So I tried to take “touristy” photos while I was there. So maybe not the most exciting photos I’ve ever taken?

Iconic animal statues outside the zoo entrance 

Two above photos from the China-themed area where the pandas live

My family, looking at the polar bears

Part of the Northwest Passage area of the zoo

King and Queen of the Jungle in Cat Country

<3 this one of my mom lovingly looking at the lions

The zoo has Egypt-inspired decor due to the connection with Memphis, Egypt

NOT the zoo, but a photo of fleabane daisies (with an Instax mini photo of the daisies in the middle)

I struggled as to whether or not to include this one, because I think it’s not very good

Color Roll #2 was Kodak Ektachrome 64T that expired in 1997, cross-processed

 

Frames overlapped because I tried to work around the double exposure prevention. Oops!

Viewfinder issues. See below for more about that problem.

1961 Impala that has previously been seen in my 365 Project

Motorcycle in the rain

Colorful Memorial day

Also previously seen on my 365 Project

Conclusion?

This is actually my first proper attempt at reviewing the Isola I, though I have had it for nearly ten years. It’s got retro style (because it’s acutally vintage 😉 ), plus it’s inexpensive, lightweight, and capable of producing relatively sharp photos. But here’s what I don’t like about the Agfa:

  • The shutter speed of 1/35s is great, since it allows you get a good amount of light onto the film if you’re shooting a slower film. BUT I have found it somewhat tough to handhold this shutter speed. Depressing the shutter button often jars the camera just enough to cause motion blur because the shutter speed isn’t fast enough to prevent that from happening. I included some “bad” shots that I wouldn’t normally post, just so you can see what I’m talking about.
  • The viewfinder is not accurate, especially at the camera’s closest focusing distance, which is 5 feet. The photo from the zoo of the red door is a good example of this issue. Clearly I wouldn’t look through the viewfinder and compose that shot without including the entire door knocker in the composition! In the future, I’d probably compose my photo in the viewfinder, then physically take a step back to ensure the composition I want is closer to what I actually get.
  • The Isola I has double exposure prevention. A lot of people would like this, but I don’t. I will put aside the issue of actually wanting to take the occasional multiple exposure photo (because I do) and shed a light on the real issue with this: sometimes the shutter button gets pressed when the camera is in my bag, and once that happens, I have to waste a frame by advancing the film because once that shutter button is pressed, you can’t fire the shutter again until the film is advanced. I don’t even know HOW the shutter is fired when the camera’s in my bag, because the shutter button isn’t supposed to work while the lens is collapsed, but it somehow keeps happening!

Yes, I listed some cons that make it sound as if I didn’t have a positive experience with the Agfa, but the toy cameras I mentioned during the intro of this post have their own flaws as well (if you only knew how much gaffers tape I have to use on my Lomography Diana cameras to prevent light leaks…) The way I see it, the Isola I is just a basic camera from nearly sixty years ago. It is in no way a camera with modern amenities. But if you’re someone who enjoys toy cameras like the Holga or Diana and you see an Agfa Isola I for $10 or $15, I say pick it up!

{Lomo Instant Wide} Introduction

Please allow me to introduce you to the Lomo’ Instant Wide. Hold onto your seats, because this will be a lengthy introduction!

It’s quite a camera and an unexpected addition to my collection.

When I first read about the upcoming release of the Instant Wide, I winced at the price, but I really got a bee in my bonnet about owning one! Lomography was selling it via pre-order, with shipment expected by Christmas. I kept going back and looking and thinking “Can I do this? I can’t do this! But can I?” I got an itchy trigger finger one October day because I just got a feeling in my bones that I was supposed to have this camera (hey! It happens!) I immediately got buyer’s remorse. It was a chunk of money! But here was my justification: I have been wanting a better Fuji Instax Wide camera for YEARS because I love the format but hate the available cameras for it. The hope was that Fuji would put out a better Instax Wide. Doesn’t look like we should hold our breath waiting for that to happen.

Before I can really get on with the Instant Wide review, I need to address what I mean by “better Instax Wide camera.” Basically, the readily available Fuji Instax Wide cameras left a lot to be desired. I have owned an Instax Wide 200 since about 2005, which had to come from England and film wasn’t available in the US for it at that time. Even once the film was easily found here, I just didn’t use the Wide 200 very often because it had so many limitations. It was auto exposure only. There was no ability to turn the flash off (though you could force the flash to fire.) There were only two focus settings which left a lot to be desired for versatility. The Wide 200 was an older model of the Instax Wide camera, but even the subsequent models weren’t really improvements over the 200.

Now, what features did the Lomo Instant Wide offer that piqued my interest? Here are the camera’s tech specs from the Lomography site, and I’ll bold the things that got their hooks in me:

  • Lens Focal Length: 90mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Auto exposure type: Programmed Automatic
  • Aperture: f/8, f/22
  • Shutter Speed range: Bulb (Bulb Mode), 8s-1/250 (Auto Shooting Mode), 1/30 (Fixed Shutter Speed Mode)
  • Exposure Compensation: +1/-1 Exposure Values (Ambient)
  • Ejection Mechanism: Motorized
  • Multiple Exposures: Yes
  • Built-in Flash Guide Number: 13 (m)
  • Built-in Flash: Automatic Electronic Flash & Flash Off Mode
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.6m (0.1m with the Close-Up Lens)
  • Zone Focusing Setting: 0.6m / 1-2m / infinite
  • Tripod Mount: Yes
  • Remote control transmission: Infrared
  • Battery Supply: 4 x AA batteries (4 x 1.5V)
  • Filter Thread: 49mm

Again, straight from the Lomgoraphy site, here’s what was in the box:

  • Lomo’Instant Wide Camera (Central Park edition, in my case)
  • Colored Gel Filters (four of them)
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Ultra Wide-Angle Lens Attachment and Viewfinder
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Close-Up Lens Attachment
  • Lomo’Instant Wide Splitzer
  • Remote Control Lens Cap
  • Shooting Technique Cards
  • Instruction Manual
  • Bonus accessory: Lomography Light Painter, a special gift for pre-order customers
  • Bonus accessory: An additional four colored gel filters for the flash, a special gift for pre-order customers
  • Bonus accessory: Camera strap, a special gift for pre-order customers

I received the Instant Wide in December, as promised. I knew the camera would be large, based on the size of my Fuji Instax Wide camera, but, WOWZA! It’s big!

What was in the box (minus the tip cards) with my Central Park Edition camera

Tip cards: example photos taken with the Instant Wide, with info about settings/accessories used on the back

Close-up accessory

Ultra wide-angle accessory

The best, most useful accessory for the Instant Wide: the lens cap that is actually a remote control. You use the instant side to snap a photo instantly (duh) and the time side to hold the shutter open for up to a minute in Bulb mode.

Controls: flash on/off button, multiple exposure button, exposure compensation button, on/off/auto/bulb/fixed shutter speed selector

Where the picture is ejected after you take a photo

You’re supposed to be able to use the shiny silver circle to help compose self-portraits (fine: selfies!)

All cameras that use Instax film (wide or mini) are easy to load because there’s a yellow mark on the camera that corresponds with a yellow mark on the film cartridge, so you’ll know which way to insert it.

The light painter tool in use

One of the colored flash gels inserted over the flash

The only reason you might feel like this camera is heavy is because it’s powered by four AA batteries. Otherwise, the camera’s pretty lightweight.

I don’t know if Lomography does their product releases in December because they want people to give their new releases as gifts or because the winter holiday season is rife with photographic opportunities. Okay, it’s probably the former but the latter turned out to be true for me. I really liked having the camera put in my hands during a time of year when I would have good reason to take a lot of photos.

First shot! I’m in love!

Close-up attachment focuses at 10cm (about 4 in.)

My mom’s flawless accessories (much better in person rather than in the digital photo of it)

Arm-length self portrait

Bulb mode + flash + moving the camera in circles during the exposure

Another close-up accessory success – my eyes turned to hearts when I saw this shot

It’s underexposed, but I like it (close-up accessory used, of course)

Tried the ultra wide-angle accessory. Focusing guidelines given in the camera’s manual didn’t steer me correctly here.

The only time using the ultra wide-angle accessory worked okay. I have more work to do to figure it out.

Quick grab-shot of my mother’s earring, with the close-up accessory <3

Close-up of fabric. Textural. 

Attempted double exposure. It looks…ethereal?

Never taking the close-up attachment off this thing

Street art in Oxford, Mississippi

The Lyric venue in Oxford

Breads on display at Bottletree Bakery in Oxford

Uncomfortably close-up shot of a pastry from Bottletree Bakery in Oxford

Patio table outside a business in Oxford

Shop window in Oxford

City Hall Christmas Tree in Oxford

I can never resist the red phone booth (from England) that’s in Oxford
(Weird lens flare in this photo has been experienced by other Lomo Instant Wide users)

Shop window in Oxford

Me, standing outside Square Books in Oxford

Dress outside a clothing shop in Oxford. Reminded me of something Lady Mary would have worn near the end of Downton Abbey 🙂 (the 1920s)

My Lomography La Sardina on a table outside a business in Oxford

Santas and angels under the Christmas tree at my brother and sister-in-law’s house

My nephew Braeden and the beard I crocheted him for Christmas 🙂

Christmas tree at my brother and sister-in-law’s house

My niece Anna Marie in the Dragonball Z shirt I got her for Christmas

Yours truly, in the crown from my Christmas cracker 

My swirly ring (close-up attachment used)

Listening to my original Stax record “King and Queen” by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas

Last shot in my four pack test run for the Lomo Instant Wide (when I did this for my 365 project)

So. 

Thoughts? Likes? Dislikes? Conclusions?

I think this is a really interesting camera. And it better be for the price tag it carries! I am not into the “Lomography” look of blurry, soft-focus, or wacky looking photos. For the first four packs of film in the Lomo Instant Wide, I didn’t really find it to have those qualities. I wish the ultra wide-angle accessory hadn’t turned out to be so difficult to use correctly. I plan on doing some focusing tests with that accessory attached, but I really shouldn’t have to. I have found that even setting the exposure compensation to -1 for both shots, I have gotten terrible results trying to do double exposures outdoors. The photos have turned out so overexposed that there was virtually nothing on the frame of film after it developed. I also find that the camera is leaning toward overexposure in general if it’s used outdoors and sometimes even indoors. It’s frustrating!

The most advanced Instax Wide camera that Fuji itself has produced, the Instax Wide 500AF, has no where near the features and controls of the Lomo, but I have seen comparison photos taken, and the Fuji definitely wins in the sharpness department. But I see a lot of potential for the Instant Wide. I hope I can make the most of it and create some worthwhile images with it. I’ll keep you guys in the loop though 😉

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