Tag Archives: Camera Test

{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


I kinda went overboard photographing the cool sculpture outside Crosstown ūüôā

Around Midtown


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!


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?


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!

Fuji GA645i {Two Rolls In}

Upon purchasing a Fuji GA645i recently, I published a retrospective of photos I’d taken with its older sibling, the GA645. Now that I have the 645i,¬†I’m ready to embark upon a review for it!

I was so happy when the camera arrived. It has that “new camera feel.” It’s in beautiful condition!

About the Fuji GA645i:

  • The Fuji GA645i is an auto-focus medium format camera, with manual focus available by override and is achieved through zone focusing
  • 60mm f/4 lens Fujinon Super-EBC lens (equiv. to 37mm focal length in 35mm format)
  • Produces 6 cm. x 4.5 cm. negatives
  • Accepts either 120 or 220 film. 16 exposures on 120 or 32 exposures on 220 (earlier GA645 models, like the one I had, only gave you 15/30 photos per roll)
  • Vertical-oriented viewfinder (must turn camera sideways for horizontal photos)
  • Two shutter release buttons: one atop the camera for vertical photos and one on front of the camera for horizontal photos (the release on the front was not available on the GA645)
  • Auto film advance
  • Auto ISO setting with certain Fuji films. Otherwise, you can manually set film speeds between 25-1600
  • LCD display on top of the camera with exposure counter, film type (120 or 220), exposure mode, focus distance, and other pertinent information
  • Moving parallax correction frame marks in the viewfinder, to give you more accurate framing
  • Exposure modes:¬†program auto exposure, aperture priority, and manual¬†
  • Built in pop-up flash
  • Aperture range of f/4-f/22
  • Exposure compensation of ¬Ī2
  • Shutter speed range of¬†of 2s ‚Äď 1/700s, plus Bulb (though apertures f/4-f/9.5 can only use up to 1/400s shutter speed)
  • Minimum focusing distance 2.3 ft. (.7¬†m)
  • Option to imprint data¬†between¬†the frames of film – you can select to record date, date and time, exposure mode/shutter speed/aperture/exposure compensation/focus mode, etc.

On/off/exposure mode/ISO dial, data selector button, self-timer button, flash button

LCD info display, auto focus/manual focus selector button, exposure compensation button, and selector wheel

Primary shutter release on top, secondary shutter release on front

By no means a small camera, but smaller than so many other medium format cameras

Some thoughts

I had read online that the GA645i was quieter than its predecessor. While I don’t have a fresh memory of the noises made by the GA645, I do feel like the GA645i’s focus is a bit less “grindy” sounding (and is in fact quite quiet when held for horizontal photos – I’m not sure why it is louder when held that way as opposed to normally.) I think the film advance is a bit more quiet on the GA645i as well. Still, a co-worker made a a little fun of me for the noises the camera makes while focusing.

A maximum aperture of only f/4 is somewhat off-putting, because I like big apertures (and I cannot lie.) You know, ¬†for selective focusing and because the slower the aperture, the less light you can gather. That also means you’ll need longer shutter speeds in low light. On the bright side, the GA645i has a leaf shutter, making it easier to hand-hold slower shutter speeds than you would be able to on a camera that had a focal plane shutter/mirror.

Size is an interesting issue with this camera. It’s almost unbelievable to see it in person. In a world full of people accustomed to seeing digital SLRs everywhere you turn, the GA645i will get you some attention when you’re out and about with it! Yes, it’s more compact and lighter than a medium format SLR, but it’s still a sizable camera. With the batteries installed, it weighs 1.89lb.¬†(856g.) Lighter than its medium format SLR counterparts but not exactly a featherweight!

For comparison, the GA645i pictured with two of the smaller cameras I’ve traveled with: The Ricoh FF-1 above and Nikon EM below.

Roll #1 was Ilford FP4 Plus (ISO 125.) ¬†I cannot believe how beautifully these turned out. Totally made me happy that I’d decided to buy this camera.

Started my first GA645i roll in the local¬†cemetery. Always a good place to start with a new camera. I’ve done it loads of times. The statue of the young woman is a particular favorite of mine.¬†

Section A in the cemetery. Or “A’ is for Amanda?

Like a photo I took with my Kiev 4AM 

I have no idea how perfectly the camera focused on this winter goldenrod. The depth of field is extremely shallow, yet the thing that’s supposed to be in focus¬†is¬†in very sharp focus.

An afternoon where I managed to take a few photos of my niece without her staging a revolt

Alyza and Annie

Annie, the prettiest dog in the world

Roll #2 was an expired roll of Fuji Provia 400, which was cross-processed.

My camera tests this autumn prominently featured foliage

The beautiful portrait of Annie on Roll #1 was an¬†anomaly. Normally, she turns her head just as I’m taking the photo or is otherwise derpy, as above.

I love this hand-painted sign at a beauty shop in our town. I photograph it fairly often.

My “acts of Christmas” one day were putting up my mom’s tree and the little silver tinsel tree in my bedroom.

1964 Pontiac Catalina that was at the auto auction where I work (in catering) one day a week.
(Also shown in my Bronica S blog)

Sushi restaurant in our town

Jessica and Dustin’s engagement session Polaroids, before I sent them to the couple

I loved how the branches were formed on this tree


Love it! It was a bit of an investment for me, since I am a very frugal camera shopper. But the Fuji GA645i is wonderful. I don’t know if it’s actually a huge improvement over the GA645 I had, or if I just am more appreciative of a camera like this now than I was then. I’d love to take the Fuji traveling with me. It’s well-regarded for as a great travel companion. You get medium format quality in a package that,¬†while not small, quite easily slips into a smallish camera bag or a biggish coat pocket. Not to mention the fact that it has auto focus and built-in metering. The GA645i doesn’t have the quietest autofocus, but when I look at the results, it’s hard to fault that when the lens itself is so incredibly wonderful. And the lens is really what matters, after all.


{Something Borrowed} Zenza Bronica S

I should have thought to title a series “Something Borrowed” a long time ago. I’ve borrowed some very fine medium format cameras over the past handful of years. A Hasselblad, a Contax 645, another Hasselblad,¬†and now a Zenza Bronica S.

The Bronica S came to me via Susan, whom you’ve seen featured on this blog before because I photographed her wedding in 2013. She is a fellow film photography enthusiast who has amassed her own little collection of film cameras. Susan knew that I was trying to stave off the desire to buy a medium format SLR and offered to loan me this beauty!

A little about the Bronica S

  • The Bronica S is a medium format 6×6 SLR
  • You can use interchangeable film backs
  • Focusing helical built into the camera body, which is some technical info that I don’t quite understand. But it makes the part of the lens which is outside the camera quite short
  • Its focus and film advance are combined in one knob (with a film advance crank that folds into the¬†knob¬†when not in use)
  • Mirror lock up available, by using a switch on the bottom of the camera
  • A shutter speed range of ¬†1s-1/1000ths
  • Dark slide which cannot remain inserted while film back is attached to the camera. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a dark slide. It slides itself out as a way of reminding you to remove it. Pushing it all the way in is how you remove the film back.
  • Instant return mirror (unlike other medium format cameras such as the Hasselblad or Bronica ETRS cameras)
  • The brightest waist level finder I’ve ever seen!

Focus knob/film advance crank

Bright, bright, BRIGHT waist level finder

It’s like a chromed out car from the 1950s! And it is soooooo heavy. With the standard 75mm lens, it weighs about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms.) By the way, I love the 75mm Nikkor lens! Partly because it focuses so much more closely than the standard lens on a Hasselblad. You’ll see that I leaned on that close focusing range quite a lot for my test rolls.

That lovely Nikkor-P lens

As I said, the Bronica S’s body’s built-in focusing mechanism means the lens doesn’t protrude far outside the camera. This is at the closest focusing distance, which is the “longest” this lens gets. You can see in an above photo that the lens sits almost flush with the body at its shortest length (focused at infinity.)¬†

There’s that mirror lock-up switch I told you about

How the camera looks with the waist level finder folded down

¬†Now. On the the real reason we’re here. The photos this camera can¬†take!

Roll #1 with the Bronica S was my expired Kodak Pro 400MC. I don’t think I did a¬†great job metering for this badly expired film/erred on the side of underexposure when it came to hand-holdable shutter speeds. My bad!

There were so many spiders outside this fall – there were leaves suspended by single threads of web and looked as if they were floating

Totally missed the mark with the exposure here, but I still love this photo of camellia flowers

Blue Corvette at work

Church bus at my dad’s shop

My #basic purchases from Target: Moleskin notebooks, cute stationery, and cute plate

My brother-in-law loves candy corn. At a Halloween party my niece attended, the children played a game where they guessed the number of candies in various jars. My niece won a jar of candy corn by guessing the number closest to the actual pieces in the jar. Coincidence? I think not!

Flameless candle lantern on the mantle

Roll #2 was Ilford HP5+. I hadn’t shot that film in years, and I am kicking myself in hindsight. It is a BEAUTIFUL film and, coupled with the wonderful Bronica S’s lens, I am definitely thrilled with the results of this roll.

Silver tinsel mini Christmas tree and Tower of London snowglobe in my bedroom

 1964 Pontiac Catalina that I photographed at work one day

A wall in my mom’s house. I love her clock!

Pushing depth of field to its limits with close focusing and wide aperture

A bunch of flour fell on my kitchen floor. I dumped it off the porch but some of it landed on the steps. There were leaves on the steps that acted as stencils.


While I wish I had done a better job nailing the exposure on Roll #1 with the Bronica S, I felt I made up for it with Roll #2. It’s a substantial camera, so it’s not for the faint of heart (or you can build muscle mass by toting it around!) The most important thing on any camera, ultimately, is the quality of the lens. I think the 75mm/2.8 Nikkor-P is GORGEOUS. Now, a word of warning: ¬†I described the sound made by a Hasselblad or Contax 645 as being a “THWACK!” or an authoritative thud. The Bronica S, however, makes a noise that sounds almost as if something catastrophic has just occurred when you press the shutter release. I think that initial “Did I just break this?!” shock at the noise wears off and you don’t notice is so much after you’ve got some experience with the Bronica under your belt. All that to say, you’re not going to be doing any stealthy photography in quiet museums or churches with this camera!

I hope I can put some fresher color film through the camera, and maybe try the 135mm lens that Susan also loaned me for it, before I have to surrender the Bronica back to her ūüôā

Canon Sure Shot Sleek {Two Rolls In}

(This is actually “one and a half rolls in,” as the first roll I took with this camera only had about a dozen frames on it.)¬†

As I said when I bought this camera, “I needed another compact 35mm camera like I need a hole in the head.” Because I really didn’t¬†need it. I’d just been hunting ¬†down a Canon Sure Shot Sleek for awhile¬†after¬†I’d read about it on a website, searched the internet for examples of photos taken with the Sleek, and liked what I saw. I finally found one for $3 on eBay and thought, “Why not?” The answer to “why not?” should have been “Because you just got a Konica Big Mini last year for free, so you have the point-and-shoot category covered.” In fact, I will be comparing the Sure Shot Sleek to the Konica throughout this post, because my recent experiences with the Konica are fresh enough that I can’t help but compare the two.

The main draw of the Sleek was its 32mm/3.5 lens. The Konica has a 35mm/3.5 lens. Same maximum aperture, but I wanted that slightly wider lens!

About the Canon Sure Shot Sleek (aka Prima Mini II):

  • ¬†The Canon Sure Shot Sleek is an auto-focus, auto-exposure 35mm camera
  • As mentioned, it has a 32mm/3.5 lens.
  • The lens protected by a cover that slides away when the camera is powered on.
  • User selectable modes, via dial atop camera:¬†auto flash, flash on, flash off, self timer
  • Automatic aperture range of f/3.5 – f/22
  • Automatic shutter speed range¬†of 2s – 1/250s
  • Minimum focusing distance 17.72 in. (45 cm)
  • Self timer is 10 seconds long, with a blinking indication light on the front of the camera.

What my $3 got me. A package deal!

Mode dial on the camera

Roll one was Kodak Gold 200 (partial roll)

My mother hosted a Gospel singing the first weekend I had the Sure Shot Sleek. It was in an old community center near where my family lives in Mississippi. It reminded me a lot of the churches my family visited when my siblings and I were growing up – my mom was invited to sing at churches, and we did a lot of traveling around the region for that. The community center was musty, the floorboards creaked, the air conditioning wasn’t working properly, and it had uncomfortable wooden pews. It actually brought back memories of visiting my grandfather’s church in Arkansas, which he built himself from the ground up and pastored!

We had to open some windows before the air conditioner kicked in. I liked how the breeze was blowing the curtains as it came through the window.

My brother-in-law, reading something on the wall in the community center’s main room. This is actually quite sharp, and I thought the Sleek did a good job handling the exposure. Notice the door in front of me, at the upper right corner of the image, says “ballroom.” It was just a room with some tables in it. I wonder if any balls were ever hosted in it?? (You can click on this photo to see a larger version, so you can see how sharp it is!)

“Theater” – this was the door to the area where the singing would take place. It was like a sanctuary of an old country church, not like a theater. Though there was a stage…

The Big Mini’s +1.5 exposure compensation would have been handy in for this photo.

Arrow sign outside the community center. It would have letters on it, indicating what sort of event was being held there, and obviously the arrow was pointing towards the building where said event was being held. In our case, there were no letters saying what was taking place that night!

Also like the churches we visited growing up, the community center had a small kitchen adjacent to what we would call a “fellowship hall.” That’s where you’d eat after the church service. That’s where we ate after the singing service that night. The kitchen¬†was painted turquoise and red, which I loved.

I guess they’d call this the lobby of the community center. Decked out with fine¬†furnishings.
Steps leading up to the small stage of the community center.

Roll 2 was Lomography Color Negative 100

This is part of my unintentional “stuff I see in parking lots” series, as detailed in a previous blog post of photos taken with the Konica Big Mini. This was under a truck in a parking lot where we were shopping.

Hanging flower pot on my sister’s porch. I’ve linked to a larger version of this photo, so you can click through and see that, where it’s sharp, it’s VERY sharp. I just chose the point of focus poorly.

Trying to recreate a black and white photo from the Big Mini

I call this one “An allergy¬†sufferer’s worst¬†nightmare.” So much pollen! This was a puddle outside my house.¬†

Fungi on a felled tree outside the house

Tools in my dad’s shop

Harley-Davidson at the auto auction where our catering company works. I didn’t frame this shot. I just sat the camera on the ground and pressed the shutter button.

The same Harley, the next morning when the sun was coming up (I get to work early, ya’ll)

This isn’t¬†a great photo, I was just in awe of how YELLOW the sun made it! Is this the Kelvin filter on Instagram ūüėõ?

Pretty Annie. My niece’s dog.¬†

Leaves on my walk around our neighborhood. Look at the bokeh!

I guess this falls into the “stuff I see in parking lots” series. It was Good Friday. ¬†A man was carrying a cross down the road. He rested it¬†outside Wal-Mart while he was inside.

I call this one “MURICA!!” American flag on the man’s cross, with Wal-Mart in the background.

I call this one “Happy Easter tho” – As it was Easter and I was donning my purple tights because they’re festive.

Finishing up the roll on the (artificial) succulents at my sister’s church (where she works, actually.) Trying out the closest focusing distance.¬†

Decoration on a wall at the church (that’s quite a sharp photo, too!)

Things I like about the Sure Shot Sleek:

Slightly wider angle lens than other compact 35mm cameras I have.

Hey, the 32mm lens is what made me buy this camera in the first place.

Various modes selected by turning a dial atop the camera.

As opposed to pushing a series of buttons until you find the right setting, which is how most cameras of this type operate.

The fact that there is a mode dial also means you can leave it in whichever shooting mode you wish, even when the camera is switched off. Most cameras of this type lose the settings you’ve selected when you switch the camera off, which is a real pain when you want to turn a camera on a shoot quickly. Score one for the Sure Shot Sleek!

Lens cover

One drawback to the Big Mini is that its lens is not covered when the camera is powered off. There’s a glass filter, of sorts, over the lens but nothing protecting that filter or the lens itself. At least the Sleek has a cover that slides over the lens when the camera’s not on!

Things I didn’t like so much about the Sure Shot Sleek

Operational weirdness:

I feel like some of these Sure Shot cameras have weird ways of operating. I passed on getting the Canon Prima Mini, which is the model that preceded the Sure Shot Sleek, because you have to press two buttons simultaneously in order to get the flash mode you want. Similar to the weirdness of my Sure Shot Supreme, where you have to depress both the shutter button and a small button on the bottom of the camera to disable the flash. Technically, there is slow sync flash available on the Sleek, but only in self-timer mode. Most situations where I¬†personally would choose slow sync flash would be, for example, taking photographs at parties or photographing bands at gig. Neither of those scenarios would pair well with a self-timer. Even though you had to simultaneously press the “flash on” button while pressing the shutter button on the Sure Shot Esprit, at least doing so would automatically put the camera into slow sync flash mode! (Now I kind of wish I had¬†that camera instead of the Sleek ūüėõ)

Additionally, you cannot turn the flash off when using the self-timer. This is no good for me. The only time I use a self-timer is when I know the shutter speed is going to be longer than I could hand hold without blur. I generally don’t combine flash and self-timer.

Squinty viewfinder:

Small viewfinder. Difficult to see through sometimes, especially with it knocking up against my glasses! The Big Mini has a much better viewfinder, in my opinion (as well as frame lines for when you’re using the closest focusing distances.)

Plastic construction

It’s not the most substantial camera I’ve ever held in my hands. The Big Mini’s shape may be less ergonomic than the Sleek, but the metal front on the Big Mini makes me feel as if I’m holding a “real” camera.


When the Sure Shot Sleek is good, it’s pretty good. When it’s not good, it’s very mediocre. But I’m also taking into account that I didn’t necessarily have access to the most thrilling subjects during my one and a half test test rolls with it. I’m not counting it out yet though. I’ll give it a fighting chance to win a place in my heart.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I find myself comparing the Sure Shot Sleek to the Big Mini. The things I like about the Sleek are missing on the Konica, and the things I don’t like about the Sleek are found on the Big Mini. I’d make a Franken-camera of the two of them if I could!

Post Navigation