40 Year-Old ‘Cast Away’


You’ll never know when you want to pick up a film camera. It’s can be a hassle, it’s uncertain, it’s a risk, it’s a long list of questions popping out from anywhere when not knowing what you are dealing with. Versus digital, basically when you have a camera and battery; you’re all set. The rest is history.

I must give it up to the Lomographic Society still kicking around and still pretty much very active in sharing film related knowledge to anyone with liked minds. What’s more they’ve done is that they’ve made film photography so accessible by erasing all the pain and doubts for the beginners. If you have ever consider buying a film cameras off the craiglist, ebay and other platforms; the chances are you’d spend time researching on the make and model. Once you pinpointed an issue (ex. viewfinder too tiny, battery compatibility, design/mechanical quirks, ASA limitations, limited shutter speed…) you may face, you’d just put it on hold or even just move on. If the price is in your acceptable range, you may just get it anyway; in worst case just treat it as a living room decor or some likes calling it the paperweight.  I’ve gone through these cycles a few times. I know how painful it is but nothing can go terribly wrong as long as I have a fully functional LC-A+ with me.

I’d been working with the LC-A+ for almost two months now. The fact that it’s new brings me assurance on my output. Everything just works. With Lomography’s continual improvements on features from the original Russian model, such as ASA setting up to 1600, film canister window to display film shooting on. This is a fine example how simple it is to just click and you have a frame. A great way to learn about your zone focus with the distance lever. Limited film speed means you’ve to either work all your frames during the day or snap on with a flash. A cast away type of feeling when you actually try hard enough to photograph.

Just few days ago It’s a leap of faith to get a rangefinder off the craiglist. And seriously, why the classics are always looking so darn good?! It’s quite exact the answer how I attracted to the Konica C35 FD (Auto S3). I’m aware this is also rare. What’s more is that I wanted to try the rangefinder experience. Shutter-priority is what lived during the 70s rangefinders. It’s somewhat semi-automatic. You select the shutter speed and it selects the rest for you according to the ASA setting. One of the biggest concern is the battery that powers the light meter. The camera can’t really function without it, as it selects aperture for you. There’re off a lot of debate on this battery topic: 1.35V PX675 mercury battery. To get the right voltage required is theoretically impossible with the modern cell batteries. You can compensate it by tempering the ASAs when going for the LR44 cells, but it’s just no way of knowing unless you check the light meter 24/7.  Some say the color negatives can tolerate these over/underexposure without noticeable difference from the original discontinued mercury cells. It’s everyone’s conclusion that the Zinc-Air 675 cell works best, but the design of it requires exposure to air and it lives for two months give or take. Some say the weather changes the nature of the battery. Seriously? I just want a functional camera.

These rangefinder classics are still out there. I like at them as gems as I love how compact they are as a rangefinder. I see no reason why these rangefinders are merely collectibles cannot re-live during our times. They’ve got fantastic glass, compact body, durable and many of them still out there. The way I see it is that, if there’s a photographic community can develop cell batteries (or even better rechargeable) that works perfectly with these cameras like how it used to be; it’ll unlock more useable gems for analogue photographers. Just imagine one day a group of guys have the power, connection and money to develop something like ‘The Impossible Project’ for Polaroid, in the case of batteries.

Back to this Konica rangefinder. It built like a tank, weights 410g. I thought this thing was about to fall apart as it’s 40 years old and the lens is not like the modern glass with precision. It has a maximum shutter speed of 1/500. You either need a light meter or app to understand what speed gives the best mix of depth of field for your image, or you assess the environment with your own sense.  The later is what I called, guess it. I just received my first developed roll, i believe this is what everyone would have done to test it out. I do not see it acting erratic. More than half the roll was just click and shoot, and exposures on them were spot on! I was so afraid there’d be light leaks and inaccurate metering. What a relieve..It’s also worth mentioning I shot through the entire roll in an hour. Forcing bad shots made me feel so guilty as it’s just wrong with film.

The focus on a rangefinder is a little strange for someone who’d never done it before. Once you know the mechanism of it, you’d become part of it. I found it a bit fun actually, although zone focus still prevail in every other way. To be able to produce imagery out of this Konica, makes me feel honored. There’s no knowing on how much mileage ahead of it. Chances are until it get banged up which won’t happen on my watch.
Portugese Egg Tarts
Imagined Reality
Graham Street Market
Noodle Cook

Bonding with a camera.


Remote Toy Car

There’s no secret in how to bond with your favorite camera. The first and only thing that you have to do is: You must have a strong desire to shoot good photos. The more you shoot with just one camera, the more you and your camera would become ‘one’.

The best advice i could give if you really want to ‘do photography’ instead of becoming a camera collector. Use your camera until you feel like selling the rest of your gear. It could be a bit too harsh. However, It’s true that I’d been in the mood for selling my X100 for weeks now. It’s strange that I’ve not ever thought about the opposite – selling my GRD….Ricoh you’ve won my heart!

For those who don’t know me. I only own two cameras (GRD IV & X100). I can’t imagine someone with ‘a collection of cameras/lenses’ at home. I know certainly there’re camera collectors out there. But I’m more fascinated into actually shooting with one that gives me constant results.

I think it’s a very good sign to come to this point, thinking about actually selling my beloved X100. In a photography standpoint, it means I finally found a camera to work with (rather than just use it).

The image quality of X100 is far superior than the GRD for sure. When it comes to the focusing system, Ricoh is far more ahead and easy thumb control over all the settings I need; It’s like telling myself why persist and linger on a sluggish piece of gadget (the X100) that would not improve my photograph as a whole.

I can’t ask for more with the mount-on OVF and snap focus combination. It’s quick when I squint thru the OVF and click. It’s accurate to frame it this way with fixed frame marks versus jumping frame marks when hitting the shutter on the X100. I just won’t miss.

One tip I would like to share with you. If you use your camera long enough, your camera should appear some kind of wear on the body (at least on my GRD). I appreciate the scratch and wear so much. It’s become a tool not a collectible. And that makes a camera sexier!

*Image 1 & 3 shot with my cellphone and ran it with the Flare app on my mac. How do you like the artificial grain 🙂 It was for fun.

Thumbs Up thumb grip for X100


Rangefinder’s modern re-defined legendary is just getting started from the year 2011 to this day. Apart from the Leica rangefinders that never goes out of fashion. Fujifilm was one of the Japanese manufacturers that started the retro-looking modern technology rangefinder camera (yes, I’m braggin’ about the X100). Olympus has remade the OM-D, coming soon this year. They tend to have a boxy metallic body and lacking of some plastic grip. At least it is for most Leica rangefinders and the X100.

Thumbs Up stepped up and started producing the thumb grip to increase the stability in your hand whether you’re shooting or not.  The tiny piece of metal costs USD $100. Smart for them to dominate the market like that, as most rangefinders users are willing to spend. For me, I just want it to do the job – get a better hand grip when just holding it around. Some says it increases their stability when shooting. It’s not affecting much on me though.

The Thumbs Up grip model number is EP-5S, fits very well on X100.  It has plastic bits to cushion between the thumb rest and the camera body. I love how the camera holds in my hand now. Despite of the steep price, it’ll last forever and an investing worth spending if you love your camera.

I bought mine in Sim City Shopping Arcade (旺角星際城巿). It’s my first time being there. It’s a camera fan paradise. Three floors filled with camera shops whether it’s brand new or used. You’ll probably find you need there.

P.S. A little word about the first photo i shot. I did it with my Ricoh GRD and a LED pen-size flashlight over 8 seconds shutter to produce the spotlight effect. I learned it from a portrait photographer on the Digital Rev’s Cheap Camera Pro Photographer series. Damn it’s not bad. LOL.