Saturday, March 20, 2010

Deader'n' Vaudeville

It's really too bad that film photography is dead, because I'm really enjoying the bargains to be had in used (film) cameras.

A couple of years ago, I was in a local GoodWill, and they were just putting out a Vivitar 90mm/2.5 macro lens. Beautiful lens, very well regarded when it came out in 1978. I picked it up, looked at it - but I didn't have a Pentax "K"-mount camera, so ten bucks seemed like too much.

I left the store and was a mile away when it finally occurred to me that I COULD BUY A PENTAX CAMERA BODY. There must be literally a million K1000s around. So I turned around, went back and bought the macro lens. And as I was buying it, they were just putting out the K1000 that it had come in with. A K1000 and its SMC 50/2 for all of twenty bucks; plus 10 bucks for the Vivitar macro lens: $30 plus sales tax.

I've hacked around with it a bit - the K1000 is a crude but useful tool. The 90/2.5 lives up to its reputation.

Recently I saw this same lens go by on eBay: Vivitar 90mm/f2.5 Macro - where it sold for $400 plus $13.50 shipping.

In a related story, last fall I picked up a late Alpa SLR, one mass-produced by Chinon once Alpa could no longer afford to hand-make their cameras in Switzerland. I played with it a bit, but, once my curiosity was satisfied, I turned around and sold it on eBay. (I wasn't planning to invest in a bag full of M42 lenses just to use the thing.) What I learned, though, is that it really was beautifully made, which gave me some respect for Chinon's capabilities.

Last week I spotted a Chinon CP9-AF SLR on It was in a kit consisting of the AF SLR, its standard 28-70 AF zoom, a 70-210 AF zoom, a dedicated flash, a neveready case, the instruction book, a polarizing filter, etc. I was about to pass it by when I remembered that Chinons were K-mount bodies. So I bid, and got the whole kit for $31 plus shipping.

It's pretty much awesome. It has a built-in intervalometer. And, with non-AF K-mount lenses, it works in "Auto" mode as an aperture-preferred autoexposure camera. So I can use my two existing K-mount lenses with it, for a pretty powerful kit. It's got speed, it's got close-focusing, it's got a wide range of focal lengths - all it lacks is something wider than 28mm or longer than 210mm. I'm trying to think of a project that requires my K-mount macro lens and my new intervalometer-equipped camera: maybe a time-lapse sequence of seed germination?

Now, at some level, this seventy bucks or so would probably have been better spent toward a DSLR. But then again, this kit is quite a bit of fun, and by the time I'm done playing with it, the price of a DSLR will come down in price by that much, so I won't really be out much of anything at all.

Yes, I know film photography is dead - my kids certainly don't hesitate to remind me - but I'm having a ball collecting film cameras.

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