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Seven, Eight, Crap - or Using Underperformer Cameras Part Three (Agfa, Ricoh, Mamiya)

No. 7: Agfa Isomat Rapid
I bought it since I wanted to practice exposing for medium format in a cheap way.


The camera uses a now obsolete film type of the Rapid format. It makes square exposures on 35 mm film, kinda like Instamatic cameras, originally 16 of them, but you can roll more into the canister. You need sprocketed 35 mm film, unlike what was originally in the Instamatic cassettes. The exposures are 24x24 millimeters on the film. You do have to waste one exposure because the camera expects you to remove the exposed roll after the sixteenth exposure. One has to open the film door but can close it again immediately. If done in a dark place the exposure is not lost.


There is a fixed shutter speed and three apertures to choose from.
  Focusing can be made through using the scale symbols or the precise markings on the undersinde of the lens.
  As soon as I started using the camera I felt that the lack of resistance in the shutter button could be a cause of camera shake. So I had a 'soft release' of the kind I had lying around - some unidentified part from an electronic gadget - fastened with a drop of glue.
  I was disappointed with the lens performance when used on sunny days since the colours felt flat and exposures not very sharp. When sharpness isn't that big an issue, though, the photos turned out alright. I will next use a low ASA high contrast film to get rid of some of the traits I don't like.





No. 8: Ricoh Auto 35
It's a cool looking brick but I can't bear the confusion! Or maybe I love it.


You load it with ordinary 135-film, like I did. An already exposed roll save for 8 photos. An easy way to find out if it works in its fundamental functions. I did develop it the next day.
  The lens has fixed focus which means you can't focus it! I don't know how they expect us to make pictures with it?! Only keep the subject 2,5 meters away all the time? Time will tell if I can get my head around it.
  The three choices for aperture (f/20, 8, 4) and one for automatic (which I can't use since the selenium cell is depleted) gives some leeway in the area of depth of field - and (zone) focusing. I suppose the Auto mode (if it did work) would aim for the largest depth of field at any given time. The other three settings would be for flash mode. If the electronics had worked there'd been a meter needle visible in the viewfinder showing if I'd be near or far from correct exposure.
  I have six choices for shutter speed, including Bulb mode, numbered 2 through 6 plus B. And a flash sync choice (M at 1/160th of a second). The 2-6 speeds are 1/25th, 32nd, 50th, 100th and 160th of a second. (If the selenium powered automatics had worked the fastest exposure time would've been 1/400th of a second.) There is a corresponding exposure table on the back of the camera which 'sort of ' explains the numbered exposure settings, but is still confusing because it shows ASA numbers corresponding to the 2 through 6 exposure numbers. In short, Camerapedia explains the whole exposure thing like this: "[B]y combining the flash distance setting and the film number setting you effectively have manual control of the aperture and shutter speed." Anyway, the M mode is to be used with the manual aperture settings, as shown on the flash exposure instructions.
  I have to mention the shutter release. It's situated next to the lens and is pretty large and eye-catching. It is very easily pressed, at least on my specimen. A very soft release which ends with the tiny sound of the shutter opening and closing - 'pst'.
  For the first time in 22 years I have now been tempted into using a flash. I feel that this camera begs for a flash - both judging from how the settings work and for aesthetic purposes...   I like this camera a lot. About the photos it produces...

The viewfinder cuts quite a lot of the picture. I guess maybe 10%.


No. 9: Mamiya Family
A smaller SLR nobody asks for these days, I suppose.



Here you can see what can come out of this camera. It has a fixed 45 mm lens with aperture and exposure control on the lens, like how you find it on a compact rangefinder. Otherwise it's like any SLR. If you're lucky the light meter works, which you can read it in a small display on the top of the camera.

Thanks for reading this post! Don't hesitate to comment, and check out my Instagram at #ourbooksmalmo. Visit my Etsy shop getOurBooks where there are cameras aplenty to choose from.

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