5 Common Problems to Look for When Buying Vintage Cameras

Words by Nick Mayo. Content put together exclusively for the Phoblographer by Chris Gampat.

Who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of finding that gem of a camera in your local thrift store, flea market or the garage sale down the street? Thousands of old film cameras hit the used market each and every day, and in Nick Mayo’s recent video series he gives as he calls it a “somewhat of a comprehensive field guide” on the subject matter. In this article, Nick will go a couple steps deeper in pointing out some of the common pitfalls you should be looking out for when “thrift store camera hunting.”

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Review: The Hasselblad X1D for Street Photography

All images and text by Jonathan Higbee.

I like to work a scene when I’m out shooting the streets. I find a vibe or background or light or whatever that exudes life, and I drain every last drop of potential the hell out of it. In attempting to capture a split-second candid moment, it’s absolutely critical I use a camera that’s quick, easy and inconspicuous. In the interest of remaining a stealth street photography ninja, it never seemed possible that I’d be able to make candid photos with any bulky, slower-paced and very obvious digital medium format camera. In June 2016, Hasselblad announced the first mirrorless digital medium format camera, the X1D-50c. Suddenly, it appeared the barriers to obtaining that “medium format look” in street photography had been demolished.

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Vintage Camera Review: Leica CL (Leitz Minolta CL, Minolta CLE)

Years ago, I owned a Leica CL when I was getting into photography. Trying to balance an understanding of both film and digital, I toted this around with my old school Olympus E-510 DSLR. They were perfect together for a college student. But then I needed money, and unfortunately had to sell my Leica. Very recently though, I took the plunge before my 30th birthday and bought myself another one. You see, the Leica CL is the same camera as the Minolta CLE and the Leitz Minolta CL.

Some consider it not a true Leica because it wasn’t made in Germany. Instead, the Leica CL was a collaboration between Minolta and Leica. It was a camera that sold very well and perhaps too well. In fact, it’s rumored that sales were so good that they discontinued the camera because it ate into the sales of the Leica M5.

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Vintage Camera Review: Fujifilm GW690 III (6×9 Medium Format)

When Fujifilm announced their medium format digital camera, a whole lot of people really wanted it to be something along the lines of the Fujifilm GW690 III camera–also known as the Texas Leica. This rangefinder camera shoots in the 6×9 format–which is one of the largest formats to use 120 film. For many years it was used by hobbyists, travel photographers, landscape photographers, and even a few portrait shooters. Due to its 90mm lens equivalent, you’re getting around a 38mm f1.2 equivalent when it comes to field of view converted to full frame.

When I purchasef this camera, I genuinely thought it would be the perfect medium format rangefinder for me, doing pretty much everything the Mamiya 7 II is capable of sans interchangeable lenses. But with more experience, I learned that I was wrong.

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How to Shoot Better Street Portraits With Minimal Gear

One of the things many photographers find to be very challenging is shooting street portraits. There are a number of complications: sometimes a photographer doesn’t have the courage to ask someone for a portrait but they have the technical knowledge. But other times, it’s the opposite. Taking portraits of people on the street really isn’t that difficult to do though and once you understand the basics of human psychology you’ll see just how simple it can be.

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Vintage Camera Review: Mamiya RB67 Pro-S (6×7 Format)

A few years ago, I was told that a Hasselblad digital camera was going to kill the 120 format of film. At the time, I was absolutely astounded. For many years, I believed it to a certain point. 645 digital is good; in fact, it’s very good. But very few pieces of work out there have really delivered to me what I feel is that true medium format look. It’s what so many photographers strive for. But if you’re working with a camera like the Mamiya RB67 Pro-S, it’s impossible to not get that look you’re craving. A true workhorse camera for a portrait or landscape photographer, this camera has been in my arsenal for a fair amount of time now and I’ve often considered it to be my crown jewel.

If anything, it’s proven that 645 digital is close to the larger formats of 120 film, but it still isn’t totally there to me.

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The Phoblographer Explains: How TTL Flash Metering Works

One of the biggest things that makes no sense to me as a strobist photographer is why we don’t have any sort of universal TTL flash metering system. Instead of that, every single camera manufacturer has their own for the sake of being able to compete with one another while delivering flashes that essentially all do the same thing. It’s a hassle for photographers moving from one system to another. To understand this and my reasoning, you need to understand how TTL Flash metering works.

And trust me; it’s a whole lot simpler than you think.

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Review: Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 2.0

Personally speaking, film camera reviews like those of the Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 are the most fun for great reasons–there is no pixel peeping, no RAW file versatility, none of that stuff that people bitch and complain about in forums. Instead, it’s all about the moment and capturing or creating it. Then there are the lenses, the experience, and knowing that the photo you shoot is a one of a kind.

The Mint Camera InstantFlex TL70 2.0 camera’s biggest upgrade is its brighter viewfinder over the predecessor. This is a proper TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera with aperture priority control, exposure compensation, manual focusing, a flash, accessories, and an overall solid build quality. Most importantly for many of us, there are glass elements in the lens. Considering that Instax Mini basically covers a 645 area, this is important.

This can be a tough camera for many of us to learn; but at the same time you’re bound to have fun doing it.

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