It’s been a long while since I’ve been in school. However, back in early summer of 2017 I decided to take a continuing education photography class at Brookhaven College called Vintage and Toy Cameras. This class was a photography class in which we learned about, made photos with, and experimented with old film and toy cameras. I really enjoyed this class as it really helped me understand the process of how people had to use cameras long ago. In contrast to todays digitally instant world, photography then was a long tedious process that took hours, if not, days or weeks to see the images. Some of the cameras I used for the class were familiar to me, some were not so much. I decided to write this blog to share with you the different cameras I used for the class and elaborate a little on how I used them and what it was like using each one.

Holga 120N

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The Holga is an all plastic camera with an all plastic lens. There is essentially one shutter speed (plus “bulb mode”) and one f stop / aperture. The shutter speed is relatively dependent upon on the age and “wear” of the shutter mechanism. It’s said that the shutter speed is anywhere from around 1/60th of a second to 1/125th of a second. The aperture is set to around f8 to f11. The only real control one has with this camera is the ISO or film speed. Below are some images I made with these cameras for class.

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Bronica ETRS

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The Bronica ETRS is my most prized possession as this was my fathers camera when he did photography in the 1980s. After graduating photography school he gave me this camera as this was an unexpected pleasant surprise. The Bronica is a medium format camera that shoots 120 or 220 film. 220 film is harder to find these days but 120 is still readily available in both color and black and white. This is considered a modular camera as the camera comes completely apart. There are different lenses for the camera, different types of viewfinders, and grips. One can also purchase several different back for the camera so one can shoot multiple types of film during any particular event or photo shoot. Here are examples of images that I made with this camera for class.

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Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

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I cannot remember exactly where I bought this camera but I would guess I found it at a thrift store or an antique shop. I’ve had this camera for several years but I had never shot it until I took this class. The point of the class was to challenge ourselves to use cameras that had very little control. Like the Holga cameras above, this camera has only one shutter speed (plus “blue mode”) and one aperture. The only control one has with this camera is by using different film speeds.

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Kodak 110

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The Kodak 110 had its popularity for a moment in time. I remember as a kid having a couple of these at one point. I think I was around 7 or 8 when I got one similar to this but in blue for Christmas. The film for these cameras are super small so the resolution is not all that great. However, these can be fun little cameras to play around with and experiment with. The first two pictures were made with Lomography Red Scale film. The rest of the pictures were made with Lomography slide film.

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Lomo Fisheye

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Ive had the Lomo fisheye for several years now as well and can remember using the camera only one time before taking this class. This camera gives a very wide angle fisheye look to the images. I was actually quite pleased with some of the results I made with this camera.

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Lomo Instant

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The Lomo Instant is a newer camera that spits out “Polaroid like” photos known as the Fuji Instax mini. These are credit card sized photos that are fun to see in minutes and share with others. This particular kit came with a 35mm lens and a macro lens. the wide angle lens is built into the camera. There are a few different modes this camera allows for such as different f stops, keeping the flash off, or turning the flash on. So there is a little more control with this camera than cameras like it such as the Fuji Instax. For the class, one of the assignments was using flash with a toy or vintage camera. I like to challenge myself so what I did was set up a flash off camera, put it in slave mode, and then used the flash from the Lomo Instant to trigger the flash that was off camera. This was the outcome…

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Polaroid Spectra 

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I really do like instant gratification, although not always is instant gratification the best thing for us. LOL. It’s said that good things come to those who wait. However, sometimes that is not true either. Several years ago Polaroid stopped making film. Then Impossible Project, now known as Polaroid Originals, came along and started making film for these cameras ago. The Impossible Project film was OKAY at best. Most either hated it or just dealt with the quirkiness of it. Here are some of the images I got with this camera for the class. (NOTE: Polaroid Originals film is 10 times better than Impossible Project film was. An article is soon to come.)

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Zenit

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The Zenit camera is a Russian camera that is very… temperamental to say the least. I think I hear someone say some sort of joke about how these camera were made by drunk people. One of the assignments for class was to take a photo with a “janky” camera. I decided to go camera hunting. I went to Denton Camera Exchange (which is an absolutely awesome place to go for cameras and film in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex) and found this camera and lens for $20 which I could not pass up. Before I purchased this camera I tested it in store to make sure everything worked and it did. Once I got home that afternoon I was cocking the shutter and firing to make sure it would work before I put film in it. I did this several times. Then all of a sudden something happened to the shutter mechanism. After toying with it for a while I got it working again. I quickly put film inside and made some photos. Toward the end of the roll the shutter started messing up again but I did get one good photo from the roll. Although this camera was a headache, was it worth the $20 purchase? Absolutely! The lens is relatively good and I can use it wth an adapter on my Fuji XT 10. Here is the one photo I was pleased with.

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Zeiss Ikon

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Last but certainly not least we have the Zeiss Ikon. One part of our assignment for class was to use the oldest camera we could. I inherited this from my wife’s grandfather after he passed away shortly before we got married. This camera was made in the late 1930’s and when I got this camera it was not working as the shutter was stuck. After a little work I got the shutter working again and ended up with some surprising pictures.

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In conclusion this class was amazing. It was a pleasure getting to work with old cameras and getting a feel for the process of shooting film formats,  different types of cameras with limited settings, and functions. I would take this class again in a heartbeat and would recommend this class to any photographer who loves the art and history of photography. If you have any questions about the cameras or what types of film were used leave a comment and I will be happy to respond.