my life in the land down under


Friday Focus: From the Archives

Several years ago, after much browsing of online auction sites, I acquired my first TLR – Twin Lens Reflex camera.

It was a Yashica LM. Supposedly in working order… and it was, kind of. Eventually I put a film through it and had problems. Either it wouldn’t wind on between shots – or after winding on, the shutter wouldn’t fire. A bit of jiggling and it would come right, but it was frustrating. I finished the film, and was pleased with the sharpness and shallow depth of field of the resulting images.

Then the camera went into storage for a long time (along with the rest of the collection) while I was busy getting married, moving house, renovating, getting used to being a wife and step-mum, working part-time etc etc…

I finally pulled it out of the display cupboard a few weeks ago, and took it to our local camera repair specialist. Sadly he couldn’t fix the shutter-jamming problem without pulling the camera apart and risking major cosmetic damage, so we decided it would have to go back into the cupboard as a ‘display-only’ model. ūüė¶

The Camera:

Yashica LM – front view

Side view with viewfinder open

View of the other side

Right side showing winder

Left side showing dial for setting distance, aperture etc

The Stats:

It’s late at night here and I really wanted to get this up on Friday (at least while it’s still Friday in other parts of the world), so I didn’t get the stats done. If you’re interested let me know, otherwise I’ll get round to posting them when I can.

The Photos:

I’m hoping to locate the negatives soon and scan some more frames, as this is all I have so far.

Dahlias in my parent’s garden – this was obviously taken in the summer


Children in the back yard – they have grown up a lot since this photo was taken!

Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction

Friday Focus: Empire Scout

Friday Focus: Diana

Friday Focus: Agfa Isoly


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Friday Focus: Agfa Isoly

This week I’m featuring the Agfa Isoly.

Like the Diana it photographs in square format. While researching this one on the internet recently, I discovered it may have been used as the model for the Diana! They are certainly very similar in looks, though I think the Isoly has it over the Diana in quality of images.

The Camera:

Agfa Isoly – front view

Rear view – with red window for viewing the film frame number

Front view showing apertures and shutter speeds

Camera base showing back release

The Stats:

Camera Name: Agfa Isoly
Where Made: Germany
Year of Production: 1960 onwards
Serial Number: Possibly 1101 / 56348 / 16 as theses numbers are marked inside the camera back.
Film Type / Neg Size:¬†Takes 16 4×4 cm frames on¬†120 (medium format) film.
Lens: Achromat
Shutter: unmarked
Shutter Speeds: B, 1/30, 1/100 sec
Apertures: f8, f11
Exposure Meter: none
Focusing: set distance manually, no rangefinder. 1m / 3.5ft – infinity.

The Photos:

These few photos were taken some time ago. I have more recent ones but they will have to wait for another time, as my scanner is sadly not working at the moment – I’ve had it away to be fixed and am hoping for good news soon!


Wharf and swimmer


Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction

Friday Focus: Empire Scout

Friday Focus: Diana

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Friday Focus: Diana

John tells me that his first camera was either a Diana or Diana clone. ¬†Like me, he was interested in photography from an early age. His parents gave him the Diana when he was about 9 or 10, thinking it was a toy. When he realised you could actually take photos with it, they bought him some B&W film. He doesn’t remember what happened to the camera or the photos – perhaps we’ll find them in an old album someday, who knows.

So when we saw this camera for sale on TradeMe some time ago we were keen to own it. The auction was due to close while I was at work, but I found out later that John was watching; when my bid was exceeded he bid higher and eventually won it for me – he paid more than I had intended, but how could I complain? ūüôā

This is definitely¬†not a precision camera. After spending some time searching on the internet I couldn’t find agreement on aperture settings, and apparently the shutter speed varies. The Diana is known for vignetting and light leaks, and many recommend taping it up with duct tape to prevent film fogging. To start with, I didn’t want to mess mine up with tape, so was keeping it in a light-proof black plastic bag between shots. So far I’ve not had major problems; I still have one film to develop though. It’s also capable of multiple exposures as there’s no shutter lock.

The Camera:

Introducing the Diana

In case you need a reminder to use 120 film

The plastic strap is stiff and tends to get in the way

Base of camera showing exposure settings

The Stats:

Camera Name: Diana (no. 151)
Where Made: Hong Kong (by Great Wall Plastic Factory according to Wikipedia)
Year of Production:¬†1960’s – 1970’s
Serial Number: unmarked
Film Type / Neg Size:¬†Takes 16 4×4 cm frames on¬†120 (medium format) film.
Lens: Single-element plastic lens
Shutter: unmarked
Shutter Speeds: apparently variable between 1/30 – 1/200 sec, more often 1/50 or 1/100sec
Apertures: Sun / Cloudy / Overcast (maybe f16, f6.3, f4.5 or f19, f13, f11 – depends on the model and which website you read!)
Exposure Meter: none
Focusing: Zone focusing with settings of 4-6ft, 6-12ft, 12ft-infinity.

The Photos:

These are from the first film I put through the Diana. I wanted a range of subject material, so went for a walk in the park, visited a old cemetery, the beach, and the boardwalk around our local estuary; all places with great photographic potential. I like the dreamlike effect the Diana gives, and the novelty of the square format. Composition is a challenge as I’m far more familiar with a rectangular format. There are some great examples of square compositions online: one I came across recently is Electrolite by Shannon Richardson. There are many many photos archived on this site; so far I’ve barely scratched the surface. Its also worth doing a search for toy camera websites.

Miniature railway lines

Picnic table


Another tree (actually it might have been the other side of the same one, I forget)


Estuary boardwalk

Yet another tree

Seagull on the beach (yes, that tiny white thing on the waters edge is a seagull)

Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction

Friday Focus: Empire Scout


Friday Focus: Empire Scout

Everyone needs a camera for good photography, so who could resist this one?

Great advertising!

Let me introduce the Empire Scout.

I acquired this model a few years ago and so far have run two or three films though it; I’ve posted a few examples from the first film below.

Interestingly, while I was searching online for info on this camera, I found that the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa in Wellington) have one in their collection. It must be good! ūüôā

The Camera:

The Empire Scout boasts a fine polished optical lens

The back of the camera has a red window that shows the frame number when a film is loaded

The top of the camera, showing flash / rangefinder shoe (?) and film advance lever

Exposure can be adjusted for Cloudy, Hazy, or Bright conditions, and the shutter speed set to Bulb or Instant

The Stats:

Camera Name: Empire Scout – model 316
Where Made: Hong Kong
Year of Production: 1960’s
Serial Number: unknown
Film Type / Neg Size: Takes twelve 6×6 cm frames on¬†120 (medium format) film
Lens:¬†f8 ‘Fine Polished Optical Lens’ (plastic)
Shutter: unmarked
Shutter Speeds: B (bulb), I (instant) – possibly 1/60 sec.
Apertures: Bright / Hazy/ Cloudy settings (may equate to f22, f16, f8)
Exposure Meter: none
Focusing: Zone focusing with settings of 5-8ft, 20-25ft, infinity.

The Photos:




Palm tree

I was pleasantly surprised by the results. What do you think – does the Empire Scout live up to its claim as a camera for good photography?

Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction

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Friday Focus: Introduction

We have a collection of old cameras living with us.¬†Most of them are from the 1950’s – 1960’s, most are usable. There was never an intent on my part to start a collection; rather I aimed to find a few examples of old cameras that I could use. It was the novelty that attracted me to them initially; the thought that this simple old technology would still work after 50 or more years, and produce interesting results.¬†After purchasing my first folder (folding camera), someone on the Photo.net forum commented that it was addictive. He was right.

This post will introduce a series on some of the individuals in the collection. I’ll aim to photograph each one, give some info about it, and show some examples of photos I have taken with it.

I’m mostly using B&W film, developing it myself in our camera club darkroom, then scanning it on an Epson V700.

In a way these cameras are very ‘simple’ or should I say ‘basic’, yet they are a challenge to use – because the controls are all manual, you have to think about what you are doing rather than just press a button and let the camera do the rest. There is no auto-focus or auto-exposure.

Each camera has its unique features and idiosyncrasies, but ¬†the¬†process usually goes something like this; not necessarily in this order…

Consider what ISO film to use and load it into the camera if not already done. Check exposure (use a light meter or my digital SLR).¬†Set aperture. Set shutter speed.¬†Check focus – set distance manually by guesswork (I’m not very good at this) or use a rangefinder; or use a smaller aperture and hyperfocal focusing to give greater depth of field. Cock the shutter (in some cases). Compose the shot. Fire shutter. Wind on to the next shot. In some instances there is a shutter lock if you haven’t done this, in others you can easily make double-exposures – that’s fine if it’s intentional!

See? – simple!

I learnt photography with a fully-manual Pentax K-1000, but have been using a digital SLR almost exclusively for several years now, so going back to the old manual film cameras really makes me slow down and think. I also really like B&W.

And on the subject of film, because its relatively expensive and there are only a limited number of frames per film (worst-case scenario is eight frames), you need to think about appropriate subjects for colour vs B&W and composition. You can’t check the image until the film is developed. There isn’t the opportunity to delete the image and take another that’s better.

The magic is in developing the film and waiting to see what you have captured. ūüôā

Following are some images taken with the K-1000 way back when…


River #1

Rocks in River

River #2

I will aim to post something on an old camera each week, so watch this space… ūüôā