Recommended Reading 5/1/20

I’ve been a busy little bee lately.  Between regular reviews and Keppler’s Vault articles here, shooting and developing rolls of film for upcoming reviews, and everyday responsibilities, earlier in April, my friend James from Casual Photophile reached out to a bunch of camera bloggers and myself asking for a short write up on what our favorite lenses were and why.

With the collection of cameras I have, I could have chosen any number of excellent Nikkor, Rokkor, or Zeiss lenses, but I decided to go for one that’s a little less common.  But before anyone things I chose a crazy oddball lens just to be different, know that the lens I chose is one I use more often than most.  It’s the one that I’ve used to shoot nearly every “beauty pic” in every review I’ve written on this site since the summer of 2018.

Check out Casual Photophile’s roundup of favorite lenses by your favorite photo geeks below.  James said that the response to his request was so overwhelming, he needed to split everything up into two parts.  I am in part one, and part two is still on it’s way.

Here are more great posts from some of my favorite sites:

In my last Recommended Reading post two weeks ago, I summarized a series of mini-reviews that Johnny Martyr was writing about 3 Leica copies that I had sent him, the Zorki 1c, Zorki 3, and Canon IVSb.  As of two weeks ago, only his Zorki reviews were up ,but this week he finished the series with his look at the Canon IVSb.  While Johnny admitted the Zorkis weren’t as terrible as he had thought they’d be, but were still inferior to his beloved Leicas, the IVSb is the only one who shook his faith.

Alyssa from Aly’s Camera Alley is still new to blogging and shooting film, but she’s even newer to developing her own film, and recently, she shared with us what has turned out to be her favorite experience ever with a box camera, the ultra-cool Bear Photo Service Box Camera which she shot and developed her own Ilford Pan F Plus 50 film.  Prior to this endeavor, Alyssa had some reservations about trying to develop her own film, but with continued support in a private blogger’s chat with myself and every other member of the Camera Bloggers Alliance, we convinced her to give it a go.  If you’re reading this and have your own doubts, reach out to Alyssa and see if she can help convince you!

Hot off the presses!  Just this morning, fellow Hoosier Jim Grey posted his thoughts on the compact Pentax ME Super.  This is a camera that I’ve had in my collection for quite some time, yet I’ve never gotten around to reviewing.  After reading Jim’s short, but nonetheless excellent mini-review, I really should get my butt going on a full write up of this wonderful and inexpensive little SLR.

Last week, our friends at Kosmo Foto posted a guest review of the KMZ Narciss, a 16mm SLR camera made in the 1960s.  This is a camera that I’ve previously reviewed and shot myself, so I was eager to hear the thoughts of reviewer Andrey Khludeyev who took the time to shoot and develop some film in it.  I was impressed to read that this comments nearly perfectly echoed mine, which is that this is a terrific little camera with an amazingly sharp lens!  It’s just too bad they’re so hard to find in working condition!

I’m embarrassed to admit I missed this one in my last round up, especially considering I was involved with it.  Here’s my chance to correct a wrong with Alan Duncan from Canny Camera’s look at how air travel affects film.  Late last year, Alan reached out to myself and a few other bloggers outside his native UK asking if we’d agree to take some free film he’d send us and shoot it to see how it might have fared with new airport scanners.  Alan sent me and Theo Panagopoulos from in Australia two films each and asked us to shoot, develop, and scan the films to see how they fared with multiple international travels.

I’ve yet to post a review of a working Polaroid camera on this site, but not because I didn’t want to.  It just seems my ability to get one in good condition with film that produces something resembling a good shot is difficult.  Thankfully, this week Peggy Marsh from Camera Go Camera not only has a review, but some wonderful shots she got with Polaroid’s The Button.  A mostly plastic solid bodied version of the SX-70, The Button isn’t what I would call attractive, but in the right hands, is rather attractive.

For those of you suffering from GAS, being stuck inside due to shelter-in-place orders all over the world, it’s increasingly difficult not to succumb to picking up more gears.  If you’re going to fall to the temptation however, be like Bill Smith and get something good, like this beautiful Olympus OM-1n.  This is a very short read, but he shares some sample pics he got with his already, and I think it’s safe to say, Bill is happy with his purchase!

A theme in this Recommended Reading seems to be cameras I have but haven’t been able to review and another is the Canon Demi.  I had one a while back that had a sticky shutter and I tried fixing it, but made it worse, and now I have another in fully working condition that I haven’t had the time to so much as shoot.  This week Arthur Kaneko from EMULSIVE shares his thoughts, and some sample pics on the Canon Demi EE17, which I believe is the top of the line in the Demi series.  There’s quite a few half frame 35mm cameras out there, but not as many with fast f/1.7 lenses and the excellent build quality and ergonomics of this Canon.

It’s appropriate that in the same week I released my Cameras of the Dead part 8 post on Tuesday, another blogger does something very similar.  Alex Luyckx released Episode 78 of his Classic Camera Revival podcast entitled “Rest in Pieces” where he highlights a variety of broken cameras that he likes, but can’t shoot with.  The Stereo Realist, SX-70, and Zenit EM all make an appearance along with a couple others.  And like all CCR posts, there’s a ~40 minute podcast to go along with it!

Shooting expired film is all the rage these days and something I am a big fan of.  The best reason to do it is that it gives you the chance to try out emulsions that are no longer made.  This week, Daniel Sigg from 35mmc shared his results of three German films, two of which are ~40 years expired, and one that’s still being made, all on a Leica M3.  This is an excellent article, not only for the sample pics of the three films, but Daniel’s excellent insight into each stock and the camera that shot it.

Despite the scary sounding name, this week’s film camera deviation comes from Sweden’s doom metal band Withcraft.  Their new album, “Black Metal” is an entirely acoustic album that is hauntingly beautiful and strangely appropriate to listen to while stuck in the house now for 7 straight weeks.

The embedded track in this review Elegantly Expressed Depression is just a man and his guitar and the song seems to perfectly capture mine and probably many other’s moods lately.  I definitely don’t recommend listening to something like this while driving or doing anything involving heavy machinery, but if you have a good set of headphones and an opportunity to sit in solitude with your eyes closed, I think you’ll all agree this music is appropriate.


  1. “Favorite Lens”? Nope, I had two favorite lenses in the 1970’s, when the Nikkormat FTN was my chosen 35mm film burner. They are/were: 35mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8 Nikkors. The 35mm functioned as a “normal” lens that took more in, while the 85mm was a “short reach” portrait lens. Much later, I added 24mm and 200mm Nikkors to “expand and reach out” photographically speaking. The only “normal” lens I had was the 55mm f/3.5 (then f/2.8) Micro-Nikkor, which could do two things at a time.

  2. Great list Mike. It’s not just you, I have two SX-70’s, both serviced, and can’t seem to get a decent picture out of either of them. I also have never seen a working Pentax ME although I know they exist.

  3. Great reads. Thank You. Especially the review from Johnny Martyr of the Canon IVSB motivated me, to take my IVSB2 today with me, downtown. I bought the camera with an 1.8/50 Canon lens four years ago, and, shame on me!, there is still the first film in the camera.
    The reason I bought it was, because it is in mint condition and the same age as I’m.
    I will shot the rest of the film today.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Rainer! I think of all the things I hope my site accomplishes is that it encourages people to get their old cameras out and shoot more, so I’m very pleased that it had that effect on you!

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