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Equipment: Film Cameras and Lenses

This page details the cameras and lenses that I have used to capture the photographs on this website.

Film Cameras

There are two film cameras that I tend to use regularly. One is a 35mm SLR, and the other is a medium format SLR which shoots 6x6 120 film.

You will note that the majority of the photogaphs detailed on the site are 35mm format. This is down to convenience more than preference, as the medium format camera is a bit heavy and unwieldy.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F - 35mm Film Camera

There are a lot of old film cameras available, so you may well wonder why I don't have better known brand such as an old Canon or Nikon. Well, the simple answer is that before I got into film I had a Canon DSLR (still do). With a little research I learned that I could easily use old M42 lenses on my Canon DSLR with a simple cheap converter. So I did.

After a while of collecting and trying out lenses on my DSLR, I happened upon the Spotmatic F in my local photography shop. The price was reasonable and it was in good condition, so I bought it!

...so basically, the lenses decided the camera.

Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F Film Camera side view
Camera: Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F
Type: SLR
Film: 35mm
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F Film Camera front view
Camera: Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F
Type: SLR
Film: 35mm
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F Film Camera back view
Camera: Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F
Type: SLR
Film: 35mm
Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F Film Camera top view
Camera: Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F
Type: SLR
Film: 35mm

It is a great camera, as it is small and very well built. It is also, just about, has all that is necessary without making life difficult.

It has a light meter in the viewfinder (the only thing that needs a battery), robust simple shutter speed dial, timer and shutter lock. It also has a small switch (stop down lever), which allows the aperture to flick between fully open (so you can focus in full light), and the aperture you selected (so you can take the photo), which is very handy. This feature only works with "auto" lenses, but most Takumar lenses designed for the camera have an auto and manual mode.

The viewfinder also features a high quality pentaprism with fresnel lens and microprism. This enables quick and accurate focusing.

All in all I really find it to be a great and enjoyable camera to use

Zenza Bronica EC-TL - Medium Format Film Camera (6x6)

I am very fortunate to have this camera as it was gifted to me from a friend's dad who no longer had a use for it.

It is in great condition, and works perfectly. The only downside is that I only have a 200mm lense (approx. 110mm full-frame equivalent), which somewhat limits what I can use it for. Hopefully I can buy a slightly wider lens in the future to widen the scope, but for now it is mainly used as a portrait type lens.

Zenza Bronica EC-TL medium format film camera front view
Camera: Zenza Bronica EC-TL
Type: Medium Format
Film: 120 (6x6)
Zenza Bronica EC-TL medium format film camera back view
Camera: Zenza Bronica EC-TL
Type: Medium Format
Film: 120 (6x6)
Zenza Bronica EC-TL medium format film camera close up
Camera: Zenza Bronica EC-TL
Type: Medium Format
Film: 120 (6x6)
Zenza Bronica EC-TL medium format film camera side view
Camera: Zenza Bronica EC-TL
Type: Medium Format
Film: 120 (6x6)

The camera is built like a tank and all controls have a great tactile feel to them. It has many of the essential features you would need, including a light meter, depth of field preview button, shutter lock and self timer.

The light meter and shutter require battery power (unless you only want a shutter speed of 1/40, which is mechanical), so it is essential to make sure you have battery power.

Lenses

I have quite a lot of M42 mount lenses, which I have gradually acquired over the years. The majority are Takumar lenses that were specifically designed for the Pentax camera I have, so they work beautifully together.

Overall, there are probably three lenses that I come back to again and again. These are:

  • Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4
  • Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f3.5
  • Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0

Of all of those the 50mm gets the most use, as it is so versatile. A very useful focal length combined with a wide aperture. However, I find this range of lenses generally covers me for most situations, and they are all relatively compact lenses.

I don't use zoom lenses at all with the Pentax, so I have a good range of primes to cover most eventualities. As will be detailed in the next few sections.

Asahi Pentax M42 Lenses 28mm, 35mm and 50mm
Super Takumar 35mm f3.5
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f3.5
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4
Standard M42 Lenses from Helios, Zeiss, Asahi Takumar and Jupiter
Helios 44-2 58mm f2.0
Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8
Super Takumar 135mm f3.5
Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0

Wide Angle and Portrait Lenses

Portrait Lenses

I only really have one portrait lense, but it is *really* good. It is the Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0. It is an old Soviet Union lense and is really heavy for its size. Solid metal and glass.

It is a preset aperture lense, which means the aperture ring doesn't click and set at specific f-stops, but is smooth throughout the range. This gives you great versatility and choice.

A great lense with impressive bokeh.

Wide angle and portrait lenses (Jupiter-9 85mm, Takumar 35mm and Takumar 28mm)
Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0
Super Takumar 35mm f3.5
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f3.5

Wide Angle Lenses

I have a couple of wide angle lenses (28mm and 35mm) to cover the lower range. Both have a decent lower apeture of f3.5, and cover most of the situations where something in normal 50mm range would struggle if the subject is too large or too close.

Both the lenses are metal body Takumar lenses, with the 28mm being the standout lense of the two that gets use regularily.

Standard Lenses

The 50-60mm range is generally considered "Standard". It is the type of focal length that came as standard on with most SLR cameras, and represents a good focal length for general photography. Not too close, and not too far.

It also has the advantage of being the focal length that is the most simple to design optics for, which is why you generally find that the lenses in this range are small and compact. They also tend to have the widest apetures, further extending their use in low light conditions, whilst also allowing very shallow depth of field.

Standard lenses (Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm, Helios 44-2 and Takumar 50mm f1.4)
Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8
Helios 44-2 58mm f2.0
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4

All these lenses have a great reputation and unique characteristics.

The Takumar has quite a wide aperture, which can create some impressive shallow depth of field, and also gives it the ability to have excellent sharpness at a wider aperture than any other lense on the list.

The Helios is well known for its "swirly" bokeh, and can give photographs a very unique feel.

The Zeiss has excellent sharpness and colour rendition, and is generally a good bet for macro photography with a small extension tube.

Telephoto Lenses

In all honesty, I don't tend to use the two telephoto lenses detailed below a great deal. Mainly as I don't generally photograph distant objects.

However, it is always good to have a complete arsenal, as you never know when they might come in handy.

Telephoto lenses (Takumar 135mm and Takumar 200mm)
Super Takumar 200mm f4.0
Super Takumar 135mm f3.5