Friday, May 6, 2016

The return of G.A.S. (sort of)

Last post I mentioned how it had been a while since I had written anything on this blog, but also hinted that it might be about to change. My interest (love) of film is being rekindled, and I will soon have not one, but two new cameras to play/create with and blog about.

I already have a Ricoh KR5 Super with a standard Riconar 55mm f2.2 - a very basic all manual camera that uses the Pentax K-mount. The 55mm isn't the fastest, or perhaps even the sharpest, lens for the K-mount system, so I thought I would look on-line and see if I could pick up a faster fifty, or perhaps a wider 35 or 28. That was my first mistake.

Actually it was really my only mistake. As soon as I start looking at old cameras on auction sites, I'm in grave danger of lusting after at least a dozen of them! And most of them are just so darn cheap! What is a guy to do? Well, if he's this guy, then he's going to bid on some of them - of course :-)

I started off just looking at cameras that had K-mount lenses that would go with the Ricoh. I lost out on a couple of Cosina's, and a Ricoh KR10, and I also thought that some of the Riconar lenses were actually going for too much. So then I weakened and started casting my net a little wider.

Excellent condition Minolta X300s with 35-70mm zoom
The first camera to tempt me into some 'serious' bidding was a very good condition Minolta X300s with Minolta 35-70mm f3.5/4.5 zoom. I've always loved Minolta cameras, and have owned a few film and digital Minolta's in my time (and then a Sony). The X300s was just too good to pass up on, and I won it for the princely sum of $20NZ.

The X300s is a little more 'automatic' than the Ricoh KR5. It's an aperture priority camera (I love aperture priority - it's what I shoot in most of the time), just set the shutter speed to auto and then set the aperture on the lens to whatever you want. The camera will then set an appropriate shutter speed. Easy.

I thought that was going to be the sum of my spending spree, since I don't really have any spare cash at the moment. But then I saw it, a Yashica 230AF for only $10NZ, and I couldn't help myself....

The Yashica (Kyocera) 230AF with 35-70mm f3.5/4.5 AF Zoom
I've never ever shot with a Yashica 35mm camera, although I did own a Yashica-Mat TLR for a while - a beautiful camera. This Yashica 230AF screams 80s computer gadgetry - all plastic and metal with buttons and screens instead of knobs and dials. It was the era of the auto-focus camera (although Minolta got there first with the 7000) and boy does it look the part.

Apparently Yashica only released a few auto-focus 35mm SLR's - with a unique lens mount - so there are just a handful of lenses that will work with these cameras. Given, however, that Yashica had a close partnership with Contax - and therefore with Zeiss, the lenses for these cameras are said to be very good. Even the 'kit' zoom that comes with this camera is reportedly 'better' than similar 35-70mm offerings from Nikon, Canon and Minolta. I'm looking forward to checking that out.

Cover of the Camera Manual
The camera is being sold by an organisation looking to raise funds, and is being sold 'as-is where-is' by people who obviously don't know anything about cameras. There's no battery in it (takes the Lithium CR235), and no guarantee it will work when I put one in, but I figure for $10NZ it's worth the gamble.

There is also the possibility that it won't even work with a fresh battery in it either? Some of my internet reading suggests that it also has an internal battery that last for 10 years, and once that has run down it needs to go in to Yashica for replacement! Yeah, like that's going to happen... not!

So when it arrives, I may, or may not, have a working camera on my hands? I hope it does work, because I'm keen to try the lens out - and maybe find a few more for it as well. And from the user reviews on the web that I've read, it seems to be a quirky camera that most people love using.

I'll let you know how I get on with both new purchases.


  1. The Minolta x300 should be good, own a X500 and XD7 here, the 35-70 zoom could be better (I use the 'old' Tamron 35-70 F3.5 CF here big but beautiful)and the marque primes are well worth getting if they slot into your photographic style.

  2. Hi Joanne
    Looking forward to using the X300 again. There is also an X570 with 50mm f1.7 Minolta lens that I'm looking at as well. The 570 looks like a sweet camera, and the 50mm would be the icing on the cake :-)


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