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Category: Gear Reviews

Fujinon XF 55–200

I think of it as my panda lens. Out of the 171 images I shot with this lens while I owned it no fewer than 72 of them are of pandas, specifically Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Bao Bao at the National Zoo in Washington DC.

171 images many not sound like a lot and since I had the lens for a couple of years that’s a reasonable conclusion, but I’m not really a telephoto user. That said, it’s nice to have a little bit of extra reach from time to time when the occasion calls for it, an occasion, for example, like a visit to Washington DC to see the pandas.

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The Minolta 24mm…

…or, to give it its full designation, the Minolta MD W.Rokkor-X 24mm 1:2.8.

This is an SR mount lens. The SR mount was introduced with Minolta’s first SLR, the SR-2, in 1958. (There was an SR-1, but it was released after the SR-2). All manual focus Minolta SLRs used the SR mount, but when Minolta switched to autofocus cameras the company developed a new mount. This mount, known as the Alpha mount, is still in use on Sony’s DSLRs. The MD designation identifies this as a lens specifically designed to work with the Minolta XD camera, introduced in 1977.

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Nikkor AI-S 105 f2.5

I recently picked up the Nikon AI-S 105mm f2.5 lens. I attached it to my FM2n and over the last couple of weeks I have been out and about around Sofia shooting with it. I got the developed film – Kodak Ektar – back yesterday and scanned the negatives last night. So here are some thoughts on the lens and some sample shots.

First, the lens itself. Having already bought a 24, 35 and 50 for my Nikon I was looking for something a little longer for occasional use. The obvious option was one of the various AI or AI-S 85mm lens but for some reason these do tend to be expensive even by Nikon standards. I was aware of the 105/2.5 having read many good things about it but considered that focal length to be a little more that I wanted.

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Forty Years Later

I originally posted the following in 2017 shortly after I bought a Nikon FM2n, my first film camera in many years. When my old blog crashed and burned last year I lost a lot of posts but some were preserved on Medium. This is one of them.


Despite the promises of the Marxist-Leninist cheerleaders, the average Soviet citizen of the 1970’s still couldn’t afford a Leica. So the Soviets built their own Leica ‘tribute’ — the Zorki 4K. Then, for the benefit of those of us who, despite the promises of the capitalist cheerleaders, couldn’t afford a Leica they exported it to the West. And so the Zorki 4K became the first camera I ever bought back when I was around fourteen years old. I didn’t know much about it at the time; its most appealing feature for me was the price. I think it might have been around £30. I also acquired a hand held light meter since the Zorki dispensed with such unnecessary fripperies (as did the Leicas of the time).

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From Silverfast to VueScan

When I bought my Plustek film scanner it came with SilverFast SE Plus scanning software. Since this version of SilverFast is priced at $119, getting it with the scanner which cost around $350 seemed like quite a good deal. It’s clunky and the interface is hardly user friendly but it did the job, or at least it did until I scanned my most recent roll of film. While everything looked fine on the prescan the finished scan has a distinct purple/magenta tint.

Scanned with SilverFast
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I Was Only Browsing

We had visitors in town a few weeks ago and I and some of my colleagues were assigned as their minders. On the agenda was a courtesy call with the President. Naturally, we minions were not in the room and as time passed it became clear that the President and our guests were getting along nicely. We drank coffee and played with our phones. I happened to take a look at the Used Photo Pro website, something I do most days. From time to time a camera shows up there that I’m convinced I must have. I’m sure I’ve hit the ‘buy’ button and started filling in my details half a dozen times before talking myself back from the edge.

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Minolta XD

The Minolta XD-7 is another of those late 1970’s SLR’s that I was much taken with as a teenager, and another I could never afford. In my quest for an aperture priority SLR to complement my resolutely old school Nikon FM2n I hadn’t really considered the Minolta since they so rarely came up for sale. Then this camera popped up on Used Photo Pro in excellent condition for a little more than $100. Another $50 got me the Minolta 50mm f1.7 lens. After putting a roll of film through it I sent it off to Garry’s Camera Repair for a CLA. Since mine is an earlier version of the camera it was suffering from the common problem of shrinking leatherette, so I also had that replaced with the dark blue version shown in the image above.

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