In my little camera bag No. 1: Introduction and Yashica A

And the sons of pullman porters and the sons of engineers
Ride their father’s magic carpets made of steel
Mothers with their babes asleep are rockin’ to the gentle beat
And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel

— Steve Goodman, “The City of New Orleans”

Does anyone else get a little misty-eyed hearing Arlo Guthrie sing Goodman’s lament of the passing of an American age in this allegorical story of a day riding the rails? Okay, okay. Now that my moment of nostalgia is over, I’d like to introduce a feature I hope to make regular.

As some of you know, my search for a small camera bag last summer led me to a Domke F-5XB Ruggedwear. Since then it’s played host to a rotation cast of cameras and films and become the bag I haul around day to day.

In this series, I’ll do a quick show-and-tell about whatever is in my bag this week from the Home for Wayward Cameras. Today only, I’ll go over the bag itself, too. These are really quick looks — I’ll post more in-depth reviews later and will add links when I have them ready.

Just to get you up to speed, last week I had the Polaroid Mio (Instax photos coming soon!) in there; two weeks ago the Auto S2 and Voigtlander Bessa I; three weeks ago, the Olympus 35RC was in there.

Domke F-5XB Ruggedwear

The F-5XB is one of the smallest bags Domke makes, but it’s just the right size for one or two film cameras and a couple rolls of film. Inside is a large padded compartment with a stiff bottom and two adjustable dividers. There’s a large slot pocket next to that, and a small slot pocket on the front, behind the flap. It’s got a big, heavy zipper under the flap and a belt loop on the back.

My favorite features, though, are the long gripper strap that keeps it stuck firmly on my shoulder, and the tough, waxed canvas exterior. It’s not waterproof enough to be submersed, but in all but the heaviest rains it’ll shed water like a goose and keep your gear dry — a great feature in a walking-around bag.

This week it has two inhabitants: The Konica EE-Matic Deluxe, and the Yashica A.

Konica EE-Matic Deluxe
The Konica EE-Matic Deluxe, a small rangefinder with a really great AE system. (Daniel J. Schneider)

Konica EE-Matic Deluxe

I mentioned the EE-Matic Deluxe last week in my first post about redscale photography for the Believe in Film February theme.

EE-Matic is a hell of a name, right? Well, EE stands for “electric eye,” referring to the camera’s selenium meter-based auto-exposure feature.

Initial impressions: Rangefinder works really well, and the bright spot is quite bright. The shutter is extremely quiet. The lens — a 40mm f/2.8 Hexanon — gets good reviews everywhere I look. It’s compact and lightweight — comparable to a Canonet QL17 in size, but not quite as heavy. The auto-exposure still works and still seems quite accurate.

My only complaints are that the winder feels week and you don’t get the impression it’s working right every time, and the winder shaft and capstan wobbles some.

Overall, I’m digging this little guy, but I think I still like my Konica Auto S2 better, even if the meter is kaput.

Yashica A

Yashica A TLR
My newest Wayward Camera, a Yashica A twin-lens reflex in fantastic shape. (Daniel J. Schneider)

If you’ve followed my site much, you know I’ve had a beat up Yashica D for several years. I long for a really nice f/2.8 Rolleiflex, but they remain out of my reach for now. The Yashica D was meant to satisfy my TLR lust on a more reasonable budget.

But it’s pretty beat up — don’t worry, I’ll write about it in detail at some point. I posted some Yashica D photos from southern Utah and Colorado a couple years back (when I learned that shooting Provia 100F using Sunny 16 rules is hit-or-miss).

So it was with great excitement that I lifted the Yashica A from the shelf upon which I found it at an antique mall in Denver this last weekend. I paid a lot less than I see similar cameras for on eBay, and I’m always quick to jump on a photographic bargain.

I’ve got to say, this thing is in excellent shape. Like KEH Camera’s version of EX+. It was dusty, but once I cleaned it up a little, I realized it looks almost new. With a Copal shutter and twin 80mm f/3.5 Yashinon lenses in great shape, and everything else working like the day it came out of the store, I felt sure it would be a fine replacement for the D while I wait for the Rollei gods to smile.

The Yashica A is less feature-rich than the D, but it’s also less dependent on technology. I moved one roll of Tri-X through it already and it was a joy. Nice to get back to using a TLR, too. Excited to start putting together test shots for a post about it.

That’s it for this week, let’s reconvene next week and see what I’m hauling around then.

In my little camera bag No. 1
The Yashica A, Konica EE-Matic Deluxe, some film, and the Domke F-5XB. (Daniel J. Schneider)