In my bag this week No. 21: Holga Week and a big haul

The Big Haul
My complete haul from a day of thrifting. I went looking for jeans and found a Spartus 120, a Mamiya/Sekor 500TL, a Minolta Hi-Matic 7, an Olympus XA2, a Super-Takumar 135mm f/35 lens, a Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 135mm f/3.5 lens, and a 28mm f/3.5 Super-Takumar lens. (Daniel J. Schneider)

The news this week is a fantastic haul at Denver-area thrift stores over the weekend, and breaking out my dusty Holga 120CFN for Holga Week 2015.

I’ve also got the Balda Pontina (probably) in my bag and have completed a test roll of black-and-white film and part of a roll of color. I dropped by Clement Park in Littleton on Saturday to take a break from thrifting and make some test frames at the skate park and at the Columbine Memorial.

Good Luck Thrifting

What’s on my mind this week, first and foremost, is the incredible fortune I had at thrift stores over the weekend. ARC stores in Denver on Saturday were offering 50% off on all but the newest tag colors as well as selling lots of clothing items for $0.99.

After I wrecked a pair of jeans in the North Fork Valley my supply was running low, so I decided to spend Saturday looking for some replacements. I did find some jeans, but where I really wound up spending the money was on cameras and accessories. I went for the jeans, sure, but I wasn’t going to not look at cameras, lenses and film.

Referencing the photo above, here’s a short description of everything I found, going clockwise from the upper left:

  • Spartus “120” This is a simple Bakelite box camera that takes 120 film, with distinctive art deco styling and a lovely, near-black, rich chocolate brown color. Spartus, whose reputation as a clock maker outlived their recognition for building cameras, was another of the so-called “Chicago Cluster” camera makers in the 1950s and 1960s. I paid $6 and it might be worth double that, but it’s my first Spartus and will probably become a permanent member of my collection.
  • Mamiya/Sekor 500TL Admittedly I don’t know much anything about these old Mamiya SLRs. It’s an m42 screw mount and a sticker proclaims spot metering, but I’ll research it more when it comes time to test it. The film advance knob doesn’t seem to tuck into the back very well at all, but everything appears to work. I paid $6 for it, too, and once it’s tested it’ll probably be up for grabs.
  • Dented 135mm Super-Takumar
    A close-up of the older Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 135mm f/3.5 lens; the glass isn’t perfect, but doesn’t appear to have any defects that would affect image quality. The dented filter-ring (lower right), however, will probably never hold an accessory again. (Daniel J. Schneider)
  • Super-Takumar 135mm (mounted to the Mamiya) This f/3.5 m42 lens has a pretty nasty dent in the filter ring, but the glass isn’t yellowed and it appears to only have a little bit of dust inside. I thought it would be nice to have a longer lens when testing m42 cameras, and at $5 this one struck me as a bargain. Even a well-worn Super-Takumar is likely sharper than most of the generic m42 lenses I have in my shoebox.
  • Minolta Hi-Matic 7 The second version of Minolta’s popular Hi-Matic rangefinder line, this is about the same size as my Konica Auto S2 or the Olympus 35SP, and features a 45mm f/1.8 fixed lens. It also reportedly offered more manual exposure controls than the first version, which I may find I like. The film advance lever doesn’t return on its own when you wind the camera, so I suspect a spring is detached or otherwise out-of-service. I can test the camera as-is, but it might present an opportunity for a little repair practice, too. I paid 50% of $14.99, and it included the beautiful brown leather never-ready case, which has a leather 35mm film cassette zipper case on its carrying strap.
  • Olympus XA2 I already have an XA2, and it’s in better shape than this one. But this was in a bin full of point-and-shoot cameras with a $3.99 sticker on it — in a color that was half off. For $2, I figured I could look it over and, if it’s in working order, re-home it somewhere it will be appreciated and used. It has a little corrosion in the flash battery compartment, but I tossed the old battery before I even left the store and I don’t think any damage was done that can’t be fixed with a good cleaning.
  • Tiffen 58mm Sky-1A filter This was on the lens that’s up next; I removed it for the photograph so the markings would be visible, and then I left it in the frame (along with the Minolta lens cap) because it felt artistic. Also worth noting: All these cameras are sitting on an upside-down, early-1960s Pepsi six-pack crate I had laying around, and which also felt artistic. Any constructive criticism on this set-up would be much appreciated!
  • Super-Takumar 28mm This is the first revision of the f/3.5 28mm lens, made between 1962 and 1964, I think; the barrel has more and narrower grip lines than later versions, and the smallest aperture is f/22. The glass in the lens’ front element contains thorium oxide doping which helps reduce chromatic aberration and allows reduced curvature as a result, as well as reducing manufacturing costs. This makes these old lenses slightly radioactive, and can also cause them to yellow slightly over time — a common complaint with early Super-Takumar lenses, but which is reportedly easily curable. Fortunately, this lens appears to have suffered little-to-no yellowing and is in near-mint condition all around.
  • Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 135mm Even after finding the earlier 135mm lens, this was impossible to pass up — especially because it was in the same lens case as the 28mm above, which I was not about to pass up. I paid $20 for the pair, and this 135mm is not only the later SMC version of the lens but also in near-mint condition. This means the older, more beat-up version above is up for grabs if someone wants to add a cheap portrait lens to their m42 kit. Hit me up in the comments if you’re interested.

All in all, one of my better single-day thrift-store camera hauls ever. And now I’ve got a great kit built about the Pentax Spotmatic I’ve enjoyed so much, too.

I estimated on Twitter that I had spent around $60 for all this, but receipts confirm the total was approximately $46.50. Color me thrilled!

Holga Week

There are photography-related events ranging from a single day to a whole month all year round, including theme weeks and recurring events like Roll in a Day, on down to International Kodak Film Photography Day (George Eastman’s birthday, of course).

I’m not a regular participant, though I have done Roll in a Day a couple times and I did shoot Kodak film in a Kodak camera on Eastman’s birthday last year.

But now it’s Holga Week from July 20-26, and it just so happens I actually have a Holga.

It’s a 120CFN — which includes a built-in flash unit with three colored filters (plus clear) you can rotate through. It has interchangeable masks for taking 6×6 or 6×4.5 frames, and a switchable ruby window depending which mask you select. The back just pops right off completely, and is held on by thin metal (I’m wary of referring to them as steel) clips that feel almost as sturdy as aluminum foil folded over a couple times. The plastic is flat and boring, and it doesn’t come close to the bright beauty of Bakelite.

But I got it at a thrift store (surprise, surprise) a few years ago in one of Lomography’s kits with a set of batteries, a roll of film, a fancy book and a bit of black electrical tape. Looks like the kits are from 2007-2008, and the camera is now called the “Holga ColorFlash.”

It’s cheap and plasticky, and not really all that different from the FPP’s Plastic Filmtastic Debonair, but I’d like to review it eventually and I’ll need to finally test it in order to do that.

So bring on the tall bikes and tall boys, folks, I’m shooting from the hip with a plastic piece of crap!

The Holga 120CFN
My Holga 120CFN, which I found new-in-box at a thrift store several years ago, is in my bag for pretty much the first time because I found out that this week is Holga Week. (Daniel J. Schneider)