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Automatic for the People: Introduction

A new series about ‘classic’ point and shoot auto focus film cameras

The photographs of my ‘Edge of Town’ project, which I started some weeks before this blog, are taken with an array of fixed lens compact film cameras and M42 mount SLR film cameras.

Always the Sun

Also, they all mechanical cameras and operate without batteries. Some, like the Olympus Trip 35, have a built in selenium cell powered meter. Others, like my Fujica ST-901 and Pentax Spotmatic F will run a meter with batteries, but I decided not to use any battery power for this project. Instead, I use two hand held, selenium cell powered light meters whose readings I transfer to the camera settings. It’s a slow and deliberate way of working, which suits the nature of this project.

Photographic Easy Street

However, when a recent walking holiday loomed on the horizon, I decided I also wanted a holiday from manual metering, settings and focusing. My eyes would certainly appreciate it. A couple of years ago I bought and tried out a couple of early auto focus compact cameras. I enjoyed using them, but they didn’t quite work out for the project I applied them to, so I sold them.


Nikon TW Zoom (35-80mm version) from 1988

Now, two years on, I heard the clarion call of the point and shoot camera once more, this time to record a trip with friends and family to Winchester and the South Downs. I wanted to relax while walking in the beautiful countryside and not be dicking around with light meters.

The First Haul

So, I set a budget and began an eBay trawl for quality point and shoots, preferably under a tenner. I ended up buying more cameras than I needed for the trip (it’s often the way!). They were a Nikon TW Zoom (the original TW Zoom from 1988 with a 35-80mm range), a Pentax PC35AF-M, a Canon AF35M Autoboy II and a Yashica Auto Focus Motor.  I expect to buy a few more if I can get them at the reasonable prices I bought these for (though that is getting harder).

I paid the princely sum of £6.99 for the Nikon TW Zoom, the first of these cameras that I ran film through. For each of these cameras I will be using Kodak Tri-X developed in Kodak XTOL.

So how did I get on with the TW Zoom? Well, better than expected, but that’s for the next post. In the mean time, here are the first negatives scanned from this camera.

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2 replies »

  1. I’m impressed with your knowledge of these ancient ( relatively speaking ) cameras and the excellent results you continue to produce from them. Keep on truckin’


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Originally a blog about photography, I write about vintage cameras, the environment, clothes and anything else I feel moved to type about.

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