Photography on the cheap.

I must confess, I like the idea of a bargain, with this in mind whilst I was looking on eBay the other evening I spotted a lens that as a young person I had always wanted to try. Even better, it was very inexpensive! The description simply said it had a bayonet mount.

I decided to take a chance, after all it was a bargain.

This all in turn got me thinking. Just how cheaply could you buy a film camera and lens combination? In my case under £30
Let us at this point go back a step or two.

As mentioned the description of the lens only said it was a Hoya 80-200 mm lens with a bayonet mount. It turned out to bea Pentax K mount, slight problem there, my main cameras are Nikon. So back to eBay once again for a camera. Actual Pentax cameras were over £40. Pentax however licensed their K mount to several other camera makers including Ricoh (now the owners of Pentax) and Cosina to name but two.

Then I spotted it, a Cosina C1 35mm SLR body with a faulty lightmeter mine for only £5 plus postage. Being ever the bargain hunter, I purchased it!

Somewhere in the back of my mind I also recalled purchasing another bargain lens with a Pentax K mount some many years ago, I just had to remember where I put it.
One quick hunt later and voila! A Clubman 28-135mm lens was unearthed.

Specifications.

Cosina S1

Manual focus SLR with Pentax K mount and matt screen with centre fresnel and horizontal split prism focus.
Film advance – manual lever wind.
Built in light meter with 3 LED indicator (red- over exposed, green- ok and red- underexposed) with this example as indicated the meter does not work.
Shutter: Manual shutter with speeds – B, 1 second to 1/2000th second.
Standard screw in cable release in shutter button.
Flash sync – 1/125th via hotshoe, no flash sync socket.

Hoya 80-200mm

Zoom lens with focal length from 80-200mm.
Aperture range- f4 – f22 adjusted in full stops.
Filter size 55mm.
Construction – 12 elements in 9 groups, elements are multi coated (HMC)

Clubman 28-135mm

Zoom lens with focal length from 28-135mm.
Aperture range f4 – f22 at 28mm, changing to f5.5 to f32 at 135mm.
Adjusted in full stops.
‘A’ setting on lens for when used on camera bodies with auto exposure capability.
Macro setting at 28mm from 1:7 to 1:5 via release button. (Close focus rather than macro)
Filter size 67mm
Construction – Unknown – probably 12 or 13 elements and multi coated.

Camera and lenses in use.

The focusing screen is not the brightest that I have used (my Nikon FM seems brighter) the split focus prism works well enough although at the 135mm end of the Clubman lens part of the split is prone to blacking out.
Since the meter does not function, exposure is fully manual. A quick guide –  for 100 ISO film start at 1/125th at f16 in full sun down to f4 when full cloud.

Loaded with a roll of Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400 I set off to perform some tests.

The camera and lens set up was mounted on a tripod and the shutter triggered by cable release. Shutter speed was set to 1/125th second, three exposures were taken at each focal length, one each at f16, f11 and f8.

Processed film was scanned on a Nikon IV at 2900 dpi and viewed on a colour calibrated monitor.

The shutter speeds on the Cosina seem to be accurate and consistent even at 1 second. Both lenses worked well, apertures shutting down and opening smoothly and accurately.
The Cosina camera body is fairly lightweight due to the exterior being mainly plastic in construction. (To be honest the camera was built to a budget but it does well enough). There is a ping sound when the shutter is fired, again probably due to the constraints of budget, but it is still accurate which is what counts.
Onto the lenses, the Clubman lens focuses from closest point (8ft/2.5mtr) to infinity in a quarter turn of the focus ring, zoom is a push/pull arrangement, both functions are performed by the same ring. Focus is not particularly easy at 28mm due to the short turn of the focus ring and large depth of field, it is easier at 135mm despite the split finder sometimes partially blacking out. If the camera is mounted on a tripod stopping the lens down can be a little awkward due to the aperture ring being quite large and protruding below the level of the camera base.
The Hoya lens is much easier to focus seeming to give a lot crisper image in the viewfinder, focus from 6.3ft/1.8mtr to infinity is made in half a turn of the focus/zoom ring. Zoom again is the usual push/pull arrangement.

Both lenses having a few coating marks and the odd small scratch. The Clubman struggled with sharpness at 28mm through to 70mm after that sharpness picked up. The Hoya 80mm to 200mm lens was sharp throughout it’s range. Ideally  both lenses should be used with a lens hood, especially the Clubman due to the large front element and shallow front bezel.

Some sample images.

Clubman 28-135mm lens at 28mm

Clubman 28-135mm at 70mm

Clubman 28-135mm lens at 135mm

Hoya 80-200mm at 80mm

Hoya 80-200mm at 200mm

Conclusion.

Is it worth buying an old camera and lens set up?
Of course it is, even if only to slow down your photography, compose and expose your image correctly. There are a maximum of 36 exposures on a 35mm roll of film, not the several hundred or more of a memory card. Just think of all the storage space you have saved on your computer!
You could even try processing and printing your own negatives and prints, but that can get expensive. Otherwise simply get the film processed and scanned to CD or scan it yourself.
Ok you might get a duff camera or a slightly off lens, but don’t forget people pay a lot of money for software to produce some of the odd effects these lenses create with no effort.

Go on you know you want to!

C

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