I have been on a quest. A quest to find that perfect little 35mm film point and shoot camera. One that is reliable and will have peace of mind that every single shot I take isn’t going to be some sort of surprise, mostly of the disappointing kind. I’ve gotten to that point where seeing the amount of film I am wasting is becoming unacceptable. It’s mostly my fault though, I don’t bother carrying around a light meter and do a lot of guesstimating or ‘Sunny 16’ rule. I often nail it, but also really fail and it’s a shame really. What if those lost frames were some of my best ever shots…? And we can’t forget, film isn’t cheap these days – of course dependant on what you prefer to shoot with of course.
The other weekend we found ourself in a vintage shop in Brunswick (Melbourne, Australia), something we both like to do on most of our weekends is browse old things and I happen upon a box of old cameras and fished out a Ricoh YF-2ON 35mm point and shoot. The battery door was dodgy and that should of been a warning, but I am impulsive and paid a measly 15 bucks for it. I loaded it up excitedly with a cheap roll of expired Kodak Ultra Max 400 and snapped away to my hearts content. You can imagine my disappointed when I picked up the roll of film…but more on that on a seperate post.
So! Let’s get onto how on earth did I get onto a Leica Mini!?
I do this thing, where I fall down a ‘rabbit hole’ of reading up and soaking up all kinds of reviews that are out there a.k.a. Geeking Out. I obsess about models and and weigh up the pros and cons of each item before setting my heart on anything. My decisions are always very imformative ones. But I also have a very implusive side. A side where I also like to think that the Universe likes to put things in my path. Also known as synchronicity, but lets not get into that right now.
Each camera I looked at I would compare them against a Leica 35mm point and shoot. I began to get very interested in the Olympus Muji-II, the reviews I came across were always good and the photos I looked at also matched what has been said about this camera.
But! I decided to stop my insanity and not bother with my quest, until…
I had just dropped off a roll of film to be developed and decided to do a detour to do a quick window shop at another camera shop down the road. It was a day I wasn’t really expecting to find anything in the window. But there is was.
A mint condition grey Leica Mini.
Not only that, it was cheaper than what I have been seeing them for on eBay. I went in to only “inquire” about it…the friendly sales man had only but good things to say about the camera (of course), he himself even had one, but lost it somewhere in a park in London and even told me a fond story of how he took it a rainforest (I’ve forgotten the exotic name) to take some stunning landscape photos. I’m sure it as all part of the salesman role and the mixture of randomly seeing it…because I ended up getting it.
Here are my first impressions:
It’s smaller than my purse
So damn light I’m very scared in ever dropping it, because it feels quite delicate to me
Makes a quirky mechanical sound when the small lens comes out when turned on and off
I’m able to easily slip into my jacket pocket and barely feel it
Very basic menu of just: Auto, Flash On, Flash Off and Infinity
Nice bright viewfinder with a small green light to let you know everything is in focus or it’s flash ready (I haven’t actually bothered reading it’s manual, it didn’t come with one and it’s rare a manual is included when you buy an old camera).
Of course I got snap happy, I loaded it up with my now favourite film; Kodak ColourPlus 200 (first roll review coming) and tried it in my most everyday situations, lowlight, middle of the day and mostly zipping around the streets of Melbourne CBD. It’s quiet and rather fast, two things street photographers tend to prefer and it’s unobtrusive…until that is you forget to turn off the flash and accidentally startle a poor man because you wanted to capture the hat he was wearing…oops.
I believe my quest for that perfect little 35mm point and shoot camera has come to an end, for now at least…I’ve kind of have sworn off buying any more cameras for the rest of the year…I’m happy with this one so far, I’ve already loaded it up with my second roll of film (Agfa Vista 200) and looking forward to what photos I come up with. I actually haven’t shot with Agfa Vista 200 yet. I’m currently starting to get my stock pile of film back up by slowing down my happy-trigger-finger-shutter-button pushing.
Here are some of my first shots below. And it really is quite a sharp lens…except for when I accidentally moved the camera mid shot…
Next week I’ll talk about: The Gamble You Take Buying Old Cameras.