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The Three that went – 3 very different travel film cameras

Theo from Photo Thinking recently reviewed the Lumix FX07. That’s aa day to day travel digicam. This got me thinking about what film cameras I’ve used as a travel cameras. Handily this came in useful when Stephen Dowling from Kosmo Foto challenged us bloggers to write about 3 cameras.

When the challenge came in, I was a bit stumped. My fellow bloggers all all rose to the challenge (see here). But what should I cover ?

But then I though. Let’s go with what I’ve actually consciously taken on travel for my needs not the blog. Turns out just 3 film cameras came abroad with me this year, a quite different trio.

The Honda Civic of AF SLR bodies – The Nikon F75

Nikon F75 with Diana F+ lens
Nikon F75 even is usable with this Lomography Diana F+ lens

The Nikon F75 (aka N75 or U2 depending where you live) is probably my most used SLR. It is not my most expensive bit of kit nor is it arguably the most competent.

St Lawrence Market II. Nikon F75 + APX100. 2022
British airport security tendency to refuse to do hand checks meant I was stuck at 400ISO or less film. I’d also had my slowest roll possible loaded – Ideally I’d have shot this on faster film like P3200 or even the XP2 I was actually carrying. And if I had a choice of gear my ED VR enabled lens. That said the cheap kit lens worked okay. St Lawrence Market, Toronto, July 2022. F75 + Agfaphoto APX100. Processed and as scanned by AG Photolab Click on image for full size.

But, and this is what matters, it is a reliable lightweight camera that can use almost all Nikon AF lens up to the AF-P revision (and no film camera uses those). Being the last consumer film SLR Nikon ever launched, it also has one of the most up to date spec. Broadly that’s the same as it’s more sought after F80 sibling. It gets VR dibs too (not that my lens was up to that !) but that mean more expensive gear.

The World Survives on Hope. F75 + XP2. 2022
Toronto, July 2022. F75 + XP2. Processed and as scanned by AG Photolab Click on image for full size.

Afford to lose ?

It wasn’t until I was sipping my cortado in Balzac’s Market Street in downtown Toronto when Bill Smith pointed out was much more sensible a choice if it got nicked than his mighty F3. That was especially so with its rather dull but effective enough lens companion, the AF Nikkor 28-100mm 1:3.5-5.6G screw drive lens. In hindsight I should have taken Uncle Ken’s favourite budget zoom the 28-80mm 1:3.3-5.6G. I never really gained anything from the extra 20mm but the 28-100mm is still an good cheap lens. My only running gripe with the F75 (and it’s common with late Nikons) is the battery indicator goes from full to Err/Empty in 0-60.

Kajama. F75 + Agent Shadow. 2022
Toronto Waterfront, July 2022. F75 + Agent Shadow. Processed and as scanned by AG Photolab Click on image for full size.

And the size and weight and features i the reason I pick up the F75 again and again over even my F90x or F80. One of the smallest but most competent consumer AF SLR ever made. It’s ideally suited to travelling light with a mid range zoom. Also there’s a near perfect layout for a film AF SLR. Need flash on the move ? Well the built in TTL flash is fine in a pinch. And you can also use many Speedlites in TTL modes.

And, as Bill pointed out, if I dropped the camera or had it nicked, even in today’s climate I could replace the set up for not very much (although the days of buying them for £1.50 are long gone)

Instead of a spare lens I took something else…

The Tiny lo-fi Classic Clone – Jelly Lens UWS

Jelly Lens UWS
Jelly Lens UWS

Whilst the second camera has only been in my hands for a few months, I’ve used clones of it for years. The Jelly Lens UWS is one of the current crop of VUWS clones. These have long been a regular in my travel bag. They take up no space and have that incredible 2 element plastic lens with bags of hallmark character.

Canada’s Flatiron, the Gooderham Building, Toronto. July 2022. Jelly Lens wih Kodak Portra 160. Processed and as scanned by AG Photolab. Click on image for full size.

They are also some of the cheapest non disposable cameras you can buy so whilst the F75 stayed on the bus at the Niagara Falls, the Jelly lens came.

The Falls, Jelly Lens UWS. 2022
The F75 stayed on the tour bus. Jelly lens + kodak Portra 160. Niagara Falls (Canadian), July 2022. Minor tweak of original image processed and scanned by AG Photo lab. Click on image for larger version.

Ironically you can get a used F75 for less than the Jelly lens costs though (my F75 was about £1.50 but a steal even 5 years ago – budget £20-50).

As I type the Jelly lens is winging its way to my Emulsive secret Santa recipient. Not that the camera isn’t good but I just prefer the slightly less slippery and more muted Reto UWS and my actual VUWS.

Tied Up. Jelly Lens UWS + lomo 100CN. 2022
Toronto’s Waterfront, July 2022. Jelly Lens UWS + lomography 100CN. Processed and as scanned by AG Photolab

The Ukraine Trip – FED 50

 FED 50 Viewfinder
Ukrainian Bling the FED 50 Viewfinder

Copenhagen in October meant going even lighter than my F75. Pocket classic was the order of the day. And it should have been the Oly Trip 35 rising to the occasion. That is until I noted the aperture blades have got sticky. So I dug out its Soviet Era love child the FED 50.

The Deck Chairs. FED 50 +XP@200ISO. 2022
Sweden is on the Horizon. At Den Blå Planet (Danish National Aquarium), Copenhagen, October 2022. FED 50 + XP2 @200ISO. C-41 Processed and as scanned by AG Photolab. Click on Image for full size.

The FED50 is one of the riotous quirky FSU cameras that shouldn’t be. Launched in 1986, it is the strange love child of a Trip 35 and Lomo LC-A. By 1986 Trip like viewfinders had been long over taken. Firstly by the ultracompacts like the XA series, and then by the AF compact. Even Olympus was on its second generation of AF compacts and had retired the Trip 35 two years earlier.

Desserthuset. FED 50 + XP2. 2022
The FED 50’s can remain sharp even as light levels drop.Copenhagen in the Golden Hour, October 2022. FED 50 & XP2@200ISO. As Processed & Scanned by AG Photolab Click on image for full size.

Ukrainian Marvel

Now oddity aside the FED50 is an excellent vintage shooter. The Industar-81  2.8/38 lens is shared with its rangefinder sibling the FED Mikron-2. It’s a corker of a lens. The camera is nice to handle although the metering is a bit flakey. Given the bulk of the stuff I shot was XP2 a broad latitude film, I rated at 200 ISO but developed normally. That said the golden hour shots I took on Ultramax largely at box speed (unless backlight adjusting as below) were on the ball.

Light Fade. FED 50. 2022
Or how I should have a had a flash for fill in ! Doh !. That said dialing the exposure down to 200ISO and Kodak Ultramax impressive latitude helped here . FED 50 , Golden Hour in Copenhagen, Oct 2022. Click on image for full size

Other Christmas Trio Reviews

Many of my fellow bloggers rose to Stephen Dowling’s challenge but with quite different takes . Here’s a list of what they did

Bill Au port. Jelly Lens + Lomo 100CN. 2022.
It wasn’t just me taking shots for this. Bill Smith from Classic Camera Revival Podcast on the beat in Downtown Toronto, 2022. Jelly len UWS + lomography 100CN

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