But along with fabulous products from venerable firms there were many cameras and lenses of dubious origin and engineering quality. As our popular culture has erased all but the dimmest of memories of chemical photography from the landscape, there is a tendency to believe that everything that was available back then was pretty good. I've seen this from writings by young folk who are new to film photography. I've read great praise for junk we wouldn't have used as doorstops a few decades back.
|Popular but poorly-built Vivitar 220SL|
Here's my growing list of crappy equipment and lines from the past. I'll give a short reason why it's on the list. It's important to note that I consider some crappy equipment collectible due to a unique industrial design or for a significant role the equipment played in photo technology development.
Please feel free to tell me about any items you'd like to see added to the list and why. I'll add them to the list if I agree. Hey, it's my blog.
SAMPLING OF CRAPPY VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHIC TECHNOLOGY:
- Any camera built for Kodak Disc Film technology. OK, that's an easy first hit. Name me one model made by any brand you think you'd have used for an important image.
- Petri brand SLRs. Any of them. So-so optics, very poor mechanical reliability, abysmal fit and finish.
- Crappy third-party lens makers or importers/distributors: Accura, Admiral, Aetna, Astragon, Bushnell, Focal, Hanimar, Hanimex, J. C. Penny, Kaligar, Kalimar, Lentar, Makina, Makinon, Montgomery Ward, Prinz, Promaster, Revuenon, Rexar/Rexatar, Rokunar, Sears, Spiratone, Starblitz, Sun, Super Albinar, Vemar (oh, yeah, there are many others). Yes, a few lenses stood out, but by and large, these were made for price-point in the market. Some were optically good but mechanically delicate. Collect what you like (obviously) but if you're going to spend money shooting film with old lenses nowadays, stick with the better lines: Vivitar, Soligor, Tamron, Sigma, and Kiron.
- Kowa 35mm SLRs. Any of them. Fragile, flimsy, funky. (But collectible for those reasons)
- Samoca. Collectible but not usable.
- Any Kalimar camera, 35mm, 6x6 or other. Made by many different sub-quality sub-contractors
- Vivitar 220/250/420/450 SL cameras. Screwthread mount cameras built in millions by Cosina in the mid-1970's. Really bad, slow 50mm F2.8 (2.8!) lens that's unable to out-resolve a Coke bottle lens. Mostly empty camera insides makes for loud operation when they do work.
- Optika, an odd roll film reflex. Collectible and loveable due to oddity. Hard to love for operation.