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Thursday, 16 April 2009


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Wow, Shoots left-eyed and upside down, like Robert Frank!



Sure. On official signs indicating that one may be photographed, there's often a drawing of a '70s-era manual 35mm SLR.

Gosh, and I almost forgot:

Beautiful rangefinder!


Mike, you did see an ad with a goddess using a Hasselblad. I can't remember what it was for either.

There's another ad that's been on Canadian TV lately (I think it's for a Canadian entertainment or fashion show) with a bunch of male models in suits using old press cameras.

It is an odd phenomenon. If there is a camera in an ad (motion, or print, and the ad is not itself for a camera) or fashion feature it is bound to be a classic.

btw: The Canonet has never looked so sexy.

Let's admit the truth - digital cameras look dorky and film cameras look sexy.

Interestingly, while dslr's with big lenses are popular here, I see a lot of young people in Hong Kong out using film cameras, generaly 35mm slr's but have seen the occasional tlr, mostly Rollei or Yashica. Same in Japan in the visits I have made.

And there are adds with people using film cameras, Andy Lau Tak-wah* with a silver M6 advertising watches springs to mind. And then there was a Tiffany add with a women using a Leica 2f recently.

*Think George Clooney but Chinese.

Sign me up for a digital Canonet. One of my favorites back in the Film Age. A full frame sensor with a fixed 40mm f/1.8 (or so) lens, a decent rangefinder, manual focus, etc., etc.

I had a Canonet 1.7. The thing in the picture is just too big! Where did they find it? (I can't imagine the picture's altered).

Film is certainly done for as a mass medium. I do wonder just how gone it is among enthusiasts, though. Anecdotal "evidence" is not worth much of course, but there's enough of it around for me to suspect that film is having a modest comeback among some hobbyists, as a second medium complementing digital.

Semi OT: My wife recently got a used Canon Demi - a half-frame camera identical to one she got from her parents as a child. She's been snapping away with it, and one thing that really hit both me and her when she got the negs and prints back was just how good quality shots it produces. Really, at the size of a typical print (12x8 cm I believe) you normally don't see that it's from half a 35mm frame, or that it's all guess-focusing. She was as surprised as I was - evidently, film and processing has gotten a lot better in the last thirty-odd years.

I saw that PBS ad but I took the camera to be a Minolta Autocord CDS III like the one shown here <http://www.flickr.com/photos/karstosis/1383767581/>

That Canonet shouldn't be on the cover of a magazine, it should be in my hands!

I fancied a QL17 but cheaped out and got a Zorki-4. Not that I'm complaining about that or anything. After all, International Commie Camera Day is in just about two weeks :)

In Korea you often see Leicas in television ads when they want to portray luxury or elegance. Sometimes held like a point and shoot . . . .
Carrying around a classic camera (an old manual Pentax or Nikon, for example) on a shoulder strap has become a fashion accessory amongst some people in Seoul. Sometimes the lenses are cracked but it doesn't matter because they don't actually use them to take photos.

There's a Leica M3 in the intriguing but flawed animated flick "Coraline".


And Penelope Cruz has an M6 in "Vicky Christina Barcelona".


Can't really imagine her with a plastic camera, huh?

Blow-up, the movie.


a Tiffany ad on a billboard in New York featured a beautiful model wearing Tiffany Jewlery and posing with an old screw mount Leica. There was some caption about classic design never going out of style.

A few years ago invitations to the photography show organised by Henry's (big photo dealer in the frozen wasteland also known as Canada) prominently featured a rangefinder from the same era as the Canonet.

I thought that was odd for a photo show taking place in late 2006, and which very likely didn't have a single film camera on the floor.

But maybe it was a subtle sign of luxury and affluence.

Two Leicas and a Polaroid on these two pages:




The very great band Bishop Allen has a video for their song "Click, Click, Click" which starts with someone abusing a Rolliflex, developing 35mm B/W and finally printing color. I guess, if nothing else, it shows that these kids today have no idea what they're doing.

it's not so much the use of old cameras as much as it is the use of old camera sounds. watch a show where someone is using a DSLR and with each snap there's this click then whir. film advance? really?

Still have my Canonet QL17. Don't you?

speaking from india, almost every movie here which features photographers (until recently anyway) had the actors clicking away on FM/FM2s, or other similar bodies. even today, the gaggle of press is depicted with such cameras topped by old school flashes like the vivitar 285 and metz handle-flashes. it always makes me smile.

(example link from a smash hit 2005 movie: http://movies.sulekha.com/hindi/garam-masala/pictures/41.htm - funnily enough on a mamiya-branded tripod)

Seen dozens, but this is the only one that comes to mind- and check out the first article under Culture (unfortunately, you have to subscribe).


That was my first ever camera. I think it was in 1979. I can only imagine I looked that good behind it. Yeah, I'm sure I did.

I knew there was a reason I bought a Canonet last year. I must say, though, I did fall in love with the girl on the cover of the manual: http://primco.org/photo/galleries/canonet_ql17_manual/

I don't know if this counts, but it was surprising to see a Leica M7 in the hands of the son's photojournalist wife in "Big Fish" a few years back. Not that PJ's don't sometimes still use Leica's, but it definitely seemed like a statement in the film.

"Still have my Canonet QL17. Don't you?"



So why are modern cameras so, well, fugly?

When she really wants to take a picture, she probably uses an iPhone.

Although digital recording devices have well surpassed 35mm film quality, film cameras, like vintage cars, just plain look better! Injection molded plastic and rubber just can't compete with the classic and distinctive styling of metal, chrome, and leather. Classic cameras are chic commodities that ooze style, feel and sophistication (yes, even a Canonet) just like a lowly Ford Falcon from the '60's looks better and has way more personality than 98% of what's made today.

What digital camera today can possibly be considered anything near beautiful like an M series Leica, or even a "clunky" Hasselblad 500C/M? It's absolutely heartbreaking/frightening to see what digital Blads can look like today.

Ever see a super model doing a high fashion shoot using a Honda Civic?

Mani Wrote;
So why are modern cameras so, well, fugly?
Same reason modern cars are fugly - *supposed efficiency* plus they're all designed on a bloody computer by nerdy middle-aged scientists in white socks and half-mast black pants!

To hell with efficiency, I'm going to go load Vista on my Mac, that'll show 'em :-)

"Still have my Canonet QL17. Don't you?"

The QL17 and Minolta Hi-Matic E tied for "The Best Camera Under $100" in a 1974 bestseller by Peter Passell called "The Best", a compendium of amusing opinions about almost everything. I bought the Minolta. It was later stolen but 20-odd years later I was able to buy the exact same kit on eBay for a song. Although identical in every way and in the same condition, the new one takes far better pictures than my old one ever did. I wonder why that might be?

Makes you happy to have lived so long.

I own one of these but the shutter is frozen. If someone could produce a clone of it only make it digital I would be in heaven.

9 out of 10 fashionistas agree: film cameras are cooler and better looking than digital cameras.

Saw a show about spies the other day where surveillance negatives were handed over. A bit strange in this day and age, especially as they were actually using a Nikon DSLR to take the pictures.

Parallel to this, you often see in even recent movies people using coin operated pay phones. (The last time I used a pay phone was right after they cleaned'em.)

Ken Rockwell has also joined the "in crowd" with an Olympus 35RC... and got 40 keepers on a roll. Way to go, Ken!

Julia Roberts uses an M7 in the film 'Closer'.
Btw in ANY recent film when you see a bunch of photojournalists in action they all have pre-digital slr bodies, mainly old Nikons fitted with long lenses

I saw the model with the Hassy. My favorite is the safari filmmaker with the 16mm rig, while she's flacking photochromic eyeglass lenses.

Go figure.

Have you seen the latest ads for whatever, where the model puts a RECORD on a TURNTABLE.

Aaaaaah (starts to tear his hair out).

The QL17 is a very nice camera (especially with a good looking girl holding one), but the Yashica GS looks even better, sports maybe even better glass and is going for next to nothing on that auction site...

yes yes, de gustibus non est disputandum.

I'm not sure what I'm attracted to more, the girl, or the camera. Which is kinda sad really. Another thing though - you recently extolled the virtues of having no viewfinder, Mike. But this photo just would not work if she was holding the camera at arms length (not that she's actually looking through the viewfinder, mind you)

Kirk: I've still got mine, although it isn't functional.

Reese: I don't think it is too big in the picture. While the Canonet might have qualified as "small" and "light" when it came out, it is anything but by today's standards. Whenever I pull mine out (cursing the fact that it's broken), I'm amazed at just how big and heavy it is. Even my Minolta Hi-Matic, which is much smaller, still seems quite heavy. One thing we all forget is that metal IS heavy. It just is. Plastic may not be charming, but it is certainly lighter. Anyway, while I admire the features and technology behind the Canonet, today I find there are much better choices, even among compact rangefinders of the same period.

Mike: Try any German television advertisement featuring a red carpet or a celebrity supposedly being hounded by the paparazzi. Most of the time it seems like the supposed photographers are using Nikon F3s, with the huge, hulking MD-4 motordrive and Metz potato-masher flashes. Besides being ridiculous, those ads always make my arms tired just thinking about lugging that kit around...(and before anyone tries to jump down my throat for knocking the F3, I have one and love it, but I would NEVER again want to lug it around with my MD-4 loaded with batteries and with one of my old hammerhead flashes attached).

For an example, see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP0Qicdn9rY

[Warning: the link above includes some of the WORST quality video I have ever seen, but it was all I could find without wasting too much time.]

are we showing our age over here?
I actually don´t see anything really apealling. It is the camera equivalent to the former Passat CC, or Jaguar XF, or MB CLS, or Peugeot 607, or Chevrolet Malibu, or Austin Healey, or ...

A politically correct good taste [or what the overall audience will expect to be "good taste": harmless glitz, so to speak].

I personally find this very camera as attractive as a washing machine.

"can do better".

"I had a Canonet 1.7. The thing in the picture is just too big! Where did they find it? (I can't imagine the picture's altered)."

The camera is the same size, Mischa Barton is tiny. I photographed her backstage at a fashion show in NY and she was dwarfed by the models but, then again, most folk are.

Incidentally, the camera of choice, for models, seems to be the G10. They were so ubiquitous so I started to think that Canon were giving 'em away to people with perfect cheekbones.

A year or two ago, Snappy Snaps (a high-street chain of photo processing shops in the UK) ran an in-store poster campaign touting their printing service for digital photos. The poster featured a young lady brandishing a... Fed 2.

"Still have my Canonet QL17. Don't you?"

Me too.

Although there is an undeniable cachet to showing classic film cameras in ads and magazine layouts, I suspect that advertisers use them because these cameras are obviously no longer in production (Leica excepted of course, but most people wouldn't know that.) The viewer is therefore less likely to mistake the ad as being for the camera. It might be a great way to increase bids on eBay though.

i WISH AND WISH they make a digital equivalent of this...with a large sensor and a real big aperture prime lens. highly unlikly...but full manual!

"Sure. On official signs indicating that one may be photographed, there's often a drawing of a '70s-era manual 35mm SLR."

The UK road sign denoting automatic speed-trap cameras (a legal figleaf referring to their supposed deterrent function) is a side view of a Kodak Brownie-era camera with lens bellows:


Reese was concerned about the size of the QL17 that the model is holding. This is an early version and is closer to the size of the SLR's of the day (Canon FTb, etc) and contmporary rangefinders like the Konica Auto S2. The next QL17 version was smaller, the same size, shape and features as the final GIII version but made in Japan.

What I find interesting is that quite often someone will point at my analog Nikon/Leica/Rolleiflex and refer to it as 'a real camera'.

And no, these people are not in a wheelchair.

Is it wrong that I have a (digital) folder full of photos of these cool old film cameras, (and lenses!) and every so often I flip through them and drool? Camera porn.

They just look (and feel) sturdier than DSLR. My photography instructor brought a pile of old equipment to class last week - the old lenses especially feel much less fragile.

And they look better, too, especially when they've been heavily used and they have dings and wear marks on the grips and the paint is wearing away exposing metal underneath. Cool. It's not surprising that the aesthetic of it is appealing to photographers and designers and visual artists. It evokes a feel of well-built machines that do their jobs and don't wear out.

I've bid on several Cannonets on Ebay over the last year. I'd like to find one in decent shape to play with. Just to see how they did photography in ancient times. Finding one with a calibrated shutter and good seals for next to no money has been a challenge.

"I had a Canonet 1.7. The thing in the picture is just too big! Where did they find it? (I can't imagine the picture's altered)."

Maybe the model is just really, really tiny.

Film cameras of classic design really looks better.
Could anyone show me more beautiful cameras than the Contax G series??

A little bit OT:

I've noticed an increasing number of fake negative borders in magazines. It's meant to add authenticity, I suppose. I recently saw an ad with a Kodak T-Max border on a colour photograph.

If the older film cameras are seen in print advertising, what about TV and movie representation of looking through a camera with a split Image focusing screen?

Simple. Smarter cameras make dumber photographers. Conversely, a simple camera makes one look at least slightly intelligent.

Jep, I saw an ad in the subway, which message or target I also don't remember, but a girl with a Like M7 across neck and shoulder.

And this is not a QL17, btw, it has a 45 mm lens and other things are different as well. Plus, they seem to have retouched the rangefinder window???

Classic cameras are becoming popular props on TV. I've recently seen a couple of ads on public TV for premium food products that feature Leica thread mount cameras just sitting on the table along with the fancy foods. Implying, I suppose, that the products are comparably classic, and classy.
Unlike the Genlux cover, however, those TV ads seemed to be aimed at a demographic group that would actually recognize the LTM.

Once I saw the great movie, "Pecker," I immediately went on Ebay and bought my beloved QL17, which came mint for about $35. Works a charm. Wish I could get a Mischa Barton on Ebay...

Reese mentioned earlier about the size of the camera in the shot, I'm also wondering about the freakishly long index finder of the model, wonder if she was actually holding the camera or just a travel size box of cereal. All looks a bit comp'd in to me.


Also note the end of the strap.


As someone who watches a lot of Antiques Roadshow, I know that the Rolleicord ad is for Liberty Mutual who sponsors Antiques Roadshow. It's an ad about preserving and handing down family heirlooms and shows the grandmother posing as a young woman with the camera, then the mother and finally the granddaughter using the camera to photograph her stuffed animals.

The Hasselblad ad is for an allergy medication- I think? All the allergy ads seem to use meadows so I may have misassociated that ad.

Using Tivo, I try and rewind and stop TV to see if I can figure out what kind of cameras are used in ads. I seem to recall seeing Hasselblads in another ad. I wonder if they're just copying Elvis Costello from "This Year's Model." "That 70's Show" liked to use what I think was a Nikon F2 with motor-drive and once the mother was using what looked like an old Kodak camera. They were good on that show about using contemporary items...until they had that Metallica poster in the record shop.

Funny crowd these TOP readers. Yeah, cool camera, but what about the girl!


There was a time when every TV movie with a press scrum featured dozens of Speed Graphics with flash -- regardless of the time period of the movie.

I think Graphics are thin of the ground now, and the art departments are having to substitute. For a while I saw all kinds of TLRs (some Rolleicords, often CiroFlex), with auxilliary flash brackets as the standard press camera for movies. In the last few years, the "standard" camera for a movie press scrum seems to be an FD mount Canon with an auxilliary flash bracket and a junker Vivitar 285 or a SunPak!

I also find myself (often) wishing there was a digital Canonet! I love my Canonet 28. The G10 seems the closest thing to the modern inheritor of the Canonet line, but it's a bit of overkill and way too expensive.

I think the Olympus micro 4/3 concept camera could be that elusive digital Canonet.

I am told that most affluent Southern Californian women follow this blog, and that they now all sport Panasonic G1s, either in red or blue. (And if it seems like I'm making fun of the Lumix colour choices, and I guess I am, I also want to say that from what I've seen, the red one, coupled with an old silver Canon RF lens, looks really cool, and would make a great prop in a fashion spread.)

Vinyl continues to exist in parallel with digital music files, and vinyl releases are on the upswing (I still listen to vinyl playback.) Will film follow a similar path?

Is this #6?
Should be.

Simple, old cameras are sexy. The new digital ones are just functional.

Still* have my QL17 and Canonet 28....and a 19 someplace that needs new seals.

*of course I didn't buy them new. When they were new I was still an aspiring civil engineer endorsing bright yellow Tonka dumptrucks.
I took the 17 on a recent trip to Disneyland and one of the more senior Disney photographers got positively bleary when I asked him to take our photo with it.
"oh, its a ...rAaangefinder"
He shot a blurry but properly exposed photo.


Wasn't it an Aveeno moisturizing commercial with the mother carrying the Hasselblad?

Here's a still.


Anorak alert: that's not the Canonet G-III camera that everyone raves about in the picture, it's an earlier (and noticeably larger) version from the 1960s. So the model holding the camera is not actually 4'6" tall.
(After my G-III got soaked in salt water I replaced it with an Olympus XA, an inferior machine by comparison.)

My kid got me hooked on the the HBO series "The Wire". Lots of segments of cops shooting film cameras taking surveillance photos with Nikon film cameras and people using pay phones. I am always amazed when some show has a person shooting a digital camera and they use sound from a film body with auto winder.

As for Genlux check out Melissa Rodwell's blog. She shoots a lot of work for them. I don't think she shot this cover though.
Melissa is another one of those professional shooters that is approachable and takes time to help out others when asked. I really like her work.

In 'Blood Diamond', the chick shoots with a medium format rangefinder, although to be honest I can't remember if that movie was supposed to take place in the present or if it was set in the 90's or what.

My Nikon F4 is my favorite camera of all time, but I'm afraid it's about the ugliest thing ever ;)

Film cameras are just more romantic aren't they? I think everyone loves film even if they don't use it or won't admit it.

Just like steam locomotives and classic cars, they are romantic ideals of engineering. People like to collect them and pine for them no matter how impractical they are compared to modern technology.

That cover wouldn't be half as good or as sexy if the model was holding a Canon 1000D or a G10.

And then there's the greatest Canonet movie ever! Pecker by John Waters.


Film slr's keep cropping up on TV even though we're in the 21st century. Just working my way thru' The Wire box sets and guess what - the surveillance is carried out using what looks like an FM2! Still, it's better looking than the usual Canikon plastikon.

Still got my Canonet, by the way.

it's not so much the use of old cameras as much as it is the use of old camera sounds. watch a show where someone is using a DSLR and with each snap there's this click then whir. film advance? really?

One of the pleasant surprises I had when I started using my Argus again was the delightful sound it makes when the shutter goes off - a sort of metallic shhh-PING! The grinding sound it makes when you manually advance the film is also pleasing.

I actually like the look and feel of my ist*DS - it looks an awful lot like my old Vivitar - but do feel a certain wistfulness for the days when things were made out of metal instead of plastic. There is a lot to be said for something that dents when you drop it instead of cracking! I suppose that it's a combination of weight and expense, but right now I'm typing on an aluminum-framed MacBook, so I don't buy the weight argument so much. I'd be willing to pay more for an aluminum-alloy body version of my Pentax; it'd be worth more to me than things like artistic filters.

Information from Canon concerning the camera in the ad shown above. The camera is a Canonet QL17 which is 20mm longer than the Canonet GIII. The two cameras seem to get confused with one another, even though they were different sizes, have different lenses (45mm v. 40mm) and released seven years apart.


GIII page:


I'm not sure about this, but I think the Spiderman character in the recent movies may have been using film.

I've got my QL-17. Got it in 1970. I still even have the original lens cap which, as you might know, never did fit on that tightly. Love it, but I can't replace the battery.

While I was out and about with my Polaroid 600SE it fell off my shoulder and wanged this cute chick on her hip. She gave me the evil eye. I guess the sexiness of the 600SE didn't rub off on contact.

"you recently extolled the virtues of having no viewfinder, Mike."

No I didn't. I extolled the virtues of having no optical viewfinder rather than a really bad, substandard optical viewfinder.


Not really wanting to 'expose this particular spool of film again' (surely better in this context than opening a can of worms), but I'm not sure Stan B is right in his assertion that "digital recording devices have well surpassed 35mm film quality".

Tomorrow, as well as proud father, I'll be doubling up as 'official photographer' at my daughter's christening. The resolution of my 1Ds III may meet (or arguably exceed) the resolution of the ISO 400 in my 1V but I know which will produce the prints with that something. . . It maybe akin to the Leica glow but prints made from film do have an added dimension of quality.

Regarding the use of cameras in TV and movies, my favourite is the cop on surveillance lazily hanging out of the window of his patrol car with SLR and 135mm only to see when we are allowed to view through the 'viewfinder' that the lens has the pulling power of at least a 1600mm. . .

Something else. If we look at the cover of this particular magazine and see a camera, it's clear we are old enough to remember the Canonet ;-)

Maybe it is because Camera Manufacturers don't pay product placement fees, so they don't want new and sexy stuff in the image.

I doubt the camera and even the hands were in the original picture. They were most likely added with photoshop after the fact. The shadows are not right and the camera is too big.

It just goes to show you that Digital still has no soul and film always will....even marketing departments know that.

I've got a QL19, does that count? $4.99 at the local Sally-Ann to use the case to carry around my DP1 "in cognito".
With all this airtime, and considering the TOP effect on books, I may have to rethink my strategy. Get clocked on the head for the Canonet and a second one for their disappointment?

Your typical bulimic, celery and water diet, model weighs in at 37 lbs and appears to become a set of floating implants when they turn sideways. The modern DSLR comes in at something just slightly smaller than a marine landing craft. They probably didn't want to use a prop bigger than her head.

Pretty girl.

Miley Cyrus was recently spotted with a borrowed Leica M8 - not film, but full marks to her nevertheless?

According to Wikipedia, Mischa Barton's mother is a photographer. Coincidence?

I just remembered something perhaps germane to this discussion, which is that for about the past month Mark Trail has featured a plot revolving around a child's stolen "digital" camera. (It is still on-going.)

What's hilarious is the ways that the writer of the strip can't quite decide whether the camera in question is more like a film camera (at once point the memory card fills up, and the characters plan to go into town to buy a new one) or a digital (at another, they use a computer to view images off the card). When you factor in that Mark Trail is supposed to be a famous nature photographer/writer, it becomes more hilarious yet.

Good pictures of the camera appear on March 16, and 26.

You can see it here (you may have to manually change the date until you get to a strip recent enough to appear on the drop-down menu):


A few months ago I noticed a twentyish young lady carrying a Yashica 35 Electro GSN around her neck. I mentioned to her that I thought it was great that she was using an older rangefinder film camera. She told me that the camera doesn't work, but she thought that it looked cool.
Now that's what I call a bargain necklace, but not for everyone.

There is a cute girl also in this 1969">http://www.flickr.com/photos/nesster/3257940134/sizes/o/">1969 Yashica ad.

In fact, my preference of a 70s fixed lens rangefinder would not be a Canonet but rather the Yashica Electro 35 GX - smallest and lightest model of the series, 40mm F/1.7 lens, aperture priority, flash-sync capability at all speeds, automatic exposure correction for filters, and no problems with nasty batteries.

"my preference of a 70s fixed lens rangefinder would not be a Canonet but rather the Yashica Electro 35 GX"

Maybe, but the GX is very hard to find. Not nearly as common as GS, GSN, GT, etc.

It's always something.


With regard to Julian's fascinating contribution, if my guess is right, UBS's photographer was using his own cameras for props. (And he has a lot of them!)

I've done the same myself in my own organisation. (See the inside page 1 of my departmental brochure. PDF to .)

Its technically pretty bad -- handheld in available light on a conference room table using a compact digicam -- but otherwise Marcom were going to foist a stock photo on me.

The compact digicam is another story in itself. I bought it for the office and came out of the camera shop with it plus an M8 for myself. I told them back in the office that sending me out for a camera was like sending an alcoholic to buy drinks.

Cute article! I was just reading up on Canonets and then I find this. How timely.

I am kinda late getting in on this discussion.....but, I have sold several classic film cameras on Ebay that I shipped to catalog houses.....I'd like to think that's one of my old C3 cameras on the bebe cover....I kept one just for kicks.....

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