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an old camera and a wedding

Recently I inherited a bag of old film cameras from my girlfriends Grandad – a treasure haul containing a rabble of cameras ranging from the 60’s to the early 90’s.

Not long after I received the cameras my girlfriend’s sister was due to be married, their photographer Grandad sadly too ill to attend the wedding. So, as a sentimental gesture, I decided that I would do my best to resurrect one of the cameras and take a few photos for the bride on the day.

First I had to pick a camera – each in various stages of disrepair and neglect, showing the ageing effect of sitting  in a dark and dingy corner for a a fair few years. I needed a fixer-up, one that still worked and looked like it could be restored to its former glory. After a bit of deliberation I settled on a Minolata Himatic AF, hailing from 1979 – it even has his name and address on a sticker on the bottom!

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This was the first autofocus camera in the Himatic line, offering a 38 mm f2.8 lens and a flash to boot. It is the predecessor to the Himatic AF2, which has a bit of a cult following. I put a battery in and was happily greeted by some wiring and a light in the viewfinder – there was life in the old boy yet, he just needed a bit of TLC!

Besides a layer of rust infused dirt, the camera’s light seal had disintegrated into a crumby black dust and needed to be replaced. Additionally, the viewfinder had become a grimy, dingy bar where only the seediest dust would hang out. I scoured the internet for repair guides and set about a rescue operation. I won’t go into the intricate details, rather point you to a couple of excellent articles I found –

  1. Japan Camera Hunter’s (JCH) guide to cleaning classic cameras. Special mention must go to Bellamy at JCH for kindly responding to an email I sent him when trying to track down the camera’s user guide
  2. Matt’s Classic Cameras guide to replacing light seals
  3. Matt’s Classic Cameras general repair tips (most notably cleaning viewfinders)

Before the clean –
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After the clean –
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After it was spick and span again, I thought it would be a good idea to run a film through it before the wedding – to give it a test run and work out how to use it. Here are a few shots from the camera, mostly snapped on walks around Brisbane city / near where I live. Taken on a roll of Kodak Tri-x.

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It’s a pretty simple beast, limited only by a few age-induced niggles. Exposure is automatic (as well as pretty accurate) and the camera will auto-focus on whatever is in the middle of the viewfinder. To select other parts of the frame as the primary focus point you are required to aim the central focus area at that point, press the shutter half way, press down the ‘focus lock’ switch you can see in the picture of the camera above, recompose your shot and then press the shutter button. A bit cumbersome and limiting when trying to grab that decisive moment. No pressing the shutter half way to lock locus – this came slightly later in the AF r(evolution).

When the big wedding day came around, I loaded up with another roll of Tri-x and tucked the camera in my suit pocket. I have shot weddings in the past and was sure to observe proper etiquette in making sure not to get in the photographers way – I just wanted to capture a few sentimental moments that I could give to the bride and keep-sakes. Here are a couple from the day –

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