Review: Yama Uchu-no-Katasumi 400

Hello, everybody! The pandemic has affected every person I know, mostly negatively. It has certainly affected our craft, we now have less opportunities to take photos. This sort of dampened my passion so I’m restricted to taking boring or repetitive photos. I’ve recently discovered a new film which I haven’t used or heard yet. It’s not expensive but it’s not a cheap stock either so I thought that I’d probably give it a shot. To my surprise, it’s actually rather nice and it has helped me enjoy photography again.

Introduction:

Today, we’ll take a look at Uchu-no-Katasumi (宇宙の片隅) or “A Corner of the Universe” in English. It’s made by Irohas, a small photography company based in Gunma, north of Tokyo. If you’re shopping for used cameras and lenses you’ve probably saw their name in the online auction sites. Click on this link to go to their website. This film is sold under their Yama brand, think of it as a Japanese equivalent of that big company that sells plastic cameras to people who pay a lot for a cup of drinkable cakes. Go to the Yama website to see what they’re all about.

What took my attention was the color of the box and its corny art. The name is also intriguing which made me curious. I was compelled to buy it because it’s priced decently at $6.50 for a 24-shot roll. I said decent since it should be sold at a lower price because it’s just 24-shots, if it’s 36-shots then you wouldn’t hear anything from me. I hate 24-shot rolls, I have to pay the same price to process and scan it compared to a 36-shot roll.

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Repair: Bleaching Radioactive Lenses

Hello, everybody! I’ll share with you my experience about bleaching thoriated glass and show you some results. This is a topic that has been discussed many times but I’d like to contribute my experience to my readers in case you want to hear what I have to say.

Introduction:

The use of radioactive glass is controversial for obvious reasons and I don’t need to explain why. But why did the use of radioactive material became an option for some manufacturers from the 1960s up until the 1970s? These exotic blends offer plenty of advantages since optical engineers could correct more aberrations with them, allowing them to achieve certain benchmarks or help design the “perfect lens”. Of course, public opinion put a stop on this practice which could have been influenced by the events at Long Island or some other things prior to that. I can’t say anything about any ill effects on us humans but it certainly will tint your lens with a yellowish or amber hue depending on how it was stored or how old it is. The “hot-element” can alter its own composition at the atomic-level and result in a dark-core. It affects the performance of your lens by filtering light, at times depriving it of as much as 2-3 stops of light. It also affects how sharp it could render, too. The drop in sharpness won’t be obvious but it’s definitely observable to a minor extent. That and also a drop in resale value is something that you should be aware of.

This is how it looks like before treatment. The Nikkor-N 35mm f/1.4 Auto is the most notorious example in Nikkor-land, I couldn’t think of another Nikkor that suffered from this despite knowing of others that have slight radioactivity in the glass. Do note that the center of the glass looks more discolored compared to the edges, hence the term “dark-core”. I personally didn’t mind this since it somewhat made this lens special and the discoloration is somewhat remedied when you’re using auto-white-balance but that will never be the case when shooting with film.

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Repair: Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.8

Hello, everybody! Do you know “いとしのエリー” (Itoshi no Ellie)? It’s a popular love song by the band Japanese band named “サザンオールスターズ” (Southern All Stars). The meaning of the song is beautiful, it’s about a love that turned sour somehow. The late Ray Charles covered it as “Ellie My Love“, the melody is the same but the lyrics has changed. It is still a great song despite many people thinking that Ray’s version is the original. Today, I’ll show you something that has been rehashed and just like the songs that I mentioned, both aren’t identical despite looking really similar. Let me present to you its ultimate evolution and the swan-song of this lens line.

Introduction:

The Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.8 replaced the older Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.9 around the late 1950s I assume. It’s last lens in the 38mm class of Cine-Nikkors and in my opinion, the best at certain scenarios. It’s apparent that the Cine-Nikkor line wasn’t the focus of Nikon at the time so we never get to see another one after this was made. Compared to the slower Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.9 this one is marginally faster. I am not sure how useful that is but I suppose that was developed for marketing purposed and f/1.8 makes it more practical because that’s what many light-meters show in their dials.

Handling is excellent, it’s not difficult to distinguish the rings with your fingertips. The all-metal barrel makes it a robust lens that could survive use in the field so long as you’re careful with it and prevent dust and moisture to foul the barrel. The numbers can be difficult to see due to their size but it’s a lot better compared to the early Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.9 which was made with chrome barrels.

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Shopping: 2nd Base (Akihabara)

Hello, everybody! Most of you have noticed that I have been buying some Pentax gear lately. That is because I love the brand, second only to Nikon, of course. For others who love Pentax, I will introduce to you a new shop that has a lot of Takumars, probably the most number of them in a single shop. Not only that but it’s also what I’d call a “concept shop” because it’s a maverick in terms of presentation, it’s not your usual moldy and dank camera shop manned by greying gentlemen.

Introduction:

2nd Base is a shop under the Sanpou Camera group which I have previously introduced to you. It’s their trendy shop at this part of town. They haven’t been open for a long time but they do have lots of customers because they have all the amazing things a film-lover would like, from used gear, film and even chemistry. This is a small corner of film-paradise, a great place to kill your time and get what you need.

This is a well-stocked shop. It looks more like a boutique than a used camera shop. The interior looks trendy with all of the industrial-theme-inspired shelves and displays. It’s probably been in business for less than 2 or so years.

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Shopping: Nisshin Camera (Akihabara)

Hello, everybody! I am going to introduce to you one of the shops that helped me begin my repair adventure. I bought a Micro-Nikkor-P 55mm f/3.5 Auto from their junk shop and the shopkeeper told me to just repair it. Since I had plenty of time then and knowhow from my previous hobbies and profession I took a stab at it. That is one of the reasons why I started this blog.

Introduction:

Nisshin Camera (にっしんカメラ) is an institution in Akihabara, it’s operating for decades and is one of the best shops in this side of Tokyo. I rarely visit this shop since it’s a bit inconvenient for me but I would come here every time I am in the area.

This is the shopfront, it’s difficult-to-miss, specially with that big Fujifilm sign. It looks small from the outside but you’re going to spend plenty of time inside because their inventory is quite good despite the small location. There used to be another shop some 30m away which only sold junks but that shop closed a few years ago.

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Repair: Cine-Nikkor 13mm f/1.8

Hello, everybody! Do you know “Hi no Tori” or 火の鳥 in Japanese? It’s the masterpiece of Tezuka Osami (手塚治虫), a work that spanned decades and many chapters. It was never finished because he died before the series was done. It’s a great illustrated novel which delves in the deep topics of humanity, suffering, philosophy and morality, heavy themes I don’t think the mainstream audience would digest readily. It’s the zenith of Japanese comics in terms of story depth, it will leave you thinking and questioning many things well after you’re done reading even a single chapter. Today, I will show you something similar, a gold-standard of its class. Just like “Hi no Tori“, it was first revealed in the late 1950s. It is my honor to introduce to you this little-known gem. Read this article to know what this is.

Introduction:

The Cine-Nikkor 13mm f/1.8 is the ultimate evolution of its class. It replaced the older Cine-Nikkor 13mm f/1.9 but I do not know when since there’s not a lot of data available but I assume that it was sold in the late 1950s. While the older Cine-Nikkor 13mm f/1.9 is a good performer it’s apparent that the optical formula has to be refreshed in order for the line to be competitive since there were many other companies manufacturing D-mount lenses back then when it was a great time to be selling 8mm movie cameras.

It’s well-made, despite being tiny it’s heavier than an acorn. It’s all-metal barrel will ensure that it will outlast us all. That large front barrel also serves as a hood because the front element is recessed and it’s situated rather deep within it. Its scales are informative, a depth-of-field scale and a focusing scale makes it easier to focus without having the need for a rangefinder.

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Repair: Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.9 (late)

Hello, everybody! Do you believe in “rebirth”? It’s one of the core concepts of Buddhism where beings are reborn into a different vessel each time they die, bringing psychological and moral cargo from one lifetime to another one until we extinguish them all and reach “Nibanna”. While Buddhists don’t believe in at “eternal soul” the Hindus believe in it, the “atma”. This just means that the “soul” remains unchanged between lifetimes while we Buddhists believes in “non-self” which means we transform into something different each moment even as we breath. Today, I am going to show you something that’s similar to the “eternal soul”. While its “vessel” has changed the essence remained the same, identical to the previous version in every manner. Do you think lens designers believe in “rebirth” as well? That’s a big question that we’ll never find the answer to but one thing is certain, accountants do believe in it as it saves a lot of money.

Introduction:

This version of the Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.9 replaced the older Cine-Nikkor 38mm f/1.9 some time in the mid 1950s. It’s a time when Nikon was modernizing the whole lineup and many, if not all existing Nikkors were given a facelift. All the barrels were given a smart-looking black finish and the materials changed from brass to aluminum alloy which makes a lot of sense since it made the lenses lighter without sacrificing a lot of rigidity.

Handling is excellent, it’s easy to distinguish the rings by-touch. It’s a tough lens but not as tough or well-made as the Tele Zunow Cine 38mm f/1.9 which shares similar specs. In terms of performance this one trumps the latter easily. This is a great little lens that perfect for tight portraits and other applications that require you to get closer to your subjects such as sports or maybe even journalism.

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Repair: Tele Zunow Cine 38mm f/1.9

Hello, everybody! I love diesel engines. They’re efficient but they take a long time to start since the glow-plugs have to reach optimal temperature before you could run the engine. They’re slow-starters but once you got them going you’re going to enjoy the torque generated by these. I am a patient man so I don’t mind waiting so long as I get results. Some people couldn’t wait or even understand this so they end up miserable and worse, affecting the people around them in a negative way. Today, I will show you another slow-starter, unlike diesel engines there’s nothing much to be gained. It isn’t the best tool around but it’s certainly worth analyzing this. Read the whole article to see what this is.

Introduction:

The Tele Zunow Cine 38mm f/1.9 was sold around the 1950s to an unknown date. When Yashica took-over Zunow this lens and many others were rebranded and sold as Yashinons. Zunow was a rebel in its short time creating cameras and lenses. They made many innovative products, many were considered great while some were not-so-great just to put it lightly. This one falls into the latter as far as I’m concerned.

The barrel looks magnificent with its bold, brutalist design. It seems that all D-mount Zunows were made with the same standards. Handling is quite nice since it’s rather fat which makes it easy to grab and recognize the rings by-touch. This has click-stops for the aperture ring which feels great and reassuring. Shown here is its little hood which is inadequate, I don’t know if this is actually part of the kit but it seems that other Zunows have the same thing.

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Shopping: Film Camera Tokyo (Shibuya)

Hello, everybody! It’s refreshing to see that young people are now picking-up on film photography. They ensure that a time-honored craft won’t simply go away in under a generation. That’s reassuring but it’s even better to see them open businesses and pickup the torch from those that have succumbed to time and the pandemic. I’m happy to introduce a new shop that represents the next generation of camera shop owners.

Introduction:

Film Camera Tokyo (フィルムカメラ東京) opened its doors around 3 years ago. It’s situated near the trendy district of Harajuku where young people are seen to dress in the latest fashion and celebrate everything there is to being young. I wasn’t planning on visiting this shop but I was at the area so I might as well drop them a visit.

This is how it looks like as you enter. The ambience is nice, modern and clean. This is more like a boutique compared to what we’re used to seeing. This isn’t your average moldy, stuffy and cramped camera shop manned by silver or balding gentlemen. The place is full of vitality, optimism and good bargains.

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Repair: Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2

Hello, everybody! Do you like Haribo? The tasty little bears are a classic, even grown-ups enjoy a mouthful of the fruity treats. I could eat a whole tub in a single sitting, they’re sweet but they’re not as sweet as a Creme Egg so I prefer these at every occasion. Gummi bears, sausages and beer aren’t the only German products that I couldn’t live without. There is also a German lens that is valuable to me and just like Haribo, it’s now approaching its centennial soon but of course, the delicious German candies are just a bit older.

Introduction:

The Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2 is known to every person who has an interest in vintage lenses. There are several versions made, from the original one made around 1936 to the last one made until the early 1960s. We will talk about the 2nd post-war version in this article which was made from the early 1950s up until 1959 where it was succeeded by the short-lived last version of this amazing optic.

It’s a huge lens for its time, making the Zeiss Ikon Contax D look tiny. The barrel is all-metal, this is heavy despite using aluminum alloy. Handling is excellent due to the large focusing ring. The iris is of the preset-type much like what you’d see from many lenses made in that era. It has a limiter which allows you to constrain the range of the aperture ring, it’s something that I only see with post-war Zeiss lenses. Engraved in the bezel is a red “T” denoting that it’s coated and it means “transparenz“, a war-time secret developed by Zeiss. In fact, they were the first ones to master this deposition-type method which is effective but not as durable as what Nikon developed during the war that is the reason why the coating in Nikkors are tougher than what the Germans had since it was developed for use with submarine periscopes.

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