Konica Big Mini BM-201 review

The Big Mini is a compact 35mm point and shoot camera launched in 1990 by Japan’s oldest camera company, Konica. Over the last 30 years, it’s become a cult classic point and shoot camera, thanks to its sharp 35mm f3.5 lens. No doubt helping this reputation was the fact that 10-15 years ago, you could easily pick one up for around $20USD.

Pocket gem: The Konica Big Mini BM-201.

Although its reputation has grown since then, time has not been kind to the Big Mini. Perhaps more than any other compact camera, it has a reputation for dying. So is the Big Mini still worth buying in 2020 and beyond? Keep reading and find out.

You can also listen to my podcast review of the Konica Big Mini BM-201 by pressing play in the header of this page, or by searching Matt Loves Cameras in your favourite podcast app.

A truly pocket sized camera. When the lens retracts, the Big Mini is sleek and comfortably fits in your pocket.

Konica Big Mini models

The Big Mini is not just one camera, but a whole lineup of compact cameras from Konica. Some good, some not so good.

  • A4 – what looks like a Big Mini but isn’t a Big Mini? The Konica A4! This was the predecessor of the lineup introduced in 1989.
  • BM-200 Ex
  • BM-201 – the classic Big Mini, this is the model I’ve reviewed in this article.
  • Konica Big mini BM-300 – a new take on the Big Mini, the 300 series featured a circular lens housing instead of the square / rectangular lens housing. Konica 35mm f3.5 lens.
  • Konica Big Mini BM-300s – same model as the BM-300 but with different colours
  • Konica Big mini BM-301 features a data back
  • Konica Big mini BM-302
  • Konica Big Mini F – a premium Big Mini with a fast f2.8 lens.
  • Konica Big mini BM-310Z / 311Z / 411Z / 510 Z / 610 Z – zoom models, not as highly coveted as fixed lens models.
  • Konica Big Mini VX BM-701 – why was the Big Mini name slapped on this model? Fixed lens piece of cheap plastic.
  • Konica Big mini Neo-R – another zoom model.

My favourite boat, Victoria Point. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Fujifilm C200 film.

Konica Big Mini BM-201 specifications

Launched in 1990, the Konica Big Mini BM-201 is a a compact 35mm point and shoot film camera that originally sold for around $200 AUD / $130 USD. Here’s a run down of all the Big Mini specs:

  • Konica 35mm f3.5 lens, 4 elements in 4 groups, with a built-in skylight filter.
  • CDS centre weighted metering, exposure controlled automatically – no aperture or shutter controls.
  • Automatic DX code recognition: ISO25 to ISO3200. Non DX films rated at ISO25.
  • Auto film advance and rewind.
  • Nice, bright viewfinder.
  • LCD panel on the back showing the mode the camera is in, frame counter, and battery indicator.
  • Mode button cycles through flash modes (Auto flash, flash on, flash off) and exposure compensation (+1.5 aperture, -1.5 aperture)
  • Weighs just 200 grams with a CR123A battery.

Central Brisbane skyline from below. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

Konica Big Mini manuals

You can find two Konica Big Mini manuals on the excellent camera manuals website from Mr Buktus. Make sure you throw him a few bucks if you find the manuals useful, which I’m sure you will.

Konica Big Mini BM-201 and BM-302 manuals

Using the Big Mini

I loved using the Big Mini. I only shot two rolls of film through it before I sadly had to send it back to the eBay seller I bought it off. They said it was in perfect working condition, but sadly the flash modes didn’t work, I suspect the exposure compensation also didn’t work, and the shutter was very hard to press.

The Big Mini has a reputation for having a hard to press shutter, but often I would have to press it four or five times quite firmly before it would take an image, marring an otherwise fun shooting experience.

Catching rays on Coochiemudlo Island. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Fujifilm C200 film. I like the way the Big Mini handled the exposure in this scene.

The camera makes a lovely sound as it turns on, the square / rectangular lens housing popping out of the sleek, stylish body, ready for action.

It has a nice bright viewfinder and I found it a pleasure to compose images with. When I was able to press the shutter, I really liked the noise it made. Some say it’s noisy, but I thought it was fine.

A mode button on the back cycles through flash and exposure compensation modes: Auto flash / Flash on / Flash off / Flash off +1.5 aperture / Flash off -1.5 aperture. The ability to alter exposure with these modes is a feature not usually seen on point and shoots other than high end models.

Also on the back is a frame counter and a battery level indicator. There’s also a self-timer button, a rewind film button, and on the base of the camera there’s a tripod socket.

It has a really stylish design for a mid-range compact camera – when it’s turned off, it’s a really nice light, compact size that easily fits in my pocket.

The film door of the Big Mini with its control / LCD panel.

I’m really happy with the images I took with the camera on Fujifilm C200 and Agfa Vista 400 film. The images look sharp, are well exposed, and have fantastic colour and contrast.

I really loved my two rolls with this much-admired point and shoot, and I’m on the look out for a replacement.

Big Mini Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Sleek, compact, light and stylish.
  • Great image quality thanks to that Konica 35mm f3.5 lens.
  • Exposure compensation – a feature not usually seen in mid-range point and shoots.
  • Super fun to use.

Cons

  • Reliability: the Big Mini is sadly a byword for unreliability. Even 10-15 years ago, many internet forums were awash with people talking about their cameras dying.
  • Price: with stocks dwindling and its reputation rising, you can no longer pick these up cheap, unless you’re very, very lucky.
  • Shutter button needs to be pressed quite firm on some models, marring what is otherwise a pleasant shooting experience.

Classic Jag. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

Is the Big Mini a good buy in 2020?

It’s maybe not a good buy compared to so many other good mid-range point and shoots out there that can be picked up for $100USD or less (the Olympus MJU 1 and Olympus LT-1 spring to mind), but it’s a camera that has a certain “je ne sais quoi” about it. I will definitely try and pick another up, if I’m able to for a decent price.

Konica Big Mini sample images

Petrol station. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

Naldham House, Brisbane. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

My favourite boat again! Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

Trees at Capalaba. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

Central Brisbane. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Agfa Vista 400 film.

Coochiemudlo Island sunset. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Fujifilm C200 film.

Victoria Point. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Fujifilm C200 film.

Yellow boat close up. Konica Big Mini BM-201 with Fujifilm C200 film.

I’m not really one to make new year’s resolutions, why wait until one day of the year to make a change in your life? I do like setting goals for myself though, after all, if you don’t have a target, it’s pretty hard to score.

90 day goals for the win!

Although I do have longer term goals, they ebb and flow depending on what path I want to take in life. I find setting goals for 90 days to be very effective. Why 90 days? It’s a good period of time – not too short, not too long. It gives you enough time to focus on outcomes that you need to achieve in that sprint. With any longer time periods, you can suffer with a declining interest or lack of focus.

My 10 film photography goals: January to March 2020

  1. Publish my first film photography zine
  2. Develop my own black and white images
  3. Shoot some medium format
  4. Have a net reduction of 15 cameras
  5. Keep track of how much I spend on photography
  6. Read three photography books
  7. Do a Polaroid emulsion lift
  8. Catalogue and backup my film photography digital files
  9. Complete the Magnum Street Photography online course I bought
  10. Complete the first three months of the 2020 Frugal Film Project

Trello

I use Trello to keep myself organised. Below are some screenshots of two different boards. Each board has a number of lists, and each list has many cards. As I progress tasks, the cards move from one list to another, typically a ‘Done’ list when the task is completed. If you pay for Trello you can upload your own background images. The two that you see below are ones that you can use for free.

Trello can be as simple or as complex as you make it.

A snapshot of part of Trello 2020 goals board

My daily tasks board

What are your film photography goals for 2020? Let me know 🙂

 

 

 

In late August 2019, I met a giant of film photography podcasting. I say giant, because not only is he an integral part of one of the world’s favourite analogue photography podcasts, but also becuase he’s actually very tall. I am of course talking about when I drove down from Shropshire to meet Graeme from the Sunny 16 podcast in rural Oxfordshire.

Dumb and Dumber? / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

We raced around small villages, we shot expired film on plastic point and shoots, we recorded some audio, we talked about photography, and we were both very, very nervous about getting back to Graeme’s house late for dinner.

Some would call this rendezvous a meeting of two gentlemen, two intellectuals, two scholars. Others would describe it as rerun of Dumb and Dumber. Either way, check out the amazing photos below!

Images talked about in this episode

Selfie! That’s me with Graeme doing something in the background… I dread to think what he was up to… Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

Tractor / Matt / Panasonic C-525AFMatt / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

Hay bale / Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

The Giant / Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

Church doorway / Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

Sigh… I fell into the minimum focus distance trap. Here are some blackberries (or are they deadly nightshade?!) Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

English church / Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

RAF plane / Matt / Panasonic C-525AF / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2006

Hay bales / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Road sign / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Pandas / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Tombstone / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Village church / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

End of summer / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Check out that red! / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Moving selfie / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Ze plane, ze plane / Graeme / Olympus AF-10 XB / Expired Jessops Everyday Diamond film 2007

Me clearly not impressed by Graeme’s Jollubitel (spelling?)

 

Shropshire, how wonderful! This instalment of my travel with film podcast series details highlights from two weeks spent in the beautiful West Midlands of England. I acquired another 12 (yes 12!) cameras during this time. This episode also features call ins from Dustin Cogsdell of the Grainy Dayz podcast and our man in Thailand Matt Jones. Make sure you listen for details of how to win a bumper stash of film in time for the festive season!

Episode summary

  • Arrival from Switzerland
  • Staying in the barn
  • Just like Christmas! Five new cameras greeted me upon arrival
  • Shopping in Birmingham
  • The wedding
  • Staying at Aunty Shirley and Uncle Mark’s place
  • Bridgnorth and The Ashes
  • Norton car boot sale
  • Travel location and camera call ins from Dustin Cogsdell and Matt Jones
  • How you can win an amazing stash of 35mm film in early December!

Links discussed

Images discussed in this episode

My handsome rogue! England, Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400

Hydrangeas, Shropshire, England, Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400

Hydrangeas taken with the Disderi Robot, England, Kodak Gold 200

English country lane, Disderi Robot, England, Kodak Gold 200

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Gold 200

England, Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400

England, Kodak Gold 200, Olympus XA

Disderi Robot, Kodak Gold 200

Canon Prima AS-1, Kodak Gold 200

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Gold 200

England, Fujifilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400, wedding

England, Fujifilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400, wedding

Our family at the wedding! Fujifilm X-T2 with 18-55mm lens

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Portra 160

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Portra 160

England, Kodak Portra 400, Pentax PC35AF-M

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Portra 160

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Portra 160

 

Oops, forgot to describe this one in the podcast! Bridgnorth, England, Kodak Portra 400, Pentax PC35AF-M

England, Kodak Portra 400, Pentax PC35AF-M

Canon Prima AS-1, England, Kodak Portra 160

I forgot to mention this image! Selfie with the Disderi Robot, England, Kodak Gold 200

Mountains, lakes, cheese and chocolate. Fondue, trains, croissants and Swiss Army pocket knives. In August we spent an amazing five days and four nights in Switzerland. But what’s the link between Switzerland and cheap Instax Wide film?

Episode summary

  • Arrivng in Switzerland
  • My previous trips to Switerland in 1995 and 2007
  • Journey to Wengen in the Jungfrau region
  • Trip to see the snow at the Jungfraujoch
  • Day trip to Grindewald First to experience the First Glider, mountain karting, and trotti bikes!
  • Golden Pass line from Interlaken to Montreux
  • Beautiful Montreux on Lake Geneva
  • Chateau de Chillon
  • Day trip to Gruyeres
  • Shopping in Geneva

Images talked about in this episode

Wengen, Fujifilm X-T3. (Please forgive a rare digital image on Matt Loves Cameras!)

View from the gondola. Fujifilm Klasse S on Kodak Portra 400.

Grindewald First. Mint InstantKon RF70 on Instax Wide.

A promotional photo for the First Glider showing the activity in good weather!

Tissot Cliff Walk, Fujifilm X-T3

Kids on the cliff walk! Fujifilm X-T3

Alpine cows, Grindewald. Mint InstantKon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Mountain bike! Disderi Robot with Kodak Gold 200

Mountain chalet. Olympus LT-1 on Kodak Gold 200.

Flowers on Lake Geneva, Fujifilm Klasse S with Kodak Portra 400.

Flowers, Lake Geneva. Olympus XA on Kodak Gold 200.

Flowers on Lake Geneva, Olympus LT-1 on Kodak Gold 200.

Flowers, Lake Geneva. Mint InstantKon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Feeding the birds, Olympus LT-1 on Kodak Gold 200.

Swans, Lake Geneva, Olympus LT-1 on Kodak Gold 200.

Boarding the paddle steamer, Montreux. Olympus LT-1 with Kodak Gold 200.

Chateau de Chillon, Disderi Robot with Kodak Gold 200.

Chateau de Chillon, Olympus LT-1 on Kodak Gold 200.

On the Belle Epoque paddle boat, Lake Geneva. Disderi Robot with Kodak Gold 200.

Kids enjoying the boat ride! Disderi Robot with Kodak Gold 200.

Swan, Lake Geneva. Disderi Robot with Kodak Gold 200.

On Lake Geneva, Fujifilm Klasse S with Kodak Portra 400.

La Gruyere train, Disderi Robot with Kodak Gold 200.

View from the station, Montreux. Mint InstantKon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Four days, three nights in steamy Hong Kong with a Mint InstantKon RF70 and a fistful of point and shoots. Markets, tram rides, protests, and too many rollercoasters… but how many cameras did I take on my overseas holiday? That is the big question.

Episode summary

  • Our trip – one month overseas in Hong Kong, Switzerland and the UK
  • Cameras and film I took with me with – carry on
  • Cameras I took with me – checked baggage
  • Hong Kong arrival
  • Hong Kong
    • Markets
    • Star Ferry
    • Champagne Court camera stores
    • Mint Camera store
    • Hong Kong trams
  • Lots of drama the night we left Hong Kong
  • Holga Week – did you shoot your Holga?
  • Find out more about the 2019 Emulsive Secret Santa – if you sign up, put on the form that you found out about it from Matt Loves Cameras and maybe Em will *finally* add us to his list of film photography podcasts!
  • Episode 18 encouraged Sergio from Fresno, CA to buy a Mint InstantKon RF70!

Hong Kong markets

Bird Market, Hong Kong. Fujifilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Market Produce, Hong Kong. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400. The Klasse S and XA shots are almost identical!

Market produce, Hong Kong. Olympus XA on Kodak Gold 200.

Love the colours! Hong Kong. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Flower Market, Hong Kong. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Beautiful blooms at the Flower Market. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

 

Hong Kong street scene, Disderi Robot on Kodak Gold 200.

Protests

Terrible photo, but the only one I got of the protests. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Star Ferry

Bus station at Kowloon. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Star Ferry. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Hong Kong Harbour. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Lens fog on the Star Ferry. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Hong Kong Harbour. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Hong Kong Island. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Need a rickshaw? Call Mr Hung! Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

Dusk over the harbour. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Champagne Court

Olympus XA and Lomo LC-A

Leica lenses – as a rough guide, divide by 8 for USD, by 10 for GBP and 5 for AUD

Olympus Pen cameras

Nikon lenses at Champagne Court

Hong Kong trams

Taking a selfie on a Hong Kong tram. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Trams on Hong Kong island. Fujfilm Klasse S, Kodak Portra 400.

View from the back of a tram, Hong Kong. Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Hong Kong trams. Why were they all lined up at 4pm? Listen to the episode and find out! Mint Instantkon RF70 on Instax Wide.

Our departure

Holiday Inn had almost closed up by the time we wanted to leave for the airport.

My wife is a little alarmed by the crowds gathering

Three months in… here’s my review of the Mint InstantKon RF70! The first fully manual Instax Wide camera, straight outta Hong Kong! I have used this camera mainly for travel and landscape photography. It’s good… but is it $1000 USD good? Have a listen and find out!

Links

Images discussed in this episode

Boats at Victoria Point
1/250 second at F16 using ND4

Boats at Victoria Point
1/125second at F16 using ND4
This one is maybe a little overexposed, but I like it!

Boats at Victoria Point
1/500 second at F16 using ND4. A little too dark!

Dawn at Victoria Point, handheld ND grad filter over lens

Dusk at Victoria Point. This image has the most amount of likes on my @mattlovesinstant Instagram profile – this is where I post all my RF70 and other instant photogrpahy.

I LOVE the moodiness of this image! This was taken out of a gondola as we were heading up the Grindewald First in Switzerland.

Correct exposure settings used with ND8 using 1/500 second shutter speed… kinda dark and vignetted!

My little bulb exposure experiment! I put the RF70 on a post in the middle of the street and pressed down the shutter for 2-3 seconds. I got traffic trails and some cool multicoloured lights.

I loved riding the trams in Hong Kong! This shot was taken moving slowly along Central, with my camera hanging out the back window!

Shallow focus flowers on the edge of Lake Lucerne. I’m not sure I quite nailed the focus of the flowers given the shallow depth of field (they were swaying in the wind!) but I still love this shot.

Super hot day in Hong Kong – a quick pic of the fam at the Flower Market!

I love the colour of these hydrangeas! This scene was outside the barn we stayed at in our first week in England. I shot this at f6.7 from memory, I love the way the RF70 has rendered the scene.

Handsome Rogue Junior at the Coochiemudlo Jetty!

In Shrewsbury I loaded up a new pack of Instax Wide, but after four or five attempts at trying to eject the dark slide through the RF70, nothing was happening. I jiggled the dark slide a little, but obviously too much… pack ruined!

If you like cameras as much as I like cameras, you’ve probably bought one off eBay before. It is without doubt, the easiest way to find that camera you’ve had your heart set on. But if you’re just getting into film photography, or if you don’t have much experience buying film cameras online, there can be a lot of pitfalls. Below, I list my top 12 tips to buying film cameras on eBay.

The information and tips included in this article are based on my experience. Please seek your own advice and check consumer laws in your country before proceeding. This article is the basis for episode 16 of my podcast which you can listen to above or on any podcast network.

1. Research the camera

Read reviews, find out what people like and don’t like about the camera. Do you have a friend or acquaintance that has one? If so, check it out, look through the viewfinder, make sure it’s right for you! Sometimes we think we want something that someone else has, then when we have it in our own hands, we realise it’s not for us.

Make sure you can still get the film and the batteries if it’s an older camera. I have seen at least three people come into Polaroid Facebook groups in the last year asking where they could get pack film, not knowing that there is no current supplier.

Make sure you know about all the different models and variations of the camera. Quite often, small differences in models can make a big difference in terms of value. An Olympus XA1 is not worth as much as Olympus XA or XA2, and a MJU II zoom 80 is not worth as much as a MJU II.

Twice I have bought the wrong model of camera, but luckily, both times it turned out well for me. I bought a MJU II zoom 80 for $60AUD, thinking it was a MJU II. I ended up selling it on eBay for $160AUD – even after mentioning and showing photos in my description that the camera had the infamous MJU zoom light leak!

The second time was when I bought the Fujifilm Klasse for $600AUD, I thought I had bought a Fujifilm Klasse S. I didn’t realise until I printed out the manual. With the rising tide of film camera prices, I sold it for $800AUD on eBay.

Make sure the item you are buying is legit – I say this in reference to Leicas in particular. There were so many Leica copies made by the Russians in particular so make sure you know what you’re buying.

If you have any questions, ask away! There are some very knowledgable people in Facebook groups – you can try both general film camera groups and also groups dedicated to a particular camera e.g. Leica groups, Contax G1G2 group.

2. Research the estimated camera price

This is very easy to do, search for your camera on eBay, then on the left hand side, tick sold listings. You will see all the cameras that have recently sold and how much for.

Keep notes on what they have sold for, along with what condition they were in, and what accessories came bundled with the camera.

Always make sure you are comparing like with like: if you want to buy a working polaroid SX-70, make sure you are only looking at the sold prices of working SX-70s, not untested or broken ones.

Other places where you can search for price information for cameras include Facebook sales groups, Etsy, Gumtree in the UK and Australia, Craigslist, and Collectiblend.

Another thing worth considering is this: is it cheaper buying a lot of single items or is it better to buy a bulk lot / job lot of equipment? For example, when I was looking at getting a Contax G2, I worked out that it was cheaper for me to buy a body and 45mm lens separate to the 90mm lens and the 28mm lens, even when taking into account shipping! The bundle deals with all that equipment were way more expensive.

3. Set up eBay alerts on your phone and email

Once you know what camera you want and the rough price you should pay, sign up for eBay alerts. You can get push alerts on your smartphone and/or email alerts about items that match your criteria.

If you have the eBay smartphone app, you also get reminders when items are ending.

Also regularly check your emails for eBay special offer coupons. Quite often, eBay Australia have discount coupons that take between 3% and 10% off, subject to conditions.

4. Read eBay listings carefully

Read listings very carefully – check anything you’re not sure about with the seller.

Make sure you are comparing like with like when you benchmark this item against items that have previously sold.

Condition is key to a camera’s value. Perfect working condition is the first thing you should look for. If there is anything that affects the working condition of the camera, think twice before buying. Has the seller mentioned any issues with the camera? Do these issues really matter or are they something that would affect the functionality or value of the camera?

Secondly, look for any cosmetic issues: scratches, dents, LCD display leakage, broken parts. Hopefully these will not affect the functionality of the camera, but they may affect their resale value.

Thirdly, look at the accessories the camera comes with. These could include a manual, strap, case, original box, remote control and lens hood. All of these things are important for resale value.

If it comes with a manual, ask if it’s in English – Japanese buyers sometimes do not state what language the manual is in. It may look from the front of the manual that it’s English, but it could be Japanese.

If you’re buying a camera with a lens, the seller will usually give you a description of it detailing any scratches, fungus, haze or dust that it may have. Most lenses will have some sort of dust in them which will rarely affect shooting. Japanese sellers often mention “tiny dusts”, I love reading their listings!

If the seller says that it doesn’t work or is untested, you need to make a decision, are you happy for it to sit on your shelf as a paperweight? A couple of times I’ve bought cameras that have been untested or not working, thinking that I could work some kind of magic on them and they’d spring to life, but guess what? I’m not a camera repair person and I wasted my money on them!

You can get lucky of course – often people sell cameras as not working and all they need is a new battery and some TLC.

5. Research the seller

Start by viewing the seller’s profile. Click on their name in the listing.

How long have they been on eBay? What’s their feedback rating? What have buyers said about them? This is all useful information. If a seller is new and has no feedback, proceed carefully.

Does the seller have a return policy? This is especially handy if you’re buying the item as untested, or if you’re not sure if you will like it. If they accept returns, you can always send the item back in its original condition for a refund – all you’ve lost is your shipping fees.

6. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is…

This particularly relates to film sales – twice i’ve bought discount film from Asian countries at too good to be true prices. I’ve bought FP100C, Instax Mini, and 120 film. Every time it was some kind of scam where the seller got to hold on to the funds for a month, before having to refund them. Luckily I was covered by eBay and PayPal and had my money returned, but it was annoying and time consuming.

Also be very suspicious of any too good to be true deals that encourage you to move off eBay by contacting a seller via their phone number or email to do a private deal. I’ve heard stories where the same non-existent kit has been sold to several people at the same time. The seller requests money be deposited into their bank account. You will not be protected by eBay of Paypal if you do this.

7. Bid late and bid high

Don’t bid too early – try and wait until near the end of the auction if you can.

If there is an item I really like the look of, I always add an extra 10% to whatever I’m prepared to pay for it. My reasoning is that I’d rather pay extra and get what I want rather than restarting the whole process again looking for another similar item.

For auctions that are based overseas, I use an eBay sniper called Gixen. If you have the paid version, which is only a few dollars a year, you can import your watch list, add your bid for each item, and Gixen will bid for you.

You can even group your bids – if you are bidding on the same model of camera from several different sellers, Gixen can group them together. This means the first successful bid stops any further bids from taking place in that group, so you don’t end up with two of the same camera.

If you use Gixen, make sure the seller ships to your country. If they don’t, your bid may not even go through. I found this out the hard way! You can change country settings in Gixen to get around this, but the seller may refuse to ship the item to your country, so be careful.

8. Ask for a discount on fixed price listings

Some fixed priced listings allow you to make an offer to the seller, but some don’t.

One tactic I’ve successfully used before is messaging the seller very politely to ask for a better price. I’ve had sellers refuse, but I’ve also had sellers offer me discounts of up to 15%.

You can also ask if there is a cheaper shipping method for an item, and you can also ask for a discount for buying multiple items from the same seller.

9. Always pay with PayPal

Always with PayPal. Make sure you have the correct address in your eBay and PayPay (they should match) and abide by the terms and conditions of the eBay and PayPal guarantees to make sure you’re eligible should something go wrong.

I never pay through my bank account via PayPal, it takes too long to clear.

If I buy goods from overseas, I always pay on a credit card which has no international transaction fees. When I get to the shopping cart, eBay will have converted the overseas currency – usually US dollars – to Australian dollars at eBay / PayPal exchange rates.

This may seem helpful, but they’re actually adding their little cut on to the amount you’re paying. I always click on the amount and change the currency back to the overseas amount, as my credit card company gives me a better exchange rates. The screen should then say “Card issuer will determine your exchange rate”.

10. Get ready for camera’s arrival

Before your item arrives, make sure you know how to use it. Read the manual and watch YouTube videos about the camera. Make sure you have the correct batteries and film.

When your item arrives, check it over and make sure it’s come with everything as promised by the seller. Also check the condition to make sure it matches the listing. Document any issues with the camera and get in touch with the seller to let them know.

Test your camera straight away: make sure there is no issue with all the functions, shutter speeds, apertures, modes, everything!

Always use fresh film to test a camera – some people think you should use expired film for this task, but if there’s an issue, you won’t know if it was the film or the camera causing the problem.

11. Talk to the seller if there’s an issue

If there’s a problem, google it or search forums to see if it’s a user error or camera error. Then ask the seller about the issue, they may be able to help. Don’t jump to conclusions straight away and always be polite in your dealings with people. You can always ask advice about the issue in a friendly Facebook group if you’re not sure how to proceed.

12. Make sure you know what your rights are

Make sure you know what your rights are with eBay, PayPal, and your country’s consumer laws.

If a seller says “no refunds or returns” this may not be true under consumer law in your country. If they have advertised the camera as in full working condition and the good differ from what they have described, contact eBay.

In Australia we have very strong consumer protectino laws – research what protection you have in your country.

As well as eBay buyer guarantee, you also have the separate PayPal protection – be sure to check the conditions for each in your country and chat to either company if you’re unsure of something.

Remember to take into account the seller’s perspective – if it’s something relatively small and insignificant, let it slide. I’m a big believer in karma – never resell items that have issues as “untested”. Shoot film be nice!

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Issues with the Contax G2 I mentioned in this episode

In episode 16 of Matt Loves Cameras I spoke about the importance of testing film cameras when you receive them. The images below clearly demonstrate why! I bought this excellent condition Contax G2 from Japan, but it had a major issue. There was some kind of problem with the shutter and the film advance. On my test rolls, one frame would slide into the next frame! Luckily, I got a full refund, including shipping fees, from the seller.

Hmm I’m sure I wasn’t moving when I took this photo…

Hmm what is going on here?

When I got the next roll of film back, the problem was obvious! I’ve never seen this ever on a roll of film – there seems to be a serious problem with the shutter and film advance, one frame is smashing into the next frame!

Episode 15 summary

  • History of 127 film
  • Kodak launch the Vest Pocket camera
  • How 127 film shapes up against other film formats
  • 127 cameras through the 1930s, 40s and 50s
  • The decline of 127 film
  • Where you can buy 127 film in the USA, UK and Australia
  • Images I shot with the Kodak Brownie Starlet and ReraPan 127 black and white film and ReraChrome 127 colour slide film
  • Scanning 127 film
  • 127 film day
  • New Apple Podcasts review

Shoutouts

Images taken with the Kodak Brownie Starlet and ReraPan and ReraChrome 127 film

My boy at Victoria Point – another shot out of focus! | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraPan 127 film

Victoria Point | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraPan 127 film

Brisbane | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraPan 127 film

South Brisbane – what are those yellow lines? | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraPan 127 film

Victoria Point | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

I love these Pink Trumpet Flower trees! Check out the strange blue marks on this image towards the top… | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

One of my favourite 127 images – a classic Porsche | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

Classic car | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

Treasury Hotel, Brisbane | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

My girl at the park, not quite far enough away to be in focus! Check out the crazy blue marks on this one| Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

Holden Special | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

Boats at Victoria Point, lots of blue markings on this negative… | Kodak Brownie Starlet with ReraChrome 127 film

Episode 14 summary

  • Launch of the Kodak Instamatic and 126 film in 1963
  • The success of the 126 format
  • All about 126 film and the cameras produced for the format
  • The images I shot with the Kodak Instamatic 233 and two expired catridges
  • Scanning 126 film

Shoutouts

Photos of the camera, the box and the manual

Images I shot with the Kodak Instamatic 233

Brisbane Wheel | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

ABC Building, South Brisbane | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

Building in South Brisbane | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

Victoria Point | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

I’m sure my son was at least 1.2 metres away… but sadly in this photo he’s out of focus! Victoria Point | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

Boats at Victoria Point | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

I’m a little bit in love with this boat! | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

Treasury Hotel, Brisbane | Kodak Instamatic 233 with Kodacolour Gold 200 126 cartridge, expired 02/1993

 

In this episode I review another pre-exposed film: Psychedelic Blues #2.  Check out the photos that I took with this fun, colourful film.

I also read some wonderful letters from listener Alan Daly – a former Polaroid sales rep from the UK! Make sure you check out Alan’s photos below, published with his kind permission.

Summary of episode 13 of Matt Loves Cameras

  • Psychedelic Blues film
  • Overview of pre-exposed films
    • Companies selling pre-exposed film
    • Typical costs
  • Why shoot with a pre-exposed film?
  • Differences between Yodica film that I shot and Psych Blues
  • Explanation of how Psych Blues is made
  • Description of Psych Blues #2
  • Lovely letters from listener Alan Daly in the UK. Alan is a former Polaroid sales rep! Check out the photos below!

Images I shot with Psych Blues film on an Olympus MJU II / Stylus Epic

My daughter at the shops – next time I will shoot a whole lot more portraits with this film!

William Jolly Bridge in Brisbane

Cinemas in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane

Vespa!

Pretty flowers outside the Treasury Hotel, Brisbane

More pretty flowers outside the Treasury Hotel, Brisbane

Ford Mustang for sale!

Rear section of the Ford Mustang

Check out these amazing Polaroid images courtesy of Alan Daly

Thanks so much to listener Alan Daly for getting in touch and giving me permission to share these amazing photos he took!

Wakka wakka! It’s Fozzie Bear! Check out the transparent 660 camera in the bottom right of this image.

UK Polaroid sales conference in Malta, August 1981

Alan’s self portrait!

 

Alan took this photo of Formula One champ James Hunt!

Join the dark slide… I mean dark side!

Episode 12 summary

  • Edwin Land – early years with polarizing light experiments
  • How Polaroid Corporation was formed
  • The World War 2 years
  • How a question from a little girl in 1943 changed photography forever
  • The first instant camera debuts in 1948
  • The arrival of pack film cameras and colour instant film in 1963
  • Work begins on the Aladdin project
  • How Edwin Land had the vision to make the SX-70 camera and integral film project successful
  • Parallels between Edwin Land and Steve Jobs
  • Description and specifications of the camera
  • How I got my cameras
  • Description of the images (see images below)

One thing I forgot to mention in the show… keep listening out for future Polaroid episodes! I am planning on doing an episode using items from the SX-70 accessories kit, including the shutter release for long exposure images and the close up adapter. 

Links to articles referenced in episode 12

Original 1972 feature showing how the SX-70 works

 

Images discussed in this episode

Southern Queensland sunrise. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Underwater… Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film

Sunflowers in Southern Queensland. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film. The blue streaks you see are opacification failure, quite common to the current emulsion of Polaroid Originals film. They say you should use a frog tongue to stop this, but I’ve heard reports from people that they still get them anyway.

Farm scene. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film. Beautiful results with Polaroid Originals film is possible with good light and in cooler conditions.

Flowers in my back garden. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film. Does this look like it was taken with an F8 lens? No way! Beautiful depth of field.

Sunflowers… see the vertical stripe on the left of this image? This happens sometimes, it was only one of two images in this pack to do this. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Sydney Opera House. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film. The following images have a pinkish colour cast, the shooting conditions were very warm. I still love them though!

Sydney Harbour Bridge. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Circular Quay, Sydney. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Circular Quay. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Sydney Opera House. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Sydney Opera House sails. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Sydney Harbour Bridge with palm trees. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

Big boat, little boat. Polaroid SX-70 with Polaroid Originals SX-70 film.

 

 

Episode 11 summary

  • Shooting photos on Campuhan Ridge, Ubud, Bali
  • Shooting film photos at Borobudur Temple and Market
  • What I would do differently on the next trip
  • Random travel related shoutouts!

Shoutouts

Images discussed in Episode 11 of Matt Loves Cameras

Ubud, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Cinestill 800T film.

Ubud, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Cinestill 800T film.

Early morning at Campuhan Ridge, Ubud, Bali. Olympus LT-1 with Kodak Gold 200.

Titra Empul temple, Bali. Olympus LT-1 with Kodak Gold 200.

Java, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Cinestill 800T film.

Borobudur, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Cinestill 800T film.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia. Olympus LT-1 with Kodak Gold 200.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia. Olympus LT-1 with Kodak Gold 200.

Borobudur Market, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Cinestill 800T film.

Flowers at Borobudur Market, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Fujifilm Superia 1600 film.

Eggs in Borobudur Market, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Fujifilm Superia 1600 film.

More eggs in Borobudur Market. Fujifilm Klasse S with Fujifilm Superia 1600 film.

Some friendly people in the market. Fujifilm Klasse S with Fujifilm Superia 1600 film.

Love the colours of the chillies! Borobudur, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Fujifilm Superia 1600 film.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Fujifilm Klasse S with Fujifilm Superia 1600 film.

 

In episode 10 of Matt Loves Cameras I review one of the SMALLEST 35mm cameras ever made! It’s not the Rollei 35, it’s not the Olympus XA or the Olympus MJU II / Stylus Epic, it’s not even a Minox, though it’s very closely related to a Minox! Enter the Voigtlander Vito C!

I love the images I’ve captured with this camera and will continue to use this lovely little camera. Marshall Dalmatian makes a most unwelcome podcast debut halfway through this episode.

Episode 10 summary

  • Similar cameras made by Balda: Minox 35, Balda C35, Voigtlander Vito C
  • Brief history of Balda – folding cameras, making cameras for other companies, World War 2, move to West Germany
  • Differences between the compact Balda made cameras: aperture priority, exposure compensation, batteries
  • Voigtlander Vito C specifications and description
  • Is this the best pocket camera? maybe…
  • How I got this camera
  • Images taken with the Balda-made Voigtlander Vito C
  • Curious light leak
  • Ratings

Shout outs

Images taken with the Voigtlander Vito C

Sydney Harbour, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film, cross processed

Sydney Opera House, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film, cross processed

Sydney Opera House, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film, cross processed

Sydney, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film, cross processed.

Sydney, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film, cross processed

Frame burn! Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film, cross processed

 

Frame burn! Espresso Engine, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Superia 400

Outside John Mills Himself, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Superia 400

Cleveland Lighthouse, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Superia 400. Check out the light leak!

Swim time! Voigtlander Vito C with expired Superia 400

Sarah in a field, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Superia 400

Park Road station. Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film rated at 160, developed in E6.

My faithful companion, Marshall Dalmatian. Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film rated at 160 developed in E6.

Brisbane City. Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film rated at 160 developed in E6.

Letterboxes, Voigtlander Vito C with expired Lomography Color 200 slide film rated at 160 developed in E6.

Circular Quay, Voigtlander Vito C with Ilford FP4.

Sydney Opera House, Voigtlander Vito C with Ilford FP4.

Sydney Opera House, Voigtlander Vito C with Ilford FP4.

Sydney, Voigtlander Vito C with Ilford FP4.

Summary of episode 9 of Matt Loves Cameras

  • Our 12 night holiday in Indonesia
  • Digital photography gear I took in my carry on luggage
  • Film photography gear I took in my carry on luggage
  • Camera gear I took in my checked luggage
  • Shooting photos out and about in Bali
  • Shooting photos out and about in Java
  • Shooting Polaroids with the SX-70 remote release
  • Polaroid Week
  • World Pinhole Day

Shoutouts

Images discussed in Episode 9

My daughter in the pool. Polaroid SLR 680, Polaroid Originals 600 Color film, flash fired.

Kids having fun! Polaroid SLR 680, Polaroid Originals 600 Color film, flash fired

One of the places we stayed at in Ubud, love this pool! Polaroid SLR 680 with Polaroid Originals Color 600 film.

Early morning at Campuhan Ridge, Ubud. Polaroid SLR 680, Polaroid Originals 600 Color film.