Pony Up: Kodak Pony 135 Review Part II

In my last posting on this camera, I reviewed the unit quite thoroughly. However, I ended it in a rather inconclusive fashion, having no film from it to process or scan because of my bumbling, fumbling fingers not working it right.  Because I am essentially shooting blind, having no clue what is actually going through the lens and no way to tell if I’m in focus or not, I chose to do shots that were safe to do with focus set on infinity.

I must confess I did “cheat” somewhat – I downloaded the “Lux” app (free) for the iPhone to measure light.  As can be seen, the “sunny f/16 rule” of manual photography is pretty close.  In the case of the pony, the fastest shutter speed it can do is 1/200 of a second and the smallest the aperture will go is 22. Even at 22 I am overexposing a bit on such a bright day with the ISO 400 speed film I had loaded.

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Then again, it’s not really cheating if you consider that it’s the same difference as using an external light meter, which is what many people did in the 1950’s before the SLR and Digital SLR (or DSLR to have my photography slang totally correct) cameras that everybody knows now became affordable and popular in the early 60’s with meters built in.

Developing the film, I was astounded to learn that despite its age and lack of metal, it was still in perfect working order with nice even gaps between frames and a single intentionally blank frame that came out totally clear, indicating that the camera is still light-tight. As bad for the environment as it turned out to be, bakelite is extraordinarily tough stuff.  Apparently there’s a reason the Soviets made missles out of it in the 80’s.

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The chosen site for this little film experiment was the sidewalk of a newly constructed bridge going over railroad tracks at Chestnut Expressway, near Springfield Missouri’s Frisco building, site of the iconic Frisco railroad in the 1970’s (today renovated office space leased to several local businesses).

Rangefinder cameras do present their own set of challenges because what is seen in the range finder is nothing like what is actually going through the lens of the camera.  I actually had the entire lens protruding through the chain link fence on top of the bridge as shown here (shot on the iPhone).

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Although the lens is through the fence, the range finder was right in front of it, so the view from there looked more like this.

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After developing the film, which I made sure I actually had rewound properly this time (unlike my earlier attempt in which I opened up the camera to find it all exposed to light), what I actually got were these images.  Of course, the train shows up after I am out of film and back in my car.  Oh well.

Firstly, the view of the tracks.  As mentioned above, I was overexposing and it shows here.  The moral of the story – Don’t use sensitive film outdoors. The shutter is just too slow.  This shot would have been brilliant if I’d have had ISO 100 film loaded rather than 400.

Tracks - KodakPonyUFXFrisco_03

Secondly, I did another take of “Airwaves” which was shot on a Pentax.  Rather interesting and cool and exposed a bit better.

Frisco Tower - KodakPonyUFXFrisco_01.jpg

And lastly, this is a selfie shot by accident trying to figure the controls out a couple of years ago, the first time I tried using it for anything.

Old Selfie.jpg

So, the summary – indoors ISO 400 film, outdoors don’t even try anything faster than 100. Rangefinder cameras are a bit more involving because there is so much guessing involved.  On the bright side, for those of you that watch the latest big trends in cameras and photography, this technically counts as a mirrorless full-frame camera. The lens does produce quite a good image.  Shoot photos, not each other.  And stay tuned for part 3!

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