Kodak Ektar 100 / Canon 7 Lessons

The second roll of film I shot with the Canon 7 Rangefinder was Kodak Ektar 100.

The roll was part of my first 35mm subscription from Analogheld and a film I like.

Thankfully I put it in the camera when the weather was bright and decided to shoot a couple of different sceanrios to get familar with the camera.

Along the way I learnt a few things about rangefinders and something especially unique with the Canon 7 I own.

First up, when shooting rangefinders, be mindful of where your fingers are as you cannot see them through the rangefinder window. I managed to capture a shot with my finger in the top of the frame.

Next up, don’t be scared of the set up or the rangefinder view. I tried a couple of things with this roll:

  1. Shooting long exposures (slow shutter speed) and either focussing with the rangefinder or pre focussing
  2. Shooting fast shutter speed and testing the light meter
  3. Shooting fast shutter speed and trying Sunny 16 (using the rangefinder to focus the shots)
  4. Shooting from the hip – setting the camera to near Sunny 16 (winging it), setting the focus to 2 metres+ or infinity and hoping for the best

What resulted was a mix of photos but what I learnt was that rangefinders are not that scary.

The “winging it” photos were not great and the light meter is not that easy to read on the Canon 7 – but you know what, if I don’t put in the effort or I am having problems with the camera, maybe it’s my fault and maybe the Canon 7 is not for me.

The infinity shots, the Sunny 16 shots all came out well. The shot of the runners on the viaduct was brilliant. Completely from the hip and the camera did an admirable job.

Runners on the viaduct
Canon 7, 50mm, f/11 Shooting from the hip!

I did worry that if I simply shot from the hip and set everything to infinity, did I need a rangefinder? Would I not be better off with the Leica Mini point and shoot?

Then I realised that what the rangefinder gives me is both. The ability to set the camera and “point and shoot (from the hip)” and the ability to be more measured and control the shutter speed or the aperture or depth of field when I wanted. Maybe this is exactly what I was looking for?

I have not been out to capture people or street scenes cause the pandemic has not made it possible. But that does not mean that the rangefinder is bad. It gives me the ability to shoot from the hip when I need to and with little set up. I have learnt his now and have gotten it out of my head. I need to keep using rangefinders and get familiar with them. I am sure I will crack it.

What I cannot fix is a dodgy shutter.

The first set of photos were shot on a cold, grey day before Christmas and I decided to walk to the bridge that goes over the dual carriageway. My idea was to get long exposure shots of the cars passing under the bridge.

I’ve not tried this with film before and wasn’t sure it would work. When the photos came back I was certain I got something wrong. Then I noticed there is a problem with the camera.

A photo of traffic travelling at speed
Canon 7 50mm 4th of second – note blur on the left, not on the right

At fast shutter speeds there is no issue. At slow shutter speeds it would seem the camera curtain sticks. As you can see in this photo, the majority of the photo on the left has long exposure motion blur on the traffic, then you get a big black area on the right and the photo is sharp.

This suggests a problem at slow shutter speed.

It’s not a one off sadly, this is the case for most of the photos that I tried at this speed.

I believe around 1 – 2 seconds the shutter has a problem which is a real shame. Apart from this, all the other photos have been sharp and clear.

I also shot a photo of some berries at f/1.4 to test the lens. You get some wild bokeh but you also get a (mainly) sharp image.

Close up photo of berries in a bush
50mm Canon 7 f/1.4

So what am I going to do? Well I want to continue to learn rangefinder photography and find it useful. I don’t however believe the Canon 7 is the camera for me. The light meter is very hard to read and with this shutter issue there is a problem with the camera.

I love the lens.

So I am going to cut my loses. I have managed to find an adpater for the 50mm for my Fujfilm XT-4 so will keep the lens and add it to my digital kit.
I will sell the body. I am sure someone who wants a decent rangefinder but isn’t interested in slow shutter photography won’t mind the sticky shutter curtain and, I am sure someone else would be able to fix it. Not me!

I have an idea of what to do next, just have to set the wheels in motion. Watch this space!

Check out the best (and worst) of this roll here:

Would you sell the Canon 7? Would the sticky shutter bother you (do you think it is even a sticky shutter that is at fault?). Let me know in the comments.


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