My dad passed away from a massive heart attack when I was eleven years old and although that is now 22 years ago, it is a loss that was burned into the genetic makeup of my life. It is a loss I still feel today.
I have mentioned in my posts before that photography is a medium I use to feel close to him, because he loved cameras. He was always taking pictures from the time he was a kid, up until he passed away. In fact, the last camera he owned was a Canon Sure Shot WP-1 and he was taking pictures with it right before he died. I will hopefully own one of those cameras in the future.
When I was growing up, he was always taking pictures of my siblings and I with a Canon SLR. I can’t for the life of me remember what model it was. I only know he purchased it new around 1989. I wish so badly I knew what camera that was, but I did find this picture of him in my Grandmother’s photo albums and I was excited to see a camera around his neck.
Now at first, I didn’t know what this camera was because these were taken way before I was born. I posted it on a vintage camera page on Facebook and they steered me in the direction of the Fujica ST series of cameras. Through the deduction of the time this was taken and the two ports clearly on the side by the lens, I found that this was the Fujica ST801. So I of course went on Ebay and bought one.
The first one I got I loved shooting with right away. I shot a whole roll up until the end. I wound on the last picture and the advance lever let go. Thinking back now I am not sure if I just didn’t push the lever all the way to make it bounce back or if it really let go, but I returned it. The second one I bought came to me described as “like new” but showed up with brown crud smeared all over the mirror and camera. Third times a charm, and I finally have one in great shape and I love it.
The Fujica ST801 was produced from 1972-1978. It doesn’t have a lot of features, but it has everything you need.
It was the first 35mm SLR camera to use viewfinder LED lights for its meter, replacing the popular center needle meter. The LEDs made it easier to see in low lighting conditions and it eliminated the mechanical failure often experienced with the needle meter.
The meter is TTL Average (through the lens), and the 7 LEDs light up the scale inside the viewfinder as you compose your picture. It also has open aperture metering which means the camera can take a reading at any aperture while still keeping the viewfinder bright and open to the widest aperture of the mounted lens. It does this through a small tab on the back of the lens that couples to the meter, allowing it to communicate what the lens widest aperture is while at the same time metering according to your settings.
The Fujinon lens I have is the 50mm F/1.4. These lenses are EBC coated (Electron Beam Coating), with 11 layers to make sure it doesn’t get sun flare or ghost imaging. It also gives your pictures great color definition. The wide aperture gives this lens great bokeh or shallow depth of field, which I really love.
The lens mount is an M42 screw mount which was a universal mount being used a lot at the time. Fuji decided to make their Fujinon lenses non-standard by adding that tab. You will often find these great lenses with these tabs filed down because people want to use them on other M42 mount cameras and some digital cameras. You can use other M42 lenses on the Fujica ST801, but you would have to stop down meter.
The meter also uses Silicon photocells instead of Cds, which makes it, according to the manual, ten times faster and more accurate than the previously used Cds cells.
The shutter speeds on this camera are Bulb, and 1 second up to 1/2000th of a second. The ASA speeds are built into the speed dial, and you change the ISO by lifting it up and turning it.
It conveniently takes a 6V PX28L/4LR44 battery instead of the dreaded mercury batteries.
The flash syncs at 1/60th of a second, and it has two PC ports on the side next to the lens for electronic flash or for a bulb flash.
The shutter release button can be turned to the right to lock it. I like this feature because it prevents accidental shots, which I tend to do.
The left side of the lens has the depth of field preview button next to the self timer lever.
I loved this camera right away. I of course purchased it because of its connection to my dad, and honestly I was afraid I wouldn’t like it, but I fell in love with this camera and the results I have gotten with it.
The Fujica ST801 is small and compact. I take it in my purse with me to doctors appointments and shoot pictures inside the hospital and around town. I am excited to be documenting my life now the way my father did with this same camera back when he was around my age (he was younger then I am now when he owned this camera).
Today, February 15th, would have been my dad’s birthday. I thought a nice way to remember him on this day would be to shoot with this camera and take it to a place in town where he often took my sister and I for pictures. He loved animals and birds like I do and I found myself taking pictures that he would’ve taken.
I am very afraid of water and bridges, mainly because I can’t swim. Back when he would take us here he would have to talk me into walking across the bridge and he was the only one I would walk it with. Today was the first time since then that I came to this park and walked on the bridge.
The park is now called Veteran’s Memorial Park, and back in the early 1990’s when he would take us there, it was nothing but one bridge, a couple of trails and bathrooms. You could go there and see the manatee and otters sun bathing. The trails sometimes were known to house Florida panthers, and I was always afraid we would run into one. Now it is built up with a marina for boats and another larger bridge for fishing. He would have loved it.
If you are in the market for a compact SLR with a reliable meter, I highly recommend the Fujica ST801, and its great Fujinon lenses. I hope you enjoyed my pictures.
If you want to see more from this day check out my video on my YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe to the channel for more videos to come.