Monday, November 13, 2006

OT: Cameras and Old Photos

Fritz asked:

What kind of cameras?

I love the old photos.

I can go on about cameras almost as much as I do about bikes!

My current 35mm kit is based on 2 Pentax MX SLRs with an assortment of lenses, flash units, filters, and a solitary motor drive. The lenses range from a 28mm wide angle through a 500mm mirror lens, with fixed aperture zooms in between. I use fixed apertures because the MX is an all-manual camera. It doesn't automatically compensate for a changing aperture as a lens zooms. The MX and LX were the Pentax 'system' cameras. They had a wide variety of backs, motor drives, view screens, and other accessories.

My old 'spy' camera was a Kodak Retina IIa, a 1950s German-made Kodak with a Schneider lens, if I recall right. It was a folding camera that fit nicely in my pocket. Since it had a leaf shutter, it operated almost silently - great for taking unobtrusive photos.

My 'new' spy camera is a Voightlander Bessa medium format folder. It's only slightly larger than the old Retina, but it takes better photos. Or it did until the shutter jammed. I'm afraid that if I take it to a camera repair shop, it will be uneconomical to fix.

I'm using 2 medium format Rolleicord IVs too. They're the amateur camera from Rolleiflex, absent the crank winder and coupled shutter mechanism of the Rolleiflex, but with very good lenses. They aren't coated, so flare is a problem with some light sources. They're both about 50 years old, so I can't complain about flare.

The digital still camera is a Kodak DX6490 with a Schneider 38-380mm lens in a non-removable mount. It takes a 55mm filter and the close-up lenses simply screw on over the filter. I like digital cameras for taking snapshots and tinkering - like with those close-up lenses. This is the camera I used to copy those photos. It was handheld, with the photos on our kitchen table, lit indirectly with window light.

There are more cameras in storage. I collected most of them from yard sales, garage sales, and flea markets. In fact, I came across a Leica manual printed in Germany during the 1930s. It was in English, but included all those Nazi photo montages that became notorious during and after the war. I traded it to a collector for a Yashica 12, the precursor to the 124d. It was Yashica's copy of a Rolleiflex. The camera was so rugged I said you could beat someone to death with it, then photograph the corpse. I gave it to my sister Susan when she expressed an interest in learning photography.

None of this stuff is collectable or rare. Most are 'user' cameras and show some dings and scratches.

Now, as for the old photos - I'll post more of them here from time to time. (What that REALLY means is that I'll post them once I FIND them!)


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