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A Voightlander visits the Gower

My late 1920's Voightlander Bessa

My late 1920’s Voightlander Bessa folding camera.

Just a quick post this time, just to say hello after being away for a week or so in South Wales. It’s the first time that any of us had been to the Gower peninsula, and you know what, it’s an absolutely gorgeous part of the world. Stunning scenery, just a shame we couldn’t say the same for the weather. It was, at least, warm all of the time. It was, however, windy and windless and scorching sunshine and cloudy and foggy and light rain and torrential rain and thunder and lightning… So, a typical summer in the good old British Isles…

Anyhow, I took a couple of film cameras with me, the first being a 1920’s Voightlander Bessa folding medium format camera. It takes 6x9cm negatives on medium format 120 roll film and I can honestly say that it’s the most difficult camera that I’ve used so far.

You see the little square bit to the top right of the lens in the picture? That’s the (tiny!) viewfinder… It’s also distance scale focusing (I love distance scale focusing…). Still it is medium format, it’s got a nice 11cm f4.5 Anastigmat Voigtar lens and should in theory be capable of taking 8 very lovely 6×9 pictures per roll. Yes. Eight.

Not much chance to get things wrong then…

Although to be fair, I did get seven well exposed negatives out of eight from the roll of Ilford XP5 (B&W) that I loaded it with, and from the couple that were in focus, you can certainly get some stunning quality from it. It was, however, incredibly difficult to get accurate focus with. The lens takes a full (very stiff) turn to go from 3 feet to infinity focus and at around ¬£2 per picture for develop and scan, when compared with the success rate, it could get rather expensive…

Still here are the 7 shots from it taken over the course of a very lovely week in the Gower. It was wonderful to get away from it all for a little while ūüôā

Wood turningThe Gower Heritage CentreThe Mumbles beachThe mumblesPort EynonThe MumblesThe view from the campsite.

 

My Olympus OM10 SLR

My Olympus OM10 SLR

The second camera I took with me was an Olympus OM 10 with a Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f1.8 lens.

The OM10 is a complete contrast to¬†the¬†Voightlander. It’s very simple to use and even has in built metering and manual focus that you can check through the viewfinder. All the mod cons!

This has got to be the easiest film camera I’ve used so far (apart from the no control point and shoots) and is an absolute joy to use. Manual focus is generally quite easy as well due to the large viewfinder and focus confirmation point. So here are a few of the shots from that as well. B&W shots are on Ilford XP2 Super 400 and the colour ones are Kodak Ultramax 400.

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A Retina Re-visited

Tenzing Norgay achieves the summit of Mt. Everest, May 29, 1953. Photograph taken by Edmund Hillary.

Tenzing Norgay achieves the summit of Mt. Everest, May 29, 1953. Photograph taken by Edmund Hillary.

Have you ever seen the somewhat iconic image of Sherpa Tenzing taken by Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful expedition to the top of Mount Everest? Well just in case you haven’t, here it is reproduced on the right, click the pic for some more info if you’re interested… This photo was taken on a Kodak Retina (model 118) which he apparently picked up at a second hand shop, not knowing a great deal about cameras.

The Retina model 118 is actually quite a rare model with only just over 9000 units ever made. And as it happens, one of those 9000ish cameras was among the 6 camera’s given to me by one of the guys at work.

Considering that one of it’s kind made it all the way to the summit of Mount Everest and still worked should tell you that it’s quite a robust little thing. It’s small and solid with a petite little folding bellows which pops out on it’s own when you press a small button on the bottom of the body. They were made between 1935 and 1936, had a tiny viewfinder and distance scale focusing, so not the easiest of things to use when you’re used to autofocus, or at least a rangefinder at a push…

My Kodak Retina Model 118

A small piece of the 1930’s, my Retina model 118

The Retina series of cameras (model 118 being the second variant…) were also the first cameras to take the modern 135 format cartridge, which of course meant that I could use it, or at least try!

My specimen, however, has quite clearly been well used and I hope, well loved over the course of it’s 76 year life and the shutter wasn’t firing at all speeds, so a trip to a camera repairer and a bit of a wait later, I got it back in perfect working order. The optics were wonderfuly shiny, the shutter fired on all speeds, the aperture was smooth and not sticky and the bellows seemed to be intact. To be fair, that’s about all there is on the camera, so I thought that I’d throw a roll of colour 135 through it and see what happened.

So, below are some of the images from that test roll. it’s actually really quite a good lens, it’s quite contrasty, I assume helped by being an uncoated lens. Unless of course you under-expose (on purpose, of course *cough*) and it’s left to the scanner to bring out the detail, although I even rather like a couple of those.

I’ve not included the ones where I¬†accidentally¬†fired the shutter and the shots aren’t framed at all (it’s a VERY sensitive shutter!). Or the one’s where I’ve quite blatantly forgotten to focus. There were a few of those, it’s very easy to forget when it’s just a very small pointer on the side of the camera you’re¬†generally¬†not looking at…

It turns out that the Retina is still a very useable little compact camera, so it’s definitely not the last roll I’ll put through that one! Anyway, here’s a selection of 16 of the ones I liked from that roll of 24, do feel free to let me know what you think, I rather like them, hope you do too…

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