Tag Archives: russian

Zorki 4 and the unfocused ukelele invasion

Another brick of a russian rangefinder, the Zorki 4, complete with a Jupiter 8, 50mm F2 lens.

Another brick of a russian rangefinder, the Zorki 4, complete with a Jupiter 8, 50mm F2 lens.

I may well have mentioned that ebay is a very dangerous place to be in a previous post. Especially when you’ve just got into film cameras and you’re all excited and fresh faced and everthing on there is just SO DAMNED CHEAP!

Ahem.

Aaaaaanyhow… One of my recent purchases (for less than a tenner I hasten to add…) was a Zorki 4. The name itself sounds like something from a different planet, but in reality, it’s a slightly (but only slightly) more polished version of the Fed cameras of the same era and is essentially a Leica copy. Which, knowing the reputation of Leica, is a very good thing indeed!

So, this lovely shiny brick came to the door beatifully packaged in the customary cardboard box and as much bubble wrap as humanly possible. I unwrapped it and it was such a thing of beauty that I had to find an instruction manual on the internet, figure out how to load a film and then shoot some test shots…

This camera handles beautifully. It’s heavy, yes, but the Jupiter 8 has a wonderfully smooth continuous aperture adjustment and the focus is wonderful on it. Again, smooth as… as a very smooth thing at any rate, metaphors seem to have escaped me tonight. The rangefinder, like the Fed 2 was a little off vertically, but after the results from the Fed 2, I wasn’t deterred at all.

So I’d taken a few shots around Levenshulme taking in the local delights such as the bit underneath the tracks at the Levy train station, bits of the Antiques Village, the fence keeping you out of the derelict shop sites on the A6 and some others, when I realised that we were all going to the Levy Uke Up at POD, so I thought that I take a few shots there as well and see what happened.

If you’re wondering what the Uke up is all about, it’s a bunch of very lovely people with very small guitars getting together to play some tunes, sing some songs, drink some beer and eat some food. It makes for a rather lovely way to finish of a Sunday evening and ready you for the week. This was the first one I’d attended, and it would seem that I now need to get my wife (and myself) a ukelele. So it goes…

Finally got the film back from processing and it seems that the rangefinder might be somewhat in need of adjustment. Either that, or I was consistently missing focus by quite some distance, though that isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility by any means. I will be taking the Zorki (and the Fed…) to get properly calibrated at some point soon. I’m still quite chuffed with the photos even if I was a little surprised at the point of focus in some of them… As usual, there’s a few shots below from this roll, with a few more on my Facebook page for good measure, feel free to let me know what you think 🙂

 

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A Russian (Rangefinder) in Canada

Built like a lead brick, my FED 2 rangefinder

Built like a lead brick, my FED 2 rangefinder

So, while we seem to be on the subject of film cameras, one of the cameras I’ve recently acquired (through a very nice gentleman at work, thanks!), is a FED 2 russian rangefinder. It’s a type PE0385, manufactured between 1956 and 1958 with a 50mm f3.5 lens for any of you that might be interested. It’s also built like a brick. Possibly a brick of lead considering how much it weighs. Suffice to say, it’s quite a sturdy little beast…

Out of the several film cameras of various formats that I seem to have gathered together in the past few months, the FED was sturdy enough that I wasn’t afraid of breaking it, easy enough to use that I wouldn’t completely waste the film due to my lack of experience, and simultaneously the first one that came to hand. So I thought that I’d load a roll of black and white (Ilford XP2 Super 400 negative film) and see what I could get around Vancouver.

Bearing in mind that I’d never looked through the viewfinder of a rangefinder camera before, I was in for an interesting time. In case you’ve never used one, basically what you get on looking through the tiny circular viewfinder on the FED 2 is the frame that you’ll shoot, more-or-less, with a small patch of yellowish-green double image in the middle. That’s that rangefinder. Basically, the theory goes that you focus using the lens and you line up the double image so that the images overlap perfectly when that object is in focus.

That’s certainly the theory anyway.

In this case, the horizontal alignment was OK, but there was a good couple of mm mismatch in the vertical alignment, so the images could never perfectly match, they were always a bit out and if what you were trying to focus on was small, that could get somewhat interesting!

Having said all that, I managed to brave the 8°C  rainy weather in the hours that I had when I wasn’t working and shot about 25 frames and then, a couple of exposures before the end of the roll, I somehow managed to snap the film inside the camera… Still, I managed to get it back to the UK, get the people that do my processing to take the film out for me in a dark box, and I’m well chuffed with some of the shots.

They seems to have a good grain to them, but it’s a very sharp lens indeed, the definition and contrast is excellent and the scrape marks where the film has clearly rubbed on something, lend a wonderful vintage analog feel to them. There are a few examples of the shots taken with the FED 2 in the gallery below if you fancied a look through.

Of course, the one thing I probably shouldn’t have done, was located a set of instructions for service and cleaning of the FED 2 on the internet (which I did). Followed by stripping it down to clean it (which I did). Including the rangefinder assembly. Stupid. Me.

I now have a camera which has a beautifully clear rangefinder and is wonderful to look through if, and it’s a big IF, you don’t mind that you can no longer line the double images up either at infinity or elsewhere. So kids, when you need to adjust your rangefinder, take it to someone that knows what they’re doing… So, not me… The Fed will be going in for re-alignment at some point in the future…

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