It has been a long and intense year, the one that is about to end. This blog has grown thanks to the many readers around the world. Many things have happened and others will shortly happen. The most important was the Darkroom I built, where finally be able to print the best shots made with film. Soon, I will also print using ancient techniques, such as Platinum/Palladium and Cyanotype, when will be ready the U.V. contact printer that I’m building. Thanks to contact printing, I’ll be able to better use large format cameras too. Already a couple (M.P.P. Mark VIII 4″x 5″ and Reality so Subtle pinhole 4″x 5″) are already waiting to be used. But it will also, print (via internegative) images from digital files. So even intangible electronic images will become real. This post by the end of the year is dedicated to another East Europe’s camera, but this time it is not only manual, but electronics controlled with aperture priority exposure: the Praktica Bc1.
It is true: we’re back in the …. Eastern Europe’s phase. The fact is that the cameras and film rolls accumulate, remain there for a while in half use and then finally, it is their moment to be finished, developed and published. So, it happens that concentrated within a period, similar types or even different versions of the same models. This time it is the turn of the small, but very pretty, Werra 1. Obviously, produced in the former GDR. Simple, spartan (no range finder or meter), but well performing (Carl Zeiss Tessar 50mm f/2.8 lens) and with some super-technologic “surprise”, at least for the time.
I promised you, my dear readers: this would be the last Retina test. Actually it had been there for a bit of time and waited for his chance to be used. The Retina IIa is one of the most sought after on the market and in fact, I struggled just to find a copy in good condition at a reasonable price. The reasons are soon said: small, handy, but at the same time, equipped with a rangefinder and especially, the prestigious and fast Schneider Kreuznach lens Xenon 50mm f/2.
There is a camera that I love very much, but I haven’t been too lucky with. It’s the Soviet version of the legendary Zeiss Contax II, which in the 30’s and 40’s disputed the primacy to the eternal rival Leica in the 35m range. Immediately after the war, as partial compensation for damages, all equipment and materials present in the Zeiss factories were moved (along with a good number of technicians and specialized workers) behind the Iron Curtain, in Kiev, at the plant of Zavod Arsenal. Here, in the years immediately following the war, they were therefore produced the Kiev II (almost exactly the Contax); later underwent some changes in later models III and IV. Unlike Zorki and the Fed, that “copied” the Leica models from afar … these Kiev, in fact, can not be considered copies but, delocalized productions …
After more than two years since I started using film again, the inability to print my negs was becoming unbearable. Unfortunately I do not have any usable space in the house and I do not like at all the “flying solutions”. So I was almost resigned to not being able to have my own darkroom for a long time yet. Recently, however, while they were undergoing some work in my garden, I decided to convert an old storage room into something more substantial masonry … and use it as a Darkroom, although devoid of running water (too difficult and expensive to achieve an appropriate plant).
It took too much time, but in the end, my Leica M2 and its beautiful “damaged” Summitar managed to tie the “lawful marriage” …. 😉 All this has been made possible thanks to a special Fotodiox adapter ring ( M39 to Leica M mount) in fact they were a few months that a roll of Ilford Pan F+ was lying unused in M2 and, given the time elapsed, I didn’t remember how many Iso rated the film for the first few frames. The value on the Voigtlander Vc Meter was 25 and so, I continued that way until the end.
Being (among other things) a fan of cameras and their respectable lenses, made behind the Iron Curtain , long ago I had the opportunity to enrich my vintage “arsenal” with a beautiful Pentacon Six Tl, fitted with its Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80mm f/2.8 standard lens, wlf and metered pentaprism with angled eyepiece (and diopter correction). The camera is truly remarkable aesthetic and mechanical conditions, but a first test roll gave so many problems that I thought of having to make another to correct some of my errors in the loading of the film and in the development of the same. In the meantime, I ordered a new focusing screen with split image on Araxfoto site. Following the instructions on the Pentaconsix site (which I highly recommend for any info about these cameras), a few days ago I loaded a Ilford HP5+ film and started my hunting for satisfactory images. But …. things do not always go as we would like …