Ok guys, I am back again. The beginning of the new year was a bit ‘busy and for various reasons, I have not posted anything during January. This does not mean that I have not continued to take pictures, of course. 😉 Before moving on to other cameras and lenses, however, I wanted to finish the series of “experiments” with the Praktica. This time, on Mtl5B I mounted a Pentacon 29mm f / 2.8.
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.
There are many excellent Eastern Europe lenses of the past with the M42 screw mount, and I have some, e.g. the Helios 44M4 58mm f/2. Built in the former Soviet Union to equip Zenit cameras. The latter, while if robust, often have limits, both operational, and reliability. To play it safe and always staying behind the Iron Curtain, should turn to production in the former GDR. Still were German! And so, I did not miss a couple of Praktica Mtl5 bodies . One normal, and the other in B version. These differ between them practically only in the power source of the TTL CdS meter. The second in fact, uses the current LR44/SR44 batteries, while the first was designed for use with the PX625 mercury.
The Moskva 5 is a big Soviet made camera, which follows forms and performance of the most renowned folding Zeiss Super Ikonta. Snap 6×9 cm frames and 6×6 through a special removable mask. For the technical specifications of the camera back to the previous test readers: here and here. This time, taking advantage of a typical winter day, I wanted to use it in its native format, for large negatives (if any) to print.
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 …
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 …
Fed, along with Zorki and Zenit is one of the best known Soviets brand by photography enthusiasts. Since the early 30’s of the twentieth century in fact, have been built millions and millions of Fed cameras. Just to give an idea, the initial model that was simply called “Fed” (ФЭД), since 1934 and until 1955, were produced (in many variations) about 720,000 copies, while for the model 5 in production from 1977 to 1990, I have no data (according to the website Sovietcams, which I suggest to refer to anyone interested in identifying and learn more about these cameras) but are surely made in hundres of thousands copies.