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.
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.
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.
Since I started (again) to deal with analog photography, I discovered that there are many enthusiasts who use and collect eagerly Retina cameras and Retinette produced (in numerous models and variants) by Kodak Nagel in Germany from the thirties to the late sixty. At the beginning I did not give much weight to the thing: I was attracted more by other types of cameras, but then some “virtual” friends have strongly advised me to try them. I must also say that my “family camera”, the one with which my father photographed my childhood … was a Retinette Ia!
Many film photography fans are fascinated by cameras (and lenses) produced behind the so-called Iron Curtain, in countries of the former Warsaw Pact. The DDR (or GDR) between them has created brands as Ihagee, Praktica, Pentacon (which has absorbed the first), synonymous with high quality construction mechanics, along with names such as Carl Zeiss Jena, Meyer-Optik and the same Pentacon with lenses even at the highest level of quality. Speaking of cameras, robustness is one of the main qualities. The reliability of the models built in eastern Germany is also much higher than that of her contemporaries and even valid Soviet models. It is not uncommon then, to come across more than fifty years old cameras, which seem to come from the factory today and fully functional.
As I already wrote in the first part of this post, while traveling in Bavaria, apart from a roll shot with the Leica R-E and one with the Canon P (nightshots), I used two Olympus cameras (OM2n and OM10). I have already expressed an opinion about the films I used (Ilford XP2 Super 400 and Kodak Tmax 400).
Voigtlander is another of the names that made the history of photography. It produced many cameras and lenses with the classic German quality. Models such as the Avus and Bessa folding, or the whole Vito series (with various Vaskar, Lanthar, Skopar and Ultron lenses) are well known to fans. The brand still exists but it is not the original manufacturer.
Surely, many fans consider the XP2 Super an excellent film. High sensitivity, fine grain and good tonal scale are the reasons for its success. There’s only one small problem: it is designed to be developed with C-41. The same process used to develop color films. In recent years, however, after the explosion of digital, the laboratories that dealt with these films have gradually disappearing and often, those who want to use them, must resign themselves to send the rolls of exposed films to other cities (with consequently higher costs and waiting times), or to develop by themselves.