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.
As I wrote last time, my first outdoor experience with the Mamiya RB 67 was tiring but satisfying. In fact, the generous dimensions of the 6×7 cm negative and the quality of the lenses are ideal for landscape photography. Immerse ourselves in nature, in a place almost out of time, it can only do good for the spirit, and if we are able to bring home some good shots …. better yet.
It’s been love at first sight: she was large and heavy but it gave me a feeling of solidity and undeniable power. She went home with her beautiful Sekor C 90mm f/3.8 lens, a Vivitar duplicator and two SDPro backs, (one for 220) but she felt a bit lonely and I proceeded immediately to add Sekor C 50mm f/4.5 and 180mm f/4.5. At that point, I was ready to fight a war. The only problem is that such equipment can fight mainly in the studio photography, because to use it outdoors things get complicated struggle. And so, the time has passed (almost two years), until a few days ago …
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 …
Sometimes, when you receive a vintage camera, it happens to find inside an old negative, forgotten there for who knows how many decades. It happened to me twice in the past, into a folding 6×6 Rheinmetall Weltax and a few days ago, in another folding MF, the Agilux Agifold. In the first case, the roll was totally blocked and I could not avoid exposing it to light to pull it out. I only remember that it had a red bordeaux paper. This time, however, having noticed through the rear window the presence of a film (at N° 10), I rewound with the intention of developing it. It was an old Tri X Pan Professional, which I developed semi-stand on Adonal (Rodinal) 1: 100 for an hour. Results? Totally disappointing but ….