Tag: filmisnotdead

CCR Review 74 – Nikon FE

CCR Review 74 – Nikon FE

When it comes to classic cameras, there’s a specific look that will always be connected to Nikon. From the massive metered prisms of the F and F2 and the red strip that remain with the cameras to this day first introduced with the F3. But in the 1970s a certain touch of class entered the Nikon line, clean, simple, sharp. Pure photography as Nikon touts in their advertisements for the Nikon Df, which oddly enough is based around the camera under review, the Nikon FE. The design of the FE and it’s mechanical cousin, the FM, remained so popular the design lasted for several more models before production switched to Cosina where they took on a more modern Nikon look complete with the red stripe. The FE remains a solid shooter even today with a semi-automatic aperture priority electronic (hence the E in the name) camera with full manual function on top of it, and it fills in a small gap in my Nikon kit between the F2 and FA.

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

  • Make: Nikon
  • Model: FE
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: 135 (35mm), 36x24mm
  • Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F Mount
  • Year of Manufacture: 1978-1983

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

The Good
The strongest feature on the FE is in its simplicity, having on a few dials to run the camera operations in a well laid out manner. A dedicated on/off switch with a pull out on the film advance lever. And that film advance, nice and short that allows for quick shooting. And don’t let the small size of the camera body, it has a decent weight and balance. I’d put the FE up against an OM-2 for size and functionality. While the viewfinder isn’t the brightest out there, that honour goes to the FE2, but the viewfinder is one of the best I’ve seen. A clear display of shutter speeds along the one side that makes the automatic mode easy as the shutter speed is indicated by a needle. And when you’re in manual mode, you simply match a needle to the indicated shutter speed. A modern version of my favourite match needle system. And the camera has a good meter in it to boot, centre-weighted and dead accurate.

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

The Bad
There is one lone issue I have with the Nikon FE. It’s not that it’s an electronic camera that requires a battery to operate fully, I knew that when I got the camera. Like many electronic cameras of the age, they came with a mechanical mode with a single shutter speed. That’s not the problem either; it’s the selected speed to make the mechanically fixed speed, 1/90th of a second. It just doesn’t make sense to me. The camera would be far more useful in mechanical backup if the speed were 1/125th makes it easy to run with Sunny-16! Thankfully the camera is not a battery hog, and the spares are pretty easy to acquire so having a couple in the bag wouldn’t be too much of an issue.

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

CCR Review 74 - Nikon FE

The Lowdown
Having shot the Nikon FM2n in the past I took to the FE immediately. It also reminds me of my third camera, the Minolta X-7a. For a first camera, this camera is great for anyone, style and class, second to none. With access to every Nikon lens out there from the early Auto-Nikkors to AI and AI-S (including AF-D), you have a solid camera that really won’t let you down. And while they carry a decent price-tag on the used market you can have one for between 80 to 200 dollars, and even in rough shape, the camera will still work. And while you can get a two-toned chrome/black, I’d go with an all black one; they look better in my opinion.

All Photos Taken in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nikon FE – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Bergger BRF 400 Plus @ ASA-400
Kodak HC-110 Dil. E 10:30 @ 20C

I Will Remember

I Will Remember

Here, at the end of history, we know that the war that is The Great War would only last one more year until on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour the guns across Europe would fall silent. But one hundred years ago they did not know that.

Least We Forget

The men and women who served, in another 100 years will they names be read aloud by the public? Will their names still be remembered? Will our grandchildren know of the sacrifice of those who died 200 years before? Will there be the same fanfare of sober celebration?

In Memorial

I don’t know about then, that’s the future, I’m here now, and I know that I will remember. And I take my duty actively to make sure the generation after me remembers as well.

Least We Forget

Because if I forget, how can the future remember?

DO:T 2017 - Church of the Redeemer

All the photos featured here were taken in 2017 of war memorials I have photographed in my travels. The icon on social media is a simple 3D replica of a carving found in the tunnels beneath Vimy Ridge in France. I hope you, dear reader, take the time to attend a ceremony tomorrow or take a moment to be silent and remember at 11 am. If you need to know where you can attend such a ceremony in Ontario, you can find the details on the Ontario Government Site.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them.

Technical Details (From Top to Bottom)
Cambridge, Ontario – Downtown Galt
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Kodak Ektar f:7.7 203mm – Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Toronto, Ontario – Kew Gardens
Nikon FA – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 (Yellow-15) – Efke KB 100 @ ASA-100
Pyrocat-HD (2+2+100) 8:00 @ 20C

Oakville, Ontario – Georges’ Square
Nikon F5 – Lomography Achromat 64mm/2.9 (Orange-22) – Efke KB100 @ ASA-100
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:45 @ 20C

Toronto, Ontario – Church of the Redeemer
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G VR – JCH Streetpan 400 @ ASA-400
Blazinal (1+25) 10:30 @ 20C

Engagement at the Bradley

Engagement at the Bradley

There’s a fun nature for an event that is total fiction rather than historical. It gives us a chance to play and provides us with a view of other historic sites within our province. Until this event, I had never even heard of the Bradley House. But as I took the gentle curve along Orr Road in the village of Clarkson on the border of Oakville and Mississauga I was pleasantly surprised at the industrial fences of a Suncor Petroleum plant melted away into a forest alight with fall colours.

The CampThe Log CabinToo Early for This...

As I chatted with folks around the site, it turned out that Clarkson has a bit of lore related to the War of 1812 surrounding a wife of a local farmer who enjoyed taking pot shots at American ships on the Lake as they sailed past with her husband’s musket. The site is a small scale living history museum consisting of three buildings that moved to the location. The first two formed the core arrived in the early 1960s when the museum first opened. The site’s name comes from the Bradley House, built in the 1830s a Salt Box styled Farmhouse that stayed in the Bradley Family until the late 1840s. It passed through several more hands before the whole farm fell until the eye of Suncor who planned to demolish the house in 1959.

Join the Crew!And that American Frigate...Just Singing on a Log

The second home, an 1820 Regency cottage known as The Anchorage coming either from when the Jarvis family lived in it and merchantmen anchored on a sandbar just off the lakeshore or from a letter written by a retired Royal Navy Commander who took up residence in 1838 calling it his anchorage in his retirement. It too faced demolition when Suncor moved in. A local newspaper publisher seeing the historical significance of both homes purchased them to donate them to the Mississauga Heritage Foundation. The third and final building, a log cabin dating to the early 19th-Century coming from Mono Mills and moved into Clarkson as a clubhouse for a Cub/Rover Scouts band. As it fell into disrepair, the cabin moved to the museum in 2002 and fully restored.

Bruce!The Story TellerHung out to Dry

Probably the most fun I’ve had at an event in a while, mostly because of the small number of reenactors and a large battlefield there was plenty of room for us in the 60th to show off our skill and light infantry tactics which often cannot happen at larger events with many other light infantry units on the field and general static nature of the pitched battle. But certainly this would be an event I will gladly return to.

All Photos Taken at the Bradley House Museum – Mississauga, Ontario
Nikon FE – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 – Ilford FP4+ @ ASA-100
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 6:00 @ 20C

World Toy Camera Day – 21 October 2017

World Toy Camera Day – 21 October 2017

Black powder and a plastic camera is the theme of World Toy Camera day for my shoot. This year I am not in an exotic location like Pittsburg or Washington DC, but instead, I participated in the final War of 1812 Reenactment event of the season at the Bradley House Museum in Mississauga. So into my Haversack went my Holga 120N loaded up with a roll of Fomapan 100. While toy cameras aren’t for everyone, they certainly add a touch of fun to my photography. For the most part, I work with high-end equipment, but I do enjoy the strange nature of toy cameras, plastic lenses, and fixed shutter speeds. But enough of words for this post, as much as I like writing. I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves! I really need to remember to bring the Holga out to more events, it gives a unique look to the images that suit the time period. Considering photography wasn’t invented yet.

Gather Round

The HMS Psyche

Musket Work

Stacked Arms

The Entertainment

If you’re thinking of getting into Toy Camera photography, I’ve done reviews on a few ‘toy’ cameras. Check out the Holga 120N and the FPP Debonair.

All Photos Taken at The Bradley House Museum – Mississauga, Ontario
Holga 120N – Optical Lens 1:8 f=60mm – Fomapan 100 @ ASA-100
Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 34 – Authorised for Field Use

Classic Camera Revival – Episode 34 – Authorised for Field Use

ccr-logo-leaf

Some cameras are best left in the studio, yet we still give ourselves back problems by carrying them out into the field with us! The gang takes on the entire chiropractic industry by flaunting our massive cameras that are best left inside, yet we’ve authorised these beasts for field use.

Cameras Featured on this Show

Mamyia RZ67 -Have you ever wondered what sort of quality photos a cinderblock with a lens would take? Well, that is pretty much what the RZ67 is, a cinderblock that takes stunning images! Surprisingly there’s even strap mounting lugs on this beast! The electronic version of the all mechanical RB67 and just as big. The best part is that if you have a selection of RB67 lenses you can easily use them on an RZ as well.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 34 - Authorised for Field Use

Camera Specs

  • Make: Mamyia
  • Model: RZ67
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium Format (120/220), 6×7
  • Lens: Interchangeable,
  • Year of Manufacture: 1982

Red filter plus Polarizer

Fence Detail

CCR Review 40 - Mamyia RB67

Fuji GX680iii – When you put the RZ67 next to the Fuji GX680iii, you can see that the 680 is certainly the heavyweight champ. Shooting the slightly larger 6×8 negative, this beast is basically a large format camera, bellows focus, twin rails (that can be extended), beautiful Fujinon glass that can stop down to f/45, some movements and interchangeable bellows. James warns however that while you can get a kit cheap, just make sure to get the GX680iii, easier to find batteries.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 34 - Authorised for Field Use

Camera Specs

  • Make: Fujifilm
  • Model: GX680iii
  • Type: Single Lens Reflex
  • Format: Medium Format (120/220), 6×8
  • Lens: Interchangeable
  • Year of Manufacture: 1997-2010

CCR - Review 7 - Fuji GX680iii

Halton Region Museum

Halton Region Museum

Monorail LF in the Field
When it comes to Large Format shooting in the field there are some cameras that are designed to do this, 4×5 Field Cameras or Press Cameras can be easily folded up and transported around without too much effort. That being said, once you get into 8×10 unless you drop the cash on an 8×10 field camera you’re stuck with a monorail. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a monorail camera it’s just they’re more aimed at studio shooting. However, Mike & Donna have gone just that little bit extra to ensure that the Cambo Legend is easier taken out than most, by using a little red collapsible wagon.

Another Big One

SPUR of the Moment
For those who have never heard of SPUR HRX, don’t worry too much, it wasn’t until Mike let us in on this great developer out of Germany that the gang took to try it out. According to the information on the SPUR website, the developer is primarily optimized in view of achieving the highest possible fineness of grain. SPUR HRX delivers high sharpness and outstanding detail contrast. Another advantage of HRX is its superbly sophisticated tonality due to the ideal, linear gradation curve gradient preventing dull or flat results.

Classic Camera Revival - Episode 34 - Authorised for Field Use

Some examples that the crew has shot and developed with SPUR HRX!
CCR Review 68 - Bronica GS-1

TFSM - Winter '17

Solitaire

Embrace The Imperfections

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix check out Burlington Camera (Burlington, ON), Downtown Camera (Toronto, ON), Film Plus (Toronto, ON), Belle Arte Camera (Hamilton, ON), Pond’s FotoSource (Guleph, ON), Foto Art Camera (Owen Sound, ON). Out West there’s The Camera Store (Calgary, AB) and Beau Photo Supply (Vancouver, BC). Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), buyfilm.ca (Ontario), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

Delta Def Jam – Part II

Delta Def Jam – Part II

When it comes to the Delta line of films from Ilford, my least favourite is Delta 400; I don’t know why. I just never got the results I honestly liked out of it. So with Delta Def Jam in full swing, I figured why not give it another go!

The New Post Office

The Old Post Office

Downtown Cambridge, or rather the historical name for this part of the city, Galt has always been on my radar as a place to take a camera and have some fun. While I have tried in the past to do some shooting here, the camera I had with me just didn’t behave. I grabbed my Rolleiflex, two rolls of Delta 400 and hit the road. I also had along my Nikon F90 loaded with Kodak Ektachrome E100G along with three final sheets of RPX25 for my Crown Graphic.

Great Little Pub

A Bit of a Mess

However, I miscalculated just a bit, and the sun didn’t start to show up until after I had left the city and well into developing the film I shot. But a 400-Speed film provided me with enough reach speed wise, and I just made sure to shoot flat compositions or put the f/2.8 lens to use. One of the more exciting interactions I had was when I went into a church in search of a washroom. One of the gentlemen running their pie table asked if I had a Hasselblad. I replied that it was a Rolleiflex, and I had left the Hasselblad at home. As it turned out, he is a fan of the Film Photography Podcast.

Basic + Person

Centering

While I had plans to develop the film in Pyrocat-HD, but I’ll save that until next month. I decided to try another one of my magic bullets, Kodak D-23. And I am pretty happy with the results. Maybe I just don’t like Ilford DD-X. I’ll see you next month for the final Delta Def Jam. Until then keep Jamming folks!

All Photos Taken In Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 (Yellow-12) – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:00 @ 20C

Five Rolls – A Journey of HP5+

Five Rolls – A Journey of HP5+

If you’ve ever listened to me talk about film, you’ll know there are some films I have a strong view. I love my Kodak Tri-X and JCH Streetpan 400; then there are the ones I’m not too happy with, that is Ilford HP5+ in 35mm and Delta 400 in general. But what if I could change my mind on just one? Would it give me another tool in the kit to use to get a specific look? Could I shoot four rolls of a film stock and come to like it, even go as far as recommending it? Challenge Accepted.

That film isn’t Delta 400, I don’t think I’ll ever grow to like the stock actually I just developed Delta 400 in Kodak D-23 and it turns out it’s not a bad film stock either, but I feel HP5+ can be one that I just might be able to. So I’ll give it a shot, get five rolls of the stock, load it up into trusted cameras, visit suitable locations, and then pick developers I’ve never used with 35mm HP5+ and go to town.

Roll One: SPUR HRX
I got the idea of using SPUR HRX after looking on Flickr after Tony posted a question on the Toronto Film Shooters Group. Tony had asked for developer recommendations for HP5+ and Mike suggested SPUR HRX. To be fair in this case, I also pushed the film a little bit more than an average day of shooting. I shot the roll indoors in a sort of abandoned, or rather closed campus of Sheridan College. I figured, if I’m going to learn to like the film, I might as well take it into a familiar situation for me.

Registrar

Bravo Six

Leftovers

The Moody Darkness

The results they speak for themselves, the images are dark, moody, and the contrast is rich. Not surprising given the lighting conditions. I did note that there a more substantial grain pattern, but using a sharp developer on a 400-speed film will do that, but it isn’t anything worth complaining.

Roll Two: Pyrocat-HD
When in doubt just run with a Pyro developer. I started working with Pyro based developers after seeing some of the amazing work Mat Marrash has been doing with HP5+ in 8×10 and this developer. Having some early morning light in Toronto, I loaded up the roll into my trusty Contax G2 and went to town!

Toronto - September 2017

Toronto - September 2017

Toronto - September 2017

Toronto - September 2017

When I pulled the negatives out of the tank, I noticed something different, something I had only seen with Kodachrome. Yes, the layers of exposure on the film had a relief to them, as if the silver had been hand etched onto the film base itself. And then into the scanner and you saw this clean three-dimensional image, smooth tones and no grain at all.

Roll Three: Kodak D-23
One of the first developers I ever used was Kodak D-76, it was at the time the preferred developer of my teacher Julie Douglas. While I have only used a single jug of the stuff since, I have latched onto its cousin, the slower acting D-23. I’ve souped plenty of film stocks in it and like how it makes Tri-X look, so I figured it would be a good candidate.

Nature Trail...

Roughing It

Taking on the CRAIG

Take a Seat

I really liked D-23, it performed as I expected it would give the usual smooth tones all the way through the grayscale. Indeed an excellent choice for the film. I’m now hankering to try this with medium and large format versions of HP5+.

Roll Four: Kodak Microdol-X
I happened across this developer completely by accident during my 52-sheet project and came to enjoy using it. While an older Kodak developer again, and not available under the Kodak name, but Legacy Pro has their Mic-X which is the same. Microdol is a fine grain soft developer so it should be able to work a bit of magic.

The Masons

Back to the War

Lighting the Way

Pick Me Up

I honestly don’t know what went wrong with these photos. They all seemed overexposed. The camera, my Nikon F5 has a solid meter, the ASA/ISO setting was correct. Maybe it was the Orange-22 filter I used or the harsh sunlight. I had to work some post-processing magic on these. I think that I need to reduce the developing times by 1 minute or give the film a slight pull to make Microdol-X work.

Roll Five: Kodak HC-110
When you’re having trouble with something, how about going back to an old friend. Kodak HC-110 is one of two developers I have not stopped using since I started developing my own black & white film. The other is Rodinal, but not wanting to give the film one hell of a pull, I figured HC-110 in the standard Dilution B would be a good way to help out.

Blown Open

Eroded Away

Follow the Rails

Sun Dappled

HP5 sings with HC-110, you get to see how sharp the film stock is with this Kodak developer, and the contrast is dead on point even in the strange lighting conditions that are a sun-dappled forest at high-noon. While not exactly the best time to be out shooting it provides a real test for what a film and developer can do, and HC-110 is a sure winner in this case.

When I first set out to shoot these five rolls of HP5+ I went into it thinking I didn’t like the film stock in 35mm, however, upon shooting these five rolls I realised that I did like the film, I had just had some bad encounters with it in the past. In the end, it’s a solid film stock one that I will use in the future because I won’t always be able to find Kodak Tri-X, and now I have several developing options. I also plan on trying to perfect that Microdol-X time/speed issue.

Technical Data:
Roll One: Sheridan College, Skilled Trades Centre, Oakville, Ontario
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
SPUR HRX (1+17) 11:00 @ 20C

Roll Two: Toronto, Ontario
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Planar 2/45 T* – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-200
Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 9:00 @ 20C

Roll Three: Rattlesnake Point, Milton, Ontario
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 (Yellow-12) – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20C

Roll Four: Ancaster, Ontario
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (Orange-22) – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Kodak Microdol-X (Stock) 11:00 @ 20C

Roll Five: McCraney Valley Park, Oakville, Ontario
Nikon FA – AI-S Nikkor 35mm 1:2.8 (Yellow-12) – Ilford HP5+ @ ASA-400
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 5:00 @ 20C

Delta Def Jam – Part I

Delta Def Jam – Part I

Oh Emulsive, I think through your little contests you’re going to keep film alive ensuring that everyone goes out and buys the stuff to join in these fun little games. After joining in on the Summer Film Parties, the next step is the Delta Def Jam. Wait What? Like the TMax Party, Delta Def Jam celebrates Ilford’s tabular grained film, known as Delta. Also of note, the Delta series of film comes in 100, 400, and 3200.

The Delta Def Jam - Part I

The Delta Def Jam - Part I

Now when it comes to the Delta series I really only like one of the film stocks, Delta 100, although I may play with Delta 400 see if I can’t get it bent to my will. Thankfully I had a single roll of Delta 100 in 35mm left in my stock of film to load up and roll with for September. Recently through a review of the Bronica GS-1, I realized that Delta 100 also looks amazing when pulled just slightly to ASA-80 and then developed in SPUR HRX. If you haven’t heard of SPUR HRX that’s fine, it is a rare developer that I only just heard about also.

The Delta Def Jam - Part I

The Delta Def Jam - Part I

Having a beautiful holiday long weekend right at the start my wife and I headed into Toronto for the Art Fest in the Distillery District. A wiser choice as it was the final day for the CNE, and the trains into the city became packed the further east we travelled. Thankfully they all disembarked before Union Station. The city always makes for a good solid walk and the Distillery District is not that far for us.

The Delta Def Jam - Part I

The Delta Def Jam - Part I

In Medium Format, Delta 100 in HRX has amazing results, but in 35mm with a bit of filtering, sure a deep yellow, it just sings! Looking forward to next month’s Jam! The film is being purchased this week, the camera and location are already chosen. Stay tuned October!

All Photos taken in the Distillery District – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nikon F90 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D (Yellow-15) – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-80
SPUR HRX (1+) @ 20C

Large Format in the Park

Large Format in the Park

The trouble with photo walks is that you’re walking, this pretty much takes the idea of bringing large format cameras and tripods along. I mean, I love LF and have a press camera which allows me to shoot the Crown Graphic Handheld as I did back at the Summer Toronto Film Shooters Meetup. But again, when making a meet up especially for large format, you can’t call it a photo walk because it’s hard to walk with an LF camera and I know that many members don’t shoot press, technical, or field cameras they use monorails. You don’t walk around with a monorail, while you can, just not quickly. Thus was born, the Large Format Lugabout.

Remains of a Face

A Lovely Day

The Toronto Film Shooters have been to High Park many times before, so it made sense to use this urban park in Toronto as the base of operations for the walk, moving from the Southern Entrance at Colbourne Lodge to the northern terminus at Bloor Street. At about two kilometres it’s an easy enough walk even when you have an 8×10 on a monorail to lug with you.

The Howard Tomb

The Chimney

As I loaned out my Crown Graphic out to a good friend, I made a point to shoot the eight sheets of 4×5 while I wanted down through the park towards the meeting point before the main event. Even my lovely wife put up with the constant stopping. It proved to be a perfect day to shoot large format and there turned out to be a decent attendance. The highlight for me is finally seeing Colbourne Lodge. The lodge is another one of those hidden museums in Toronto, and one I certainly will be checking out again. But with the meeting starting, I turned over my Crown Graphic to Wu and switched to my Nikon F5 to take photos of the various people in attendance.

Nancy!

It's, it's...taller than me!

Another Big One

Trio of Tripods

A Common Sight

The trouble with such a meet is that everything spreads out in a long thin line, Heather and I along with Wu and Joe formed the front of the line while the long trail of photographers lugging every type of camera came up behind, even some folks carried medium format beasts. But since it was tripod friendly, it gave folks a chance to slow down.

The event turned out much better than I expected and I certainly plan on running with the idea again as people took to the idea of a limited area shoot and allowing us to bring out the big guns.

Techinal Details:
Pacemaker Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210, Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 1:4,7/135, Fuji Fujinon-W 1:5.6/125
Rollei RPX 25 @ ASA-25 – Blazinal (1+25) 6:00 @ 20C
Nikon F5 – AF DC-Nikkor 105mm 1:2D – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-200
Blazinal (1+25) 7:00 @ 20C

CCR Review 70 – Voigtländer Bessa

CCR Review 70 – Voigtländer Bessa

When it comes to folding cameras, not all cameras are created equal. Many are simply box cameras dressed up with some bellows, while others have full on rangefinders and exposure control. While the Voigtländer Bessa is not top dog, it certainly is a little more usable than a simple box. The Bessa is a step up from a simple box but lacks a rangefinder to couple the manual focus. Couple this with a solid lens, with a full range of aperture and shutter speeds, makes this a solid choice if you’re looking for a folder. The Bessa is a long line of folding cameras that began in 1929 and lasted until 1949 with several changes over the course of product manufacture. This particular model dates between 1935 and 1937. It came into my collection through my Uncle Harvey, brother-in-law to my mother, it belonged to his father who used it well into the 1950s before switching to motion picture film to capture family memories. Special thanks to Uncle Harvey for trusting me with a family camera.

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

  • Make: Voigtländer
  • Model: Bessa
  • Type: Folder
  • Format: Medium, 120/620, 6×4.5/6×9
  • Lens: Fixed, Voigtländer Anastigmat Voigtar 1:4,5 F=11cm
  • Year of Manufacture: 1935-1937

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

The Good
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past reviews is that age doesn’t always mean poor performance. In fact, I’ve had successfully quality images from cameras far older than the Bessa. And the Bessa certainly delivers, the Voigtar lens, based on the Anastigmat design, provides quality sharp images at any aperture, I mostly shot these at f/11 or f/8, the reason will come in the next paragraph. While not exactly the fastest lens on the block at only f/4.5 I only found this to be a problem once and only because I was shooting the film at ASA-50. When it comes to handling, the Bessa is a decent shooter. Probably top on my list is that there’s a shutter release on the lens door, makes it nice and easy to shoot either landscape or portrait. By default the camera shoots in the big and beautiful 6×9 format and produces fantastic images as such, the 11cm (110mm) lens is perfect for the format with no vignetting or fall-off in any corner. But you will only get eight frames per roll. However, you can add a mask to the camera and use the second frame counter window and produce 6×4.5 format images that double the number of exposures per roll to 16. Of course, you need to add a mask to the camera, a mask I don’t have but can be produced I have yet to create such a mask. And finally, the camera is designed to accept both 120 and 620 film rolls, while less of an issue today such compatibility between Kodak Films and everyone else certainly helped the average photographer.

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

The Bad
The Bessas are old cameras, with the earliest models being 88 years old and the youngest dating to 68, not exactly spring chickens. I was lucky that this particular camera is in great working shape. The first thing is that the bellows can get damaged. While some might let in just a bit of light and give a distressed look to the images, others might leak like a sieve and ruin any film run through the camera. Lenses haze over, shutter stick, so if you are looking at one, try and sort out the general shooting capacity of the camera before purchase. Let’s move on, there are two serious issues and two minor issues I have with this particular camera. The first and most severe in my mind is the film winder. Being a dual 120/620, it’s a pretty substantial piece of metal, and I found that it chewed through the plastic take up reel. Thankfully I was able to run through the eight frames before it stopped advancing and I was able to extract the film with a change bag. But for future use, I’ll probably want to stick to either a 120 or 620 spool that is metal. The second issue I have with the camera I eluded to in the previous paragraph, and that has to do with focus. The camera is a manual focus lens without a rangefinder, so you have to give a rough guess on the focus or use an external rangefinder, realising this I made a point to shoot mostly to infinity and stop it down to at least f/11 to get a decent depth of field. The only shot I made at f/8, I missed focus by a touch. If I take this camera out again, I’ll be sure to pack the external rangefinder; it worked great with the Pony 135. The two remaining issues are minor, first is that the lens is uncoated, so you only want to shoot black & white film through the camera to get decent results. And secondly, the shutter speed maxes out at 1/125 of a second. So you don’t want to go shooting Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5+ through the camera unless you plan on seriously pulling the film in development and exposure.

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

CCR Review 70 - Voigtlander Bessa

The Lowdown
When it comes to folding cameras this one, despite the issue with focusing, is a real winner. Certainly would be a good choice if you frequent World War II reenactments, even if it’s just a prop but kudos if you use it to shoot. And if you do find a camera in good working order, it certainly won’t let you down. If you do shoot with the camera, remember when this camera came out Ilford had just released HP (the great-grand daddy of HP5+) and rated at ASA-160. You’ll mostly want to stick to Ilford FP4+, Kodak TMax 100, Ilford Pan F+, Fomapan 100, Ultrafine Xtreme 100, or Rollei RPX 25 to get the best results out of this camera. And the best part is shutter speeds are perfect for Sunny-16 style metering (1/125 to 1/25) and if you’re lucky enough you might even find one with an original metal reel inside. Just remember to save the reel or simply remind you lab to return it.

All Photos Taken In The Distillery District, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Voigtländer Bessa – Voigtländer Anastigmat Voigtar 1:4,5 F=11cm – Ultrafine Xtreme 100 @ ASA-50
Blazinal (1+50) 9:00 @ 20C