Thursday, March 27, 2014

Petri Micro Compact

This camera was designed when it was "in" to sell a competent camera in the smallest package possible. Size was always a factor in the attraction of film cameras, just as it is with digital today.  Every manufacturer had something to offer in this genre, maybe the most well known being the Rollei 35 series first introduced in the mid sixties. This Petri first appeared in 1979.
This one is derived from the more expensive, better made, and feature-rich Petri Color 35 which commands high prices and is tough to get (see Steven Gandy's article here) It has automatic exposure, a pull out lens, and a simple zone focusing system.
I confess I'm a sucker for these tiny cameras - I took the picture of the Petri with my digital Ricoh GRD IV, which surprisingly is just a bit larger.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rollei Prego 90

 This is a "point and shoot" camera, called that because they need little effort to get a good shot. Auto focus and exposure coupled with a nice zoom lens means the photographer can usually get good images with the minimum of fuss. Just about every camera manufacture did these, including the pricier brands such as Rollei. I have quite a few cameras that fit this genre. The Prego is an example dating to the mid nineties. It has infra-red auto focus and in this case an upscale Schneider-Kreuznach 28-90mm zoom lens. These camera are quite collectible now and their prices have been slowly creeping up.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kodak Instamatic 500

The Instamatic film cartridge was introduced by Kodak in 1963, just as the Beatles started to roll. By all accounts it was very popular and lots of cameras were introduced to use it. Mostly were cheap plastic low functionality jobbies but others were very high end with a price to match. This "500" was the high end entry by Kodak that fitted the "rangefinder" format (Kodak also introduced an SLR 126 camera.)
The 500 is mostly made of metal and has a nice Schneider-Kreuznach F2.8 38mm lens. The 126 format is square, which I like. I have collected a few cameras,  but shooting with them is a challenge as new cartridges are no longer available. Old stock is available though, but it is expensive. I have tried to fudge 35mm film into salvaged cartridges with limited success. It is rumored that Ferrania may start production on them in the near future - I hope so.
Most old film I can find is color. I process it using my standard B &W chemistry which seems to work OK, but sometimes leaves a color cast, which I sometimes leave in after scanning.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Voightlander Bessamatic

Voightlander cameras are beautifully designed and constructed and their lenses have a well deserved reputation for image quality. I guess you would call this their flagship SLR from the film era, the noble Bessamatic. It's noble not only because its heavy, but its also semi-automatic and has a selenium cell that needs no battery. Mine is functioning just fine given that  it was built over fifty years ago.
This is no street shooter. At two pounds it's not the kind of camera to casually anchor around your neck for longer than an hour. The screen goes blank after you take a pic as there is no instant return of the mirror. The interchangeable lenses are self contained and don't share their components with the camera as other SLRs from this era do. It has a leaf shutter, which makes it go through some convoluted mechanical gyrations when it takes a shot. Many of these cameras today have sticky shutters because of this. They are supposedly very difficult to service . . . but it is a thing of beauty.