Antique and Collectable shops have until recently not been places I have frequented, however, I have noticed a few old cameras in some so in a quest to find a gem or two I have started to pop in on the off chance to see what I find.
In one I found a Rollie LED, but they wanted too much for it, the FED4 I shot and sold came from a charity shop for £10.00, so I knew they were out there.
Then one day on the way back from dropping off my wife’s car for a service, we wandered into to Mannuccis Antiques Emporium in Dunstable. I didn’t hold out any hope of finding a classic Leica but I may find something interesting?
I struck lucky.
Not only was there a couple of cameras there, but they had what has turned out to be a lovely Voightlnder CLR rangefinder. A quick barter on the marked price bought me the camera for £20.00! bargain! With it’s match needle meter and 50 mm f2.8 Color-Skopar lens, it looked beautiful in the glass case. On inspection, I found the rangefinder patch a little dim and the shutter release is in the wrong place for me but I thought it was worth a go, even if only for the Voightlander name alone.
For its first outing I loaded it with Fuji Superia 200 colour film I took it to a local classic car rally where my band was playing, and in between sets I went wandering with the camera.
The resulting images were truly amazing in my eyes, sharp, well exposed, and such beautiful colours.
I loved the images so much I felt I needed to shoot some more of this, so the next post will be from this little camera too, but with Lomo 400 film, my go to film for colour, low cost and easy to source almost anywhere.
Have a look at the attached images and let me know if you agree.
So having found a great shooting camera in the 35SP I needed a project. A new customer of mine for my day job was a very interesting factory. Based in the former EMI record pressing works, The Vinyl Factory is an independent vinyl record pressing plant, record label and all round creative hub.
I showed the MD my growing portfolio, and was granted access to start shooting. To begin with just the machines, but this soon started to grow into a major project. What started as an essay, had morphed into a book project and has continued to dominate my photography equipment purchases and thinking since, and still does till publish date.
For now, here are a few samples from the first roll of Ilford HP5 through the 35SP at the factory.
Since these pictures were taken in March 2017, I have returned at least four more times for whole days, building trust with the workers to shoot more documentary style work, that hopefully with build into a solid portfolio and printed book.
By this time I am almost completely I love with the rangefinder camera concept. They are small, light (ish) fast to shoot and seem to have very good lenses.
The 35RC is a great little camera, but I thought I needed more!
A Leica was out of the question, so digging around on the internet (there’s another hour gone) I settled on the 35 SP (Spot Program) Apparently the only rangefinder camera of the era to include Spot Metering, and has a seven element 42 mm f1.7 lens!
All this technical prowess really is worth the hype, its a great camera, takes sharp images and works in lower light, either fully automatic or manual mode using EV numbers, a little fiddly, but it does work.
Most of the shooting I have done has been in Auto.
Here is a few from the first roll of Ilford FP4. I went on to use this camera to start my Vinyl Factory project and a holiday trip to Teneriefe. More on both of those later.
I sold a camera. There I said it. It’s not the camera, it was me. We just weren’t compatible. I loved the idea of this little Russian gem but in reality it was more of an amusement than a shooter. It made lovely images, needed no batteries and could take lovely M39 mount lenses. But I found the shutter release in the wrong place, the viewfinder a touch small (especially after my Olympus OM slr’s) and I have a lovely Voightlander CLR that I found In a second hand shop too. So it is off to pastures new, and hopefully to a new owner that will give it the love and time it deserves. Bon Voyage!
So, having found that film photography is my new/old thing, and that the only camera I had was the admittedly great Olympus Trip 35, I started looking for another, more flexible film camera. I had started shooting some Street Photography on my iPhone so started exploring that genre. Several commentators had mentioned the Olympus 35 RC as a great option. Fully Auto or Manual takes easily available low cost and long living batteries (after conversion), and shoots 38 frames per roll! Super sharp Zuiko lens and about the same size in the hand as the Trip 35. I started to search for one I mentioned to a friend at work who is equally nuts about old cameras that I was on the hunt he mentioned he may have one I could have, liberated from a thrift store Naturally I agreed, agreed a price and took possession. It turned out that the RC was in less than perfect condition, with a sticky rangefinder. After an unsuccessful attempt to free things up I capitulated and took it to the excellent Luton Camera Repairs. Here it was treated to a full service, battery conversion and sorting of the RF issue. Now, this is my go to compact camera. Pocketable, light, and fast to shoot. Here is a few samples from the first roll of Ilford FP4 I ran through it. Not overly inspiring but showing potential.
I suppose at this point I have to do a ‘gear’ post. As this was the camera that started my film renaissance it seems right to share this.
The Olympus Trip is a simple fully automatic camera, no batteries required. Which is great. It has a hot shoe for a flash which I have never used. It has a great 40mm D Zuiko lens, a simple focus system (four distances, no rangefinder) and two shutter speeds, of which you have no control. All you can do is set the film speed, advance the film, set the focus distance and shoot. This is ‘zone focus’ at its simplest. If the light is too low or two high it will lock the shutter. Simple. Quite liberating really. My example must be nearly 40 years old, and still works perfectly. They are still cheap to buy. Last time I looked they were going for about £10.00 more if you want a fancy custom one with coloured vinyl covering. If you want to see what film can do for your photography, try one of these. Great fun.
So spurred on by the success of the Trip 35 shots at home and feeling the need to do something more challenging I decided that some real world docu-street photography was required. There are literally hundreds of people talking about street photography at the moment so I won’t elaborate on this genre here at the moment, check out those that do it more than me. It is a personal challenge. Taking pictures in a public place of buildings or objects is one thing but of people, unknown to you, on purpose, can make you feel very uncomfortable. So, a few from a trip into town with work, few local shots and more stuff at home to see what results I would get seemed in order.
I had a fairly productive time with the Olympus Trip that day, before the family shots I had been asked to accompany my son-in-law on a trial flying lesson. Perfect opportunity to try it out. Here are the best ones from that trip.
Read my about page to get a bit of background on this site and this post, but this is the picture set that made me fall in love with film again. Family photos of my granddaughter, grandson and my step-daughter with them both. nothing more, but the light in them I thought was wonderful. I was hooked. Ilford FP4 in an Olympus Trip 35. The one of my grandson was actually taken by my granddaughter!