i have a good time shooting
my sears delmar box camera ( takes 4x5 film/plates )
i have 2 of them, and took the meniscus lens off of one of them and use it on my speed graphic - and on my enlarger
i used to buy, fix and use ( later sell ) falling plate cameras too. some were pretty sophisticated with variable shutter speeds &C. they usually took odd size plates ( i used paper with a piece of cardborad behind ) ... i still have a "cyclone sr" that i mean to fix up and use, but don't really have the time to have THAT much fun these days ...
Last edited by jnanian; 11-08-2008 at 04:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
With the possible exception of the Balda Belfoca (which I'm still trying to clean, by the way), none of my old cameras can be described as "crappy". Most of them were in fact pretty much "top of the line" in their day, and some (like the 6.5x9cm Bergheil - professionals used 13x18cm) were perhaps more akin to a "rich man's toy".
All of these old cameras work excactly as they shold, just like they did when they were new...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I'd say just try the cameras out for the fun of it. I've cleaned a couple No. 2 Brownies using a Qtip saturated with Windex. The Marvel is a Sears Roebuck box camera, I don't know it, but it should be very similar to a Kodak or Ansco. Get some cheap 120 film and try them out, you might be pleasantly surprised.
With almost all my commercial work being digital, I find myself more and moe interested in the old cameras. It feels good to get away from the computer screen, along with trying out all the old cameras. I like the process of shooting with the old cameras. It's a more thoughtful interaction to the subject, as opposed to the instant digital capture. The old cameras have their own unique view, and the "flaws" can be a interesting addition to the shot. If I want a technically "clean image" I might as well do digital, but it's fun going out with my cirkuts and 1900's swing lense cameras and seeing what I get.
I'm planning on shooting with a plate box camera this week myself just to see what I get. When I go out with my #16 Cirkut and shoot with the 36" element, even stopping down to F90 doesn't get a lot in focus, and the look to the print shows it. It's fun to try to make a 16" by 7-10 foot negative (and hard work too). Having photography be more than the end result (oblviously important), but also a fun process, is important to me. And judging from the prices on some of the old equipment that was virtually worthless a few years ago, I'm far from the only one.
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
(just about to begin second Graphic hunt... )
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An ex-girlfriend got me started in old cameras by giving me a Kodak Duaflex. It looks sort of cool, and I thought at first I would just use it as a prop for an upcoming advertising shoot. After that, I decided to try it out with film, and ordered some 620 spooled TriX from B&H. Unfortunately, the film is still in the camera after a few years, with one more frame left to shoot. It really only has one shutter speed, and one aperture, but it got me going in another direction.
That other direction was old folder cameras, like AGFA/Ansco models of various years. The first one I got was not that great, but after a quick test using Fuji NPH I was hooked. That got me doing a complete functional restoration, including finding a source for several replacement bellows. Then I discovered that a spread in CITY magazine was shot using a very similar AGFA 6x9, which led to research showing a few past photographers had done some compelling work with similar gear.
A few holiday seasons ago, another girl gave me a gift of a 1937 AGFA Jsolette that can shoot 6x4.5 format. A quick restoration, then a find of a shutter with more speeds and a flash sync post, and I used it on a paid shoot. Absolutely stunned by the transparencies, I continue using that camera, and I have added a Präzisa clip-on rangefinder to help better guess the distances. Probably a little strange, but I now only shoot transparency films with that, though it helps that I have a very good Sekonic light meter.
To me, the appeal of the 6x4.5 and 6x9 folders is not so much the size of the film, but the compact size of the cameras. It is a shame there are no modern versions, though perhaps something will come out of China in the near future. I do know about the ALPA 12 line, but the prices are a bit too much for me to justify currently, and to be honest those are much bulkier and heavier than my AGFA 6x9. The other aspect is the somewhat soft look of the old lenses, which can give a very unique look to people images. It is the anti-thesis of the all too common sharp everywhere look currently in favour by some people.
Another odd aspect is that people often want to have their pictures taken with such old gear. They seem charmed by the process and that such an old camera is still in use and making nice looking images. I usually try to carry a tin with a few transparencies to show people some images. Some people will even make room for you to take a photo, since watching you with an old camera becomes a sort of performance art.
Technically, most of these suck in comparison to more modern gear. I think that misses the point that they are unique, and produce unique images. About the only wish of technical improvement I would like would be an easier way to fit filters onto the really small lenses. Anyway, I think the best reason for using old cameras is because they are fun.
Originally Posted by srobb_photo
In my opinion you should give your old cameras a try. I've tried three old ones now and they've been just fine. A roll of 120 B&W film is not too dear and if develop your own neg's, then it stays pretty cheap.
There's a lot of adventure in playing with old cameras. If you're not expecting perfection, you might get some surprisingly good results and have some fun to boot.
A bit like the stunned silence that falls over the room when you pull out a Mamiya C330 with potato masher flashgun... followed up a day or so later by another stunned silence when you show them the prints.
Originally Posted by HerrBremerhaven
I get that reaction when I pull out my 1927 Voigtlander Rollfilmkamera (ancestor of the Inos and Inos II) -- manually extended front standard, rather than self-erecting, dial-set Compur shutter, and gleamingly clean, though uncoated, Skopar. First it's "Is that a camera?" and then "Can you still get film for it?" and then "does it still work?" And in fact, its one of the best I own, possibly because it's easy to hand hold well, in addition to having an excellent lens and a shutter with a very, very smooth release.
If I want a bigger, better negative than that one, it's time to pull out the Speed Graphic and play Weegee...
The other direction, I have a Kodak Reflex II, with one of the best front focusing lenses ever made (possibly not up to the best lenses mounted on the Rolleiflex, but it's a lot cheaper than a Rolleiflex, at least now -- usually around $50), and a Kodak Signet 35 (the Ektar lens is in the same class with the ones that Leica used in the 1930s to prove 35 mm was a serious format, not just a "miniature" camera), and a Pentax Spotmatic which, with radioactive 50 mm f/1.4 Super Takumar, is capable of doing justice to the resoution of microfilm -- and is coming up hard on 40 years old.
And if I really want to reach back, I have my Ica 225 Ideal 9x12 cm plate camera made before the 1926 merger that formed Zeiss-Ikon. With 15 cm f/4.5 Tessar, it's capable of recording 95% as much information as my Speed Graphic -- and weighs about as much, by itself, as a couple old wooden 4x5 film holders.
The only cameras I own that were bought new are mildly crappy -- slow lenses, semi-accurate auto focus, etc. All my best cameras are old (most of them older than I am, and I'm not exactly fresh out of high school).
Of course, I've got a Bullseye, a Brownie Hawkeye, a Duaflex IV, a Pony 135 (actually a pretty good little camera, despite the bakelite body) and an Agfa Clack, too -- but I don't use them for serious images, I use them for fun. And that goes double for my Bantam RF -- 828 film is a labor of love in and of itself these days...
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
Old cameras have a definite charm, I'd even suggest they have a personality. They are not brand-new, shiny snappers that look exactly the same like thousands of other cameras. They have their own history. For example, I have a Zenit EM I got from my late uncle, it is about as old as I am, it's my main camera, and it's also the camera most of my childhood pictures were taken with. Or my Stereo Realist came with a viewer and slides, which allowed taking a look at someone who (presumably) owned the camera before; an American middle-class couple from 1950-ies, their house, car, extended family, friends, work, and garden, all in vivid stereo Kodachrome. Another of my cameras is an old Lubitel (the original model), which I noticed in one home hanging from ceiling as a decoration. I asked if I could have it, and, sure enough, I could. I cleaned it, loaded it with film, went out, and made some pictures I really like, for example, the cat picture that I've attached. And that's probably the greatest thing about using old cameras. I mean, if I had not picked it up, the camera would probably still be hanging there until someone would toss it out when redecorating. Now it's still in use, taking nice pictures (well, at least as nice as my extremely limited photographic abilities allow). It still works, it allows to feel how people used to snap their pictures in 1950-ies -- indeed, it is a very real connection to the past. And at least I find it quite fascinating.