Thursday, July 24, 2008


Speaking from my (admittedly extremely limited) experience with buying and testing vintage cameras, when they photograph really well, they don’t output nearly as well (or at all). I have the Foldex-20 in mind here. To be fair, the jury is still out on that camera as I’m waiting to see the results of running 35mm through this camera (and not using the bulb mode and using a tripod for every shot, etc.). It also helps to remember that this camera was purchased mainly for respooling purposes—though I’ve not had good luck with this either. Ah well, it’s fun to photograph.

And I’m hoping that this will not turn out to be the case with the Zorki 4 (pictured above) as it’s another camera that I don’t know that I—that is to say, that the Canon Powershot S5 and I will necessarily tire of photographing. Even the Vistaquest wanted in on the action—see first image in series below. Not sure what it is about some cameras that make them seem (at least to me) like better subjects than others. Case in point: It’s really hard (I think) to get anything decent of the Vivitar or the Vistaquest. I’m still not a fan of the Vivitar but I (obviously) love the Vistaquest so it’s not a matter of my feelings about a camera influencing things. That is, if feelings had anything to do with it, I’d be taking photos both with and of the Vistaquest all day long.

I’ve not yet had time to shoot a test roll with the Zorki as I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out what was up with the Kiev 4AM that I came along with the Zorki 4. When I was researching these cameras, I read that the Kiev had a “whisper quiet” shutter (unlike the Zorki), so it took me a while to figure out if the shutter was really that quiet or just not working at all. Turns out it was just not working at all, so that’s going back today in exchange for a Kiev 4M.

And speaking of shutters not working, yesterday was really a disappointing camera day for me. I also received an Agfa Ansco Shur-Shot B-2 which is, cosmetically-speaking in incredible condition. I was really psyched about this camera as it takes 120 film and it also takes 8 full or 16 half-size/shot pictures. Plus, it was cheap and, as I said, in great condition—it needed far less cleaning than any of the other old (but new to me) cameras I’ve picked up in the past month or so. So the shutter seems okay the first few times I click it and then it sticks. I take the front off the camera to see what’s what and the shutter spring is still intact but it’s clearly not resilient enough to keep things working. With my help, it would function correctly once or twice and then nothing. Not sure if there’s anything I can do (or learn to do) to fix this—again, all that needs fixing/replacing is the little safety-pin looking mechanism that connects the sliding part of the shutter with the shutter lever. I put it aside and figure that I’ll do some research and see what, if anything, might be done to make this work. In the meantime, the viewfinders are pretty sweet so if nothing else this might be another good ttv camera. I’m bummed though because I was hoping to do a test roll of the half-frames this week. I’ve not tried taking pictures of this camera yet but I’m guessing that if/when I get around to it, I’ll find that the Canon will love photographing this camera. Just a hunch.

So I was bummed about the Shur-Shot but I was more bummed about the Kiev situation mainly because it was the first camera I ordered and I’d been waiting (or so it felt) forever for it (and the Zorki) to arrive. It was mainly to give me something to do to pass the time while waiting for them to arrive that I began checking out what other kinds of old cameras might do, favoring those that could be had for under six bucks. It’s been fun playing around with the Brownies, the Foldex-20, Trailblazer, etc. but I was eager to see what these rangefinders could do. Feels like I’m back to square one with the waiting but at least I’ll have the Zorki to work with and learn from in the meantime. Provided of course, the Zorki doesn’t have more in common with the Foldex-20 than being a camera I enjoy taking photographs of.

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