It’s always a bit of a gamble buying cameras from eBay, you’re never sure what hidden faults quirks the camera might have, especially if the camera from 1937. I’ve recently bought another old Voigtlander folding camera, like the Baby Bessa but larger. This one takes 9cm by 6cm negatives (with an optional film plate to enable you to take 4.5cm by 6cm photos).
The first roll would tell me if the camera worked, if there were any light leaks in the bellows, and if the shutter speeds were anything like they were designed for.
As you can see, it all works fine! The one disadvantage with taking 9×6 photos, is you only get 8 shots on a roll.
With the sun out this week, I took my Bessa 66 out with some B&W film in it. I won’t get the negatives back for a week or so, I always try to sent at least 2 films off at the same time, to make the postage more cost-effective. If the weather is good tomorrow I might go up on the Longmynd with my Belair, (last time I went I shot 3 rolls of film with my Olympus Trip 35 and Fed 2 cameras) and then I’ll post it all off. I’ve still not received the 12×6 film mask, so I’ll have to shoot 9×6 which is still a pretty big negative, and I’ll get a few more photographs out of my 120 film.
This is one of the things I shot with the Bessa 66, this is a great door on the remains of Old St Chad’s church in Shrewsbury, which collapsed in the late 1700s. All that is left is a side-chapel with this weathered door on it.
I took this with my Fuji XF1, I expect the film version will look quite different.
I’m new to medium format cameras (but I’ve already got 4 of them!) so I don’t get everything right. My first roll, shot with a Lubitel 166B, came out looking horrible, as if I’d deliberately overexposed it. The 2nd, shot on a Diana F+ was beyond terrible, only 2 shots came out ok, the rest it looked like fungus the Bogeyman had been sick on them (light leak problems were the least of it).
Yesterday I got the rolls back from my Baby Bessa and my Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16. I shot B&W for the Baby. I shot what I thought was normal colour film with the Zeiss. I was slightly surprised/mortified to get an email form the lab asking me if i was sure I wanted this slide film processed in normal chemicals. I checked the box of films again – sure enough, it was slide film. Since slide processing is an extra £1.50 and I am nothing if not a cheapskate, I said ‘sure what the hell – cross process it!’ (or words to that effect).
Cross-processed film (sometimes called x-pro) is notorious/celebrated for the unusual and sometime bizarre things that happen to the colours. These pink trees are not only cross-processed, it is also a double-exposure. This is very easy to do with these old cameras without meaning to.
This photo of some trees (I get impatient shooting test-rolls and tend to snap just anything) is a bit more normal, but still obviously different, like this bridge.
The English Bridge, Shrewsbury (X-pro)
I think I’ll be doing some more X-pro films, soon.
I had decided this year to stop buying cameras, and sell some of my 35mm collection as I wasn’t really shooting with them all and there were some I wasn’t that fussed about keeping. I’d bought a Fuji XF1 in the sales, so I had a really good digital camera too. Now I’ve got a Lomography Belair X 6-12.
Belair x 6-12
I somehow decided to start shooting 120 film, in addition to 35mm, and ended up buying a few medium format cameras. This new one is one of them. (I also have a Baby Bessa and a Zeiss Ikon Nettar).
in folder state
There aren’t many new film cameras being made today, not at the consumer end of the market (at least not at the affordable end of it), and certainly not shooting 120 film. One of the advantages of 120 film over 35mm, is the size of the negatives, the standard size is 6cm x 6cm and 6cm x 9cm is common. This camera can shoot both of those, plus 12cm x 6cm – which I’m hoping with be great for panoramas.
The camera is quite big – it needs to be – but not too heavy. Even though it’s plastic, it doesn’t feel too flimsy. Unfortunately, it is missing one of the lenses (which is why I got it cheap) but somehow the viewfinder is the one that matches the missing lens… so I’ll have to guess what is in my shot, unless I can get a finder from somewhere! (The other lens is wide-angle).
No, I haven’t had a baby – it’s a camera. A Voigtländer Baby Bessa 66*. You might be thinking it’s looking a bit corroded, that’s because it was made in 1938, and has been stored badly. The insides look pristine, though.
It is otherwise in fairly good nick – the bellows are still light-tight, the shutter still works (although all speeds work at 1/150 second), and the lens is in fairly good condition with no scratches. The aperture looks really good. The viewfinder has no glass or lens in it, just holes in two pieces of metal – it is meant to be like that. That’s how they did things before the war.
It had a roll of film in it when I got it, only 7 of the shots had been taken, but I’m not paying to get that developed (B&W medium format film is about £10 to get developed, that’s without printing!). I’m keeping it carefully until the day I finally get around to developing my own negatives, then this can be a test roll!
I’ve already shot a roll of film with it – B&W – which I hope will be back by the end of the week. If it comes out ok, I’ll post some pictures. Or I might post them anyway.
*The 66 refers to the size of the negative – 6cm square. They also made a 46 which was 4.5cm x 6cm.