I’ve been putting off shooting with the Belair, as I’m missing a couple of pieces. The viewfinder I have is for the wide-angle lens (this camera would originally have had two lenses, each with matching finder). I’m also missing the attachment to shoot 12×6 negatives*, I’m stuck with 9×6 and 6×6, which is disappointing; I like a good panoramic photograph. This means that the framing is a bit hit and miss, as I’m not sure how a 90mm lens and 58mm finder work together…
Lomography help desk are working on finding me replacements for these pieces, which is decent of them as I’m not even the original owner of the camera. I thought it would be a bit cheeky to ask for the wide-angle lens too, although I’d have liked to shoot with one, if only to see if they are as ‘soft’ as everyone says. (I’ve shot a bit with Lomography’s Sprocket Rocket camera, and that’s a bit soft, but in a good way.)
Since the Belair is auto exposure, I can shoot slide film with the expectation of it coming out ok. Slide doesn’t really have any latitude, not compared to negative film which you can under or over expose a fair bit before ruining your photographs. Although, some shots have come out with very white skies, so it’s not a perfect system.
There’s a bit of lens flare on a couple of them, but I’ve located a lens hood for it for next time.
*The Belair takes medium format (‘120’) film, which is quite a bit larger than 35mm, with a corresponding increase in resolution. Although nowhere near as large as some large format film, where sometimes the negatives are 10″x 8″ or bigger.
During her recent house move, my friend found some unused films in a drawer, and since she no longer has any film cameras, offered them to me. Except, these weren’t 35mm, they were APS.
As far as I can tell, it has been almost a decade since anyone has manufactured APS, it is a dead format. Because of this, APS cameras are generally quite cheap, so I bought one just to shoot these three films. And the camera came with 2 films.
The advantages of APS: the cameras are generally quite small, as the film cartridges are small. Disadvantages? The films are small, so not much better than 110 film from a quality point of view. And it’s not easy getting the film developed, as not all labs have the facilities any more. I’m not sure why I’m bothering with this APS film, even. Each negative is only 56% of the size of a 35mm frame. I think I just liked the look of some of the tiny cameras…
Anyway, here is my first film:
My first APS Film
As you can see, there are no photos on the film. I’m assuming that the camera is at fault, since it loads the film automatically (not user error!). Trying it without film, it seems to be that the shutter doesn’t even open, so that’ll be it, then. At least the lab refunded part of the cost, which was nice of them.
I saw some random camera bits on eBay the other week, bidding starting at £10. It wasn’t completely obvious what some of the things were, but some of them looked useful – the small lens hoods looked like they’d fit my Voigtlander Vito B cameras. There were a few filters in there too, and a rangefinder, surely some of these would be useful. So I put a bid in.
No-one else bid, so I won the lot. Some of the stuff is useful, some not…
Small lens hoods: both 30mm and I need 32mm! No use to me at all!
White shutter release cable: not bad at all, that’ll get used
Black shutter release cable: broken, not repairable
Monocular: Seems to work fine. Do I need one? Not really.
Rangefinder: Numbers are almost too faint to read, but it works.
Light Meter: Works ok I think, although it’s designed for old, slow film types
Leather-covered box: Catch works, no key, but great condition (except strap has perished)
Filter Glass 31mm: I can use these with filter holder
42mm Filter: Or is it a lens? Not sure what it does, fits 3 of my cameras
Close-up Filter: Can use with 2 cameras (or anything accepting Series VI)
Small film Spool tin: No use for film, but tin could be handy
Filter Pouch: Ok, I could use this. Probably won’t.
Small Metal Thing: It has small thread and large thread, no idea what this is!
Filter Box: A disappointingly empty filter box. Am using it to store a filter.
Drawstring bag for telephoto lens: If I ever buy a tele lens…
The weird thing with the numbers on it and an eye piece is a kind of exposure meter, which as it has almost no moving parts, is still in working order. The numbers on the rangefinder are almost too faint to read, but it works.
The small black lens hood unscrews to fit the filter glass, I’d never seen one like that before. So I bought one that fit my cameras and now I can use the filters, and there is less to mess about with when taking photos as filter and hood are one piece.
It was a bit risky buying a collection like this, which is obviously the seller having a bit of a clear out…
This is the 2nd roll shot with the Baby Bessa. This one shoots 12 6cm x 6cm negatives on each roll of medium format film. It is a little unusual taking square photos, it can make framing the shot more of a challenge, but at least you never have to turn the camera on its end to get a shot.
I shoot this view of the English Bridge frequently, it looks different every time, and I’m usually using a different camera so get different results. This one, you might have noticed, isn’t square – there was some horrible lens flare on the bottom half of the shot, so I cropped it (and some off the top for balance).
This is another ‘stock view’. As you can see the framing is off – the viewfinder on this camera is rather primitive (a hole in a piece of metal!) and I’m not yet used to it, I often cut the top off a shot. This could have done with more sky and less road.
St Mary’s Church #1
Another one that could have done with less ground. This church photographs beautifully when the sun hits it just right.
I really like this street for photographing, especially with the light catching the details on the medieval building on the left. This is about the 10th attempt so far!
These shots taken with 1938 Voigtlander ‘Baby’ Bessa 66, Fomapan 100 B&W 120 film.
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.
It looks like all is not lost with my Diana Mini camera. Although I managed to snap the shutter lever off a couple of weeks ago, I think this camera is usable. Good job I didn’t throw it away or buy another one.
I had one of those mad moments when I dismantle something with precision screwdrivers, and then when I’ve got a pile of tiny screws and springs (some of which are somewhere on the floor now), realise I have no idea how they went together, even though I was telling myself that I was being really careful and observant… This time was different, I managed to put it back together so it worked, or at least was only as broken as when I started.
There’s no hope for the shutter lever, I could try super-gluing it, but I don’t imagine it would last very long. I did manage to loosen the cable release mechanism enough to get it working, though. You can’t gently squeeze it and expect the shutter to trip, you have to use a bit of pressure and speed, but at least it’s not going to give you camera shake like the stiff lever was prone to do. So… it works, and I can take photos with it. Result.
I just need a slightly shorter cable release, now, so I don’t look quite so silly using a release cable on a tiny plastic box.
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.
It’s not a person, it’s a camera. I recently got a secondhand Diana Mini, because I liked that it was ridiculously small and light, and that you could take either square or half-frame photos with it (and switch between the two between shots). I don’t think there are any other cameras still in production that take square shots on 35mm film. Of course, I could just take normal rectangular shot and crop it, but that doesn’t force you to compose your shot for a square.
The lens is plastic, so from a technical point of view it’s a bit crap, but the shots have a certain something, a dreamy vagueness to them. I like the effect.
And now the camera has broken, as the shutter lever, which was a bit stiff, has now snapped. I’d only shot one roll with it, so this is very annoying. This is the downside to things being light; plastic snaps. It was secondhand, so its unlikely I’ll get them to replace it for me.
I might buy another one*. Or I could save my pennies and add them to the ‘film developing’ fund.
*Or maybe it could be argued that I enough cameras already.
Finally got the scans and negatives back from my test roll taken with my 1938 Voigtländer Baby Bessa 66. I now have a scanner that will scan these negatives, which should speed things up next time I have to send some 120 films off for development.
Because the lens is uncoated, it is less contrasty than it could be, but I like the look. It seems sharp enough for my photos, I just need to learn to guess the lighting conditions a bit better – scanning the negatives in myself it seems I’ve underexposed the shots quite a bit, they are very dark. This means more tweaking to get them to look right.
Now I know the camera works and there are no light leaks in the bellows, I can go and take some more shots – I think maybe some colour film next time. I was using Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film for these shots.
I don’t often take the same shot on different cameras at the same time, but this time last week I did. There was some lovely haze in the distance, and I wasn’t sure if I’d got it with the film camera, so I shot it with my Fuji also.
Castle to the Bridge #1
Castle to the Bridge #2
I don’t know what you think, but I reckon that the film version has the edge over the digital version.
The top photo was taken with a Diana f+ with a 35mm film back and a wide-angle lens. The bottom shot was taken with a Fuji XF1.