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.
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.
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 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).