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.
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…
Yesterday I went for a walk up the Longmynd with a friend (and a dog). We started in Cardingmill Valley in Church Stretton and walked a long loop up which took us to the end of the valley, up on the moor on the top of the hill, to the highest point at Pole Bank – 516 m (1,693 ft) – and then down again via a parallel valley. Then we had jacket potatoes in the Cardingmill Valley café, which I felt we had earned (It was a very late lunch – nearly 4pm!). We had missed the nice weather, and it was cold and grey, but warm enough once you got moving.
I didn’t measure the route beforehand, guessing about 5 miles, but it turned out to be nearly 9 miles. It would have been 7 miles, but for an unplanned detour – ie, took the wrong turning. We took a planned detour on the return leg of the walk, through the old rectory wood. The walk took us almost exactly 4 hours.
This was, of course, a fine opportunity for photography. After long deliberation – a couple of hours, at least – I decided which of my 20-odd cameras to bring. I took my Fuji XF1 and my new camera, a Voigtlander Bessa (1946 version, loaded with Fuji Neopan Acros 100 B&W). I won’t get the Bessa negatives back for a week, which is one reason I took the Fuji.
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.
One of my more recent camera purchases has a neat feature: you can take the lens off and use it as a pinhole camera. Photos taken like this have a dreamy look to them, or sometimes surreal. These are my first shots to be developed (apart from 2 on a previous roll that didn’t come out that well).
Flooded Park #1
These were taken in the Quarry Park in Shrewsbury, where the river Severn has burst its banks.
Flooded Park #2
I get confused sometimes which shots were pinhole and which were normal, as I can change from shot to shot with this camera. Generally the focus on shots taken with the lens look sharper, but I can’t always tell…
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.
I got the camera built in about an hour, that was good fun – I enjoy building things. I tested the shutter (looked through the back while clicking) and noticed it only worked properly about 50%, the rest of the time it got stuck open, or stayed open while my finger was on the trigger, both would have lead to massive over-exposure of the film. I thought it might improve with use, as it loosened up.
Building the camera
It did the opposite. Plus, the film ‘counter’ wasn’t counting. It doesn’t actually count, the wheel just goes around to show that you’ve advanced the film by one frame. Well, it wasn’t doing that, even. A quick search later, I find that both are common problems. After a bit of further digging and some experimenting of my own I solved them.
This one should not be over-tightened
The Shutter: Don’t over-tighten the spring-loaded thing between the shutter and the round thing that turns when you press the shutter release thing. It should be just tight enough to do the whole shutter thing and no more. Try to get this right first time, I had to take the camera apart to fix this, and snapped a couple of things off that shouldn’t be snapped.
Film Counter: Squeeze the case on the back at a point halfway between the film advance winder and the ‘counter’. This seems to work. I’ve had to waste a film to play around and discover this, but as it was only from the pound shop anyway, it doesn’t matter that much.
The viewfinder looks surprisingly bright for something that requires no batteries, but not sure how much use it is with the focussing.
Viewfinder (doesn’t photograph very well)
Next: Monday morning, I shall buy some new film and set out to shoot a test roll! (I’d do it tomorrow, but I’m working)