Monday, April 19, 2010

Week 15: Praktica

I have a new (old) camera. It's a Praktica FX 35mm viewfinder. I'd never seen anything like it when I read the ad for it on Craigslist.

It's a waist level viewfinder, but in the body of a 35mm. The only other waist level camera I've used is my Yashica Mat, but surprisingly this little camera is just as easy to handle. It even has a small magnifying loupe built into the pop-up viewfinder for critical focusing, just like the Yashica Mat.

I am always amazed at the precision and mechanics of older cameras. They usually feel very solid, an in a lot of cases the simplicity by which they operate understates the complexity by which they operate. Something as simple as the frame counter will make me smile when I think about how it's working internally.

I picked up the camera from someone local who had taken incredible care of it. Everything seems to be working just as it did when it was being heavily used. The leather case is well worn, but still holding up, which tells me that it saw a lot of use. The shutter works flawlessly, and the film loads, advances and unloads with ease. The only thing that seems to be a tad off is the aperture ring on the lens, but it still functions and opens the iris without any issue.

The camera doesn't have a meter, and I didn't want to bracket, so I was pretty much judging exposure as I went. I had Ilford HP5+ 400 speed film loaded. I brought it out at lunch a few days in Boston, then shot a bit at home too. Before each outing I looked up what some exposure guidelines were - trying to offset from the sunny 16 rule when I forgot the actual values.

Here's my first go at a self portrait, taken with the Praktica:

And here are four outtakes: