Picked up some vintage cameras last weekend at a photography swap meet in Kent WA. Well, actually I picked up two and BelRedRoad Jr. got the other pair! He’s 10-years old and part of a generation that was “born digital” but now discovering analog everything – from film cameras and muscle cars to record players and metal Tonka trucks. While he does carry a 4MP digital camera when he goes on field trips etc, he knows how much film I shoot and that analog cameras offer a lot of variety and visual candy. And on Saturday there was plenty of candy to be had. Aside from cameras, we also picked up about 20 rolls of film, lenses cases, and a couple issues of 1930s photography magazines. Lots of great stuff came home in my backpack.
Check out what we found on our rounds (more about the awesome wood table at the bottom of this post):
The Falcon Minette above is tiny! I originally bought the thing because it was cute and seemed like it might make a good display piece; then I discovered it was still usable. The Minette is made of Bakelite and is just big enough to fit a roll of 127 film – a smaller version of medium-format film which is still available in color and black & white at good quantities. The lens has a 50mm length. There are no adjustable aperture settings, and it has one shutter speed: Slow. This one is very clean inside, almost like it has never been used. Bakelite has a ‘feel’ like nothing else, like plastic and glass mixed together. The original Falcon Miniature was manufactured starting in 1939; this one is probably from the 1940s. Price for this little piece of plastic history: One Dollar!
I’m going to run some black & white film through it to see what will happen 🙂
Petri 7S Rangefinder
The Petri 7S is a Japanese 35mm rangefinder camera made by Kuribayashi in 1963. It has a 45mm lens rated at f1.8; that last number indicates that the lens is very sensitive to light, compared to its f2.8 sister that was also available at the time. The clear tiles around the lens cover the camera’s light meter; it does not require batteries. Focusing is done with a dial on the side of the lens; when the adjustment is done, a small ghost image appears in the viewfinder. Line up the image with the subject matter, and the camera is in focus. Pretty slick. Leica still makes cameras with digital image sensors that focus in the same way.
Price for the Petri? Five bucks. The threads on the lens end are bent, so it no longer can take screw-on filters. But other than that it’s completely functional!
Reflekta II Twin Lens Reflex
The Reflekta II was made in East Germany between 1950 and 1954. It is a medium-format camera, which uses readily-available 120 film. Lens is a 75mm focal length. The Twin Lens Reflex design allows the viewer to look down into the camera’s viewer on the top, and through the top lens. The lower lens is the one that actually takes the picture. While the outside condition shows wear, the inside is very clean. Fully functional. Fifteen dollars brought it home!
Spartus No. 4 Folding Camera
The final surprise of our day at the swap meet was this “No. 4” folding camera made in 1949 by Spartus – which also made the Falcon Minette at the beginning of this post. The No. 4 takes 120 medium-format film, and takes eight shots per roll. The camera looks more complicated than it actually is; user peers down into the viewer above and to the right of the lens in this picture. There are only three aperture settings, and the camera has a “fixed focus” that is not adjustable (I told Jr. to shoot subjects from six feet away or more). There is one shutter speed setting – about 1/100 of a second – but supposedly also has a timer setting. On Saturday we shot a roll of 100-speed black & white, which will get developed this week.
Price: Fifteen dollars.
What I found most interesting was that the older TLRs and folding cameras were the cameras catching my son’s eye. While I was looking for 1960s and 1970s rangefinder and SLR cameras and lenses, he was going totally old school. I don’t mind, and I’ve already shown him how to shoot each one. He’s having a blast!
About the Table – This magnificent table is smack dab in the middle of Cafe Cesura, a coffee shop in downtown Bellevue WA. It appears to be one giant piece of wood, heavy and smooth. This is where I sit to enjoy my Americano and Bacon muffin (Jr. has a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola with real sugar). Cafe Cesura also has salads and seasonal sandwiches.
So very tasty!