Saturday, 23 March 2013

Voigtlander - a new Lease on Life for an old Master

I inherited my fathers' Voigtlander Bessa 1 camera. It was his pride and joy. It is still in relatively good condition although the shutter gets stuck at speeds less than 1/50 and the self timer spring needs cleaning or replacing. I am not really fussed about these things. I try to put myself into a situation where I don't have to use a slower speed and I have the iPhone for selfies - ha ha!

It is a challenge to use because it does not have TTL viewing or focusing. I have a Pollux rangefinder attachment to estimate the distance to subject which then has to be manually set on the camera. I also use a Kontur view finder to compose the photo. It has taken a while but I think I have mastered both.

I don't know the age of the camera. My dad has photos from WW2 and I believe he took them with this camera. Anyway, it would have been a long time ago that he put a film through it. He was fairly prolific when we were a young family with toddlers but as we grew and space for developing and enlarging and printing became less he moved to 35mm which he would leave at the chemists. It was possibly nearly 40 years ago that a film would have been exposed in this camera!

I had not thought it possible to get a film for such an old camera and was ecstatic to  find that it takes a simple 120 format film! SO...... thus begins a new chapter in my photography interest. I only get 8 exposures from a 120 and so have to try and be frugal in its use. The first film showed signs of focus problems but I believe that that may have simply been that I used a large aperture instead of going mid range to get the depth of field to cover the subjects.

I have just got back the second roll of film. This time I had used a colour film to see how the camera presented the colours. Dad had never used colour film, possibly because it was a different kettle of fish when it came to the development and printing. They didn't turn out too badly but the colour seems a bit washed out and there is a mark on the pics that maybe caused by degradation of a lens coating over the years. It is not on all pics so maybe it is affected by the angle of the sunlight as it strikes the lens?

I am really happy that I am getting the hang of the camera. It has brought me back to the basics of exposure and composition and I really have to think about the photo before I take it; once that button is pushed there is no reviewing!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these photos from a very special and very much loved camera that is seeing a new lease on life!

Dad would be extremely happy!

The camera wouldn't recognize these 'kids' anymore. The last time it took their picture they were all children. It would be about 40 years (possibly more) since the Jordan children were captured through this lens! I think I had the distance to subject ok here. This was taken at f4 and, if I had used a smaller aperture the wider depth of field would have brought my sisters into focus. 

This taken from the 2nd floor of my work building using f16 at about 1/125. Cloudy day but the pic is still fairly sharp.

Cloudy day at f16 at 1/125. Still a fairly sharp photo. Getting better with keeping the camera straight  too!

I have to admit to using the 'Sunny 16' theory when adjusting aperture and shutter speed. It appears to be working well!

In this pic you can see the mark on the top right hand corner. I think this is caused by a degradation of the coating on the lens. It does not appear on all photos though.

Nice and sharp focus with the lens set to infinity for distance to subject. The colour appears a little washed out but that helps the pic to maintain an old world charm! 

This colour is more true to original. The sky is a little overexposed but there is not much I can do about that; I don't have a grad ND for the camera!