For those of you who follow my blog, you will know that I inherited my fathers' Voigtlander Bessa 1.
A folding camera, it is totally manual....... no through the lens focusing or light meter; it is TOTALLY manual.
To measure the distance to subject I use a Voigtlander Range Finder or a tape measure and then set the distance on the focus ring on the camera lens. This makes taking high aperture photos very difficult as they have a shallow depth of field and the focus distance must fall within that depth of field so it has to be spot on.
In saying that though, the camera does work at it's best around f8 and f16.
Another problem with high aperture settings is the limits on the shutter speed; the shutter is only capable of speeds up to 1/250, so there is a danger of overexposure.
Speaking of exposure, I have been using the 'Sunny 16' rule for exposure and then doing the math if I changed the aperture setting. The sunny 16 rule is this; set camera at f16 and set the shutter speed at the same number (or near equivalent) to that of the film ISO. For each stop increase in aperture, half the shutter speed. For each stop decrease in aperture, double the shutter speed.
But that is exactly what I love about this camera. Although I shoot in manual mode on my DSLR, this camera demands the attention to details otherwise the film will be wasted; no checking in the LCD display and taking it again! And, only 8 exposures on a 120 film!
Once I have the settings finalized and I am ready to take the photo, I must 'arm' the shutter with the tensioning lever so that it activates the shutter when the button is pushed.
However, I have found an easier way in.....of all things...... an iPhone App called Light Meter! It is free and it works a charm (See the results below!)
Speaking of the photo below...... I flew to Queensland recently on the Easter long weekend. I was only allowed 10kg of carry on luggage and therefore, could not take my DSLR camera bag. Between my iPhone and the Voigtlander, I managed to get some good photos.
This photo is of myself, brothers and sisters and Mum, standing on the front steps of the Queenslander house that was home to 2 adults and 5 children. It is only a very small house!
For this photo I had to instruct my nephew James on how to hold the camera and use the Kontur viewfinder to ensure that everyone got into the photo and no heads were cut off (one problem I recall Dad having a number of times). For anyone who has never used an external viewfinder mounted on the flash mount, it does take a bit of getting used to. One has to leave both eyes open as you actually cannot see through the view finder. What you do have in the viewfinder are 2 views; one indicated by a broken line which gives a parallex view of the subject (corrects the vision as if it were being viewed through the lens) of the subject up to 3 feet away and, the other, an unbroken line with gives the parallex view of the subject up to infinity. As I said, one must have both eyes open; one eye to view the subject and the other to line up the viewfinder with the subject. There is also a white dot in the middle of the view finder that sets the subject in the middle but one has to be mindful of the broken and unbroken lines to keep the subject well into the composition. I hope you can understand that! I really have to stop and think about what I am doing every single time I use this camera.
James did an excellent job of composition and slow but firm button pushing to release the shutter with no shake for the camera!
Dad would be so happy to see his old camera taking photos of his family again!