Old camera love

My love of old cameras only grows as I shoot more. There's something about a hunk of metal made to take an absolute beating and still get up the next day for work. The precision and design and craftsmanship and passion get to me every time. I was at this local antique shop (which had a ton of awesome old photos of dudes with AWESOME mustaches) and saw this old Voigtlander Vitessa I wanted to go back in time to watch someone make this. Fascinating stuff!

And speaking of Voigtlander...I tracked down another old camera I've had my eye on. I've been looking for a pocket camera for a while. For years, I carried around an LC-A so I'd have a camera on me at all times. It fit neatly in my cargo pocket (which, like many photographers, I wear almost all the time—despite knowing they are not stylish) and I could grab a shot any time any place. All the LC-As (and LC-A+'s) I've owned have borked on me in some way and all now hang out together at the fallen soldiers bar and grille (aka my gear drawers).

So in looking for a pocket-cam replacement I considered several things:

  • Relative portability
  • Has an aesthetic appeal*
  • Can produce a quality negative
  • Easy to use

*I mean mostly that the image it creates has qualities I like. ie the Lomo LC-A has a 32mm lens and vignettes in a lovely way.

The portable part is a tricky one. The LC-A weighs almost nothing (at least the new ones anyway. My first one was still old stock and made from metal..how novel) and is a perfect size for a cargo short pocket. But I also carry a small bag some times for books and gadgetry which could also hold a camera that was slim line. That would, of course, require me to have the bag around all the time if I wanted to be able to shoot as readily as I like.

I love the idea of a tiny, medium format camera. I'd get a much larger neg, and it'd hopefully shoot 6x6 (which is to say, square..and I love shooting square). Not to mention my buddy Jon has been gloating about his new Fuji GF670, for which I have lusted since the camera was announced.

The idea of a slim medium format camera also implies, to some degree, a folding camera..which takes care of being visually interesting.

My quest to find this camera started the end of last year with tracking down a fore-father of the GF670, the Voigtlander Perkeo II.

The Pros:

  • Fairly small
  • Sturdy, metal body
  • Folding camera
  • MF & Square format
  • ƒ3.5 is pretty quick for this kind of camera

The Cons:

  • Sturdy, heavy, metal body
  • No rangefinder
  • Pain in the ass to load

The upside is that it's square and fairly small and could very likely survive a ride in a pocket.

The downside is it's just a bit too heavy to ride in my pocket without it being a little awkward which means it'd really live in the bag. The biggest con is that, in my haste, I didn't realize that this is sans rangefinder. I could get one to fit into the cold-shoe but it would STILL be uncoupled. Uncoupled ranger finding is a bit of a pain, at least given the "quick dude take a picture" nature I have in mind for this camera. You use the RF to see how far away something is, then take that number (say, 9 meters) and turn your focus ring to the 9m mark. Just an extra step that slows me down. Granted, the LC-A is also guess-the-distance, but I've focused it so many times I don't even think about it any more. I imagine I'd get used to this system too (I'd just guess, and not spend more money to get an uncoupled ranger finder) but I think it will ultimately lose the fight.

Still, it's super fun to experiment with new gear. Not only does it broaden my knowledge of cameras (using, loading, history, etc) but it teaches me even more about the way I shoot. Figuring stuff out about different cameras only helps to know what I do and don't like when shooting which can't help but inform me about the method I use when shooting (which I don't always really understand).

Here are a couple of shots from the Voigtlander Perkeo II. Pardon the dust/color.