Here are a couple shots from my 1930’s Kodak Duo Six-20. Not bad for a nearly 80-year-old camera (do you think your new digital camera will be taking pictures in 80 years?). This beautiful 620 folder was made in Stuttgart, Germany at the Nagel factory where the famed Retinas were made. My particular Duo Six-20 is one of the early ‘art deco’ models (distinguishable by it’s black enamel top and bottom panels). This model was made from 1934 to 1937, and sold in the US for $57.50 (somewhere around $1,000 in today’s dollars adjusted for inflation). An interesting historic tidbit is that Amelia Earhart had a 1936 Duo Six-20 and it was onboard her plane when she tragically died in 1937.
There’s a later rare rangefinder model, but this version is simply a zone-focus model with a simple flip-up viewfinder on top. Mine is not in perfect condition – most notably it’s nice octagonal film winding key has unfortunately been replaced by a cheaper aluminum knob – but it’s in pretty good shape, and has a nice high-quality feel to it. I’ve made a few repairs that I’ll detail later when I get to writing a camera page for this one.
It’s a bit difficult to use — focus by guesswork can be challenging, and the viewfinder is so small that it’s difficult for me to see the framed area while wearing glasses. The focus knob is tiny, and the shutter cocking lever and shutter button are even smaller (don’t try using this while wearing gloves). But it’s a beautiful little camera, and I’m determined to use it more and perhaps get more comfortable with it.
The Olympus Trip 35 camera has such a devoted following that I just had to get one and become a ‘tripper’ myself when a neighbor was selling this one on Craigslist. It’s a great little compact, lightweight 35mm viewfinder camera. Small and light enough to easily slip into a jacket pocket, but with a solid-enough build that it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. No rangefinder on this, just focusing by guesswork (which helps keep the size and weight down). It has fully automatic exposure powered by it’s selenium-cell light meter that wraps around the front of the lens. No battery required. Nice 40mm f:2.8 Zuiko lens for a little wider angle than most of my other viewfinder and rangefinder cameras.
I’ll write up a more complete overview and review soon (it’s done – here). First I need to put another roll of film in it and get some more use from it. I might try ‘night tripping’, as Trip 35 aficionados call it, which means putting 400 or 800 speed film in it, and setting it to a manual aperture setting of f:2.8 – the manual aperture settings are meant to be used only for flash photography, but it simply locks the shutter speed at 1/40 sec at any aperture you set, so you can get some good night shots this way. In low light in Automatic setting, the camera will warn you that it’s too dark and won’t shoot, so this ‘night tripping’ method is a way to over-ride that.
I’ve begun the expansion of my Kodak Retina collection, this time with a non-folding variety from the 1960’s. I’ve been so pleased with the performance of my Retina IIIc, that I’d like to collect more of these German-made gems. This one is an auto-exposure rangefinder that uses a selenium-cell lightmeter to operate in shutter-priority auto-exposure mode, or may be operated in fully manual mode, with the light-meter reading available on top of the camera for reference. A remarkable thing (to me, at least) about it is that it takes no batteries.
It’s a fun camera to use, and I’ll be shooting more with it. I’ve only shot one roll so far, so it’s hard for me to judge how well the lens performs compared to the IIIc, but the results look pretty good. In the photos of the block wall, there appears to be very little distortion, and very little softness at the edges, though the sharpness is a little hard to judge as I didn’t get terribly high-resolution scans made. The results look good to me, though.
These were shot on Kodak Portra 400.
I just got some film and scans back today from Dwayne’s – seven rolls from seven different cameras. I just love pulling the negs out of the envelope to see if they turned out (especially when it’s from a camera I’ve never shot before) then popping the CD in the computer and taking a look at the scans. As I’ve said before, it’s a feeling that I just don’t get when I shoot digitally. The anticipation and excitement is completely different.
I’ve got some sorting, selecting and adjusting work to do, but the photo above jumped out at me so I decided to post it right away. It was taken with my trusty Retina IIIc, and it is shown here as the straight scan, simply resized and watermarked, but with no Lightroom adjustments. I’m always amazed by the images from this camera. Some of my other old cameras produce images that are a little low in contrast for my taste, so I end up making adjustments in Lightroom, but the Retina IIIc images are almost always nicely contrasty, with great colors and amazing detail. This was shot on Kodak Portra 400 film.
The other rolls of film that I got back were shot with some cameras I’ve not posted about yet, so I also have some work to do in setting up information pages for these cameras. They are an Olympus Trip 35, Kodak Retina Automatic III, Kodak Duo Six-20, Seagull TLR, Zeiss Ikon Tenax, and my old Pentax K1000. I should have lots of posts coming up.