« OK, So Show Us Your Favorite | Main | New Sigma Lenses »

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

In the late 90s my mother used a Kiev 60, those huge pieces of film made some beautiful black and white photos. It was a bit top heavy with that huge pentaprism.

Mike, do you still have all that old film? If so, has it been scanned?

"but, still and all, I have a certain amount of sentimentality for who I was then, and for the plans, ambitions, and hopes I had. As many of us do, for our youthful dreams."

Me too......

That really takes me back. My first SLR was an Exakta VXiib, bought for me by my father when I was about 14, around 1967. There used to be a camera store that only dealt in Exakta cameras -- Seymour's Exakta -- near Penn Station in NYC, when that area was the nexus of all the camera stores in NYC (Olden, Willoughby-Peerless, Spiratone, Camera Barn, etc.). I had the camera (made in East Germany) and a 50mm lens (cannot remember which) with an eye level finder. I saved my money and was able to buy the metering finder a year or two later, having relied on the sunny-16 rule otherwise.

The camera was a left-handed camera -- shutter release on the left side. The release was built into the lens, so that as you pressed the release, the aperture stopped down on the lens and the photo was taken. With the metering finder, there was no coupling to the lens or the camera, so you had to compose with the lens stopped down.

I also remember having some sort of telephoto zoom, a really obscure brand, with a T-mount.

The camera had a lot of other strange features -- a trapezoidal body, a knife for cutting the film mid-roll, the ability to remove the take-up spool and replace with a film cartridge (so you could remove a half exposed roll after cutting with the knife).

I really liked the camera but in the end it was traded against a new Olympus OM-1n sometime around 1975 or 76.

I do remember when the Exakta 66 was announced and I think it was all over the photo magazines back then (Popular and Modern Photography).

Seymour's and most of the other photo retailers in NYC are now gone, with only B&H and Adorama remaining. I was in B&H the other day for film and chemicals and there was an Exakta 35mm on display in the used department. Looked pristine but I did not see a price.

At one time, in the mid-70s, I had both a Pentacon 66 (with an 80mm lens) and an Exakta VX 1000, with three or four lenses, the best of them being a Kilfitt Makro-Kilar 90/2.8.

I liked the Exakta, what with me being left handed and all, and would have probably stuck with it had I not been seduced by the Canon F1, which I stuck with until I went digital in 2004.

Well, there's still the RB67 system, but it's resting in storage for some indeterminate period.

"but still and all..." a wonderfully constructed thought. And all so true for many of us. Thank you for putting into words a thought I'v had for a long time.

Hope... the very definition of youth. Blind, ceaseless hope...

My first serious and favorite film camera, to this day, was a Voigtlander Vitessa L (I think it was an L - I can't find a picture). Beautiful, innovative piece of finely tooled machinery that took beautiful pictures. During my first bout of GAS, I traded it in for a Practica SLR (waist level finder no less)because SLR's were the new hot thing (around 1957/8). The Practica felt like a it was made from a tin can and crapped out a year or two later in the middle of a photography course in college. I still have the Tessar lens sitting in a drawer.
From the mid sixties on, I have used Pentax SLR's and DSLR's and have kept all of them. I have also accumulated an outfit of Mamiya 645 equipment that I couldn't afford back when.
Current favorite digital camera is a Fuji X100T - everyone knows what that looks like.

". . . I have a certain amount of sentimentality for who I was then, and for the plans, ambitions, and hopes I had."

Amen to that, Mike.

I don't have my first SLR that I bought used, but a newer model with a stronger lens mount. It's the "3M" Pentax SL. I traded the 105mm/f2.8 lens because it flared so badly when pointed toward a sunny window. (I over-stressed that single-coated lens.) Added a 28mm off-brand (but made in Japan) lens which is perfect for car photography and a 17mm/f4.0 Super Takumar fisheye which is selling for about three times what I paid for it.

I do regret giving my friend the Pentax MX with winder because it's difficult to find one in good shape with the auto-winder. But, he is one of the two friends from high school with whom I still keep in touch.

There is one non-photography-related item I'd like to have again.

Even though I don't have a place to store it, I'd like to have another copy of my first car, even with its 12 mpg thirst.

A 1970 Impala with the small block 400, heavy duty suspension (which saved me from a broken or severely dented oil pan on one occasion), true dual exhausts, tilt wheel, etc. A gold four-door hardtop with black vinyl roof which would shift from first to second at 60 and second to third at 90, according to the stock speedometer and thanks to the 2.73:1 rear end gears.

A bunch of us decided to leave high school one day during the last week of our senior year. I punched the pedal and the only thing that moved was the speedometer needle. That engine had torque!

I don't think I'd have the car too long before I'd realize all the flaws it had, especially compared to current models. I should leave the past where it belongs.

This camera can take the best portrait lens to be ever made for any medium format system - the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 180 2.8. I struggled with the Pentacon Six for years, just to be able to shoot this lens.
I took some of my favourite photos with it:

It has just the right balance of detail and softness, and a very smooth looking out of focus areas, without any of those fancy bokehs everyone seems to be so obsessed with nowadays...

I eventually swapped it for Fuji GX680 and Fujinon 180 3.2 - not as good (almost, not quite), but I did it for the front standard movements.

[That's the famous "Olympia Sonnar," first developed for the 1936 Olympics. Still a great portrait lens. --Mike]

Doing it with that '66 Eastern bloc weight lifter is HARD porn!

I owned an original Ihagee 66, bought used in the early '60s. It had the 80mm lens, and it took absolutely beautiful images. But, the film winder kept breaking. After the third repair, my budget screaming in agony, I had to trade it in on a Speed Graphic. But I don't think I have ever had a camera which did better image quality.

I kept looking at the second-tier medium format SLRs (and. more recently, even briefly owned a Norita Grflex; with that yummy 80mm f/2 lens), for the same reason—wasn't prepared to commit to the Hassy or RB67 (or maybe the Pentax 6x7, but a smart plan for me in medium format included strobe sync). I've owned a Yashicamat 124G (the most satisfactory MF I've owned), a Fuji GS 645 (I think the bellows compress too much when closed; mine kept developing pinholes), and the Norita.

Probably the letter to my 18-year-old self would say to get serious about portrait (and film) lighting, and get into medium format.

I found your experience with the lenses for your Exakta surprising. I am no lens expert, although I have been lucky to use many very good ones in my career. In my corporate life, they occasionally bought new lenses for my department, so I got to use a few new Zeiss lenses (for the Hasselblads) Schneider and Rodenstock LF lenses, and some modern Nikons (without having to pay for them myself). They all performed very well in meeting some exacting requirements- (the Zeiss 135/5.6 Makro-Planar was perfect) and we never got an inferior example.
I can't say the same for my personal lens and camera adventures, but that's another story.

Talking of Exaktas, my brother's Exakta IIb fitted with a 50mm Pancolar lens was my first SLR. With it, I won my first photography competition prize. I was a wee 16 year old lad at that time and that meant a lot to me.
It had so many little controls to play with but the coolest of them all was that film cutter that could slice off films mid-roll. That helped me get pictures developed and printed soonest possible without having to finish the entire roll.

I bought a Pentacon 6 used when I was studying in Poland in 1989 and eventually accumulated four Zeiss Jena lenses--50mm (which was excellent), 80mm, 150mm and 300mm, if I remember correctly. The film advance wasn't entirely reliable, but it was a less conspicuous camera in Poland at that time than my Canon New F-1, so I could pass for a local when I was out shooting on the street.

This was before East European/Soviet gear was popular in the US and Western Europe, so the whole kit probably didn't cost me more than a couple of hundred US dollars traded for Polish złoty on the black market. When I got back to the US, I traded it plus a little cash at Ken Hansen's (they mainly were interested in that 50mm Flektagon) for a Norman P800 pack with 2 lights, stands, a background diffuser, background stand and seamless paper, and umbrellas, and I started shooting headshots.

Funny - only one Canon on the list, unless I read through too quickly! The largest player seems to garner the least love. Coincidence?

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007