I would never have thought I was living right on top of a “mine of cameras”. I knew of the love of photography in my neighbour Alvar who lives in the apartment below, so one day I asked him if he had any old cameras I could play with. The answer was yes.
He showed me various cameras of different origins. Among them was a complete Haseblad kit (approx 1980) made up of the camera and three lenses in a beautiful leather case. It was fantastic to see and appreciate that jewel but it was not of my interest. The other cameras were a Leicaflex, two Prakticas, a home modified bellows / plate camera, two small compacts, other cameras, various lenses, leather cases, flashes, accessories etc… I was STUNNED and he added: “I think in I have more cameras tucked away somewhere too”. I did not know what to do or say, but finally I asked him to lend me the Praktica MTL 5 B with a Zeiss 50 /2.8, a Tokina 28 / 2.8 and a Zoom Tokina 80-200 / 4.5. I then asked him if he had old / expired film and, to my surprise, he showed up with two rolls Kodak Tri X, expired in 2016. All at my disposal without limits or expenses.
Excited, I took the stash, thanking him profusely. Once at home I started working. I discovered:
1.The camera was in very good condition and clean (lacks serial number)
2.The shutter worked perfectly
3.The photometer came to life when the battery was installed.
4.The automatic aperture in the Zeiss 50mm / 2.8 had failed.
5.The Tokina worked without problems.
I decided to disassemble the Zeiss to fix it (with instructions). After many attempts the “Automatic aperture mechanism” did not work – something suggested as being a possibility in the instructions. I decided to cut my losses and eliminate all the parts of the automation. With the parts moved by the outer ring, I tied the internal control of the aperture with thread. It now works perfectly as a manual aperture lens. The infinity setting also gave me a lot of work because the focus barrel thread has, I think, 16 input positions and I forgot to leave a position mark when disassembling it. This modification can, of course, be rolled back.
It was time to shoot photos with Praktica but for days the weather was not good, rain and wind were allied against me but I was going to win.
Of 37 shots 5 are blurred or out of focus. Here I show 12 of the good ones, some are edited (more lighting / contrast). They are all shot in Barcelona and developed by Joma Foto, who is my usual supplier.
I have found myself comfortable with the Praktica, even the noise it makes when shooting is pleasant. The viewfinder is magnificent but using the photometer is very difficult since pressing the button that activates it closes the diaphragm and you can hardly see the needle indicator.
Another small problem has been that outdoors the 400 ASA film has forced me to use very high shutter speeds. The Zeiss has problems with backlighting perhaps due to lack of coating but the Tokinas gives good results. In general I am happy with the results. It has been a good experience.
Thank you Alvar for your generosity and patience.
Thanks for reading my article, I hope you liked it.
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