There are times when you think you know where this is heading; the comfort of being in familiar territory. That’s where I thought I was going too, but before I knew it, I was off down a rabbit hole and into a new world.
Back in the day – 1980s & 90s – I was up to my ears in film photography. By day as a pro scientific photographer I was shooting bones & stones in an archaeology laboratory on an Olympus OM-1, usually Ilford FP4 but occasionally Pan F. Out of hours, a nature/landscape/travel photographer, shooting kilometres of Kodachrome 64 on a Pentax MX and ME-Super. Around 2000 I stopped shooting film, and aside from family snaps on a phone & compact digital, no real photography at all until late 2016.
A couple of second hand Micro Four Thirds cameras later, adapting old classic lenses, the inevitable happened. Someone kindly gifted me a Pentax Spotmatic to go with my clutch of Russian M42 lenses. A thrift shop rescue for a Minolta SRT101, and a home for my Minolta MD lenses. Shot a few films. First revelation; my eyesight ain’t what it used to be in 1990, and these ground glass SLR screens are (now) very hard to focus on. Focus nailed, occasionally. Lots of squinting.
Rabbit hole time.
A friend kindly gave me a Zorki 4 rangefinder – “… have you tried one of these?“.
In all my film photography meanderings I had never used a rangefinder – old technology, surely! Wow. Not only can I see stuff in the Zorki’s bright viewfinder, it has dioptric adjustment so stuff is in focus while composing, and that obvious yellow patch makes precise focusing a cinch.
I hadn’t shot colour negative film since I was a kid with a Kodak Instamatic. Seemed like the perfect pairing with the novel rangefinder.
So here goes – Zorki 4 rangefinder camera, Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 lens, Porta 400 film. I pushed the Porta 1-2 stops most of the time, but with standard processing. All images taken about 15 minutes down the road from home (Guildford and Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia).
I’m sold. The Zorki 4 is probably the only 35mm film camera I’ll use from here on in. Otherwise I shoot 6×6 120 film on a Pentacon Six TL. My Micro Four Thirds digital mirrorless camera continues to render classically with Russian lenses.
The image of my Zorki 4 was taken with a Google Pixel 2 mobile phone camera, using the portrait algorithm.
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