The Petri 7s is a manual, fixed lens rangefinder camera typical of the 1960 and 70s. It has a 45mm f/2.8 lens; a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 of a second plus, a built-in selenium light-meter. Keen to try a fixed lens rangefinder style camera I ended up buying three and managed to get two working examples.
I loaded a roll of Fuji Xtra Superior 400 into one of the working Petri’s and took it out for a spin. Everything was fine for the first dozen frames or so and then the focusing ring jammed.
I transplanted the film into my other working Petri and carried on using that one. This time, I made it to the end of the roll without an issue, although my confidence in this camera was now low.
Overall, I found the Petri to be underwhelming – finishing the roll was hard work. Reliability issues aside, it’s large, heavy camera and difficult to focus – the rangefinder patch is dull and indistinct. Saying that, I didn’t lose any shots through poor focusing. The build quality isn’t particularly stellar, either. The body feels solid enough, but the lens assembly feels a bit cheap and fragile. On the plus side, the lens itself is OK, it’s certainly sharp enough. And the short focus throw and focusing tab are a nice touch. The built-in light-meter was also accurate, which surprised me.
Would I recommend one? No, not really. They’re cheap and not that cheerful. I won’t be using my 7s again.
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5 thoughts on “5 Frames With the Petri 7s – by Barry Carr”
I have a collection of Petrie cameras both rangefinders and SLRS and all work. I even have a 7S that I purchased in a pawn shop while stationed in Iwakuni, Japan in 1967. That 7S is the 45mm f/1.8 version. It still functions properly and even the selenium meter works and is accurate to within 1/2 stop of my Gossen Ultra Pro meter! I agree that they are nothing special but if you want a no-frills purist camera that you are responsible for the resulting photograph, the Petri is your cup of tea.
Barry, the examples you showed show that the lens is very good optically, at least at f/8, f/11, and f/16. Nothing to scoff at. How does it perform at wider apertures?
Hi, I’ll let you judge for yourself! Here is shot from the same roll as the five above were taken with; my notes say I took this a f/5.6 (which seems hard to believe looking at the DOF). I shot this roll in August and we were lucky enough to get plenty of sunshine so the opportunity to shoot at wider aptertures didn’t really present themselves, especially when your max shutter speed is only 1/500.
These next shots were taken by my friend and colleague, Rob Kent; they were taken with a Petrie f/2.8 lens adapted onto a Sony A7ii. The lens came from one of the original three 7s’ I bought. The exif data that Rob has entered for these images say they were shot at f/8 but, again, I’m not sure that’s correct.
I hope this answers your query.
I can confirm that the shots Barry linked to on my site (https://jazzycamel.photography) were shot with the Petri 7s lens wide open at f/2.8, I was just lazy when I set the EXIF data and left a default value rather than consulting my notebook for the proper values!
To continue the theme, I too was underwhelmed with the Petri 7 as a camera, indeed the shutter on my own green-o-matic has given up of its own accord for no perceivable reason! The lens, however, is really quite nice when adapted, green tones really ‘pop’ and the bokeh transitions from a soft swirl to a gorgeous bubble depending on contrast and the distance of the subject from the background. I have a gallery of all the shots taken with adapted lens here: https://www.jazzycamel.photography/Petri-7s/. I think I will end up adapting the lenses from both Barry’s and my own faulty cameras rather trying to repair them (again!).
I picked up a Petri 7s at a flea market this summer for $20… after I determined that the shutter speeds, aperture, rangefinder, and METER were all seemingly working. (The original lens cap was still on, and had probably been for 45 years, so the around-the-lens meter’s selenium hadn’t decayed.) I ran some Tri-X through trying different focus and lighting conditions, using the rangefinder and meter… and got very nice results.
Of course, the lens on this camera isn’t in same the league as the Nikkors and Zuikos I mostly shoot. It’s no Leica – it’s not even a Canonet! But for a camera for the amateur market that only cost $60 in 1962, it’s not bad!