These photos are part of an on-going series I’m working on. So nothing is finalised yet. I’m still exploring several avenues but so far there’s a theme I tend to revolve around. It’s about the weirdness of this place being a business center (La Défense nearby Paris France) and yet remaining empty most of the day. Outside Lunch and commuting times everything seems to occur somewhere else, behind the curtains of huge slabs of glass covering the surrounding buildings. The whole place feels uninhabited and otherworldly during working hours, very much like an inert plastic casting of society.
I’m working this theme with a Zeiss Ikon ZM and a 35mm Zeiss Biogon lens on HP5 souped in rodinal for a nastier look. I keep marvelling at these tools, because they’re precisely just that: nothing more nothing less: just pure functional photographic machines.
I’ve always been of the crowd that preaches this gospel: when shooting film the most precious piece of gear has to be the viewfinder. Hence all cameras should be built around this viewfinder – which is exactly what uncle Carl and his pals took on to do.
The viewfinder is brilliant, full stop, the red dotters will avoid peering through it in fear of entering the infamous GAS doubt spiral…Yes the range finder patch disappears if your eye is not close to the “ideal” viewing straight line. But who chooses a Range Finder camera to focus all day long?
Next comes the act of operating the camera so let’s talk about knobs: there’s only one really, a big one: the shutter speed/ISO setting/exposure compensation all-in-one knob! Who doesn’t like a fat and well rounded shiny knob? ok, dial for the nerds…
No, nope, no “shininess” here, the Ikon isn’t into foreplays it wants to jump right in…to the assignment, it clicks firmly without poetry or suave silkiness. Always in the adequate direction (including the exposure compensation)! ie the same way around as a Leica M3 shutter dial.
From body to lens everything does not feel being made for the touch it feels being made for efficient use, just pure unemotional practical use. Hence there’s no endomorphin induced caressing your gear with this one. Carl says “You have to love photography and the act of it for what it is, otherwise why doing it? If you’re into caressing then go for the real thing: find a real human partner.”
Carl is a philosopher you know, engineering wise that is…
The shutter display in the viewfinder is discrete enough not to be a bother while framing, you really have to look at it to see it. Which for some will be a defect, whereas it should be considered a true achievement: no one wants to read the meter for each and every frame. We only need to read it once and forget about its presence afterward. And this one does not distract you ever!
Regarding the lens I like how it fights flare and ignores barrel distortion. And that is pretty much what I like about an RF lens, given it’s a sharp one, which knowing Carlito’s standards is not a question one should have in mind.
I shoot this setup in manual, so why choosing an aperture priority capable RF? First the viewfinder is brilliant, especially with a 35mm focal lens, second the viewfinder is brilliant and third, well… you get the idea.
Ok, I probably (certainly) did not have enough money to throw at a pure mechanical body with comparable features…
Actually my ideal 35mm set-up is a 50mm on a pure mechanical RF coupled with a 28mm or 35mm on a metered RF body, with the likely addition of a SLR for tele/macro lenses. So regarding building my set-up I’m at step one really (my washed out and refurbished/CLAed M3 is getting into light leaks territory now).
Zeiss rules the tools!