This is another camera that I actively searched for. There are many versions of this camera and I didn’t really have a preference for either. I just wanted a good medium format twin reflex camera that didn’t cost thousands of dollars. I have a Bronica and a Lubitel 166B, but this is a completely different kind of camera.
This truly is a beast of a camera. Some people on the net refer to it as a tank. Even Camerapedia says it is “steel, very solid as rock”. On that site it says the weight is 2kg+. When I weighed mine it was 2.2kg with the old Canon strap I had lying around to make it easier to carry. This is a camera I will take somewhere in my car, not something I will trek up a mountain with.
I wanted this camera as something to compare to the Lubitel for one thing, there is no comparison. Everything about this camera screams quality, from the weight to the focusing system. Mine came with a 65mm lens, but they are interchangeable and a few are available.
There is suppose to be an automatic shutter cocking system, but it doesn’t seem to work on my camera. For this one I have to leave the switch on multiple exposure or the shutter does not work at all. It is annoying considering how much I paid for it. This great blog also talks about the same issue to some extent. Never mind, considering this camera is from 1965 it is a minor issue. To cock the shutter you wind on the film then turn the crank anticlockwise/backwards until it clicks. That is usually when the knob lines back up with the hole it slots into. The red screen on the back of the camera is quite dark and on some films it is impossible to read the numbers. I eventually figured out that one turn of the crank is enough to advance the film for the 6×6 format. Lomography film was the worst, black paper with very faint writing. This reviewer had the same issue. This issue also meant the frame counter did not work.
But what about the photos?
For some reason I had a huge issue loading the film and ruined 2 rolls trying. The first issue was that I didn’t know the auto shutter did not work and wound the whole film to the take-up spool. I used a dark bag to put it back once, the second time I could not get it back and fogged the film. Then I tried again with a new film and it just wouldn’t load and I ended up fogging that too. Then I had the bright idea of practicing with the fogged film until it was easy for me. This idea came after a lot of swearing and almost throwing the camera out of the window!
Finally with camera loaded with my last film, a Rollei 200, I headed out to a local park. It was a dull day and a 200ASA film was not fast enough. Then I remembered I would be developing it myself and you can push process a film. So I shot it at 800ASA. I have never push processed before, it is so easy I don’t know why. I will definitely be doing it again.
My main problem was with the wind-on issue. As the camera was set to multiple exposures I sometimes double exposed the shot by mistake. Apart from that I love the camera, I love how cool I feel using it. The bellows means the camera can act like a macro camera and get very close to the subject.
Once I bought more film I tried again. I used the next two films to get use to the camera. This roll of, a Fuji Across 100 pushed to 400 only had 7 viable shots, the others I wound passed by mistake.
This is a Fuji Across 100 pushed to 200. By this time I had figured out the one turn of the crank to wind on.
So like I said this is a great camera and I will keep it…if I can get it back to the UK with my luggage allowance.
Adddition: The faults with this example got worse so I had to return it for a refund 😦