When I visited my parents’ home for Christmas this year, I came away with something more than a bag of gifts and an extra stone of bodyweight. After looking through a few old photo albums, I asked if the negatives were still around anywhere and was handed a carrier bag full of unmarked envelopes and negative sleeves. After a few weeks of head-scratching on how to actually get hold of a scanner, all round good-egg and light-tamer extraordinaire Jack Hill stepped up with the loan of his Nikon Super Coolscan 5000ED. With the hardware and the purchase of Vuescan scanning software sorted, I could begin exploring the random strips in the search for things I’d never seen before. Aside from a stack of frames of the infant version of myself looking incredibly cute with shoulder-length blonde hair (shut it, you), I came across a single negative that looked very interesting. As it was cut off from the strip, the scanner couldn’t take it in, so I had to head up to SnappySnaps to use their flatbed scanner. When I loaded up the disc, I was over the moon.
The picture shows my Dad, aged about 20, taking pictures with his Certo Dolly Super-Sport camera. Not only is it cool to see a frame of one of my parents doing something that is now such an important part of my life, it was the fact that they still have the camera sat on a shelf. It immediately took me back to my childhood when they used to let me play with it and carry it around the house as a toy. I had no idea what it was and just enjoy the fact that a) it folded up into itself like a rather unusual Optimus Prime and b) if you turned a ring on the front in a certain direction and pulled the lever on the side, it did a buzzing timer noise for a few seconds before clicking. Knowing how badly I treated some of my toys, I was fascinated to see how well it had survived so when I went to Sheffield to cover the Speed Skating a few weeks ago, I delved into a dark corner of one of their shelves and found it out.
Miraculously, not only is it still in one piece but the bellows seem to be in pretty good nick too. There’s a professional part of me that wants to get it cleaned up and working smoothly while there’s the romantic part of me that likes it just the way it is, a soldier of a camera that survived both my parents’ experiments and TabascoToddler’s creative use of it as a space station for his Action Force figures. Given as a 21st birthday gift to my grandfather by his parents in 1938, it’s great to know that I’ve actually got a family heirloom that both has a personal history to it and is relevant to my life.
The camera features an f2.9 75mm lens that, as far as I can tell, is not interchangeable although I have seen the lenses sold separately. If anyone reading this knows differently, please do let me know more in the comments section below. The cameras themselves don’t seem that rare so it’s been interesting to see what variations there are available on ebay. While there is also a viewfinder version, the model that I’ve now got my mitts on is the rangefinder.
Taking both 4.5cmx6cm and 6cmx6cm film, I have read that there should be a film transport in the back for loading the varying film sizes. As mine doesn’t include it, I’m going to have to do some more research to find out how to proceed. My experiments with a 35mm Nikon F3 a few months ago cost me enough money so I dread to imagine what this will set me back!
If I manage to expose anything correctly and the bellows don’t let in too much light, I’ll stick a few frames up here as soon as I’ve had chance to have a play. If you’re reading this in 2012 and the blog post ends here, you’re officially allowed to track me down and berate me for being both a coward and an easily distracted fool. Fingers crossed!
BREAKING NEWS! LEON LIVES UP TO PERSONAL PROMISE SHOCKER!
In a thoroughly uncharacteristic move, I actually got off my arse and did it! Having grabbed a spare 120 film from Kirsten’s desk, I shot the odd random sight that I came across in between jobs and have just picked up the prints from the lomography store in central London. While not exactly the best pics I’ve ever taken, there was at least something on the film!
Considering this is from a camera from the 1930s AND was being shot by a total heathen when it comes to film, I think it’s worked okay. There is very clearly some severe light leakage from the bellows leaving the overexposed streak from the lower centre to the mid right of some frames but, combined with the film grain and the score marks, it adds to it. It should hopefully be clear that I’ve not done anything to these images and they are straight off the disc from the shop.
Anyway, here are my first efforts. I’m quite tempted to take it down to tomorrows boat race now.