Thread Rating:
  • 1 Vote(s) - 5 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
The new aul cameras and why older is better.
The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#1
A relative of mine, knowing I'd owned a few older film cameras and used them regularly enough, remarked that they had an 'old camera' set aside in the shed. In the years since it'd been put aside it'd been covered in grease, dirt and mould - despite the best efforts of the case.
 
I removed a black and brass lump of Canon that weighed more than most Cannons.  It settled onto the table with the hefty, solid thunk more appropriate for a solid paperweight than a precision instrument. A quick google search informed me that the Canon F1 I'd inherited was an older model, from 1972.
 
I set about cleaning the grease off. And was amazed to find that, once the dirt and grit had gone, what remained was practically pristine. It carries the patina of its age, a shine of brass peeking through the black paint finish, with a few dings and knocks from impacting concrete in its life. Everything worked as it should - aside from the battery being dead and the shutter-speed indicator in the viewfinder being a tooth or two off.
 
The three lenses in the bag were practically new. Just a little surface grime that came off in moments. The metal bodies were unmarked. The glass was clear. Everyhting moved cleanly and smoothly - nothing stuck or ground.  Some old filters had saved the lenses -  not a scratch or spot of fungus on them - and the filters themselves weren't beyond saving, they were just dirty. The grease had saved them.
 
Even the leather strap could be saved. It just needed to be soaked overnight.
 
Hooked everything up, attached the 50mm lens, slung the camera over my neck where it settled in nice and comfortable and just took shots of things. Set it up to one fixed setting because it was fairly overcast out. Not really artistically like a proper photographer - just out walking and popping shots of things to see what happened. Berries on a tree. These weird cone things on a bush. The tide in at the beach all the way up to the coast. Tried to snap some birds skimming the sea, or a telephone pole with a cable split.
 
God knows what, if anything will come out
 
But the camera was all like, yep, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing again. After ten or twenty years being left to rot, it still wound smoothly, it shot cleanly, and for something that had the build quality of a large tank, it was comfortable around the neck with an old strap that felt far stronger and secure than anything fabric and plastic.
 
All the mechanisms are metal. The shutter is titanium. It's as precise and intricate as a swiss watch, and as solid as a rock.
 
Everything feels right about it. Every switch and control is machined from solid metal. The shutter release and lock, the winding lever, even the self-timer on the front. Everything you might touch with a finger or that might break off if it is dropped. Every screw-fixing and anchor point is made from metal. It won't split the plastic inside when dropped like so many appliances.
 
The three lenses that came with it are made from metal - the entire lens body and focusing assembly is machined - even the extendable hood and lens-cap on the 135mm is metal. It's all solid. Heavy as a brick - it's heavier than the Spotmatic I have. The *lens* alone weighs more that the Spotmatic. It is impossible to carry one-handed.
 
But it feels real - like something that actually exists and will continue to exist rather than being made to be thrown away. Somebody's livelyhood once depended on this thing, and it feels like the people who designed that knew it. It's almost Victorian in its hewn-from-stone resilience.
 
Sure I probably ruined a whole roll of film and God knows if it's leaking light anywhere inside or if I got the exposure right, but we'll see what happens when the processor gets them. But those are little details that can be fixed easily.
 
I have a small collection of older cameras - nothing particularly glorious. But each has an interesting story behind it, or came from an interesting place. None of them are museum-quality, they're all old and patina'd in their own ways. It makes it easier to put them to use again since I don't have to worry about keeping them pristine and 'valuable'. The value of film cameras has tanked anyway.  
 
If I'm going to a convention, a particularly distant holiday, or something I'll take them out and give them a go, like driving out a classic sports car for a short journey. They're far more capable than I am in a lot of ways, and can do far more than they'll ever get used for.
 
It's a humbling and fascinating experience to take them out for a spin, rather than just spamming with the phone camera. This is the stuff everyone used to have to know, just to take their holiday snaps.  
 
Old machines like this are just a pleasure to use. On the one hand, almost obsolete. On the other, eternal.

I need a fucking blog.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#2
You lucky, lucky man, getting to play with - and keep - something that was put together so well.
--
Rob Kelk

Since it's an election year in the USA: How to Immigrate to Canada, direct from the Government of Canada's website. "How you can immigrate to Canada, how to protect yourself from fraud and what to expect after you arrive in Canada."
Reply
RE: The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#3
Ooooh, how I wish I still had my older cameras -- but basically the impetus for buying all but my newest camera had been the theft (via burglary) of the predecessor. Otherwise I'd still have my 1984-ish Nikon FG...

Oh, and that reminds me. While doing a recent cleaning-up-of-junk, I found a good dozen rolls of Seattle Filmworks film, exposed but never developed. I have no idea how old they are (at least 9 or 10 years, I'd wager, as I bought my digital SLR circa 2008) or what's on them. But even though Seattle Filmworks is long out of business, there are still places that will develop their bizarre movie-film-as-still-picture-film product. I should bundle them all up and send them off and see if I get lucky and/or pleasantly surprised.
-- Bob

I have been Roland, Beowulf, Achilles, Gilgamesh, Clark Kent, Mary Sue, DJ Croft, Skysaber.  I have been 
called a hundred names and will be called a thousand more before the sun grows dim and cold....

Reply
RE: The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#4
You might get lucky. The chemistry changes after they've been exposed, but it couldn't hurt to see. That's what I like about the film - it does survive. The real important stuff - like majort holidays and family events and the like - I've lost too many digital images to trust it to last twenty, thirty of forty years. We've family albums that old - or older from the granny's house.

Print it. Develop it. Store it.

Film is starting to come back after bottoming because it does work really well and the prices are so for professional-level equipment with good lenses. Everything's about as cheap as it's going to get before the hipsters get deep into it.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#5
And the results are in.

Running like a fucking watch, on all three lenses.

[Image: 1S3G7Rcl.jpg]

[Image: c0Pvrmnl.jpg]

[Image: Z1wiEkJl.jpg]

I have the flash kit I got with it working. Just need something to mount it on and I can actually make this thing work day-to-day...

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply
RE: The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#6
Excellent news, Dartz -- and the pictures look great.

Now I just need to get off my butt and send those rolls of film out...
-- Bob

I have been Roland, Beowulf, Achilles, Gilgamesh, Clark Kent, Mary Sue, DJ Croft, Skysaber.  I have been 
called a hundred names and will be called a thousand more before the sun grows dim and cold....

Reply
RE: The new aul cameras and why older is better.
#7
You may want to check This Kickstarter out too.... That which is not dead, can eternal lie. Especially when it comes to formats.

Still waiting for parts and equipment to arrive, but it should only be a few days and we'll have something as good as new.

Although I wonder if this whole analogue kick isn't just from a desire to have something real in my life - the world here feels so fake and artificial these days. It's nice to be able to touch things again.

I love the smell of rotaries in the morning. You know one time, I got to work early, before the rush hour. I walked through the empty carpark, I didn't see one bloody Prius or Golf. And that smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole carpark, smelled like.... ....speed.

One day they're going to ban them.
Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)