Friday, August 8, 2014

The Poor Man's Leicas - The Petri 7 S & The Fujica Half

Yet another post about film on my blog... sorry you electronic (aka digital) shooters, I have a topic prepared for you too. However, since I rediscovered my love for CHEMICAL (!!!) or "wet" (for good measures) photography, I would like to focus on that stuff today.

Before actually diving into today's topic, I would like to shortly discuss the misuse of the attributes in photography. Nowadays, photography using CCD of CMOS sensors is called "digital". There is nothing digital about collecting charge created by photons in a photo-diode! Believe me, this is an analog process. OK, if you want to be really picky about things, Planck has got the last word, and yes, the collection of photons is quantized. Quantization, however, is not an synonym to digitization. In fact, in the photosensitive emulsion of a film, the same quantum electro dynamical processes are taking place as in the die of an electronic light sensor.
The difference between film and "digital" cameras lies in the recovery of the "latent image".
In "digital" photography, the latent (analog) image is read out electronically (analog) by a CC (charge couple) process, or by process similar to access memory in a computer ("CMOS") and digitized by a ADC (analog to digital converter).
In film photography, or "analog" for those who insist, the latent image is processed and fixed by chemical reactions.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the poor man's Leica!

In my time (my youth that is), I had a lot of fun playing with traditional photography, using 135 film. The dark room was my second home to the time. First in school, later at home. Film photography, however, needs some dedicated space, which I was not available to me any longer when I was at university. Hence, the entire action came to a hold... none of my cameras/lenses was of any use any longer. Actually, I was not taken any substantial amount of photos for nearly 30 years!

Digital cameras just lately came close to what I expected. And only with the purchase of the Fuji X100S, the spark was back!
I know, I did not share a lot of my Fuji X100S experiences here, but I can tell you, the possibility to use it in full manual mode, just like a camera I grew up with, brought me back to film.
You may have noticed my earlier posts about the "sunny 16 rule" and how to determine exposure.

Now I was aiming for a shooting experience like the X100S using film.
My SLR's (all of them) are pretty noisy. Hence, I was on the hunt for a camera that is quiet and fully manually controllable.

You would be surprised to know, there are not a lot cameras out there to fulfill such a simple requirements!
Many legacy cameras involved some sort of automation, be it shutter, be it aperture. Yep, this is exactly what I was not looking for.

After a long search, I ended with one camera that I really love, and another one that will be my workhorse.

Let's start with the workhorse: the Petri 7 S. This camera comes in various flavors, all of which employ a range finder and full manual controls. The shutter speed ranges from 1s/500 to 1s, while a bulb mode is available. Depending on the model, apertures from f/1.8 to f/16 are available. I personally own 2 cameras with an f/2.8 lens, and a third camera, having a f/1.8 lens, is on it's way.
I shot several rolls of film with my Petri's and I am very pleased with the results sofar. Really silent cameras.

The Petri 7 S is very easy to maintain. Cleaning the viewfinder and the rangefinder might be necessary, infos can be found here.
There is a service manual available for free.
Actually, I opened both my Petris and cleaned / aligned the viewfinder / rangefinder.

Still more on the Petri 7 S: They made an auxiliary lens kit for those cameras. The kit came with a wide angle attachment, and telephoto attachment and a cold-shoe viewfinder. The attachments screw right on the 52mm filter thread of the Petri 7Ss' lens. Actually, there are folks who use those AUX lenses on X100(S) cameras with a respective filter thread adapter.

Leaving the Petri and moving on to my very favorite camera today, the Fujica Half 1.9!
The Fujica Half is not a real replacement of any Leica or other type of range finder cameras ever made. There is no range finder on that camera! Although there is a lever for focusing, typical to a range finder. In the viewfinder, one will see an indicator for  "mountains", "a couple" and "portrait".
In theory, the Fujica Half has got a light meter... well, the light meter of my camera is dead.
No light meter, no range finder... why is this still my favorite camera as of today?
I am not even using it's wide open f/1.9 aperture as often....

The Fujica Half offers the opportunity to re-think framing. In it's normal position, the Fujica is in portrait mode. When you think of it, portrait is much more natural to photography than "landscape" (unless one photographs a landscape...).

The Fujica offers the same exposure options as the Petri 7 S, however, being "half frame", the Fujica offers twice the amount of exposures on one 135 film.

Next in the line: AGAT 18k (waiting for it to arrive).

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