A while back I traded my Bronica SQA kit for this behemoth of a camera. Although it is large, it is in fact much lighter than the SQA kit. I found that the SQA was getting left behind more and more due to its weight and sat in a rucksack in the corner. Often referred to as the “Texas Leica” this still clocks in at about 1500g, so it comes out when I’m in serious landscape mode, and out to make photographs, rather than having a nice walk or day out and just happen across something!
The camera is part of a range that I believe started in the 80’s, and there have been many versions, including different formats, 6×7 6×8 and 6×9, this is an early 90’s version of the 6×9 with the 65mm lens, roughly equivalent to 28mm in 35mm equivalent.
A quick tour of the camera reveals that there are two shutter releases, one on top and one on the front that also has a lock that works for both. There is also a spirit level on top, very useful for landscapes when there is no obvious straight horizon. A switch for choice of film length, which these days is completely redundant as who can get ½ rolls of 120 or 220?
The placement of the aperture and shutter speed controls are often criticized on these cameras as the built in hood slides over them. I can see why people don’t like it, in fact some people go as far as cutting it off so they can use Cokin/Lee filter type systems, but I figure this is a rangefinder camera so graduated filters etc. would be difficult to use anyway!
What I really like is that it’s a purist’s camera. There is aperture and shutter speed, and a winder – that’s it! No meter, no batteries, totally manual. It’s a camera that makes you think before you press the button. Once you have, it’s a two stroke wind on and you’re ready to make your next frame. When you’ve done 8 you’re done! The counter on the bottom is for actuations X10, mine says 41 it’s done 410 photos. 50 rolls ish. (No doubt it’s been clicked a few times without film in!) the frame counter is on top.
The lens is very good, in fact I prefer it to the Bronica 50mm, I think it performs better. It has 6 elements in four groups, wide open is f5.6 and closes down to f32 but I think I detect a bit of softness there, so I try to keep around f8 – f11. It takes 67mm filters and I have a quality B+W yellow on almost permanently as I mostly use b/w film in it! Colour costs!!
I hope to make a series of photos along the coast with it this autumn, until then, here are a few shots from my test roll of colour!