30 June 2011


In preparation for a camping trip, destination unknown, I obtained a 16GB Compact Flash card and spare battery for my camera. It has been hard to avoid the hankering to upgrade from my Canon 40D to the 7D or 5D Mk2s, but I can't afford either.

If I upgrade to a cheaper 60D, which is in the same realm as my camera, but three years or so renewed, then my media cards are not compatible, nor my batteries.

The 7D and 5D take different batteries to the 40D, but both use the same cards I have.

For the full frame sensor, I will have to wait and buy a 5D Mark3s. It will also have cool video capability. Using the depth of field will be fun with my lenses. Allegedly, they should have got round to improving the nodel's focusing system too at that point, but as I have never used one I can not tell for sure.

What I did find during my interminable organising and tidying ...it would be so much easier to live in a barn... was my trusty-German-made-Voitglander-Leica-knock-off-top-quality-rangefinder. It is really quite loud for a rangefinder, but obviously there is no sound of a mirror dropping down. It is technology that makes sense and quite craftily crafted. So there I have a 15mm lense too which is super wide screen or angle to be more precise. It takes film of course. The gun-mrtal-grey Bessa R2a.

Depending on how I go with the roll of 100ISO I am putting through, I may sell it to some conossseiurs of this sort of thing. It took a while to work out how to use it, but then Ken Rockwell provided the following reassurance about focussing:

There is a small focus ring.

It does not couple to the rangefinder, but that's because you don't need it to.

The depth-of-field is so huge that you can guess, and if you don't want to bother, just set it to 6 feet (2 meters) and you can shoot forever and everything will be just perfect.

It would be nice if it has click-stops at 0.5m, 1m and 2m, which would let me focus by feel for any subject, but it doesn't.

Focus is smooth and well damped.

Its focus feels just like my Leica lenses, except that it has no finger lever. This is just as well, because this 15mm is a lens I set and forget.

My lens shown here has meters marked in white and feet in red. Newer versions seem to be marked only in meters.

Mine has markings in feet and metres. I wish I had kept the cute box that it came in, especially if it is going to be sold. Also, have the 40mm F1.4 lens, but that is not such an exciting angle for me, but must remember to check the bokeh it produces on this roll of film.

Make do with what you have.

There is lots to remember on a completely manual camera. (It does have an inbuilt light-meter.) The first thing to remember is to take the lens-cap off. Work out a protocol for that and the winding plus locking of the shutter-button to avoid taking photos acidentally.

Voitglander have been making cameras since 1756 it says on the back. But you never know with these old family-owned companies, maybe they sold the trade name and had a gap in production. It is definitely a piece of machinery with the tinkers spell. And it would not look out of a place on a World War II tank commander's neck. Which is so hot right now.

Ken Rockwell advice on using ultra-wide lenses
: Get in close, jump into the middle of the subject, they are not for fitting everything in, but pay attention to the edges of the frame. Look for the angle, in other words use the viewfinder properly. After reading the rest of the article, I totally want to get a Canon 16-35mm F2.8L II for my future full frame sensor camera, but I don't even want to know how much that costs!

Putting a bit more conscious effort into an activity is always a good idea. The activity in this case is composition. There is also the patience aspect of working with film too.

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