Sunday, March 11, 2012

I've Got A Camera . . And I Am Going To Beat It To Death

Hail and well met Goode Fellowes! I thought it was you that I had aspied entering the Teeth Of Hell.
Yes it's a fresh working week and the Monday FogBlog is up and about and ready to do many revolutions in the old Hamster Wheel that is paid employment.
Today's FB has a rather vicious title and you may wonder why (as a lover of cameras and all things photographic) I have chosen to mention the unmentionable. My answer to that would be something along the lines of 'because it needs to be mentioned'.
I'm not being funny, but there's a lot of people out there who say they love photography, but have a very funny way of showing it. Yes they purchase some truly horrendously expensive equipment and yes they use it. But often (and I have seen a few believe me) they use it to the point of destruction. Their wonderful, expensive 'jewel' of a machine is treated like a lowly curr on the edge of the village. It's beaten, it's left out in horrendous weather, it's starved of affection. Some people really don't deserve to own cameras, because they beat seven shades of s*** out of them. I've seen lenses cleaned with sandpaper (not literally, but you know what I mean), , base plates and prisms beaten and dented, shutters with remnants of film from a film tear, you name it, it's all out there. Cameras where the paint inside the spool chamber is worn away because the camera has seen about 36 trillion rolls of film, split shutter blinds from curious fingers, lenses that are filled with grit . . . you get my point I hope.
Think of it this way, certainly in the case of Nikons, their professional cameras are tested to a duty cycle of approximately 150,000 operations. I believe this means that they say the shutters are good for at least 150,000 rolls of film. Most 35mm film is in 36 exposure cassettes. You load your film and it usually takes 3 winds to get the film counter to 1, and then there's the usual 2 winds at the end as well, so roughly 40 to 41 winds per roll of film. Now wait for it, that little wind-on lever, based on the 150,000 cycle theory sees approximately 6 million operations!
It's a sobering thought isn't it, because obviously the shutter is tied to the wind-on mechanism, so your average unserviced professional camera shutter could have seen that many actuations as well. And here's the cracker, your average pro will have traded in that camera, and the camera shops will probably be advertising it as E+, which in the wonderful loosey-goosey world of camera descriptions means 'Signs Of Use'. You have no guarantee at all about the inner workings of a camera and how much it has been used. The camera might be in beautiful condition, but that little shutter will be a knackered old donkey in need of some TLC. You might find a 'beater' (how I hate that phrase) that is bashed and a bit grizzly, but has been serviced, in which case you know what the best choice would be. People often seem allergic to camera servicing, which is a shame, as it often just needs a small amount of work to bring things back to speed. Yes it costs money, but if you care about what you do, then it is money well spent.

The picture above was taken with a late '50's Minolta Autocord Twin Lens Reflex. It has the legendary Rokkor lens, and is in a Seikosha shutter which is still the most accurate mechanical shutter I own. The camera has no body-covering at all now - it's a project. The lens . . .well sandpapered is all I can say (but not by me) and that has contributed to a lower contrast. Back in the day though, this must have been a hell of a lens. Shame it has seen so much abuse. I like this photo though . . the dog looks like he is contemplating something really bad, like nicking some sausages.
Film was Acros 100, developed in Bary Thornton's 2-bath (yet again).

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