Updated: Jun 23
So last weeks newsletter had some turn of events never getting it published. My sincere apologies for interrupting this flow, but some things in the private life can not be postponed and some things one can not control. I hope you can forgive me for this, and I will try to not make it a habit:) To make amends, you will get two newsletters this week. Last weeks newsletter today, and this weeks newsletter tomorrow. So with out further riff raff about that, I welcome you to last weeks newsletter! Hope you all are doing good:)
First off I want you all to know that I have changed the news letter set up. Hopefully for the better:) There has now been added a blog page to our website where you will find all the previous newsletters. There you can sign up to get notified and also join in and comment if you want. Please let me know if you need any help with this and hit me with good or bad feedback at any time:) There has been some weeks since the Flexaret has been in the limelight, and todays letter is all about changing that. Just to recap on just what kind of camera the Flexaret is: It is a fully mechanical box camera that shoots 120mm (6x6cm) medium format film. It has two lenses, one for viewing with the viewfinder and one that lets the light through the shutter and on to the film. This is called a TLR. Twin lens reflex. The Flexaret was made by a company called Meopta that today makes riflescopes and binoculars among other optic products. They produced the Flexaret from 1939 - 1971, giving out Flexaret I - VII with several variations of for instance number II and III. Because of this I am still struggling to find out if mine is a II or III.
So the Flexaret is finally given some love. I cleaned out the lenses of the taking lens. It is easily screwed out by hand, and the front element came off by taking out the inner threading where the type of lens is printed onto the plastic. You see it in the picture above. I googled several ways of doing this, as I can see the lens has fungus. Not a lot, but noticeably. Environmentally friendly as one tries to be, I went for the less chemical option which involves just gently rubbing the lens between your fingers in mild dishwater soap. This worked ok, and I am fine with the result for now. The second thing was putting in the new view finder mirror, see the picture below. This was a bit too long, and a went around it by laying the old mirror underneath, so the new one could lie further down. This means that the mirror comes closer to the viewing lens, and the focus might be off. I therefore screwed out the viewing lens a little bit. It is then further out then my taking lens, and we will see if I am lucky with it. The only way to know that is I guess from taking pictures with it:)
Cleaning the taking lens
Old viewfinder mirror removed and cleaned inner case
Even though I had done a not perfect cleaning with the lens and the focus might be off from my adjustments, I just could not resist loading this baby with film. The curiosity of how this wonderful fully mechanical box will shoot, just overtook me. So yes, I have loaded it. That to, as with the Pentax, in a sort of ceremonial ritual:) I figured I will be shooting portraits and obscure things to begin with, so it got the Ilford XP2 Super 400. This is, as mentioned in an earlier letter a mid range ISO.
Back of the Flexaret with the frame number hole "Z" and the XP2 before loading
The viewfinder is a lot brighter with the new mirror, and I took some test shots with my daughter and Denny. I have also gotten a shutter release cable which is going to be very exciting to try out. So then, how do you figure the settings of the Flexaret when it has no light meter? A light meter will tell you how fast a shutter speed you will need with your given ASA film and the aperture you choose. I have actually required an old Sixtus light meter, but it will be more on that when I learn to use it. For now I went with the easy option, and that is using another camera to meter the settings. I used the Pentax Super A, and I also metered it while setting the ISO on it on 200 instead of 400 as the film in the Flexaret requires. This is recommended, as you then will give the film another stop of light since it is black and white. We will see how it turns out. I also have to remember to stay off the 3 slowest shutterspeeds as they are a bit unpredictable on the Flexaret. So, here we are finally. Shooting with medium format film! I have done 3 shots and can't wait to shoot more. This is so much fun!
The Pentax Super A has also been in use, and this is now loaded with Lomochrome Purple. This is kind of an infrared type of film that apparently was for use in the military. So the week that has passed has gone to set up the Flexaret and shoot with the Super A. I have also shot through the Portra 400 with the Pentax ME Super. Since the Lomochrome is loaded in the Super A, that means I am done with the Fomapan 400 that was in it as well. So quite a bit of shooting has been done! I have been shooting odd things, into the sun and portraits. All of them are now delivered to the lab and the suspense is almost killing me:)
You will know the results here, good or bad I promise, when I get them back from the lab!
It has been some fantastic summer days, and the summer even has come to the north! I hope you all are doing well and have enjoyed the sun:)
Stay safe, Sjur
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Stay safe, bsp