Classic Rolleicord IV Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) Camera
Built between 1952 and 1954 the Rolleicord IV is a superbly built, rugged film camera with wonderful optics that does not have a built-in metering system, does not take interchangeable lenses or batteries.
The Rolleicord IV is a very tactile camera from loading the film to cradling the camera in the palm of your hand for taking pictures to removing the film. The camera is covered with embossed leather and has metal plated edges on the front and back.
Knobs are turned for focusing and advancing the film. The shutter speed is set by moving the lever to the right of the taking lens up or down until the required speed appears in the peep window above and to the right of the taking lens. To set the aperture move the left-hand lever up or down until the required aperture number appears in the peep window immediately above it. The shutter is cocked manually by pulling the lever below the taking lens to the right and is released by pulling the lever to the left.
The original case for the camera is leather as are the cases for the lens hood and close up supplementary lenses known as Rolleinars.
And the camera is extremely quiet as well. It makes a lovely, soft whirring sound as the picture is being taken especially on long exposures.
Because the size of the film is 6 x 6cm (2 1/4 x 2 1/4 inches), the camera records an amazing amount of detail. Everything I saw through the viewfinder is on the film. When I look at my transparencies under a lupe, I usually notice even more details that escaped me while I was looking at the scene.
How does a TLR work?
The two lenses placed very close together on a single front plate move in and out of focus together. The twin lens is like having two cameras in one body where the bottom lens produces the picture on the film and top lens shows what will be in the picture and whether it is sharp. Whatever the bottom lens sees, the top one shows it on the ground-glass screen. When the picture is actually taken the top viewing lens never blacks out so you always have an uninterrupted view and can see if anything spoils the picture.
Looking through the waist level viewfinder with the physically large viewing screen takes some getting used to because you are peering down onto the ground-glass screen with both eyes and seeing the whole image upright in a square format that is reversed left to right. So if your subject is moving to the right you must remember to move the camera to the left i.e. in the opposite direction. By watching your subject on the viewing screen you soon get used to doing this. The flip-down focusing magnifier meant to be used close to the eye shows an enlarged view of the screen approximately 2.5 times magnification for critical focusing. While composing the image you decide exactly how you want your final image to be, for example horizontal or vertical, and then allow enough room for cropping.
The Leica III series
Introduced in 1933, the Leica III was Leitz's response to the introduction of the Zeiss-Ikon Contax. It was also Oskar Barnack's last design before he died in 1935. Unlike the Leica II, the Leica III includes an extended range of slow shutter speeds. The added slow speeds range from 1/20th of second to one full second.
Both the Leica II and III share the basic body shell Leica I. To produce this third variant, a separate front mounted dial was installed onto the front body shell of the Leica camera. At first, the Leica III camera used the same RF/VF architecture as the Leica II. The Leica III also has two lugs or eyelets added to the body for a camera strap
A major redesign of the body and shutter crate was introduced in 1940 as the IIIc. The IIIc is not only a bit larger than it predecessors, but features an all new single cast top cover. Remarkably, the external appearance of the early Leica IIIc is almost identical to the previous III, IIIa and IIIb cameras of the 1930's.
The IIIc was a mainstay of Leica's line-up through out the 1940's. The original 1940 design see some modifications over the next decade until the debut of IIIf of 1950. The first IIIf - which includes the addition of built-in a PC flash terminal and an adjustable synchronization system is essentially an upgraded IIIc.
The war years took its toll on Leitz. For most of the 1940's, the IIIc wasn't as well finished as the late 1930's IIIb. Cut off from the Far East, Leitz no longer had access to the same high-quality silk curtains that graced the pre-war Leicas. Chrome was a strategic material in short supply, so by the end of the war, most Leicas had painted bottom plates and top covers. At this time substitute shark-skin like material was often use in place of hard rubber vulcanite covering on the lower body. The chrome plating on the post war IIIc has tendency to pit or peel as well. They also no longer have a stepped platform for the rewind release lever.
By 1949 most of these cosmetic issues had been corrected, but if buying a post war IIIc - do have the shutter curtains checked and do expect to have to replace the replacement beam splitter for the rangefinder.
Even though all was not perfect in Leicadom during the war and immediate post-war period, the IIIc is a brilliantly designed camera. It evolved under difficult conditions. Collectors shun the post-war IIIc - which no longer has a stepped platform for the rewind release lever - or - the tiny knob for the RF focus adjustment lever. The post war IIIc is still a wonderful user camera, because it is affordable and it retains the then recently introduce miniature bearings to the top spindle of the rotating shutter drum. This was originally a wartime modification to improve reliability in extreme cold weather that became a standard feature on all future Leica III series cameras.
The Canon EF camera
For many years the Canon EF was my favourite 35mm single-lens reflex camera. When I bought her in the late seventies, it compared well with similar equipped models by Nikon or Pentax, but was the only half automatic camera with manual focus, but automatic shutter speed available (and somewhat cheaper). I always thought this was preferable to the opposite solution, since a sharp picture seemed more important then the correct aperture, when light conditions were critical.
When the camera was stolen in Amsterdam after some years and I got some insurance money for it, I went and again bought the same camera with the same lenses (FD 24mm, 1:2,8 and FD 135 mm, 1:2,5), this time second hand. Now I had to pay somewhat more for the body, then when it was new. This just shows you, how this heavy, metal bodied camera was valued in the 80ies.
It was produced by Canon between 1973 and 1978 and was compatible with Canon's FD-mount lenses. The EF was built as an electronic version of Canon's top-of-the line F-1 camera. Because of this, the EF shares the F-1's rugged construction and tough metal body. Unlike the F-1, the EF doesn't support any motor drive for film transport.
The Canon EF contained a silicon photocell light meter with a range of EV 18 to EV -2 which measured light in a "central emphasis metering" pattern (also called centre weighted average metering) with less influence from the top of the frame, to minimize underexposure due to a bright skyline. Note that this requires the camera to be held normally! Taking vertically oriented pictures requires some care by the user. The Canon EF could operate "Variable Aperture AE" mode (commonly called shutter priority) or full manual mode, where the operator would control both the shutter speed and the aperture. When used in automatic mode, it's possible to lock the current aperture value, then recompose the picture, if desired.
The EF used a unique shutter among Canon's 35mm SLRs: a Copal Square vertical-travel metal blade focal plane shutter. Unusually, long exposures (from 1 second to 30 seconds) were electronically controlled, while shorter ones (1/1000 second to 1/2 second) were mechanically controlled. This was very useful in conserving battery power, and allowed one to use the camera even with dead batteries. The light metering system's power switch turned on the meter, removed the lock from the shutter trigger button and let the film advance lever pop out 15 degrees from the camera body, all in one flick of the thumb.
The EF is the only camera in the manual focus Canon line of the 1960s and 1970s (which includes the FTb, the F-1, and the FT) that can be used with common 1.5 volt batteries without modification to the internal electronics. Like all pre-1987 Canon SLR's, the EF accepted Canon FD mount lenses. The shutter speed range was 1/1000th of a second to 30 seconds (the 15 & 30 second settings actually give 16 and 32 seconds, thus preserving the doubling sequence), plus bulb. The X-sync was 1/125th of a second. The camera included setting for film speeds of 12 ASA to 3200 ASA.
The Sony Hi8 camera
When I began taking videos in the early nineties, I was looking for the smallest camera with the best picture and sound quality. After some research the best affordable type of video camera at the time seemed to be a Sony Hi8.
During a visit to New York City at that time I visited one of those Jewish export shops on Broadway and purchased the Sony Hi8 video camera you can see above. At the same time I bought an affordable Citizen LCD monitor that could be attached to my new camera in a quick and easy way.
At home, using screwdriver and solder iron I built a portable video studio consisting of camera, LCD monitor,
video light, microphone and 5000 mAh battery pack. It weighed not more than today's notebooks and was extremely useful for its LCD monitor, which was very flexible and allowed to film holding the camera high above my head or down near my feet.
I began taking videos with the new setup and soon was disappointed by the miserable picture quality of my videos. Quickly my camera recorded more drop outs than clean frames. Sony had to clean the camera head again and again, even though I used the most expensive Sony Professional tapes on the market. After some time the picture became clear: Sony had developed a new type of camera, but did not have the tapes, that would properly run on them. In other words, I had bought a product, that was at the time still in beta testing...
As time went by, the tapes improved and during the second half of the nineties my portable video studio proved its worth. Around this time a developer at Sony must have seen me with my light monitor video equipment and this gave them the inspiration to develop the so called 'DV camera' with a very flexible LCD monitor on the side of their cameras.