Sunday, September 8, 2013

My Brand-Spankin'-New Start 66

 I have always wanted to shoot in medium format.  Every-so-often I browse Allegro to check the prices of a Mamiya RZ67.
While in Bazar na Kole, a massive bazaar/flea market in Wola, I stumbled upon a man selling an old Polish twin-lens reflex Start 66.  I snapped it up for 100zl (on Allegro, it sells for 300zl), and giddily took it home.  I cleaned it; learned how to load and unload 120 film; and figured out how to work this old mechanical beast.
The Start 66 is a twin-lens reflex camera built between 1967 and 1970 that shoots 6x6 frames on 120 format film.  It only comes with a waist-level view finder, and Emitar 75 mm lens with a leaf shutter, and a pretty crummy view finder.  The optics seem more suited to black-and-white film rather than color (see images below).  I've only shot one roll of film: a test roll of Provia 100, but I'm pretty happy with the results (for 100zl camera, I can't complain).
Poniatowski Bridge at sunset from Temat Rzeka.
Sandomierz from the Brama Opatowska. 
Sandomierz Castle.
Stepping from a world (digital photography) that is so automated (auto-focus, auto-advance, and most importantly, auto-exposure) to a world that is manual at even the most basic functions.  The Start 66 even needs to be cocked before you can fire the shutter.
Taking a picture isn't as simple as: point and shoot.  It's: take out the digital camera on Av or Tv mode (make sure it's on the right ISO speed.  If shooting ISO 140, set the exposure up 2/3 of a stop); meter the light and get a usable shutter speed vs. f-number, since the Start only has a small range of both); switch to the Start 66; set the correct shutter speed and f-number; try to frame the picture (because of the prism, it's hard because everything is reversed and I'm not very used to it); try to focus (almost impossible since the finder isn't the easiest to look into); cock the shutter; steady the camera and fire.
As you can see, shooting a portrait is almost impossible unless your subject has loads of patience.  Trying to shoot a picture where there are lots of people milling around, getting in front of your shot, and the clouds up ahead are changing the lighting from second-to-second (thus requiring repeat metering), can tax your own patience.
This camera was not designed to be ergonomic.  Handling it is like handling a small loaf of stale bread; this does not make for the easiest way to frame a picture and makes it much more likely that I will drop on the ground, only to watch in horror as the whole thing bursts apart upon impact.  After shooing my first roll, I also realized the the shutter most likely has a sticky blade (that or there is a hole in the camera) as about half the pictures have burn marks on them (over-exposed areas consistent with light leakage).
My introduction to medium format photography has been a pleasant one.  It's actually re-ignited my passion for photography (though I must admit my talent is lacking), and it's quite fun to play with.  I hope that eventually I'll be able to master the finicky device and take pictures that are in-focus (still a challenge) and properly exposed.

The Start 66 camera I purchased.


Mariam said...

Has anything ever bothered you in life? Do you
have any problem you need to solve? A pending
court case you want to resolve in your favor?
Health, relationship and finance. Welcome to
the world of miracles and wonders, there are
supernatural treasure and power to liberate
mankind from all afflictions. Why cant you live a
life of your dream? Why must you work so hard
and yet earn so little? Why cant you be happy
with the one you love and desire or why cant the
one you love reciprocate and appreciate that
love? Why would the doctor tell you there is no
solution or cure to your problems? Why would
your lawyer say you stand no chance, that your
case is hopeless? Have you been cheated by
anyone or those owing you money refuse to pay
back? Do you need a rapid job promotion in
your place of work? You want to venture into
politics? Now I understand certain things are
hard to believe and comprehend, but all I ask
from you is only 3 days and if you will follow my
instructions and use the items you will receive, I
promise your life will never be the same
again.If you find no relevance in the help I offer
I solemnly appeals do not be vindictive and go
in peace. And if your intentions are to take
advantage of the powerful nature of our items
for the purpose of evil, I will not have any
business with you please be advised. May
angels guide you. All inquiries should be
directed to the Priest Abija email below Email: or
you can sent a text message to this number:(518) 303-6207!

Laptops wholesaler In USA said...

Thanks for this.