Comment: About My Photography

I would like to thank everyone for their feedback on the photographs I’ve intermittently posted. I have neither the time nor resources to pursue photography professionally (or even semi-professionally), but in a strange way this grants me the freedom to do things at a pace I can manage and maintain. Your comments are always appreciated.

A little (brief) history – my first camera was a Nikon 401-s. Great Nikkor 50mm lens, good auto/manual camera, especially for a beginner (I was all of 19 when I purchased it). It still looks sleek to this day:

However, the longer I used it, the more I realised that it was, contrary to its claim, more auto than manual. Whenever I tried to experiment with exposures it simply wouldn’t let me. Which sucked. However, again, for an amateur it was a sweet camera to have.

Last year I decided that I wanted to take control – full control. No auto focus, auto metering, auto exposure, auto anything. I wanted no handicaps, figuring that if I was truly going to learn more I needed to start from absolute basics. At first I thought about a Pentax K1000, which is rightfully heralded as a brilliant manual camera. However, upon further searching, I came across former-Soviet Union (or “FSU”) cameras. I’ve long known that FSU optics are particularly good, seeing as they raided the Zeiss laboratories during the Allied siege of Berlin in WWII – essentially, the Soviets took the equipment and some of the technicians back home with them. Soon after, they started churning out replicas of Leica cameras. Among them was the Zorki series. They’re good, they’re cheap, they’re ugly, they’re heavy (really, it’s like having a brick in your bag), but the optics are great and they’re generally reliable (in proportion to the person you’re buying from in any case).

So, I bought a 1966 Zorki-4 on eBay:

Um…pretty, eh? The lens is a 50mm Jupiter-8 (again, modelled on a similar Leica design). It’s a rangefinder camera, which means that it does not offer TTL (through-the-lens) focusing – basically you adjust the focus against a reflected image from the lens via an internal viewfinder. How’s thatfor manual. Simultaneously, I started shooting almost exclusively on positive (slide) film, particularly AGFA-brand.

The long-and-short is that I enjoy photography much more than I used to, and managed to do so in a way that recycled an existing good camera without buying something new (and managed to roll back time to an age where batteries aren’t necessary). More importantly, when I produce a good photograph now, I take greater pride due to the lack of auto-assistance.

All of the photographs you see on this blog (the ones tagged as “Photo: … “) are taken with the “Russian brick”.

A last note: I hate ‘gear’ sites, and I promise that this will not be a repeating theme – I’m not a prolific consumer. The reason I posted this is that the current market is flooded with a growing stream of plastic/electronic junk, and it’s enlightening to find something built 40 years ago that still manages to meet the task.

(btw – if you run a gallery, I’m all ears)


3 Replies to “Comment: About My Photography”

  1. What a pretty machine. Amazing it still works well (but I also heard these things are practically indestructible). I still have an old Yashica lying somewhere, but when I last used it, it gave me some mechanical troubles with rewinding the film.

    A new shop with nothing but analogue cameras just opened in my area. I might pop in there and see if I can do a deal.

    Keep snapping!

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