I’ve been shooting film for over 50 years, in the last few years mainly with medium format (Mamiya, Fuji and Hasselblad primarily) but still actively shooting 35mm with a broad range of cameras. Aside from my Leicas (M3 and IIIc) and a few others that I’ve purchased over the years, most of what I shoot with are from cameras that have been given to me by friends and associates from my camera club and strangers.
The Contaflex in this article was given to me along with a bunch of other old cameras in a musty suitcase that had been in someone’s closet for quite a few years. It was manufactured in Germany by Zeiss in the late 1950s and 60s and was intended for the casual shooter. It has a fixed lens 50mm f/2.8 Tessar and a (still working and accurate!) selenium cell meter which was connected to the lens via the EV (Exposure Value) system wherein you set the EV number from the exposure readout and matched it to the linked aperture and shutter speed on the leaf shutter lens. Sounds cumbersome — and it is — but it works.
After brushing off the dust and haze, I found this model to be in excellent working condition, not quite mint but still very clean and well taken care of.
I use Kentmere 400 (an ILFORD film) because it is very cheap in bulk 100ft/30.5m rolls and has pretty good quality. I first started using the film when I was teaching a summer photography program for middle schoolers at a local non-for-profit. Since the organization that I was working with had very few cameras to work with, I put my extensive collection of manual focus, non-automatic SLRs to work. None of these youngsters had ever seen much used a film camera and it became a novel learning experience for both teacher and pupils. I developed the rolls, scanned them and reviewed them with the kids.
In using the film for my personal use, I found it to have high acutance overall with moderate grain and high contrast. It reminded me of the older Kodak Tri-X from the 1960s and 70s. I’ve been processing it in my primary developer, HC110 dilution B (1:31) 6 to 7 minutes (times from the Massive Development Chart). I used my Microtek i900 Scanner with Silverfast software and uploaded to Lightroom CC.
These photos were taken at a local art class. Hope you enjoy this!
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Big fan of Kentmere 400 for the same reasons. Nice pics and review.
Any tips for settings in silverfast for scanning kentmere? Silverfast doesn’t have a dedicated preset and I’m finding my kentmere scans are really poor quality. Thanks for any info!
From an Aussie :
Wonderful ! And great camera.
Thanks for sharing
We may be twin sons of different mothers – I’m ‘celebrating’ my 50 years of shooting film in July!
The Contaflex looks like a finely designed camera. I see the fixed lens as an asset, it makes you work for the best composition. I especially like the portrait of the man with his portrait of the model.
I taught photography & graphic design for 35+ years in a public high school (now retired.) We used the Kentmere exactly as you use it and for the same reasons. I found it to be an unforgiving film, so the students needed to be accurate with their exposure & processing (we used Sprint chemicals; they were cost efficient but very good.) My personal film is HP-5 and Ilford ID-11. I never got comfortable w/HC-110.
Thank you for teaching in the summer program. I know from experience middle schooler’s can be a challenge, sort of like heading cats. But, the result can be very rewarding. And, as you know, the kids teach us as much as we teach them!
Finally, my in-laws lived in the Hudson River valley, We spent many years driving over the beautiful bridges to get to their house. The Newburgh-Beacon was our gateway to the area.