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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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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