Where your comfort zone ends is where you discover something new and fun. Keeping that euphemism in mind, I decided against a slow and cozy morning one Sunday in this past August, and went to get my bike out of the shed instead.

The lockdowns in recent history have blessed many of us with new hobbies, for me, this was photography and analogue cameras. And part of that meant getting up early, since here in Germany, flea markets start around 8am, and this weekend’s one was 10km away by bike.

At least the weather was good, cool and fresh, my favourite for any kind of exercise.

I also decided to take with me a camera I had purchased over a year ago yet never used before: A vintage 6×6 folder, as they exist in the millions. A Balda Baldi 29, cheap but cheerful, with that mix of quality materials yet low-ish construction you just don’t see anymore nowadays.

A simple camera in the extreme. No double exposure prevention, no film advance lever, a “Pronto” shutter with speeds up to 1/200s, a Triplet lens with an impressive maximum aperture of f/2.9, and your run-of-the-mill 80mm focal length. But it has three major advantages: it’s light and compact, meaning it won’t bog me down on the bike ride. It came with a great ever-ready case and leather strap, which would allow me to stop at any moment, take a picture, and continue on straight away.

Last but not least, it was cheap as chips at about 15€.

So I loaded it up with a film of very similar characteristics: Fomapan 100 Classic, the cheapest roll film I can get around these parts, but perfectly serviceable. The ride was pleasant, and I caught the “Golden Hour” of sunrise perfectly. After shooting a dozen rolls of 135 film in 3:2 format, the 1:1 square of 6×6 was a welcome challenge.

Following the Sunny 16 rule, I shot most images at F/8, 1/100s, and at distant objects, so there was very little to go wrong. For close-up shots, I kept a theme-fitting “Smena” Russian accessory shoe rangefinder attachment in my pocket.

~ Leon Blankenhorn

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  1. Great story and photos! I love seeing how different places around the world look similar and unique at the same time. Also love the classic look of your images. The depth in the railway image reminds me of photos from the 1800s. And the detail in the roof shingles of the last photo is great reminder of what 6×6 gets you, compared to 35mm. Thanks for sharing!