A while ago I went to a flea market here and there I saw this Agfa Silette camera. It was in decent condition. The man was asking for 50kn, I told him I’d buy it for 35 (about US$5) and we agreed. According to a serial number inside the camera it was produced in 1954.
I had a roll of Agfa Vista Plus 200 film at home and after loading it, I realized that I didn’t know how to use the camera! How much help we get from modern cameras! With this one, I felt handicapped. This camera has only provisional viewfinder and taking photos and focusing is difficult because of it. Also, the Agfa Silette has no lightmeter. You have to calculate shooting times and apertures according to light conditions.
In this situation, zone focusing and hyperfocal distance focusing help, as does the Sunny 16 rule if you don’t have an external light meter.
After a week of using Agfa Silette 36 new photos were ready! To complicate matters, I decided to develop the film by myself. I do B/W developing and scanning myself but I had never tried C-41 development. It took me few hours of education about C-41 processing and few days of waiting for new chemicals.
I needed more equipment, but I improvised with what I had at home. I made a funnels from bottles, filled the basin with hot water and in the dark, loaded the film as usual. After half an hour, there they were, 36 negatives!
In the first scan I saw my first mistakes. The Sunny 16 rule worked perfectly but zone focusing was my weakness. I had about 25% of photos out of focus and without a steady hand at 1/50 and 1/25 second, there were a bunch of blurry photos.
I hope next time will be more successful.
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This series is being 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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