In my post about my new Olympus XA, I wrote a little about how I have ended up with more film cameras than I intended to own and being more intentional about buying any new ones.
One big reason I have for being more intentional about my camera collection is being able to find the time to use them. I started keeping track of when the last time was that I used each camera so that none of them linger unused for any length of time. I wanted to be equitable with my attention.
I’m starting to rethink that approach.
I currently have 16 functional cameras: 2 digital and 14 film. Some of which are more satisfying to use than others. Some of which cause grief. I’ve had issues with film popping out of the canister and tearing in my Olympus OM-1 not to mention its occasionally wonky light meter. Photos from my Diana F+ are, by design, always wonky and sometimes awful.
One camera that’s been problematic since the second roll I shot in it has been my Pentacon Six TL. I’ve written about its issues a couple times before:
Back in February, I decided to give it another try. The main problem seems to be that the film does not advance correctly. I tried being very careful when loading it, making sure there is no slack. I also tried advancing slowly and deliberately. As you can see in my Medium Format Update post, that resulted in some terrible photos (faint, streaky, and blurry) but not terrible in the same way as the ones described in the Pentacon Six Issues post, i.e. not the same advancing problem.
To try it again, I set-up my tripod and photographed a variety of things in my light box. The Pentacon is a big, heavy camera so it is difficult to hold steady. I wanted to rule out any shakiness simply due to my unsteady hands.
I loaded a roll of Cinestill 50D trying again, of course, to be very careful and deliberate. The Cinestill was not an ideal choice for an indoor project like this, but it was the only roll of 120 I had at the time. Partly because it was winter and I hadn’t been getting many options for going out to shoot, I was eager to make this experiment and didn’t want to wait to get other film.
The first few photos look lousy but advanced OK. They look dark and hazy but weren’t blurry and streaky like the last time.
The rest of the photos turned out fine.
I’m not sure what this tells me.
If they all turned out good, I would have been encouraged to try again. If they all turned out awful, I would have reason to just give up on it.
Which brings me back to thinking about my approach to using my film cameras.
Do I want to invest more time, energy, and film in testing my Pentacon Six? Will I only get good photos if I use a tripod? I’ve never been all that interested in wandering around with one, and I would need to get a better tripod than the plastic secondhand one that I currently have.
Between getting new cameras and trying to figure out problems with some of my old cameras, it seems like I am often just testing things and not going out to seriously take pictures.
In the near term, I think I would like to focus on getting more comfortable with the cameras I have enjoyed using rather than trying to be equitable in using all my cameras. Although the list of film cameras I find enjoyable is still fairly long:
- Canon AE-1
- Canon EOS Rebel 2000
- Flexaret Automat VII
- Minolta Hi-Matic 11
- Minolta X-700
- Minolta XE
- Olympus Pen-EE3
- Olympus XA
- Yashica Mat-124G
I may set these other cameras aside for the time being:
- Diana F+
- Flexaret Automat VI (mainly just because my Flexaret VII is working again)
- Minolta AutoPak 450Ex
- Olympus OM-1
- Pentacon Six TL
Of course, I thought about all this after putting film in both my Olympus OM-1 and my Minolta AutPak 450Ex. I do enjoy shooting with the AutoPak, but it’s a 110 film camera and the results aren’t that great.
I’m sure I’ll want to revisit some of these cameras sooner or later, but, for now, I plan on using my more reliable ones.