Saturday, February 5, 2011


Long ago, well before the advent of digital cameras, I owned a couple of very nice manual cameras. (No tedious batteries or anything!) One was a Brownie box camera that used 620 film, and the other was a Praktiflex FX. While neither was really intended for flash photography, and in fact I never attempted to use flash on either one, each was an excellent camera in its own way. But alas, just as I was getting serious about photography and experimenting with printing black-and-white, both cameras were, to all intents and purposes, destroyed. (Let's not talk about that any further.)
Eventually I bought a decent-quality Yashica, but I never became very fond of it. I didn't get the same quality of candid shots looking straight through the Yashica as I had looking down into the Praktiflex, and while I enjoyed having flash, I disliked relying on batteries and being lured into using the automated point-and-shoot mode. Around the time I bought my digital camera, the Yashica developed an ailment of some sort and it has been awaiting a trip to the repair shop ever since.
It eventually dawned on me that while I had never seen another Praktiflex anywhere, all manner of things surface on E-Bay. And indeed, Praktiflex cameras do show up on E-Bay with some regularity, although not always whole or in good condition. I decided to get another one. This was easier said than done, since I don't really monitor E-Bay and almost never buy anything that way, but eventually I put in a bid on one.
I might add that I was feeling some urgency about getting one, as the digital camera had (as far as I can tell) given up the ghost while I was visiting Chicago recently.
Now, this weekend I have generally been feeling miserable, as I had papers to finish grading, a large batch of exams to grade as well, and I was beginning to feel as though I was an extremely incompetent lecturer after seeing how few students managed to identify any of the exam works fully (or even to follow my verbal instructions to place the IDs before the essay portions). It is not a good thing when you have a student who writes "Donatello" for every work whether it is Sainte-Chapelle, a page from the Très Riches Heures, Giotto's Madonna Enthroned, or a Jan van Eyck. (Why this student is obsessed with Donatello, I cannot imagine. If she likes Donatello so much, she should be able to tell that he had nothing to do with any of these other works.)
All that in mind, imagine my joy at discovering a box on my (very snowy) doorstep, in which resided the new-to-me Praktiflex!
It is not strictly identical to my former one. I knew before buying it that it has a different lens. The old one was a Zeiss and this one says Westenar. However, lenses can be swapped, and this lens may be quite satisfactory. The thing now is to get some film into it. And, of course, these days the question is where one buys film. Since there are two professors of photography in my department, learning where to buy film will not be a problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment