Rediscovered camera’s

Corona times at home are very useful to take stock of what one actually owns. Doors of hard to reach cupboards are opened, shelves are inspected, boxes from earlier moves are unpacked. And long forgotten gems appear. Just read with us this (very) happy tale…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

It all starts with a Leica.

My father used it for the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal. This was back in 1976. He procured himself this Leicaflex SL with a Leitz Canada Summicron 1:2 90 mm lens. I found it back in a box stored in an upper cupboard. My father had used it intensively, but luckily everything was still in working condition. The shutter functioned, the camera back opened without a hitch, the film pressure plate, everything OK.

The letters “SL” stood for “Selektive Lichtmessung” or “Selective Light Metering” and indicated explicitly that the Leicaflex SL was capable of through-the-lens spot metering, contrary to the earlier Leicaflex Standard, which relied on an external metering cell. The SL’s meter reads a limited area of the image corresponding to the coarse microprism zone on the viewscreen.

Well, everything on our camera was almost OK, as there is one very important element missing around the shutter release knob: the shutter speed dial. Maybe the camera had been dropped, and the circular ring to select the shutter speed was gone. So it sticks invariably to a shutter speed of 1/2 second. Can it be repaired? Who knows. It appears that Leica is not servicing this model anymore. Leica does no longer support R-system cameras. The company recommends to send cameras to Paepke-Fototechnik in Düsseldorf for any repairs. We will contact them soon, and when Corona times are over, we will make a trip to Düsseldorf…

Another hitch is that the mercury cells that supplied a constant 1.34V to the metering cell do not exist any more. We will also ask the Paepke-Fototechnik people how we can work around this…  

Apparently the SL was produced until 1974, when it was replaced by the Leicaflex SL2. More soon when we contact Paepke-Fototechnik!

The Hasselblad 500C

Another gem we re-awakened from its box was the Hasselblad 500C. It has the Carl Zeiss 2:8 Planar lens and is still in very mint condition, and, as far as we can see “on the dry”, in perfect working order. We will start to use it soon, with one caveat however, and this goes for all the analogue film camera’s, my darkroom is in my house in France, and in Corona times, we are still not allowed to cross the French/Belgian border at the moment of writing…

Then there are the two Mamiya’s 645. One with a classic viewfinder, and one with a prism viewfinder and built in light meter. One has the standard 80 mm lens, the other one the wide angle 55 mm 2.8. They are still as brand new and of course in perfect working order. There is also a 250 mm telelens to complete – literally – the picture.

Another analogue camera waiting on the shelf for better times is the Nikon F100. It sits there with a standard 50 mm 1,8 Nikon lens, is also mint, as new and also just waiting to be used again. It just needs batteries to get cracking.

Now we come to some (almost) forgotten digital camera’s. We recently used a lot our Fujifilm X10 with the Fujinon 28-112 mm equivalent F2-2.8 lens, a compact gem of a camera we really happen to like very much, especially in street and social event photography.  This is an exeption to the camera’s shown in this report, this one has never been “forgotten”.

Unfortunately the camera won’t shut down when one clicks the lens barrel again in the “off” position, and will continue to function for 2 minutes. This of course shortens battery life dramatically, so we bought a spare battery and keep the camera going when touring, visiting museums and the like.   

One camera we thought we had lost however is a Fuji Finepix “S”4200, a 14 mp cropped sensor “crossover” camera of yesteryear we would say, with a quite creditable 24 x optical zoom lens. It is not ideal at high ISO – far from it – but then again it is versatile with its zoom lens. The sensor of the Fujifilm 10X is quite in another league, we must admit. This camera cannot produce any images in RAW, the only option apparently is shooting in Fujifilm Finepix standard color, chrome or b&w. You can boost its ISO to 6400, but then things get quite horrible. OK, in B&W there is still something to be done, but nowadays your average smartphone outclasses it… But, as said, we found it again, and will – for the sake of it – put it again through its paces to see what it still can do in modern times, when we have our next test car, for example. We will compare the results with the much more modern Sony A 5100, which we will then use alongside it.     


We – last but not least – got the Sony A 5100 again out of its box, we bought a Nikon adapter for it so we can use our Nikon glass on it, but even with its 16-50 mm standard lens it is a quite good performer. It is also an excellent vlog camera, but more about this later…Note that this last photo was taken with the Fujifilm Finepix S4200, at 200 ASA, quite creditable indeed as one knows that all the photos of the other camera’s are taken with the Sony A 5100…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s