Saturday, 22 September 2012

My Little Soviet Girl (Part I)

After about two years and half of my way in digital photography, I've wanted to shoot film since some time ago. I was looking for an old but functional film camera for my first non-digital experience.

After of a brief quest I fallen in love of a little Soviet camera: the Zorki 4. Zorki is a Soviet mark that it started to build telemetric cameras emulating the famous Leica.

The last August 31th I bought it in eBay. It was a commemorative piece of the 50th anniversary of Soviet government. I could have it in my own hands the September 17th.

My initial idea was to shoot in black and white, but the cost of the film and developing is huge. Colour is much cheaper. I don't going to use this camera every day, it's only for very special shots, so I don't know if b/w could be an option.

I had to test the camera fastly to see if every thing was OK. I bought a film of 35mm, 24 frames, ISO 200, in colour. It cost more of 4€. In a first moment we had problems to put correctly the film in the camera, but when we discovered the "shutter disengaging ring" everything was easier.

Tuesday September 18th I went to Madrid with my little Soviet girl. I took pictures near Príncipe Pío Station  and the Debod temple. Next day I spent the rest of the film in my dear city, Alcalá de Henares, with a very poor light (it was too late).

Finally 26 pictures was taken in manual mode (the only mode for this camera). I thought I should  use my first film as a calibration experiment. There are two things to calibrate: the parallax error and the response human-machine.

The parallax error is due to you are not watching the same that your camera "watchs" when it takes the picture. I tried to draw a very simple scheme of the composition of each picture to correct it in the future.

By other hand, evaluate the light in a scene only with your eyes is very complicated for an inexpert photographer as I am. Our eyes are very good: they have a very large dynamic range and they can work fine with all kind of light. The camera is more sensible to light conditions and a study about the quality of the light in a scene have to be done before shooting.  Because of it, I made a table with values that worked fine in the past (with digital cameras). Maybe there also were failures in the time mechanism. For calibrate it, I take note of the values and light conditions while I'm shooting.

Last Thursday September 20th I sent the film to be developed. We'll view the results next Tuesday, September 25th. At the moment, the mechanic and cosmetic state of the camera seems be good, but we have to wait for the film developed to finalize the test of the good working of the camera.

Right now I'm happy with my purchase. Aesthetically is a very beautiful gear and the non-digital mechanisms are so special for me... It seems magic! Maybe the next Wednesday I'll write about the results of my little experiment. I'll be waiting hopeful the developing until then.

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