Vintage Camera: Pentax P5

Next up on in this week's vintage camera parade...one of my own--found again. I've had this Pentax P5 in a desk drawer for 20-something odd years. I don't remember exactly, but I think I got it as a birthday gift when I was in high school. Anyway, it sat quietly in the dark for all these years until I happened upon a unique lens at a yard sale.

I was pedaling along through a community yard sale a few weeks back when a table full of camera gear caught my eye. I put the brakes on and stopped to check things out. On the table amongst a bunch of some nice and some not so nice gear was this mysterious lens. I immediately noticed the big heavy glass and the wide angle, always clues that the lens might be a nice piece of gear. At $4, knowing that I had the old Pentax P5 body back at the house, I was sold and took the lens home. I've got my first roll of film in it at the moment and will post some shots once I finish it and get it developed.

The lens happens to be a legendary (at least among Asahi Pentax folks) and somewhat rare vintage SMC 1:3.5 15mm manual focus wide angle with built in yellow, red, skylight, and UV filters. This is just about as wide as you can get without going fisheye. Sadly there is no "-A" after the "SMC" or the lens would be worth a small fortune as only 100 of those were ever made. SMC refers to the lens coating. At a cost of $4, I can't complain as it has gotten me to break out the old P5 and start experimenting with film.

The camera I've fixed the 15mm beast to is a 1986 P5 (P50 for the rest of the world), a basic manual focus, no frills consumer body. It feels well-built but small compared to my digital bodies. It comes equipped with push-button LCD screen to change settings (I wish it had dials, but those are the breaks). Here are some more specs on the P5: speeds up to 1/1000, no DX film override, CW metering, exposure compensation, DoF preview lever, and exposure lock. It will do for me as I'm more about what's in the shot than trying to get all the settings just so.


Vintage Camera: Voigtländer Bessa

I'm shooting a lot and am on the road this week, so no new High Line or other original images for a few days. Instead, enjoy "vintage camera week"! To start things off, check out my latest tag sale find, an early (circa 1929, I believe) Voigtländer Bessa! This Bessa is in great shape for its age--works just fine aside from a slightly sticky shutter, and is a nice example of an early medium format folding camera. It may have been well-used, but the former owner took good care it. I picked it up in a twofer deal with an Polaroid SX-70 for a total $25.

Voigtländer is one of the oldest names in camera history. It was founded in 1756 to produce optical instruments. In 1840 Voigtländer started to make cameras and lenses. During the 20th century, the company was bought, sold, folded, and was revived by the likes of Zeiss Ikon, Rollei, and Cosina. Today, the name is largely associated with rangefinders.

Voigtländer is also famous for calling many of its models "Bessa", which can get confusing.

This early Bessa came with four lens options (in increasing quality): Voigtar, Vaskar, Skopar, and the Color Skopar. There were also three leaf shutter options (also in increasing quality): Prontor, Compur, Compur Rapid. My Bessa has a lowly Voigtar lens. The lowest f-stop is 7.7!!!! I'll leave it at home when shooting low-light and action--you can bet on that. I'm still trying to figure out which shutter it has...probably the Prontor. There is a handy cable release in addition to the traditional lever, just to up the vintage factor and make for steadier shots. Photographs are framed via the visual finder (landscape) or the waist level finder (portrait). There is no sophisticated winding mechanism on this camera. You simply wind the film until the next backing paper mark appears through the red window on the back. No double-exposure prevention, of course, but that may make for some interesting, creative images.


High Line Section 2 Opening (Part 3)

...Some more from the Section 2 opening shot with the Nikon.

More Nikon shots of the opening are here.

Iphone shots of the opening are here.


I Built the High Line: Impromptu Portraits (Part 8)

Another week, another set of portraits! This set makes 72--these are the people that made the High Line possible.

More, lots more High Line portraits here.


High Line Section 2 Opening (Part 2)

Here are some more images from the opening of Section 2 of the High Line. This set and the next I'll post are from the Nikon.

Click here for some images from the Iphone.


Polaroid Mugs

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! What says Father's Day more than some mugshots? I shot these dirty rotten scoundrel dads at the family bbq...


Polaroid Duel!

She threw down the gauntlet (or in this instance, a stuffed puppy)! I for one have never allowed the call to duel to fall on deaf ears. As is tradition in such matters, the challenged chooses the weapon and it didn't take long for me to settle on Polaroids. This would be a fair fight, but I thought my choice would give me just enough upper hand to walk away unscathed. I made the presentation of arms. She chose the Close-up, loaded with expired original Polaroid color film and a minimum range of 2 feet. I was left with the Sun 66, loaded with new Impossible PX600 Silver Shade UV+ black frame (which I suppose made me the "bad guy"), and able autofocus. The rules were read aloud so that they were clear to the participants and spectators, and a hush fell over the dueling ground as we prepared to step. We stood back to back, shoulder blades touching. The moment of truth was upon us. One-two-three, we stepped!!!!! We turned and FIRED...


High Line Section 2 Opening (Part 1)

Last week I was invited to join Friends of the High Line for the opening of their much-awaited Section 2. June did not disappoint, with temperatures in the 80's and lots of blue sky keeping things festive! The usual suspects attended: Mayor Bloomberg, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfo and James Corner Field Operations, and donors Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller, Ed Norton, and the Falcones--all long-time generous supporters of the High Line. Sadly, no Mario Batali this time around. As is becoming a tradition for me, here's a mashup of photographs from the event.

Click to enlarge.

It was a unique event, very casual and cozy, nestled amongst the buildings of Chelsea. Organized Chaos, a step team from Brooklyn Technical High School got the crowd moving and introduced Mayor Mike to start things off. They were pretty amazing and the stepping sounded fantastic on the wood benches of the lawn.

Some of the other highlights for me were seeing some of the other photographers who have worked with the High Line over the years (you know who you are) and loading up on popsicles from Chef Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina to beat the warm weather and hot sun. Yum--I can personally attest to the deliciousness of her watermelon, horchada, and hibiscus pops.

I'll probably post some more images from this event in upcoming installments, as I shot with 3 cameras (Nikon, Iphone, and Polaroid--which always keeps me on my toes). The above are from the Iphone.

If you're into the High Line, click here to see some of my "I built the High Line" portraits.


Vintage Camera: Polaroid Sun 660

Its been a while since I posted a vintage camera buy. I sort of took a break from it for a while but now that summer is here and yard/garage/tag/estate sales are popping up, I'm finding some good stuff out there...too good to resist buying. This past weekend, I picked up 2 Polaroid cameras (one with film inside) and a nice Pentax wide angle lens for $6 total.

The first Polaroid I bought was a Sun 660. It cost me a $1. This is a pretty deluxe Polaroid! It features a plastic 116mm-f/11 lens, sonar autofocus, electronic shutter (1/4-1/200 second), exposure slider (darker/lighter), and dual shutter release (flash/no flash).

I had a great time with this camera at the High Line Section 2 opening--shooting portraits of architects Diller, Scoffidio + Renfro/James Corner Field Operations and donors such as Diane von Furstenberg with some Impossible PX 600 Silver Shade UV+ black frame film. Everyone wanted to check out the camera and I ended up giving away a bunch of shots because people were so into them.


I Built the High Line: Impromptu Portraits (Part 6)

Section 2 of the High Line is OPEN...go check it out! Here are some more portraits of those who made it all happen.

Lots more High Line portraits here.