Thursday, October 8, 2015

Meopta Flexaret test roll

Remember that Meopta Flexaret I brought with me from Prague? This one:

Meopta Flexaret VI
Meopta Flexaret IV and a pile of Fomapan.

I scanned the roll from it a while ago. I used Fomapan 400, an old-style black and white film; and the camera itself is older than me. Developed them in Rodinal, my current go-to developer.

As expected, the pictures are subdued, almost dreamy. There's not a huge amount of small detail — the lens probably doesn't resolve all that well — and the camera is fairly sensitive to direct light. Flare seems to be a common problem for TLR cameras in general. The pictures really look and feel like they're from a different era.

Unfortunately, I neglected to lock the back properly at first (you need to screw in the little locking knob on the left side). The back opened at one point, costing me a couple of frames. And a couple of pictures are of Ritsuko, which I don't post in public. That leaves me with a total of three shots left to show you:

Water Fountain
Drinking fountain at a street corner in Prague.

This is very typical of what this camera and film combination will give you. Soft light and smooth gradations. Not a great deal of fine detail and not a lot of micro-contrast. The grain with this film — using Rodinal especially — is fairly noticeable. You capture structure both in the deepest shadows and the brightest highlights, and tones are very kind to human subjects. This makes for a very nice old-style portrait set-up I think.

Prague streetside statues.

OK, so the picture is meh. I don't really think this old look works here. The contrast is low already in this scene, so it ends up flat and dull. With a higher-contrast film and camera (Delta 100, for instance) there would have been enough variation in the light around the statue and wall to make it interesting.

Home, sweet home.

My standard shot from the balcony. I really like this one. The chaotic, contrasty jumble of sunlight and shadow becomes smooth and restful. Quiet and still, with lots of small things happening if you look closely. This has become one of my favourite shots of this scene. I might have to try printing this and see how it looks on paper.

Overall, the camera works quite well. The shutter speeds are not hugely off, and the finder and controls all work. There's some flocking sticking into the exposure area, but that's easy to fix. The Fomapan 400 is an excellent choice if you want this old-style look. I want to try a roll of Delta 100 or something like that next time, see if I can coax a bit more contrast and detail out of this lens.

A fun camera. Happy I got it.