My new (old) camera

So if you’ve been following this blog you know I’ve been really into shooting film lately.  I’ve had a lot of fun with my unpredictable toy cameras, and I’ve been especially fascinated by the results of the layering that happens in multiple exposures on film.  Much as I was pleased with the images that came out of those experiments, I found myself wanting to see what I could do with a little bit more precision, or a little bit larger of a canvas.  Or both.  I shot a couple of rolls of medium format (120) film on a toy camera but it wasn’t producing the kind of results I was looking for.  So I started researching other medium format cameras online and I found this Rolleicord V.  According to this totally geeky and incredibly helpful website, my camera was made sometime between 1954 and 1957.  I’m more than a little enamored with it.

This style of viewfinder is captivating for me, but composing shots with it has taken some getting used to.  With this camera, I hold it at waist level and look down, which is a lot different than putting it up to my eye.  I’m used to moving my body and my camera as one to adjust my compositions, but I don’t yet know how to do that with this camera, or if it’s even possible.  But the most confusing thing for me is that the viewfinder shows a mirrored image – so panning to the right, for example, will appear in the viewfinder as a movement to the left.  While shooting the first couple of rolls of film, not only were the movements I had to make to adjust compositions counter-intuitive, but watching the viewfinder with everything moving backwards and opposite of what felt normal gave me such vertigo that I very nearly fell over more than once.

Still, this camera is a dream come true for me in so many ways.  The most special thing about it, for me – and the reason I chose this particular model of this particular camera – is the switch that hides the red dot, shown on the image above to the right of the lenses.  That switch is called the “double exposure prevention switch” – or in my case, red means go.

If this keeps up, I may never go back to shooting digitally…