Sometimes a camera just seems to shoot itself. The Minister III has nice balance, a bright rangefinder, and a smooth feel to its controls. I blasted through a full 36 exposure roll in no time and sent it off to the lab.
I spent a bit of time planning an in-depth review of the camera, as I’d had a lot of fun using it. The images arrived yesterday, and here they are:
Yup. Nothing. Not a single image. Instead I received a cute note from my friends at the lab suggesting that I expose the film before shipping it to them next time. 🙂
A quick check reveals that the shutter in the Minister isn’t firing. It sounds fine, but it never opens. FAIL. I’ve dropped it on the fix/sell pile. Perhaps I’ll get to diagnosing it some day, after I’ve finished all of the other projects in my life. Onward. . .
The Six-20 is a relatively easy camera to shoot. The lens is fixed focus; there is only one effective shutter speed. The only variable is aperture. The tiny waist level finder is all but useless, however. The sport finder is slightly better but is still only vaguely accurate.
I find folders simply fun to use. I had difficulty remembering to rotate the finder prism before attempting to close the bed, but no harm was done.
Unfortunately something went drastically wrong. Most of my shots looked like this:
Only 2 of 8 were even remotely identifiable. The camera produced a lot of dust, and the film seems heavily fogged. I used a roll of Portra 160 respooled onto a 620 spool by a third party. I won't name or blame him as I've used his film before with no problems. I had guessed an effective shutter speed of 1/40-1/50s.
Today I gave the camera a good cleaning and timed the shutter with the Shutter Speed iPhone app. It turns out to be much closer to 1/20s. I hand-spooled a roll of FP4 myself, and I will try again tomorrow.
I'm not willing to call this one a failure yet, primarily because I can see no good reason for the poor results. We shall see. . .
My second attempt was just as bad as the first, with only one usable shot. I’ve ruled out any errors in my developing process by running another roll from a different camera at the same time. It came out fine.
A bit of research tells me that these cameras were prone to this failure. The wonderful click which I love is created by a mechanical symphony in motion. When the shutter button is depressed the mirror flips up, the aperture closes, and the shutter fires. If this sequence does not execute perfectly. . .
In my case, the aperture is slow in closing. Unfortunately, it is not reliably slow either. It is shooting at somewhere between f2.8 and wherever the dials are set. Perhaps a good cleaning would help, but for now it will go on the shelf as a display piece.
(My thanks to Mike B on G+ who alerted me to the possible problem and its diagnosis.)
Many years ago I watched a volunteer firefighter climb down from the cab of his ladder truck in nothing but shorts, boots, and a helmet. He took a portable radio and went to investigate a box alarm. I was embarrassed — for him, for his agency, for the fire service in general and myself by extension. I don’t know what he intended to do if he actually found a problem.
Yesterday at the firehouse I was thumbing through the latest edition of Fire Chief magazine. There is a Pierce ad inside the front cover. It shows their newest shiny model Photoshopped into a Detroit fire scene. It’s a pretty truck, and it has some interesting engineering features. The mechanical engineer and apparatus buff in me is intrigued.
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TOO PREPARED. BE SITUATION READY blares the tagline. And directly below the ad copy is this guy:
T-shirt. Some kind of vest which looks like fleece. Orange fireball gloves(?!). And untied duty boots.
BE SITUATION READY. Hey, at least he is wearing a helmet.
I can only hope he’s an actor. He’s not SITUATION READY for anything more than fueling the truck on the way back to quarters.
I could philosophize about the stereotype that this encourages, or about how some city managers value shiny fire trucks over having sufficient numbers of skilled staff. I could rant about how someone at Pierce and someone at Fire Chief magazine should have caught this. (ORANGE RUBBER GLOVES!) I could note that Pierce has a major social media campaign on Facebook and YouTube for product engagement.