Resurecting an Old Camera

The weather has been nasty lately – rain, thunder and lightning or the imminent threat of rain, thunder and lightning.  Thus, I haven’t been able to get out and about much.  And as much as I enjoy reading a good book, even that can become boring after a while.

Earlier this week, bored silly, I got the brilliant (NOT!) idea to find my old 35mm SLR camera and see if it still works.  After some digging in a closet I was able to find the camera, flash unit, telephoto lens and Auto 2x Tele-converter, but I couldn’t find my wide-angle lens, lens filters or the charger for the flash unit.  So, no night photos and limited indoor photos.  That’s assuming the camera even worked.

I bought the camera in 1970 or 1971 along with the additional lenses and accessories.  They cost, in total, about $550, which would be the equivalent of over $3,000 today, considering inflation.  No way I would spend that much today.

The camera got a lot of use for about five years, but only sporadic use thereafter, up until about 1988.  It had not been used since. So, there was a question whether it would work at all.

First thing was to get a battery for the camera to operate the light meters and synchronize with the flash unit (if I had a working one).  Off I drove in the pouring rain to the Radio Shack store in our big mall where I was able to find the 21st century equivalent to the original camera battery.  Back in my car I dropped the battery in the camera and tested the built-in light meters – Woo Hoo! – they worked.

Then it was off to a Walgreens drugstore for film.  They had no 35mm film available for color transparencies, which I had used exclusively back in Olden Times.  I don’t remember ever taking prints with that camera.  So I had to settle for a 24 exposure color print roll.

Back home, under subdued light I loaded the film in the camera.  I don’t remember having such a problem lining up the holes with the sprockets years ago, but I eventually got the film loaded and set to exposure number one.  That was four days ago.  As of this moment I have taken just 12 photos, and I won’t be able to see the results until I complete the full 24 and have them developed.

My observations so far:

  • The damn thing is Gawd-awful heavy!  – Connect the telephoto lens and I might require assistance holding it up and steady.  I don’t remember thinking it was heavy forty years ago.  Probably because I didn’t know any different.
  • Taking a photo is hard work!  –  You have to focus.  You have to take a light reading – either spot or average, or both.  You have to determine the depth of field you want, set the f-stop and shutter speed.  By that time, what you wanted to photograph may no longer be available.  Or, you might discover that you had forgotten to advance the film and the shutter was locked.  Grr……….
  • There’s no review feature!  – How is one to know that the photo came out the way you wanted?  And you can’t find out until the photos are developed.  What up with that?
  • There’s no delete button! –  I know I wasn’t exactly steady when I took one shot.  The only way to correct that is to use another one of my 24 exposures.  That sucks!
  • Film costs money!  – That also sucks – – big time!  I’ve really been spoiled by digital cameras.
  • Developing costs money! – I had sorta forgotten that when I bought the film.
  • Final decision based on observations: Regardless of how well the photos turn out, the camera and its accessories will be returned to the closet.

Next time a brilliant idea arises out of boredom I intend to lie down until the feeling goes away!


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