Sunday, January 01, 2012

Pentax 6x7 on the street

I have owned a Pentax 6x7 since about 2001. It was given to me by my now-deceased mentor, Bill Brudon. It is not a camera that I use frequently, but I go through periods when I use it a lot for a short period. Mostly I use it on a tripod, as it's a pretty heavy beast, and that's one reason I don't use it for much than landscapes or portraits. The last year saw me trying something different. I figured that it deserved a try as a "street camera." Now, it's way too big to be a discreet camera, but I did re-attach the strap so that it could easily be carried over a shoulder and used hand-held. That means a film ISO of 400, so that I can shoot at higher shutter speeds. The mirror flip is loud, so this is not, I repeat, not a discreet camera!

Back in November, Marc Akemann and I went on a day-trip to Fenton and Holly, MI. The day was quite sunny, though the sun was getting low in the sky, causing long shadows. I used a roll of 220 Kodak Portra 400 VC that expired in 2007. Frankly, I was a little disappointed in the results. The shadows were really blocked up, so I probably won't use any more that film. The one thing that I had to be careful of is that the camera is easily banged into things, since it was hanging down from my shoulder, and the lens hood really sticks out. I quickly got used to the heft of the camera, and it's like shooting a Pentax Spotmatic on steroids.

Marc shooting with his trusty F100. His brother bought it for $25 at a yard sale.

Coffeehouse in Holly. It's a beautiful small town that has a nice antique mall district, small restaurants, and other shops.

Mural in Holly. This was taken in open shade, and the negative is lacking in contrast and seems underexposed.

Mailboxes, Holly. The 90mm lens is the "normal" lens for this camera, and vertical shots are fairly easy, as the camera has lots of "grippable area."

The plus side of the 6x7 format is that it is a big negative. Using 220, I can get 20 shots on a roll, which is a fair amount of shooting with a camera of this heft. However,220 is getting hard to come by, so in the future, I'll stick to 120 rolls. Some Kodak Tri-X will go for the next outing.


Steve Rosenbach said...

Hi Mark,

I always look forward to your posts, and this one was lots of fun to read, as usual.

I haven't used one of these, but I have access to a Pentacon 6. I don't have the space nor the patience to do my own B&W anymore - how hard is it to get B&W rollfilm developed?

Best regards,
Millersville MD

Anonymous said...

That was a fun day, Mark. Visiting Bill Meier's Camera Shop in Fenton was one of the highlights of the day. But overall it was cool to see someone (you) walking around with that extra large SLR. That's something you just don't see everyday. Too bad about the film, but you still managed to get many good shots. Nice article!

mfophotos said...

Steve -- I recommend C-41 b&w -- Kodak has a Portra b&w 400 (at least they used to) that can be done at labs that will at least develop 120, even if they can't print it. It scans beautifullt. For traditional b&w, home development is best. There are some labs out there that will do b&w, but I know nothing about thhem. I had the Kiev version of a Pentacon 6 for a little while, and it was not a bad camera.

Marc - Thanks. That was a fun day, and I enjoyed exploring Holly further. Those dioramas were amazing!

Ľubomír Brindza said...

Hi Mark,

sorry for the shallow question right off the bat - I don't suppose you remember where you got that strap? I dislike my OpTech strap (the generic recommendation no.1) with a passion, and the one you have seems workable.

mfophotos said...

Thanks for the question. That was my old P 6x7, and my newer one has a strap made from car safety belt material, which works quite well. I think this is the one that I am using now.

Ľubomír Brindza said...

Cheers! I'll give them a try.