Saturday, June 28, 2014

Envoy Joy

I am in the midst of selling a camera estate for an acquaintance, so I have been busy with that and not doing much blogging.  One of the side benefits of doing this is that I often get my hands on cameras that i have never seen or used before.  Sometimes they are expensive high-end tools like the previous post on the Plaubel Makina 670.  Other times, it might be a strange obscure camera, such as this post -- the Envoy.

The Envoy was produced in the 1950s in England.  It is a fixed focus wide-angle box camera that takes 120 film as well as 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 plates.  The wire frame finder is all you need to gauge your composition.  The rear part of the finder has parallax correction for close-ups.  Since it is fixed focus, your closest focus is achieved with the smallest aperture:
  • f/11 -- 10 - 60 ft
  • f/16 -- 6 - 400 ft
  • f/22 -- 4 - ∞ ft
  • f/32 -- 1 - ∞ ft
You can set your shutter speed from B to 1/125 sec, so this camera works best with slower films, and I used Verichrome Pan (expired in 1997) to test out the camera.  Using sunny-16, I was able to get very good images at f/16 and 1/100 sec.

Mason, MI
All of the shots were hand-held, and there is a tripod socket on the camera.  Wide-angle is equivalent to 25mm on a 35mm camera -- which is pretty damn wide on medium format, especially in 6x9 cm.    I think the framing was pretty accurate, given this was my first experience with this camera.  I currently have a roll of expired Panatomic-X in it, so that ought to be interesting.
These cameras are rarely seen here in the US, and are more common in the UK and Europe.  Prices range from $200 on up, depending on condition.  Considering the wide-angle aspect of the camera, it's a relative bargain.

Portland, MI
 I probably won't hang onto this camera, but I am happy to have used it for a while.  I think anyone that wants the simplicity and compactness of the Envoy to shoot wide-angle images would really appreciate the camera.   Stopped down, the lens is very good, and everything will be in focus from at least 10 feet to infinity.  Not too shabby for a "box camera."

Portland, MI

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cameras beyond my budget - The Plaubel Makina 670

Every once in a while, it is fun trying out a camera that I always thought was cool, but could never afford. It usually only happens when I am in the process of selling cameras for someone else.  In this instance, I am readying a lot of cameras for ebay for an acquaintance.  One of the ones that first caught my eye was a Plaubel Makina 670. Made in Japan, the Plaubel 670 is a 6x7 rangefinder with a collapsible lens bellows (think giant Kodak Retina).  This particular model, the 670 is an improvement over the 67, as it can take 120 or 220 film.  With 10 exposures on a roll of 120, 220, sure looks like a better bet for this easily-carried camera.  Also note that this camera has had strips of grip-tack applied so that it is easier to hold.  I think it's a great idea for a camera such as this.  The 670 also has a light meter, and the rangefinder is very clear and easy to focus.  Note that the lens is made by Nikon, and that the maximum aperture is f/2.8 -- a really nice feature for softening the background when doing portraits.  In use, the camera is easy to open and close.  The viewfinder is clear, and the 80mm lens (40mm equivalent for 35mm) gives a slightly wider angle than the typical 105mm focal length one sees for 6x7.  The camera weighs nearly 3 pounds, so its not as heavy as the Pentax 6x7.  With the lens retracted, the camera has a thin profile that easily fits into a large coat pocket or messenger bag.  I shot 2 rolls of B&W plus a roll of color.  The first roll, expired Plus-X, looks very good, but I can't get the film to lie flat enough in the scanner to scan without distortion. I'll have to make some prints, I suppose.
This is obviously not a cheap camera, with used prices on ebay starting around $1400.  I am glad that I had a chance to try it out, but 6x7 isn't my favorite format, so I won't be buying this one!  There isn't a lot on the web about the Plaubel Makina 670, but this link is useful.