Analog meets Digital: Photographs taken with a 100 year old vintage camera | Paxmontana, Switzerland

5806 views since March 23, 2013

I received an amazing vintage large-format camera as a present from my mother in law a few years ago. We used to place it in a nice glass case and every now and then we took it out as a prop for some photo shoots. A few weeks before christmas when we had some time off Phil decided to take the camera out to disassemble and clean all the Schneider-Kreuznach lenses and the Compur-shutter in oder to get it back to life again. We ordered some fitting rollfilms online and decided to give it a try during our christmas holidays. We decided to have some time off over christmas and new year and booked a nice room at the Jugenstil Hotel Paxmontana in Flüli-Ranft, Switzerland. This vintage hotel was newly renovated in 2012 and was the ideal place for us to go offline for some days and recharge our batteries - we can highly recommend this unique place!

As the Contessa-Nettel cameras were built between world war I and II it was very exciting whether it would work and create usable images or not. The handling is very different from modern cameras: first unfold the camera, insert the focusing screen, adjust shutter speed and aperture, try to focus the object, hold the camera still while switching the focusing screen with the film bracket, wind the shutter, remove the light protection from the film bracket and finally release the shutter - a singe image is done. With 8x6cm large negatives only 8 images fit on one rollfilm. You can imagine that it took a while to get them done and that you will not randomly select objects to shoot but carefully decide what to photograph.

We also brought a second vintage camera - a sport photographer camera from the 1940s. This model has the rollfilm directly integrated and only a tiny whole you can look threw to position the object in place. There is no way to really see the focus you can just guess and adjust the distance on the lense itself. Unfortunately we have not finished all the films we bought but we already received our first film from the Contessa from processing. It seems as if there is a slight light leak somewhere in the bellow when the camera is used in portrait mode but never the less the images look as if they were made in the 1920s. We love them!

As this was the first test for the two old ladies we decided to make sure to have some memories and also brought one of our digital cameras along. We used the modern cameras to check the exposure which could be easily used for the vintage cameras as well. It was a lot of fun working like in the beginning days of photography. Even tough we started photography in the analog times and I used to work with analog Sinar cameras some years ago, we are more used to SLR cameras. Directly seeing what you get, having an integrated light meter and simply pressing the shutter without switching anything is really comfortable compared to the large format procedure we now experienced, especially when you are in the field and not in a studio. However we are really excited how our next vintage photos will turn out - we will keep you updated. Below please find the digital images we took:

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