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Medium Format Update

posted in: Photography | 0

I have good news and bad news about my current situation with my medium format cameras. Recently, I wrote an update noting that my Flexaret had stopped working and my Pentacon Six TL had film advance issues.

The bad news is that my next roll from the Pentacon turned out even worse. Only one photo came out, and the others had multiple issues. They were so bad that it’s even hard to determine what the issues are. One odd thing is that I only got 10 photos which seems contrary to the overlapping issue I had last time.

Veolia Energy
Veolia Energy

The only upside is that I had loaded that film (Ilford HP5 Plus 400) not yet knowing that the Pentacon was having issues. Since the first roll turned out OK, I suspected that the problem might involve not loading the film tightly enough.

Coincidentally, Casual Photophile posted a review of a Pentacon Six TL which referenced the fact that loosely loaded film can cause issues.

The top concern seems to be the film spacing issues that also haunt the Kiev 60. Film spacing on the Pentacon Six (and every other camera) depends on the tightness of the film stretching from reel to reel. Loose film will almost guarantee irregular spacing and can ruin otherwise good exposures. After doing some research, I learned that the simple solution to this is to simply make sure the film is wound tightly. By holding the film cartridge, and using only the final thirty degrees of the advance lever to line up the start arrow to the corresponding red dot, spacing issues disappear.

I’m hoping that if I’m more careful about loading the film, my shots will be more like the first roll than the previous two.

The good news is that I have at least temporarily fixed my Flexaret VI.

When it stopped working, I tried to figure out how to fix it but with no luck. I had actually brought it to my office in our new library as decor.

Flexaret as Decoration
Flexaret as Decoration

With the Flexaret not working and the Pentacon having issues, I started looking into buying another medium format camera but decided to take another shot at fixing the Flexaret before spending more money on another used camera.

I’m not sure I can fully retrace my thought process since there was some trial and error while trying to figure out why the Flexaret had stopped advancing. At some point while experimenting with it and doing some research, I realized that the problem might be related to the mechanism that forwards the film counter.

The fix was pretty simple. I opened the back and lubricated the reel that guides the film from the loaded film to the take up reel. I read that that reel advances the film counter and that the film counter is what cocks the shutter. Fortunately, that fix worked, and I was able to release the shutter and advance the counter.

I was eager to get out and shoot a roll of film (FujiColor Pro 400). I was pleased that I was able to shoot and advance a full roll and that the pictures turned out fine. They aren’t the best photos since I was mainly just checking to see if it worked, but I am thrilled that they all turned out and can’t wait to more intentionally take some pictures with it.

When I went out with the Flexaret, I also brought my Diana F+ (Lomography Color Negative 100) which I hadn’t used in a while and also shot a roll with that. The Diana is always hit or miss in terms of quality, but a few of the shots turned out OK.

I really enjoy shooting with the Flexaret so I am really happy that it’s working again. The Diana F+ is always fun in its funky simplicity. I just hope that the problems with the Pentacon are related to the looseness of the film and that with some care, I can again start taking good pictures with it.

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