søndag 21. februar 2016

An old camera. The story.

My first memories from life as I know it, goes back to the very beginning of the 70's. A lot of things happened back then, as I was busy learning stuff for later use. 
I learned how to be a bother and a plague to my two sisters, and I learned a thing or two about photography. I may have learned a couple of other things as well, but I think that's the two main things worth mentioning right now. 
My father was a bit more than average interested in photography back in the days. Had been so all his life since his youth, and had owned a few cheaper and more ordinary cameras up through the years. 
In 1971 the Pentax Spotmatic II was launched by Asahi, and this became my fathers first real SLR. With that fine Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens you know. 
He must have done this purchase with some of the first money he earned in his life as a civilian, after finishing his military life as a fighter pilot and later helicopter pilot in 1970. 
I grew up with this camera in the house, and needless to say it was the first real camera I ever used. 

Here we are, the two of us. Me and my father, the proud owner of a brand new Pentax Spotmatic some time late in the summer of 1971. I seem to be quite impressed, don't you think? The picture was snapped by my mother with that old Voigtländer Vito B I have told you about before. I think it's on dias film, and could be Kodachrome, but I'm not sure about it here and now. 
The father, having just left military life when this was snapped, still had his shoes shined to a different level than the son. Just for the record...!

As the years go by new technology would come to the market, and the old Spotmatic became obsolete. My father bought himself the Pentax ME around the time it was launched, a bit later into the decade, and just a couple of years later he purchased the ME Super. 
He sold the Spotmatic to help finance the ME, and I never saw it again. I know the person he sold it to very well, but the same person also bought the ME my father owned just a couple of years, and as a result the old Spotmatic was handed over on loan to one of my cousins. Still, I never saw the camera again.
My father have tried to buy it back lots of times, but the owner has been very vague in his answers, and extremely reluctant to the whole idea. It's my uncle we're talking about, and he's quite a stubborn figure. A fantastic man in very many ways, and a great photographer, but stubborn when it comes to selling off his old camera gear placed somewhere on the attic.

Not too many moons ago, in october 2015 I think, my parents invited a load of people to a big party. They had been married for 50 years, and wanted to gather family and friends, and so they did. My uncle was there as well, and we had a good chat that evening the two of us. Mainly around photography, as you do in a gold wedding party. 
Nowadays he's a pixel collector, my uncle, but when I showed up with a couple of old german rangefinder cameras he became totally lost and used the one of them through the rest of the evening. Snapped up one of my films he did, as well. The old Spotmatic was also brought up for discussion at some point, and for the first time I had a feeling that I could get hold of it some time in the future, if I only played my cards the right way.
At least he was willing to talk about the old thing using more than just a few phews and strange movements of hands and such... and that's good news, I thought. At least I learned that the camera still existed, and that my uncle had taken it back from my cousin and just recently had it into a shop for a good clean and look-over.

He's living alone, my uncle the Spotmatic owner, and has done so all his life. As a result he's always invited to join my parents for the yule celebrations, and so he was for the last one as well.
This year my father got a quite big present from my uncle, and you can probably guess the contains of it. The Spotmatic thing, all CLA'ed and shining bright as ever before. Needless to say my father was a happy man that night. The first real camera he ever owned, and the best one as well, was finally home again after around 40 years away. He have told me so many times that he should never have sold the old thing, but that's still just something you have to do sometimes.
I know, he could have bought one from ebay for next to nothing, but he never considered that. Sentimental reasons, I guess. 

Anyway. I was up there just before this weekend and had a good look at it. It even smells just the way I remember. 
I loaded it with Tri-X, put an old yellow filter on the lens, and took it for both a walk and a short drive. Snapped a few frames and it worked smooth as it should. It's a nice camera, and I now see why my father wanted it back for all those years. It's just the kind of workhorse and everyday camera you would need. All manual and mechanic, no batteries except for the light meter which you don't need too much anyway. 

A long story, I know, but had to tell it and keep it somewhere.

2 kommentarer:

  1. A great story Roy. Pleased it had a happy ending - I think your generous spirit with the German rangefinder and the investment of a film as well paid off handsomely. There's a lesson for us all there. And that's a very special shot you have of the two of you, all that time ago, with the camera as well. Old cameras are nice at the best of times, but ones that have been in the family are just a whole lot more special.

    1. Thank you my friend! Yes, I like to at least think it helped a bit on the way to the final result. I like this snap a lot, but had to look very deep into the depths of my fathers archive to get hold of it. Looking through all those old slides would take a bit longer, I assume. Loads of old memories in all those boxes of slides, though.


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