As you know I briefly went home from the cottage a couple of days ago to get some work done outside the house as the weather I told you all about was good enough to do just that for a while.
I did what was needed outdoors before I went inside to heat myself up a bit. I was wet, you see, after having crawled on my knees on the top of the very wet stairs with a steel brush in hand, brushing away stuff I don't want to talk about for the most of the day.
I ended up inside this warm room in the middle of a bunch of great and maybe not so great cameras, trying to find a couple of technically good ones, but not too good if you see what I mean. I need a candidate able to be carried around on my shoulder for something like a year, and I would probably also need something like a twin camera to act as a reserve should the main one fail for one reason or the other.
So I felt I had to look the Nikon way, and there would be two different possible paths to move along as far as I can see. Either the F3 path, or the FM/FE path. Weight and cheapness of the camera and lens could become an issue I suspect, so the FM/FE road seems to me like the obvious one for now. The F3 might be a bit on the heavy and bulky side, but nothing is written in stone here. Not yet, anyway.
I had a long look at my very well beat up FE2, but I can't say I'm too confident that this camera would be the one to go for. I'm not too sure about how it will cope with the weather and the wetness and all the other things that will get thrown at it during the length and nature of the project, and then there's the mechanical issues with the film transport and some minor winding issues to which I have done a few repairs myself some time ago. It has not been really tested with film to see if it still works properly, so I decided to start right there. I loaded the thing up with some old Tri-X and hope to get it finished within a few days to see if this sort of nice but still quite battered thing work as it should.
I had it given to me more or less for free some years ago now. It came with two very fine lenses (a 35mm f/2 and a 50mm f/1.2) which I payed a few NOK's for, but the camera followed the deal for nothing. It has served me well, but after a couple of very hard meetings with norwegian rocky nature from some height, it has never really found back it's former self. I have done a few repairs on it, and it works for now. Trouble is the film advance mechanics which seems to be a bit dodgy.
Looks fine from the front if you choose to look away from the fact that the film rewind lever is missing. That's not a very essential part anyway, and has never caused me any big trouble. I can always find a new one from a donor camera, but the trouble is that this is actually the worst Nikon I own at the moment, and hence would be the obvious candidate to become a donor itself if it just was not such a nice little thing.
Fixing the film transport and film advance mechanics. I somehow made it work again, and that's why I still got the camera laying around in one piece. A not too obvious dent on the upper right corner was knocking the internals into a strange angle, and a few bits and bobs inside needed some good old hammering and stretching to find their old position again. Not everything is quite as it should be, though. But then again I'm a marine diesel engine engineer... not a camera repair man. Quite obviously...
I also used the opportunity to give the electronics a good clean, and to get rid of some rust and debris having accumulated inside through years of operation.
Bottom parts. Nothing much done here except from cleaning and brushing dust and removing a couple of very small parts with unknown origin and location out of the shell. The camera works fine without them, it seems. At least for now... The only thing absolutely not working is the double exposure preventer (another part of the dodgy film advance mechanism), so the parts may have been connected to that portion at some point.
I could also have used one of the Leicas for a project like this as they both got the right size and weight, but also because the lenses are small and not very much in the way all the time. They are very robust cameras, very silent and a breeze to use in any situation. The downside is obviously todays value of these things, and especially that's true for the glass. My suspicion is that carrying a camera on your shoulder anywhere you go will eventually someday cause something to break, and I really don't want to crush one of them german lenses just because of stupidity or some other trivial matters. I will of course still use them for something else, but it's not going to happen for this rather small but still big and quite long lasting event.
I got other projects coming up that would put a rangefinder into some good use, so I don't worry too much about that.
The rear hatch do have a couple of small issues as a result of one of the higher falls (from the roof of my car...), but still seems to serve it's main purpose of keeping the internals quite light tight.
The small dent (shop floor in Oslo, couple of years ago) that finally kicked everything out of position and made the camera useless. After everything this camera had been through I could not believe that this little issue was going to disturb anything much. That was before I opened things up to have a closer look... the disaster became quite clear to me as soon as the top cover was moved away.
See? You can still see things through the finder and everything! Light meter and auto function still works as a breeze. What more can one ask for, actually?
A nice little camera, and I must say I'm attempted to see if it can make it through next year. At least it would be great if it could survive through parts of it.
Nah... it's going to be one or two of the Nikons. My hope is that the FE2 is fit for the task through the year to come, and if I find it not to be I know I have a few FM2s which probably can handle the duty as the twin without any further questions.
Size wise it's more or less only the prism making them bigger than the german rangefinders, and as for the lenses you can always say that if you choose the right ones they can be both cheap(ish) and lightweight. If I choose to go the F3 route it's more or less the same things to play with as the FE/FM's, but with a tiny bit bigger prism. They can take more or less anything you throw at them though, and that might come in handy some day. The pre for the F3 would be the fantastic viewfinder, which probably is a result of the bigger prism for all I know.
I will make the final decision during the next month or so, then I'll just go for whatever I think is the best overall route.
So, what's the plan then?
You probably have guessed already, but I will tell you in clear text.
One camera, and at least one snap each day through the year of 2017 done on one single type of film. At least that's the short version and as far as I have been thinking up to this point.
I was originally thinking that using one single lens could also add some kind of consistency to it all, but I have not yet decided if that is going to happen or not.
I have tried something similar one time before, but it did not work out. I have wanted to try doing it again in some kind of way for some time, but I have had some trouble finding the right format and the right way to do it to make it happen all the way through.
The last time I did something similar I wanted to do one snap a day and even post it onto the web the same day. That did not work out at all, and eventually I fell off the wagon.
Due to very limited access to the web when at work and also quite a few other issues it kind of fell to the ground at some point a bit past the halfway mark. I found it easy enough to grab the snap each day, but then again there was no such thing as using a single camera or something. Besides, I did digital snaps for that project.
This time it will be done on film, which might be a blessing but also a curse. The posting on the web will be done when they are ready to be posted. No obligation to get them out on a particular day or something like that. I will finish the rolls, one by one, and make notes good enough for me to know what was taken which day. All snaps will be posted, no matter the state of the exposure or anything else.
Why I'm doing this right now? Well, I will (knock wood) turn 50 some time towards the end of 2017, so I just thought it would be a nice year to somehow document a year of my life... the year I turned 50. I guess the working title of the project would be kind of easy to guess.
As usual I'm very interested in comments or suggestions on what to do and how to do it. Any experience anyone want to share from similar project is worth a lot.
I would of course prefer everything to be settled before I kick it off on the first of January, 2017. Until then I'm all ears.