Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Film Photography: Light Leaks and Lens Glare with a Praktica Super TL 1000

Travels to second-hand shops always yield interesting results. Recently, one of my more exciting finds - considering my interests at the moment - was a Praktica Super TL 1000 tucked away in the dusty corner of a charity book shop in Faversham. 

The camera as I've found out, was a stop gap between the onset of a new generation of Praktica's in the 1980's and more than likely made up of leftover parts of older stock and then rebranded with a flashy name. Still, it's hard to pass up the opportunity of an incredibly cheap 35mm SLR in good cosmetic condition and an attached label which says 'WORKING'. It's built with all the 1980's Eastern Bloc charm you'd expect: heavy, bulky and a bit ugly. What it lacks in features, it makes up for in functionality. It gets the job done and it's interesting to see a German Democratic Republic stamp imprinted on the underside - a minor relic of modern history.

Buying an old discarded film camera is a bit of a lottery as there's numerous issues likely to arise which will cost more to fix than the camera itself. Unless these problems are glaringly obvious just by visual analysis there's only one way to find out if the almighty 35mm camera gods are shining down on you. Load a film and take some pictures.

As it turns out, luck was on my side, and the camera works a charm. The light seals need replacing, as there's a white streak running down a lot of the photos. This is expected from a camera this old, the foam disintergrates but I'll replace the seals myself. Other than that, it's functioning really nicely. The light meter is seemingly accurate and there are no shutter/aperture issues. Kodak UltraMax 400 really made the colours of the farmland surrounding Faversham pop. It needs a lens hood as the lens and UV filter do not react very well to indirect sunlight. It produces some arty results though, which I like. My usual Canon has been sent away for repairs, so this will prove a worthy comrade.

East German walls weren't built so great but their camera's sure were. David Hasselhoff won't be singing on top of this one anytime soon.