Weston Master III

Yashica Mat / Kodak Tri-X / Developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 mins

I’m not a collector; the handful of cameras and accessories that I have were all bought to be used. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a great deal of satisfaction when something turns up with its original box and instruction manual. There’s a connection to its history, a sense that somebody, somewhere – a real living person – went out and bought this item and looked after it, maybe even cherished it.

The Weston Master III is a selenium powered light meter from an age when things were not only beautifully designed and packaged, they were also made to last for a period of time of time that was commensurate with the price paid (yes, Iphone, you may well blush). This particular example was bought in 1958 for 10 pounds, 18 shillings, and 3 pence. I can be sure of that because, carefully tucked away in the manual, was the original receipt..

The average UK weekly wage in 1958 was just under 10 pounds, so this was a considerable purchase and it’s probably no surprise this has been well looked after. Many old meters are on their last legs these days as the selenium cells eventually wear down, but this one is still going strong and gives accurate readings. This may well be because it’s been kept in the box, as exposure to light will shorten its life. So take note Olympus Trip owners; keep those cells covered by a lens cap when the camera’s not in use.

Incidentally, I can’t find out when the Kodak store in Regent Street closed down, but 184-186 is now a branch of Hugo Boss; definitive proof that progress does not always follow a linear trajectory.

And to the lady or gentleman of Bakers Lane, Lingfield, wherever you are: I promise to look after it and treat it with the same amount of respect as you did.

Film Ferrania

Yashica Mat with rolleinar 2 / Kodak Tri-X / Developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 mins

Last month I was very excited to receive, all the way from Italy, my Film Ferrania postcard, part of the reward for contributing to their hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. If you love film and are not aware of what they’re up to, after you’ve dipped your finger in mustard and poked yourself in the eye, please check it out. But in short, these guys are using the remnants of the original 1923 Ferrania complex to create a new fully self-contained factory to produce complete still and motion picture film. The key here is ‘self-contained’. Their aim is to be able to create the finished product from just the raw materials, so there’s no reliance on buying in part-finished products or outsourcing some of the process. This is colossal and in my opinion the most important development for film since it’s decline and more recent gradual revival. First batches of film are due this year.

In other news, also pictured is my 1950s Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash. Apart from being the prettiest Bakelite art deco box camera ever, it’s also incredibly easy to refurbish. Anyway, a bit more on that when I’ve actually shot some pictures with it. In the meantime it sits very nicely on my sideboard, where it attracts the envy and admiration of all my friends1.

1That’s not true; my friends are normal.