Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Skeletons From The Closet - May Results - Minolta Autocord TLR

I've been shooting the Minolta Autocord in the month of May.
 
(Click Here) to see and read about the camera.
 
I don't like to admit it, but I had a hard time getting used to shooting this camera. The twin lens reflex (TLR) design is somewhat challenging to shoot, but I've always enjoyed shootiing with my Rolleiflexes. When I first received my Autocord, which is in really great condition, I was impressed with the brightness and sharpness of the focusing screen. I thought I would get a lot more use out of the camera than I did this month.
 
I did take it several places, to try different applications. Here's a shot from a bluegrass festival, from a jam inside a livestock barn.
 
Barngrass, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film
 
In an upcoming post, you'll see a lot more pictures from this event, taken with my Leica M3. I really used the M3 a lot more than the Autocord at this event. However, I do like the color in the shot above.
 
I also took the Autocord ot one of my local haunts, the Manassas National Battlefield. There I met Madison (below) and her parents, who were kind enough to let me take her picture on the front porch of the Henry House.
 
Madison, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film
 
Perhaps part of my trouble finding the opportunity to shoot the Autocord had to do with the fact that I kept it loaded with Reala, which is iso 100 film. That, coupled with a relatively small maximum aperture of f3.5 meant that shooting in anything but bright light was a challenge.
 
I also noticed that some of my images from the Autocord are not super sharp, while others are very sharp. Now, that may very well be related to the slow film, again. I may not be holdiing the camera still enough for slow shutter speeds. At this size of the computer screen the images look plenty sharp; up close (pixel peeping), not so much. Again, probably more related to my technique than the camera or lens.
 
Another thing I need to keep in mind is that depth of field is shallower with medium format than with 35mm. So, at a given f-stop, with the longer "normal" lens of the TLR, and the larger film format, I may just need to be a little more careful in setting exact focus, or stop down to increase depth of field.
 
Into The Future, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film, Rolleinar Closeup Lenses
 
Above is an example where I got a nice sharp image. For this shot, I used a Rolleinar close up lens set. I'm pretty sure mine is a Rolleinar 1. This is a pair of attachments that go on the front of the camera lens, which in the Autocord has the same bayonet filter mount as the f3.5 Rolleiflexes. One closeup lens (the thin one) goes on the taking lens, the other with a thicker attachment to provide parallax correction, goes on the viewing lens. The Rolleinar is a must for portraits with a TLR. I've always gotten great results using the Rolleinar on my Rolleiflexes. It does fine on the Autocord as well. The other factor in this shot above is that I set the camera on the handrail you see in the picture. So, I knew that camera motion would not be an issue. I think that strongly contributed to the sharpness of the image. I guess I need to load up some iso 400 film in the Autocord, shoot at higher shutter speeds, and pay more attention to holding the camera steady.
 
I used the Rolleinar closeup lenses for the next two shots as well.
Manassas Cannon, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film, Rolleinar Closeup Lenses
 
No problem with sharpness here, either.
 
Here's a portrait using the Rolleinar, window light, and a reflector (to bring up the dark side of my friend's face).
 
Lifelong Friend, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film, Rolleinar Closeup Lenses
 
I set this shot up to show some Autocord bokeh (out of focus areas). That's me in a mirror in the background, standing on a bed, peering down into the Autocord. This shot would have been impossible without the Rolleinar, which allowed me to focus close enough, and reduced depth of field to highlight the bokeh effect.
 
Here are a couple more shots, from my wandering around the Northern Virginia, West Virginia area.
 
Harpers Ferry Roofline, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film
 
Evening Walk, by Reed A. George
Minolta Autocord, Fuji Reala 100 Film
 
In this final shot, I focused on the grass at the front of the picture. I like the way the focus drops off with distance in this shot.
 
So, yes, I do need to keep trying to perfect my technique with the Autocord. It produces lovely color and bokeh. I just need to learn to feel natural shooting a TLR again - I used to use them quite a lot. Overall, I'm pleased with the results from the Autocord, but I'm not selling off my Rolleiflex.
 
Meanwhile, I'll be shooting a completely different camera in June for SFTC - the Konica Auto S1.6 rangefinder.
 
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