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First MF shots with Minolta Autocord

Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:05 p.m.

Happy Weekend folks,

Those of you who breathlessly follow my ever post (no doubt there are legions of you out there) might remember my October misadventure when I bought a Minolta Autocord. I've thought about shooting medium format for a while, pretty much ever since I obsessively started logging on to Pnet every day. However I never dived into it, well because frankly, there were just too many 35mm toys to play with. However following my misguided purchase of the Autocord I decided the time was ripe to step up to the plate. Put up or shut up as The Rt. Honorable John Major once said.

Despite my excitement, however it took me a long time to get my first roll finished. This is for a number of reasons. First, I don't have a strap for the Autocord, which means I have to lug my tripod around wherever I go. Problem is New York City is plagued with paranoid security personnel who take extreme pleasure in shooing me off the premises while gleefully pointing to signs about no commercial photography. Hadn't realized I looked so professional. Second problem, and this is the major one, is that unlike with 35mm I feel pressured to set up each shot a lot more carefully so 3 hours of shooting may yield only 3 or 4 shots. Anyone else had that experience?

I finally forced myself to finish the roll in December over the holidays. And I have to say to all you MF sirens out there - I get it. I'm astounded at the sharpness, level of detail and smoothness of tones I get with MF, compared with my 35mm gear. There's nothing like it. Also, this is the first time I've shot with a Minolta. I get why Rokkor lenses are so famous. There's a tangibly 3D quality to the pictures that I've never seen with any of my 35mm gear, Canon, Pentax or Konica. Simply stunning.

The camera itself was a dream to use. It's in beautiful shape, and the "snick" from the leaf shutter is a tactile joy. The Fresnel is nice and bright after Karl Bryan cleaned it up, and the focussing action smooth as silk. An excellent camera. I've never used a Rollei so I can't compare, but it's hard to imagine that the Autocord is far behind Rolleis in build quality and IQ. Certainly not far behind the Tessar lens versions, perhaps the Planars have an edge. If any of you have experienced both Rolleis and Autocords, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Final thought - shooting in square format is very interesting. I hadn't realized when I took these shots that because of the differing aspect ratio shooting in 6x6 doesn't just mean that the image is shorter on the horizontal but taller on the vertical, allowing you to capture more of the scene on top.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. They were all shot on Delta 100 and exposed using Sunny 16 (my 'Cord is meterless). Processing and scanning done at Duggal's NYC, with slight sharpening, contrast and vignetting adjustments in PSE8. The reduced size doesn't do them justice, here's the link to the full size versions.




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Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:07 p.m.

Shot this in my neighborhood. I've tried to capture this image with my 35mm gear a couple of times, but I think the 6x6 allows a more symmetrical composition.

Pier A

Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:08 p.m.

This globe used to stand in the World Financial Center, and was relocated to Battery Park after 9/11.


Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:09 p.m.

Ask first, shoot later. Very nice guy allowed me to take his portrait.

Local tradesperson

Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:10 p.m.

This ship is permanently docked at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. This was a tricky shot because there was very little room to back up and capture the entire ship. Here the reduced width of 6x6 served as a limitation.

The Peking

Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:11 p.m.

I've taken a very similar shot with my Konica Auto S2. I wanted to compare the two cameras.

Brooklyn Bridge

Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:13 p.m.

This was another tricky shot. I saw this lady sitting underneath the FDR Drive and had to shoot from the hip so as not to alert her to my presence, which is why the focus is a little off. The WLF and silent leaf shutter were very helpful in this regard.

Underneath the FDR

Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:14 p.m.

This is a shot of the New York Stock Exchange building from a distance of perhaps 50 feet. A friend lives across the street and kindly allowed me to take photos from the sundeck. This one really highlighted the sharpness of the lens given the level of detail it picked up under gloomy lighting conditions and inexpert handling.


Kayam Rajaram , Jan 15, 2011; 01:15 p.m.

And finally, a shot from inside the World Financial Center, which is opposite Ground Zero. I had to shoot this handheld since they wouldn't let me use my tripod.

As always, comments and criticisms are welcomed.

Dangling Lights

Craig Dickson , Jan 15, 2011; 01:23 p.m.

Nice work, particularly the last two.

I just saw an Autocord for sale the other day and was tempted... but I think if I bought an MF TLR I'd probably go for one of the interchangeable-lens Mamiyas.

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