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After consuming LomoKev's excellent and inspiring book Hot Shots (which has been on my todo list to review for months now) I was inspired to dig out some different cameras and go back to film to see what it could teach me rather than relying so very heavily on the LCD on my d80. I'd already got my autosampler for Christmas (review coming soon) and figured that digging out my Mum's old camera, the Balda Baldixette, could be fun.

The Balda Baldixette was made in West Germany in around 1956. It takes a 120 film, and is similar, at least in function, to a Holga.

It has 3 focussing zones - 5ft-10ft, 10ft-25ft and 25ft-infinity
It has 2 shutter speeds - 1/60th of a second, and bulb
It has 2 apertures - f9 and f16
It has a flash hot shoe (which I haven't tried yet)
It has a fixed prime lens

I put the first film through it to see if it still functioned, and after being delighted with the results I took it to Clock Tower cameras for a general clean and service, after all it is over 50 years old and deserves a little care and attention. To be honest, this didn't make that much of a difference to the resulting images - there are still dust marks and scratches but I'm not too bothered by this - a perfect camera after at least 20 years neglect would have been rather too much to ask.

I've been using Kodak Portra VC400 film which, combined with the in-camera vignetting, seems to bring out the vintage feel rather nicely and I've been getting them processed and scanned at Colourstream.

Some sample photos:

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Other photos taken using the Balda Baldixette can be found on my flickr stream under the tag baldabaldixette.

By using this camera I've learnt:

  • it's harder getting the horizon completely straight through a viewfinder than post-processing in lightroom (and I'm not post processing any of these scans at the moment)
  • that the square format takes some getting used to - seeing the world as a square instead of a rectangle makes composition different - not easier or harder, just different
  • that the Balda Baldixette is simple to use
  • that spending time before taking the shot to ensure that all the camera parameters are correct (aperture, focus zone, shutter speed) is something I'd stopped doing because I was relying on the camera too much
  • that the guys at colourstream do a great job
  • that I love the Kodak Portra 400VC film stock
  • and that there is something very sentimentally pleasing about taking a photo of your Dad with a camera that your Mum used to use - no idea if the photos will come out at all, but I'm pleased with the emotional connection it made for me

I'd recommend getting hold of a simple camera, popping a film in and going for a wander - it's a great way to rediscover the simple side of photography and if it has some family value then even better - now, where did I put that Conway Camera Popular Model (also my Mum's I believe) or the Kodak Instamatic 200 (my first ever camera)