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Weltaflex TLR shooting experience

This morning I took my Weltaflex TLR with me for a walk round a rather cold and frosty Fairlands Park in Stevenage to try it out.

At first I considered loading a roll of Provia 100F into the Weltaflex because I’ve received a 5 pack of this medium format slide film as a birthday present and I’m dying to give it a go, but in the end I decided that it makes more sense to try the camera out with something I can easily develop myself and make sure everything is working first. So, in the end I loaded it with a roll of Illford Delta 400 black & white film and relied on a light-meter app on my phone to judge the exposure.

The experience of using the Weltaflex was both rewarding and frustrating. Rewarding because it’s nice to use a big viewfinder to compose the image, but frustrating because the viewfinder itself is so poor. When I initially looked in the top of the camera before I went out, I was quite encouraged because looking onto the focus screen from the shady environment of the house while the camera was pointing at a bright window, gave the impression that the screen was quite bright. This turned out to be an illusion however, because out in the sunshine I found it almost impossible to see anything other than the centre of the screen. Also the severe vignetting of the screen exacerbated that effect. I tried using the pop up magnifier, but again it only really helps the centre of the image. For this reason, I took the majority of the pictures with quite a small aperture and relied on depth of field to make sure the pictures were focused.

Apart from the composition and focusing, the other real issue I had was trying to hold the camera still as I pressed the shutter. There seems to be a real kick just as the firing point is reached, and since the top shutter speed is only 1/200 sec even with the camera pressed into my body I found there is some shake on at least some of the negatives when viewed under magnification.

Being a TLR there was also a small problem with parallax on one of the pictures – I’d gotten low down to take a picture of the leaves on the path and although I thought I’d compensated for the difference in the taking and viewing lens by raising the camera quite a lot, I found the final picture was still lower than I’d intended.

To develop the film I was going to use Rodinal, but a bit of research suggested that it isn’t the best developer for Delta 400, so in the end I used Illford ID11 diluted 1+1 at 22°C for 12min. After the negatives had dried I scanned them with an Epson V550 perfection scanner and imported the TIFF files into Lightroom for a small amount of correction and sharpening.

Overall the negatives are quite good and the picture quality reasonable – certainly on par with the pictures I obtained from my Selfix 1620 folding camera.

About

I’m a software developer by profession but I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old. In that time I’ve owned cameras of all types and sizes from 120 roll film thro’ 35mm to my current Pentax K-5, Ricoh GXR + P10/S10/A12 28mm/A12 50mm, Canon S95 and recently acquired Sony NEX 6.

  1. Lucas says:

    Hi! Great photos!
    I love shooting with the weltaflex, I have one of my own.
    I wanted to ask you if you could maybe help me with something. I’m having trouble with my camera and I can’t find anything useful on the internet. My shutter just blocked and I can’t take any photos. Do you know what it can be? And maybe how can I fix it?
    Thank you very much!
    Lucas

  2. Bryan Hunt says:

    Hi – I have a Weltaflex with the E.Ludwig ‘Meritar’ lens. I concur with most to the observations in the article – I am not used to the 6×6 format and struggled to usefully fill the frame. It is a ‘clunky’ and typical post war East German or Soviet camera, however, I found the images were super sharp with high contrast, in bright conditions. Unfortunately, the low speeds on the Verbur shutter don’t work (or are very, very slow) but for outdoor shooting, the camera is fine. I replaced the viewing mirror (from a body I purchased for parts) and this brightened the focussing image. I’d like try taking portraits with it.

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