I recently made a decision to add a few rangefinder cameras to my collection. I have had a Minolta Uniomat for a few years and recently bought a Zorki 4. These two cameras represent the two lines of rangefinders that were available in the world of film.
The Zorki is from the line of interchangeable lens rangefinders that follow on from the Leica. Most of these are fairly straight copies of Leicas – all German patents were declared void after the end of WWII – with varying degrees of development.
The Uniomat is from the other – fixed lens – line. These fixed lens rangefinders are cheaper, though never cheap. Not having an interchangeable lens means they can – and do – have between-the-lens leaf shutters.
This Petri 7s is exactly the same size and shape as the Minister III – I could almost suspect they used a common casting for the body. The weight is not too different, either – 632g with a film loaded. The price in 1965 was £29-17-6 ( in old British money, or £29.87 in new British money) for the option of a ƒ/2.8 lens or £37-16-2 (£37.81 in new money) for the option of a ƒ/1.8 lens which equates to £965 (ƒ/2.8) or £1,221 (ƒ/1.8). Only a very keen photographer is going to pay this sort of price.
focal length: 45 mm
apertures: f2.8 to f16
focus range: 0.8 m (2.6 ft)
lens fitting: fixed
shutter: Petri MVE
speeds: 1 s to 1/500 s
flash: PC socket
film size: 35mm
|Petri 7s – top plate [(C) John Margetts]|
|Petri 7s shutter housing [(C) John Margetts]|
Blog (C) John Margetts 2014
|Petri 7s spurious window [(C) John Margetts]|
|Petri 7s rear view [(C) John Margetts]|
Using the camera is quite easy. Setting the film speed for the light meter is a matter of rotating the black tab in front of the shutter speed ring – this is on the lower right of the shutter housing. The selected film speed appears in a small window in the shutter speed ring to the left of the fastest shutter speed. This is in both DIN and ASA and goes from 11 DIN/10 ASA to 24 DIN/200 ASA. (ASA is broadly but not technically the same as ISO) This seems a bit of a slow range by today’s standards but when the camera was made, it would have covered all the films likely to be used.
To set the exposure, you can either set the required shutter speed and then rotate the aperture ring until the meter needle is centred, or set the required aperture and adjust the shutter speed ring, again until the needle is centred. The meter is a selenium meter which means it does not need batteries. These can deteriorate if left exposed to light for many years but this one is still fine (actually, I have never come across a selenium meter that was not fine – I think the deterioration thing is mostly theoretical rather than real-world).
Blog (C) John Margetts 2014
The focus ring has a large knob on the left-hand side which makes focussing with the left hand easy. There are two options for focus – scale focus or rangefinder. For scale focus, there is a big drawback in that there is no depth of field scale which makes my usual hyperfocal method impossible. The focus scale is in both feet and metres.
Using the rangefinder is not as easy as it could be. Petri have tried to make the rangefinder clear by colouring the viewfinder field a pale green and the rangefinder spot yellow. In my camera, the rangefinder spot is rather faint. In good light it does work, though, and it is quick to focus if you have suitable verticals in the frame.
The shutter release works easily without needing undue pressure but without being too much of a hair-trigger. The film advance moves about xx degrees and makes a very definite ‘clunk’ as it cocks the shutter.
The only other thing worth noting is that there are strap lugs at either end so I can carry the camera on a strap around my neck without needing to use the ever-ready case.
I am testing this camera with Fomapan 200 Creative film – it is also a test of the film, to some extent as I have never used it before. I have a 17 metre roll of film and can cut off the amount I need – I am using a 12 exposure length for this test. This should save me quite a bit of money compared to buying colour film and paying to have it developed. I should have developed the film in the next few days and will post the results here when I have done so.
As well as testing the camera and film, I am also testing my developing of the film – it is basically developed OK but I can tweak it somewhat in the future to improve contrast. There are some horizontal lines visible – these are scanning artefacts due to the emulsion being a bit on the thin side.